Saturday, May 16, 2009

Music Break! Luciano Pavoratti

Vesti la giubba (from Pagliacci)

Wikipedia: Vesti la Giubba is the conclusion of the first act, when Canio discovers his wife's infidelity, but must nevertheless prepare for his performance as Pagliaccio the clown because 'the show must go on'.

Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio,
non so più quel che dico,
e quel che faccio!
Eppur è d'uopo, sforzati!
Bah! sei tu forse un uom?
Tu se' Pagliaccio!

Vesti la giubba,
e la faccia infarina.
La gente paga, e rider vuole qua.
E se Arlecchin t'invola Colombina,
ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudirà!
Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto
in una smorfia il singhiozzo e 'l dolor, Ah!

Ridi, Pagliaccio,
sul tuo amore infranto!
Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!


To act! While out of my mind,
I no longer know what I say,
or what I do!
And yet it's necessary... make an effort!
Bah! Are you not a man?
You are Pagliaccio!

Put on your costume,
powder your face.
The people pay to be here, and they want to laugh.
And if Harlequin shall steal your Columbine,
laugh, Pagliaccio, so the crowd will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face - Ah!

Laugh, Pagliaccio,
at your broken love!
Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart!

Must Reads

Howard Zinn: Changing Obama's Mindset

Joe Conason: We Tortured To Justify War

Tom Andrews: Time to Stand Up as Congress Stands Down with War Funding Bill

Mahablog: The Unrelease

Bob Cesca: The Real Motive Behind the Cheney Family Torture Tour

The Rude Pundit: Nancy Pelosi Restores the Natural Order of Things

President Obama's Weekly Address - May 16, 2009

Two Pillars of a New Foundation

Friday, May 15, 2009

...what he said...

posted by Armadillo Joe

As per usual, Atrios finds a way to say something far more succinctly than I ever could.

Regarding this whole "What-did-Nancy-know-and-when-did-she-know-it" non-scandal scandal, Atrios, in a post titled "Monsters," sez:
We should always remember the morality of Elite Villagers, those who supported the pointless war in Iraq and who mostly are now decidedly not horrified at the fact that the administration tortured the shit out of people in order to justify the atrocity that was the Iraq war. The Villagers loved their little war. It made them feel heroic. They wanted justification for it, too.
Amen, brother.

I don't remember which famous blogger said it first, but Washington D.C. is truly hard-wired for Republican rule. Which makes a certain amount of sense, actually. Money and power accruing in the capital city of the richest, most powerful nation the planet has ever known and perverting its policies and corrupting its priorities with regards to the well-being of that nation's entire population -- not just the wealthy ones -- is intuitively correct.

And, naturally, that money and power will trump whichever regional or religious or ethnic or socio-economic affinities may have driven the voters of any given district to elevate whichever huckster to national office. And it stands to reason that those elected hucksters will attract a great many hangers-on -- whether lobbyists or journalists or assorted wannabe "insiders" and unprincipled deal-makers -- who will all desire reflected glory or power or status and the money and priviledge those things can bestow. Whether pre-Revolutionary Russia or Imperial Rome or Versailles circa 1789, the whole thing eventually devolves into an insulated, closed loop of self-referential circle-jerking on route to unquestioned IMPORTANCE, because running the world is hard work and the rest of us should be more appreciative.

Those people are too IMPORTANT to really care about the little people who, you know, have to live with the policies they enact and lobby for and report about because, to them, being in Washington D.C. is not just a job but a lifestyle and everyone else around them is in that clique, too.

Whether making widgets in a factory or enabling and endorsing a torture-regime, a job's a job and we've all got to eat and pay rent, right?

Drudge rules their world.

Hugh Van Es Dies at 67

Yahoo: Hugh Van Es, a Dutch photojournalist who covered the Vietnam War and recorded the most famous image of the fall of Saigon in 1975 — a group of people scaling a ladder to a CIA helicopter on a rooftop — died Friday morning in Hong Kong, his wife said. He was 67 years old.

Van Es died in Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, where he had lived for more than 35 years. He suffered a brain hemorrhage last week and never regained consciousness, his wife Annie said. Hospital officials declined to comment.

Scandal Sells

What is going on with the MSM feeding frenzy on tyring to put Nancy Pelosi smack dab in the middle of the torture scandal because of Intelligence briefings? While the networks all reported that Pelosi accused the CIA of "lying" in her briefing in opposition to the CIA's assertion that she knew the specific interrogation methods had been used, none of the reports noted that in a letter accompanying the documents, CIA Director Leon Panetta suggested the information in the documents may not be "an accurate summary of what actually happened."

I'm not a Pelosi fan, and if she is not being truthful then she should be gone as well. That being said, she's asked the CIA to release the documents that prove them right and her wrong, but they've refused. If they have her nailed to the wall, then why the refusal? She's also suggested for a truth commissin to sort this all out. Would someone who is lying ask for truth commission? If your operation is being called bogus, then it's in the CIA's best interest to release said documents and prove Pelosi wrong, shut her up and save face. Why won't they do that?

It's also come to light that the former head of the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Bob Graham, is siding with Pelosi. His meticulous notes confirm attendance at only one meeting in which they were not told about waterboarding being used while the CIA said he'd been briefed four times.

Graham: "When I asked the CIA when I had been briefed, they gave me four dates, two in April and two in September of '02. On three of the four occasions, when I consulted my schedule and my notes, it was clear that no briefing had taken place on that date and eventually the CIA concurred in that. So their record-keeping is a little bit suspect."

Ultimately, this is a distraction from the fact that waterboarding was used in August of 2002 and the committee wasn't briefed until September of 2002. That's the story.

The media focusing on Nancy Pelosi and the CIA discrepancy over torture techniques and when they were used is the equivalent of dangling a carrot on a stick in front of a mule. "Oooh! Pelosi called the CIA liars!"

It's a distraction from what they should be covering. It also sells. The CIA is a department with no face. Scandal loves a face, and if they can connect a little, grandmotherly type like Pelosi to torture it sells papers. What are they going to do, post a picture of the CIA building entrance next to the type? Have the CIA logo over the talking heads' shoulders while they try to blame torture on a department instead of someone in the former Vice President's office? Doesn't Pelosi's face over that pundit's shoulder look more scandalous?

Keep It Up, RNC!

Chickenhawk Cheney

I love this cartoon in light of the news that despite the fact that harsh interrogation techniques have not been used since 2004, Cheney is still going on the Sunday news line up and saying President Obama is making us less safe because of the change of interrogation policies (AKA no torture) and the release of the torture memos.

" torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama's having shut down the "Cheney interrogation methods" will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?"

- Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff of the Department of State during the term of Secretary of State Colin Powell

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another Reason Not To Visit Texas

The Great Zombie Fire Ant Plague of 2009. I howled during this entire segment.

I ♥ Rachel.

Politics and Pragmatism

Yesterday was a rough day for me*. My usual weekend off (Mondays and Tuesdays) was negated due to special events at the theatre and an extra maintenance call... so no days off. I was on my eighth of twelve straight days of work which can tend to leave some people tired and moody, so it was a major disappointment to me when I learned that President Obama had decided to reverse his decision and attempt to block the release of the latest detainee abuse photos in a Pentagon case, in which the Pentagon had sided with the ACLU and agreed to release the photos.

The shoot from the hip response would rightly be, "So much for transparency" and that's what I've been hearing from friends, colleagues and what little I've read on the blogosphere. But since I didn't have constant access to The Internets™ yesterday, I was able to formulate some of my own theories on why the President chose to take this action. I've read his statement but haven't heard others' speculation, so forgive me if I'm repeating what has already been said.

Here is President Obama's statement:

Now, let me also say a few words about an issue that I know you asked Robert Gibbs about quite a bit today, and that’s my decision to argue against the release of additional detainee photos.

Understand these photos are associated with closed investigations of the alleged abuse of detainees in our ongoing war effort. And I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib. But they do represent conduct that did not conform with the Army Manual; that’s precisely why they were investigated and, I might add, investigated long before I took office. And, where appropriate, sanctions have been applied.

In other words, this is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action. Rather, it has gone through the appropriate and regular processes. And the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.

It’s therefore my belief that the publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals. In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.

Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.

And, obviously, the thing that is most important in my mind is making sure that we are abiding by the Army Manual and that we are swiftly investigating any -- any instances in which individuals have not acted appropriately and that they are appropriately sanctioned. That’s my aim, and I do not believe that the release of these photos at this time would further that goal.

Now, let me be clear: I am concerned about how the release of these photos would be -- would impact on the safety of our troops. I have made it very clear to all who are within the chain of command, however, of the United States Armed Forces that the abuse of detainees in our custody is prohibited and will not be tolerated.

I have repeated that since I’ve been in office. Secretary Gates understands that. Admiral Mullen understands that. And that has been communicated across the chain of command.

Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values. It endangers our security. It will not be tolerated.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody.


As much as I hate that he used the line, "the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger," because it echos what we've heard before from the previous administration, the fact remains that we cannot disprove that statement. It is his opinion, most likely an informed opinion especially after reviewing the photos, that they could be used as a further recruiting tool for extremists and cause inflammatory actions against our troops. I'm not certain about this theory and I'm not happy about it either. But it can't be ruled out. Most of us agree that our continued presence in the Middle East and our imprisonment of detainees without habeas corpus and our treatment of them under the Bush regime has been a recruitment tool for Al-Qaeda. Why not more photos of abuse?


Nothing that the President does can be looked at in a vacuum. Every word he utters, every decision he makes has repercussions. Currently, there are congressional hearings on the use of torture techniques and their effectiveness, or lack of, going on. Just yesterday, FBI interrogator Ali Soufan was before a Senate hearing on the use of "harsh interrogation" techniques and how those techniques actually hindered intelligence gathering in his opinion. I think I'd rather watch the 24/7 news cable talking heads discuss that Senate hearing than get inundated with a slide show presentation of five or six released photos in a continuous loop every 15 minutes on MSNBC. Is this part of President Obama's thinking? That the release of these photos would only serve as yet another distraction rather than trying to get at the heart of the matter in terms of torture? I don't know, and neither does anyone else outside the walls of the West Wing.


What's the first image that pops into your mind the second you hear "photos of Abu Ghraib"? I think of two particular photos. The hooded man standing on a crate with electrodes on his hands and naked pyramids. That's what it's been reduced to in my mind. So I ask myself what good would it do to release these new photos? You would think that the actions of Abu Ghraib would have been enough for anyone to protest in the streets with pitchforks and torches, but the "outrage" lasted a month, maybe two, and after Donald Rumsfeld attributed it to "a few bad apples," it has been forgotten by the general public. I have no reason to doubt the President when he says, "these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib." We know abuse happened. We know there are factions in the government trying to cover it up. Why do we need to see the photos? Not only would it serve as a distraction to "future investigations of detainee abuse" but would anyone really care?


This is the theory I'm going with. Think about the position in which President Obama finds himself. He takes office in the worst recession (bordering on depression) since the Great Depression. We are fighting a war on two fronts. Job losses mount to the tune of 500,000 to 650,000 per month. The stock market declined 6,000 points in a year before his first day in office. Record home foreclosures are creating homelessness and making tent cities commonplace. The banking industry is tanking and he must take over a $700 billion bailout by the Bush administration. The US auto industry is tanking and he must take over a $17 billion bailout by the Bush administration. 48 million Americans have no health insurance.

To stop the bleeding, President Obama begins a Recovery plan to infuse $787 billion into the country to create jobs, including the largest middle class tax cut in US history, and needs all the support he can muster to reform the health insurance industry. Is this the best time to release these photos? It's very possible that they will be released by the courts anyway, so why should we expect President Obama to rock the boat while he's standing on the bow?

More and more details are coming out daily regarding the torture memos and Dick Cheney's deeper involvement than originally thought. Congressional hearings and investigations are coming to a head. I'm just a little too young to remember Watergate first hand, but I do know that investigative reporting and the hearings during Watergate took a long time to get the truth out. My prediction is that within 18 months, the current snowball of scandal will turn into an avalanche. There will be indictments, prosecutions and jail time for some of the big wigs that were involved in Torturegate, as well as the possibility of war crimes committed for starting a war on intentionally false pretenses. That all takes time.

I'm going to expect President Obama to prioritize and try and get something done for the near future. There will be enough independent investigation without Obama looking like he's out for partisan blood. The last thing we need is self sabotage by initializing investigations that will be misconstrued as partisan witch hunts which can derail his agenda by Day 114. I have to give him that time. I voted for change, but I'm realistic enough to know that change doesn't happen overnight... or over 114 nights.
* My day concluded with the Mets losing an 8-7 game in 12 innings, the Senate voting against the Credit Card bill and my softball game being rained out this morning. *Sigh*

Dowd on Cheney: The man who never talked is now the man who won’t shut up.

I don't say this often, but great Maureen Dowd piece on Dick Cheney.

Marc Maron's Address to the Class of 2009

Jesse Ventura: I Was Waterboarded. It's Torture.

Larry King (@ 1:07): "Alright already with Bush, okay?"

Nice try, Larry, but Ventura is smart enough to realize that you can't judge in a bubble and that making judgments on President Obama 100 days in to his four years without grading it on a curve because of the horrendous hand he was dealt is not a fair assessment. Dismissing what happened for the previous eight years and asking how Obama is doing when we all know that he's still trying to climb out of a hole the size of the Grand Canyon is completely misleading.

I'm also glad Ventura called waterboarding what it is and dispelled the myth that it's different because "you know you're not going to drown." Obviously mistakes can be made, and others experts have attested that it can cause cardiac arrest as well as a suffocating esphogeal collapse hours later.

And calling Dick Cheney a coward and a chickenhawk is always a bonus.

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hopey, Changey

posted by Armadillo Joe

Detainee Photos: Obama Seeks To Block Release

Not what I voted for.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Forced Reparations

LIMBAUGH: As the economy performs worse than expected, the deficit for the 2010 budget year beginning in October will worsen by $87 billion to $1.3 trillion. The deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps. But in the Oval Office of the White House none of this is a problem. This is the objective. The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And the objective is to take the nation’s wealth and return to it to the nation’s quote, “rightful owners.” Think reparations. Think forced reparations here if you want to understand what actually is going on.

Limbaugh said that on Monday, May 11th, his first show after the White House Correspondents' Dinner and KidneyGate.

This is the kind of hateful, racist rhetoric Rush Limbaugh vomits on a daily basis and I'm supposed to feel bad because a comedienne made a joke about Rush's kidneys failing? I will reissue my End of Year Haiku submitted to the Rude Pundit as to how I feel about Limbaugh.

One day soon Limbaugh
Will clutch his chest and collapse
I will dance a jig

Just to be completely clear, that is not a joke.

Nope, try again

posted by Armadillo Joe

Apparantly, Keith Olbermann thinks that Rush Limbaugh's kidneys are off-limits:

And I would say to Keith that he can get all sanctimonious about a black comedienne saying something mean about the kidneys of a charter member emeritus of the white plutocratic Establishment to, oh I dunno, let's say um... Michael J. Fox:

Sorry, Keith, but the depth and putresence of Rush's œuvre makes every part of that porcine, drug-addled sex tourist's ample anatomy fair game for mocking and derision. If anything said about his shriveled, diseased body parts happens to shock! shock! the sensibilities of the insulated, fatuous media elite of D.C., well hey... live by the sword, die by the sword, motherfuckers.

Fuck Rush Limbaugh and screw you for taking his side in a fight.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Today's Experience with Faux Patriotism

I went to the Mets game tonight and experimenting with the new and varied food choices at the new ballpark, decided on La Verona Taqueria. I couldn't resist after hearing Keith Hernandez rave about them on television.

While standing in line (about 15 minutes before game time) the announcement came on for the singing of National Anthem, which was not clearly audible in the food court behind the centerfield scoreboard due to the large amount of people standing in line waiting for their food, having conversations and ordering their beers.

All of a sudden, just as the anthem was starting, I heard someone behind me go off on a little diatribe resembling something like the following:

Take of your caps. TAKE OF YOUR CAPS! Show some respect. This is ridiculous - (to his friend) I don't have many pet peeves but someone not taking their cap off during the Star Spangled Banner really fucking pisses me off. Look at these guys, these guys don't know what the hell is going on. TAKE YOUR CAP OFF! The fucking national anthem is being sung and they keep their caps on. Goddammit! All it takes is 30 seconds. 30 fucking seconds. Would it kill them to take of their caps? Would it?
He continued his outrage... THROUGHOUT the entire National Anthem. This faux patriot spoke through the anthem. He didn't stop once to actually listen to it. He just bitched and moaned while waiting in line for a taco.

So I thought about it for a bit. What would be the proper procedure? Everyone stops speaking, the lines stop moving, the vendors stop selling and we pay respect. Or, this being America, we could choose to honor the anthem in our own way or not, silently reflecting on its performance or laughing at the bad rendition, dissecting the lyrics and what they mean... or just ordering a taco. In any case, my reaction was to initially take off my cap despite my embarrassing hat head, but I immediately decided against it once some asshole was ordering people in the general vicinity to take off their caps. If you haven't guessed, I'm not the type to let people have the satisfaction.

By the way, the Mets lost 8-3 ending a 7-game win streak but the tacos were delicious.

Moderate Republicans? NEVER!

Here Comes The Fauxtrage - UPDATED

It seemed pretty quiet yesterday, the day after President Obama's first White House Correspondents' Dinner. What with comedienne Wanda Sykes joking at the expense of the Almighty Rush Limbaugh, leader of the Republican Party and Hutt crime lord, I thought there would be more initial fallout on Sunday. But, it was Sunday after all and Mother's Day to boot, so the blogosphere, although making occasional mention of Sykes comparing Rush to a terrorist, calling him a traitor and hoping he'd have kidney failure, was relatively subdued regarding this matter. After all, the wingnuts rest on the seventh day.

Here's the exact quote:

"Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails," Sykes said. "So you're saying, 'I hope America fails', you're, like, 'I don't care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq'. He just wants the country to fail. To me, that's treason. He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker. But he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight."

Sykes then said, "Rush Limbaugh, I hope the country fails, I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? He needs a good waterboarding, that's what he needs."

Well it's Monday and the the fauxtrage* is now in full swing. Here is Joe Klein calling the whole notion that this was an affront to humanity ridiculous and calling bullshit on the Washington Times' Amanda Carpenter who named certain "inappropriate" jokes.

Good for Joe Klein to point out that it wasn't like Sykes was talking about Mother Teresa. She was dishing it back to a self-centered, self-important sonofabitch who routinely goes over the line on a daily basis, whether it be making fun of Parkinson's patients or suggesting that the only reason people voted for Obama, including Colin Powell, is because of his race.

What is wrong with these people? Where was the outrage during the 2004 WHCD when George W. Bush showed a slide show of himself searching under sofa cushions in the Oval Office looking for weapons of mass destruction while US soldiers and Iraqi civilians were dying by the thousands in the Middle East? What do they expect? It's a night of poking fun and hiring a comic that will probably be offensive to someone somewhere. If they want a fucking cotillion, then do that and cancel the fucking dinner.

As far as Limbaugh is concerned, that motherfucker can't take a debate in person. When have you ever seen him go head to head with someone of a different ideology? Answer: Never. He briefly had a television show and couldn't handle his own audience. He sits behind his desk spewing shit on a daily basis and has been for the last 20 years because he knows that as long as he has the power to cut off someone's microphone, there's no need to have an actual conversation with someone with a difference of opinion, someone who'll dissect his outrageous lies and give him the bitchslap of a lifetime - one that he's deserved for so very long.

I was about to say that once Limbaugh apologizes to Michael J. Fox for the horrendous mockery of his illness, I'll consider that he get an apology. But the truth is, what Wanda Sykes dished out to Rush Limbaugh last Saturday night doesn't even begin to make up for his 20 years of disgusting behavior. He deserved that and lots more.

Luckily for the Democrats, they don't have to answer to and grovel at the feet of Rush Limbaugh and apologize for disagreeing with him, belittling his status in the Republican Party or yes, even hoping his kidneys fail.

Stay tuned for more fauxtrage.
* Thanks for Armadillo Joe for introducing me to the word "fauxtrage."

UPDATE (4:10pm): Drudge leads the way not only in fauxtrage, but in picking a photo of President Obama laughing and pointing, inferring that moment to the Limbaugh-kidney joke.

4:40pm How soon before Bill Bennett apologizes to Rush Limbaugh for calling him an "entertainer"?

5/12/09 12:20am Malkin Fauxtrage

Adam Serwer: One word. Sweet.

Wanda Sykes' comedy routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner was really offensive. In it, Sykes suggested that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is supported by Hamas, and that Islamists are "constantly issuing Limbaugh talking points." She joked about terrorists supporting conservatives in general, suggesting that recent violent events in Iraq are attempts by terrorists to swing the upcoming midterm elections in favor of Republicans.

Then she got really personal. She
joked that Limbaugh was a racist who doesn't want black people to "escap[e] the underclass." She accused him of being responsible for killing "a million babies a year," and aired her friend's theory that Limbaugh himself was a terrorist attack," a followup to 9/11. She also, most disgustingly, said that if conservatives kept apologizing to Limbaugh, they'd eventually contract "anal poisoning." She wondered when Republicans would finally stop "bending over and grabbing their ankles" for Limbaugh, and finally concluded that Limbaugh was just a "bad guy."

Oh wait. Wanda Sykes didn't say any of these things. These are things Rush Limbaugh has said about Obama or other Democrats in the past year, the kind of statements few reporters found
offensive enough to write about, despite the fact that most of them were said with the utmost seriousness. And while Sykes is a mere comedian whose influence on the Democratic Party is negligible, Limbaugh's influence in the party is so great that Republican leaders can't even criticize him without having to issue apologies after the fact.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

President Obama - White House Correspondents' Dinner 2009

Wanda Sykes

Commentary to follow, but I just wanted to add one thing. Am I mistaken or is this much funnier than, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere."?