The Friends of California Libre...

09 September 2008

Let the Games Begin...and Then the Holy War

Greetings, friends,
First of all, no Peg Entwistle party again this year, but if anyone is interested, we can see David Byrne do Brian Eno on 3 October at the Greek, and then go get drunk somewhere.  It will be cheaper for me and fun for all.

I've really been using my free time to good advantage, now that I finally have access to a good video collection at the Burbank Public Library, to catch up on some of the turkeys I missed through the 1990s and the early 00s.  I also wanted to share with you that since converting to digital television, I have discovered so much crap I don't understand why anybody bothers with paying for cable.  My rabbit ears are now sucking in 59 channels for nothing.  Admittedly many of those are Christian propaganda, or in Armenian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Tagalog, but what the hell.  I now have 11 channels of PBS, which is more than enough.

One of the weirdest digital broadcast stations I've come across is White Springs Television, which shows silent films, old made-for-TV features, and classic chestnuts spanning the 20th century.  Here in LA they broadcast on channel 8.4, but best of all they also stream on the Internet, so you can also watch these movies online if you have a broadband connection.  You can access their schedule at:

By clicking on the title of a movie it brings up the IMDb page for each film...upon noting this I began to think these people really knew what they were doing.  If you are not much interested in movies you might want to skip this part, but I had to write about some of the films I've watched in the last few weeks...

The Big Lift (1950) - a depressing cockle-warmer starring Montgomery Clift, about an American flyer who falls in love with a conniving Berliner during the '48 Airlift.  This must have been one of the first American films made in Berlin after the war, and is full of amazing footage of both the ruins and the Airlift...and with the exception of Clift and three other actors, all the people appearing in the film (including many with speaking roles) were ordinary Berliners or actual Air Force crew, most of whom are better than the actors, natch.  This movie gets in some great zingers, as when Monty's buddy, gruff Paul Douglas, explains to his liebchen (the smirky Bruni Löbel) how Americans are free to travel without papers from their government (in the Forties!), and how the various ethnicities live together in (relative) peace.  "But the world is not like that," she counters.  "It would be," he snaps back, "if you Krauts stopped trying to blow the world up every twenty-five years."  I laughed my ass off, and if any of my Kraut friends are reading this, I completely agree with him.

Scared to Death (1947) - This movie only scored 3.7 out of 10 on the IMDb, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  A wonderful piece of shit where a dead woman explains how she was, and rightfully so, "scared to death" in flashback.  Bela Lugosi plays a creepy hypnotist with the charm of a true horror pro, and bad as this movie was, you can sense that all the actors are having tremendous fun, drunk and stoned as they may be...always a big plus in my book.

Eegah (1962) - A young Richard "Jaws" Kiel, who pretty much cornered all the giant roles that Ted "Lurch" Cassidy couldn't nail down, plays a caveman who somehow made it all the way into the swinging Sixties, and nearly gets run down by a brunette babe in her jalopy.  Kiel is the only person in this movie who even tries to act, so it's not surprising that "Roxy" kinda falls for the big lug even after he tries to rape her.  Everyone else, especially her surfer/Elvis singing boyfriend, is awful.  I took personal interest as I immediately recognized the location...the foot of the Granite Mountains and the nearby Kelso Dunes, deep in the east Mojave desert.  Kiel's cave abode, where he lives with his mummified parents, is part of a complex of caves used by the Chemehuevi, now part of UC's Sweeney Desert Research CenterI'm sure the film crew pillaged whatever artifacts were there with typical early Sixties abandon.  That's Hollywood.

Wake Me When the War Is Over
(1969) - I was totally creeped out by this pseudo-TV movie.  During World War II, Ken Berry parachutes into Germany and a horny Baroness, played by the "mellow" Gabor sister, Eva, hides him in her basement.  The beginning credits play over a close-up of her bedroom doorknob, giving me a very uneasy feeling...behind that door, I thought, Ken Berry is getting banged...the Ken Berry of "F Troop", The Cat from Outer Space and "Mama's Family"Very disconcerting.  The Baroness likes his dick so much, she tricks him into thinking the war is still going on until 1949, when a jealous Werner Klemperer scares him off "behind enemy lines".  Then Ken makes his way across a "hostile" Germany.  This idiotic movie makes the unbelievable assumption that, in a country occupied by the United States for 4 years, NO ONE can speak English and explain to this moron that the war is over.  At least Eva Gabor went on to do The AristoCats the following year.

The Beloved Rogue (1927) - Drew Barrymore's grandfather John plays the great medieval French poet, François Villon, and Conrad Veidt (of Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari and dozens of other greats) plays his "pal" Louis XI in this silent masterpiece; some of you might remember the later 1938 version, If I Were King, with Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone in the same roles.  Corny as hell and about as historically correct as my high school textbooks, but I was completely blown away by the costumes, the sets and especially the background matte paintings, creating a magnificent Art Deco/Art Nouveau medieval Paris right out of a dream.  The action is also over-the-top - in one scene Villon escapes some soldiers with a quick sword-cut to a catapult rope, flinging him over the rooftops and into the bedroom window of a hot princess - but whatever.  At least Barrymore didn't look drunk in this, as he does in all the later films I've watched him in.

The Invisible Avenger (1958) - I couldn't believe that this movie was directed by the great James Wong Howe...shot in New Orleans, it looked like they spent $5 making it.  Lamont Cranston, "The Shadow", gets to interfere in a banana republic rebellion and yeah, it's as racist as you might imagine, but at least the "brown people" got paid.  I think they should make high school kids watch this shit in AP History.

Rich and Strange (1931) - Yes, I'm going to say it...the worst Hitchcock movie I've ever seen.  A boring English couple come into some money and take a world cruise, each having an affair along the way.  The ship sinks and they get rescued by a Chinese junk, where they get to eat a cat.  Full of Egyptians, Indians and Chinese all pulling the same rickshaw, this ranks with the most racist movies I've ever seen; the only saving grace is that the white people are equally hateful.

Officer 13 (1932) - A typical story of murder, corrupt cops, and hot blonde gangster molls gettin' gunned down in the depths of the Great Depression...this would have seemed even worse if I hadn't been amused by the terrible acting.  It reminded me of "The Big Sleep" being performed by a troupe of drunk socialites.  But hey, it's the "Golden Age" of Hollywood, pre-Code, where even the guy driving the milk truck can wisecrack and light a dangling cigarette off the bottom of his shoe, and an eleven year old can hit on a reformed whore at dinner.  The real irony was seeing a heavily made-up Lila Lee, who'd starred in Blood and Sand with Rudy Valentino ten years earlier, playing the love interest.  It was also fun seeing Mickey Rooney in one of his first.

(1965) - Finally, finally, finally, thanks to White Springs TV, I got to see the GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE IN ESPERANTO.  Just before "Star Trek", William Shatner demonstrates here that he is no ordinary Canadian; he plays a "good man" who becomes a plaything for a demon and her sister.  Not only is this one of the worst movies I've ever seen, but it is filmed in that gutteral fake "international" language of EsperantoPS In describing this to a much younger "Trek" fan, I was astonished to discover that she had never seen the animated "Star Trek" from the early 1970s.  Maybe it's a result of being born in 1965, but I actually related more to the animated version than the earlier, campier "Star Trek".

The Giant Gila Monster
(1959) - I hope my friend Peter still has his 35mm copy of this hidden away somewhere.  One of my favorite "giant" creature features, this one doesn't even pretend to explain why a Gila Monster, an actually docile poisonous lizard found in central Arizona, has grown to fifty feet and started attacking teenagers, auto mechanics and freight trains in Texas.  A bunch of punk teenagers with hot rods end up saving the day, but with not nearly the gravitas that Steve McQueen brought to The BlobToo bad.

I am hoping for much more in the future.  Even between the movies (which are commercial-free), weirder crap plays...ranging from the weeping Iron Eyes Cody ad ("People make pollution...people can stop it") to the most racist Popeye and Bug Bunny cartoons I've ever seen...catch 'em quick before the Japanese government lodges a formal protest.

I've also enjoyed a few films on DVD that I would like to share with you.

Comment Je Me Suis Disputé... (Ma Vie Sexuelle)
(My Sex Life) (1996) - This film had all the elements I like to's an "ensemble" work about a bunch of obnoxious people in their twenties who can't get out of college and all fuck each other without having any fun, plus it clocks in at 3 hours.  Even though it's set in my beloved Paris, I was dreading this...what a pleasant surprise to find that it doesn't insult the intelligence, there aren't any graphic sexual sidebars, and best of all, all the characters are sympathetic and even interesting.  I do add the caveat that you should genuinely like French people, or you are going to be bored stiff by their obsessive head-scratching.

The Last Days of Disco (1998) - Especially when contrasted with the previous film, I really hated this, and by the end, couldn't believe I sat through it.  I mean, it took WORK for Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny, both of whom are cute as buttons, to bore the fuck out of me with their insipid dialogue.  I lived through 1982 and, excuse me, does one yuppie getting herpes and another snorting coke somehow "date" this?  Somehow this talky, stuck-up movie made me actually dislike three of the things I like best in this world:  dance music, the early 1980s, and New York City.  Again, that takes work...and for Christ's sake, three girls (a blond, redhead and a brunette, natch) living in a railroad flat on the Upper East Side...wasn't there a comic strip about that in the 1960s?  Pardon my next remark, but this film unreeled like it was being read off cue-cards written by a closet queen at NYU.

Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) - They make a lot of children pornography in the San Fernando Valley, I've heard, but this was the most artistic I've ever seen.  I had trouble believing, however, that Miranda July could shoot this entire film in Van Nuys without even getting a Mexican in the BACKGROUND...nice work.  Definitely not for kids.  At least I liked the dialogue.

Ghost World (2001) - My goddaughter compared me to Steve Buscemi in this movie, which I guess is a compliment to a 20 year old.  Good god, woman, I usually HATE people who obsess over their collections of old records and pop Americana...but I did really like this movie, especially the reaction Thora Birch's "friends" have to her dying her hair green:  "Ooh!  You're such a PUNK!"  I did wonder if Scarlett Johansson can only play extremely passive female roles, and the ending, unlike the original graphic novel, was very unsatisfying.  But hey, it's not really Ghost World, it's Holly World, right?

Art School Confidential (2006) - Pretty much the sequel to the previous film (and graphic novel), in comic form this was also a goofy, cosmic tragedy that doesn't really translate well to celluloid.  Still, all the inside jokes really appealed to my love/hate relationship with the Art World...except this should have been four times more vicious than it was.  And John Malkovich...whatever.

Okay, take a's a wonderfully smooth tune that I heard, appropriately, driving from one party to another at midnight.  And he can roller-skate!
George Benson - Give Me the Night

Besides movies, I have been obsessively watching the Olympics because I am, as Robert says, a nationalistBut hey, better that than some stateless oppressed person rolling deliriously in the dirt, eh?  Whatever.  Even two weeks later, I am still a little stunned by the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympics.  Can somebody verify that the Chinese lifted their schtick directly from Logan's Run"Sanctuary, sanctuary!!"  Seriously, even while Tibet gets sealed up, it's comforting to see at least the shadow of a ghost of an illusion of world peace and cooperation.  It may not mean much in gold-fat USA (thanks, Michael), but what about Oussama Mellouli, who should have been banned for that terrorist name, but won his country's single gold medal in the 1500m swimming event?  I'll bet he gets a new swim stadium named after him in the capital of Tunis, and a postage stamp.  Or how about Benjamin Boukpeti, who won a bronze medal in kayak for Togo, the first medal EVER for that country?  For him I'd predict a postage stamp, a major street named after him in the capital of Lomé, and possibly some kind of large public housing development.

Plus it is fun.  I watched the Dutch women's water pole team beat the Americans for a gold medal, and then the coach and all his aides went into the pool fully clothed.  I'll bet they're got good and stoned when they made it back to A-dam.  Because these people are crazy for sport:

Football Follies

How a soccer team advanced in a cup match by deliberately scoring against itself.

This is the first Olympics where every sport is accessible via the Internet, unless you happen to own a Mac.  My bitterest complaint about the Olympics was always that only the American athletes were covered on TV, and the commentary was often ridiculously stilted.  This changed slightly in 2004 at Athens, but this year there is adequate coverage of nearly every event if you dig for it, and if you use Silverlight, you can pop up less distracting (and less biased) annotated commentary in the video window.  My personal favorites are judo, fencing and the modern pentathlon, the James Bond of Olympic events.

Now prepare for the marketing blitz:

Now, Lindsay Lohan's begging Michael Phelps for a date

"Washington, August 30 : Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan, who was rumoured to be dating gal pal DJ Samantha Ronson, seems to have now fallen for Michael Phelps, the Olympic golden boy."

During an election year, unsavory as it is, I always take comfort in the Olympic Hymn:

Ancient immortal Spirit, pure father
of beauty, of greatness and of truth
Descend, reveal yourself and lightning here
within the glory of your own earth and sky

At running and wrestling and at throwing
Illuminate in the noble Games' momentum
And crown with the unfading branch
and make the body worthy and ironlike
and make the body worthy and ironlike

Plains, mountains and seas shine with you
like a white-and-purple great temple
And hurries at the temple here, your pilgrim
And hurries at the temple here, your pilgrim
Ancient immortal Spirit, every nation, every nation
Ancient immortal Spirit, every nation

Maybe not every nation:
Spanish basketball team poses for offensive picture - Fourth-Place Medal - Olympics - Yahoo! Sports,100152

Unfortunately, once again the "Olympic truce" has failed to take hold.  The truce was essential in antiquity, when athletes often had to pass through hostile city-states in Greece on the way to Olympia; it is noted that the Spartans attacked the city of Lepreum during the Games once and were barred and fined 200K drachma (modern equivalent - $1.5-2 million).  This time around the nation of Georgia attacked an autonomous state they were given jurisdiction over by Stalin, who was a genius at keeping the various ethnicities of the Soviet Union at each other's throat, so Russia could easily dominate them.  I wonder if they will get fined.
Georgian reporter shot live on TV [+video]
A correspondent working for Georgian state television has been injured in a shooting incident outside the town of Gori.
The Olympic truce was a motivation for the start of the modern Games.  In the last war-torn century, it's amazing that the Olympics were only cancelled three times, and in every case the city was directly at war at the time; 1916 (Berlin), 1940 (Tokyo) and 1944 (London).  The kids out there might not remember that many countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games over the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Russians replied tit-for-tat by not showing up here in LA in 1984 (giving, incidentally, a big push to the Chinese.)  The truce held even in Sarajevo in 1994, when the Bosnian Serbs ceased shelling the city during the Games at Lillehammer, Norway.  Currently the Russians and the Georgians are finally enjoying the war they've been itching to start since 1992.  The sources of this conflict are not obscure; like most of their former satellites (there's a Cold War term you haven't heard in a while) Georgia wants to cut a little flesh from their former mastersRussia is lording it over a former puppet, and as a joke, I'd say trying to occupy or destroy Gori, the birthplace of Josef Stalin.

No matter what Robert says, I am not a fan of Stalin:

Of course, something else is going on here.  Like an ignorant Westerner, I wanted to find the roots of this conflict.  I suspected something religious, but actually all of these people are Christians (ha ha).  No, the Ossetians are ethnically different from both the Russians and the Georgians; like the Kurds and the Azeris on the other side of the Caucausus, they are ethnically Persian.  I also learned that in mythology, the Ossetians are the people who supposedly had their Golden Fleece ripped off by the wandering Greek, Jason, and his Argonauts.

Although our government saw an opportunity to ding the Russians, there is no doubt who attacked first and, in light of what happened in Kosovo, the Europeans are not so sure who's in the right here:
"We Are All Georgians"? Not So Fast
It didn't take long for the "Putin is Hitler" analogies to start following the eruption of the ugly little war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia. Neoconservative commentator Robert Kagan compared the Russian attack on Georgia with the Nazi grab of the Sudetenland in 1938. President Jimmy Carter's former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said that the Russian leader was following a course "horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s."
Click here to read more on our site
Georgia's Recklessness
The fates of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are chief among the many issues that are still unresolved in the war between Georgia and Russia. What's clear, however, is that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered his country's military to assert his authority over South Ossetia by force. American officials should reflect on the implications of Saakashvili's behavior for U.S. policy toward Georgia, Russia and the region.
Click here to read more on our site
The West Must Stop Bullying Russia
You can access it at the following URL:
Hottentot Morality in the United States and the EU
You can access it at the following URL:

Not that I trust a Russian:
Tour of Tskhinvali Undercuts Russian Claim of Genocide
Tskhinvali, Georgia - As Russian troops pounded through Georgia last week, the Kremlin and its allies repeatedly pointed to one justification above all others: The Georgian military had destroyed the city of Tskhinvali.  Russian politicians and their partners in Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region South Ossetia, said that when Georgian forces tried to seize control of the city and the surrounding area, the physical damage was comparable to Stalingrad and the killings similar to the Holocaust.
Click here to read more on our site
SPIEGEL ONLINE, 08/14/2008
Opinion: Russia Capitalizes on New World Disorder
The war in the Caucasus is a truly global crisis. Russia's action against the western-looking Georgia testifies to an extreme craving for recognition and is reminiscent of the Cold War. It reveals the reality of the chaotic new world order -- a result of the failures of
President Bush's foreign policy.
By Gerhard Spörl,1518,572059,00.html

And now the Bear is at it again...welcome back to the Fifties!
Russia Unleashed
The military offensive Russia conducted in north Georgia is now described as that country's most significant military operation since the implosion of the Soviet Union. Some countries even consider this conflict as the first in a new Cold War between East and West. And all because the commitment President Bill Clinton made to Moscow was not honored by his successor.
Click here to read more on our site
Russia: Poland Risks Attack Because of US Missiles
Moscow ­ Russia warned Poland on Friday that it is exposing itself to attack ­ even a nuclear one ­ by accepting a U.S. missile interceptor base on its soil, delivering Moscow's strongest language yet against the plan.  American and Polish officials stuck firmly by their deal, signed Thursday, for Poland to host a system that Washington says is meant to block missile attacks by rogue nations like Iran.
Click here to read more on our site
Taunting the Bear
The hostilities between Russia and Georgia that erupted on Friday over the breakaway province of South Ossetia look, in retrospect, almost absurdly over-determined. For years, the Russians have claimed that Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has been preparing to retake the disputed regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and have warned that they would use force to block such a bid. Mr.
Click here to read more on our site
California to be wiped off Russia's map - Pravda.Ru
Russian Parliament Recognizes Breakaway Georgian Enclaves
Moscow - Russia's parliament voted unanimously Monday to recognize the independence of two Georgian breakaway regions that its military invaded earlier this month.  The move, which requires the approval of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to become law, gave a domestic legal basis for the Kremlin to take control of the areas in defiance of the U.S.-backed government of Georgia.  While it is not certain that Medvedev will give a green light to the legislation, its passage was a strong signal from Moscow.
Click here to read more on our site
Russian Jerks Meet Western Knee-Jerks
The Russians can be real jerks, but they are not the only ones dragging us into a cold war redo. Blockheads on all sides are bringing back the risk of all-out nuclear conflict, along with a new arms race and the thrusting of American power from the Russian borderlands to wherever we see a Russian proxy. Even if Barack Obama and Joe Biden manage to win the election in November, the financial cost of a rush to yesteryear could cripple any real chance for a better tomorrow.
Click here to read more on our site
The West Must Share the Blame for War in Georgia
Our diplomatic weakness rests on the shoulders of a longer-term strategic incompetence.
Tskhinvali is not Sarejevo in 1914. South Ossetia will not be the start-line of the Third World War. But it is a ghastly mess, all the more depressing because the West is partly to blame. In diplomacy, strategy and geopolitics, our political leaders have been guilty of multiple failures over many years.
Click here to read more on our site
Putin Asserts Link Between US Election and Georgia War
Moscow - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he had reason to think U.S. personnel were in the combat zone during the recent war in Georgia, adding that if confirmed, their presence suggested "someone in the United States" provoked the conflict to help one of the candidates in the American presidential race.  Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili called the claim "ridiculous," likening it to Putin saying that "extraterrestrials were also there."
Click here to read more on our site
Neocons Now Love International Law
It's touching how American neoconservatives, who have no regard for international law when they want to invade some troublesome country, have developed a sudden reverence for national sovereignty.
Apparently, context is everything.
Click here to read more on our site

This conflict reminds me that the days of the gulag are not far behind us.  When I was a young kid I read my parents' copy of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by the recently-deceased Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and it forever put the zap on me:
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: To the very essence of everything
You can access it at the following URL:
A World Split Apart
On Thursday, June 8, 1978, acclaimed Russian writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn delivered the following address.
Opening Remarks:
I am sincerely happy to be here with you on this occasion and to become personally acquainted with this old and most prestigious University. My congratulations and very best wishes to all of today's graduates.
Click here to read more on our site

And this mess is all a reaction to Kosovo, which itself is merely a distraction from the real massacre that continues in the Sudan:
Kosovo and Darfur
You can access it at the following URL:

Not that the Olympic host is any better than the Russians or the Georgians or the US, as they oppress their own and prop up the worst states in the world, Myanmar and the Sudan.
China Fails to Keep Promises It Made to Win Olympic Games
Beijing - With four days left before the start of the 2008 Summer Games, Chinese officials have not lived up to key promises they made to win the right to host the Olympics, including widening press freedoms, cleaning up their capital city's polluted air and respecting human rights.  The failures were evident Monday:
Click here to read more on our site
Olympic Protests Begin
Beijing - Two American and two British protesters slipped through a smothering Olympic security net Wednesday, climbed a pair of lamp posts and unfurled banners demanding freedom for Tibet near the new stadium where the Beijing Games are to open Friday night.  The showy protest, which took place shortly before the final leg of the Olympic torch relay set out from Tiananmen Square to the cheers of bused-in crowds, constituted a substantial embarrassment for Chinese security forces, who have vowed to prevent political
Click here to read more on our site
China Jailing Dissidents Before Games
Crackdown defies vow Beijing made to be host.
Zhengding, China - Behind the gray walls and barbed wire of the prison here, eight Chinese farmers with a grievance against the government have been consigned to Olympic limbo.  Their indefinite detainment, relatives and neighbors said, is the price they are paying for stirring up trouble as China prepares to host the Beijing Games.
Click here to read more on our site
Attackers Kill 16 Police at Chinese Border Post
Beijing - Two men rammed a truck into a clutch of jogging policemen and tossed explosives, killing 16 officers Monday, state media said, in an attack in a restive province of western China just days before the Beijing Olympics, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Click here to read more on our site

And they won't take any guff from the likes of us racist round-eyes:
A booming China faults U.S. policy on the economy
By Edward Wong The New York Times
Not long ago, Chinese officials sat across conference tables from American officials and got an earful.  The Americans scolded the Chinese on mismanaging their economy, from state subsidies to foreign investment regulations to the valuation of their currency. Your economic system, the Americans strongly implied, should look a lot more like ours.  But in recent weeks, the fingers have been wagging in the other direction. Senior Chinese officials are publicly and loudly rebuking the Americans on their handling of the economy and defending their own more assertive style of regulation.

Where's the spirit of decency that used to permeate even the darkest days of the last century?

Charlie Brown

WWII story about damaged B-17 reaching England safely because a German pilot declined to shoot it down.

Well, at least one good thing happened that week:
EU Agrees to Lift Sanctions Against Cuba
Brussels - EU nations agreed Thursday to definitively lift their sanctions against Cuba, in the hope of encouraging democracy on the island, European diplomats said.  European Union foreign ministers took the decision in principle during dinner on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.  "There was an agreement to lift the sanctions against Cuba," a European diplomatic source said.
Click here to read more on our site

Directly after the Olympics, here in the States we had the conventions of the political parties, neither of which I spent a minute on.  I don't need speeches to know evil when I see it.  Just John McCain's reaction to the crisis between Georgia and Russia is reason enough not to vote for his torture-cell foreign policy:
McCain's War: Playing With Nuclear Fire
John McCain calls the conflict in Georgia "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War," and he is doing everything he can to make it his own, even at the cost of upstaging the shrinking President Bush. But the tragedy in Georgia also reveals the most embarrassing foreign policy blunder since - well, since the Bush administration decided to wage a preemptive war in Iraq.
Click here to read more on our site
McCain's Focus on Georgia Raises Question of Propriety
Standing behind a lectern in Michigan this week, with two trusted senators ready to do his bidding, John McCain seemed to forget for a moment that he was only running for president.  Asked about his tough rhetoric on the ongoing conflict in Georgia, McCain began: "If I may be so bold, there was another president . . ."
Click here to read more on our site
McCaskill Says McCain Undercut Bush on Georgia
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Sunday accused Republican presidential candidate John McCain of undermining the Bush administration with his tough talk on Russia.  "I think John McCain's reaction to what happened in Russia did not reflect well on the position he should have taken, and that is one of understanding we have one president in this country, and that Secretary of State Rice and President Bush need the support of both presidential candidates
Click here to read more on our site

But before I get into Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin, take another break...
Donnie Iris - Ah, Leah!

I don't have much to say about Mrs. Palin.  Everyone knows that I hate Christians, especially fundamentalist Christians, and most of all Christians who interfere with my work personally:

John McCain's intentions for this country are no less chilling than the swath of destruction cleared by that idiot, George W. Bush:
John McCain's Chilling Project for America
John McCain has long been a major player in a radical militaristic group driven by an ideology of global expansionism and dominance attained through perpetual, pre-emptive, unilateral, multiple wars. The credo of this group is "the end justifies the means," and the end of establishing the United States as the world's sole superpower justifies, in its estimation, anything from military control over the information on the Internet to the use of genocidal biological weapons. Over its two terms, the George W. Bush administration has
Click here to read more on our site
Make No Mistake: McCain's a Neocon
Since clinching the Republican presidential nomination, John McCain has sought to hide the forest of his neoconservative alignment with George W. Bush amid the trees of details, such as stressing differences over military tactics used in Iraq.  But the larger reality should be clear: McCain is a hard-line neoconservative who buys into Bush's "preemptive war" theories abroad and his concept of an all-powerful "unitary executive" at home.
Click here to read more on our site

If only this were true:

The Natural

Does John McCain not qualify as a natural-born citizen of the U.S. because he was born in Panama?

But instead, we have to hope that Mr. Obama can stand on his merits:
Teaching Law, Testing Ideas, Obama Stood Apart
Chicago - The young law professor stood apart in too many ways to count. At a school where economic analysis was all the rage, he taught rights, race and gender. Other faculty members dreamed of tenured positions; he turned them down. While most colleagues published by the pound, he never completed a single work of legal scholarship.
Click here to read more on our site
Obama and the Progressive Base
A reasonably evenhanded biography of Barack Obama, published last year, describes him as "an exceptionally gifted politician who, throughout his life, has been able to make people of wildly divergent vantage points see in him exactly what they want to see." The biographer, David Mendell, reports, "the higher he soared, the more this politician spoke in well-worn platitudes and the more he offered warm, feel-good sentiments lacking a precise framework."
Click here to read more on our site
World Welcomes Obama Win
London - Excitement about Barack Obama emerged as a global phenomenon Wednesday as commentators and citizens around the world welcomed the news that he had sealed the Democratic presidential nomination.  The excitement was less about Obama's foreign policies - which remain vague on many fronts - than a sense that the candidacy of a black American with relatives in Africa and childhood friends in Asia marks a historic moment.
Click here to read more on our site

That he can persevere against the most absurd enemies, and himself:
Obama Confronts Lieberman on McCain Advocacy
Sen. Joe Lieberman, the self-described "Independent Democrat" who caucuses with the Democratic party in the Senate even though he has endorsed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, got some tough talk from Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, yesterday about his advocacy for the presumptive Republican presidential candidate and the general tone of the campaign, Democratic sources tell ABC News.
Click here to read more on our site
Democrats Rebuke Lieberman for Obama Comments
St. Paul, Minnesota - Democrats officially warned Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Wednesday that he could face repercussions for delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he called Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama an "eloquent young man" who lacked the experience to be in the White House.  Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said that Lieberman's status within the Democratic caucus is in jeopardy.
Click here to read more on our site
The Bad Frame
This week's New Yorker cover image of the Obamas is shocking in the racism and gross stereotyping that is built into its supposed satire.
The New Yorker magazine hits the news stands today with a shocking cover - a caricature of Barack and Michelle Obama depicting the presidential candidate in a turban, fist-bumping his wife who has a machine gun slung over her shoulder, while the American flag burns in the fireplace.
Click here to read more on our site
Obama on the Brink
Barack Obama is betraying his promise of change and is in danger of becoming just another political hack.  Yes, just like former maverick John McCain, who has refashioned himself as a mindless rubber stamp for the most inane policies of the miserably failed Bush administration. Both candidates are embracing, rather than challenging, the fundamental irrationality of Bush's "war on terror," which substitutes hysteria for rational analysis in appraising the dangers the country faces.
Click here to read more on our site

And that the Democrats, for once, know what they are doing:
Obama Strategy: 50 States
Washington - Senator Barack Obama's general election plan calls for broadening the electoral map by challenging Senator John McCain in typically Republican states - from North Carolina to Missouri to Montana - as Mr. Obama seeks to take advantage of voter turnout operations built in nearly 50 states in the long Democratic nomination battle, aides said.
Click here to read more on our site
Obama and Dean Team Up to Recast the Political Map
Sixteen months after he launched his campaign for the White House, Sen. Barack Obama may, just now, be entering his campaign's most perilous stage. Facing a rift of sorts within the Democratic Party and concerns over the scope of his political base, the Illinois Democrat is pursuing an unconventional path to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave: unlike those before him, he has pledged to redraw the electoral map by putting new, traditionally Republican states in play.
Click here to read more on our site

Because our enemies are scum, and they won't give up easily:
How the Republicans Win
Barack Obama made it across the tightrope of the Democratic National Convention, gaining solid endorsements from Bill and Hillary Clinton and giving a rousing speech before some 80,000 supporters at Invesco Field in Denver. But now comes the time when the Republicans win elections.
Click here to read more on our site

Even I was shocked at the tactics they encouraged against demonstrators, attacking them in their homes and private businesses before they even made it to the street:
Five Arrested, Dozens Detained in Pre-RNC Raids
St. Paul, Minn. - Activists planning protests around the Republican National Convention say they are being targeted in a heavy-handed attempt to chill dissent after police arrested five people, detained dozens of others, and seized computers and protest guides in raids Friday night and Saturday on private homes and the major meeting center.  The "RNC Welcoming Committee," an organization of dozens of activist groups and individuals from around the country, has been planning demonstrations for over a year at the convention.
Click here to read more on our site
"Democracy Now's" Amy Goodman Arrested in St. Paul
Editor's Note: "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman was arrested Monday afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she was covering the Republican National Convention. Police seized Goodman as she attempted to defend two "Democracy Now!" producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who had just been arrested on "probable cause for riot." Goodman and her colleagues were held at the Ramsey County Jail, then released Monday night.
Click here to read more on our site
Police Raids on Protesters Mark Start of RNC
Days before the start of the Republican National Convention, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the FBI raided houses of protesters suspected of "conspiring to riot." While only a few individuals were eventually arrested, several dozen were detained, searched, and questioned.  According to witness accounts, on Friday and Saturday, 20 to 30 officers raided at least three different locations and confiscated laptops, political literature, and personal journals of the individuals there.
Click here to read more on our site
Pre-Emptive Strikes Against Protest at RNC
In the months leading up to the Republican National Convention, the FBI-led Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force actively recruited people to infiltrate vegan groups and other leftist organizations and report back about their activities. On May 21, the Minneapolis City Pages ran a recruiting story called "Moles Wanted." Law enforcement sought to pre-empt lawful protest against the policies of the Bush administration during the convention.
Click here to read more on our site

Objective:  continue the rule of the rich and the collapse of the middle class...
This Land Is Their Land
This essay is adapted from Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book, "This Land Is Their Land: Notes from a Divided Nation" (Metropolitan).
Click here to read more on our site

Objective:  hide the past and ignore the future:
Things must be bad ­ politicians are telling the truth
Things must be bad – politicians are telling the truth
"What will Bush be remembered for?"
The president's legacy, as defined this week by members of Salon's reader community, Table Talk.

Objective:  ignore science and rational thought:
Stem Cells Apparently Cure Boy's Fatal Disease
The treatment uses umbilical and marrow cells to help develop normal skin. Doctors say it may move his genetic disorder, recessive epidermolysis bullosa, "off the incurable list" for other patients.
Using stem cells from umbilical cord blood and bone marrow, researchers have apparently cured a fatal genetic disease in a 2-year-old Minneapolis boy, which could open the door for other stem cell treatments.
Click here to read more on our site

In favor of superstition:

Creation Museum Walk-Through

Images and brief descriptions of the exhibits in the Kentucky Creation Museum, which describes the creation of life on earth by "bring[ing] the pages of the Bible to life," and which opened in May 2007. One exhibit description states, "Adam and apes share the same birthday. The first man walked with dinosaurs and named them all!" Includes a link to the website for the museum. From Answers in Genesis (AiG).
A Teacher on the Front Line as Faith and Science Clash
Orange Park, Fla. - David Campbell switched on the overhead projector and wrote "Evolution" in the rectangle of light on the screen.  He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact. His gaze rested for a moment on Bryce Haas, a football player who attended the 6 a.m.
Click here to read more on our site
How Ignorant Are We?
The voters choose ... but on the basis of what?
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson
Just how stupid are we? Pretty stupid, it would seem, when we come across headlines like this: "Homer Simpson, Yes -- 1st Amendment 'Doh,' Survey Finds" (Associated Press 3/1/06).
Click here to read more on our site
Details of the Pre-Roe "Bad Old Days"
With the Supreme Court becoming more conservative, many people who support women's right to choose an abortion fear that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that gave them that right, is in danger of being swept aside.  When such fears arise, we often hear about the pre-Roe "bad old days." Yet there are few physicians today who can relate to them from personal experience. I can.
Click here to read more on our site
More Than Half of Young Mothers Give Birth Out of Wedlock
Think of it as a new "normal" in American family life.  After creeping slowly and steadily upward most of the last 50 years, the number of babies born to young unmarried women quietly crossed a troubling threshold in 2006.  For the first time in a half-century of record-keeping, a majority of babies born to women younger than 30 were out of wedlock.
Click here to read more on our site
One in Four Teen Girls Has Sexual Disease
By Lindsey Tanner
The Associated Press
Judges Increasingly Ban the Word "Rape" in Court
It's the only way Tory Bowen knows to honestly describe what happened to her.  She was raped.  But a judge prohibited her from uttering the word "rape" in front of a jury. The term "sexual assault" also was taboo, and Bowen could not refer to herself as a victim or use the word "assailant" to describe the man who allegedly raped her.
Click here to read more on our site
Bush Administration Plans End Run for Abstinence-Only Funds
The Bush administration Department of Health and Human Services isn't getting much rest these days, using every moment of its final few months to leave an indelible ideological mark on government.  Last week, the administration, in the person of Robert W. Patterson of the Children, Family and Youth Services Bureau, issued a letter waiving the annual application process and review for the Title V Abstinence-Only State Grant Program.
Click here to read more on our site
Birth-Control Denial the Height of Arrogance
A rape victim walks into a pharmacy with a prescription for a morning-after pill that will terminate a possible pregnancy and is told politely it will not be filled, and that she must go elsewhere, no matter how inconvenient. That is, if the pharmacist has the decency even to return the prescription.  The message is clear: Tough luck. If a child has been conceived in the violation of her body, it is the victim's sacred duty to have the baby.
Click here to read more on our site
"Pro-Life" Drugstores Market Beliefs
No contraceptives for Chantilly shop.
When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.
Click here to read more on our site
In Med Schools, the Abortion Curriculum Has Left the Classroom
By Louisa Pyle
RH Reality Check

Of course, most of you know my opinion (thanks, Amy):
God makes you stupid, researchers claim
By Chris Williams
The UK Register, London, UK
A psychology researcher has controversially claimed that stupidity is causally linked to how likely people are to believe in God.  University of Ulster professor Richard Lynn will draw the conclusion in new research due to be published in the journal Intelligence, the Times Higher Education Supplement reports ( ).

But you know life is better in California!
New Sex-Ed Guidelines for California Schools
By Pamela Tom

Beverly Hills 90210 will be featuring oral sex in first episode!

"London, Aug 30 : American actress Shannen Doherty has revealed that the first episode of '90210' will be featuring oral sex."

Objective:  California, and the world be damned.
Anti-Americanism at Record Levels: Report
Washington - Anti-Americanism is at record levels thanks to US policies such as the war in Iraq, and Washington's perceived hypocrisy in abiding by its own democratic values, US lawmakers said Wednesday.  A House of Representatives committee report based on expert testimony and polling data reveals US approval ratings have fallen to record lows across the world since 2002, particularly in Muslim countries and Latin America.
Click here to read more on our site
111 Nations, But Not US, Adopt Cluster Bomb Treaty
Dublin, Ireland - Chief negotiators of a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs predicted Friday that the United States will never again use the weapons, a critical component of American air and artillery power.  The treaty formally adopted Friday by 111 nations, including many of America's major NATO partners, would outlaw all current designs of cluster munitions and require destruction of stockpiles within eight years.
Click here to read more on our site
US Cluster Bombs to Be Banned From UK
The US will no longer be able to stockpile cluster bombs at its military bases in Britain under government proposals for an international ban on the controversial weapons, it emerged last night.  As diplomats from more than 100 states unanimously passed a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs around the world, it emerged that British ministers are prepared to go further.
Click here to read more on our site

Thus, we reap the whirlwind:
US Leads World in Substance Abuse
Washington - The United States leads the world in rates of experimenting with marijuana and cocaine despite strict drug laws, World Health Organization researchers said on Tuesday.  Countries with looser drug laws have lower rates of abuse, the researchers report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.
Click here to read more on our site

And finally, if you made it this far, a real treat -- a way to turn any computer image into one of those "typewriter pictures" we used to make way, way back in the 1970s:


While you're waiting for a more substantive post, why not wax nostalgic by converting some photos into ASCII art at

Vive le screed!

No comments :

Facebook Blog Networks

Valid Atom 1.0!
To subscribe via e-mail, fill out the form at ; for RSS readers, use the feed link at FeedBurner , or this drop-down menu: