We doesn’t do no crimpin

Hammer & tickle

A man dies and goes to hell. There he discovers that he has a choice: he can go to capitalist hell or to communist hell. Naturally, he wants to compare the two, so he goes over to capitalist hell. There outside the door is the devil, who looks a bit like Ronald Reagan. “What’s it like in there?” asks the visitor. “Well,” the devil replies, “in capitalist hell, they flay you alive, then they boil you in oil and then they cut you up into small pieces with sharp knives.”

“That’s terrible!” he gasps. “I’m going to check out communist hell!” He goes over to communist hell, where he discovers a huge queue of people waiting to get in. He waits in line. Eventually he gets to the front and there at the door to communist hell is a little old man who looks a bit like Karl Marx. “I’m still in the free world, Karl,” he says, “and before I come in, I want to know what it’s like in there.”

“In communist hell,” says Marx impatiently, “they flay you alive, then they boil you in oil, and then they cut you up into small pieces with sharp knives.”

“But… but that’s the same as capitalist hell!” protests the visitor, “Why such a long queue?”

“Well,” sighs Marx, “Sometimes we’re out of oil, sometimes we don’t have knives, sometimes no hot water…”

Kind of a convenient coincidence. I was hoping to come across something with a little humor in it today and I had been thinking for the last couple days about how many conservatives are still stuck in unthinking parrot mode. A frequent reframe on a political message board I frequented over at Yahoo a month or so before the 2004 elections was that John Kerry was a communist. Almost like clockwork a poster, who others guessed to be around 15 or 16, would on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays declare Senator Kerry’s far left alligence, but on Tuesdays and Thurdays he would admittedly maintain that the distinquished Senator was a rich elitist. Perhaps I’m not as politically savy as I would like to think since I could never figure out how one could be both a communist and a rich elitest. That the poster could never manage to make any valid arguments to either claim didn’t stop him from his self repudiating obsession. When commenters on his posts pointed out the vast and overwhelmingly unearned wealth of the members of the current administration, their incestuous ties to certain business interests, and the elite schools and social connections which they have, teen conservative waved off the obvious hypocrisy as irrelevant. So he was just a kid with a computer and an internet connection. The thing is what he said and deeply believed was no different then fringe right adults like Sean Hannity, Glenn Reynolds, or John Gibson. Time after time on the internet and the airwaves conservatives show themselves to be capable of not much more then punkish conservative teen level ideological hypocrisy and lies. Which brings me to another conundrum besides the communists versus elitest question; how can conservatives claim to have values if most of what conservatives say is a lie or riddled with contradictions.

Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner– President Does Not Seem Amused

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Crooks and Liars has the video, Colbert Does the White House Correspondents’ dinner

U.S. Steps Into Wiretap Suit Against AT&T
I’ll just refer you to Kos for some good analysis, Secrets

In yet another late Friday sneak attack, the Bush administration threw up another stonewall to an investigation into its illegal warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. As Jeffery Feldman diaried last night, they will invoke the little used “State Secrets Privilege” to demand that the lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation against AT&T be dismissed. The suit alleges that AT&T collaborated illegally with the NSA in its surveillance program.

John Kenneth Galbraith, 97, Dies; Economist Held a Mirror to Society

Robert Lekachman, a liberal economist who shared many of Mr. Galbraith’s views on an affluent society that they both thought not generous enough to its poor or sufficiently attendant to its public needs, once described the quality of his discourse as “witty, supple, eloquent, and edged with that sheen of malice which the fallen sons of Adam always find attractive when it is directed at targets other than themselves.”

JOE—(indignantly) An’ yet popped orf an’ left ’em? An’ me a-payin’ yer to ‘elp an’ bring ’em in ‘ere!
NICK—(grumblingly) Much you pays me! An’ I ain’t slingin’ me’ook abaht the ‘ole bleedin’ town fur now man. See?
JOE—I ain’t speakin’ on’y fur meself. Doesn’t I always give yer yer share, fair an’ square, as man to man?
NICK—(with a sneer) Yus—b’cause you ‘as to.
JOE—’As to? Listen to ‘im! There’s many’d be ‘appy to ‘ave your berth, me man!
NICK—Yus? Wot wiv the peelers li’ble to put me away in the bloody jail fur crimpin’, an’ all?
JOE—(indignantly) We doesn’t do no crimpin’.
NICK—(sarcastically) Ho, now! Not orf!

from The Long Voyage Home by Eugene O’Neil

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She was so proud when she got her wings

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We are a nation of mutts. That is there is no such thing as a pure bred American is a celebration of the success of muttdom. That first hundred and fifty years after John Hancock signed his John Hancock was more ideals then reality, but despite the slow start, the great experiment in liberal democracy has taken some important steps forward ( recent set backs noted daily on this blog and others). If we must choose a group that deserves that distinction of being pure Americans it would be Native Americans whose ancestors, by right of the we were here first rule, settled the North American continent thousands of years before America was even a twinkle in Leif Ericsson's eye. That said we are where we are, there's nothing wrong with being a mutt. Mutt's tend to combine the best qualities of their predecessors much like the American incarnation of the pizza. American Pie

Pizza had wedged its way into the nation’s hearts and stomachs almost overnight, a phenomenon befitting a food that became synonymous with quick and easy. Americans seeking fun in the years after World War II found a good measure of it in pizza, a food that when eaten correctly (a matter of some debate among 1950s advice columnists) forced the diner’s lips into a broad smile. Pizza, like teenagedom and rock ’n’ roll, is a lasting relic of America’s mid-century embrace of good times.

Modern pizza originated in Italy, although the style favored by Americans is more a friend than a relative of the traditional Neapolitan pie. Residents of Naples took the idea of using bread as a blank slate for relishes from the Greeks, whose bakers had been dressing their wares with oils, herbs, and cheese since the time of Plato. The Romans refined the recipe, developing a delicacy known as placenta, a sheet of fine flour topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Neapolitans earned the right to claim pizza as their own by inserting a tomato into the equation. Europeans had long shied away from the New World fruit, fearing it was plump with poison. But the intrepid citizens of Naples discovered the tomato was not only harmless but delicious, particularly when paired with pizza.

Cheese, the crowning ingredient, was not added until 1889, when the Royal Palace commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three contenders he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella).

Limbaugh surrenders on drug charge

“Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. … And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show on Oct. 5, 1995.

"Prisoners sentenced for drug offenses constituted the largest group of Federal inmates (55%) in 2003, down from 60% in 1995 (table 14). On September 30, 2003, the date of the latest available data in the Federal Justice Statistics Program, Federal prisons held 86,972 sentenced drug offenders, compared to 52,782 at yearend 1995."
Source: Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2004 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Oct. 2005), p. 10.
According to a federal survey of jail inmates, of the total 440,670 jail inmates in the US in 2002, 112,447 were drug offenders: 48,823 for possession, 56,574 for trafficking.
Source: Karberg, Jennifer C. and Doris J. James, US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Substance Dependence, Abuse, and Treatment of Jail Inmates, 2002" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, July 2005), Table 7, p. 6.
Assuming recent incarceration rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 of every 20 Americans (5%) can be expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime. For African-American men, the number is greater than 1 in 4 (28.5%).
Source: Bonczar, T.P. & Beck, Allen J., US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Lifetime Likelihood of Going to State or Federal Prison (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, March 1997), p. 1.

Let this be a lesson kids, if you're rich, white and famous you can get away with anything.

Pandagon has more on the 101st Fighting Hypocrites, Real Men?.

You see, the Captain and the entirety of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists can’t actually put their asses in danger for their war and have to send others to do it because they have families.

Amanda has the actual quote from Kaptain Ed. Then there is the breathless swooning Rightwingtopia is having because of a supposed hack attack. These supposed attacks are becoming the Homeland Security warnings of the internet, a common occurence. The Islamic fundies striking deep at the cyber-heart of the right-wing fundies, but not to worry The Never Have Begun to Fight Keyboardists pulled out their patch cables in the nick of time. How many more will suffer from internet interruptus and the ensuing massive mayonasise loss? Let me apologize to those fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq for the Yellow Backed Pretend Patriots, every single day they make your efforts a mockery by their ceaseless callowness. You who have fought and suffered are to the right-wingers of America mere props, the armor of propaganda. Like the flag they disgrace daily, the constitution they've never read and walk on like old newspaper, the fighting men and women of America are just useful cover, something for the fringe righties to wrap themselves in. Write to old Kaptain and his blog clones and ask him why you have a family and still did your duty and went off to a war in Iraq based on lies and paranoia. Ask Kap and clones why terrorism is at an all time high under his messiah G. W. Bush. Could it be that Kap and his leader are in over their heads. They're handling the battle aganist terrorism the same way they handled Katrina, the same way they've handles the national debt, the same way they handle the environment. Competence, working for the common good and safe guarding the Bill of Rights are all beyond the grasp of modern conservatism. The net pundits, the Cheneys, the Malkins, the Kaptains, the Kristols, the Hansens, the freepers, the Rices will never be profiles in courage, they can't even face their own inner demons.

JOEL: That’s my fault. We took her to
the fair, when she was . . . eleven.
GERALDINE: Twelve. Seventh grade.
JOEL: There was a helicopter there, a small one, with the bubble up front, we called it a whirlybird. The fella, the pilot, was selling rides. I bought Karen a ticket. It was a short ride, but when she came down. . . I don’t think she ever came down, actually. After that she was . . . up there.
GERALDINE: She went back every day for the rest of the Fair. Used up all her 4-H savings.
JOEL: She didn’t say much after the fair, not a peep. Didn’t go collecting models of helicopters or go to air shows or nothing.
GERALDINE: Just shows up at the dinner table one day, just before graduation. She’s joined the Army, she’s going to fly helicopters. I was pushing her to be a nurse. She was always so independent.
JOEL: Got that from her mother. Stubborn, too.
GERALDINE: She was so proud when she got her
wings. We went to the graduation.

from the screenplay COURAGE UNDER FIRE by Patrick Sheane Duncan

A king can’t do his own hunting

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My blog hours are such that sometimes I'm the last voice in, but that does have its advantages, today or yesterday at this point Raw Story reported MSNBC reports Rove believes he is in legal jeopardy and Billmon, replete with literary references ties up most of the pertinate facts for us, Squealer

I don't know what Karl Rove was doing — or saying — in front of the grand jury yesterday, any more than anyone else who wasn't in the room at the time. Consensus opinion among the Plamegate experts seems to be that Karl is still trying to talk himself out of a jam — the one created by his sudden attacks of temporary amnesia during his initial FBI interview and in his first appearance before the grand jury.

Maybe so, and if so I'm sure it would be vastly entertaining to hear Karl's explanations for his memory lapses, for his office's mysterious inability to find his e-mail to Stephen Hadley, for what his lawyer told Viveca Novak and what she told him — the whole complicated mess.

Two ROTC buildings vandalized

As before, vandals sprayed anti-war slogans and profanity, splashed red paint and claimed responsibility with a mass e-mail message to area media outlets.

Lt. Col. Carol Ann Redfield of the Army ROTC program at N.C. State was caught off guard. "This is the first time I know of that anything like this has happened here," she said. "I certainly appreciate that people have different opinions, and they should be able to express them, but I have a problem when they damage property."

Lt. Col. Redfield doesn't just have a point, she is absolutely right. Let's assume for a moment that these vandals are actually anti-war in Iraq and not some right-wing prankster masquerading as anti-war protesters, they're crazy if they think they're doing anything positive or productive to end the occupation of Iraq sooner rather then later. This sought of stunt just brings a certain amont of discredit to those that are fighting the tedious unglamorous job of moving our current Iraq and terror fighting policies toward something that is more productive and less insane. Fighting the large scale insanity of this administration and its supporters with petty vandalism is as productive as banging your head against the wall. If these guys are concerned about the poor being recruited and exploited then go out and talk to those people combine it with a voter registration drive. Vandalism as protext in the America of the 21st century is an anachronism, if you want to bring back the sixties go buy a pair of bell bottoms and listen to some Janice Joplin.

Armstrong and Kos’s Crashing the Gate is out selling Insta-twit, and Glenn Greenwald's How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok is currently number 1.

By way of Brillant at Breakfast, Blogs I wish I'd written

As much as anything else, Bush defenders are characterized by an increasingly absolutist refusal to recognize any facts which conflict with their political desires, and conversely, by a borderline-religious embrace of any assertions which bolster those desires. It's a world-view which conflates desire with reality, disregards all facts and evidence that conflict with the decreed beliefs, and faithfully embraces any assertions and fantasies, no matter how baseless and flagrantly false, provided that they bolster the mythology.

Thus, things are going really great in Iraq – just as we predicted they would. When we invaded, Saddam had WMD's and he was funding Al Qaeda. Oil revenues will pay for the whole thing, we will be welcomed as liberators, the whole war will be won quickly and easily. A large military presence is unnecessary because there is no insurgency. Bush is a popular and beloved President. All but a handful of radical fringe subversives in America support the war and believe terrorism is the overarching problem. Americans want to militarily confront Iran, want illegal warrantless eavesdropping, and are happy with how the country is being governed.

It never matters how much evidence arises demonstrating the falsity of these beliefs. They are not susceptible to challenge or reconsideration because they are the by-product of faith and desire and not a critical or rational assessment. They believe these things because they want to believe them, they have to believe them, because the whole world-view on which their identity and purpose has come to be based — the brave, heroic President leading the great conservative nation in glorious, epic war-triumph over the evil Muslim enemy — depends upon believing these myths. No facts can shake these beliefs because they aren't grounded in facts and aren't the by-product of rationality.

[snip]

Soon after 9/11, the Bush movement became driven by much more than a set of political beliefs. It provides its adherents with much more than just a vehicle for political activism. It gives them purpose and a feeling of strength and power that they otherwise lack. In that sense, it is not dissimilar to a religion, and it is therefore unsurprising — but nontheless ugly and destructive — that their beliefs and convictions are not grounded in facts and reality but in a resolute faith that cannot be shaken by facts. Every event is interpreted so as to bolster the faith, facts are disregarded which undermine the faith and fact-free assertions are embraced which confirm the faith.

Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters is embracing the label The 101st Fighting Keyboardists , thus finally admitting that Rightblogistan is composed of do nothing know nothing fringe zealots who's sole contribution to the battle against terrorism is waving their pom poms as others spill their blood. I've been unfortunate enough to know too many tough talking fake patriots like der kapitan. – Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.-
President Dwight D. Eisenhower

"My second decree is that every day you must bring me an animal for my supper. A king can't do his own hunting."
The animals nodded gloomily.
"And my third decree is, if you don't do as I say, I'll eat the lot of you!"
The animals now turned to one another in horror. They had thought a king would be wise and protect them. But Kali only wanted to bully and eat them. As darkness fell, the unhappy animals slunk away into the bush.

But at dawn they were back at the waterhole, hurrying to build Kali's palace. There was much to do and little time.

from the story The Hare Who Would Not Be King by Tish Farrel

he was so inclined to overemphasize and embellish his facts that it was not always easy to say where truth ended and fiction began

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I was over at Lawrence Lessig's blog, besides being smarter then me, he has taken a subject, intellectual property and the cultural issues that IP encompasses, and immersed himself in it; then like a small globe he has turned and examined it every which way, so agree with him or not when he says, "The Weath of Networks, is out. This is — by far — the most important and powerful book written in the fields that matter most to me in the last ten years." Despite my contrarian tendencies to any book recommendations one seldom sees such accolades. And while the book can be purchased at Amazon, it is also available free as a pdf, The Weath of Networks. What little I've skimmed through tells me that its fairly academic and might be a little jargon ladden for some so if you're not sure its for you, individual chapters are also available for download.

Related, House Ignores Public, Sells Out the Internet

Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee struck a blow to Internet freedom by voting down a proposal to protect Network Neutrality from attacks by companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.

The diverse, bipartisan SavetheInternet.com Coalition vowed to continue rallying public support for Internet freedom as the legislation moves to the full House and Senate. In less than one week, the coalition gathered more than 250,000 petition signatures, rallied more than 500 blogs to write about this issue, and flooded Congress with thousands of phone calls.

Don't put any fists through the walls yet, House Committee Vote Results: The Momentum Shifts in Our Favor

There's a white hot firestorm on the issue on Capitol Hill. No one wants to see the telcos make a radical change to the internet and screw this medium up, except, well, the telcos. And now members of Congress are listening to us. The telcos have spent hundreds of millions of dollars and many years lobbying for their position; we launched four days ago, and have closed a lot of ground. Over the next few months, as the public wakes up, we'll close the rest of it.

Just for something different. a different take on today's news about Karl Rove's tectimony I was going to link to a self desribed " New Hampshire Republican with decidedly libertarian leanings", but and I say this without hyperbole, he cannot grasp the most fundamental facts of the Plame leak. He writes, " Apparently, the disclosure of Plame's CIA employment is a crime only if the leak originated in the White House as part of an effort to retaliate against Plame's husband. While it's not clear that anyone from the White House made any such disclosure.." He links to this story which is supposed to support his case, Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

What is it that the con-libertarian doesn't understand about senior administration official. The leak came from the Whitehouse. Woodward was the person leaked to. 1+1=2

Target Letter Drives Rove Back to Grand Jury

Karl Rove's appearance before a grand jury in the CIA leak case Wednesday comes on the heels of a "target letter" sent to his attorney recently by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, signaling that the Deputy White House Chief of Staff may face imminent indictment, sources that are knowledgeable about the probe said Wednesday.

It's unclear when Fitzgerald sent the target letter to Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin. Sources close to the two-year-old leak investigation said when Rove's attorney received the letter Rove volunteered to appear before the grand jury for an unprecedented fifth time to explain why he did not previously disclose conversations he had with the media about covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who criticized the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

A federal grand jury target letter is sent to a person in a criminal investigation who is likely to be indicted. In a prepared statement Wednesday, Luskin said Fitzgerald indicated that Rove is not a "target" of the investigation. A "target" of a grand jury investigation is a person who a prosecutor has substantial evidence to link to a crime.

Last week, Rove was stripped of some of his policy duties in a White House shakeup orchestrated by incoming Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. The White House insisted that Rove was not demoted, but insiders said the executive branch is bracing for a possible indictment against Rove.

For those interested in some of the better reasoned speculation about what this might mean, Karl Rove Restifies a Fifth Time Before Grand Jury

He was a tall, large-boned man, loosely built. His lips were always
moist and when closed they were never in tight contact. He had
the reputation of a liar, and, as is often the case with those who
suffer from that weakness, people liked him. Nor, indeed, were
his fibs, as a rule, made out of whole cloth. They usually had a
basis of truth. When he told a story and he felt that it was
producing no effect he would "play it up," as newspapermen would
put it, often quite grotesquely. Altogether he was so inclined to
overemphasize and embellish his facts that it was not always easy
to say where truth ended and fiction began. Somehow it seemed to
me as though the moistness and looseness of his lips had
something to do with his mendacity

He was an ignorant man, barely able to write down an address

The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan

Indeed, the heavens, the elements, all the meteorological influences, have run riot for weeks past

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In the paper edition of the May 2006 edition of Wired magazine one of their mini-articles is entitled Freaky Meteorological Phenomena in which they take a look at katabatic wind, pyroclastic flow, ball lightning, sprites, and raining frogs. This article may eventually find its way into the on-line edition, until then I thought I might put up the Long Goodbye version.
1. Katabolic wind

The wind that forms when a cold dense mass of air slides down a mountainside under gravity to the valley below is called a katabatic wind.

Its name comes from the Greek, ' kata' meaning downwards, and this type of wind can be found across all parts of the Earth.

….The most famous katabatic wind in Europe is the Mistral, which blows down the Rhone valley in southern France and out into the Mediterranean. It can become a very strong wind reaching speeds of 80 miles an hour as it funnels down over the Rhone delta and is generally at its strongest in winter and early spring.

But one of the strongest katabatic winds we experience on this planet blows in the Antarctic. Here the lowest layers of the air, sitting on some of the high plateaux, come into contact with the cold dense ice sheet. The air cools to very low temperatures and spills over the mountain ridges as a katabatic wind. These Antarctic winds have been measured at over 200 miles and hour and are some of the strongest winds measured on our planet at ground level, outside those in some tornadoes.

So imagine you're at the bottom of one of these mountains, its cold , the wind is blowing, but nothing you can't handle, suddenly instead of someone throwing a big bucket of freezing water on you a freezing wind ranging from 80 to 200 mph swopes down from the mountain. A riddle solved, so this is what its like to be a human popsicle.

2. Pyroclastic flow

Pyroclastic flows are high-density mixtures of hot, dry rock fragments and hot gases that move away from the vent that erupted them at high speeds. They may result from the explosive eruption of molten or solid rock fragments, or both. They may also result from the nonexplosive eruption of lava when parts of dome or a thick lava flow collapses down a steep slope. Most pyroclastic flows consist of two parts: a basal flow of coarse fragments that moves along the ground, and a turbulent cloud of ash that rises above the basal flow. Ash may fall from this cloud over a wide area downwind from the pyroclastic flow.

Pyroclastic, sounds like a toy made of some new polymer, except, "A pyroclastic flow will destroy nearly everything in its path. With rock fragments ranging in size from ash to boulders traveling across the ground at speeds typically greater than 80 km per hour, pyroclastic flows knock down, shatter, bury or carry away nearly all objects and structures in their way. "

3. Ball lightning. Tthere is some disagreement here as to whether this is a distinct phenomenon different from arch style lightning. Various personal accounts have tended to conflict and some very special conditions would have to come into play to produce an actual ball.

Difficult features of the lightning include its persistence and its near-neutral buoyancy in air. There has been no convincing laboratory demonstration of ball lightning, although in February 2006 Israeli scientists announced that they had created a short-lived effect using the same technology found in microwave ovens.

A popular hypothesis is that ball lightning is a highly ionized plasma contained by self-generated magnetic fields: a plasmoid. This hypothesis is not initially credible. If the gas is highly ionized, and if it is near thermodynamic equilibrium, then it must be very hot. Since it must be in pressure equilibrium with the surrounding air, it will be much lighter and hence float up rapidly. Magnetic fields, if present, might provide the plasmoid's coherence, but will not reduce this buoyancy. In addition a hot plasma cannot persist for long, because of recombination and heat conduction.

There is some more information here with quite a few links. As far as creating your own ball lightning in a microwave; make sure your homeowners insurance covers losses due to crazy personal experiments.

4. Sprites. They're the bright neon like show that we can sometimes see above a storm. The basics of sprites

Red sprites, which frequently occur in clusters of three or more, soar up to 59 miles (95 kilometers) into the atmosphere, above thunderstorms. Their flash is incredibly brief — just 3 to 10 thousandths of a second. The flashes expand to cover a wide area but are weak in electrical energy. Their brightest portions exist 40 to 45 miles (65 to 75 kilometers) up, above which wisps and glowing regions often extend.

Blue tendrils have been spotted extending below the sprites. These tendrils are not to be confused with blue jets — a separate phenomenon that shoots upward more slowly, and not as high.

Red sprites also have on occasion been preceded by lower-altitude flashes known as elves, which are produced by the widespread heating of the atmosphere, caused by lightning.

Grasping the extent of red sprites, and their physics, could bear on the understanding of upper atmospheric chemistry and even on high-energy particles known to affect satellites. Researchers also say there may be similar phenomena that occur above other planets, though interplanetary comparisons have not yet begun.

Photo and more info here.

5. Raining frogs. As in mixed with the wet stuff is some frogs raining down. Myth or fact. Apparently it has happened and has included other critters as well. Freak Incidents

Over the years all sorts of animals and plants have showered down during thunderstorms, possibly sucked up from rivers and lakes by tornadoes (or their watery equivalents – waterspouts) into thunderclouds and then dumped miles away in heavy rain. Tornadoes pick up anything they find in their path but some scientists think that many animals of the same type or size may fall during a storm because as the wind travels, heavier items will fall first. Then when the smaller items drop from the tornado, things that tend to weigh the same will drop together.Dozens of dead birds have occasionally been seen plummeting out of the sky, sometimes partly frozen. These poor animals were probably swept up high in the powerful updrafts of a thundercloud, then frozen like hailstones before gravity took over. Even stranger, a report in a 1930 issue of the magazine Nature tells us about a severe hailstorm in Vicksburg, U.S.A. where a gopher turtle, 6 inches by 8 inches, and entirely encased in ice, fell with the hail.

When is it ok to leak. When you're a conservative, when you're a conservative president, and apparently when you're conservative Senate Intelligence Committee Intelligence Cover-up Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. Is There A Double Standard On Leak Probes?

But three years ago on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Roberts himself was involved in disclosing sensitive intelligence information that, according to four former senior intelligence officers, impaired efforts to capture Saddam Hussein and potentially threatened the lives of Iraqis who were spying for the United States.

On March 20, 2003, at the onset of military hostilities between U.S. and Iraqi forces, Roberts said in a speech to the National Newspaper Association that he had "been in touch with our intelligence community" and that the CIA had informed President Bush and the National Security Council "of intelligence information from what we call human intelligence that indicated the location of Saddam Hussein and his leadership in a bunker in the suburbs of Baghdad."

The former intelligence officials said in interviews that Roberts was never held accountable for his comments,….

These are not the best of times when the country's ruling party after looking up the word accountability in a dictionary would each stretch their head in dazed confusion.

Indeed, the heavens, the elements, all the meteorological influences, have run riot for weeks past. Such caprices, abruptest alternation of frowns and beauty, I never knew. It is a common remark that (as last summer was different in its spells of intense heat from any preceding it,) the winter just completed has been without parallel. It has remain’d so down to the hour I am writing. Much of the daytime of the past month was sulky, with leaden heaviness, fog, interstices of bitter cold, and some insane storms. But there have been samples of another description. Nor earth nor sky ever knew spectacles of superber beauty than some of the nights lately here. The western star, Venus, in the earlier hours of evening, has never been so large, so clear; it seems as if it told something, as if it held rapport indulgent with humanity, with us Americans.

from The Weather—Does It Sympathize with These Times? by Walt Whitman

It’s everything people ever have found out about justice…and what’s right and wrong

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Novelist Muriel Spark died on April 15 and I feel remiss for not mentioning it sooner, Muriel Spark, 1918-2006

What seems at first like caricature often turns out to pass, for the moment anyway, as unvarnished reportage. Generally, the reports are not encouraging. Perhaps, deep down, "the facts" themselves express a species of caricature; and perhaps, on reflection, one realizes this. Spark's trick is to coax us into musing that, if one were to go deeper still, maybe . . . The presentiment often terminates in an ellipsis, a feeling of uneasiness, anxiety. Not for nothing is the imperative "Memento Mori"–Remember that you shall die–the title of one of her best known and most accomplished books. In that sober tale, all the characters are aged and more than a few are senile. "Being over seventy," one of them observes, "is like being engaged in a war. All our friends are going or gone and we survive amongst the dead and dying as on a battlefield."

You Don't Know Me: Songs of Cindy Walker by Willie Nelson

Secrets of the CIA

The fired official, Mary O. McCarthy, “categorically denies being the source of the leak,” one of McCarthy’s friends and former colleagues, Rand Beers, said Monday after speaking to McCarthy. Beers said he could not elaborate on this denial and McCarthy herself did not respond to a request for comment left by NEWSWEEK on her home answering machine.

Stepping back and observing the events it seems we had, and not the first time by any means, a conservative lynch mob that tried and hung Mary McCarthy ( I see the story as still unfolding. For conservatives the trial and sentencing is over, they just need to set a date for the hanging). Rule of law in America has certainly taken its lumps under the auspices of conservative rule and the internet harpies of conservatism continue to do their part to keep America in a never ending state of fear, and political discourse in the gutter. The mob as mobs always do trampled over justice, used the sin of omission like a crutch, and are doing a good as job as any terrorist in undermining making America values. There is no need to wait for Osama Bin Laden's next video of delusional rants, just listen to conservative policy makers or right-wing pundits. Propaganda and fear are their tools of trade. I have tried to think of a republic that has survived that embraced propaganda, paranoia and delusion as its national vision and I cannot think of one. Reading the shrill rants about "Democratic moles" is akin to going to a Disneyland of sick twisted values. On a certain level they're entertaining, yet on another level its like watching an abusive parent being dragged off by the police screaming about how much they love the child whose legs they just broke. Hullabaloo writes about the clear attempt by Bush's supporters to criminalize any opinion that deviates from America's unofficial politburo, Agitating For A Crackdown

I wrote yesterday about the re-emergence of the shrieking harpies as the Republicans go down to defeat. I was speaking specifically of the wingnut gasbags, but Robert Parry points out that it is more than rhetoric. They are agitating to criminalize dissent.

Years ago, feet dangling from the edge of the sofa unable to touch the ground I had this general awe of adulthood. Adults could reach things I could not, they knew more words, they could make food appear like magic, they all seemed to know so much and were obviously so much better then me. I was told that I would grow up some day and fully participate in this wonderful world of knowledge and wisdom. Turns out that many children never grow up, they just get older and even more spiteful in their pettiness.

Lawyers, Guns, and Money on the petty unturths of Chris Hitchens, Blech

Suffice it to say that Hitch can't quite manage to recommend the notion of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe, but he doesn't have a problem with completely ignoring the issue by bringing the focus back to Joe Wilson. It Hitch's world, a CIA agent relating the fact of secret prisons is exactly, exactly the same as an administration official blowing a CIA agent's cover in an effort to discredit a critic.

Yep.

Bush Says He Tried to Avoid War 'To The Max,' Explains How God Shapes His Foreign Policy

Bush said he'd sat in a California church on Sunday near a mother and stepfather grieving for their son who had been killed in Iraq. "I also want to let you know that before you commit troops that you must do everything that you can to solve the problem diplomatically," he commented. "And I can look you in the eye and tell you I feel I tried to solve the problem diplomatically to the max and would have committed troops both in Afghanistan and Iraq, knowing what I know today."

From what I understand its not uncommon for someone who is mentally unbalanced to be able to look people in the eye and lie. My police friends encounter this behavior almost daily. ( Just to note, like myself most liberals supported going after Bin Laden in Afghanistan; for Bush to conflat Iraq and Afghanistan is just more stagecraft manipulation.) Bush Insists ‘I Didn’t Want War,’ Overwhelming Evidence Suggests Otherwise

It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. [Downing Street Minutes, 7/23/02]

They're the ones I feel sorry for,
because it'll be over for me…

…but they'll have to go on remembering
for the rest of their lives.

A man just can't take the law into his
own hands and hang people…

…without hurting
everybody in the world…

…because then he's not just
breaking one law, but all laws.

Law is a lot more than words
you put in a book…

…or judges or lawyers or sheriffs
you hire to carry it out.

It's everything people ever have
found out about justice…

…and what's right and wrong.

It's the very conscience of humanity.

from The Ox Bow Incident, Script – Dialogue Transcript

When your name is called go over there… take this over to that table…

cuffs.jpg

One conservative blogger has called Mary McCarthy a "Democratic mole", while another supposedly conservative intellectual asks, "Why Isn't She in Cuffs?". By all means let the prosecution and Senate hearings begin. Who knew what and when did they know it. I would challenge the conservative blogs, pundits and their supporters to at least once a week to e-mail and fax their representatives to begin an investigation into the all leaks and leakers. As someone once said "Bring it on." On the other hand, one caution, be careful what you wish for. The jails might not be big enough to hold all the "Democratic mole(s)". One can imagine the polygraph wires attached to everyone one that has blimped on the patriotically correct radar, the oaths taken to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, "Are you now or have you ever been a Democrat", "Have you ever contributed to a Democratic campaign", " Have you ever offered ad and comfort to a Democrat ".

As Josh Marshall, David, Corn, Kevin Drum and others have noted this paragraph from the WaPo report, CIA Officer's Job Made Any Leaks More Delicate

The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.No decision has been announced on whether McCarthy might face further repercussions, such as a criminal prosecution. That decision would be made by the Justice Department, and would force a trial that several former intelligence officials said could wind up airing sensitive information as well as policy dissents.

Time is a little short today, but I felt compelled to just recite from recent memory those leaks from conservatives that with all too boring predictibilty conservatives ignored or rationalized in their usual clumsy fashion, like Richard Shelby, Orrin Hatch, and Larry Franklin. Thankfully Unclaimed Territory has done a very good round up of conservative leakage. Treason by association

There are good bloggers at there fighting the good fight for American values fighting the constant barrage of imitation patriots with imitation values. Not all the media, but much of the media is being remiss if not negligent by not giving citizen journalists their due when it comes to putting the pieces together in a way that people will not see on the morning and evening broadcasts where most people still get there news.
Well timed article from Colin Powell's former chief of staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Is U.S. being transformed into a radical republic?

In January 2001, with the inauguration of George W. Bush as president, America set on a path to cease being good; America became a revolutionary nation, a radical republic. If our country continues on this path, it will cease to be great – as happened to all great powers before it, without exception.

From the Kyoto accords to the International Criminal Court, from torture and cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners to rendition of innocent civilians, from illegal domestic surveillance to lies about leaking, from energy ineptitude to denial of global warming, from cherry-picking intelligence to appointing a martinet and a tyrant to run the Defense Department, the Bush administration, in the name of fighting terrorism, has put America on the radical path to ruin.

Unprecedented interpretations of the Constitution that holds the president as commander in chief to be all-powerful and without checks and balances marks the hubris and unparalleled radicalism of this administration.

Moreover, fiscal profligacy of an order never seen before has brought America trade deficits that boggle the mind and a federal deficit that, when stripped of the gimmickry used to make it appear more tolerable, will leave every child and grandchild in this nation a debt that will weigh upon their generations like a ball and chain around every neck. Imagine owing $150,000 from the cradle. That is radical irresponsibility.

They are as hard to find as a ivory billed wood-pecker, but there are a few conservatives out there that see what a disasterous hard right turn Republicans have taken.

CIA Official Reveals Bush, Cheney, Rice Were Personally Told Iraq Had No WMD in Fall 2002

DRUMHELLER: The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy.

Reporting on FEC settlement, NY Times, AP failed to note that most of Freddie Mac's illegal fundraising events benefited Republicans

Summary: An April 19 New York Times article and an April 19 Associated Press article noted that the federally chartered home mortgage company known as Freddie Mac had agreed to pay a record $3.8 million to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to settle allegations that it violated federal election law by using company resources to host fundraisers for members of Congress, illegally funneling employee contributions to federal candidates, and making an illegal $150,000 contribution to the Republican Governors Association. But the articles did not disclose that the vast majority of the the illegal fundraisers hosted by Freddie Mac benefited Republican lawmakers.

As long as conservatives embrace greed and the inability to see clearly what is best for the American people and not just the elite, the money is sure to follow.

update: Just ran across this article, what is it with conservatives and death threats, Punishing Whistleblowers 

Jason Vest has a profile in Government Executive about Torin Nelson, a military interrogator who was one of the whistleblowers alerting officials to the abuses at Abu Ghraib. And where is he now? Struggling to find contract work with the military. "They're saying there's no blacklisting policy, but there's clearly a blacklist." It sure seems that way. Here's what someone who does the right thing can look forward to these days:

    All Nelson did was pass on what little he had heard and had been able to document. And as far as he was concerned, he'd already paid a fair price for doing the right thing. It was bad enough that word of his meeting with investigators leaked almost immediately at Abu Ghraib. The ostracization that followed was far from pleasant. Worse were the thinly veiled death threats that convinced even as formidable a man as Nelson that he had no choice but to flee not just Abu Ghraib, but Iraq.

Sorry about the all politics the last couple of days, I'll try to get back to a little more variety as news permits.

TRAIN WHEELS grinding against track, slowing. FOLDING TABLE
LEGS scissoring open. The LEVER of a train door being pulled.
NAMES on lists on clipboards held by clerks moving alongside
the tracks.

CLERKS (V.O.)
…Rossen… Lieberman… Wachsberg…

BEWILDERED RURAL FACES coming down off the passenger train.

FORMS being set out on the folding tables. HANDS straightening
pens and pencils and ink pads and stamps.

CLERKS (V.O.)
…When your name is called go over
there… take this over to that
table…

TYPEWRITER KEYS rapping a name onto a list. A FACE. KEYS
typing another name. Another FACE.

CLERKS (V.O.)
…you’re in the wrong line, wait
over there… you, come over here…

A MAN is taken from one long line and led to the back of
another. A HAND hammers a rubber stamp at a form.

from the screenplay "SCHINDLER'S LIST" By Steven Zaillian