Monday, July 31, 2006

leave or let die

Well, it only took the lives of some 54 Lebanese civilians (more than 30 of them children) to get Bloody Condi to do what the voices of the entire civilized world (present company excepted) could not.

Thanks to an errant bomb and a snub from the Lebanese PM, the US State Department got to pretend they gave a damn by engineering/brokering/inventing a 48-hour suspension of Israeli air strikes to provide time for the UN to coordinate a 24-hour evacuation of South Lebanon for all those “who want to leave the region.”

Hmmm. On the surface, that sounds OK, right? If you can’t stop the whole damn war, at least evacuate the innocents—what’s wrong with that?

A lot.

You see, the time provided for the exodus of all innocent civilians, by deduction, or, really, reductio ad absurdum, means that those who do not leave know the risks and chose to stay. If you choose to stay in a combat zone even when given the chance to flee, then you must be a combatant, no?

Well, of course no, but such conclusions are not without historical precedent (I’m pretty sure of this, but lack the citation—I will work on it), and are easy to see as falling well within the thinking of the “if you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists” gang. Those remaining in southern Lebanon after this limited cease-fire will no longer be granted the moral cover of the "trapped innocent"
in the eyes of Israel and the United States, those who remain must be Hezbollah fighters or Hezbollah sympathizers.

Weeks into this war, I am still at a loss to understand Israel’s objectives (the realistic, not fantasyland, ones, anyway), but I am becoming increasingly aware of the results: a strengthening of Hezbollah’s support in and outside of Lebanon, a re-alignment of Arab governments (toward supporting Hezbollah’s actions and condemning Israel and the United States), a further unification of once fractious Shi’ia movements throughout the region, a strengthening of Iran’s influence, a boost to both anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiment throughout the world, a denigration of the reputation and tactical ability of Israel’s military and intelligence agencies, a weakening of democratic forces inside Lebanon, a new well of hatred for a new generation of terrorists to draw upon, and the senseless deaths of innocent civilians of all races and religions on both sides of the border.

Why, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice couldn’t have planned it better themselves.

Friday, July 28, 2006

food and stereotypes, pt. 2

Who doesn’t love the sausage races? (OK, maybe Randall Simon.) The races are a staple at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers (and home of some of the best ballpark food in the majors), and feature the super-sized sausages of many nations (OK, four) racing around the bases for glory, pride of country, and the pure thrill of competition.

Did I say four nations? Make that five:

Wearing an oversized brown sombrero and a bright yellow shirt emblazoned with the No. 5, Chorizo became the fifth pork product to join the famed sausage races at every Milwaukee Brewers home game.

He signed a contract with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin at a news conference at the stadium and then trotted around the bases.

Chorizo, also known as "El Picante," will race for the first time on Saturday against the other sausages -- Italian, bratwurst, Polish and hot dog. But that'll be the only time this year he runs in the Klement's Sausage races, which have taken place at every home game since 2000.

Are sausage races fun? Yeah, kind of. Are they racially, uh, insensitive? Yeah, kind of. But, in a time when America is becoming increasingly xenophobic, isn’t it great to see that we can still embrace diversity on the playing field?

. . . or the dinner plate?

Take that Tom Tancredo!

the Israeli invasion

You don’t think that headline is very funny, do you? Well, just you wait. . . . But first, a little background.

After teasing us with giant window decals for more than half a year, Aroma, voted Israel’s #1 coffee chain by something or other, has opened its first branch in New York on Houston near Greene. I have to admit I was ignorant to its Israeli lineage when I first walked in last week, but it took about three minutes to figure out. A clue: when they called out names to pick up orders—which they do with amplification—every other name was “Doron.”

Seriously, Aroma is an interesting place, in great part because it seems to be an instant draw for ex-pat Israelis here in New York. Without this, Aroma would be a decent coffee bar with some slightly odd menu items—but not nearly as odd as the folks who opened it seem to think us Americans, or, at least, us New Yorkers, will find it.

For instance, good coffee is not that hard to find in NYC—and I’m not talking about Starbucks—and then there is the much-mentioned “Iraqi Sandwich,” but I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go to the place where all this mentioning is done, and the place from where I get the chutzpah to title this post “invasion.”

Here are a few samples from a story that ran in Ha’aretz last week:

. . . the Israeli coffee empire's new assault on North America.”

The Israeli invasion of New York will soon be joined by the Max Brenner chain, which will be opening two coffee shops of its own. Notwithstanding the profusion of coffee shops in New York, Berman is absolutely certain that the Israeli formula will take the city by storm. . . .

. . . the public relations blitz.

And, the real winner. . .

Members of the Aroma delegation landed in New York prepared for combat, relating to the launch of the new espresso bar as if it were a commando operation. Out on the sidewalk, the Aroma women lay like Amazons ready to do battle, smoking L&M lights and memorizing the latest menu changes.

(emphasis added)

Geez, guys, you might want to tone it down just a tad. It’s not like you had a warm, cuddly stereotype before the latest news from Lebanon.

And, in keeping with this tone, the piece also stresses that Americans need to be trained in the “Aroma doctrine,” because “Americans don’t understand coffee.” Now, you are not going to catch me defending the generally middlebrow palates of most “Americans,” but maybe, just maybe, the Israeli consultants that seem to have helped with what is indicated to be mounds of market research, might have not known that US Americans tend to think of themselves as the only Americans. . .

Sarah Brill, who was visiting the city with her husband, walked into the coffee shop during a break from shopping. "I told my husband that we really need coffee here. The coffee here is simply atrocious. We were in Canada, in the Rockies, in Vancouver, and we couldn't find any decent coffee. Americans don't understand coffee.

OK, maybe in the rest of North America they don’t understand coffee (though I’m guessing some folks in Seattle might beg to differ), but here in New York. . . . OK, back to my review.

Aroma does make a good espresso and a pretty cappuccino, but Joe does both better. The Mud Truck might also have thing or two to say about the Aroma doctrine. So might Sant Ambroeus, or several other cafés. . . or caffes. The menu, which still sports the “Orintal sandwich”—the misspelled, renamed Iraqi sandwich—does have some tasty and interesting items (like "Burekas"—savory cheese pastry that you can get un-adorned or stuffed with cucumbers, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs and tahini), and it gives you the friendly option of getting a sandwich in three sizes. But the management has already had to adjust the prices on several items with less than elegant paste-overs, and no longer offers iced drinks as part of the “Power Breakfast” special.

The interior is a little too cafeteria-esque for me—especially considering the many months and the reported $2 million it took to outfit the place. The space is kind of un-comfy and un-edgy, so, even though they plan to offer free WiFi, it isn’t really the kind of place where I want to hang out all afternoon. Plus, I think I’d piss off the crowds of people that are always hovering, looking for a vacant seat.

Yes, I said crowds. Whether or not Americans, or US citizens, or New Yorkers have to be indoctrinated, the fact is that Aroma can, I expect, survive for quite a while on the Israeli ex-patriot trade alone. The last time I walked by, the line was out the door—and though I will not stoop so low as to traffic in stereotypes, that line contained a surprising number of guys who looked like George Michael, complete with aviator sunglasses and manicured stubble. . . but with a better tan and a clutch purse. . . and, still, not the least bit gay.

Maybe they’re from Vancouver.

(PS The New York Times wrote in more general—and less aggressive—terms on Wednesday about the proliferation of Israeli spots in NYC.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

lettuce? we don’t need no stinking lettuce!

Mark Bittman may know how to cook everything, but he don’t know shit about tacos. In the Wednesday New York Times Dining section, Bittman talks taco, but he no habla comida auténtica.

Let me note that the Times has gone Taco crazy in the last week: first, they sent Cindy Price up the California coast in search of the perfect taco (how did she get so lucky?)—it’s a fairly fun article and comes with a slide show (quick, go check it out, before it disappears into the Times’ greed hole)—and second, we get MB telling us how to make a taco at home.

Well, you can’t get much more “minimalist,” I suppose. I mean, just look at a good taco and you’re half way to making one.

But, it seems, Bittman never took that eye-ballin’ step. Look no further than the illustration above the article. . . or read the text beyond. . . and you will see that Bittman calls for the tortilla and meat to be adorned with lettuce and cheese.

Lettuce and cheese??? Has the Dining Section decided we need to recreate Taco Bell? One need only actually eat a real, good taco to know that the quickest way to fuck it up is to add lettuce and cheese. Maybe Fish Tacos (a Cali-Baja hybrid anyway) get some cabbage and crema, but no self-respecting taco-holic would be seen putting lettuce on carnitas or carne asada.

Hell, look at the slide show that accompanies the Price piece—where do you see lettuce and cheese?

Bittman is kind enough to give us a recipe or two (or three) for the meat part, but after that, ignore his article. Instead, go get some good corn tortillas (the small ones); for each taco, heat TWO tortillas (either on the grill, or by rolling them in foil and putting them in a low oven), stack them, place a small amount of meat down the center of the top tortilla, garnish with a little chopped onion, chopped cilantro, and, if you like, a scant amount of salsa roja, salsa verde, or salsa fresca, roll or fold, and eat. . . .

And that’s it! No lettuce. No Cheese. Near perfect, and far more legitimate.

(Tip of the hat to Jay for first alerting me to the taco trip article, and a tip of the hat to Cindy Price for giving a t.o.t.h. to Bandini and his seminal taco blog, The Great Taco Hunt—always classy when the print folks acknowledge the blog folks.)

I like killing flies

The Good: I Like Killing Flies, a documentary about Shopsin’s, the, dare I say, legendary Greenwich Village restaurant, and its owner/chef/resident philosopher Kenny Shopsin, is finally screening in a New York theater (I saw this film two years ago at MoMA, and I can’t recommend it more highly).

The Bad: The way this city works, about a bazillion people are now going to see the film and rush to Shopsin’s to gawk at Kenny and the regular crowd (I am far from a regular, by the way—I usually get up too late), making it impossible to ever eat there again.

Fortunately, Shopsin’s is closed for summer vacation, so maybe the additional herds that would be inspired to crowd the restaurant will lose interest by the time it reopens in late August. *

And, since no one reads this blog, I can recommend both film and restaurant.

The film is at Cinema Village starting Friday. The restaurant is on Carmine Street. And, you can stream or download an interview with filmmaker Matt Mahurin and a shockingly jovial Kenny Shopsin from Wednesday’s Leonard Lopate show on WNYC here.

* of course, Shopsin’s may also be closing for good (The Ugly)—you just never know with Kenny.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

tell Chuck and Hilly to grow a spine

Just one will do—they can share.

Here’s how (Schumer; Clinton). Here’s why.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

what W stands for (do I have your attention now?)

I’ll admit it, when I first saw it, I did an “Is it real or is it viral” double take. And I’ll even admit that the lack of anything like a logo or a url made me consider the “real” option. Of course, when I googled the words “steven do I have your attention now” and the very first listing was a blog (or, rather, a “blog”) called ThatGirlEmily, I quickly converted to “viral.”

Reading this faux blog is even more evidence of "virality." It reads like an undergrad composition exercise: full of exposition and convenience, but devoid of the spontaneity, passion, and misspellings you would expect from a real on-line diary. (In other words, as a blog, or as advertising, it really sucks.)

Well, I’m not the first to sleuth this hype (shows me for not reading Gawker every day), and I doubt I’ll be the last, but what’s to say, really, after the New York Times has torn the lid off it?

The billboard created interest, and not just from an unfaithful Steven. A booking agent from “Good Morning America” sent an e-mail to Emily inviting her on the show. British Glamour wanted to make her the subject of a feature article.

But when pictures of the billboard proliferated on Gawker, Defamer and other blogs, readers quickly dug in. One fact soon emerged, thanks to camera phone pictures: the billboard was identical to others in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Chicago. Someone else discovered that Emily was keeping a blog,, detailing Steven’s infidelities. More digging showed that one Emily blog entry was oddly similar to a synopsis for an episode of “Parco P.I.," a reality show on Court TV.

Another “source” sent an e-mail to Gawker suggesting that Court TV was behind the signs, pointing out that it was a viral marketing campaign to promote one of its programs. Mystery solved.

The bad news for viral marketers who use these kind of devices: executives at Court TV said they did not really want to be discovered so quickly.

I’m sorry, they put up multiples of the billboard in Midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Chicago and they’re surprised/disappointed that they were discovered so quickly? Have they not heard of the WORLD WIDE Web over at Court TV?

Fool me once: shame on you. Fool me twice: shame on me. Fool yourself: shame.

Monday, July 24, 2006

speaking in tongues

Rather than practicing real diplomacy—calling for an end to the violence while negotiating, exchanging ideas, and, you know, talking—is it possible that Secretary of State Rice is actually speaking in code to her husband’s boss’s radical base?

What we're seeing here, in a sense, are the birth pangs of a new Middle East and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.

Inspired by some talk over at FDL, Digby did a little digging and discovered that “birth pangs” is fundamentalist Christian code for the beginnings of Armageddon.

Yeah, I went “no way” at first, too, but check out the full derivation/deduction over at Hullabaloo.

Digby then concludes:

Aside from the unbelievable arrogance of that statement, which is virtually designed to piss off just about everyone in the region, this "birth-pang" characterization struck me a bizarre when I heard it. It seemed like an odd image to evoke under the circumstances and I didn't quite understand what she was referring to since the "democracy baby" she and her unofficial husband call Iraq is dying a violent death before it is even born.

Now I get it. Members of the Bush administration have been speaking in code to the Christian fundamentalists for years. In fact, they've been praised for their innovation by the mainstream press. From "culture of life" to "Dred Scott" to "wonder working power" the administration is often talking above the mainstream discourse directly to its Christian Right base.

The only explanations for employing such language at a time like this are that the Secretary of State of the United States is a flipped out fundamentalist herself --- or Karl Rove is deeply involved in the diplomatic language Rice is employing in order to stimulate their base. I lean toward the second (Karl's legacy depends upon his holding the congress this fall) but I wouldn't rule out the first.

Either way, it's unbelievably inappropriate for the top diplomat of the US to be using coded Christian fundamentalist language to discuss this, of all topics. What is wrong with these people?

What’s wrong? Well, nothing if you care more about protecting your domestic political advantage than you do about protecting human lives.

stop the presses

Hypocrisy at the White House. Rank incompetence. Bald-faced lies. Utter disdain for government institutions and the American people. . . . At this point, what is most remarkable is just how unremarkable this all is.

Looking back on the last week, it is well nigh infuriating to try to untwist the moral pretzels the Bush administration has manufactured in its attempts to pander to the religious right while pursuing its “Pax” Americana in the Middle East. . . .

Yet, untwist I must!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Quinn stands up. . .

. . . or at least starts to.

WNYC is reporting that New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has expressed her displeasure with the NYPD’s unilateral attempt to restrict public protests. Quinn said that she thought the new rules ran afoul of the First Amendment. (I'm still searching for a link or transcript.) (Update: here’s a link to the tiny WNYC piece. Still can’t find anything about this on Quinn’s site.)

Now, the question is: Will Quinn call for Counsel hearings or legislative action to counter the Bloomberg/Kelly power-grab?

watch out for anthrax annie

Maybe I shouldn’t care so much, but I am surprised this hasn’t gotten more play. Memo Pad, part of (yes, that’s Women’s Wear Daily), broke the story on Tuesday (via rawstory):

If you falsely yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater and everyone tramples each other to death, you get sent to jail. So what should be done with Ann Coulter, who has argued that The New York Times should have been blown up by Timothy McVeigh and that Times executive editor Bill Keller should be executed by firing squad?

This was the question one Times source asked on Friday after an employee at the paper of record received an envelope with an X scrawled through it and a suspicious powder inside. "This thing makes all of Ann Coulter's comments a little less funny," said the source. "I wonder if she considers herself at all responsible when lunatics read her columns and she says that we should be killed."

So Memo Pad went and asked her, sending an e-mail to her AOL account. And guess what? She not only responded, but claimed to be the sender of the mysterious powder.

"So glad to hear that The New York Times got my letter and that your friend at the Times thinks I'm funny," she wrote back. "Good luck in journalism and please send me your home address so we can stay in touch, too.”

I first saw the story on AmericaBlog (who got it from Editor & Publisher), and there are a couple of interesting posts over at TPM Café (here and here), but, as best I can tell, that’s it.

Now, we all know that AC was never funny, but this is really not funny. In fact, I’d call it, at a bear minimum, the equivalent of joking about having a bomb on a commercial airliner. Try that sometime and see what happens. Someone in the comment threads for the TPM pieces suggests that making bioweapons threats was made specifically illegal under the Patriot Act (of all things).

In an age where we round up men in Miami for having the wrong workout routine, isn’t it about time the FBI or NYPD showed Coulter how to exercise her sense of humor from the inside of a holding cell?

PS Kudos to Memo Pad’s Jacob Bernstein for some simple, heads-up journalism.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

something rotten in the state of new amsterdam?

How can you not break out your foil hat?

Yesterday, I wrote about both the questionable rush to approval on the Atlantic Yards project, and the positively un-American anti-protest rules being put forth by the NYPD. Both stories have much in common, to my mind (like the de-New Yorking of New York), but I failed to spot this little bit of conspiracy theory-fueling synergy:

  • The hearing for public comment on the Atlantic Yards project—August 23rd.
  • The hearing for public comment on the NYPD's anti-protest rules—August 23rd.

Thanks to Gothamist for catching this little “coincidence.”

(I've got a bit more on the NYPD vs. the City Council here.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

and I thought he was just insulting our intelligence

When White House Press Secretary Tony Snow thanked veteran journalist Helen Thomas for voicing the “Hezbollah view,” I thought he was just dishing out the usual Republican snark that equates any inquisitiveness with treason. But, it turns out, Snow was also being a racist (again).

You see, as lapin points out, Thomas is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants.

Why the rest of the WH press corps didn’t gasp in horror and catcall for an apology is really beyond me—Snow was really insulting all of them, after all. Instead, that moment passed, and the group went on to chuckle as Snow also mocked the UN.

A class act all around.

sudden impact

Funny thing. The New York Times reports today on yesterday’s revelations about the environmental impact of the Atlantic Yards development project, a gargantuan commercial/residential/basketball arena/high-rise proposed for 22 acres near Downtown Brooklyn. The article details the massive effect this development will have on the area—traffic jams, parking problems, subway crowding, sewer congestion, giant shadows, the need for new schools—but fails to note the occasion that prompted the release of this 1,400 page study (WNYC reports it at 4,000 pages), or the action that followed.

You see, the developer, Forrest City Ratner Companies, had to commission the impact study through the Empire State Development Corporation in order to get the ESDC to sign off on the project—something that, in spite of all the “impact” that the study suggests, the ESDC did without any public debate.

The Times article neglects to note this—that yet another step has been taken toward the development that no one wants (at least no one who actually lives or works around here). Why the Times fails to report that the Yards project had cleared another hurdle is strange to me. . . after all, the New York Times is a partner with Ratner on another development deal. . . you’d think they’d want to trumpet the “good” news.

Maybe everybody is playing hush, hush, rush, rush.

This report is released at a time when the city’s community boards are off for the summer, and, indeed, the next hurdle, a public hearing, has been scheduled for next month, traditionally a time when New Yorker’s flee for cooler pastures.

What’s the hurry? Besides the benefits of summer stealth, there is an unspoken rush to put a shovel in the ground before the end of the year. You see, barring a global cataclysm, on January 1, 2007, New York State will, by everyone’s assumption, swear in Eliot Spitzer as its next Governor. And, while Spitzer is technically a supporter of the Atlantic Yards development, he is less rah-rah than the current Governor, George (I’m delusional, I think I can get elected President) Pataki. Further, Spitzer has a reputation for scrutinizing things like 1,400 (or 4,000) page official documents a little more closely than the likes of Pataki and his ESDC stooge, Charles Gargano.

Do you find this march to massive (and I mean massive—the residential portion of this development will add 16,000 people to the area, roughly the same size as existing 'hoods neighboring the Yards) development an obscenity? Why not call a New York City or State official and let them know? Call 311 for the Mayor or City Council members. Or, why not call the New York State Attorney General—for that is Eliot Spitzer’s job for another five-and-a-half months—and tell him you’d like him to exert a little of his sizeable influence to slow down the process so that he can have a chance to weigh in on the matter when he assumes the job as the State’s chief executive?

(More New York City content today over at capitoilette.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

taco blogging #2

While sometimes I fantasize about the big automobile-powered escape, driving on a rural highway with clear skies above and a clear road ahead, the fact is, I hate most driving. It’s a large part of why I abandoned my birthplace for the big apple. Running errands via a series of fifteen to twenty minute “hops,” or sitting in traffic (on the 10, the 134, the 405, the 101. . . ), wondering just how very late this will make me, tapping out my frustration on the padded vinyl steering wheel to the time of my personally chosen soundtrack—that’s not for me. . . and I find it hard to imagine that it’s for anyone else, either.

That said, one of the advantages of stopping and starting and stopping and starting down the various streets and boulevards of the flatlands is that it gives you numerous opportunities to pull to the curb (or into the lot of yet another strip mall) and experience what might or might not be a little slice of taco heaven.

So it was that I found myself deep into the Valley of the Malls, driving to pick up my nephew from summer school, when I spied a sign bearing a name that my nephew had actually mentioned as a place near his school that he liked.
I scooped up my nephew and circled back to the corner strip mall that contained Taqueria Juanitos.

Taqueria Juanitos

LA is in week two (or is it week three?) of a heat wave, and the interior of Juanitos was sympathetically toasty. The sign’s promise of “fast food”—normally a term of art for “try someplace else”—seemed like a desperate pledge that your meal would come before you sweated through your clothes.

My carnitas and al pastor tacos were ready in something less than “fast food” time (which was probably good), but it still was pretty fast. (Nephew had a burrito, so we needn’t speak of him further—I am not “burrito blogging,” after all.) The carnitas, splashed with salsa verde, was excellent—porky, sweet, a little smoky—it was everything the al pastor taco was not. Yes, the al pastor looked spiced, but that spice was paprika, and a lot of it. It overwhelmed anything else that might have been going on. That said, I ate it all, and finished just before the first beads of sweat rolled off my nose and on to the paper plate.

Back in the air-conditioned car (yes, I was now happy to be in the car), we continued our trip—but not for long, for I spied, just a few blocks down the street, an important “point of interest.”


I had read on Taco Hunt that Vallarta, a local chain of Latin-flavored markets, made their own tortillas fresh to order, and that (at least in the ones with a taqueria inside) you could get a full variety of meats on those tortillas.

Tacos at Vallarta come in two sizes, the tiny Mexico City-sized model, which is a little smaller than your average LA taco, and a “large,” which is a little larger than average. I went small since two tacos had graced my recent past, and dinner lay but a few hours into the future (they all eat so damn early out here). And, in spite of the wide variety of meats available behind the steamy glass, I went for the carnitas again since it looked pink and good, and I wanted to compare it with the Juanitos edition.

Sadly, it did not compare well. Though the color promised moisture and rich flavor, the meat was lacking on both counts. That said, however, the tortilla was fantastic. Shaped, pressed, and slapped on the grill while you wait, the warm, chewy disks were full of corn flavor with none of the grainy dryness that typifies packaged corn tortillas. The tortilla demands that repeated visits be made to Vallarta to find the meat filling they do best. . . or maybe I should just buy a dozen tortillas and some raw skirt steak from the carniceria (meat department) inside the store, and rush home to concoct my own rustic, gringo version of carne asada.

There was a little salsa bar with green and red salsas, some cold, roasted chilies and chopped onions (for the tacos are dished up un-adorned). Vallarta also has
several iced urns of fresh juices, flavored lemonades, and horchataa nice change of pace from the Mexican sodas that I find it hard to ignore at these places.

(It should also be noted that a couple of nights later, I drove past a Vallarta that was just a stand-alone taqueria. . . very exciting, if I could remember where it was.)

My nephew was intrigued by the three kinds of fried pork skins available behind the counter, but I couldn’t talk him into sampling any, so I ate my tiny taco, had a nibble of hot pepper, and downed my strawberry lemonade while he sat patiently and watched (I’d like to say “in amazement,” but it is hard for a man my age to truly amaze a 15-year-old boy). We then climbed back into the car, cranked the AC, and continued the trip home. . . counting future taco stops all along the way.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

hey baby, it’s the fourth of july

Has it really been a year since Veterans for Peace showed just how anti-American President Bush is?

Declaration of Impeachment
Issued by Veterans For Peace

Monday 04 July 2005

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are instituted to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But

"...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

...all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations - design(s) to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

...The history of the present King (George) of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny ... To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

• He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

• He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

• He has - deprive(ed) us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury - transport(ed) us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.

• He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us -.

• He is at this time transporting large Armies - to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

• He has constrained our fellow Citizens - to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

• A (President) whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

We, therefore - do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People - solemnly publish and declare, That these - Free and Independent (People) - are Absolved from all Allegiance to the (Bush Administration), and that all political connection between them and (this Administration), is and ought to be totally dissolved - And for the support of this Declaration - we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

(Note: Except for the first two lines above and words in parentheses, this Declaration is quoted directly from the original Declaration of Independence.)

dead or alive. . . or not

WASHINGTON (July 4) - The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday.

So, if you can’t beat ‘em (or “smoke ‘em out”), then pretend you don’t have to. That’s leadership, don’t you think? Is it really about how al Qaeda is now decentralized, or is it that the bin Laden Unit served as an uncomfortable reminder of not only the utter failure of this administration to capture OBL since 9/11/01, but of the fact that the CIA hand-delivered to President Bush a clear warning about the coming attacks a month before they happened?

Seems to be just another in a long line of instances where this administration punishes those who inconveniently get it right.

And, this didn’t happened yesterday, by the way. The unit was disbanded last year, after other resources, like Delta Force, were pulled from the hunt for bin Laden to focus on the Iraqi insurgency.

The Bush “strategy” in this “war on terror” has indeed created al Qaeda franchises all over the world, but I find it hard to believe that anyone with something other than the fortunes of the Republicans at heart could believe that it is no longer important to capture bin Laden (or, as importantly, to know exactly what he is up to)—he still has great symbolic meaning, and, if nothing else, a really fat wallet.

Bush calls you “Johnny Mac”—I still call you an asshole

Monday’s New York Times has a senior advisor to Arizona Senator John McCain saying that “accounts of animosity between Mr. McCain and Mr. Bush had been at least slightly exaggerated.”

Really, gosh, that’s a shocker. I mean, Johnny Mac has been soooo openly hostile to Bush, like here, for instance:

Still, it’s nice to get it on paper, and AdNags and Jim Rutenberg have spelled out how, in order to be or stay president, some guys will (almost literally) make a deal with the devil.

(And remember, McCain’s not just an asshole because he’s sucking up to Bush, he’s an asshole all on his own. . . like back when he said this. . .or this. . . or this.)

Monday, July 03, 2006

we would rather have no morals than those morals

The National Journal (via AMERICAblog) reports that Americans are evenly divided over whether the federal government should be “involved in promoting moral values in our society.” The 48-48 split is in stark contrast to the 60% who said the government should be involved back in May of 1996.

Is this a measure of a growth in libertarian sentiment, rugged individualism, or rank amorality? Less than two years after the punditocracy coined the term “values voters,” has half the electorate said “values, schmalues?” Or, maybe, like me, voters care about certain values that could certainly be called “moral” (like a government that doesn’t lie or condone torture, a strong social safety net, economic fairness, universal healthcare, freedom of speech, a right to privacy, the establishment clause, etc.), but after five-plus years of Republican values, they’d rather see a values-free government than have to endure more of the “principles” promoted by the religious right and the corporate elite.

For more numbers—and what I think of them—jump on over to capitoilette.