Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bishop Gene Robinson on "eternal life"

I was fortunate yesterday to catch this before it scrolled off the front page at An Inch at a Time. Bishop Gene Robinson preached at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena this past Sunday. I thought the sermon was quite good, and transcribe most of it. Here's just a sample of what +Gene had to say, in his sermon centering around the parable of the Good Samaritan...

You know, more and more, I am convinced that the Christian life is not about life after death--it's about life before death. What God does for us after death, God will take care of. But what we do with life before death is up to you and me. That's the real reward of Christianity, isn't it? Not so much life after death, but life before death. It's not an accident that in our confession now, and in the absolution which follows, we don't say "and may God *bring* you to everlasting life", but keep you in everlasting life. It gets to start now...if we are awake. If we understand that in the doing of God's will, we already participate in everlasting life.

Much more, plus a link to the video of the sermon, here.

Drive-through Fatwas

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

I was driving a bunch this last week and was listening to world news podcasts on my iPod instead of hate radio. One story was about Dar Al-Iftaa and their fatwa issuing machine.

Fatwas are in reality just religious rulings. Questions like "how much inheritance should I leave my brother?" and so forth are answered, but they are not only giving in person, they are given via satellite television just like the 700 Club, plus there is also phone, email and even fatwas delivered via text message.

The Muslim world is beginning to see fatwa issuance as getting out of control and they are moving to have an official governing body to oversee all of Islam's fatwa edicts. But not everyone is in love with Dar Al-Iftaa...

Sheikh Safwat Hegazi's recent fatwa that it is halal to kill Israeli civilians on Egyptian land is one such potentially disastrous ruling; and arguably neither Dar Al-Iftaa's ruling to the contrary nor Sheikh Safwat's own retraction will render it entirely harmless. While acknowledging Hegazi's line of thinking as a response to frustration with Israel's aggression and impunity, Nosseir argued that with the correct interpretation of Qur'an , the fatwa is invalid, citing Verse 6 from Surat Al-Momtahena, to make her point: "Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily Allah loves those who deal with equity."

To avoid such fatwas, Nosseir suggests drawing up a Dar Al-Iftaa committee of religious scholars from the various modern sciences as well as Sharia: "Different scientific spheres are now needed to substantiate a religious ruling." To meet on a monthly basis, such a committee would manage to cover a given topic from every conceivable angle, coming up with a solid statement: "So eventually we would be able to consolidate the value of the fatwa and make people more eager to follow it," she opined. "With all due respect to the early scholars of Islam, we need to look into our daily issues with a different eye, ijtihad [independent thought] in Islam is allowed till doom's day." Significantly, she appears to agree with El-Magdoub: "I think the people who should participate in such a committee should be volunteers, not commissioned and not paid, to ensure they are doing so out of their own free will. We strongly need such committee, but we lack the determination."

Evidently, there exists in Islamic culture a need for fatwas that center around mindless killing. How they overcome this is anyone's guess.

My money is on the use of a lot of bombs, guns and grenades.

Daddy's Girl

A tip of the hat and a proud salute to the brave men and women at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Thank you.

No Way Out

The Raw Story:

Bush vetoes Iraq withdrawal plan
President George W. Bush on Tuesday vetoed a bill setting an Iraq withdrawal timeline, defying the US Congress exactly four years after he declared major combat over in a "Mission Accomplished" speech.

"Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible," he said as protesters outside the White House chanted "stop the war now!" and "how many more will die?".

Bush -- who has signalled no willingness to compromise on his plan to escalate the unpopular war -- was to meet top lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday to map the way forward after killing the legislation.

The measure included emergency spending for the war but tied that to a call for US combat troops to start coming home October 1 and most of them to be withdrawn by March 2008. Like previous measures was larded with funds for unrelated projects and programs.

"Members of the House and Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders, so a few minutes ago, I vetoed the bill," Bush said.

Democratic leaders, due at the White House on Wednesday in the next phase of the unprecedented Iraq spending showdown, quickly slammed Republican Bush's move and accused him of trapping US soldiers "in the middle of an open-ended civil war."

"The president wants a blank check. The Congress is not going to give it to him," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned at a joint public appearance with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"If the president thinks that by vetoing this bill, he will stop us from working to change the direction of this war, he is mistaken," said Reid. "Now he has an obligation to explain his plan to responsibly end this war."
Bush had long signalled he would kill the 124 billion dollar measure -- Democrats appear to lack the votes to override his veto -- and insisted that his foes, not his veto, were keeping much-needed funds from the troops.

The House of Representatives and Senate had approved the legislation by mostly party-line votes, with Democrats urging Bush to "listen to the American people" as polls showed a majority want the war to end.

The veto came exactly four years after the US president, speaking aboard a US aircraft carrier under a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner, declared that the March 19 US-led invasion had yielded "one victory" over terrorism.

DEMOCRATS: We want to stop the killing of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens and end this stupid, useless war.

REPUBLICANS: Die! Die! Die! Die! All Hail Cthulhu!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

UNICEF "Blocks" Black Face Ads from Germany

Blogger African American Political Pundit sent the following letter to UNICEF today. Here is the interesting part of this situation UNICEF attempted to retrieve the message from my email system, but my firewall blocked it. Check out what they had to say in response to my email.


I am concerned about the "racial overtones" of the recent campaign of placing white children in black face. As a long time UNICEF supporter, I'm concerned that UNICEF and it's German National Committee for UNICEF are involved in racial hatred with this Ad campaign.

Please find it in the kindness of your heart to withdraw the Ads and denounce the racial hatred the ads imply.

I sincerely hope that UNICEF takes such issues as racial isolation and bigotry seriously.

Please advance humanity by taking the ads down.

UNICEF Responds

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We agree -- these advertisements are not appropriate and run against UNICEF's mission. They have been dropped from the UNICEF German National Committee's website and there are no plans to use them in the future. We apologize for any offence caused.

As a UNICEF supporter, you may be interested to know a little more about the German National Committee's campaign to promote child-friendly schools in six African countries. Launched in late 2004, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the fact that nearly half of all children in Africa lack even primary education.

With funds from private donors, 350 schools have been repaired or newly constructed. In addition, several thousand teachers have been trained and school management improved. In total, around 100,000 children and young people have benefited from this campaign since 2004. The right to education for all children is a prerequisite to develop their full potential and a basis for social and economic development.

Again, we apologize for any offence caused.


Cinthya Oliveira

Program Services

U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Al Qaeda Map of the World

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

I had the most depressing meeting of my life yesterday (and in some ways uplifting but on a personal level that would bore you to tears). The reason it was depressing is because of who it was with and our discussion of the state of the world.

My meeting was with a friend of mine who is a military contractor and a former Republican. This guy is one of the last bastions of business leaders in America who "get it." He has no problem making piles of cash, but he makes sure he EARNS it and he sure as hell does. He is one of the hardest workers I know and can work magic with troubled companies. He strives to keep manufacturing and jobs in the US but I believe in his heart, those days are numbered.

As we discussed the state of the world, and the tragedy of the Bush Administration, he has declared the American Dream is dead as a doornail. "If you want the American Dream, go work in Europe, it is alive and well there. Bush has so destroyed the middle class, I doubt it can return with the business leaders we have now." Then we lamented the lack of leadership in corporate America. Over the last few years I have met with a lot of CEOs that frankly of no business running a business. The level of corruption and total lack of foresight is very troubling. These anti-CEOs are either running their business into the ground or flip the business and cash out - then go on to ruin another company.

We talked more about how to fix it. One of his fast "emergency fixes" is "Vote Hillary Or Else!" The "else" being the total collapse of American society, economy and government. Keep in mind this is coming from a "life-long Republican" who voted straight tickets up until 2004 - Kerry was his first Democratic vote and remember, he is a military contractor.

Maybe I am depressed for no reason. If someone like my friend can make such an extreme turnaround, maybe the rest of the country has had similar flashes of Jeffersonian insight?

Regardless, we both agreed the Bush Administration is just a front for Big Oil and Cheney is guiding the chariots to secure and exploit the last of the fossil fuel resources in the world. It is all about oil - everything. Iraq? Oil. Gonzales? Oil. Warrantless wiretaps? Oil. All of it. In every scandal there it the recurring stain of fossil fuel.

I am very tired of BushCo's oil slick.

When The Shatner Hits The Fan

Ah, another day, another new William Shatner commercial. Yeah, James Brown was "The Hardest Working Man In Show Business", but Shatner is hustling for a "Honorary Mention". Hustler. Hmm, that's a good word for dear old Bill, isn't it?

Judging William Shatner objectively is problematic for me even during the worst of times. I can't casually dismiss his as a pompous fraud because, to be fair, he's not.

Alright, as a dramatic actor, he's shamelessly served up fat, greasy, overcooked ham sandwiches for years. What he does and how he does it isn't a choice anymore, it's imbeded in his DNA. However, as a comic performer, I believe Shatner is seriously underrated. The few episodes of Trek that stay fresh and timeless are the ones where Kirk gets to be funny, and--amazingly--he is. There's nuance, timing, discipline, and suppleness. He's relaxed; he's not dialing it to "11". In other words, Shatner is everything that's glaringly absent from his hambone performances.

When Shatner does drama, he's a slab of Canadian Bacon. He's selfish, and an out-of-control scenery-chewer who swallows his fellow actors. In comedies, he's remarkably generous, invites everybody to the party, and buys the beer. Watch Shatner's past work with Spader and Lithgow. There's a sly ease and camaraderie which you usually see only in the pairings of legendary comedy teams that have a history. When Shatner has the clown make-up on, he's a team player. When he has Yorick's plastic skull in his hand, he thinks he's the team.

Shatner is a good actor. He deserves his second act.

But he shouldn't sing anymore, please dear God. The only thing Shatner should do with a microphone is ignore it.

Let's not mention the hair.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

End The War You Chickenhawks, I'm Running Out Of Friends

I had a fight with a friend yesterday, not a fight actually, more of a one sided shouting match with me doing the shouting. It wasn't my proudest moment.

He was seated a few barstools away from me in our mutual watering hole and talking to someone else when I heard him say, "We need to fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here."

I saw red. "There is no "we" involved here, you and little George and all the rest of the chickenhawk pukes that keep repeating that stupid and completely wrong bullshit should be taken out and shot for repeating it." "And you can take George Bush and stick him up your ass," I said calmly, at the top of my lungs. Again, it wasn't my proudest moment, although I thought the argument sound, on it's face.

Now, I have known this guy for several years and he's a very decent guy, hard working, fun to be around, I like him in spite of the fact that he thinks he's a Republican. (That Reagan thing again.) He gets this crap from talk radio. (Bill Cunningham, in his case,)

He drives a monster front loader all day and listens to these blithering idiots spout the usual Hannity/Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, neo-con, authoritarian, lame assed party line on the radio and I think he believes that he is hearing the voice of America, maybe even that of the Lord. He is not alone in this nasty habit, there are many, many others glued to their radios, daily, listening to the same libelous litany of lies and misinformation, a poisonous pablum fed by the corporate world to the mind of working class America. It is, after all, a free country, sort of.

Normally we joke around and rib each other about politics and it's all in fun and enjoyable but yesterday I was writing a piece on the National Intelligence Estimate and the crypto Nazi language contained therein. I had been worrying over it all day and by beer thirty I was thoroughly pissed at the State of the Union and, I guess, emotionally locked and loaded.

I take this war, this criminal fiasco, very personally. I did a tour in Vietnam as a young Marine many years ago and it feels as if, with every headline, with every story of the deaths of our Kids, every rotten bit of news that comes out of Iraq that I am losing a younger brother or sister. These people are family to me.

It's a daily dose of trauma, listening to the news of the war. Speaking and writing against it, against this criminal war, against the stubborn, dishonest, greedy people who have fraudulently promoted it, hurts, and the pain is liberally seasoned with a large measure of insult and humiliation, piled on by spineless, arrogant and uncaring policy makers, and a national press that does little but bang the drumbeat of it's masters.

I'm told that I shouldn't take it personally but I just don't know any other way. This is My country that these criminals are wrecking, my Children and Grandchildren that they are destroying.  I see the faces of the people they are killing, the faces of the families they are destroying, I can hear the shrieks of grief and pain and rage that emanate from thousands of American homes, from tens of thousands of Iraqi homes and it makes me nearly insane with rage.

I had another friend, Jim Thill. Jim died a couple of years ago, tall rangy, a crusty old curmudgeon with a bright sparkle in his eyes who fought his way from the southern tip of Korea all the way to what is now the DMZ. He was only 22 when he came home, 22 when he came home from his war. We served on an honor guard together for a few years, folding flags and firing rifles at veteran's funerals. Hundreds of them. Many times while standing at attention saluting the colors as the bugle sounded taps I would see the tears well up in Jim's eyes, through the tears in my own, and see the involuntary spasm of his body as he fought to keep from sobbing.

Jim knew war, He knew. A few days after Bush invaded Iraq we were sharing a few beers at the local VFW, the mood was tense and somewhat somber, all the TV's were tuned to the war and the old men watched as our kids began the incredible task of fighting their way from Basra to Baghdad, as they began their war.

Jim looked at me and asked me what I thought and I told him that I was worried, I was afraid that we were going to suffer heavy losses and inflict the same on thousands of innocent Iraqi's. "A lot of people are gonna get hurt in this mess," I said. I asked him, in turn what he thought. He sipped his beer and wiped his mouth with the back of an ancient hand and said, "I think George Bush just let his mouth overload "Our" ass." "I'll see you tomorrow," Marylyn's got dinner waitin'.

Jim's gone now, a victim of time, one of many who saw war, who knew it intimately, who was, as are all who serve and survive war a living victim, one who spoke against it when he knew it to be wrong. He lived nearly six decades behind those tears, fighting off long buried sobs of grief, living in his own personal knowledge of war.

I'm growing old at an accelerating rate and can't afford to lose the friends that remain, those still among the living, who haven't fallen to war or disease, or simple boredom or the horrible ravages and indignities of time. So I guess I'll stop in at the old saloon tomorrow and apologize for my heated words and my rude behavior.

I suppose that when the man who calls himself President and all those around him, when half the congress and a great chunk of the press repeat the same lame ass statements that pour from said "President's" mouth to overload "Our" ass, it's probably too much to expect that they won't be parroted by half of the average citizens. After all, It's a free country, sort of.

I guess I'll just have to start wearing earplugs, I've become much too sensitive and I don't want to do anything drastic like give up drinking in crummy saloons with my few friends.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Original Political Cartoon Round-Up

Cartoon of the Week (actually, about three weeks. I've been busy)

Every day liberal cartoonists are hard at work, doodling while avoiding their real jobs and responsibilities. Sometimes you see the results, and sometimes you don't. At Left 'Toon Lane we think a cartoon is worth a thousand words, and that sometimes the Bush Administration is so perfectly ironic that only a cartoon can capture the reality. This week seven different artists produced twelve different cartoons about today's politics. I hope you enjoy them, and that you'll come to Left 'Toon Lane, not just for the jokes, but for art and artists to punch up your own blogs and publications.

Note- the cartoon has been sized down to fit margin requirements, so visit
Left 'Toon Lane to see them best. And come to the Lane for all the new 'toons (I can't put things "below the break" here, and don't want to fill the whole page, but there are some tremendous cartoons this month. Don't miss them).


Go ahead.

Call these guys the F-word. I dare you.

I'll be standing back here with the EMTs, thank you.

A tip of the Kangol to Andy Sullivan.

Does this lead to minty fresh breath?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

How many times in American history have we fought wars over economics instead of human rights? The Revolutionary War was a fight for freedom and democracy, but it was for Whites only. The Civil War was about ending slavery but it took about a century for equal rights to bestowed upon African Americans and between those two events, we had two World Wars. In the last World War, we jailed people of Japanese descent just because of their ethnicity- even Americans that were born here were thrown into concentration camps - not in Gitmo, but in California, Arizona, Utah and many other states.

During the first Gulf War, we moved into the Middle East to kick out the Iraqis from Kuwait - a theocratic dictatorship with a horrible human rights record, but we rode into town and liberated the dictatorship of Kuwait.

Now we find ourselves in a fake war in Iraq with no real or visible reason other than the oil. When this nation is faced with war over Human rights, we flinch, or I should say, our government flinches.

It took a lot of courage to go into Kosovo. Even though there was heavy outcry by the GOP not to go into Kosovo and stop the genocide, we did and we were successful. The Taleban has been committing endless human rights violations for years, but it took a Saudi terror attack on the United States to get us to move on the Taleban (where the Saudi's weren't). But what about Darfur? You can throw a dart at Africa and chances are you will hit a dictator that is far worse than Saddam ever was, but into Iraq we went. Darfur continues to be ignored, just as we ignored Rwanda.

Oh, and maybe in another century after homosexuals gain equal rights, the Lakota will finally get the Black Hills back after it was stolen by the United States government.

Sadly, this country will never fight a war to bestow the equal rights owed to homosexuals - it will need to be a slow budding of awareness in the hearts of Americans. Society is changing, not fast enough for some and too fast for others. But the change and embracement will come.

Here is a little story to explain why I believe this. I am a Southern White Boy born in 1963 and my wife is a Strong Black Women born two years later. When we were born, it was illegal for Blacks and Whites to marry and it wasn't until 1967 that the last of the anti-miscegenation laws was struck down. Back in the 1960's, the racism in American was still very, very strong. Lynchings, rape and murder were all still a reality for Blacks in America.

But things changed and they changed rapidly. By the time I had arrived in high school in 1978, I was living in a small little rural town in North Carolina called, oddly enough, Dobson. Somehow, between 1967 and 1978, interracial dating had gone from being a suicidal taboo to being the "in" thing to do. I started dating, and snogging like no tomorrow, out of my race by the time I was 16. Channell and I have now been married for 14 and a half years and no one, except for one idiot uncle, has ever given us any grief over the color difference. They do ask why on earth a quality woman like Channell is with the likes of me, and sometimes I wonder that myself!

Color? No one cares. Soon, no idea when but soon, no one will care if two women get married. Or two men and just as color fell away from most, so will orientation.

Humans will still have hang-ups and some things will still be seen as outlandishly unacceptable by society, like what if someone marries a philandering Republican that switches hookers as often as his socks? Well, that taste NEVER leaves your mouth.

The President's Analyst

Remember The President's Analyst, a brilliant, take-no-prisoners political satire made in 1967? When psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn) is chosen to be the President's psychoanalyst, a mysterious cabal inside the government decides he's a security risk and wants him terminated. By itself, not a bad premise. But what made The President's Analyst deliciously subversive was that the bad guys weren't THRUSH, KAOS or even Nick Fury's old nemesis HYDRA. Uh-uh. It was THE PHONE COMPANY.

Being a snot-nosed kid when I saw the movie the first time, I didn't understand back then why a corporation were the bad guys in an espionage thriller instead of a derby-tossing assassin. Apparently, I wasn't alone in my confusion. The President's Analyst was a flop. Years later, however, it's enjoying the last laugh.

Can you say "Haliburton", boys and girls?

More than a comedy, The President's Analyst was a horror story that pulled back the curtains to reveal who the real villains in the United States were. And they're still here. The monsters are faceless men wearing Armani suits sitting in secret boardrooms who are quietly sending soldiers overseas to die in a bad war, emptying pension accounts and laying off thousands of employees with the click of a mouse.

Is The President's Analyst still funny? Oh, sure.

You'll die laughing.


UNICEF Black Face Campaign

The New Face of German Racism?
What do you think?

Hat Tip: Black Women in Europe

Read more HERE

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gettin' High On That "Homeland" Thing

Americans are just giddy over this "Homeland" thing.

We judge the US Homeland will face a persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years. The main threat comes from Islamic terrorist groups and cells, especially al-Qa'ida, driven by their undiminished intent to attack the Homeland and a continued effort by these terrorist groups to adapt and improve their capabilities.

The statement above comes from the "National Intelligence Estimate" (NIE) which was issued today by the office of the director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell.

I read the so called NIE this morning and the most interesting thing that I learned was that the word "homeland" was used eleven times in a page and a half. The 766 word document that probably cost millions to compile, print, bind and distribute informs me of ..... nothing new. al Quaeda is a threat and will continue to be, and so on, they still hate us. Pardon me, but ho hum.

We assess that greatly increased worldwide counterterrorism efforts over the past five years have constrained the ability of al-Qa'ida to attack the US Homeland again and have led terrorist groups to perceive the Homeland as a harder target to strike than on 9/11. These measures have helped disrupt known plots against the United States since 9/11.

We (the people of the United States) have spent an unimaginable amount of money, (500 billion, half a trillion, who's counting,... not these rummies, they're way too busy spending) and squandered the lives of thousands of our Children and Grandchildren, as well as the physical and emotional well being of many tens of thousands more during the the last five years. Not a damn thing has been accomplished and these bastards have the nerve to offer "assessments?" "progress reports?"

Every time I hear the word "homeland" or just about any phrase which contains it, like "homeland security," "protect the homeland," or "threats to the homeland," for some reason my blood runs a little colder. I guess the term was first popularized in the wake of the 911 attacks, but even back then it then it made my hair stand on end.

We are concerned, however, that this level of international cooperation may wane as 9/11 becomes a more distant memory and perceptions of the threat diverge. Al-Qa'ida is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the Homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities. We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safe haven in the Pakistan Federally Administered tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qa'ida senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qa'ida will intensify its efforts to put operatives here.

The level of international cooperation has and will continue to wane. Not because the memory has faded nor perceptions of the threat diverged (what the hell does that mean?) interest is "waning" because most of the rest of the world has come to the inescapable conclusion that the control of the American government has fallen into the hands of liars fools and criminals. Our military itself has said that in Iraq, the major threat is from the radical Shia militias, not from al Quaeda in Iraq. These bastards are lying out of both sides of their mouths and spitting in our faces down the middle.

Maybe it's just a psychological connection caused by a lifetime of exposure to the now ancient black and white war and spy movies, or a remembrance of the propagandistic documentaries of my youth, growing up as I did during the early years of the "Cold War." The term never fails to bring to my mind visions of Hitler on the dais, arm raised before the admiring and hysterical crowd, or Stalin, standing rigidly, peering over his mustaches as Soviet armor and missiles parade past the Kremlin, "Homeland" conjures images of Stalinist art or Maoist posters.

As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment. We assess that al-Qa'ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa'ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa'ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.

Back in 2001 bin Laden was "assessed" by these same chowder heads, to be worth a couple hundred million bucks,  now we spend that amount in Iraq in less than a week and most of that money is going into the pockets of those who backed this caper in the first place. At the rate things are going I'm not the least surprised that al Quaeda or Mutaqa al Sadr will have more success recruiting suicidal idiots than we are at recruiting the last kid who wants to die in Iraq.

It is, to me, as if the word itself, represents some distant archetype of terror and madness, contains vestigial memories of barely realized childhood fears and insecurities, dim memories of the saga of war and holocaust, of witch hunts, of persecutions.

We assess that al-Qa'ida's Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the US population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices, and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles.

Well, gee, I hope to shout that they are proficient, they have been practicing on the proving ground which we provided for five years, and during that time personnel, weapons and mountains of cash have been pouring across every border,  Syria, Jordan, Iran, most of it from Saudi Arabia. The Iraqis want us out, hell everybody in the region wants us out, except of course those who so persistently demand that the Iraqi parliament come to an agreement on the awarding of oil concessions and division of the revenue.... hmmmm.

I don't like the word, "Homeland" especially in the context that it currently used, nor do I like the collection of phrases which include it that have been concocted by the Goebellian band of spinmeisters and inveterate liars that compose the current concert of neo-con government functionaries and media shills that passes for the press these days.

We assess that al-Qa'ida will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.

This wholly asinine statement reminds me of the months after Bush's fraudulent State of the Union address and when, in trying to dissemble and back pedal like some little frat boy caught out after curfew, he said that Saddam was guilty of having the "intent" to develop weapons of mass destruction. Is anyone listening to these people?

America is not the Homeland, except perhaps to the Seneca or the Shoshone, the ancient Anasazi or the more recent indigenous people that we gave a fast push across the country and onto useless land that no one else wanted,  until oil and the internal combustion engine came along that is.

We assess Lebanese Hizballah, which has conducted anti-US attacks outside the United States in the past, may be more likely to consider attacking the Homeland over the next three years if it perceives the United States as posing a direct threat to the group or Iran. We assess that the spread of radical?especially Salafi?Internet sites, increasingly aggressive anti-US rhetoric and actions, and the growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West's Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States. The arrest and prosecution by US law enforcement of a small number of violent Islamic extremists inside the United States? who are becoming more connected ideologically, virtually, and/or in a physical sense to the global extremist movement?points to the possibility that others may become sufficiently radicalized that they will view the use of violence here as legitimate. We assess that this internal Muslim terrorist threat is not likely to be as severe as it is in Europe, however. We assess that other, non-Muslim terrorist groups?often referred to as "single-issue" groups by the FBI?probably will conduct attacks over the next three years given their violent histories, but we assess this violence is likely to be on a small scale.

We assess that globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their danger, and mobilize resources to attack?all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader.

"I assess that in the paragraph above they are setting the stage for operations in Iran and Lebanon and the preparation of domestic internment camps. But what the hell the last five years have made me a little jumpy."

We're not the Fatherland either, nor are we the Motherland (which, I think, is pretty well synonymous, except for that gender thing) Fatherland implies, to me, ethnicity, something that America doesn't have one of. Instead we have all of them. In our wisdom, and in the liberal spirit of the age at our foundation, we decided to have all ethnicity's, to be a land of liberty and opportunity for all the downtrodden of the earth. I'm proud of that, so were my parents and Grandparents proud, of THAT.

The ability to detect broader and more diverse terrorist plotting in this environment

will challenge current US defensive efforts and the tools we use to detect and disrupt

plots. It will also require greater understanding of how suspect activities at the local

level relate to strategic threat information and how best to identify indicators of

terrorist activity in the midst of legitimate interactions.

Since I'm in an assessing mood after reading all this high dollar assessing, I will go further out on this limb and assess that the paragraph above this one tells me not to say anything on the telephone that I don't want Karl Rove reading a summary of in the morning.

Speaking of summaries this whole National Intelligence thing could have been done for a lot less money. They're always talking about privatizing these things, aren't they? Had they brought it to us here at Worldwide Sawdust we would have turned the project over to our subsidiary, Worldwide Bullshit. They would have brought that baby in for less than fifty grand.

We also wouldn't have got it completely wrong, al Quaeda isn't the main threat facing America, now or in the near future, not even close. We would have assessed instead, that the major danger to America is represented by the people who delivered a "National Intelligence Estimate" and used the word "Homeland" eleven times and the word "America" not at all.

That frightens me.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Related Stories
Intelligence Report Warns of al-Qaeda's Capabilities
A persistent and evolving terrorist threat

Up all night to do what's right

There's a front page post at Buckeye State Blog entitled Up all night to do what's right.

We couldn't resist...

You can watch the proceedings on C-SPAN.

And it would probably be a good idea to keep an eye on Media Matters for any bias in the media coverage that alert citizens should respond to.

David Vitter and His Economic Policy

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

Obviously Vitter is not so keen on getting or sustaining jobs for his constituents in Louisiana - unless of course they are Halliburton employees or in the National Guard. With those two groups he has no problem using for his political benefit. For Halliburton, he supported the no bid contracts Hallburton won for cleaning up after Katrina and the National Guard is a useful tool to continue his NeoCon fantasy of conquering the Middle East, well, just Middle Eastern oil.

He has not been an advocate of using local resources to rebuild Louisiana after Katrina or New Orleans. That thinking extends to other parts of his economic and foreign policy. He has supported the following anti-American trading bills:

Oman Free Trade Agreement
Chile Free Trade Agreement
Singapore Free Trade Agreement
Australia Free Trade Agreement
African Free Trade Agreement

Surprisingly, the only free trade bill he didn't support was CAFTA. According to his website, he writes about his lack of support due to fear of damaging the sugarcane industry. Ironically, the sugar and agricultural industry is one of his largest financial supporters.

Not once in his Senate Floor statements did he express any concerns about the impact of CAFTA on the American Middle Class, it is all about sugar - all sugar, all the time.

So why did Vitter claim he used DC prostitutes and not prostitutes from Louisiana? I think it is the old axiom, you don't eat where you shit.

Today's rejected strip can be seen HERE.

The Jena Six

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

--Frederick Douglas, American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman, reformer, and slave.

Do you think if maybe we got a bunch of rich white rock musicians together in Louisiana, people would pay attention to what happened to the Jena Six?

Racism Emerges Again
In a small still mostly segregated section of rural Louisiana, an all white jury heard a series of white witnesses called by a white prosecutor testify in a courtroom overseen by a white judge in a trial of a fight at the local high school where a white student who had been making racial taunts was hit by black students. The fight was the culmination of a series of racial incidents starting when whites responded to black students sitting under the “white tree” at their school by hanging three nooses from the tree. The white jury and white prosecutor and all white supporters of the white victim were all on one side of the courtroom. The black defendant, 17 year old Mychal Bell, and his supporters were on the other. The jury quickly convicted Mychal Bell of two felonies - aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Bell, who was a 16 year old sophomore football star at the time he was arrested, faces up to 22 years in prison. Five other black youths await similar trials on attempted second degree murder and conspiracy charges.

Remember the highly-publicized burial of the N-word recently?

It was premature.

I can hear a loud knocking coming from inside the coffin. It's like that horrifying scene at the end of Carrie when her hand surges upward from the grave. It's alive as long as the hatred that fuels it keeps burning strongly. It's alive as long as we give monsters permission to exist. It's a vampire we half-heartedly try to kill with a rubber stake.

This culture puts more effort into killing cockroaches than bigotry.

If these psychos were marginalized, ridiculed, and prosecuted like they should be, they wouldn't be a problem. It's the clueless, confused and cowardly white assholes who don't know (or, what's worse, pretend that they don't know) what's going on that give these racist criminals alibis, safety, and legitimacy. Traitorous African-Americans like Uncle Clarence Thomas help tighten the knots in the nooses. And the news cheerfully adds to the fog by inundating us with loud nonsense about Britney, Lindsay, and Paris.

And when you ignore the cancerous rot that's burrowing deeper into America's soul, bad shit happens to black people, and it doesn't stop. Amadou Diallo happens, Katrina happens, the Supreme Court disemboweling Brown happens.

The Jena Six happens.

Hear that knocking? It's getting louder.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How the gay agenda is undermining the Republican Party.

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

John McCain is a loser.

Not only has he gone through all his cash on hand, he may have gone through some of his "cash not on hand" and now has to raise money to pay creditors. Kinda like the way the Federal budget has been handled - the time-worn borrow and spend habits of the Republican Party.

But what is really tasteless is how the McCain camp is spinning their failure - the fault of gay sweaters.

In the final days of his imploding candidacy, John McCain has taken a page out of Richard Nixon's play book, finding increasingly bizarre explanations for his political failures. Strangest of all: He reportedly feels his handlers forced him to wear "gay sweaters."

According to one insider, the knit-picking was the crescendo of a tirade by the Arizona senator, in which he blistered aides about the minutiae of the campaign. While many septuagenarians live in a perpetual state of sweater weather, McCain reportedly declared his frustration with being told to don the perceived homosexual outerwear in order to look younger and more approachable.

But what really makes McCain the loser is his belief of specific types of sweaters, that give him a more youthful and approachable look, make him look "gay." It illustrates his true feelings toward the gay community which is nothing but bigotry and hatred.

However Giuliani's numbers are much higher than McCain's and Rudy has that whole cross-dressing thing going, which is not hurting that much in the fund raising department. Maybe the GOP has more tolerance for the occasional gender role fashion swap than they do for McCain's idiotic immigration policy, warmongering and Bush worship.

Maybe not. Again comparing McCain to Rudy we can say McCain is not gay enough.

Going Postal

The old postman pointed to the blue glow.

"Have a squint inside, sir. You can just see it. Don't get right above it, whatever you do."

Moist moved a little closer to the machine and peered into the machinery. He could just make out, at the heart of the glow, a little wheel. It was turning slowly.

"I was raised in the Post Office," said Groat behind him. "Born in the sorting room, weighed on the official scales. Learned to read from envelopes, learned figuring from old ledgers, learned jography from looking at the maps of the city and history from the old men. Better than any school. Better than any school, sir. But never learned jommetry, sir. Bit of a hole in my understanding, all that stuff about angles and suchlike. But this, sir, is about pie."

"Like in food?" said Moist, drawing back from the sinister glow.

"No, no, sir. Pie like in jommetry."

"Oh, you mean pi, the number you get when--" Moist paused. He was erratically good at math, which is to say he could calculate odds and currency very, very fast. There had been a geometry section in his book at school, but he'd never seen the point. He tried, anyway.

"It's all to do's the number you get when the radius of a, the length of the rim of a wheel in three and a bit times"

"Something like that, sir, probably, something like that," said Groat. "Three and a bit, that's the ticket. Only Bloody Stupid Johnson said that was untidy, so he designed a wheel where the pie was exactly three. And that's it, in there."

"But that's impossible!" said Moist. "You can't do that! Pi is like...built in! You can't change it. You'd have to change the universe!"

"Yes, sir. They tell me that's what happened," said Groat calmly. "I'll do the party trick now. Stand back, sir."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Watching a movie with my son

Just watched Pleasantville with Son in Ohio. For anyone who hasn't seen it, or needs a refresher, here's a description of the ending...

The movie is overflowing with symbolism from its beginning with the classic line ...Once Upon A Time to the movie ending with Betty and George Parker sitting on a park bench pondering what their next move should be. The camera focuses on George, who asks the question and then pans over to Betty who wonders the same thing. When the camera pans back over for the response from George, it is the Ice Cream Shop owner, Mr. Johnson, with whom Betty has an affair with over the course of the film, whom has unexpectedly taken George's place and he too wonders what's next. And with that, the film fades to black.

Whenever I watch anything with Son, he asks a lot of questions. He does a lot of rewinding, because he has a hard time moving on if he feels like he's missed something. So, when the ending was coming, remembering that Demetrius and I had watched that and said, "Whaaaaa?", I mentioned "The ending that's coming--I don't get it either."

But I'd forgotten (for a moment) that Son has a degree of face blindness. Nothing at all struck him as odd about the ending, because he hadn't noticed that the man Betty was sitting with and talking to changed from one male character to another. He had to rewind and look again, and then he saw it--and laughed. But only because I was sitting there with him, having told him there was something odd about the ending.

My point, I guess, is that my firstborn is a fascinating human being. If I wanted to get all deep about it, I could wander off into some musings about how none of us really has a clue what the world looks like to the person with whom we are interacting at any given moment. How several people can be looking at the same thing, but seeing that thing in very different ways. I know that I have to keep this in mind, because my son has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. But how often do we assume a shared reality between "normal" people, when in fact it doesn't exist.

A woman's face? Or a man playing a saxophone? You're both right!

Fatuous Nonsense of the Week Award goes to Bill Kristol

Fatuous Nonsense of the Week Award goes to Bill Kristol

William Kristol, Irving Kristol, George Bush, Robert McNamara, Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney

I discovered this morning that the Bush presidency is a success.
Boy, was I surprised.

Bill Kristol explains it all in an article at The Washington Post that gets my recommendation for the Fatuous Nonsense of the Week Award.

He opens by admitting that such an assertion may expose him to some "harmless ridicule" and proceeds to offer two pages of proof as to why such ridicule might be justified.

"Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable."

Sure Bill let's examine the Bush presidency by not looking too closely at the "unlovely trees" by which I assume that you refer to the death and destruction that follows everything this administration has touched or even glanced at in the last seven years. Every time I hear that bromide about "no second attack on US soil," I'm reminded of the old elementary school joke about keeping the elephants away, and the punchline, "you don't see any elephants around here, do you?

It may be that there have been no attacks on US soil because we have thoughtfully accommodated the terrorists of the world by presenting them with such an attractive target as our presence in Iraq. They don't need to come here to hurt us, we have been expending blood and treasure in copious amounts for something like 52 months in their home ballpark. We're the ones with the long supply lines, they need only a bus ticket or cab fare from Damascus, Waziristan or Riyadh.

We're losing over a hundred of our troops every month and probably eight to ten  times that many wounded, while bringing about the deaths, maiming or ruin of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and inviting the continued and well deserved scorn of most of the civilized world, as we merrily mass produce Islamic terrorists by the battalion in Iraq. All told, I think it would be cheaper to fight them here.

But cost is not an issue is it Bill? As one of the principal architects of this criminal madness, I'm sure that you find great comfort in the fact that the lion's share of the trillions of dollars of public funds being expended in pursuit of empire will end up in select private hands, which is the primary goal of those you represent, more money, more power in the hands of the bloated few and the rest of us standing in line for a minimum wage that you hope to eliminate.

"What about terrorism? Apart from Iraq, there has been less of it, here and abroad, than many experts predicted on Sept. 12, 2001. So Bush and Vice President Cheney probably are doing some important things right. The war in Afghanistan has gone reasonably well."

If after nearly six years "reasonably well" means that Kabul is generally safe for the activities of journalists, arms merchants and drug smugglers, I suppose that's true, but what about the other 95% of Afghanistan?

Just across the border in the wilds of Waziristan, Osama and his henchman are thriving, living in relative safety, knowing that American forces have other priorities, are bogged down in Iraq and long ago stopped caring about them. They've been operating there with impunity ever since our military was directed to allow them to escape from the caves of Tora Bora.

You guys (That's you Billy, you and Daddy Irving, along with Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, PNAC, American Enterprise, the whole stinking, chicken hawk cesspot),you guys, didn't want bin Laden then, and you don't want him now, he's your rainmaker, you can't afford to lose him, he's the driving force behind the enormous profits in your ongoing rape of the public treasury. You need Osama, if he went belly up tomorrow you would have to replace him quickly, the continued existence of the bogeyman of "Islamofascism is the centerpiece of your ballgame.

"But wait, wait, wait: What about Iraq? It's Iraq, stupid -- you (and 65 percent of your fellow Americans) say -- that makes Bush an unsuccessful president. Not necessarily. First of all, we would have to compare the situation in Iraq now, with all its difficulties and all the administration's mistakes, with what it would be if we hadn't gone in. Saddam Hussein would be alive and in power and, I dare say, victorious, with the United States (and the United Nations) by now having backed off sanctions and the no-fly zone. He might well have restarted his nuclear program, and his connections with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups would be intact or revived and even strengthened.

The lies contained in the quotation above have been repeated over and over by every hack, crony and crook in this corrupt administration, by every spineless lickspittle Bush backer in the Congress and by every slimy seditious war profiteer, in every sector of American business, from energy to finance and by a sizable number of the loyalist clergy from the pulpits of the tin hat theocratic right. They were lies in 2001, and they remain lies today. Repetition will not change the facts and those who do the repeating are transparent liars. Please Bill include your name in that column.

"Following through to secure the victory in Iraq and to extend its benefits to neighboring countries will be the task of the next president. And that brings us to Bush's final test."

Pity the poor next President as he tries to present other countries in the region (or in sub Saharan Africa; that's the next stop on the old Empire express isn't it?) with an opportunity to share in the beneficence we bestowed on their Mesopotamian neighbors. See how they run!

If we sustain the surge for a year and continue to train Iraqi troops effectively, we can probably begin to draw down in mid- to late 2008. The fact is that military progress on the ground in Iraq in the past few months has been greater than even surge proponents like me expected, and political progress is beginning to follow. Iran is a problem, and we will have to do more to curb Tehran's meddling -- but we can. So if we keep our nerve here at home, we have a good shot at achieving a real, though messy, victory in Iraq."

When and how, Billy, did you become a strategic thinker, a military analyst, it wasn't in Vietnam where, I'm sure, like so many other young men of your generation, you were offered an opportunity to serve, it wasn't in any area of military service was it, no, like Cheney and Wolfowitz you had other priorities.

Oh yeah, they once called you Dan Quayle's brain, didn't they? I think I'd try to get that off the resume.

Let me remind you that by mid to late 2008 we will have thrown away the lives of an additional thousand or more young American troops and sent another 8000 or so to enjoy the tender mercies of an underfunded veteran's health care system. How many more innocent Iraqis will be killed if we listen to you. Oh, that's right, no one's counting Iraqi casualties are they? Why start now?

You are so smugly certain with your pronouncements. To the uninitiated, your words, accompanied by the self satisfied grin, have a veneer of respectability and authority, but, to many of us who have been on the receiving end of what you call "American foreign policy" they are just more self serving, chicken hawk, patrician prattle.

Here's one of your pronouncements of a few years back, at the beginning of the Iraq war, for which you beat your little drum so loudly, and so frequently, you said this:

"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

Oh? Really?

I hope that there is a special place in Hell for the Goebbels, the McNamaras, the strategic thinkers and systems analysts, all the accountants of carnage and human misery and I hope that you have the opportunity to join them.

But before that lovely and eternal event I would like to see you in uniform, and fallen, after many grueling months of terror and sadness, of heat and sleeplessness and extreme exertion, of living in filth, fallen, grievously wounded, frightened and alone, lying in a pool of your own blood and gore, your life ebbing before your eyes. I would like to see the look in your eyes as you realize that you are about to be the last American to die in Iraq.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Why Bush Will Be A Winner


Ladies and Gentlemen, Mike Lupica:

The name of a U.S. Senator from Louisiana, David Vitter, ends up on the call list of a Washington, D.C., escort service that prosecutors say was a prostitution organization. Telephone records show that the service called Vitter's phone number several times from 1999 to 2001 while he was still a member of the House of Representatives.

When it happens, when his name is out there in public for something he did, he runs to Jesus and the voters asking for forgiveness for a "very serious sin in my past."

Vitter came up as a hypocrite, of course. It was just last year that he gave a speech on the floor of the Senate in full and passionate support of the constitutional amendment on gay marriage, saying that it was "well overdue that we in the Senate focus on nurturing, upholding, preserving and protecting such a fundamental social institution as traditional marriage."

Apparently he had sharpened his opinion about "traditional marriage" in the years since he'd stopped calling Deborah Jane Palfrey's girls.

But wait, there's more!
Fla. State Representative Accused Of Soliciting Sex In Men's Room
Police: Allen Offered To Perform Act For $20
TITUSVILLE, Fla. -- Florida state Rep. Robert "Bob" Allen, R-Merritt Island, was arrested Wednesday and charged with soliciting an undercover male officer for sex at a park in Central Florida, according to police.

Investigators said Allen was acting suspicious and went in and out of the men's restroom at Veteran's Memorial Park, located on East Broad Street.

Minutes later, authorities said, Allen solicited the male officer inside the restroom, offering to perform oral sex for $20.

Allen was then arrested.

Wednesday night, an attorney for Allen urged the public to remember the lawmaker's years of public service.

"The only comment we have to make is everyone is innocent until proven guilty," the attorney, who did not identify himself, said as he and Allen exited the Brevard County jail in Sharpes just before 10 p.m. Wednesday. "We would hope that everyone takes into consideration Mr. Allen's history of public service (and) that everyone is innocent until proven guilty."

Officers realized he was a public figure after the arrest, a news release said.

Let's remember, besides his hardcore opposition to abortion (even in cases of rape or incest), Mr. Allen was behind the “Sexual Predators Elimination Act” which proposed mandatory life without parole sentences for convicted sexual predators. “We can get away from all those expensive law-enforcement time-wasting factors by simply going straight to the root of the problem, and that is the offender, and put them in a locked up place where we know we’re safe.” Strongly opposed by the Florida ACLU, the bill didn't pass. Lucky for him, huh?

So, looking at the scorecard, Karma: 2 for 2, Hypocrites: 0. Sometimes the Goddess is kind.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Appearing at The Blogging Curmudgeon, My Left Wing, and the Independent Bloggers' Alliance.

Dennis Kucinich has accused Hillary Clinton and John Edwards of attempting to rig the election. It appears they are definitely attempting to rig the debate process and attrit their competition.

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich accused two of the major contenders for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, of participating in a “conspiracy to rig the presidential election,” after they apparently suggested that future presidential debates should be pared down to include fewer candidates.

At the end of a forum with the eight Democratic presidential contenders in Detroit on Thursday, Mr. Edwards walked up to Mrs. Clinton, leaned toward her and said: “We should try to have a more serious … smaller group.”

“We’ve got to cut the number…” Mrs. Clinton responded. “I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that … it got somehow detoured. We’ve got to get back to it,” and added, “our guys should talk.”

Edwards has confirmed the story, but says he doesn't want to eliminate candidates, just break them into smaller groups. But get a load of Hillary's official response:

Mrs. Clinton, who was campaigning in New Hampshire today, declined to be specific about what she meant by her comments on Thursday.

“I think he has some ideas about what he’d like to do,” she said, referring to Mr. Edwards, according to a dispatch from the Associated Press. A Clinton campaign spokesman said he would not comment on “a private conversation” between the two candidates.

In other words this one will be carried out in back-room negotiations, far from the prying eyes of that pesky electorate. And in public she will pass the buck to Edwards.

This is how Hillary deals with the nuisance of competition and democratic process. She cuts the field, like she did when her Democratic challenger in New York state started nipping at her heals. Let us never forget how her big money donor Time Warner eliminated her opponent John Tassini from their televised debate. Their reason for eliminating the up and comer, who was already at 13% in the polls: Not enough money.

Make no mistake. Hillary is as anti-democracy as our current crop of wheeler-dealers. She's determined to win no matter what minor player she has to cut off at the knees. She has no interest in actually letting the voters choose; not before she's eliminated as many of our choices as possible.

Oh well. As Tom Tancredo has proved, a debate of one can be damned entertaining.

Tom Tancredo Debates Himself
at NAACP Sponsered Event

Let's Get This Party Started

“She stole it,” Otis Redding said when he heard Aretha Franklin sing “Respect” on the radio for the first time. “That girl done stole my song.”

And he was right. Usually, when a singer decides to cover a song made famous by somebody else, it fails. They make the mistake of either being too timid or excessively referential. It’s like Oliver Twist with a microphone in his hand saying, “Please, Sir--may I do your song?”

But Aretha wasn’t afraid. (“I’m the Queen of Soul, damn it!”) So, without hesitation or apologies, she took a better-than-average R&B song and transformed it into a timeless anthem of female empowerment. It was her song now. Yeah, Aretha “stole” his song, and all Otis could do was shake his head in sad admiration.

Now, creatively speaking, stealing isn’t a crime if you get away with it. But when it goes bad, it's disastrous. What you're left with is a bad forgery. Remember Madonna's ghastly mutilation of "American Pie"? How about the Bee Gees draining all the blood from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"? And I'll grab a dull pair of scissors and perform a lobotomy on myself before I listen to Britney Spears sing "Satisfaction" again. The horror, the horror. Your ears will shriek in agony, fall off your face and wither into powder. Ewww.

However, some ingenious thieves get away with it. Jimi Hendrix rendition of "All Along The Watchtower" was so good, it gave Bob Dylan's fans amnesia. Johnny Cash actually made Trent Reznor's ominous "Hurt" creepier.

And after listening to Dame Shirley Bassey's "Let's Get This Party Started", I'm sure the only words Pink would say are "Thank you."

Here's a tip of the derby to John Rogers.