Class Act

**Trigger Warning**

Earlier this week, RNC Chairman Michael Steele said that from now on, the Republicans would challenge President Obama and the Democrats directly.

The honeymoon is over. We are going to challenge those policies that we believe are wrong, and we are going to do so without apology and without a second thought.

But there is a very important distinction I want to make here.

We are going to take this president on with class. We are going to take this president on with dignity. This will be a very sharp and marked contrast to the shabby and classless way that the Democrats and the far left spoke of President Bush.
This, then, must be an example of what he was talking about when he said "class" and "dignity."
She’s the 69-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives, second in the line of succession and the most powerful woman in U.S. history.

But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think “Pussy Galore.”

At least that’s the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week – a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

The RNC video, which begins with the speaker’s head in the iconic spy-series gun sight, implies that Pelosi has used her feminine wiles to dodge the truth about whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the use of waterboarding in 2002. While the P-word is never mentioned directly, in one section the speaker appears in a split screen alongside the Bond nemesis – and the video’s tagline is “Democrats Galore.”
Cute. But I thought they said they were going to be direct. So why didn't they just come out and say "Nancy Pelosi is a c*nt" and leave it at that?

Oh... it wouldn't be classy.

(To be fair, Mr. Steele said the GOP would take on the president with class and dignity. Anybody else, however, must be fair game.)

Cross-posted.

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Saturday Open Thread

What's on your mind, kittens?

I am spending this Saturday doing absolutely nothing. I might cook something or just order take-away. I attempted some laundry, but I discovered that eating a brownie while carrying a laundry basket was difficult. The brownie won.

Here's a pic of Miss Delia from several years ago. I explored a backup hard drive and found it. She can be an ornery kitten. Don't pet her on her stomach or thighs. I have battle scars.

deliaawake-and-pissed


I also found a delightful pic that was shot during a road trip many moons ago. I used it as the cover of my infrequent Petulant Christmas cd years ago. I thought I had a shot of just the sign, but I do not. You kittens will have to look at me AND Jesus.

Enjoy!

sinner2

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The Virtual Pub Is Open



TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

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More

This, you may have noticed, is a blog about teaspoons.

It is a blog about increments of measurement so infinitesimally tiny they haven't been given names, about glitches in the Matrix so swift and subtle that they are more easily missed than noticed, about tangible particles of a thing called progress not visible to the naked eye.

It is a blog about hope—not the kind that's packaged and sold in anti-aging creams, soda pop cans, or even political campaigns—but the real thing: A hopefulness that radiates like whoa from the pores of indefatigably optimistic dreamers, who close their eyes and tilt their faces up toward the sun and imagine a future where equality and freedom are not aspirational concepts, but defining features of every human life.

It is a blog about connection, and the realization that we are all in this thing together, and the resolve to be all in, because we make a difference in this world, for good or ill, because we know there is no neutral; there is no moral ambiguity in staying silent; there is only standing up and saying no to the indignities one human visits upon another, or saying yes.

It is a blog of wildly unreasonable expectations, because unreasonable expectations are the seeds of progress.

One of the greatest American advocates for progress, a gentleman you may have heard of named Dr. King, is not remembered for giving a speech about his resignation to the status quo. He is remembered because he admonished us not to wallow in the valley of despair and exhorted us to envision big things and told us to never be satisfied with less. He said to the world, "I have a dream," and that dream was what many people might have called in its time an unreasonable expectation.

Eradicating any kind of bigotry is, by definition, an unreasonable expectation—because institutional bigotry is deeply entrenched. Prejudice is ancient. Only a fool would imagine it can be overcome.

Except, of course, that it can be. Bit by bit. Particle by particle. Teaspoon by teaspoon. Person by person. Prejudice is ancient, but it dies with its every carrier and must be taught again. And it can be unlearned. Bit by bit. Particle by particle. Teaspoon by teaspoon. Person by person.

Patience, it takes, and determined sanguinity, to create people filled with expansive love and intractable respect for one another in a culture that casts us as enemies.

And it takes unreasonable expectations, the seeds of progress.

Thus, every time someone asks me, greets my bellicose display of unreasonable expectations with, the exceedingly un-progressive question, "What do you expect?" I will answer the same as I always do: I expect more.

Of course the Republican Party is racist. What do you expect?

I expect more.

Of course lots of male bloggers are misogynists. What do you expect?

I expect more.

Of course some television show is homophobic. What do you expect?

I expect more.

Of course some feminists are transphobic. What do you expect?

I expect more.

Of course there are ablest jokes in sitcoms. What do you expect?

I expect more.

Of course there are fat-hating jokes in advertisements. What do you expect?

I expect more.

You can't expect people to mess with iconic cultural images just to give a nod to diversity. It will upset people.

The fuck I can't. I expect more.

I'm not ironically detached, I'm not apathetic, I'm not resigned, and I'm not contemptuous of bleeding hearts. I am a greedy bitch with voracious expectations, and I dream long and lustfully of a better world that is both my muse and objective. I want it like the cracked earth of the desert wants rain, and I will neither apologize for nor amend my desire because of its remove from the here and now; its distance encourages my reach.

Don't bother asking me what I expect.

You already know the answer.

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Movies You Can't Netflix: Megaforce

(As I mentioned earlier, I've not one, but two (!!!), autographed stills from this film hanging in the study at Château Deeky. God bless the beasts and the Bostwicks for putting Sharpie to paper and making me an exceedingly happy spandex aficionado. This film, sadly, has not been released on DVD. Yet.)

A lot of phrases have been used to describe Megaforce, most of them variations of "shitty." The range seems to go from "pretty shitty" on one end, to "really shitty" near the middle, to "unbelievably shitty" down at the far end of the scale.

But let me tell you something: They are wrong. All wrong.

Megaforce is so blissfully self-aware, so steeped in the knowledge that it is nothing more than a silly film about motorcycles and spandex, that any attempt to take it remotely serious automatically fails. Megaforce is critical kryptonite. Try to take a swing at it, you'll see. It's like trying to punch a ghost: There is nothing to hit.

This film is fluff and it knows it. From Barry Bostwick's nudge-nudge-wink-wink performance to the ludicrous storyline, everything about this film is ridiculous. And that is its genius. It's one thing to be a crappy film; it's another thing altogether to be a crappy self-important film.

But, anyway… to the story.

Megaforce is a top-secret elite fighting force made up of volunteers from all the world's free countries. There's a guy from Japan, a guy from Mexico, a guy from Dallas named Dallas. And there's Ace Hunter, the group's leader. He's in charge since he's the only one with a rank, plus he's always dressed in gold spandex.

Hunter isn't very bright. But he's a nice guy and has a lot of confidence. That's not to say he's stupid, no. But he's a man who clearly knows his strengths, riding a motorcycle that shoots rockets chief among them.

Meanwhile…

Mercenaries from Gamibia have been breeching the border of neighboring Sardün and destroying model factories with fireworks. Sardün spent a lot of time building those little models, and the smell of burning plastic is making them nauseous. So Sardün asks Megaforce for aid to stop the attacks.

The delegation from Sardün consists of Zara, the Sardünian President's daughter, and Bryne-White, commander of the Sardünian armed forces. Now, let me mention that Zara appears to be an Indian, and Byrne-White is clearly an Englishman, and Sardün, when we finally see it, looks rather like Nevada. For a moment I thought the Zara/Bryne-White relationship was some clever commentary on Raj, then I remembered I was watching Megaforce, and quickly came to my senses. I'm not sure where Sardün is exactly, but it's pretty much indiscernible from Gamibia, which looks a whole heck of a lot like the same place Megaforce is headquartered. All look suspiciously like the Silver State. (Hooray for economic locations!)

Zara and Byrne-White tour Megaforce's headquarters, which is, of course, hidden deep inside a cave somewhere. They meet the team's scientist, see lots of high tech machinery, and get a look at Megaforce's formal wear. These outfits may actually be worse than the spandex suits. Imagine Jean-Paul Gaultier's even gayer brother designing a new outfit for Cap'n Crunch, and you'll have an idea of what I am talking about.

Sure, Ace still manages to look good in his outfit, because he's that fuckin' cool, but Dallas, well, he looks like Woody Harrelson vacationing at Neverland Ranch. Despite this, Zara is impressed enough to lobby to join Megaforce on their strike into Gamibia. Maybe she wants one of those Cap'n Crunch outfits of her own. Even though she's a decorated veteran of the Sardünian military, Ace doesn't think she has what it takes to be a member of Megaforce. Nonetheless, he agrees: If she can prove herself worthy, she can come along.

Zara's tests seem to consist of playing a primitive video game followed by skydiving to "The Love Theme From Megaforce." During the vetting Zara and Hunter fall in love, not so much because they're attracted to one another, but because that's what happens in situations like these. By "situations like these" I mean, of course, "films about motorcycles and spandex." They do seem genuinely fond of one another, despite having no real reason to be. But it's kind of cute, like when two people in an arranged marriage accidentally fall for one another.

Despite her excellent performance in the arcade and in the air, and his obvious desire for her, Ace refuses to let her go on the mission. No, she'd just be in the way, the 60 men of Megaforce are a finely tuned machine, and she'd just be a distraction. Still, Ace asks her for a date, telling Zara to meet him in London after the mission.

It is also revealed that Guerera, top mercenary and leader of the Gamibian Army, just happens to be an old pal of Hunter's. More than an old pal, really, they're more like best friends. They've known each other since their days at the Academy (What academy? Don't ask questions like that, they're not important.) Somewhere along the way, Guerera followed the money. Hunter, of course took the high road, defending freedom.

Anyway, the plan is for Megaforce to sneak into the heart of Gamibia, blow up some of their models, and then flee across the border to Sardün. Not wasting any time, Megaforce parachutes into Gamibia on their motorcycles and in their jeeps. Allow me to repeat that. Megaforce parachutes into Gamibia on their motorcycles and in their jeeps. On their fucking motorcycles, people! Suddenly, I have a new favourite movie.

Things go well. Too well, actually. The Gamibian stronghold is destroyed, left a mass of burning plastic, flaming barrels, and overturned jeeps. Megaforce disappears into the night, having taken nary a casualty. Now to the rendezvous point for re-supply, then to Sardün and safety.

But…

While refueling in the Gamibian outback (AKA Henderson, NV), a Red Cross chopper swoops into Megaforce's camp. And guess who is onboard. Guerera! He's come to offer Hunter a deal. You see, Megaforce's attack was so successful, Gamibia is considering it an act of war. Sardün has no choice but to deny them safe passage across their border. Guerera tells Hunter that if Megaforce lays down their arms, he'll offer Hunter safe passage out of Gamibia. Apparently the rest of the team is expendable, so Hunter declines the offer.

Still, there is only one way out of Gamibia. Megaforce needs to make it to the dry lake bed, meet up with their plane and fly out to safety. Unfortunately, as Guerera explains, his battalion of tanks sits on the edge of bed, prepared to annihilate Hunter and company. So, what will happen?

Hunter explains: "The good guys always win, even in the Eighties."

He's got his bike, he's got spandex, and don't forget, he's got a date in London. There's no stopping him…

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Daily Kitteh



It's not easy getting anything done with Jabba the Cat sprawled across your desk.

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Salem or Bust

Shaker Ali_K emails:

So in the last couple weeks this anti-choicer has decided to plant himself in the median of the busy road leading to my work. He's all by his lonesome and there's not even a hospital or doctor's office nearby, let alone a Planned Parenthood, so I'm not entirely sure why he picked out this particular corner. At first he was holding a sign that had some generic version of "Abortion is Murder!!!11eleventyone" but yesterday he decided to up the ante.

Now he also has a pitchfork. With baby doll parts stuck on the tines.

Originally I was wondering if it would be worth it (to me) to flip him off or scream some obscenities at him as I pass him every day but when I saw that yesterday (and again this morning) I just had to laugh. Now I want to go up to him and tell him that he's single-handedly changed my worldview, and that I don't think that would have happened if it hadn't been for the pitchfork.
What's an idle fella with a pitchfork to do when there's no witch-killin' mobs to populate anymore?

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Mozza: 50


Happy Birthday, Old Man.

Today is Morrissey's 50th birthday. I'm not normally in the habit of recognizing celebrity birthdays (with rare exceptions), but, as anyone who's spent more than about three seconds at Shakesville is well aware, I've wiled away more than half my life in ardent awe of Morrissey, a man whose songs I once described, quite sincerely, "as familiar, as much a part of me, as my own thoughts. I sing Smiths songs in my sleep." It was Morrissey whose song (with The Smiths) "Shakespeare's Sister" led me to A Room of One's Own, which would later have a particular relevance in my life—and possibly yours.

My life, since about age 15, has been set to a Smiths/Morrissey soundtrack. I remember seeing the video for "How Soon Is Now" on 120 Minutes, the first glimpse I ever had of my future; I remember hearing Viva Hate in its gorgeous entirety for the first time and knowing my life would never be the same. It was as if someone had pulled aside a wall of ivy to reveal a hidden path meant just for me; it was the first moment I started to feel like the grown-up I would become.


Me with Morrissey as he signs a postcard for me—and I tell him it's a pleasure to meet him, and he responds, quite genuinely and sweetly and looking me dead in the eyes, "The pleasure is mine, my love," from which I have never recovered.


People who visit Shakes Manor, if they have the misfortune of walking through the shitpit that is our garage, are greeted by a framed, autographed poster of Morrissey sitting by the door that leads into the kitchen. Sometimes they ask why it's not hanging up somewhere—and the truth is because it feels a little silly. I treasure it, but I'm not 15 anymore.

Then again, Morrissey was never David Cassidy.

It was not any other pop idol of my youth to whom I turned when nothing else could bring me solace after being raped at 16. No other singer sent me to the library, searching out Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde, or to the dictionary, looking up words in the lyrics that were beyond my (generally more than adequate) vocabulary. (He is, after all, reports The Scotsman today the "greatest lyricist in the history of British popular music.") There is no other artist in my collection whose CDs never get dusty, because they contain songs relevant to me at 15 and relevant to me now and every point in-between, songs I need and want to hear often, always.

Frequently, I am affectionately teased by friends about my ardor for Morrissey, about my encyclopedic knowledge of All Things Mozza, about the fact that I can listen to those same damn songs over and over and over, without ever getting tired of them. Sometimes, I'm told I am envied that there exists music that means to much to me.

I remember the day that I bought Vauxhall and I. It was a beautiful day in March, 1994; the sun was shining and the air was crisp—a perfect spring day. My then-boyfriend and I walked to the music store from our college dorm and each bought a copy, then went back to his room to listen to it. (He had the better stereo.) We laid on the floor, with the bright morning light shining in through the windows, and smoked Dunhills and let the new album wash over us. I smiled as I listened to Mozza tell me to hold onto my friends:

Hold onto your friends; hold onto your friends
Resist or move on; be mad; be rash
Smoke and explode; sell all your clothes
Just bear in mind, there just might come a time
When you need some friends…

It has always seemed like good advice. I hold onto my friends, and I have long held onto the man who sang the words in the very same way I hold onto my friends. Dearly. Tightly. Loyally. With gratitude.

On Mozza's 50th birthday, it seems only right I should thank him for the rare and wonderful gift he has given me—a passion that has sustained and accompanied me throughout the last twenty years of my life. What an opportunity. What a treasure.

Don't forget the songs that made you cry
And the songs that saved your life
Yes, you're older now
And you're a clever swine
But they were the only ones who ever stood by you

The passing of time leaves empty lives waiting to be filled
I'm here with a cause
I'm holding a torch
In the corner of your room
Can you hear me?
And when you're dancing and laughing and finally living
Hear my voice in your head and think of me kindly...


Happy Birthday, friend. You've meant the world to me and still do.

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Friday Blogaround

Happy Friday, Shakers! I've been away for the past week, but I'm back and catching up on blogs. Here is what I've been reading this morning:

Zuska: Zuska's Outreach Project for D00dly D00ds. As part of her ongoing effort to point young proto-feminist men towards good feminist books and blogs, Zuska is hosting a blogular discussion of Allan G. Johnson's The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. Her readers will be discussing the book, one chapter a week, starting on Wednesday, May 27th.

Historiann: Lessons For Girls (I also came across this at Zuska's place, so H/T to her.)

Michael Ruhlman: Cookbooks That Teach

Language Log: MSM Science Bait

Christine Miserandino: Book Review: Revised and Updated - Coping with Prednisone

Marc Fitten: Marc Fitten's Indie 100

I'm going on an extensive book tour in support of my new novel, VALERIA'S LAST STAND. Only, to spice things up, I've decided that while I'm on the road, I will visit 100 independent book stores and blog about what I think makes them unique. It's a road trip, from city to city -- 100 stores, as long as it takes.
(H/T Maud Newton)

Cognitive Daily: Musicians have better memory--not just for music, but words and pictures too. Dave Munger responds to the American Idol Finale as only a cognitive scientist can!

Nisha Chittal at Racialicious: The Mainstream Media Ignored Delara Darabi. New Media Didn't

Leave your links, folks!

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Drug Rehab: Serbian Orthodox Church Style

[Trigger warning for violence.]

Vreme, a magazine based in Belgrade, has uncovered a rather disgusting course of treatment from a supposed rehabilitation center named Crna Reka. Part of their treatment involves outright violent beatings of patients to help cure them of their addictions:

In the video posted on Vreme's website on Friday, a young man believed to be a patient at the Crna Reka rehabilitation centre is seen being beaten repeatedly with a shovel, and then punched and kicked in the head by two men in sports gear.

The incident takes place in a room displaying Christian icons.

The priests at the facility said the beatings were a necessary part of the therapy for drug addiction and were carried out with the consent of patients' parents.

A former patient said that sometimes they would be told to form a circle around a "bad one" and watch them being beaten by the priests and other staff.

"They would hit him with clubs, shovels, fists, bars, belts, whatever they got their hands on," he told Vreme.
The one spot of good news is that Serbia's human rights monitor is planning to bring charges of torture to the center, which I'm hoping will result in its closure, followed by some serious jail time for the staff and "clergy."

Oh, and BBC? The video shows a blatantly clear beating, so you can remove the quote marks from your "Outrage at Serbia 'beating' video" headline.

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No Sense, No Class, No Respect

by Shaker Scott Madin

Monica at TransGriot writes about Jay Mohr, a fellow who makes his living as a comedian and actor. Mohr, as I understand it, called into a radio sports talk show hosted by Jim Rome (I don't know anything about him), and here's how it went:

[partial transcript starting about 1:45] Mohr: I'd like to talk about the basketball playoffs, I'd like to talk about "King" [LeBron] James, this guy could actually be greater than Michael Jordan. I'd like to talk about Kevin Garnett. This guy's the Michelle Obama of the Celtics: he doesn't really do anything, but damn, he looks good, doesn't he, Jim? Michelle Obama—that is a big dude. When Barack plays pick-up games at the White House, you know he picks Michelle as at least his forward, maybe his [center], depending on who's in Congress that day. That has to be like being married to Elton Brand. She is a big. dude. I like when she put her arm around the Queen of England and she put her in a headlock and told her, "I've been waiting 200 years to put my arms around you, lady!" I love that. I like how she shaved off all her eyebrows, and then drew them back way too high into an arch and then straight back down, so she always looks super surprised. She kinda—Michelle Obama kinda looks like the Count on Sesame Street, that's great. [mimicking the Count] "One, ah, ah, ah. One black President, ah, ah, ah."
For bonus fun, starting around 3:30 Mohr also jokes about a football team recruiting their starting lineup by "look[ing] through a book of mugshots," followed by "Manny [Ramirez] being Manny, taking drugs that make you look like a tranny!" (a reference to the ex-Red Sox, current Dodgers player's recent positive test for performance-enhancing drugs), a second "Manny the tranny" 'joke' and some racist mockery of Ramirez's accent and intelligence.

I haven't got much to say about the content of Mohr's "jokes" here: I know I don't need to belabor for this audience why they're so objectionable. But Llencelyn shared Monica's post on Google Reader, and I thought it deserved a larger audience.

Rome's website is here, and it looks like at least one of his features is sponsored by Chevy. According to Wikipedia, he's syndicated by "Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications," and also hosts a show on ESPN. Judging from the clip, I'm guessing writing to Rome's show will not be productive, but contacting Clear Channel, ESPN, and/or advertisers (in a quick search I wasn't able to find out anything about other advertisers, but Chevy's contact page is here) might be more effective.

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Hilarious

John Hinderaker of Powerline has written quite possibly the Laziest Blog Post To Ever Grace The Intertubes. I won't link directly to them, but you can get there through Sadly, No! (who get the energy dome tip); enjoy TinTin's "shorter" version, as well. But here's the whole thing; every lazy, stupid, ridiculous word.

THE MOST INSANELY BIASED "NEWS" STORY IN HISTORY
At least I think it's intended to be a news story. It popped up on Yahoo News a while ago, which I assume means that many thousands of people will read it. It's written for McClatchy by two reporters--I guess they are supposed to be reporters--named Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel and is titled "Cheney's speech contained omissions, misstatements." The article is basically a compendium of DNC/Daily Kos talking points from 2003 to the present. It is full of falsehoods, long-discredited canards, and misleading statements. I'm going to bed and don't have time to deconstruct it, but if you read it no doubt you will be able to make corrections as you go along. It is one of those "news stories" that is intended solely for the ignorant. If we had comments, maybe we could let our readers tear this piece of nonsense apart line by line while we sleep. Perhaps someday.
I seriously can't stop laughing. That bit at the end about the comments just kills me. I can't believe anyone takes these collective heads of knuckle the slightest bit seriously.

(You can rant about Cheney's speech in Melissa's thread here.)

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Meanwhile...

While the former veep is still hanging around Washington, emitting foul, guttural utterances from the depths of his char-black soul in defense of torture to drooling conservative sycophants whose most fervent hope is be just as evil as he is when they grows up, the former president is on quite the speaking tour himself, having just given a speech to high school students in New Mexico about his pooping dog.

President George W. Bush was walking former first dog Barney in his new Dallas neighborhood when it stopped in a neighbor's yard for relief.

"And there I was, former president of the United States of America, with a plastic bag on my hand," he told a group of graduating high school students in New Mexico on Thursday. "Life is returning back to normal."

Bush, in one of his few public appearances since leaving office in January, told the students that leaving office lifted a heavy burden.

"I no longer feel that great sense of responsibility that I had when I was in the Oval Office. And frankly, it's a liberating feeling," he told seniors from Artesia High School.
Well, some people are cut out for running a country. And some people are cut out for picking up dogshit. Nothing wrong with that, bub.

It's just too bad you didn't realize it before serving two terms requiring you to do the former. Or at least pretend to.

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Random That Mitchell and Webb Look Clip



The Numberwang Code

(For anyone considering a movie this weekend.)

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Cheney's An Asshole: Open Thread

So, yesterday, our former vice president and current private citizen and professional wankstain Dick Cheney gave a speech (video and prepared transcript are below) which was ostensibly designed to be a substantive rebuttal to the foreign policy address President Obama delivered yesterday morning at the National Archives, but was actually a long-winded defense of Bush-era terror policies.

Shockingly, as McClatchy reports, Cheney's speech was riddled with "omissions, exaggerations and misstatements."

Meanwhile, members of the GOP are distancing themselves from Cheney after his series of attacks on the popular Obama administration, even as his approval rating among voters has increased since he left office—another indication of the increasing tension between the rank-and-file conservative constituency and Beltway GOP leadership.

Discuss.

Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction. It's good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I'm looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was, they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.

I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently. Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don't think I missed much.

Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I'm an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen - a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.

The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I'm not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do. We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes for America have not changed.

Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people. Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush Administration -who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.

When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President's understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.

Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11th, 2001 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America ... and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.

That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, hoping to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.

Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s, America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis. The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact - crime scene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed.

That's how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least - but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat - what the Congress called "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.

We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We'd just been hit by a foreign enemy - leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.

Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn't know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.

These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass - a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.

For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11 itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.

There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day - word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In the years since, I've heard occasional speculation that I'm a different man after 9/11. I wouldn't say that. But I'll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.

To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.

We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations ... the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network ... and the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program. It's required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan - and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive - and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.

So we're left to draw one of two conclusions - and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event - coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.

The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn't invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing "all necessary and appropriate force" to protect the American people.

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn't serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations.

In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.

Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.

By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public's right to know. We're informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.

Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.

Over on the left wing of the president's party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they're after would be heard before a so-called "Truth Commission." Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It's hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.

Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.

One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all to see - including the enemy - let me draw your attention to some points that are routinely overlooked.

It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You've heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed - the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.

We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn't know about al-Qaeda's plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn't think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

Maybe you've heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.

In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America's cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.

Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.

Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about "values." Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.

Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What's more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.

The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned ... one lead that goes unpursued ... can bring on catastrophe - it's no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.

Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our country. You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term "war" where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we're advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, "Overseas contingency operations." In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, "man-made disaster" - never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.

And when you hear that there are no more, quote, "enemy combatants," as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn't change what they are - or what they would do if we let them loose.

On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the President says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland, and it has even been suggested US taxpayer dollars will be used to support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the President's own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states, these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental.

The administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America's national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.

In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we've captured as, quote, "abducted." Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.

It's one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we're no longer engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it's the policies that matter most. You don't want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want - just don't bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.

Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a "recruitment tool" for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It's another version of that same old refrain from the Left, "We brought it on ourselves."

It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America's moral standards, one way or the other.

Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.

As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion ... our belief in equal rights for women ... our support for Israel ... our cultural and political influence in the world - these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the 19 recruits who boarded those planes on September 11th, 2001.

The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world - for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences - and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don't stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for - our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.

What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.

This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It's almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.

As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won't let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I've formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It's worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.

I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations - and I am not alone. President Obama's own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: "High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country." End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration - the missing 26 words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn't change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: "I know that this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us." End of quote.

If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it'll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs - on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.

For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history - not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward - the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of "hubris" - my mind always goes back to that moment.

To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11, President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office - which was to be another 2,689 days - there would never be another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris - it would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this, and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville were only the beginning of the violence.

Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all elements of our nation's power to fight this war and to win it. We said we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would "include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success." We followed through on all of this, and we stayed true to our word.

To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.

Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As in all warfare, there have been costs - none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country's service. And even the most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so many of our own - all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic souls who died trying to save them.

For all that we've lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.

Thank you very much.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Beaker x 10^23

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Welcome To Congress

A speed reader was necessary to read 450 amendments Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas added to a climate change bill to stall it. Why bother with any form of "debate" when an elected representative can just use procedure to the extreme and exclaim about House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman: "He has got a chance to get the votes. If you are familiar with Texas Hold 'em poker, he doesn't have the nuts. It is not a done deal. Nor do I. . . We will see which has the other by the nuts next week." Delightful.

Via TPM:

Earlier today, we reported that Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have taken an extraordinary measure to combat nefarious Republican stall tactics. Faced with the possibility that the GOP minority might require the committee's clerks to read aloud the 900-page Waxman-Markey climate change bill, or many of its 400-plus proposed amendments, the committee's chairman, Henry Waxman (D-CA), hired a speed reader. An quick tongued, acting-clerk, if you will.



I find it sad that gimmicks are required to combat idiocy and refusal of science. It seems the only quotient that STUPID Congressmen understand. I don't like to call people stupid, but in this case, it fits. Barton even makes a joke about the speed-reader reading in a Texas accent in the video. It is all a game and Barton and his GOP cronies could care less about anything on this planet but themselves.

Wait! I am so silly at times. I forget that Mars and Jupiter are the barometer of what occurs on this planet. Atmospheres be damned.

Regardless of Rep. Barton's idiocy, the climate change bill passed the committee. Now the bill goes to Ways and Means. Welcome to Congress.

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Read These Now as I Hum to the Birds and Worry about the Goats

After a harrowing week of scraping, scrubbing, and avoiding suffocation, I am on the road to recovery. Wait, that sounds familiar. O' yeah, that GOP alternative du jour worked well. The only guidance I can offer is that mayo is good on everything and Behr's concrete and garage floor paint is fabulous. I cannot rave enough about that product. It covered in one coat for my needs. I am doing a top coat of sealer. I won't bore you with the rest of my waterproofing chaos as I am bored talking about it with friends and some of the numbers are frightening. So, let's explore.

Certain christians are excited about the California budget chaos. Planned Parenthood funding may be cut. There is a call to action "to make it happen." Agenda always means more than consequences.

10 U.S. deaths from H1n1, formerly called 'swine flu.' (MSNBC)

White House Response to DOMA Question. (Advocate) "I have to go check on that. I honestly don't know the answer to that." BLAH BLAH BLAH. Repeal ain't gonna happen.

Guess what? Gov. Crist, in an op-ed, is a "fiscal conservative." Stimulus funds help.

GOP tells NH Gov. Lynch to kill gay marriage bill. Of course it does.

My Favorite Willard has a humorous analysis (at least to me) of the Cheney-Obama War of Words. (National Review) Did you know that President Obama makes decisions "contrary to the advice I (Willard Mitt Romney) and others gave him?" Now why would Obama want to do something silly like that?

The House of Representatives failed to pass a GOP resolution calling for a "bipartisan" investigation of Speaker Pelosi's claims about the C.I.A. and who knew what, when, and hitherto. (CNN)

Guantanamo 2.0. (The Hill) The 2.0 crap is old.

When climate is iffy, birds sing a more elaborate tune.

Hmmm... Earth's 'hum' may reveal stormier climate. (New Scientist)

O' noes! Are Wind Turbines Killing Innocent Goats?

The 'Rubber Juggernaut' in China. (SCIAM)

The "Center for Science in the Public Interest" issues a press release about sodium. I am in no position to debate its findings nor will I dismiss the prevalence of salt in processed foods and meals, but just read this regarding CSPI, its "scientific method," and spirits.

All you need to know about the Hubble.

Helen Mirren in Racine's Phèdre. (National Theatre Live)

I am a bit late, but Mister Barrowman split his pants during a performance.

(Cross-posted)

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Question of the Day

So the Spudsband and I recently sold our home and moved into a smaller apartment. It's very nice and we have a gorgeous view; I really have no complaints.

There is, however, a... quirk that will take some getting used to.

We have a vent in the bathroom that I assumed was for heat/cooling, but it isn't. It appears to be just for ventilation, and it must just run the length of the building. So, there's this hollow tube connecting all of the apartments above and below mine. The result? You can hear things going on in other apartments when you're in the bathroom. Dogs barking. Conversations. And one guy thinks he's the next American Idol.

Every. Morning. We get a new performance.

And, ahem, he's not exactly in the final two.

So Shakers, what's quirky about your home?

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You'll Have to Pry the Steering Wheel Out of George Will's Cold, Dead Hands

George Will argues in his column that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's plan to make it easier for people to get around without cars is nuts, because everyone driving everywhere is the way God intended things to be:

LaHood, however, has been transformed. Indeed, about three bites into lunch, the T word lands with a thump: He says he has joined a “transformational” administration: “I think we can change people’s behavior.” Government “promoted driving” by building the Interstate Highway System—”you talk about changing behavior.” He says, “People are getting out of their cars, they are biking to work.” High-speed intercity rail, such as the proposed bullet train connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, is “the wave of the future.” And then, predictably, comes the P word: Look, he says, at Portland, Ore. [...]

Where to start? Does LaHood really think Americans were not avid drivers before a government highway program “promoted” driving? ...
As Matthew Yglesias notes, "LaHood didn't say that Americans didn't drive before we built the interstate system. He said that building the interstate system promoted driving. I don't see how you could possibly deny this. Had we spent less money on highway construction and more on mass transit or intercity rail, then there would be less driving." But conservatives like Will are only aware of the hand of government when it promotes changes they find abhorrent, like building bike lanes and high-speed rail. When it abets their own lifestyles—by spending billions on highways, subsidizing the auto industry, and promoting suburban sprawl—well, that's just the natural order of things.

He also raises a rousing defense of long commutes and suburban sprawl:
Today's far-seeing and fastidious government, not content with designing the cars Americans drive to their homes and the lightbulbs they use in their homes (do you know that, come 2014, the incandescent lightbulb will be illegal?), wants to say where their homes can be. And to think that Republican Ray LaHood, Secretary of Behavior Modification, is an enthusiast for this, well, cozy relationship between Washington and Peoria, and everywhere else, too.
Conservatives, of course, actually adore "behavior modification" and social engineering—as long as it benefits the powerful and harms the weak, including that silly "environment" liberals want so badly to protect. (Will, it should be noted, does not believe in climate change, which, elsewhere in his column, he calls "another excuse for disparaging America's 'automobile culture.'") Yes, incandescent bulbs may one day go the way of lead paint, child labor, and smoking on airplanes. Does Will consider those "behavior modifications" to be violations of his basic freedoms as well?

Finally, a side note. According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, nearly nine in ten Americans still consider their cars "indispensable." That's the bad news. The good news? In spite of this, we're driving those cars less and less.

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If Only I Knew The Real American History

Once again, Human Events guides me on the important issues of the day. When I was in school and learned American history there were many gaping holes. I did not realize was what was really missing- The King James Bible.

Hallelujah!

In the midst of these faith-related debates, the recession, and other turbulent times, a new Bible project is offering hope to rekindle the American spirit. The American Patriot's Bible, available now through Thomas Nelson, spotlights the people and events that demonstrate the godly qualities that have made America great. Joining with the trusted New King James version (NKJV) text are stories of American heroes, quotations from and articles about many of America's greatest thinkers, historic photographs, and beautiful illustrations that present the rich heritage and tremendous future of the United States of America.

The American Patriot's Bible connects three important elements: the teachings of the Bible, the history of the United States, and the connection it has to its citizens today. Throughout the pages readers will discover little known facts about historic events and other national treasures concerning important leaders and thinkers that present the rich heritage and future of our nation.

"While other nations have built their governments upon the shaky foundations of communism, socialism, and countless other anti-God philosophies, only to see those foundations crumble, America stands without equal as a beacon of hope and freedom in a hurting world. Our Founding Fathers delivered to us a system of government that has enjoyed unprecedented success: we are now the world's longest ongoing constitutional republic. Well over two hundred years under one form of government is an accomplishment unknown among contemporary nations," notes Dr. Richard G. Lee who serves as the general editor for the project, as well as founding pastor of First Redeemer Church (Atlanta, GA), and speaker for the There's Hope America ministry.
Now I can learn what truly made America great: GOD as authorized by King James I. YAY! I can be a true American Patriot indirectly endorsed by Ronald Reagan.

According to the Amazon description:
THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW 'A LIGHT FROM ABOVE' SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot's Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation's history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text.
Praise be! Let the light shine down.

Disclaimer: I have not experienced the joy of reading The American Patriot's Bible, so I can only assume bullshit lies within the pages.

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Leaving "The Lifestyle"

NPR's Michel Martin recently did an amazing interview with two former prostitutes, Jackie McReynolds and Nakita Harrison, about the difficulty of leaving the prostitution "lifestyle." McReynolds runs the Angels Project Power, a program for prostitutes who come through the Washington, D.C. court system and want to leave the life; Harrison is a former prostitute who's currently going through the program. Like most prostitutes, both women began having sex for money very young--13 and 12, respectively; unlike most prostitutes, they both managed to escape the life despite drug addiction, low self-esteem, and a lack of any other way of making money. Both say they expected what they called the "Pretty Woman" lifestyle--furs, diamond rings, "the glamour things"--and both, needless do say, were disappointed.

The most touching part of the interview, to me, is when Martin asks Harrison what she'd learned in the program that she wouldn't have learned otherwise. Her response, in part: "In the beginning, my self-esteem was very low. ... And when I’d arrive at the group, the ladies would give me compliments. It wasn’t from men. It was from the ladies. [They would say], 'you look nice,' this and that, this and that—and it wasn’t from a man. And I considered that what they were saying was genuine. They didn’t want nothing in return. I didn’t have to do anything. And that's what I received from the program. And ... it allowed me to open up, and it helped me to know that ...I don’t have to listen to a man. I don’t need a man to tell me that I look good. I don’t need someone to pick me up and say, 'Do you need a ride?' I can get to where I’m going on my own without always finding a shortcut. Because the shortcut, for me, leads to me always going back to the same old life."

The most astonishing part? Although the women who enroll in McReynolds' program have to attend for four months to "graduate" and have their cases dismissed by the court, the men who attend a parallel "john school," also facilitated by McReynolds, only have to go for one day. "It seems a little unbalanced to me," McReynolds says, "but that's the way it is."

Listen to the whole thing here.

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Star Trek Open Thread

[Trigger warning for reference to self-harm.]

An open thread to discuss Stak Trek from a feminist perspective has been requested, so here 'tis! (My apologies to the Shaker who requested it; I deleted the email and promptly forgot who sent it.) Coincidentally, Kenny Blogginz and I were just discussing Star Trek (or, as we call it as part of our usual ritual of deliberately getting pop culture names wrong, Star Truck), so here's some hot feminist criticism to get things rolling...

KBlogz: What did you think of Star Truck? I thought it was pretty much super rad.

Liss: I thought it was FUCKIN' AW3OME!!! That is to say, naturally, there are not enough chicks—it doesn't pass the Bechdel Test—and they could easily have made Captain Pike a woman, which would have been supercool, not fucked with the iconic male characters, and also underlined that it's an egalitarian society, so that was disappointing, especially for James-James Abrams. But Zach Quinto rocked my fuckin' socks off. Love that guy.

KBlogz: I'm just mad that they cut the Quinto/Nimoy make-out scene. THAT would have been progressive.

Liss: I wonder how the Concerned Families of America feel about Spock-on-Spock love.

KBlogz: LMAO! I was listening to NPR one day, and James-James was on, talking about Star Truck. He was talking about how he always tries to include strong female characters in his productions. He definitely made Uhura even more badass, though it is unfortunate that all the Lady Cadets still had to wear mini skirts :(

Like you said, it sucks that one of the main characters couldn't have been a woman, but I'm pretty sure all the Trekkies would have committed mass suicide. Liss, I visit the replica prop forum often, and people were freaking the fuck OUT because the phasers were slightly different. I can't even imagine the fallout, the sheer emotional apocalypse that would ensue if Bones/Kirk/Spock weren't all white dudes. James-James would have so much blood on his hands!

Discuss.

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Horrifying

** Trigger Warning **

Catholic Church Shamed by Irish Abuse Report

DUBLIN -- After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for Ireland's castaway children.

The 2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests.

The investigation of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s.

Wednesday's five-volume report on the probe _ which was resisted by Catholic religious orders _ concluded that church officials shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

"A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from," Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse concluded.
The report found that molestation and rape were "endemic" in boys' facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers order, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.

"In some schools a high level of ritualized beating was routine. ... Girls were struck with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts of the body," the report said. "Personal and family denigration was widespread."
I sent this to Melissa earlier today; she had already seen it, but couldn't bring herself to post it. I barely could do it myself.

I have nothing against Catholics. But there is something seriously fucking wrong with the Catholic Church. And I hope someone shoves this in Bill Fucking Donohoe's goddamned face the next time he shrieks about "Anti-Catholic Bigotry."

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Quote of the Day

"I think the word raped gets thrown around far too casually. You ever listen to a bunch of guys playing video games with each other online? It's like, 'Ah man you shot me in the back dude. You raped me dude!' I'm pretty sure if I talked to a woman who's been through that horrific situation and I said, 'What was it like, you know, being raped?' she's not gonna look at me and go, 'Have you ever played Halo?'"Dane Cook, in his new comedy special "Isolated Incident."

The other night, I turned on the television and the channel was still tuned to Comedy Central from watching "The Colbert Report" the night before. "Isolated Incident" was airing, and in the maybe 6 seconds it took me to change the channel, Cook said something racist, xenophobic, and sexist.

And even he gets that casually throwing around the word rape is inappropriate.

Which means that anyone who doesn't is a bigger douche than Dane Cook.

(Who, btw, should maybe consider in future not making movies rife with date rape jokes if he's genuinely concerned about the gravity of rape being diminished by casual indifference.)

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Daily Kitteh: In Which Sophs Makes Her First Catlebrity Endorsement



Sophie loves Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby!


(More pix below the fold…)











Also makes a great chair!

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Shakers Are So Dreamy

Shaker Lauren emails:

I had a dream last night that I think you will find funny. I dreamed that I was at a party at the house I grew up in on the north side of Indianapolis. It was the same house on the outside but completely different on the inside (much bigger). Everyone was drinking so we decided to stay over so we didn't drink and drive.

There were a lot of people staying so you had to sleep wherever you could find space. I ended up sleeping in the same bed as Petulant! And in the morning, I took a good look at him and he had a Colonel Sanders mustache.
I love that.

I asked Lauren if I could publish her email not only because I thought it was funny, but as a jumping-off point for a thread about how frequently I and Iain and the other contributors and other Shakers enter each other's dreams. Shakes-related dreams come up in comments fairly regularly, and one of the most common subjects among reader emails is telling me that they dreamed about me and/or another contributor. (And, no, the vast majority of these are not the least bit creepy.)

So: Fess up. Have I appeared in your dream as a babbling mime? Has Portly serenaded you in your sleep? Has Deeky come to you in the night as a organ grinder? Did I just invent the quadruple entendre with that last sentence...?

Tell the tales of your Shakesville Dreams here.

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Apparently, We Forfeit Our Right to Respect and Love

**Trigger Warning**

One of things I notice most, while living as a fat girl, is how often I am invisible until people want to express their disgust (or pity) or marvel at how ____________ I am (for a fat chick, of course). That blank has been filled by all sorts of adjectives during my life--smart, happy, well-dressed, pretty. But backhanded compliments like that are the flipside of the expressions of disgust/pity. Both are rooted in my perceived lack of self-respect. How can I have any respect for myself if I've "let myself get like this?" And, more importantly, how can I expect anyone else to have respect for me?

I witness disrespect expressed towards fat people in this life almost daily. For me, the cost of living under and resisting the disrespect, the disgust, the dehumanization is so high sometimes.

Especially when I realize the hatefulness follows us after death.

Teresa Smith died Tuesday in Indianapolis. Because she was a large woman, the police and the coroner did not feel the need to treat her with respect.

The Marion County Coroner's Office has come under fire after it was revealed that an obese woman was dragged from her home and hauled away on a trailer in front of family members following her death.

[snip]

[T]he deputy coroner made the decision to call a towing service to remove the body from the home.

"We debated for quite a while about how we were going to get her out of there and so we finally decided, since we didn't have a van that was large enough to carry her, it was decided between (the police) department and the coroner's office to use (the truck)," said Detective Marcus Kennedy.

Smith's boyfriend and the couple's 13-year-old son, along with several neighbors, watched as Smith's body, still on her mattress, was dragged across the courtyard of the apartment complex, strapped down on the wrecker and covered with a piece of carpet.
Lest you have sympathy for the supposed dilemma faced by the police department and the coroner's office:
Former Chief Deputy Coroner John Linehan said he was shocked and dismayed that appropriate steps weren't taken to remove the woman from her home.

He said that fire and medical personnel have equipment available for handling patients up to 1,000 pounds and that moving obese individuals is not all that rare of an occurrence.

"When they scoop up dead dogs off of the street they don't treat them that way," he said. "It's just not the way to treat a human being."
But therein lies the rub, Mr. Linehan! She forfeited her humanity because she was fat.

I usually avoid comment sections at most places, but because I thought I knew how these would be, I peeked. I don't advise you to. One commenter argued that she forfeited her right to respect because, obviously, she did not have self-respect. Another opined that her boyfriend was there just for rent. There is so much embedded in that supposed-to-be-funny statement: How could he find a fat woman attractive? How could he have sex with her? How could he love her?

That last assumption brought me back to one of her neighbors' comments about the dirty carpet slung across her body: "I would have never let them throw that on my loved one."

It would not surprise me one bit if officials from the police department and the coroner's office treated Teresa Smith this way, in part, because they could not fathom that she was someone's loved one.

H/T to my cousin, Tren, via e-mail and to Laurie.

(Crossposted)

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