Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Republican Jesus

Biblical sex row over explicit illustrated Book of Genesis

A sexually explicit illustrated Book of Genesis by controversial artist Robert Crumb, which features Bible characters having intercourse, has been condemned by religious groups.
By Ben Leach

The Book of Genesis by Robert CrumbThe book, which is released this month, carries the warning "adult supervision recommended for minors", and is described as "scandalous satire" by its publishers.

It includes graphic illustrations of Bible characters having sexual intercourse, and other scenes depicting naked men and women as well as "gratuitous" depictions of violence.

Crumb, the book's author, is most famous for his creation Fritz the Cat, a sexually graphic "underground" comic strip. It was turned into a film that became the first animation to receive an X rating.

He has said he does not believe that the Bible is the word of God. "I take it all for myth from start to finish, with probably some faint relation to historical reality." he said.

"They're great stories. But for people to take texts as something sacred, handed down from God... that's pretty backward, I think."

The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb has been criticized by leading religious groups such as the Christian Institute.

"It is turning the Bible into titillation," said Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, a religious think-tank. "It seems wholly inappropriate for what is essentially God's rescue plan for mankind.

"If you are going to publish your own version of the Bible it must be done with a great deal of sensitivity. The Bible is a very important text to many many people and should be treated with the respect it deserves.

"Representing it in your own way is all very well and good but it must be remembered that it is a matter of people's faith, their religion.

"Faith is such an important part of people's lives that one must remember to tread very carefully."

Other leading religious figures have been more supportive of the work. "I didn't think it was satire," said the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines.

"He set out to say; 'this is important, fundamental myth' and it seems to me he's done a good job."

It’s time to fire Gen. McChrystal
By Bill Press

Do the words "commander in chief" mean anything?

That's not so clear anymore, after Gen. Stanley McChrystal publicly disagreed with President Obama over sending more troops to Afghanistan.

McChrystal made his remarks shortly after sending the president his request for 10,000 to 45,000 more troops -- without which, he warned, our mission in Afghanistan would fail. Addressing a forum of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies in London, the general not only repeated his demand for additional forces, he shot down the proposal by Vice-President Biden that our mission be changed from one of occupying Afghanistan to hunting down terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That would be nothing short of "Chaos-istan," McChrystal sneered.

Then, even though his recommendation had not yet worked its way up through the Pentagon chain of command to reach the president's desk, the general also slammed Obama for taking too long to make up his mind. "Waiting does not prolong a favorable outcome," he told his London audience. "These efforts will not remain winnable indefinitely. Public support will not last indefinitely." His words were clearly a direct criticism of the president's decision-making process.

Which raises a couple of important questions. First, what the hell was McChrystal doing in London in the first place? As commander of International Security Assistance Forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, his job is on the battlefield in Afghanistan, not hanging out in some swanky London hotel.

If McChrystal feels he needs more troops to accomplish his mission, fine. Let him tell the president that. In private. And let him put pressure on the president -- in private, not in a public speech, sure to be reported immediately around the world. McChrystal's boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, gets it right: "It is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations, civilians and military alike, provide our best advice to the president, candidly but privately."

Second question: Who's in charge here? Obama or McChrystal? The president or the general? It's a matter of command and control generals sometimes forget. As once, famously, did Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Memorandum for Selected United State Attorneys on Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana

Memorandum for Selected United State Attorneys on Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana
October 19th, 2009
Posted by Tracy Russo

Today Attorney General Eric Holder announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Those guidelines are contained in a memo from Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden which was sent  to United States Attorneys this morning.

The text of this memo is provided below for reference. You may also download a PDF version of the memo by clicking, here.



October 19,2009


FROM: David W. Ogden, Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana

This memorandum provides clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana. These laws vary in their substantive provisions and in the extent of state regulatory oversight, both among the enacting States and among local jurisdictions within those States. Rather than developing different guidelines for every possible variant of state and local law, this memorandum provides uniform guidance to focus federal investigations and prosecutions in these States on core federal enforcement priorities.

The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States. Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime and provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. One timely example underscores the importance of our efforts to prosecute significant marijuana traffickers: marijuana distribution in the United States remains the single largest source of revenue for the Mexican cartels.

The Department is also committed to making efficient and rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources. In general, United States Attorneys are vested with "plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters" within their districts. USAM 9-2.001. In exercising this authority, United States Attorneys are "invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion in the exercise of such authority." Id. This authority should, of course, be exercised consistent with Department priorities and guidance.

The prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the disruption of illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking networks continues to be a core priority in the Department's efforts against narcotics and dangerous drugs, and the Department's investigative and prosecutorial resources should be directed towards these objectives. As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources. On the other hand, prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority of the Department. To be sure, claims of compliance with state or local law may mask operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of those laws, and federal law enforcement should not be deterred by such assertions when otherwise pursuing the Department's core enforcement priorities.

Typically, when any of the following characteristics is present, the conduct will not be in clear and unambiguous compliance with applicable state law and may indicate illegal drug trafficking activity of potential federal interest:

  • unlawful possession or unlawful use of firearms;
  • violence;
  • sales to minors;
  • financial and marketing activities inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of state law, including evidence of money laundering activity and/or financial gains or excessive amounts of cash inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;
  • amounts of marijuana inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;
  • illegal possession or sale of other controlled substances; or
  • ties to other criminal enterprises.

Of course, no State can authorize violations of federal law, and the list of factors above is not intended to describe exhaustively when a federal prosecution may be warranted. Accordingly, in prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act, federal prosecutors are not expected to charge, prove, or otherwise establish any state law violations. Indeed, this memorandum does not alter in any way the Department's authority to enforce federal law, including laws prohibiting the manufacture, production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana on federal property. This guidance regarding resource allocation does not "legalize" marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law, nor is it intended to create any privileges, benefits, or rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any individual, party or witness in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter. Nor does clear and unambiguous compliance with state law or the absence of one or all of the above factors create a legal defense to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Rather, this memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion.

Finally, nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution where there is a reasonable basis to believe that compliance with state law is being invoked as a pretext for the production or distribution of marijuana for purposes not authorized by state law. Nor does this guidance preclude investigation or prosecution, even when there is clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law, in particular circumstances where investigation or prosecution otherwise serves important federal interests.

Your offices should continue to review marijuana cases for prosecution on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the guidance on resource allocation and federal priorities set forth herein, the consideration of requests for federal assistance from state and local law enforcement authorities, and the Principles of Federal Prosecution.

cc: All United States Attorneys

Lanny A. Breuer
Assistant Attorney General Criminal Division

B. Todd Jones
United States Attorney
District of Minnesota
Chair, Attorney General's Advisory Committee

Michele M. Leonhart
Acting Administrator
Drug Enforcement Administration

H. Marshall Jarrett
Executive Office for United States Attorneys

Kevin L. Perkins
Assistant Director
Criminal Investigative Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation

US Healthcare History: Our Very Own Killing Fields

by Donna Smith

Jenny Fritts was 24 years old. Jenny lived with her husband Sean for the past five years, and together they had a little girl named Kylee, 2. Jenny was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her second child - a beautiful, baby girl.

Jenny is dead. Jenny's unborn baby is dead. They died because they were turned away for appropriate care at a for-profit hospital because they did not have health insurance. Sean rushed Jenny back to another hospital when her symptoms became even more severe, and he lied about having insurance to get her in the door. She was placed on a respirator in intensive care, but she didn't make it. She died. And so did her baby.

They become two more of the more than 45,000 Americans who die preventable deaths due to our broken healthcare system every year. Two more. Mother and child.

And the tragedy doesn't end there. Sean has been very depressed since he lost Jenny and their baby. The rest of his family and friends are worried about him. But he cannot get treatment either. He doesn't have insurance. (You can watch their story here: Imagine how you might feel. Imagine.

These are our killing fields. In America. In October 2009. In Barack Obama's America. That land full of hope and promise for those who can afford that hope and promise. Yet few in our government offices react as one might think you would when hearing of Jenny and the baby and Sean and Kylee.

I read these stories every day on the website. I read them and clean up a spelling glitch or two and then post them for the world to see. The website belongs to the nurses of the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses Organizing Committee. Patients send their stories to the nurses in cascading waves of anger and frustration and desperation. They want someone to listen and to give a damn. And they want someone to help.

Husband joins Army so cancer-stricken wife can get health care.

billnmichelleOne of the worst tragedies of the recession has been people losing their health insurance because they lost their job. Nearly 14,000 Americans lose their insurance every day. Wisconsin father Bill Caudle was laid off from his job at a plastics company in March 2009, which resulted in his family losing their employer-subsidized health care coverage. This put the family in an especially precarious position, because Bill's wife, Michelle, was an ovarian cancer patient. After months of unsuccessfully looking for work, Caudle did the only thing he could to get his wife chemotherapy — he joined the Army:

The Army would solve their health coverage problem. In years past he would have been too old, but in 2005 the age limit for enlistment was increased from 35 to 40, and a year later it was raised again to 42. The tradeoff would be his absence from home.

In the end, although he risked leaving Michelle to fight cancer on her own, Bill chose the Army. He signed on for a job as a signal support systems specialist, a soldier who works with communications equipment.

"Seventy percent of the reason is for the insurance," said Bill's mother, Marguerite Hemiller. "He told me, 'I've always wanted to do something for my country and I have to help Michelle.'"

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarentee comprehensive health coverage to all of its citizens. In the rest of the developed world, Bill would not have to leave his cancer-stricken wife behind and risk his own life in order to get her care.

Public must learn to 'tolerate the inequality' of bonuses, says Goldman Sachs vice-chairman

Brian Griffiths AKA Lord Griffiths of FforestfachOne of the City's leading figures has suggested that inequality created by bankers' huge salaries is a price worth paying for greater prosperity.

In remarks that will fuel the row around excessive pay, Lord Griffiths, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said banks should not be ashamed of rewarding their staff.

Speaking to an audience at St Paul's Cathedral in London about morality in the marketplace last night, Griffiths said the British public should "tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity for all".

He added that he knew what inequality felt like after spending his childhood in a mining town in Wales. Both his grandfathers were miners who had to retire from work through injury.

With public anger mounting at the forecast of bumper bonuses for bankers only a year after the industry was rescued by the taxpayer, he said bankers' bonuses should be seen as part of a longer-term investment in Britain's economy. "I believe that we should be thinking about the medium-term common good, not the short-term common good ... We should not, therefore, be ashamed of offering compensation in an internationally competitive market which ensures the bank businesses here and employs British people," he said.

The Slippery Slope

by Uri Avnery

IT IS, of course, all the fault of Judge Richard Goldstone. He is to blame for it, as he is to blame for all the other ills that are befalling us now.

He is to blame for the trouble we are having at the UN, both in New York and in Geneva. For the conspiracy to bring our political and military leaders to trial in The Hague. For the ongoing crisis between us and Turkey. For the many initiatives throughout the world to organize a boycott of Israel.

Now he is to blame also for the existential danger facing Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

WHEN THE Goldstone report was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, our government decided to do all it could to prevent even a debate about it.

The debate was, of course, demanded by the Palestinians. When the report was published, the Palestinian representative in Geneva did the obvious: he demanded that the report be debated with a view to submitting it to the Security Council, which in turn would submit it to the international court in The Hague.

What came next could have been foreseen. The Israeli government exerted heavy pressure on the US. The US exerted heavy pressure on Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas gave in and instructed his representative in Geneva to withdraw his request for a debate.

In any other matter, this would have passed quietly. But since the subject was the Gaza War, Palestinian public opinion exploded. Throughout the war, every Palestinian in the West Bank saw on Aljazeera and the other Arab networks every day, every hour, the atrocities of the war, the mangled bodies of women and children, the destroyed schools and mosques, the white phosphorus bombs.

For the Hamas leaders, Abbas' order to withdraw the request was a gift from Allah. They fell over Abbas with unabated fury. "Traitor", "Collaborator", "Subcontractor of the Zionist murderers" were the more moderate epithets. They found an echo with many Palestinians who are not necessarily Hamas supporters.

Abbas' legal standing is shaky. According to one version, his term of office expired long ago. According to another, it will expire in a few months. Whatever the case may be, he will be compelled to hold elections soon. In this situation, he cannot remain indifferent to an upsurge of public opinion against him. So he drew the logical conclusion: he instructed his Geneva representative to renew his request for a debate on the Goldstone report. This ended yesterday with a resolution to refer the report to the UN General Assembly.

We Live in Public

Living with a virtual shower.
by Roger Ebert

I'd never heard of Josh Harris, who is billed in "We Live in Public" as "the greatest Internet pioneer you've never heard of." I can be excused for thinking Harris was the fictional hero of a pseudo-documentary, until the film quickly and obviously became authentic. It's not often you see a doc that's been filmed over a period of 15 years.

Harris was involved in the early days of Prodigy, back in the CompuServe era, and in 1993 founded, which forecast audio and video Webcasting, YouTube, Hulu and countless other streamers. He was, to put it kindly, ahead of his time. In 1993, 300-baud modems were commonplace, and 1200 was fast.

Harris was a myopic visionary, a man who saw the future more vividly than his own life. He was a prototype nerd, a lonely kid who raised himself while planted in front of an old black-and-white TV set, using "Gilligan's Island" as a virtual family to supplement his own remote mother. In the 1990s, he became one of the early millionaires, a celebrity in New York, where he threw lavish parties intended not so much for the famous as to attract brilliant and artistic kids to work for him. is remembered from that time as Nerd Heaven, with good pay, perks, free creature comforts -- demanding only your body and soul.

He sold Pseudo for something like $80 million, and that was the end of his good timing. The filmmaker Ondi Timoner had already started to document Harris' life, and was on the scene when he began a notorious project named Quiet. Try to imagine this: About 100 of the best and brightest he could find agreed to live 24 hours a day in a cavernous space below street level. They would be under video surveillance every moment. Their lives would be streamed on the Web. They shared dining and recreational facilities and even a shooting range. They were given state-of-the-art computers. They lived in cubicles with the square footage of perhaps six coffins. These were stacked atop each other like sleeping pods in a Japanese airport.

Sarah Palin Goes Down Cheap on Amazon: Just $9 for "Going Rogue," A $29.00 Book. WTF?

By Mark Karlin

Not many new books get a 69% discount before they are even released. In fact, BuzzFlash -- which sells progressive books -- has never seen such a slashed price for a book before it came out like the $9.00 is charging for "Going Rogue."

Yes, Palin and "Going Rogue" -- not released until November 17 -- are going down cheap, at a price usually reserved for what are called "remainder" books, the surplus stock of a book that is dramatically discounted.

Of course if you give it away, you can have a popular product, so it's no surprise that as of October 19, "Going Rogue" is number 4 on Amazon.

And the right-wing think tank media infrastructure, which is so successfuly integrated, is indeed giving it away!

The right-wing rag site, NewsMax, is offering "Going Rogue" free with a subscription, or for a cost of -- coinky dink -- $9.00.

For close to four decades, the GOP and the right wing have synergistically intertwined -- with the backing of the oligarchy -- think tanks, electoral politics, the media, and book sales (with cross-promotion of books and think tank "fellows" on the programs of RWNJ media shills).

This is something that BuzzFlash and some others have noted is critically lacking among the progressives.  A lot of it is due to the limited financial backing received by progressive causes (just ask us at BuzzFlash), and a lot of it has to do with a more well-oiled structure on the right.

BuzzFlash will be selling the parody comic book version of "Going Rogue" (called "Going Rouge"), but it won't be steeply discounted because one of our IT consultants is self-publishing it.  That's how it goes among progressives; no big money backers, just committed people building democracy with sweat equity.

Bank of America Begins “Tracking” All Who Make Cash Deposits

WAR ON YOU - Breaking News Without Corporate Views, Forum Message Board, Conspiracy Theories, Martial Law blog,

By Martin Hill

I tried making what I thought was an ordinary cash deposit into my wife's account at Bank of America this afternoon. I have been a customer of "B of A" for a long time and have made many such deposits.

The teller asked if I am listed on the account and I told her no, that it's my wife's account. She then told me that she will have to see my driver's license. This is a change in policy for B of A, so I asked her if it was merely a request or a requirement. She claimed it was a requirement, and when I asked for the reason, she told me that it was to 'prevent loss' and to safeguard customer information. Apparently there has been a rash of 'customer impersonations' by people seeking to garner information about accountholders.

I explained that I had not asked for any information about the account, and reminded  the teller that I gave her the account information, and simply wanted to deposit a few hundred dollars cash.

The teller explained that they 'track' non accountholders who make deposits into customers accounts. We went back and forth with her eventually pleading "well, if you haven't done anything wrong,  there's no reason not to show ID". I explained that the opposite was true, that since I have done nothing wrong, there is no reason to require ID. I reiterated that I did not ask for any account information, and that it's a cash deposit; that they have a machine to determine if the cash is counterfeit. I was not impersonating or claiming to be the account holder, who is a woman, and furthermore, my wife and I did not consent to any new or altered account agreements or regulations.  The teller then admitted that another customer had "walked out on her" after refusing to show their ID. I told her that it must have been another customer who had some common sense.

I told her that I was not going to show her my ID, which brought us to an impasse. I asked to speak with the branch manager, Chuck, but he was out to lunch; the teller told me that the next supervisor in charge, "Edie", was helping a customer, but would speak with me if I was willing to wait.

I didn't have time, so I left and called the B of A customer service line fro my car. The rep was intrigued since she had not heard anything about this alleged new policy, and wanted to get to the bottom of it. She spoke with some superiors who finally claimed that the policy was at the discretion of the local branch.

Oklahoma abortion law ‘like undressing women in public’

By GottaLaff

OK is not OK:
As of November 1, doctors in Oklahoma will be compelled -- under penalty of criminal prosecution -- to post the details of each abortion they perform online. Among the details to be posted for every abortion is the patient's age, marital status and race; her financial condition; her education; and the total number of her previous pregnancies.
Race? Not that any of those details are relevant, but ... race?
"A friend said it best: It's like undressing women in public, exposing their most personal issues on the Internet," Lora Joyce Davis, one of the plaintiffs suing to prevent the law from coming into effect, told ABC News.
Undressing women? More like rape, if you ask me, I mean, since we're talkin' "invasive".

So this law is supposed to make women so uncomfortable and squirmy that they'll throw up their hands and change their minds? Really? Did that work in the pre-Roe dark ages? Would they prefer the coat hanger attempts of yesteryear?

The answer to that is yes, by the way.

And if someone feels strongly enough to get an abortion-- which is a highly personal decision, and a constitutional right-- do these so-called lawmakers actually believe that public humiliation will deter them from a life-changing, heart-wrenching, carefully considered decision?
Davis, along with former state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton, filed the lawsuit with the help of the Center for Reproductive Rights. The lawsuit seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional under the Oklahoma Constitution because it covers more than one subject.
Chipping away at choice, whether it be through backwards-thinking, privacy-invading laws or Pro-Life Cupcakes, means chipping away at our existing legal rights, and some of these methods threaten our democracy.

Let us now praise... the cliché

It's concise, time-tested, and instantly familiar. What's not to love?

WHO WILL SAY a good word for the cliché? Its sins are so numerous. Exhausted tropes, numb descriptors, zombie proverbs, hackneyed sentiments, rhetorical rip-offs, metaphorical flat tires, ideas purged of thought and symbols drained of power - the cliché traffics in them all. A lie can be inventive; an insult can be novel. Even plagiarism implies a kind of larcenous good taste. But a cliché is intellectual disgrace. The word itself seems to shape the mouth into a Gallic sneer.

Writers of course have always been extra-spooked by cliché. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" No, I don't think I shall - because somebody else already did that. And in 2001 Martin Amis officially declared war against cliché with a book entitled, uh, "The War Against Cliché." "All writing," he proclaimed, pennants flying, "is a campaign against cliché. Not just clichés of the pen but clichés of the mind and of the heart." And indeed Amis in his dazzling career has routed cliché, scattered it, seen it off with a thousand boilingly brilliant and novel images.

But here's the thing: were any of them quite as good as "fit as a fiddle?" Time, to use a particularly sage cliché, will tell. If in 50 years an Amis-ism like "reduced to tears of barbaric nausea" is common currency, then he'll have made the grade. Durable, easily handled, yet retaining somehow the flavor of its coinage, the classic cliché has fought philology to a standstill: it sticks and it stays, and not by accident.

Let's consider the origin of the word. For 19th-century typesetters, a cliché was a piece of language encountered so often in the course of their work that it had earned its own printing plate - no need to reset the individual letters, just stamp that thing on the page and keep going. So the cliché was an object, and a useful one: a concrete unit of communication that minimized labor and sped things up. I imagine that a nice hardy cliché like "on its last legs" or "tempest in a teapot" does more or less the same thing inside our heads: one bash of the stamp, one neat little payload of meaning, and on we go. And speaking of tempests, how did we manage for so long without Sebastian Junger's "perfect storm," the epitome of a vigorous and helpful cliché? ("A perfect storm in a teapot," on the other hand, is not a cliché. Yet.)

Exoplanets Galore! 32 Alien Planets Discovered, Including Super-Earths

The Body Stealers