Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lord of the Lies


How to talk to complete idiots

Three basic options. Choose wisely, lest you go totally insane

There are three basic ways to talk to complete idiots.

The first is to assail them with facts, truths, scientific data, the commonsensical obviousness of it all. You do this in the very reasonable expectation that it will nudge them away from the ledge of their more ridiculous and paranoid misconceptions because, well, they're facts, after all, and who can dispute those?

Why, idiots can, that's who. It is exactly this sort of logical, levelheaded appeal to reason and mental acuity that's doomed to fail, simply because in the idiotosphere, facts are lies and truth is always dubious, whereas hysteria and alarmism resulting in mysterious undercarriage rashes are the only things to be relied upon.

Examples? Endless. You may, for instance, attempt to explain evolution to an extreme fundamentalist Christian. You may offer up carbon dating, the fossil record, glaciers, any one of 10,000 irrefutable proofs. You may even dare to talk about the Bible as the clever, completely manufactured, man-made piece of heavily politicized, massively edited, literary myth-making it so very much is, using all sorts of sound academic evidence and historical record.

You are, of course, insane beyond belief to try this, but sometimes you just can't help it. To the educated mind, it seems inconceivable that millions of people will choose rabid ignorance and childish fantasy over, say, a polar bear. Permafrost. Rocks. Nag Hammadi. But they will, and they do. Faced with this mountain of factual obviousness, the bewildered fundamentalist will merely leap back as if you just jabbed him with a flaming homosexual cattle prod, and then fall into a swoon about how neat it is that angels can fly.

But it's not just the fundamentalists. This Rule of Idiocy also explains why, when you show certain jumpy, conservative Americans the irrefutable facts about, say, skyrocketing health care costs that are draining their bank accounts, and then show how Obama's rather modest overhaul is meant to save members of all ages and genders and party affiliations a significant amount of money while providing basic insurance for their family, they, too, will scream and kick like a child made to eat a single bite of broccoli.

Remember, facts do not matter. The actual Obama plan itself does not matter. Fear of change, fear of the "Other," fear of the scary black socialist president, fear that yet another important shift is taking place that they cannot understand and which therefore makes them thrash around like a trapped animal? This is all that matters.

Democrats Don't Deliver Healthcare Reform... Again

The Nation.

By Adam Howard

Senate Finance Committee members, Sept. 22, 2009, during opening remarks of the committee's markup of healthcare legislation. AP Images</br> For weeks now it's seemed more and more evident that instead of significant, meaningful healthcare reform, we are--if we're lucky--going to wind up with something akin to health insurance reform. These reforms will be pretty unassailable (who could oppose making it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, for instance?) but a far cry from what just a couple months ago seemed not just possible but probable--reform that included a robust, affordable public option accessible to all Americans.

Why has the healthcare reform battle disintegrated so rapidly? Certainly the seemingly endless barrage of right wing lies and downright insanity over the summer didn't help. Neither did the White House's lackadaisical approach to countering it. But at the end of the day, real reform--the public option, considered today by the Finance Committee--should have had the votes it needed to pass. Instead it failed by fifteen votes to eight, with five Democrats voting against it.

Four out of five major committees have delivered in one form or another what 65 percent of the American public wants: a government-run public health insurance option. President Obama supports a public option, the majority of medical profession does, and without it there is no way healthcare costs can be brought down in any significant way.

And yet our Democrat-controlled Congress can't get its act together. Today, five Democratic senators rejected the most progressive version of the public option to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller's amendment. Remember their names, because they should go down as traitors to what the Democratic party should stand for: Blanche Lincoln, Bill Nelson, Max Baucus, Kent Conrad and Tom Carper.

The Mess Left Behind


by William Rivers Pitt


    They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

    - F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Sooner or later, heaving buckets of blame onto George W. Bush for what we as a nation are being forced to endure will become a facile excuse; at some point, the whole kit and caboodle will be the sole property of President Barack Obama, whether he likes it or not and be damned to excuses. Already, his administration has taken enough dramatic measures to ensure that, should something go wrong, a fair share of censure will and rightly should be placed on the present and not the past.

    This has been one of those weeks, however, when everything happening bears the scars and stains of the despicable, cowardly and criminally insane actions of the Bush administration. This has been one of those weeks where it seems for all the world as if Bush left a flaming bag of dog poop on the White House porch before fleeing into the night, and President Obama had no choice but to stomp on it and get covered in crud. This has just been one of those weeks.

    President Obama spoke before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday after making significant progress in two key areas of foreign policy: he secured concessions from Russia regarding sanctions on Iran and won support from both Moscow and Beijing for a resolution to curb nuclear proliferation. In his address, however, one could not help but notice how forcefully the president emphasized the demonstrable fact that he is not George W. Bush, and that the country he leads is not the same one that had run roughshod over the international community over the last eight years.

    "During his address to the General Assembly," reported The New York Times on Thursday, "Mr. Obama sought to present a kinder, gentler America willing to make nice with the world. He suggested that the United States would no longer follow the go-it-alone policies that many United Nations members complained isolated the Bush administration from the organization. 'We have re-engaged the United Nations,' Mr. Obama said, to cheers from world leaders and delegates in the cavernous hall. 'We have paid our bills' - a direct reference to the former administration's practice of withholding some payment due the world body while it pressed for changes there."

    The simple fact that an American president had to stand before that world body and apologize, to all intents and purposes, for the last American president is a stinging humiliation for this country, but the sad fact is that it had to be done.

7 Fascinating Filmmakers to Follow on Twitter

BY Thomas Clifford

Think today's filmmakers are stuck behind the camera? Or the edit room?

Think again.

Many filmmakers are harnessing the power of the web to tell another side of the story– their story. 

Readers enjoyed my earlier post, "7 Interesting Storytellers to Follow on Twitter," so let's continue this series with some interesting filmmakers.

Keeping in the spirit of Twitter, the following "tweets" are 140 characters or less.

7 Fascinating Filmmakers to Follow on Twitter

1. Errol Morris @errolmorris
The Oscar-winning director of 'Fog of War" often tweets zen-like koans. Witty and always thought-provoking.

2. Michael Moore @MMFlint
Yes- the Academy-Award winning filmmaker is on Twitter. Currently promoting his new documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story."

3. David Lynch  @David_Lynch
Mixes "transcendental" tweets with updates about his new storytelling project, @InterviewProj. Pioneering personal stories for the web. 

4. Bluedot Productions @bluedot_
Game changers. Really. These "quantum activist" filmmakers are creating "quantum leaps" in documentary films.

5. PBS Point of View @povdocs
Beyond promoting POV documentaries, watch for tweets on interviews and educational resources.

6.  Frank Kelly
The filmmaker behind the "140 Project." 140 filmmakers from 140 countries captured 140 seconds of unedited footage. Truly fascinating.

7. Peter Marshall @bcfilmmaker
Veteran filmmaker/workshop teacher/social media proponent. Tweets often & covers the intersection of traditional filmmaking with new media.

Hello, congress?

A Overview of the MERP Model for Marijuana Re-Legalization

What if I told you that there was a piece of legislation that would:

(1) Defund all of the Mexican, Islamic and other drug cartels.
(2) Defund all of the local drug gangs
(3) Cripple the movement toward a centralized Globalist Government
(4) Reclaim the liberties lost in the wake of 911

And what if I told you that this legislation would minimally add 26.6 Billion dollars in revenue to the US economy: without the imposition of any further taxation on the American people? And furthermore what if I told you that this legislation could be implemented world wide, yielding similar benefits throughout the planet?

Wouldn't you be interested in learning more about it? Well then, please take a seat and watch this entire video, because I'm going to describe what that legislation would look like. And I will also begin to map out a strategy that could implement this legislation before the end of 2009.

Let me be absolutely clear why I am producing this series of videos. The primary purpose of this series of videos is to provide a global strategy to Re-Legalize Marijuana Worldwide in 2009. In this second video I will be giving a thorough overview of the only true solution to ending the War on Marijuana: the MERP Model.

Since the first part of this series premiered on February 2nd, 2009 it has been viewed by over 2,000 people in over 20 different countries. For those that can't read English I provide transcripts of each video, which can be viewed in any of 40 languages.

I encourage you to distribute this link throughout the planet so that we can win our first battle against the Globalists, by implementing the MERP Model of Marijuana Re-Legalization Worldwide before 2009 ends. It already appears that this is going viral across the internet and the support for the MERP Model has been overwhelming.

In the first video I made it clear that neither Obama nor Congress have any intention to Re-Legalize Marijuana without concerted pressure from the American public. I then recommended 5 steps that groups and individuals could take to begin pressuring our representatives to specifically implement the MERP Model of Re-Legalization.

In this video I will give an overview of the MERP Model

What is the MERP Model?

MERP is really a one syllable contraction of the acronym MRPP which is short for the "Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy Project." For brevity I will be using MERP from this point forward.

The MERP Model for Marijuana Re-Legalization is elegant in its simplicity and can be succinctly described as follows:

"The MERP model of Marijuana Re-Legalization would minimally allow non-commercial cultivation of unlimited numbers of plants, by adults above the age of 18, without any form of government taxation, regulation or other interference." 

Under the MERP Model both Marijuana Cultivation and Consumption are to be held as inalienable, sacred rights.  MERP does not preclude the issuance of commercial licensing and taxation as long as such laws do not interfere with the aforementioned protections for personal cultivation and consumption.  The structure of the MERP Model assures (1)  the destruction of the Drug Cartels, (2) free access to Medical Marijuana and (3) a counterbalance to the loss of personal liberties following the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

The MERP Model is really not significantly different than the way we allow US citizens to produce beer and wine within our homes. Home beer and wine production is neither taxed nor is it regulated. And many activists need to be weaned from this false notion that the government should get to tax everything. If they don't tax your tomatoes or your beer, why should they be allowed to tax your Cannabis?

Facebook forced to yank Obama kill poll

The US Secret Service is trying to identify the people who launched an online poll at Facebook asking whether US President Barack Obama should be assassinated.

Facebook on Monday shot down the user-generated poll, which was titled "Should Obama be killed?" and offered answer choices of yes, no, maybe, and "If he cuts my health care."

"Once we found out about it, we worked with Facebook to have it removed," Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley told AFP.

"We are certainly investigating; just like we would with any threat case."

More than 750 Facebook users had reportedly cast votes by the time the poll was yanked from the wildly popular online social networking community.

"This is sick and sad," a Facebook user with the screen name Cocoa Fly said in a posting as the poll fuelled passionate online exchanges at the website.

"All of this anti-Obama rage is pure racism."

Fat troublemakers

400 Pages In Four Months

That's Sarah Palin's achievement for Jonathan Burnham, who runs the marketing company, Harper Collins. Several questions naturally arise. Did she actually write those 400 pages? Please. Her peregrinations in the  couple of months since she quit her "day-job" do not exactly reflect a period of personal reflection and diligence. She wrote that book as thoroughly as she wrote her speech in Hong Kong. The book was written by a hardcore Christianist; the speech by a hardcore neocon. She remains the hood ornament for a marketing campaign that now passes for the conservative movement.

The title itself lets us know that if anyone harbored any doubts about her own view of that disastrous campaign, she is immensely proud of it.

And by "it", I mean her refusal to cooperate with the McCain campaign, hijacking it for her own delusions of grandeur, generating immense drama and refusing to answer salient questions. Someone in her position with a decent sense of perspective and self-knowledge might have said no to John McCain in August of 2008. Or taken the pick as an opportunity to get boned up on policy. But we see now that she came to see her nomination as an entrepreneurial opportunity - for wealth, fame and irresponsibility. The notion of public service, divorced from reality show culture, clearly bored her and bores her still. She has now found her niche.

But why the rush? It couldn't be that she's trying to beat any other account of her bizarre career and surreal private life, could it?

Gaddafi interpreter can’t take it anymore

by Iron Knee

The translator broke down during Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's speech at the UN, shouting into his live microphone "I just can't take it any more" in Arabic.

Ironically, the translator was one supplied by Gaddafi, who refused to use the regular UN interpreters. Those who have translated for Gaddafi in the past empathized with the frustration of his interpreter:

He's not exactly the most lucid speaker. "It's not just that what he's saying is illogical, but the way he's saying it is bizarre.

UN rules normally limit the time a translator does live translation to 40 minutes, but Gaddafi's translator broke down after 75 minutes. Another translator immediately took over, translating the final 20 minutes, but even he was given the following day off to recuperate.

Einstein says...

A Genius Exception for Rape

XX Factor: the blog

By Elizabeth Wurtzel is a complicated old joke, not worth telling, but to partially paraphrase the punch line: The difference between heaven and hell is that in hell, the Swiss are the lovers and the French run everything, and in heaven, the French are the lovers and the Swiss run everything.

Obviously, this conclusion has been thrown into question by the botched Polanski pick-up, proving that the Swiss are not really the best stewards of swift order and that the French have some very odd ideas about the art of love, or whatever you want to call it. The joke does not make mention of the United States, but I have a suggestion: In heaven, the Americans are the keepers of justice, and in hell, the Americans are ... the keepers of justice. Because if you are hauled into court in this country, as the Polanski brouhaha displays, it is both the best of times and the worst of times. Right now I cannot even imagine how it will all turn out, but since justice is meted out so unevenly anyway, I wonder if inherent in Scorsese et al.'s defense of Polanski isn't the suggestion that there ought to be a genius exception to the rule of law—that is, if you are a great artist, what's a little rape on the side?

Notwithstanding the due process concerns that the Polanski case raises—which are for legal scholars, not Hollywood directors, to quibble with—if we excuse Polanski from punishment, aren't we really saying that his life is more valuable than the life of a 13-year-old girl's just because he happened to direct Rosemary's Baby? Taking that to its logical extreme, we have to assume that Bob Dylan can never go to jail, even if he rapes a teenager or two, and that Picasso could not have served time for whatever felonies he might have committed in his brazen lifetime, and—well, I could go on. Where would we draw the line? Does Leonard Cohen qualify? Neil Diamond? Sues Yahoo To Reveal Blogger's Identity

By Chris Walters is one of those online companies that offers a free trial, and then attempts to enroll its customers in a $30/month subscription service. Now they're suing Yahoo in an attempt to reveal an anonymous blogger who quoted a Reuters article when criticizing the service, and who pointed out that Freescore is owned by a company with a reputation for billing customers without permission.

You may have seen Ben Stein hawking on your TV in recent months. (It's why he was fired from the New York Times in August, in fact, because of a perceived conflict of interest.) It's no different from any other "free" credit report nonsense out there in that after a short trial period—7 days in this case—you have to pay for what you can get for free once a year from The company exists to lure in people who don't mind paying unnecessary fees, as well as people who don't read fine print, as well as those who do read fine print but forget to cancel within that 7 day window. is even more obnoxious in that it will charge you $1 to access your "free" initial results; the fine print says that if you choose to cancel within 7 days, "remember to ask for a refund of your $1 processing fee."

For those reasons, Reuters blogger Felix Salmon called Stein a "predatory bait-and-switch merchant" in July, and someone called "Flâneur de fraude" added to the claim in a blog post, where he showed that Freescore is ultimately owned by Vertrue Inc., a company that has a BBB rating of "F", mostly due to complaints that Vertrue's various membership companies enrolled customers without their knowledge or permission.

Somehow, that spurred Freescore to retaliate with legal action. But what's weird is although they're making a lot of noise about defamation and trade libel, and they've filed a suit with Yahoo to get Flâneur's real name revealed, they haven't actually argued that anything Flâneur posted was false. They haven't even gone after Felix Salmon, the original blogger at Reuters.

So is planning on suing Flâneur if they can find out her real name? If so, for what? As you can see from her blog post, the original content she added to the story was all about tracing ownership and pointing out the history of complaints against Freescore's parent company.

A Politician's Prayer

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Making Big $$$ from Misery


16 al-Qaeda members escape from Iraqi jail

Welcome to Big News

Search parties, planes, and dogs are combing the area surrounding Tikrit, which is about 100 miles north of Baghdad.
U.S. and Iraqi militaries have launched a massive manhunt for 16 al-Qaeda members who broke out of a jail in Tikrit, the former home town of deposed president Saddam Hussein.

The jail break occurred Wednesday night when seventeen prisoners, five of them on death row, climbed out of a small bathroom window to freedom. Eight of the prisoners, including three on death row, have since been caught.

Search parties, planes, and dogs are combing the area surrounding Tikrit, which is about 100 miles (170 kilometers) north of the capital Baghdad for the remainder of the escapees.

U.S. military officials say they are providing aerial surveillance and search dogs for the manhunt.

Road-blocks have been set up for all roads going to and from Tikrit. The border crossing with Syria is also under close surveillance.

Good News: Ten Examples Of Journalistic Integrity

British newspaper reports Saudis will let Israel bomb Iran

by Gregory Patin
A British newspaper, The Daily Express, reported on Sunday that Saudi Arabia is "ready to allow Israel to bomb Iran's new nuclear site." The report cites a meeting in London between MI6 intelligence chief Sir John Scarlett, Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Saudi officials. British intelligence officers helped to uncover the plant three years ago, in the side of a mountain near the ancient city of Qom. See:

In compliance with a International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requirement, Iran revealed the existence of the new plant this month and has agreed to allow U.N. inspectors access to it. While the British report states that "diplomatic sources said it could hold 3,000 centrifuges, capable of making enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb each year," the IAEA reports that nuclear material has not yet been added. The IAEA says that the data they have been given suggests that as with the existing Nanatz facility, the new site is only designed to enrich uranium to 5%, useful for energy production at the nation's Bushehr power plant but not for military purposes. See:

The most direct route for the Israeli air force to attack Iran would be over Iraq, but Israeli F-15I and F-16I jets would still be well-within range of Iran after flying over Saudi air space. Such a move may also circumvent some political pressure from the U.S.

A petition filled with thousands of American names

Here come the airport rectal exams!

Uh-oh. Now that a terrorist has tried unsuccessfully to blow up a Saudi prince with a bomb shoved up his ass, the TSA is obliged to perform rectal exams on every flier for the rest of time. After all, once a jihadi failed to blow up a plane with his shoe, we all needed to start taking our shoes off. Then some knuckleheads believed they could blow up a plane with energy beverages and hair gel, so now we have to limit ourselves to 100ml of all liquids and gels, unless they're for babies or are prescription (because no mass-murderer would be so evil as to forge a doctor's note, which, as every junkie knows, cannot possibly be forged).

Now we found someone who was made to believe he could kill people with an asshole bomb, and so it follows that the TSA will have to ban -- or at least inspect -- our assholes. They're like opinions, you know, everybody's got one. Except, of course, most of us got to keep our assholes to ourselves. Not anymore.

Let's just be thankful that no one has yet convinced a suicidal murderer that he could blow up a plane with his mind, because once that happens, we're all in for mandatory airport trepannations. Because, you know, you can't be too safe. Every little bit helps. If an unhinged suicide bomber believes it's possible, we must take it seriously. To do less would be irresponsible.

For years, I have made the joke about Richard Reid: "Just be glad that he wasn't the underwear bomber." Now, sadly, we have an example of one.

Lewis Page, an "improvised-device disposal operator tasked in support of the UK mainland police from 2001-2004," pointed out that this isn't much of a threat for three reasons: 1) you can't stuff a lot of explosives into a body cavity, 2) detonation is, um, problematic, and 3) the human body can stifle an explosion pretty effectively (think of someone throwing himself on a grenade to save his friends).

But who ever accused the TSA of being rational?

Ass Bomber

William Safire’s Favorite New Yorker Cartoon

Chon Day
© Chon Day

In rememberance of political columnist William Safire, who died yesterday at the age of 79, we present his favorite New Yorker cartoon. Even though this cartoon by Chon Day was published in April 1945, the recent financial meltdown for which nobody seems responsible makes it timely today.

Karl Rove And The Republican War Against ACORN

Dropped down the memory hole is the fact that ACORN was at the center of the so-called "prosecutor-gate" scandal, when the Bush administration pressured U.S. Attorneys to bring indictments over the grassroots group's voter-registration drives and then fired some prosecutors who resisted what they viewed as a partisan strategy not supported by solid evidence.

The latest furor over ACORN was touched off by conservative filmmaker James E. O'Keefe III and a right-wing columnist who posed as a couple planning to buy a house for use as a brothel and getting advice from a few ACORN employees, rather than being turned away.

The pair filmed their meetings at ACORN offices with a hidden-camera, producing a video that brought to a fever pitch the long-simmering Republican war against ACORN. The video was trumpeted by Fox News and other right-wing news outlets, starting a stampede in the mainstream press and in Congress, where a majority of panicked Democrats joined the herd in approving legislation to strip ACORN of federal funds.

The stampede, which trampled ACORN and its mostly black and Hispanic organizing staff, soon pulled in President Barack Obama, who often has touted his work as a community organizer in his youth. In an interview last Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Obama told host George Stephanopoulos that ACORN "deserves to be investigated."

Yet, while bending to Republican demands to speak out against a poor people's group, Obama continued to resist the notion that powerful Republicans from the Bush administration deserved to be investigated for authorizing the use of torture against prisoners in the "war on terror."

Stealing from the rich vs. stealing from the masses

Hoosier Grandmother Arrested for Purchasing Cold Medication

Last March, Sally Harpold, an Indiana grandmother of triplets, bought two boxes of cold medication in less than a week. Together, the two boxes contained 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine, putting her in violation of the state's methamphetamine-fighting law, which forbids the purchase of more than three grams by one person in a seven-day period.

Police came to Harpold's home, arrested and handcuffed her, and booked her in a Vermillion County jail. No one believes Harpold was making meth or aiding anyone who was. But local authorities aren't apologizing for her arrest.

"I don't want to go there again," [Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina] Alexander told the Tribune-Star, recalling how the manufacture and abuse of methamphetamine ravaged the tiny county and its families.

While the law was written with the intent of stopping people from purchasing large quantities of drugs to make methamphetamine, the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.

"The law does not make this distinction," Alexander said…

Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.

"I'm simply enforcing the law as it was written," Alexander said…

It is up to customers to pay attention to their purchase amounts, and to check medication labels, Alexander said.

"If you take these products, you ought to know what's in them," she said.

Harpold's photo was put on the front page of the local paper as part of an article about the arrest of 17 people in a "drug sweep." Alexander has generously allowed Harpold to enter a deferral program. If she commits no crimes in the next 30 days, her arrest will be wiped from her record. She'll still have to pay court costs and attorney fees.

I'll leave it to Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel to (unintentionally) put an exclamation point on the absurdity.

"Sometimes mistakes happen," Marvel said. "It's unfortunate. But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect.

"I feel for her, but if she could go to one of the area hospitals and see a baby born to a meth-addicted mother …"

Because clearly the best way to prevent meth-addicted babies is to arrest women who buy cold medication for their grandchildren.

Diebold: Return our money!

Velvet Revolution ( - The New American Patriot
...fighting for truth, justice and the American way...

A Campaign of and the Velvet Revolution Election Protection Strike Force

Diebold/Premier's Equipment and Software Must Be Immediately and
Permanently Decertified and a Criminal Investigation Launched

As A Result Of The California Secretary Of State's Findings and Diebold/Premier's Own Admissions That Its Voting Systems Do Not Meet Federal Standards, Velvet Revolution Calls on the Company to Return the Well Over $100 Million in Taxpayer Funds Spent by Californians on Failed, Faulty Voting System Hardware and Software

California officials recently revealed that ALL of Diebold/Premier's voting systems violate federal certifications guidelines!* These systems illegally do some or all of the following::*

  • delete ballots without notice
  • allow the "permanent" audit log records to be deleted
  • fail to properly record deletion of ballots
  • insert incorrect time stamps on audit log items.

Yet Diebold falsely claimed to meet all federal voting system standards. Accordingly, we demand that:

1) DIEBOLD: RETURN OUR MONEY!: Diebold/Premier has accepted well over $100 million in county, state and federal taxpayer funds for services which the company knew it could not perform. With California's devastating budget shortfall of $ 45.5 billion dollars, we demand the return of these funds from Diebold. The purchase price for hardware, software licenses, and maintenance fees should be returned to the State within 90 days. If Diebold's announced sale to Election Systems and Software becomes final, California must be fully reimbursed instead from ES&S.

2) SOS DEBRA BOWEN: DECERTIFY DIEBOLD!:, Diebold/Premier products, currently used in 20 California counties, violate federal voting system standards and must be immediately and permanently decertified by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

3) AG JERRY BROWN: PROSECUTE DIEBOLD!: California's Attorney General Jerry Brown must immediately launch a comprehensive criminal investigation into Diebold/Premier's knowing use and sale of faulty election systems that have undermined our elections. Further, unless Diebold/Premier, within 90 days, refunds to California all monies paid for its fraudulent software and equipment, we call on the State of California to file suit against Diebold/Premier seeking the return of funds for breach of contract and fraud.

Velvet Revolution has been calling for accountability and transparency from electronic voting companies since launching its "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign in 2005. We are now putting all such companies on notice: Across the nation, we are fed up with false promises, shoddy and faulty voting systems, and continued knowing violation of the law. We demand accountability and we insist that public officials enforce their contracts and applicable federal and state standards!

Our election system has been dangerously compromised. 'We the People' will not tolerate compromise on our freedoms, our liberty, our democracy. We will not compromise on our insistence that companies receiving taxpayer money act transparently and honestly.

Send an email to Diebold/Premier, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and California Attorney General Jerry Brown. Tell them:

  1. Diebold/Premier: 'Return Our Money!'
  2. Secretary of State Bowen: Throw Diebold Out of Our State, Once and For All!
  3. Attorney General Brown: Investigate! Prosecute! Obtain a Refund!

Next week's media blitz

GOP Senators Pull Out of Inquiry Into CIA Program

Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Friday that they will no longer participate in an investigation into the Bush administration's interrogation policies, arguing that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s decision to reexamine allegations of detainee abuse by the CIA would hobble any inquiry.

The intelligence committee launched a review in March of CIA interrogations of high-value detainees such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who describes himself as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Senate staffers are poring over hundreds of thousands of classified documents to probe the history and effectiveness of the CIA program, as well as congressional oversight of agency practices.

Last month, Holder appointed a career prosecutor to review allegations of detainee abuse by CIA operatives, but he stressed that neither the review nor any full investigation, should it follow, means that criminal charges are inevitable.

"Had Mr. Holder honored the pledge made by the President to look forward, not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee's review," the ranking Republican on the intelligence panel, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said in a statement. "What current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the Committee's questions? Indeed, forcing these terror fighters to make this choice is neither fair nor just."

The Justice Department, as is its practice, asked the committee not to provide immunity to any witnesses, according to a source on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

No witnesses have yet appeared before the committee, and another official said the issue of immunity was a red herring because the panel has not offered immunity to anyone in many years.

A New Media Book That’s Actually Fun to Read

The Chaos Scenario cover imageI start lots of books about new media, but I finish very few of them. My ADD is only part of the reason. I often find that authors don't have much to say beyond a few points that are stated clearly in the first 100 pages or so and repeated for the remaining 200.

Not so with The Chaos Scenario, the new volume by veteran advertising critic Bob Garfield. I devoured this book and was sorry to see it end. One reason: It is so much fun to read.

Garfield is a gifted writer and he's funny as hell. Of the video for OK Go's YouTube hit "Here It Goes Again," he writes, "Everyone on earth has seen the video at least four times, except for certain remote areas in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, where several tribesmen had seen only twice." Or "If it were Japanese steel Google was flooding the market with, instead of kitten videos, it would be called dumping."

Such asides are garnish on a viciously insightful treatise on the death of advertising by someone who has the street cred to make that judgment. Garfield's quarter century of experience qualifies him to say when media is badly broken, which he clearly believes it is.

In an opening chapter entitled "The Death of Everything," he documents the implosion of mainstream media channels of every kind under the weight of new-media competition and changing audience behavior. If your CEO still insists on throwing away money on TV ads, put this chapter in front of him.


Much of the book outlines the principles of "Listenomics," or the premise that institutions that fail to listen to and engage with their newly empowered customers will die. The power that now exists in the hands of ordinary citizens can humble even the most arrogant corporate giants.

Among the examples of this Garfield cites is a grassroots campaign called "Comcast Must Die" which he and a core of frustrated cable subscribers mounted in 2007. Through blogs and message boards, an angry mob of customers turned the tables on a giant utility, forcing meaningful change across its vast customer service operation. As besieged Senior VP Rick Germano ultimately admits, "I'm crying 'uncle' now.'"

Garfield believes in the power of the crowd but not necessarily in its wisdom. Chapter 9 ("Off, Off, Off Madison") presents a scathing indictment of consumer-generated advertising (CGA), which Garfield characterizes as mostly a dull imitation of what non-professionals believe advertising should be.

"Most CGA has been the stuff of tiny little talents with tiny little budgets pursuing tiny little ideas," he writes.  Which is not to say that pitting crowds against each other is always a bad thing, as long as the crowds know what they're doing. Garfield praises CrowdSPRING, a competitive foundry for design professionals that created dozens of choices for the book's logo for just $500.

Fantastic Adventures


Monday, September 28, 2009

Repugs playing poker

Time capsule found on the dead planet


In December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to try to reach a global deal to tackle climate change. To support the launch of the 10:10 campaign to reduce carbon emissions, the Review asked some of our greatest artists, authors and poets to produce new work in response to the crisis

by Margaret Atwood


1. In the first age, we created gods. We carved them out of wood; there was still such a thing as wood, then. We forged them from shining metals and painted them on temple walls. They were gods of many kinds, and goddesses as well. Sometimes they were cruel and drank our blood, but also they gave us rain and sunshine, favourable winds, good harvests, fertile animals, many children. A million birds flew over us then, a million fish swam in our seas.

Our gods had horns on their heads, or moons, or sealy fins, or the beaks of eagles. We called them All-Knowing, we called them Shining One. We knew we were not orphans. We smelled the earth and rolled in it; its juices ran down our chins.

2. In the second age we created money. This money was also made of shining metals. It had two faces: on one side was a severed head, that of a king or some other noteworthy person, on the other face was something else, something that would give us comfort: a bird, a fish, a fur-bearing animal. This was all that remained of our former gods. The money was small in size, and each of us would carry some of it with him every day, as close to the skin as possible. We could not eat this money, wear it or burn it for warmth; but as if by magic it could be changed into such things. The money was mysterious, and we were in awe of it. If you had enough of it, it was said, you would be able to fly.

3. In the third age, money became a god. It was all-powerful, and out of control. It began to talk. It began to create on its own. It created feasts and famines, songs of joy, lamentations. It created greed and hunger, which were its two faces. Towers of glass rose at its name, were destroyed and rose again. It began to eat things. It ate whole forests, croplands and the lives of children. It ate armies, ships and cities. No one could stop it. To have it was a sign of grace.

4. In the fourth age we created deserts. Our deserts were of several kinds, but they had one thing in common: nothing grew there. Some were made of cement, some were made of various poisons, some of baked earth. We made these deserts from the desire for more money and from despair at the lack of it. Wars, plagues and famines visited us, but we did not stop in our industrious creation of deserts. At last all wells were poisoned, all rivers ran with filth, all seas were dead; there was no land left to grow food.

Some of our wise men turned to the contemplation of deserts. A stone in the sand in the setting sun could be very beautiful, they said. Deserts were tidy, because there were no weeds in them, nothing that crawled. Stay in the desert long enough, and you could apprehend the absolute. The number zero was holy.

5. You who have come here from some distant world, to this dry lakeshore and this cairn, and to this cylinder of brass, in which on the last day of all our recorded days I place our final words:

Pray for us, who once, too, thought we could fly.

Demand Release of G-20 Detainees! Drop All Charges and End RepressionNOW!

Bail Out the People Movement

Demand Release of G-20 Detainees! Drop All Charges and End Repression NOW!

Sign the online petition to Federal Officials, Congressional leaders, the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation, the Pennsylvania Legislature, the Mayor of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Police Chief, Pittsburgh city officials, Pittsburgh business leaders, the Allegheny County Council and local and national media demanding an immediate release of all detainees, that all charges be dropped, and calling for an independent investigation, at

Repressive cop forces provoke violence, arrests in Pittsburgh
Join the call to release all detainees, drop all charges and for an independent investigation now!

The repressive cop forces of homeland security locked down the people of Pittsburgh during the G-20 economic summit – bringing with them violence, arrests and intimidation. Bail Out the People Movement (BOPM) demands that all 150 arrestees be accounted for and released; all charges be dropped and a public apology be made to the people of Pittsburgh by County Executive Dan Onorato Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, police chief Nate Harper, and other officials responsible for the massive repressive forces and an independent labor-community-student investigation of the repressive actions especially directed against youth.

On Thurs, Sept. 24 and Fri., Sept. 25, government sweeps by the Pittsburgh police and more than 4,000 additional cops, state troopers and national guard, gave rise to videos and eyewitness reports starkly reminiscent of the repression by U.S. trained military dictatorships in Latin America i.e. youth wrestled into unmarked cars by police dressed in military fatigue uniforms and repressive forces posing for photos with kneeling captives.

Experiments with high-tech sound weaponry also reportedly used in Honduras, gases and other "less-lethal" crowd control became the order of the day on Sept. 25 when police surrounded and arrested youth gathered in Schenley Plaza near the University of Pittsburgh in the Oakland neighborhood. Arrestees reported that after the order to disperse, all exit routes were blocked and more than 100 people were arrested. Among them was a Pittsburgh-Post Gazette newspaper reporter.

On the scene, Dante Strobino from FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) wrote: "The police began to occupy the park and forcefully removed everyone. As students began to gather around to check it out, the riot police got more hyped up. There were no chants, no signs, no banners, no folks dressed in black and no provocation. The police threw several tear gas and smoke bombs at the crowd again and pushed them further back down commercial streets toward bars and restaurants. They also chased people into the huge dormitory towers and attacked students as they left their residences. Students were hanging out the windows, taking pictures in awe."

"Forbes St. was blocked off by hundreds of riot cops while surrounding contingents of cops moved in on the other areas of the campus to corral people inside the area. Police brutality had been witnessed with folks being thrown to the ground and shot with rubber bullets, media being pepper sprayed and gassed. Protesters and students alike are being held in the dorm towers unable to leave in fear of arrest. Other students cannot cross Fifth Ave. to get to their residences without being thrown to the ground."

"What is most striking about being here is seeing the incredible police repression both Thursday and Friday night in Oakland, near U of Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University, two universities with mostly white, mostly class-privileged students. As Larry Holmes commented during the BOPM Tent City, at any given normal day the police usually target and harass the Black community, but these two days not only are those under normal occupation, but the police are targeting young white folks, too."

Sean O'Sullivan, senior at University of Pittsburgh, who was not taking part in the protests earlier in the day, stated "It was the police who started the violence and ended up finishing the violence. It felt like a war zone...the police kept becoming more and more violent, taking over more and more of the street. I couldn't get to my house even until 3 a.m. on Thursday."

Jillian Dowis, sophomore at Ohio University from Students for a Democratic Society who came to Pittsburgh to protest the G-20's policies, speaking of her experience on the night of Sept. 25, said "After a reporter got maced in face and we brought him to steps of chapel. The cops swarmed around us and arrested guy that was injured, he could barely breath, trying to get him away from crowd. As kids tried to run away they picked us off one by one. My friend called her dad. Then a cop said to us, 'Shut the f_ck up and get off the goddamn phone'. My friend was was trying to say bye and the cop grabbed her by head and slammed her head into the ground. They were being way forceful and too aggressive and intentionally put on handcuffs way too tight."

A 24-hour continuous vigil is ongoing at the Allegheny County Jail until all arrestees are released.

Sign the online petition at to send email messages to officials demanding the immediate release of those arrested and an independent investigation. The sample text of the appeal follows:

To: Pittsburgh Mayor Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh City Council, Pittsburgh Police Chief, Allegheny County Council
CC: PA Congressional Delegation, Congressional Leaders, the PA Legislature, Federal Officials, Pittsburgh business leaders, members of the Pittsburgh and national media

I demand that the military occupation of Pittsburgh be disbanded immediately; all charges against the people arrested in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 and 25 especially the youth – including those involved in direct action confronting the G-20 summit – be dropped. Everyone detained must be accounted for and released. I support an independent worker-community-student investigation of the homeland security occupation and repression during the G-20 summit.

(your name appended here)


College students trapped in stairwell and gassed, attacked

Police assault couple in street

Police pose while taking picture of arrested student

Bill Maher Should Be America's Surgeon General!

By Donald B. Ardell

Bill Maher, my choice for Czar of REAL Wellness if such an office ever becomes a top position in the Executive branch of government, has condensed in one NEW RULE a central idea I have been promoting for at least 30 years in a dozen books, 74 printed newsletters, 503 weekly electronic newsletters and about 500 speeches. Sheesh—I wish I had a sense of humor and could write hilarious copy that cuts to the quick in the Maher manner.

In my first book, High Level Wellness: An Alternative To Doctors, Drugs and Disease (Rodale, 1976), I wrote: "Modern medicine is a wonderful thing but there are two problems: people expect too much of it and too little of themselves." If we all expected more of ourselves, that is, lived wisely aided by positive choices that enabled high levels of fitness while foregoing the common high risk behaviors (smoking, excessive alcohol intake, fat and sugary low density foods, sedentary living, etc.), we would not need a $2.6 trillion per year medical system to attend to avoidable maladies.

Of course, Maher gets to the point faster with high hilarity.

Here is Bill Maher's latest NEW RULE. Every paragraph is funny AND true at the same time, and it sweeps away all the BS contained in tens of thousands of ponderous position papers produced by policy experts on the right, left and middle concerning health system reform—and that's only in the last few days.

After each of the following paragraphs of Bill Maher's NEW RULE commentary, in quotes, you will find additional brief remarks from me.

New Rule: You can't complain about health care reform if you're not willing to reform your own health. Unlike most liberals, I'm glad all those teabaggers marched on Washington last week. Because judging from the photos, it's the first exercise they've gotten in years. Not counting, of course, all the Rascal scooters there, most of which aren't even for the disabled. They're just Americans who turned 60 and said, 'Screw it, I'm done walking.'

How come next to nobody has been pointing this out? It's as if the emperor has no clothes but nobody notices that he's not only bare nekked—he's corpulent, as well. The emperor in this case is the American people—and those complaining about the medical system need to reform their own health. To Bill Maher, I say what is often said as an expression of enthusiastic approval downunder: "You beaudy." 

Maher's New Rule continues:

These people are furious at the high cost of health care, so they blame illegals, who don't even get health care. News flash, Glenn Beck fans: the reason health care is so expensive is because you're all so unhealthy.

Just so. Therefore, one would expect our new president, a leader with good sense and good values and excellent advisers, to find a way to emphasize the vital role of personal responsibility at every turn. Would YOU not expect that? Incredibly, he does not do so. Why not? President Obama, a model of good living and committed to exercise (albeit a closet struggling-to-quit light smoker), surely knows the importance of exercise and wise lifestyle choices that lower health risks and, more important, boost quality of life. What is going on? How can this be explained? It's a wonderment, is it not?

More from Maher and his wonderful New Rule:

Yes, it was fun this week to watch the teabaggers complain how the media underestimated the size of their march, 'How can you say there were only 60,000 of us? We filled the entire mall!' Yes, because you're fat. One whale fills the tank at Sea World, that doesn't make it a crowd.

Brilliant, truly smack on. Alas, if you are not a celebrated comic with your own show on HBO, you really can't get away with pointing out that folks are fat, let alone making unflattering analogies about fat Republicans and others with a Sea World whale.

Maher on the obvious (in other words, the emperor's nudity): 

President Obama has identified all the problems with the health care system, but there's one tiny issue he refuses to tackle, and that's our actual health.

Mr. President! Please start talking about this.

Massive Muslim Prayer in D.C. Incites Christian Prayers

An unprecedented Muslim prayer rally to take place on Capitol Hill Friday afternoon has Christian leaders responding with calls for prayer and fasting of their own.

By Jennifer Riley

Christian evangelist Lou Engle of TheCall has partnered with Shirley Dobson, chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, to issue an urgent nationwide call for Christians to pray and fast on Sept. 25 – the day when up to 50,000 Muslims plan to pray in front of the Capitol building.

The leaders urge the Church in America to fast and pray that Muslims would be moved by the Holy Spirit, be convicted by the testimony of Christ, and be visited by Jesus in dreams like many Muslims who have come to Christ have experienced.

"There is a great spiritual conflict with a rising tide of Islamic boldness being manifested," according to TheCall Web site. "We must pray that God would restrain the spiritual powers behind Islam and grant us the great awakening that we desperately need for America."

At 1 p.m. Friday on the west side of the Capitol, tens of thousands of Muslims are expected to gather and pray. The event, called "Islam on Capitol Hill," is organized by Hassen Abdellah, a lawyer who is president of the Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, N.J.

Abdellah has come under fire from some conservative Christians for his connection to suspected and convicted terrorists. The Muslim lawyer represented a terrorist convicted of manufacturing the bomb in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His client is now serving time in the "supermax" prison in Colorado.

In another case, Abdellah represented a Baltimore cabdriver who pleaded guilty of attending a jihad terrorist training camp in Pakistan and aiding a terrorist group.

But the Muslim lawyer defended his legal record, saying that he has also put many "bad people" in jail, according to The Washington Post. Moreover, he said the event will not include any political message.

"This is just about prayer," Abdellah told "The purpose is Islamic unity, so we can display the beauty of Islam. We believe the groupsare going to be people who love and respect America, and we want to let America know that we're here and that we support the country.

"I know it's difficult for people to believe it could be that simple."

Wolf Blitzer gets ’schooled’ in journalism by Michael Moore

By Diana Sweet

Michael Moore appeared on CNN Thursday evening with Wolf Blitzer to discuss his new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. This is Moore's first interview with Blitzer since his film Sicko was released, and as Moore puts it, they had a 'YouTube moment.' Moore slammed Blitzer and CNN for mistatements about universal health care and his film Sicko during that interview in 2007 when Blitzer attempted to debunk facts presented in the film with 'facts' from CNN's medical expert, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Moore debunked Gupta's facts in detail on his own web site, and later went head to head with the doctor on the Larry King Show.

Well, they had another YouTube moment last night.

Blitzer begins by pointing out that there are people who don't like Michael Moore.

"Let's talk about…most people who are going to see this movie who don't like you are going to say, 'you know what, Michael Moore has done pretty well in this free-market, capitalist system—you've become a fairly rich guy yourself.' " states Blitzer.

After Moore asks for the names of people who don't like them, so he can 'invite them to dinner,' he continues with "Why am I against capitalism if I've done so well? Shouldn't the question be better put—I'm not trying to do your job for you—but wouldn't the question better be, 'gee Mike, you've done so well, why don't you just kick back at the lake and enjoy your life. Why do you care about people losing their healthcare and their jobs and all that…you're not losing yours…I wonder if there was a Wolf Blitzer 200 years ago who asked Thomas Jefferson or John Adams or George Washington, 'hey, you know, you guys are wealthy land owners…'"

Perhaps Blitzer was hoping for another 'YouTube moment' with Michael Moore? Well, here it is, in two parts from the interview originally aired on Thurs., September 24, 2009:

Part One:

Part Two:

Scalia Believes Religion Should be Part of Government

by: DocJess

Antonin Scalia gave an interview to a right wing religious newspaper. You can read it here. The major part of the interview is Scalia's view on how it is WRONG for the American government to remain neutral in issues involving religion. He believes that religion should be PREFERRED.

A few of the gems:

  • I have been here for a long time now - 23 years. In that time, I think the Court has become more receptive to the needs of religious practice.
  • [T]he court [...] adopted the so-called principle of neutrality - which states that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion. This is not an accurate representation of what Americans believe. 
  • It has not been our American constitutional tradition, nor our social or legal tradition, to exclude religion from the public sphere. Whatever the Establishment Clause means, it certainly does not mean that government cannot accommodate religion, and indeed favor religion.

Scary stuff.

People say that Scalia is a bright guy, but I'm thinking that he hasn't realized that when there is true religious "preference" on the part of government, you end up with places like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc., where people are stoned to death for breaking religious laws. Admittedly, that's the Koran not the Bible, but in case you've forgotten the West Wing episode where President Bartlett quotes the internet letter to the Laura Schlessinger stand-in, I've put that whole letter after the jump. I wonder how Scalia's religious views jibe with the smiting, killing and selling into slavery parts...

He did say one thing of interest:

If and when I am placed in the position of having to render a judgment that makes me an instrument of evil, my recourse is not to lie regarding the meaning of law and come out the other way but to step down from the bench and perhaps join a revolution. 

HHMMNN. If Scalia actually is a man of conscience and honour, he should step down NOW.