Question of the Day

What famous person (dead or alive) do you admire hugely, but would be afraid to meet, because you think there's a very real possibility that you wouldn't like him/her, or because if you didn't get on it would crush you?

Big surprise, I know, but I've got to go with Morrissey. I've met him, but I've never had the chance to hold an extended conversation with him. I actually think we'd probably get along splendidly, but if we didn't for some reason, I'd be heartbroken beyond description.

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Do you need a concealed weapons permit for this kind of thing?

Lordy begordy:

A Ross County jail inmate hid a gun so well that not even the guards who did an extensive pat-down found it.

The Cleveland woman hid a loaded handgun inside her body and smuggled it all the way to her jail cell, where it accidentally fired when she was trying to hide it.

"While in the holding cell, she removed a .25-caliber semiautomatic from her vaginal cavity," Chillicothe Police Capt. Tom Hewitt said yesterday.

Victoria Lundy, 41, hid the gun in the toilet-paper holder. It fell to the floor and discharged.
Sure it did. It was probably slippery.

The bullet lodged in the ceiling as guards scrambled to quickly recover the weapon, Hewitt said.

…Hewitt said the incident won’t likely change jail policy.

"It’s the first time I’ve heard of it in my 25 years" he said. "There’s not a whole lot you can do. You can’t do body-cavity searches without a search warrant."

The pat-down of Lundy did include a search of the crotch area, said Assistant Jail Administrator Capt. Tim Holman of the Ross County sheriff’s office.

"It’s crazy, but it’s made us a little more aware," Holman said.
Okay, I admit I’ve never used my vagina as a secret compartment, but I really don’t believe I could fit a gun in there.

(Via Dlisted.)

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Dollars and Sense

Reading Digby, I see this:

Here's the problem. The president pretended that he was disturbed by the leaks in the Plame case and said he wanted the perpetrator to come forward. Now we find out that he was personally authorizing the leak for political purposes. Scotty can call it "in the public interest" but everyone knows it was in the political interest of the president.
…and it suddenly occurs to me that, as taxpayers, we ought to begin petitioning the president to personally reimburse every last dime of the millions of dollars that Fitzy’s investigation has cost. That’s a pretty hefty price tag we’ve paid to allow him to hide the truth from us.

And to what end? If what he did was perfectly legal and in our best interest, as they’re arguing, there’s no reason he shouldn’t have come clean with it when it was first an issue. Our national security wasn’t dependent upon our not knowing that the president himself authorized the leak; his job security was. He directed tax dollars toward a long investigation, the express purpose of which was to delay us from finding out information that we might not like.

He used our money to enable his desire to lie to us. And I think we need to ask for it back, thank you very much.

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Down and Downer



As you can see by this AP photo, Preznint Bush is so freaked out by his new poll numbers that now he never goes anywhere without his mother hovering right over his shoulder. From the AP:

Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president's job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.
Weird, cos it seems to me this is the fifth or sixth time he's fallen to 36%. Anyway...
Democratic leaders predicted they will seize control of one or both chambers of Congress in November. Republicans said they feared the worst unless the political landscape quickly changes.

There is more at stake than the careers of GOP lawmakers. A Democratic-led Congress could bury the last vestiges of Bush's legislative agenda and subject the administration to high-profile investigations of the Iraq war, the
CIA leak case, warrantless eavesdropping and other matters.
(Emphasis mine) And there will be much rejoicing throughout the kingdom. Eventually his approval percentages will get so small that Grover Norquist could drown him in the bathtub. Here's hoping.

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Six-Year-Old 911 Caller Considered Prankster; Mother Dies

Via Chris Howard, this story is just terrible.

Robert Turner called 911 to get help for his mother, Sherel Turner, 46, whom he found lying unconscious on the kitchen floor of their Detroit apartment…

"Then I had felt her tummy. She wasn't breathing. Then I had called 911," said Robert. "I told them to send an emergency truck right now."

911 Operator: "911. What's the problem?"

Robert: "My mom has passed out."

The 911 operator, however, did not take him seriously and told him to stop playing on the phone, the station reported.

911 Operator: "Where's the grownups at?"

Robert: (Inaudible)

911 Operator: "Let me speak to her before I send the police over there."

"I tried to tell them she wouldn't talk," said Robert.

Robert: (Inaudible)

911 Operator: "I don't care. You shouldn't be playing on the phone. Now put her on the phone before I send the police out there to knock on the door and you gonna be in trouble."

Robert: "Ugh!" (Hangs up.)

Kimberly Harris, the union president of AFSCME Local 1023, said more than a quarter of phone calls received by 911 operators are prank calls.
More than a quarter are prank calls?! Okay, first of all, the operator who didn’t treat this brilliant little kid’s call seriously is an idiot and a half whose idiocy left a little boy motherless (and from that partial transcript I see no reason why anyone would automatically assume it’s a prank), but who are the fucking assholes who are making prank calls to 911?! My first reaction was to wonder since when don’t the police check out any and every emergency call, but if over 25% of them are pranks, that’s a lot of wasted resources in a city where cops are needed for real emergencies. That means 911 operators have no second chance; they have to get it right the first time.

This also reminds me of the time that I looked out my window and saw a building on fire. I called 911, and the operator who picked up said, before I even uttered a word, “Yeah, we know about the fire,” and hung up on me. I guess he didn’t think that any rapes, murders, or burglaries take place in Chicago when there’s a fire going on.

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Man Puts Mother-in-Law on eBay

And her biggest complaint is the starting bid:

Steve Owen, 42, published a photo of 50-year-old Caroline Allen under "Collectables And Weird Stuff" on the internet auction site - describing her as "used". He has invited bids starting at just £1 reports The Sun.

He posted the ad on the site after Caroline quit her home of 27 years in America and bought a house round the corner from him and common-law wife Tracey, 35, in Alvaston, Derby.

Steve said: "I'm deadly serious. She comes to the house every day trying to change me and make me tidy. I just hope someone will take her off my hands. She's single and not bad looking."

Caroline hit back: "He's lazy and I won't stop nagging him until he changes - that's my job. But he could have made the starting bid £100. I look better in the flesh."
LOL. I like this story because it sounds like, even though they clearly antagonize one another, they have a bit of a sense of humor about it.

Mr. Shakes gets on well with my parents, and they love him to itty bitty pieces. I reckon if both of us were drowning, and they could only save one of us, you’d check in the next day to find this: Shakespeare’s Sister Brother-in-Law.

I also get on well with Mr. Shakes’ dad, a former sailor with a dirty sense of humor who won’t show me his tattoos because “they aren’t appropriate for a lassie.” Which, of course, just made me want to see them more, but no such luck.

Mr. Shakes’ mum (who’s divorced from his dad) is a whole other story, but suffice it to say, she’s none too fond of the American hussy who stole her only son and dragged him 4,000 miles away—and I suspect she’d prefer to move right past putting me on eBay and put me instead at the bottom of Loch Ness.

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Interesting

So some total dickhead gossip columnist tried to extort a multibillionaire in exchange for keeping his name out of the rags. Wev. But I’m curious about the coverage of the victim’s political affiliations. CNN notes:

Burkle, one of the world's richest men, has an estimated personal wealth of more than $2 billion. He has given millions of dollars to political causes, including more than $200,000 to Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his campaigns.
Sounds like a Republican.

On the other hand, the New York Daily News says:

He is a major Democratic Party fund-raiser and is a senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton. Sean (Diddy) Combs, Leonardo DiCaprio, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hillary and Bill Clinton, former Calif. Gov. Gray Davis, former Vice President Al Gore and Bundchen are just a few of his acquaintances.
Sounds like a Democrat. (Can he really be pals with both Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger? That’s fun.)

None of which really matters, except that Page Six, for whom the extortionist worked, published several stories about Burkle that simply weren’t true.

Burkle had insisted to Page Six staffers and editors that the items were not true. Among the other false items is a Jan. 1 report that Burkle flew Tobey Maguire, girlfriend Jen Meyer and blonde actress Sarah Foster in his private jet to Aspen, Colo., where they "vacationed at Burkle's mansion."

Burkle does not own a mansion in Aspen, did not fly his private jet to Aspen, and didn't vacation with Foster, Maguire or Meyer.
Burkle sent a personal letter directly to the chairman of News Corp., which owns The Post (and Page Six)—Rupert Murdoch, who never replied. And I think we all know where on the spectrum Mr. “Fox” Murdoch’s ideological inclinations fall. Which might just sound like tinfoil hattery until you go back to CNN:

Burkle in February joined forces with union workers at nine Knight Ridder Inc. newspapers in an effort to buy the group. His company, Los Angeles-based The Yucaipa Cos. LLC, teamed with the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America, which had been looking for investors to help with the acquisition.
Hmm. A billionaire Democratic supporter who was getting involved with Murdoch’s competition.

Of course The Post is saying that the extortionist, Jared Paul Stern, was operating on his own and has suspended him. And maybe he was—although part of what he said (captured on tape by the Feds) that Burkle needed to do to keep his name out of the papers was hire his editor’s fiancée. Even if he was acting on his own, he was only able to go after Burkle because Burkle was being repeatedly attacked in the paper, and whose agenda was fueling that scenario is what interests me. It sounds like Murdoch was using part of his media empire to settle a political score—which isn’t illegal, but it’s not ethical, either. Gee, where have I heard that before…?

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The Road We’re Traveling

For 8 years, every form of abortion has been illegal in El Salvador, even in the event that the mother’s life is in danger. There are no exceptions. In the event of an ectopic pregnancy, the fallopian tube must burst before she can get surgery. There are “forensic vagina specialists” who “check vaginas for evidence of an abortion procedure.” Evan’s got a Rachel Maddow interview with Jack Hitt at AlterNet PEEK to which you must listen. It’s completely chilling. As if we needed more evidence for why safe and legal abortions are necessary, here it is.

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the bad attitude of the law

Leander Pickett is a teacher’s assistant at Englewood Elementary. According to colleagues, he’s a nice guy and a hard worker. On Tuesday he was directing traffic in the morning outside the school, making sure the bus “load/unload zone” was going smoothly. Then his day went all to shit. You see, two Homeland Security officers had pulled into the school’s loading zone “to look at a map”. When Pickett told them they had to move, they said “we’re Homeland Security, we’ll fuck your shit up if you don’t shut up”. I’m only slightly exaggerating:

[A]s Pickett was directing bus traffic, he said he was handcuffed and roughed up and humiliated by the very people that were supposed to protect him.

“I walked up to him and said, ‘Sir, you need to move.’ That’s when he said ‘I’m a police officer. I’m with Homeland Security … I’ll move it when I want to.’ That’s when he started grabbing me on my arm,” Pickett said.


Englewood media specialist, Terri Dreisonstok, went out and told them that Pickett was indeed an employee and he was right, etc… Says Terri:

“At that point I intervened and I went up to the gentleman and said, ‘Mr. Pickett is an employee here,’ and they said that didn’t matter. ‘We’re with Homeland Security,’ and on and on they went, and pretty soon, before you know it, he’s handcuffed and slammed against a car,” Brinson said. “All the children are watching, they’re all upset.”


All the kids were watching this. Nice. There are other people who witnessed the exchange/incident and all of them back-up Pickett’s account. Of course, Homeland Security doesn’t care about facts:

The department also said it’s looking into what happened, and that Pickett’s version is wrong. It claims he was antagonizing the officers.


It’s only just looking into but it already knows that Pickett is wrong—no matter those pesky witnesses. He antagonized the officers by telling them they needed to move their car away from a school bus loading/unloading zone. What-fucking-ever.

“If this is Homeland Security, I think we ought to be a little afraid,” Brinson [Gail, principal of Englewood] said.


Pickett is planning on suing. So how long after the “stonewall-admit-nothing” defense doesn’t work will the “few bad apples” bullshit be trotted out?

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Friday Blogwhoring

What's the word?

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Hey, McCain, Get Off of My Cloud (and Bush's Leg)

Why don't I like John McCain?

Because when it comes to a small handful of things in life, I believe there are no gray areas. One such black-and-white issue for me is this: if you bring harm to my family in any way, whether it is by assaulting one of them (God forbid) physically or verbally, stealing from one of them, or committing any other heinous act toward any of them at any time, I will do everything in my power to prevent your attack and, barring that, to set things straight immediately. Thereafter, I will make sure you are punished appropriately, including, but not limited to, guaranteeing that your very existence on this planet, from that day onward, will become an exercise in pure misery, day in and day out, until Death herself becomes less a force to be feared and more a merciful bearer of relief for which you will hope with every fiber of your being even as you wallow in your suffering.

Some people apparently don't see things quite that clearly, however. From a September 2004 Democracy Now interview:

Amy Goodman: Do you think this is similar to the attacks on you in 2000?

John McCain: No, I have put the attacks behind me. The attacks that were made on me are long ago and far away. I don't ever think about them or dwell on them.

Amy Goodman: They were very personal, very harsh and they questioned your war record.

John McCain: And I had to get over it, and I got over it, and I don't look back in anger. I look back at running for president as the greatest experience in my life.

Amy Goodman: It's one thing to get over it. It’s another to stand with and campaign with the man who did it to you: George Bush.

John McCain: I put it behind me. I put it behind. No, actually, we have a very good, friendly relationship.

Amy Goodman: Has he ever explained himself to you, why he attacked your wife, Cindy, and your kid?

John McCain: You know, my discussions with the president are private. Okay?


The mainstream media are all over McCain like a marked-down, oversized Goodwill tuxedo. They call him a maverick. They call him forward-thinking. They call him a true conservative.

Oh yeah? The last time I heard, conservatism was pretty much defined by a series of hands-off positions. Government should keep its hands off our wallets. Government should keep its hands off business and let the market decide if something will prosper or flounder. Government should stay out of people's personal lives.

*Cough...bullshit...cough*

Look at what our current "compassionate conservative" leaders have wrought: record deficits, greater burdens and ever-more-complicated regulations for small businesses, and a historic and ongoing interference with, and intrusion into, our private lives at levels that defy belief.

And John McCain is fine with this. He cozies up to Bush at every opportunity, despite the fact that Bush and his Evil Architect Karl Rove spread outrageous rumors—about McCain himself, his mental fitness after being a POW, his wife's struggle with alcohol, and his adopted daughter's mixed racial makeup and "legitimacy", whatever that means—during the 2000 campaign. And McCain actively praises the President, appearing onstage with him during the 2004 campaign, and throwing his weight behind anything Dear Leader says, no matter how ill-considered, no matter how unintelligible. Disgustingly, and equally disingenuously, he turns around and befriends such Religious Right stalwarts as Jerry Falwell after previously decrying their intolerance. Crooks and Liars has a clip of (and brief commentary about) Tim Russert's interview with McCain:

Russert: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

McCain: No, I don't. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain his views on this program when you have him on.

Russert actually questioned McCain pretty hard in the segment pointing out all his recent flip flops and showed that he is no longer the "maverick" that he's been portrayed to be. Russert used Pinkerton's quote calling him a: "born-again Bushophile" to describe his relationship with the President now.


One more thing. John McCain favors allowing government to control women's bodies and supported the dreadful, dangerous, anti-women legislation that was recently passed in South Dakota. In short, he is anti-choice.

And that is another one of my black-and-white issues: a politician either sees women as perfectly capable of making their own decisions with regard to matters concerning their own bodies, their own families, and their own lives, or he doesn't.

For the love of God, for the love of the country, or simply for the protection of Dubya's new trousers: Get down, boy. Step down, boy.

Please.

Crossposted at The Last Duchess.

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American Hero: Harry Taylor

Crooks and Liars has the video of the guy who Misty mentioned yesterday, telling Bush he was decidedly unhappy with his leadership. It’s fun to watch Bush squirm and be a spineless weasel, always making sure the audience is on his side, but more than that it’s inspiring to watch someone say, in precisely the calm and reasoned tone needed, what I hope I would have the presence of mind and bravery to say if given the same opportunity.

Mr. Harry Taylor, you have earned yourself a Shakespeare’s Sister Brass Balls Award:

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Douchery

Supporters of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay protested at an event Thursday held by the Democratic candidate for the congressman's seat, and the event quickly dissolved into a shouting and shoving match. Police were called, but made no arrests.

"I got pushed. I got hit. I got a sign wadded up in my face and my hat pulled down over my eyes," said Marsha Rovai, 69, a supporter of Nick Lampson. "They just did it to be nasty."

DeLay campaign manager Chris Homan said he organized the protest but DeLay, a Republican, didn't know about it.

"Mr. Lampson is going to have to get used to being confronted about his voting record the next seven months," Homan said. (Link.)
And, what?—his supporters are going to have to get used to being roughed up? Yeesh.

Crooks and Liars has more about the email that was sent out encouraging DeLay supporters to “give Lampson a parting shot that wrecks his press conference.” Nice.

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Bush Leak Authorization “Legal but unusual”

Oh come on:

Legal experts say that President Bush had the unquestionable authority to approve the disclosure of secret CIA information to reporters, but they add that the leak was highly unusual and amounted to using sensitive intelligence data for political gain.

"It is a question of whether the classified National Intelligence Estimate was used for domestic political purposes," said Jeffrey H. Smith, a Washington lawyer who formerly served as general counsel for the CIA.
It’s a question of ethics. Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean it’s ethical. The GOP, who pilloried Clinton for his extramarital blowjob long before he broke the law by lying under oath, certainly understand the distinction between something that is legal, but not ethical. But obviously, as always, their ethical code is a highly subjective one. By my calculations, if a president does something unethical that only affects his inner circle, that’s an unbelievable outrage. However, if a president does something unethical that affects national security and endangers the life of covert CIA operatives, that’s just peachy. Interesting.

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Food for Thought

The Dark Wraith has set forth a veritiable feast of ideas and analysis this morning, in his latest piece, Currencies of War. The article looks at the burgeoning arms race between the United States and Iran, and then goes on to analyze how the current geopolitical and economic climate is making an outbreak of hostilities between the two countries more likely than you may have thought.

You are politely encouraged to go read.

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Question of the Day

I was in Borders the other day purchasing Mozza’a new album, and as I was signing the receipt the sales assistant glanced at my credit card and then suddenly exclaimed, “Oh my God!! Are you Ian McEwan, the famous author??!!” Now, apart from the fact that my name is Iain McEwan, I cannot imagine what could possibly have given her the idea that I may be the Booker Prize winning writer of Amsterdam. Perhaps the foreign accent and the relative rarity of the name helped engender this erroneous assumption, but I’d have thought the tattered Bulls jacket, the unshaven chin, the cheap pants and the very un millionaire-like aura that exudes from every pore of my being would have quickly derailed such a train of thought.

In any event, she was beside herself with excitement, and I must confess that I was very tempted to answer in the affirmative, and then offer to host an impromptu book signing session for the other patrons. This would not have been completely out of character, as I have been known to do things that are almost as crazy in the past, but the Devil within gave me a rare moment of peace, and I instead let out a barking laugh, and pointed out the the additional “i” in my Christian name. This did not go down well, as she seemed to think it very rude of me to not be Ian McEwan, the glamorous wordsmith, and instead be Iain McEwan, the untalented pauper.

So has anything like this ever happened to you, either because of your name or an uncanny resemblance? And did you (or would you) take the plunge and play along?

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Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Because I am nothing if not dedicated to fulfilling my beloved Shakers' every desire:


This will be very useful in 2008, cats. (I’ll take the time then to make it look better. This was just a quickie. Ahem.)

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Mr. Unpopular

Bush is at 36%.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “Who the hell is still supporting this douchebag?” So I asked one of Shakespeare’s Sister crack staff of statisticians to break down just who is approving and disapproving of Bush these days.


Very interesting indeed. I had no idea there were no many mule fuckers. Huh.

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Breaking News: Bush admits he’s a total jag.

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Ha! (part deux)

From the "Tell Us What You Really Think" files:

Bush was taking questions during a discussion on the "Global War on Terror" at Central Piedmont Community College in NC and this exchange occured:

Q You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?

Q Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and --

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Booo!

THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.

Q And I would hope -- I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I'm saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.


C&L reports this guy is Harry Taylor.

Bravo to you, Mr. Taylor.

(hat tip C&L)

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Ha!

Just go look at the picture at The Heretik’s place.

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Fishy Link

All I’ve got to say about the newfound fossil that bridges the transition from fish to land animal is that, much like the Iraq war, the tax cuts, Bush’s character, Cheney’s character, Rove’s character, DeLay’s ethics (or lack thereof), the true motives of the anti-choice movement, and pretty much every other issue going straight back to and beyond the Civil War:

We were right!

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On Scooter Libby's Aria

And adding to Misty's post below, I'd like to call your attention to this MSNBC headline story (bolds mine):

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney’s former top aide told prosecutors that President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

The authorization came as the Bush administration faced mounting criticism about its failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the main reason the president and his aides had given for going to war.

Libby’s participation in a critical conversation with Miller on July 8, 2003, “occurred only after the vice president advised defendant that the president specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the National Intelligence Estimate,” the papers by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald stated. The filing did not specify the “certain information.”


Curioser and curioser, no? Not that this is any news to most of the reality-based community who suspected all along that Libby was merely carrying out the wishes of his higher-ups.

BRAVO! BRAVISSIMO, Fitzy! And to Congress, I say: Shall we go ahead and start those impeachment hearings now, please? Let's put on that rare opera in which the ending is not tragic; instead, we'll have an Act II in which the villains get taken out and the hero is hoisted onto the shoulders of a grateful, cheering people.

Nessun dorma, nessun dorma...tu pure o principessa, nella tua fredda crosspost.

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Libby sings

Remember the Plame case? I’m sure you also remember that this “was definitely going to look bad for Rove” and “might even get Darth Cheney” because of the testimony of I. “Scooter” Libby. We learn that Libby sings and, boy, does he have some pipes:

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to disclose the contents of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the media to defend the Bush administration’s decision to go to war with Iraq, according to papers filed in federal court on Wednesday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case.


Read the whole article, esp. if you need a run-down of what has been going on all these long months. [ETA:] Booman has a great breakdown and timeline of the whole affair, check it out.

It is a felony for a government official to reveal the name of an undercover CIA operative. By the look of the article and the few mentions of "by authorizing the disclosure of classified information, [Bush] had in effect declassified the information", apparently the WH is going to defend this by saying “Bush said it’s ok, so it’s ok”.

What was it his dad, the former President and former CIA Director said? Oh yes:

“I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.”—August 20th, 1999

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Happy National Tartan Day!

Mr. Shakes forwarded me this hilarious article about Scotland having recently been anointed "the worst small country to live in."

It's top of the charts for manic depression, alcoholism, lung cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and yellow, plaque-infected teeth. The end of the Scottish race seems guaranteed. We are the national equivalent of the dodo.

And who is to blame for this? Who is to blame for a country with a negative population growth, for a country that ranks 96th in the world of international soccer, for a country that harvests men at 4-foot-5 with sperm counts as low as the nation's year-round cloud cover? Someone has to pay for the corpse of a nation!

Roger Moore must die! The English bastard stole the greatest cinematic role from the only modern Scotsman who ever reached over 6-foot-2. Everyone knows that Scot Sean Connery was the greatest James Bond, always on target with a Beretta and between hot female thighs. He was a man who surely fathered thousands of children by wearing a short bathrobe in the international cock ring of spies. Then he was pulled off the secret agent beat by an effete English private school ninny, a cad who could not act his way out of a paper bag. Scotland's negative population growth would have been eliminated if Big Sean had been allowed to keep up his end of the bargain with the ladies.
Too funny! Although, I don’t happen to know a short Scotsman. Mr. Shakes, who stands 6’1, is nearly the runt of his litter of mates. I recall standing in the Tottenham Arms on Tottenham Court Road in London, having a drink with Mr. Shakes and his pals MWS and Big W, who were all towering over me, and getting a crick in my neck from looking up.

But nevermind all that. I found out in this amusing piece by beleaguered Scotsman Alan Black that today is National Tartan Day in the US. It’s not exactly St. Patrick’s Day, but we Scots must take what we can get. So, without further ado, the clan tartans of Shakes Manor:


Clan Lamont

My maiden name is Lemond, which is a sept of Clan Lamont. The septs of the clan are: Black, Brown, Bourdon, Burdon, Lamb, Lambie, Lammie, Lamondson, Landers, Lemond, Limond, Limont, Lucas, Luke, Lyon, Macalduie, MacClymont, MacGilledow, MacGillegowie,Macilzegowie, Macilwhom, MacLamond, MacLucas, MacLymont, MacPatrick, MacPhorich, MacSorley, Meikleham, Patrick, Sorley, Toward, Towart, Turner, White.

So if your name’s on that list, Ne parcas nec spernas!


Clan McEwan

If you’re a McEwan (or any one of the many variations), Reviresco!

I have an audio file of Mr. Shakes singing the Scottish National Anthem that I really, really want to post, but if I did, I would not live to blog another day, so this will have to suffice.

O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see your like again
That fought and died for
Your wee bit hill and glen.
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's army,
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.

The hills are bare now,
And autumn leaves lie thick and still
O'er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.



Those days are past now
And in the past they must remain
But we can still rise now
And be the nation again!
That stood against him
Proud Edward's army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.

O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see your like again
That fought and died for
Your wee bit hill and glen.
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's army,
And sent him homeward
Tae think again.


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Fear and Loathing

Apparently there's been a bit more wrassling in the Mommy Wars this week (which I have thankfully missed). I am, however, more interested in a couple of posts that have been written in response to it, by PK (scroll down to "Clarity") and by jo(e). (I wrote the original version of this post primarily in response to their posts and the related comments threads, but I think there's some resonance with the issues raised on Shakesspeare's Sister today in the post Quite a Joke" and its accompanying comments thread. (Apologies in advance for the length.)

What's interesting to me about these posts and the dynamics they describe is that they seem to be part of a much larger phenomenon, that of insecure persons either projecting their insecurities onto others, or resenting those who refuse to perpetuate them, and the existence of destructive cultural norms that encourage and reinforce such negative dynamics.

The discussion has mostly been centering on women, and particularly on matters pertaining to women's appearance and femininity, but it occurs to me that this is part of a much larger problem. I would even go so far as to suggest that it may be a form of cultural sickness.

In matters of appearance and femininity, women are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Often the harshest critics are other women, particularly women who are insecure and who have bought into our culture's definitions of female success. It is not enough that they struggle individually to meet these impossible standards; they serve as police and gatekeepers and judges as well, perhaps to justify their efforts, or to soothe the sting of failure, or to lay its blame on others.

When it comes to these standards, I "fail" in one area, and "succeed" in another, and both have little to do with intentional behaviors on my part. I "fail" and "succeed" through no agency of my own - but that's not what the femininity policewomen care about.

My "failure" is that I don't go out of my way to present a "feminine" appearance. A lot of this is just a facet of my basic physical nature: I wear glasses, I'm small-breasted, my hair is brown and fine, I have freckles, my teeth are yellow and crooked, and when I was a teenager I had horrible acne and braces. In a nutshell, I don't and didn't fit the standard beauty ideal of statuesque blonde with gleaming white teeth, perfect skin, big boobs and long flowing hair. Moreover, I not only don't fit, I don't even come close.

Not that people didn't try to get me to fit. One of my great annoyances in high school, more so even than the occasional people who made "four eyes" and nerd-girl cracks, were what I thought of as the Make-Over Girls. These girls -- who tended to conform to a shared aesthetic that was heavy on bleach-blonde feathered hair, blue eyeshadow and acid-wash jeans -- honestly thought they were doing me a favor by offering to teach me how to put on make-up, or telling me that I really ought to get a perm, and so on. They had real trouble accepting that I was not interested, and even more trouble grasping the idea that I did know how to use make-up and did own things like nylons and curling irons -- but chose not to wear or use them. While the reaction of these girls was more bewilderment than resentment, it presaged the sort of attitudes I would encounter after I left college. (College, thankfully, was a haven of hippie chicks, grunge girls, nerds, and nature lovers with boots and GoreTex. There were other aesthetic pressures, but not of the kind I endured in high school.)

Basically, the choices I made with regards to my clothing and adornments, while not in keeping with certain gender ideals, were offset by the fact that my bodily appearance was itself a bit out of the range of ideal -- women have wanted to "help" me look more like a "proper" woman should, and have been puzzled or slightly miffed by my refusal to accept such "help" (and still do), but their reactions have been tempered by their acknowledgement that nothing short of radical physical change would bring me to that ideal. When the person you're trying to "help" only needs a haircut to match the ideal, her resistance to your help is more pernicious than one who would need a boob job, a nose job, a skin peel, braces, and aggressive hair treatments to get there. So in this regard, being a "failure" from the get-go, I'm mostly left to my own devices, which is how I prefer it.

(A discussion of clothing should probably go in here somewhere, but, to be honest, clothing has only become an issue as I've gotten older. When I was in high school, I basically wore what other people my age wore, and I've never been averse to occasionally dressing up in nylons, heels, and short skirts. Dressing properly for work, on the other hand... let's just say I hate, hate, hate nylons on a daily basis, and would rather wear clothes that are comfortable and shlumpy than stylish and painful. But I'm not sure how much of the flak I get for my clothing is part of the particular dynamic I'm considering, and how much is part of a general pressure to conform to a general notion of what "professional" clothing looks like.)

On the other hand, my physical "success" has been a harder thing to bear. Bluntly put, I am attractively thin through no particular effort of my own. I don't diet, I don't really exercise, and I eat all kinds of crap, including "bad" and "fattening" foods like carbs and chocolate and rich foofy desserts. This isn't a matter of any particular pride on my part, as (a) I've been this way since high school (with the exception of my sophomore year at college, where eating a large chocolate bar every day for a month in combination with greasy dorm food added about five pounds to my body), (b) I'm a lazy cook, and it doesn't take much to make me feel full, and (c) it's not really healthy. I should exercise more, and eat more fruits and vegetables. I'm twitchy and nervous and I don't eat a lot. And I'm thin.

You'd think that'd be the beginning and end of it, but, somehow, I always feel pressured to justify myself. I have learned the hard way that I should steer clear of groups of women who are dieting. My shape, and the fact that it's just the way I am without any particular effort on my part, is apparently threatening, to judge by the comments I get if I admit to any of this. (Which accounts, no doubt, for my somewhat defensive tone here. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to avoid such admissions, because when appearance, weight and diets are the main topic of conversation, people will grill you about what you do or don't eat and will get mad at you if you refuse to answer. Honestly, there's no way to win.) Some people clearly perceive me as "cheating" for having "success" without effort; others assume that my weight is somehow a judgement on them and get angry at me for making their own "failures" more apparent; some become envious; others get depressed at their personal lack of success. And all I am doing is standing there in the body nature gave me, admitting it.

Now, it's easy to assume that this is just a woman thing, or even just a weight thing, but here's what makes me think otherwise. I've encountered similar reactions whenever I am not engaging in a behavior that reinforces group norms. Note that I'm not talking about a stiff-necked refusal to participate, nor a down-the-nose sniffiness about the silly doings of others. I'm talking about being in the company of people doing something they feel self-conscious about but which they are doing in response to peer pressure (real or perceived) and not doing it -- not because I disapprove of whatever it is, but because for me, personally, it doesn't float my boat/ makes me sick/ is more than I can afford / isn't fun/ whatever.

Take alcohol. Sometimes I drink it, but usually not. Partly it's because I don't like the taste of most of the standard forms (beer, wine), but largely it's because I get depressed and headachy shortly after drinking it in any quantity. Other people like it, and I don't mind them drinking it -- why would I? -- and my preference is to sit there with my lemonade or whatever and enjoy their company while they drink their beers or whatever. With my good friends, this is what happens. But with people who are more acquaintances than close friends, there is always -- and I mean always someone who takes personal offense at this. First they try to cajole me into drinking. I say no, politely. They push. I say no again. They push, I resist -- always politely, often explaining how alcohol makes me sick -- and this continues until they get mad at me and go stomping off. Once I managed to corner one of these people the next day, and he admitted that a large part of the reason he got so upset was that he thought I was being stuck up and superior for not getting drunk with the rest of the group.

What I have begun to suspect is that, for many people, life is filled with vaguely unpleasant things that they do because it is expected that "everyone" does them, and things that are "good" but which require pain and effort. If you refuse to do the former, or if you have an easy time being "good," these people get angry at you, because it feels to them like a referendum on their own lives, and makes them feel like "failures" according to the narrow definitions of success they've accepted.

Combine this with defensiveness, and it gets even uglier. If you say obey the law because it is in accord with your beliefs, and not because you're afraid of punishment, you must be a liar. If you say you are happy with the way you look, and think other people look fine too, you're deluded or a phony. If you say that people are generally good, they think you're naive or stupid, or that you're hiding something.

They project their own fears, perceived shortcomings, and anxieties out into the world, and are reassured when the world mirrors them back -- because if they are suffering, and the whole world is suffering, then there is nothing wrong with them. It's when someone refuses to act like that mirror -- whether deliberately, or unconsciously -- that that aggressive defensiveness gets deployed. They feel attacked, because the existence of someone who does not -- or even (gasp) refuses to -- suffer raises the possibility that it is one's own fault for one's situation. The woman who is attractive without trying raises resentment because she illuminates the "failures" of women who see themselves as falling short of their ideal even after years of struggle (no matter that the ideal is a nearly impossible one). The man who can live his life honorably without the threat of Hell or jail time is threatening to the people who assume that their anti-social urges are "human nature" rather than the result of unhealthy cultural pressures.

By attacking individuals who do not -- by accident or by design -- buy into the destructive norms of our culture, these people avoid the hard work of challenging those norms. The creative abilities that people could use to reform or replace those norms are distorted, mutating into either self-loathing or hostility towards others. I know that these norms are powerful, for I too feel these negative emotions towards myself and others. I judge, for I know that I am being judged. The thing is, there are powerful forces benefitting from these damaging norms' existence, and they work tirelessly to reforce them. They want us to be anxious, insecure, and defensive, because that makes us easier to manipulate. Strong confident people threaten those who benefit from inequities and back-biting and heirarchical thinking; fearful, insecure ones do not. It is not surprising, therefore, that those in power -- economic, political, cultural, sexual, whatever -- would want to keep it, nor that they don't mind when we fight each other for the meager, unhealthy crumbs they drop us instead of turning our gazes to the real problems.

Surely, those would be a better target for our anger, resentment, and frustration, than each other.

Cross-posted at Frogs and Ravens

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Bush is so over.

Quote of the Day, via Griffin:

“We just want him to raise money. Late at night. In an undisclosed location.”

— An aide to Illinois gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka (R), quoted in the Washington Post, when asked if Topinka wanted President Bush to campaign for her.

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How do we deal with this?

This post by Ampersand really bothers me, not because I think he’s wrong, but because he’s absolutely right.

The toddler wandered from her nursery school, Ready Teddy Go, through a door left open. A bricklayer named Clive Peachey drove past her in his truck. At the inquest, he stated, "I kept thinking I should go back. The reason I didn't was because I thought people might think I was trying to abduct her."

Instead, he assured himself that the parents must be "driving around" and would find her.

A few minutes thereafter, Abby fatally fell into an algae-covered pond.
There's no doubt that child molestation is a real problem, and increased awareness is a good thing. But as Abby's story horribly illustrates, societies in which adults don't feel free to approach or help strange children, are not child-safe.
As Ampersand notes, the culture of suspicion disproportionately affects men, which is what makes Peachey’s response, as tragic as it is, understandable. There’s a part of me that feels like he should have been considering the worst-case scenario for the child (which, unfortunately, came to pass) rather than his own worst-case scenario—being accused of attempted abduction. But most of me is wholly sympathetic to him, because I am aware of the hysteria that can build instantaneously around the remotest perception of endangering a child.

So, what do we do about this? How do we protect children from sexual predators, which (especially as we’ve seen the past few days) is a very real problem, while also protecting them from danger by returning to a place where an adult didn’t feel guilty just at the thought of approaching a strange child who appears in need? Any thoughts?

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Recommended Reading

Amanda on Asshole Rights.

Michael Stickings on Liberalism Unbound.

Creature on Our Adult Talking Points.

Please feel free to use this as a blogwhoring thread, as always.

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The Dems’ New Strategy on Abortion

Are you ready for it?

Expanding access to contraceptives and sex education!

As Jill at Feministe notes:

Well, no one has ever thought of this before! It’s not what Planned Parenthood has been advocating for the past, oh, 70-plus years.

But good for the Dems for finally catching on. Except, no, progressive Democratic politicians have been pushing this one for a while too. So, really, this is old news. But good on the Dems for finally getting their shit together and whipping up the Prevention First Act.
Yeah, well, exactly. Better late than never.

NARAL’s polling shows respondents in favor of the legislation by a margin of 3-to-1. Celinda Lake, a pollster with Lake Snell Perry Mermin and Associates, working for NARAL, said, “It has the potential to be both a wedge and a turnout issue post-Alito. It shows how extreme a faction [within] the Republican Party is.”

Indeed. Of course, I would like to note that I hope this legislation is being thought of as an expansion of pro-choice policy, and that Dems are still resolved to fight for safe and legal abortion in addition to making prevention a wedge issue.

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Punk rock plus Indian appearance equals threat to the United Kingdom

What's all this, then?


Via Alex at Martini Republic, we learn that British upper lips aren't any stiffer than ours when it comes to hysterical overreaction:

British anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said Wednesday.

Detectives halted the London-bound flight at Durham Tees Valley Airport in northern England and Harraj Mann, 24, was taken off.

The taxi driver had become worried on the way to the airport because Mann had been singing along to The Clash's 1979 anthem "London Calling," which features the lyrics "Now war is declared — and battle come down" while other lines warn of a "meltdown expected."

Mann told British newspapers the taxi had been fitted with a music system which allowed him to plug in his MP3 player and he had been playing The Clash, Procol Harum, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles to the driver.


Had this passenger's name been Frank Smith rather than Harraj Mann...well, it's hardly worth the speculation (Google cache).

"I am 100 per cent British and have lived in Hartlepool for 22 years," said Mr Mann.

"I'm Asian, but I'm the most non-Indian person I know. Sometimes I forget that I look Indian. I do everything that every other Hartlepool person does. I had a bacon sandwich this morning.

"It was very embarrassing and I thought it was preposterous."


Still, it's all probable cause for Britain's finest.

A spokesman for Durham Police said: "Safety is paramount and we respond to concerns from members of the public in the way they would expect us to. In this
case, the report was made with the best of intentions and we would not want to
discourage people from contacting us with genuine concerns."


What's that they say about good intentions?

(It's a cross-post-9/11 world...)

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They're still enjoying politics...sort of

Once again - because it is well worth repeating - we present the quote that keeps on giving:


U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice, September 13, 2005:

I think that the most interesting thing to me about Iraq is that politics has broken out in Iraq in a really major way. And the Iraqis seem to enjoy politics.


Ahem.

Kirk Semple, New York Times, April 6, 2006:

A top adviser to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Wednesday that the visit this week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain had backfired, prolonging a deadlock over a new government and strengthening Mr. Jaafari's resolve to keep his post.

"Pressure from outside is not helping to speed up any solution," said the adviser, Haider al-Abadi. "All it's doing is hardening the position of people who are supporting Jaafari."

He added, "They shouldn't have come to Baghdad."

His comments were echoed by several political leaders on Wednesday, including Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

Such ingratitude. And after all we've done for them.

(Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a cross-post...)

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Help—I need to wipe my ass; is there some celebrity who can show me how?

Buried in an article in The Scotsman about home births in Britain, I found this little gem:

The reluctance to choose a home birth comes despite celebrities doing so, including the TV presenter Davina McCall and Scots model Kirsty Hume. McCall, 38, who has announced she is expecting her third child, described the experience of home birth as "truly amazing".
Oh, well, if celebrities are doing it, that’s a whole different story! That means every woman should be doing it, because women are such mindless lemmings that they must follow every celebrity craze, especially when the trail is being blazed by Z-list celebrities whose careers no one gives a flying fuck about, no less their child-bearing methods!

Sometimes, I just stop to ponder what I’d be like if I were actually The Woman the media would have us believe most women to be. Then I get the urge to hit myself in the head with a tack hammer, so I have to move on with my day.

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Say Cheese!


Cheeeeeeeeeese!

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"Fame, Fame, Fatal Fame...

...It can play hideous tricks on the brain.
But still I'd rather be famous
than righteous
or holy
any day, any day, any day."

(The Smiths)

Apparently, on last night's Colbert Report, more precious seconds were shaved off of my 15 minutes of fame. (Thank you, Fritz for the screen grab.)

Here's the evidence:


So, what's the deal? What was he talking about? Did he finally ask me to run away to Boston with him and get married? On the night I wasn't watching?


(Frankly, Mr. Cross-Post/Since you ask/You are a flatulent pain in the arse...)

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Quite a Joke

Interesting reporting on this:

Hours after an exotic dancer was allegedly raped by members of the Duke University lacrosse team, a player apparently sent an e-mail saying he wanted to invite more strippers to his dorm room, kill them and skin them. It was not clear whether the message was serious or a joke.

…In the e-mail, addressed "To whom it may concern," the player says he has "decided to have some strippers over" to his dorm room, "however there will be no nudity."

"I plan on killing the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceding [sic] to cut their skin off," the author of the e-mail says, adding in vulgar terms that he would find the act sexually satisfying.
(The sender’s lawyer has confirmed the email’s authenticity.)

How, pray tell, could that content possibly be construed as “a joke?” I could understand, perhaps, “The intent of the message was not clear,” as in, perhaps he wasn’t being literal, but surely we aren’t so jaded that we can deem such a missive anything but serious, that we could remotely conceive of such filth as a joke. I mean, I’ve got a pretty wicked sense of humor, but I fail to discern a punchline, even though I’ve heard such “jokes” before.

I’ve never been accused of anything but unabashedly wearing my politics on my sleeve, but because I have a filthy mouth, a dirty sense of humor, an aesthetic lack of girliness (as in no make-up, no skirts, and perpetually untidy hair), and a collection of attributes which men and women alike deem “boyish”—namely, a fondness for Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, video game junkitude, the ability to correctly distinguish between DC and Marvel superheroes, and a pathological aversion to shopping—I have often found myself in the position of having been given a “pass” by a group of straight guys. Some women will immediately know what I’m describing—a group of male coworkers, perhaps, who let down their guard in your presence, after one of them, invariably, anoints you a “cool chick,” as if differentiating you from the rest of womankind is some kind of praise. It doesn’t matter whether these guys are conservatives or liberals; they are, however, always the kind of guy who thinks the highest compliment one could give a girl is treating her like a man with tits.

This is always a weird situation, especially since I have never coveted an entrè into such a group, but let a couple of dirty jokes fly in your presence sans objection, and you’ll find yourself being led behind the curtain in no time.

And among this particular kind of guy, it’s pretty damn ugly back there.

Back there is where “jokes” like the one above get told. And if you ever laughed at a blowjob joke, they expect you to laugh at that kind of “joke,” too.

I, of course, being me, tell them that violence against women isn’t funny, and ask them why they think it is.

“Oh, come on,” they say, and that’s when the eye-rolling begins. “It was a joke.”

“How so?” I ask. “What’s funny about it?”

Of course, there’s nothing funny about “jokes” like that, so they do the only thing they can. Attack.

“Dude, I thought you were different. You’re just a feminazi like every other chick. No sense of humor.”

This is where they expect me to get hysterical, to prove their point. And it’s where I say, “Actually, I do have a sense of humor, but I just don’t get this particular joke. Explain it to me. What’s funny about it?”

Evenly. Calmly. And I wait.

“Whatever, dude. Pfft.” And the curtain closes once again.

It’s not always “jokes” about violence against women. Sometimes it’s jokes about gays. Or people of another color, if they’re all white, as I am. And every time, without fail, they look disappointed that I’m not as “cool” as they thought I was, rather than ashamed of themselves, as they should be.

Among certain men, there’s seemingly a whole world of “joking” that comes at the expense of people who aren’t there to defend themselves. I’ve spoken to closeted servicemembers who have had to listen to all kinds of “fag jokes.” I had a neighbor in Chicago who is as white as I am, and blonde and blue-eyed, even though her father is black; she’s spent her entire life listening to racist jokes made in her presence, by people who have no idea that she is half-black. And I know other feminists who “pass,” through no endeavor of their own, and get a glimpse behind that curtain, until they open their mouths to object, at which point they are summarily dismissed as humorless. It’s only that world in which the Duke student’s email could be possibly considered a joke—a world in which the rest of us, the butts of the jokes, don’t live.

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Dear Lost,

I love you so very much. And how did you know I always liked that bald guy from Sex and the City? Sometimes I swear we're sharing a brain. Except we're not sharing all of it, because you have the part that goes "hey, check this out! Lots of crazy stuff is going on over on yonder island! Sexiness and mystery abound!" and I have the part that goes "dude, that's INSANE!" So really, it's a rather symbiotic little sitch we got ourselves. Yes, indeedy it is.

Sincerely,
Tart

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Question of the Day

Nobody wants to be president anymore.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I’ve mentioned this before, but, when I was a lispy little thing, I used to say I wanted to be “the world’th foremotht bat exthpert.” I liked bats. Whatever.

Clearly, I still have no idea what I really want to be when I grow up.

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DHS about to be probed

And not in a good way.

Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has announced that his committee is launching an "aggressive" probe into DHS's hiring and security-clearance practices that will focus on Doyle but look at the larger problems unveiled by Doyle's computer usage at the agency.

Here's an excerpt from the press release. "'Mr. Doyle allegedly used a government-issued computer to provide potentially sensitive information over the internet to a complete stranger,' King said. 'What if the person on the other end had been a member of al-Qa'ida or a similar terrorist organization and used this information to blackmail Mr. Doyle?'"
The rest of the press release can be read at the link.

I guess we’ve finally found the one issue the GOP is willing to investigate. Someone ruder than I might suggest that perhaps it’s just to get a gander at the evidence, since they don’t seem interested in investigating anything else. Someone more vulgar than I might suggest that they’re drooling over the prospect of sordid details of sex crimes, since their pages of their copies of the Starr Report are starting to stick together. Someone more cynical than I might suggest that even this fresh horror would receive scant attention were it not an election year. But not me. I would never say any of those things and would denounce anyone who did as a traitor.

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Dodd for Pres?

Political Wire:

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) says he is considering running for president in 2008, according to the Hartford Courant.

Said Dodd: "It's an itch. Could grow. Could disappear. It's an itch."
What do we think of this? Connecticutters? (Connecticutians? Wev.)

I don’t know a ton about him, except that he voted yes on prohibiting same-sex marriage a decade ago, a position I hope has changed, and generally seems to fall on the political spectrum somewhere between me and the other idiot Senator from the same state, which, basically, makes him a Democrat.

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Necessary Accoutrements

(Warning: Not work safe.)

Okay fine. But where do I get the “hers”?

Spudsy, consider this my answer to your QotD.

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Quote of the Day

Yesterday, actually. I almost forgot the mention this, but luckily Dlisted reminded me!

Simon Cowell to Ryan Seacrest on last night’s American Idol: “Ryan, with respect, I’m not the one trying to look like someone out of Desperate Housewives. Lose the beard.”

Ooh, snap! Methinks he wasn’t talking about this beard:



But this one:


I know everyone hates Ryan Seacrest, but I think he’s adorable and totally likable; I can’t help myself. And one day, if my deepest wish comes true, he will come out of the closet, and all the heads of all the conservative homobigots who watch American Idol will just explode, and I will be very happy.

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The Sanctity of Marriage

“Eminem's dysfunctional relationship with wife Kim has hit another low -- he filed divorce papers Wednesday, less than three months after remarrying her.”

One more go-round between these two, and I think we’re going to need a Constitutional Amendment.

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Words (Almost) Fail Me

Brian Doyle was the second DHS employee to get busted on child sex charges.

Apparently, “a senior Homeland Security Department law enforcement agent was busted last October for exposing himself to a girl in the food court of a mall,” and not only that—the agent, Frank Figueroa, used to run Operation Predator, the Department of Homeland Security’s program to combat child sex abuse.

Yes, that’s correct. A child sex predator, charged with exposing himself and masturbating in front of a 16-year-old girl in a mall, was heading up Operation Predator. He has pleaded No Contest.

The GOP is a breeding ground for lunatics. That is all.

(Thanks to Blogenfreude for the heads-up.)

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I’m sure to be hauled in any day now.

Good grief:

Anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said on Wednesday…

The taxi driver had become worried on the way to the airport because Mann had been singing along to The Clash's 1979 anthem "London Calling," which features the lyrics "Now war is declared -- and battle come down" while other lines warn of a "meltdown expected".

Mann told newspapers the taxi had been fitted with a music system which allowed him to plug in his MP3 player and he had been playing The Clash, Procol Harum, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles to the driver.

"He didn't like Led Zeppelin or The Clash but I don't think there was any need to tell the police," Mann told the Daily Mirror.

A Durham police spokeswoman said Mann had been released after questioning -- but had missed his flight.
First of all, this is ridiculous, and that cabbie’s a total buttfor.

Secondly, OMG—I literally sing in my sleep. I’m always singing to myself, without even realizing I’m doing it. Like I need something else to worry about. Fates save me if some ninnybrained moron with a trigger finger poised over his cellphone overhears me singing Ask!

Shakes: And if it’s not love, then it’s the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb that will bring us together…

Moron: 911! 911!

Sheesh.

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of "girly men" and "smart talk"

Melissa emailed this to me earlier:

Smart Talk and Girly Talk on the Campaign Trail

According to a computer text analysis that used 271 transcripts of debates, townhall meetings, and televised conferences and interviews:

Cheney is a “man’s man”, Edwards edged out Bush on being “girly”, and Kerry sounds suicidal.

Specifically, they rated each candidate’s use of language along six dimensions: cognitive complexity (marked by sophisticated sentence structure and word choice); femininity (use of words and speech patterns favored by women); depression (use of words that are markers for depression or known “indicators of suicidality”); age (preference for words favored by young or old people); presidentiality (speech patterns and frequently occurring words favored by presidents since FDR in their speeches); and honesty (based on analyses of samples of truthful and deceptive language).


The article mentioned results for all categories except honesty. Interesting.

Let’s go back to the “manly/girly” thing for a moment, shall we? Just what was it Edwards talked about more than Cheney that, apparently, made him “girly”? Equality? The poor? Education? What is it that Cheney said that is so manly? Could it be "go fuck yourself"? Ok, to be fair, that wasn’t from the campaign cycle. But this is, taken from the Veep debate:

It’s important to look at all of our developments in Iraq within the broader context of the global war on terror. And, after 9/11, it became clear that we had to do several things to have a successful strategy to win the global war on terror, specifically that we had to go after the terrorists where ever we might find them, that we also had to go after state sponsors of terror, those who might provide sanctuary or safe harbor for terror.


Maybe it’s saying the word “terror” four times in one breath. Is repetition manly?

Next we get a good idea of why they didn’t report the honesty category. From the same debate, next paragraph:

Concern about Iraq specifically focused on the fact that Saddam Hussein had been, for years, listed on the state sponsor of terror, that they he had established relationships with Abu Nidal, who operated out of Baghdad; he paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers; and he had an established relationship with Al Qaida.


Then responding to Edwards (who just responded to the above):

I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11…


Seriously.

Anyway, the WaPo article theorizes that these finding illustrate the real reason Kerry/Edwards lost. That Bush/Cheney gave the most “smart talk” and Kerry/Edwards the most “girly talk” and Americans can’t do for “girly”, no siree. Wev.



(go cross-post yourself!)

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The Rich Get Richer

We all knew Bush’s tax cuts were going to disproportionately favor the wealthy. Well, the numbers are in, so now we know just how much he helped his pals.

Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more, about one-tenth of 1 percent all taxpayers, reaped 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003...

The analyses show that more than 70 percent of the tax savings on investment income went to the top 2 percent, about 2.6 million taxpayers.
Sickening. Meanwhile, “Last year was the first year on record, according to an annual study conducted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, that a full-time worker at minimum wage could not afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country at average market rates.”

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Conservatives love to babble about how progressives “hate America.” I don’t hate America—but I do hate certain things about America. I hate its promotion of avarice above social conscience, its fascination with wealth, its disdain of compassion for the weak, its delight in ignorance, its xenophobic nationalism, the immutable beliefs among so many of its citizens that the markets solve everything, that this country is the Almighty’s gift to the world, especially when it’s a still a really shitty place to live for lots of struggling people, that those people are always, only, to blame for their troubles, and that there’s something wrong with the rest of us who don’t wrap our hands around the throat of American Dream and wring every last bit of life out of it to our own benefit.

I hate that the idea that some of us could do with a little less so that others could have a little more has become a punchline.

Bush, and his administration, and his most enthusiastic supporters, represent all of it, even though they patently refuse to own up to it, instead calling us America-haters, wrapping themselves in the flag, and declaring themselves the True Patriots, so it’s all but impossible for someone like me to express my abhorrence of them without seemingly attacking America itself, so it’s easier for them to do what they really want to do—turn America into a place I really, genuinely do hate, by ridding it of everything that I love.

Because there are things I love about this country. I love that it is a beautiful mosiac of people and cultures and ideas; I love its landscapes; I love its spirit of adventure and innovation; I love that it produces some of the most generous and unique people on the planet; I love its humor; I love that it really does have the potential to be a land of opporunity for everyone, if we really gave that notion half the chance it deserved.

And those are precisely the things the Bush Brigade endeavors to crush, turning America into a nation where everyone who is not blandly, mindlessly like its self-appointed True Patriots are de facto threatening, where the natural and philsophical resources are raped and destroyed in the acquisition of more wealth, where philanthropy and empathy are relegated to little more than cute, clichéd memories, where the barrel-chested barons of a new Gilded Age stand astride the bodies of those who have been condemned to less fortunate fates, singing the praises of social Darwinism and bellowing about the superfluity of a social safety net. “The government never gave me anything!” they declare, as they deposit their million-dollar checks from their latest no-bid Defense Department contract then head off to Tiffany’s to get The Little Woman a bauble with their fat tax return.

They’re a truly disgusting lot. And the next time one of them has the temerity to accuse me of hating America, I’m going to tell them flat out, “No, I don’t hate America. I hate you.”

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Lunchtime Laffs

Scenes from a video store, with an energy dome tip to Tbogg, who looks into his crystal ball and predicts:

Both Brokeback Mountain and The Chronicles Of Narnia are being released on DVD tomorrow, and besides witnessing scenes like this (the above link) from your local Blockbuster you can start placing your bets on which conservative culture commando will be the first to point out that Narnia is outselling Brokeback and, therefore, America wants fewer gay cowboys and more talking Jesus lions.

I'm betting on The Virgin Ben, who I'm sure won't be rentin' no faggot cowboy movie.

Then there's this picture, brought to you by Dependable Renegade:


Do you think that garbage can holds the Bush/Cheney sticker scraped off their back bumper?

(Cross-Posts are frequently, secretly fond of each other...)

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Bush: Death Preferable to Non-Procreative Sex

That’s the only logical conclusion. When criminalized abortion is preferable to safe and legal abortions, when abstinence education is advocated in favor of comprehensive sex ed even in the face of evidence that kids who go through abstinence courses are more likely to have unsafe sex, when a vaccine against an STD that causes cervical cancer is squashed because eliminating the threat would “encourage casual sex,” when a possible HIV prevention pill is criticized for the same reason, there is no other conclusion other than conservatives would rather see you dead than having recreational sex. Period.

And now, to add to the mounting evidence, this: Bush’s AIDS prevention plan is eroding prevention efforts—including mother-to-child transmissions—because it requires such a large percentage of the funding to go to abstinence and fidelity promotion.

The Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator requires that 20 percent of all AIDS spending go for prevention. Half the prevention budget must be spent to stop sexual transmission of HIV. Two-thirds of that spending, in turn, must be used promoting abstinence and fidelity…

In perhaps the largest adjustment, one country cut from $8 million to $4 million its spending on prevention services for couples in which one person has HIV infection and the other does not -- an extremely high-risk group -- as well as on sexually active youths and sex workers…

The abstinence policy "is basically unworkable," said Paul Zeitz, director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "This shows the problem very clearly and starkly."
Proponents of this idiotic policy are big fans of saying things like, “Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV,” which is true—except it ignores the reality that abstinence as a prescription for prevention doesn’t work, because people are going to have sex. Some of them will even be people who were abstinent until marriage and have always been faithful to their spouses—spouses who have not been faithful and are now HIV+. (This is particularly a problem for women in poor countries.) So how, exactly, does abstinence and fidelity protect them?

*crickets*

Continually insisting that people just should be abstinent and faithful addresses this problem as if the world is the way Bush & Company want it to be, rather than the way the world really is. Wishing and hoping and praying that people will never engage in unsafe, casual sex is pointless—and it’s killing people. They know this. They see the same evidence we do. And they don’t care.

They say that condoms can be made available as a last resort. But fuck that. Condoms should be flowing like rivers, falling from the skies like rain, in every country where AIDS is wreaking havoc upon its population. Not another single dime should be spent on a billboard, a pamphlet, a button, advocating abstinence until we have made sure that everyone who already is having sex, is having safe sex. Then we can worry about denying innate urges. Until safe sex is the standard, directing the majority of funding toward these ludicrous policies rooted in repression is catastrophically foolish.

But they’d rather see a million dead children than a million free condoms. And that’s the truth. How fucked up is that?

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Wednesday Blogwhoring

Sock it to me, cats.

Couple of recommendations:

Pam educates Wolfie in a nifty guest-post over at FDL.

Mike the Mad Biologist tries to get a handle (ahem) on conservatives’ sex values.

Interesting article from Greg Sargent looking at why Rove and Libby risked perjury charges during the Plame investigation.

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McCain is a Petulant Arse

If this buttfor can’t even hack a heckling audience, how does he expect to be president?

Sen. John McCain threatened on Tuesday to cut short a speech to union leaders who booed his immigration views and later challenged his statements on organized labor and the Iraq war.

"If you like, I will leave," McCain told the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, pivoting briefly from the lectern. He returned to the microphone after the crowd quieted.

"OK, then please give me the courtesy I would give you."
Wev. Is there a Republican who doesn’t talk to adults like they’re children? Who doesn’t refuse to face people who disagree with them and aren’t afraid to make it known? Who doesn’t reject accountability, or the notion that courtesy is earned, not demanded?

Later, the senator outlined his position on the Senate immigration debate, saying tougher border enforcement must be accompanied by guest-worker provisions that give illegal immigrants a legal path toward citizenship.

Murmurs from the crowd turned to booing. "Pay a decent wage!" one audience member shouted.

"I've heard that statement before," McCain said before threatening to leave.
What a baby.

In the speech, McCain also argued that withdrawing U.S. troops prematurely from Iraq would turn terrorists loose on the United States.

This time, there was no booing — though one audience member cursed from the back of the crowd.

[…]

But he took more questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain's job offer.

"I'll take it!" one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

Some in the crowd said they didn't appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic.
People like McCain have no idea what the fuck real life is like anymore. Of course people would take that job. A lot of people do a lot worse jobs for a lot less money. Even Americans, who people like him like to assume just “won’t do” certain jobs. There’s a difference between refusing to do a job because you think you’re above it, which is what they think is the problem, and not choosing a certain job because you couldn’t possibly support yourself, no less a family, on the salary being offered. People like McCain think that Americans won’t clean toilets or pick fruit or whatever because of pride. Well, I grew up in Northwest Indiana when all the steel mills were closing, and men who got laid off from those jobs to find out that there was nothing left for them did anything they could to put food on their tables. Men who had been supervisors were slinging hash and stocking shelves, working two and three menial jobs to try to avoid losing their homes. Between pride and feeding your kids, the kids win out every time. How dare he suggest that there are people who wouldn’t, or couldn’t, pick lettuce if given a livable wage? Asshole.

"I was impressed with his comedy routine and ability to tap dance without music. But I was impressed with nothing else about him," said John Wasniewski of Milwaukee. "He's supposed to be Mr. Straight Talk?"
Welcome to the real America, Mr. McCain.

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Excuse Me! Excuse Me!

From deep in an excellent article about Ralph Reed by Bob Moser:

One notable exception to the official silence has been Marvin Olasky, a longtime Texas adviser of Bush who literally wrote the book on "compassionate conservatism." Olasky, editor of the most popular organ of the evangelical right, World magazine, has been outspoken in his view that Reed "has damaged Christian political work by confirming for some the stereotype that evangelicals are easily manipulated
Oh, but you ARE, bitches! Ya ARE!
and that evangelical leaders use moral issues to line their pockets."
Show me one "evangelical leader" who lives in a one bedroom apartment and drives a Hyundai. Sorry, but that's a bit rich for my blood, Mr. Olasky. Maybe Reed "confirmed the stereotype" because it's TRUE??!! Hello?

Are there any voters more easy to manipulate than evangelical christians? Just toss in the word "Family" and throw some rocks at The Gays and out come the checkbooks. Why the hell do you think Tom DeLay is suddenly tripping over his Giorgio Brutinis to Come to Jesus? Cos lawyers is EXPENSIVE, y'all! Just pass the plate! Brother Tom is doing Gawd's Work.

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DHS Official Arrested in Sex Sting

The world never allows one to enjoy anything too long. Sigh.

This disgusting old coot, Brian Doyle, the fourth-ranking official in the Department of Homeland Security’s public affairs office, has been arrested and “charged with using a computer to seduce a child after authorities said he struck up sexual conversations with an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old girl.”

During online conversations, Doyle revealed his name, who he worked for and offered his office and government-issued cell phone numbers, the sheriff's office said.

On several occasions, Doyle instructed her to perform a sexual act while thinking of him and described explicit activities he wanted to have with her, investigators said.

He was booked into the Montgomery County Detention Center. Doyle also faces a charge of transmission of harmful material to a minor.
Unsurprisingly, the only comment is no comment—because of the ongoing investigation.

UPDATE: There’s a NY Times article today that, coincidentally, covers a Congressional hearing held yesterday about the sexual exploitation of children on the internet, which reveals, in part, the following:

The lead witness at the hearings was Justin Berry, who was molested as a teenager by people he had met online, and then went on to run a pornographic Web site for five years, featuring images of himself.

Mr. Berry was the subject of a front-page article in The New York Times in December by an investigative reporter, Kurt Eichenwald. The article detailed Mr. Berry's experiences and his efforts to assist in the prosecution of some of the 1,500 people who had paid him to perform on camera.

Mr. Eichenwald spent six months on the investigation and was subpoenaed to testify before the committee. He sat alongside Mr. Berry, 19, who delivered his remarks in a measured tone to the committee…

Child exploitation investigators in the Justice Department came under fire from lawmakers at the hearings, who questioned whether officials had responded too slowly to leads provided by Mr. Berry. These included clients' names and credit card numbers, which could presumably help investigators identify children entangled in the online pornography industry. The department denied that contention…

"Justin Berry stepped forward at a time the government did not know he existed," Mr. Eichenwald said. "He is, to experts' knowledge, the first such teenage witness to ever turn over this kind of vast evidence to the government."

Still, he added, "important data offered to the government by Justin has, even at this late date, not been collected and has only been reviewed by me."
This administration cannot do anything right. They aren’t properly vetting the people who work for them. They aren’t making sure the Justice Department is doing its bloody job and collecting evidence that could help get 1,500 pedophiles off the fucking streets. And I wouldn’t be the tiniest bit surprised if we come to find out that the Justice Department’s child exploitation unit has been decimated, either through redirection of funding or redirection of manpower, to make sure they’ve got enough people working on all the other messes the administration has created, because as we’ve seen again and again and again, anything that isn’t important to the Bush administration—i.e. anything that doesn’t serve Empire and enriching them and their cronies—has fallen to absolute shit. Our entire governmental infrastructure is collapsing under the weight of their utter indifference, and good luck to us in restoring it after they’ve raped our treasury and left us with a crushing deficit. Fuckers.

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Ringleader of the Tormentors

I have the new album.

It’s playing right now.

I am swooning.

Last night, when Mr. Shakes came home, he pulled the beautiful thing out of his jacket and handed it to me, and that’s when the ritual began. I slowly pulled off the cellophane and annoying stickers, and then held it in my hands, looking at the cover, looking at the track list. Then I opened it, breathed in the magical air—that particular scent of a new CD. And then I slipped out the liner notes, the lyrics. The grail.

It’s been exceedingly difficult to avoid reading any of the lyrics in advance this time around, since the reviews have been fantastic, which means lots of quotes. I always read advance reviews, but I try to skip the bits with excerpted lyrics, because those are, with Morrissey, the best part.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On the back page of the liner notes, is a picture of Mozza sitting on his powder blue Vespa, fiddling with an ancient camera. He’s leaning against a stone wall, upon which is scrawled in black graffiti: Smash Bush. That’s when the panting began. The CD went in the player.

Twelve tracks washed over me like the ocean. Now I’m spreading your legs / with mine in between / dear God… Retrousse nose / turned up and mischievous / forget-me-not eyes / that cried if we left his side… It’s the same old SOS / but with brand new broken fortunes / I am the same underneath / but this you, you surely knew? / Life is a pigsty… Streets of wet-black holes / on roads that you can never know / You can never have them / but they always have you… At last I am born / vulgarians know / I am finally born / I once thought that time accentuates despair / but now I don’t actually care / because I am born, born born…

Now I know, in the future (when all’s well), when I look back at this time, what music will accompany my memory. It is the music of strings arranged by Ennio Morricone, of an Italian children’s choir directed by Rosella Ruini, of production by Tony Visconti. They are songs that look at the state of the world, which looks hopeless, but sound hopeful nonetheless.

Which is, as it happens, exactly how I feel.

I live the life
I feel the pain
To sing the song
To tell the tale…

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