Saturday, October 06, 2007

Monkey Tales (10.6.07) Pick on the Times Edition

In the ongoing controversy over whether to call torture torture, the New York Times continues to favor softer, administration-friendly, and dare I say it, patriotic terminology.

President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects

Harsh interrogation? What does that mean? Do they yell at them? Call them names? Insult their mothers? That would be harsh. But no...
the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

That’s not harsh. That’s torture. And who is naive to think that's even close to the half of it. We know of electrodes to the genitals, attack dogs, severe physical beatings, and murders. The only people they are fooling are the major media and liberal Democrats. The Republicans and wingnuts just chortle contentedly.

In the same article, the Times inadvertently juxtaposes two of the president’s conflicting pro-torture talking points, illustrating both the hypocrisy of the administration and the incompetence of the reporting.
“I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people,” the president said...


the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, took The Times to task for publishing the information, saying the newspaper had compromised America’s security.

“And I could tell you that every time I’ve dealt with any of these stories, I have felt that we have chipped away at the safety and security of America with the publication of this kind of information.”

It’s not the stories that chip away at our National Security. It’s the torture. And the secrecy.

Of course we could fill pages with examples of how the Bush administration chips away at National Security and there are so many chips that we could use them to pave a road from here to the moon, but we must only list those chips related to the article in question, or the massive weight of the disaster becomes too oppressive.


The Times also has a nice piece that argues the wealthy should be taxed back to 1950’s levels.
“Getting the very best of New York real estate is an extension of who they think they are; it goes with the rest of their résumé and portfolio,” said Denise Lefrak Calicchio,“

“This trend is not going to go away because there are so many people who want these apartments,” she explained. “There’s the new rich and there’s the old rich. There’s the poor rich and the rich rich.”

“If you spend $20 million on an apartment, you want it to be right,” said Edward Lee Cave, a high-end Manhattan real estate broker. “And it’s never absolutely right.”

So far this year, 324 buyers purchased Manhattan apartments worth more than $5 million; of those 16 buyers closed on homes that cost more than $20 million, according to the research firm Another 45 homes are on the market with asking prices of more than $20 million.

Meanwhile, a tumbling down shack in Brooklyn costs $700,000. Twenty percent down payment would be $140,000 and the monthly payments on the remainder would be almost $3400 per month at 6 percent interest, not counting taxes and other fees. A couple making $100,000 per year cannot afford a shack in Brooklyn. The scale is different in the rest of the country, but it is apparently just as big a mess out there, if not bigger.

Yep, time to reel these rich fucks in, return to being more of a meritocracy. Too bad there’s no political party they don’t control.


In other news concerning America’s lack of a two party system, the Times reports that Democrats are like dogs who have been neutered and beaten for so many years that all they can do is stare mournfully at the Republicans and hope for more crumbs and fewer beatings.
The debate now raging here over the children’s health insurance program offers a cautionary lesson to Democrats running for president. It shows how hard it will be to persuade many Republicans to sign on to their vision of universal coverage.

Yea, a cautionary tale. On an issue supported by the great majority of Americans, the poor Democrats will have difficulty persuading the Republicans. Awwwww. Poor Democrats. Gonna get a beating for even trying.

Never mind that in a Democracy they would worry about persuading the people rather than the powerful. Here, the people are already persuaded but they (we) don’t count for shit.

Note also how the Times, as usual, buried that lede. Aw fuck. That’s giving them too much credit. I doubt it even occurred to them that the Democrats would have to persuade anyone other than Republicans, with the possible exception of New York Times honchos.


In three separate reports we learn that American forces attacked and killed another 25 civilians in Iraq, that that there would be no prosecutions for the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians awhile back in Haditha, and that our chief war crimes prosecutor had been forced out by the Pentagon.

Connections? I don’t see no fucking connections.


And finally, in another example of how out sports heroes are totally out of control, the Times informs us that:

Giants’ Tynes Juggles Kicking With Children

Someone should report that sicko to Health and Human Services.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monkey Tales (10.1.07)

The New York Times shares the good news that Iraqi violence ebbed in September.

American military officials here quickly asserted that the decline in civilian and military deaths was a direct result of the rapid buildup of American forces in Iraq earlier this year.

The article fails to mention the fact that the ethnic cleansing (sweet talk for mass murder) is just about completed and that over 4 million Iraqis (10 percent of the population) have been displaced. Of course violence is going to ebb. It’s like Nazis trumpeting the fact that they arrested fewer Jews in 1945 when almost all of them had fled, were dead, or locked up in concentration camps by that time.


On the downside, the Times reports that our mercenaries have been somewhat “reckless.”
State Department documents, depicts the security contractor as being staffed with reckless, shoot-first guards who were not always sober and did not always stop to see who or what was hit by their bullets.

In other words, we are paying a bunch of violent criminals to go on an insane murder spree. I’ll bring up the big bugaboo twice in one essay and guess that if today’s New York Times were transported back in time to 1945, they’d opine that the Nazis were a bit “reckless” in both their foreign and domestic policies. It’s not murder folks. Just a bit of recklessness. Move along. Nothing to see here.


In other happy news, we’re still number one in something!
The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006

It’s very important that we flood the developing world with arms. Our national security depends on it. If everyone in the world were not armed to the teeth, we would have no enemies to manufacture, no threats to face, no Hitlers to squash and no one would support gazillion dollar “defense” budgets.
The study makes clear also that the United States has signed weapons-sales agreements with nations whose records on democracy and human rights are subject to official criticism.

Well duh.


In immigration news, the Times reports that Bush bashing immigrants are not only threatening to destroy our economy, but the American way of life as well.
When she moved to the United States from Germany seven years ago, Angela Neigl brought with her the energy-conscious sensibilities of life in Europe. You drove small cars. You recycled every can, lid and stray bit of household waste. You brought your own reusable bags or crate to the market rather than adding to the billions of plastic bags clogging landfills, killing aquatic creatures on the bottoms of oceans and lakes, and blowing in the wind.

Damned immigrants. We should go reckless on their ass.

Update: Another day, another atrocity revealed:
Employees of Blackwater USA have engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, in a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded, according to a new report from Congress.

Whatayawannabet that's just the proverbial tip of the iceberg? Yes, I know, I know. Icebergs are just reckless things, it's their nature, they mean no harm, kinda like Pol Pot.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

One last bm slide show

Here is yet another slideshow from my trip to Nevada. If you want to experience it as intended, click on the first photo and watch the slide show. It lasts about 14 minutes. Soundtrack is included this time. You'll need fast internet.

Monkey Tales (9.30.07) Weekend Edition

The Washington Post reports that President Bush may well be mankind’s savior in the fight against global warming. “Mr. Bush Gets Warmer” reads the headline and the lede is a positive diplomatic quote from the German foreign minister:

This here was a great step for the Americans and a small step for mankind.

The “great step” is that Mr. Bush is boldly calling for America and the rest of the world to do nothing whatsoever about global warming. In other words, he has made a minor change to his rhetoric, but not changed his position in the least.

The Guardian demonstrates that professional journalism is not entirely dead, at least outside the US:
George Bush was castigated by European diplomats and found himself isolated yesterday after a special conference on climate change ended without any progress.

European ministers, diplomats and officials attending the Washington conference were scathing, particularly in private, over Mr Bush's failure once again to commit to binding action on climate change.

Britain and almost all other European countries, including Germany and France, want mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. Mr Bush, while talking yesterday about a "new approach" and "a historic undertaking", remains totally opposed.

Congrats again to the WaPo for patriotically reporting the administration's talking points rather than what acutally went down. Bush gives a major speech in which he proposes nothing new and is ridiculed by the rest of the world. and they describe it like this:
Mr. Bush's great step was a small step for humanity because he did not budge from his insistence that whatever action the nations take be voluntary.

A real newspaper, in contrast, actually reports what everyone involved is saying;
It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade," the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure."

Humiliation? A total failure? Bush? Who woulda thunk it? Better question: Who woulda reported it?


The Post also reports that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a stark raving mad wingnut who shouldn’t be allowed to rule on a parking violation.
Justice Clarence Thomas settles scores in an angry and vivid forthcoming memoir, scathingly condemning the media, the Democratic senators who opposed his nomination to the Supreme Court, and the "mob" of liberal elites and activist groups...

Liberal elites? The liberal elites, we’re learning, are the elders of Zion of the 21st century. They secretly control everything, hate their country and conspire with enemies to bring about its downfall, eat Christian babies, and are responsible for all of your problems (pssst, most of them are Jews as well). Good to know one of the most powerful and influential guys in the nation is on top of the problem. And he obviously is settling scores with those liberals, Democrats, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison though his rulings in the Supreme Court, not just through the right wing vanity press machine.


The New York Times reports that the south is making great strides toward racial equality. In this incident, one of their brown-skinned reporters was handcuffed and thrown face down on the hood of a squad car because he was out after dark.
“This is America,” I said angrily, in that moment supremely unconcerned about whether this was standard police procedure or a useful law enforcement tool or whatever anybody else wanted to call it. “I have a right to talk to anyone I like, wherever I like.”

The female officer trumped my naïve soliloquy, though: “Sir, this is the South. We have different laws down here.”

Note how the cop called him “Sir” as they ignored his constitutional rights and brutally attacked him. Good to see such progress. Better to be called sir than nigger as the cops kick the shit out of you for being black, I guess.


On the pundit front, New York TIme columinist Frank Rich can’t understand Hillary Clinton:
So far her post-first-lady record suggests a follower rather than a leader. She still can't offer a credible explanation of why she gave President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq (or why she voted against the Levin amendment that would have put on some diplomatic brakes). That's because her votes had more to do with hedging her political bets than with principle. Nor has she explained why it took her two years of the war going south to start speaking up against it. She was similarly tardy with her new health care plan, waiting to see what heat Mr. Edwards and Senator Obama took with theirs. She has lagged behind the Democratic curve on issues ranging from the profound (calling for an unequivocal ban on torture) to the trivial (formulating a response to the Petraeus ad).

That’s cause she’s a Republican Frank. A Republican. And it's Bush she's following. Once you come to terms with those facts, it all makes perfect sense.

Elsewhere, Maureen Dowd provides some real insight:
Without nepotism, Hillary would be running for the president of Vassar. But then, without nepotism, W. would be pumping gas in Midland — and not out of the ground.

Yep, in their cases, though I think in the bigger picture it’s going beyond nepotism. With the effective end of progressive income and estate taxes, we are quickly developing a culture of hereditary rule, both in government and industry. As more and more third, fourth, fifth, etc. generations of trust fund idiots replace their already degenerating predecessors, the future will become increasingly bleak.

On a side note, a lot of people wonder how Maureen Dowd got, and keeps, her job. I’m not saying it’s nepotism. My guess would be the old “who you know” or “who was in your ivy league sorority,” but I’m not totally on-board with the Daily Howler or Atrios on the subject. Although it’s true that so many of her columns are superficial and harmful to progressive politics, she is a sharp, funny writer and her quips, like the one above, can be quite entertaining and sometimes illustrate the truth of the matter. Anyway, there's enough dour and serious propaganda in the media. In that context, I don't really mind a place for someone like Dowd who at least brings a bit of levity and bipartisanship to the enterprise.

In other pundit news, Jim Hoagland (who knew he was still alive?) reinforces his frontrunner status (not counting Richard Cohen, of course) in the “most irrelevant pundit on the planet” competition.
Circumstances may be just desperate enough for reason and good will to break out suddenly,

he writes in an articled headlined “A Small Outbreak of Mideast Hope.” Yea, and wishes are fishes. We’ll cast our nets and reap the riches!

Meanwhile, the WaPo’s biggest blowhards (behind Richard Cohen, champ-for-life), George Will and David Broder give the old one-two punch to Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, pressing them to stop pretending not to know the future and detail exactly what they would do as president. It would, of course, be nice if politicians would stand up for what they believe in, if indeed they believe in anything, rather than tailor non-answers to avoid pissing off key constituencies, but it’s just sick that wankers like Will and Broder routinely make these demands of (nominal) Democrats when they gave Bush--whose policy proposals in 2000 were at least equally vague, obviously disingenuous when not outright dishonest, and the moron couldn’t even remember what they were--a free pass.

Why does the post continue to employ such a stable of miserable failures? Must be a hell of a satisfying circle jerk around there.

And speaking of miserable failures (pundit class), back at the Times, Thomas Friedman notes that it's not 9/11/01 anymore and suggests we move on to 9/12/01. Knock knock, Tom. It's 2007!


In religious news, the New York Times magazine presents a piece on an up-and-coming evangelical college in Idaho and bemoans their persecution by liberals. There is, of course, no documentation of any persecution of liberals, but the college’s founder claims it, so it must be true. The guy is very serious about his religion, so we must respect his views.
Doug Wilson proudly declares himself more right-wing than most Idaho conservatives. “They voted for Bush; I’d vote for Jefferson Davis,”

Wilson emphasizes his flexibility when it comes to Old Testament law. “You can’t apply Scripture woodenly,” he says; instead of executing them, “you might exile some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim.” He adds: “There are circumstances in which I’d be in favor of execution for adultery...

An up-and-coming college teaches that perhaps homosexuals should merely be exiled (to where? Dachau perhaps?) rather than tied to a fence and beaten to death and that adulterers should be executed (stoned to death, presumably), and the article leads with their old fashioned classical curriculum and persecution by liberals? Kinda burying the lede, eh? What other kind of violent psychotic crap is lurking beneath the surface?

The article does get to some of it. The college’s intellectual foundation is provided by a real nut case:
a Dutch theologian named Cornelius Van Til introduced a kind of theology called presuppositionalism. He argued that no assumptions are neutral and that the human mind can comprehend reality only if proceeding from the truth of biblical revelation. In other words, it is impossible for Christians to reason with non-Christians. presuppositionalism is a strangely postmodern theory that denies the possibility of objectivity — though it does not deny the existence of truth, which belongs to Christians alone.

According to critics, this school of thought equips young Christians to read and discuss non-Christian ideas without ever taking them seriously. “The trouble is that once you’ve figured out someone’s presuppositions, you can write them off as right or wrong without having to deal with their arguments. . . . It becomes anti-intellectual,” says Darryl Hart, a historian...

All aboard the Dark Ages Express. Next stop Inquisition.

And finally, in news that brings together religion and sports, Notre Dame’s football team went 0-5 yesterday and has yet to even be competitive in a game. This is notable because three years ago they were a program on the rise, with a great coach and top recruits, poised to reclaim their dynasty. The problem was, the good Catholics who run the university had not realized that the great coach, Ty Willingham, was black. Apparently, spending so much time in their cloisters, they did not know that Ty was short for Tyrone.

They were embarrassed, of course, but they couldn’t fire him immediately. And after three years, the situation was becoming dire. Willingham had a veteran team led by the nation’s top quarterback and they were sure to challenge for a national championship during the next two years. The good Christians at Notre Dame couldn’t let that happen. If he won a national championship, they’d be saddled with the nigger for the devil knows how long. So they fired him and hired some white guy with no college coaching experience. With Willingham’s very well-coached players, the inexperienced white guy was able to do okay for a couple years, but the good Christian folk who run the university realized that things were going downhill fast, so they gave him a lucrative ten year contract.

Notre Dame has taken a lot of abuse over the years for the perception that winning football games was more important than any nonsense about Christian values. This incident shows just how wrong that accusation was. It’s clear now that they would rather field the worst team in the country than win national championships with a black coach.

Willingham, meanwhile, is successfully rebuilding the University of Washington program and their future looks bright. The U-Dub is obviously lacking in Christian values.