Saturday, August 30, 2008

Police State USA

From Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald of Salon, this amazing story:

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets.

Please note that these are people merely suspected of exercising free speech. Note that what was being seized was not bomb-making materials, but political pamphlets.

This is very depressing.

For anyone interested in following what's happening to the RNC protesters, I highly recommend the Indymedia network, specifically the Twin Cities Indymedia site. I mention it because there's apparently no mainstream media coverage of this whatsoever (with the arguable exception of the Minneapolis Star Tribune). Indymedia, of course, is all over it - and they've had plenty of journalists arrested already.

Let's be clear about what's happening: Law enforcement officers are cracking down on would-be legal protesters to protect a political party that's intimately entwined with innumerable corporations. Very fascistic. Very authoritarian. Very American.

UPDATE: CNN has a blurb.



Well, for the rest of us, the effect is only to remind us how fast time is moving along, faster with every passing year. But it also reminds us of something else: Much of industrial or technological development of recent decades, to say nothing of changes in music or entertainment, is of dubious merit. It drives the economy, which may be good enough, but it doesn’t do much to enhance the human condition.


E-mail is probably the best example of backward progress. The volume of communication has increased a hundred times, yet nobody can demonstrate that people know more, or that the world generally is better off, than before there was such a thing.


The cell phone is obviously handy when you get into trouble on the road and have a call a tow truck or AAA. But when so many drivers in traffic are talking on the phone instead of paying attention, you have to wonder what civilization has gained even if they don’t cause many accidents.

What possible good, for example, has come from the ability of people to take pictures with cameras hidden in phones or computers? That sort of thing is a gimmick.

Setting aside how stupid the claims are - if nothing else, email and built-cameras allow me to keep in touch with people all over the world far better than, say, snail mail does - Hering has written one of his best 'get off my lawn' columns in quite some time. I'm practically chortling over here.

The conclusion, however, is pure gold:

But while half of Americans living today may not have been around when Joe Biden first went to Congress, it is worth recalling that those who were around did not exactly live in caves or have to hunt and gather for their daily meals. [emphasis added]

That's just painful to read. Apparently he seems to believe the pinnacle of human achievement occurred in the 1950s.


UPDATE: Don't get me wrong; clearly, I am critical of lots of things that have happened in the last 60 years as well. However, I try to avoid making blanket statements about new technology and/or implying that there wasn't anything wrong with some mythical past time period. The world's more complex than that - and that's what Hering almost always fails to communicate in his editorials: Any sort of nuance whatsoever.

Friday, August 29, 2008

One More Round of Palin

Why don't reporters and legislators have a high opinion of the governor?

Gregg Erickson (Anchorage Daily News): It is clear that she has not paid much attention to the nitty-gritty unglamorous work of government, of gaining consensus, and making difficult compromises. She seems to be of the view that politics should be all rather simple. That often appeals to the wider public, but frustrates those who see themselves as laboring in the less glamorous parts of the vineyard.

Then [MSNBC is] pushing the idea that her selection "opens up the West" for McCain because, apparently, we vote for people who share a vague geographic designation with us. No wait, that's the South with the shared heritage of treason.

Dave 3544: Did John Fucking McCain just tout the fact that she's a member of a union and her husband is a member of a union?

Steve Benen: PALIN ON HRC.... One of the more offensive angles to the McCain campaign's running mate announcement is how breathtakingly cynical it is. As the McCain gang sees it, supporters of Hillary Clinton are driven entirely by gender concerns -- the notion that Democrats may have actually liked Hillary for her record and agenda apparently isn't a consideration -- so picking a woman, any woman, even a far-right anti-choice woman, will necessarily drive Democrats to vote Republican.

I suspect this will backfire. No one likes to be played for a fool, and these crass tactics will probably be perceived by Clinton backers as more insulting than anything else.

And yet, in a move that was about as subtle as a sledgehammer, Sarah Palin praised Hillary Clinton during her first appearance on the national stage today, referencing the "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" quote. Before anyone's fooled, though, keep in mind that Palin is not a Clinton fan:

Newsweek reports that back in March, at a Women and Leadership event held by the mag, Palin's view of Hillary wasn't quite as charitable: "She said she felt kind of bad she couldn't support a woman, but she didn't like Clinton's 'whining.'

Think Progress: Palin Denies Global Warming is Manmade

Charles Homans: THE PALIN PICK...Howdy folks--I'm a new editor here at the Monthly, and as someone who lived in and reported on Alaska for the entirety of Sarah Palin's tenure as governor (until a couple months ago), I feel like I should jump in here. I'm less quick than Steve to dismiss McCain's pick--the Palin choice does have a gimmicky quality to it, but Obama supporters should still be concerned... In short, Palin can legitimately claim the maverick reformist credentials that McCain himself has long since lost. Her pro-life record helps McCain with the Republican base, her gender might lure away a few Hillary bitter-enders, and her youth goes a little way towards compensating one of McCain's major weaknesses. Palin also manages the Obama-esque feat of commanding a great deal of popularity among people who don't really know what she stands for...

Michael Faris: I agree that it's a pandering move, of the most cynical sort. I also think it's a good move, if you're a cynical Republican.

Eric Martin:
Further, it offers something "new" from a Republican Party that is rightly viewed as musty and bankrupt of fresh ideas. [Points to Eric Martin for making the first Michael Palin reference that I've seen. Check the title on the post.]

Palin herself on the VP slot, from just a month ago:

Count Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as one of the most surprised that she was chocen as unning mate for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

In an interview just a month ago, she dissed the job, saying it didn’t seem “productive.”

In fact, she said she didn’t know what the vice president does.

Larry Kudlow of CNBC’s “Kudlow & Co.” asked her about the possibility of becoming McCain's ticket mate.

Palin replied: “As for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?

This kind of cinches for me McCain's desperation.

OK, I'm out for the evening. Better things to do.

Stunned Silence

Found here.

This is territory that needs traversed carefully. I predict that while Republicans will actually play the above card (not in so many words, I hope), Democrats and Obama supporters will question Palin's qualifications based on her sex, even if unintentionally. Neither should be acceptable.

Also: Holy ****.

More Palin Fallout

Basically, read Atrios; that guy is f'in sharp:

Republican on MSNBC is arguing that Palin has much more experience than Joe Biden because all he did was run committees in the Senate.

By this logic Palin has much more experience than John McCain.


Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was seen by more than 38 million people.

Nielsen Media Research said more people watched Obama speak than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing....

Also almost twice the number Kerry got in 2004. Number does not include PBS or C-Span. Nor does it include those who streamed it over the web.



I'll admit a bit of a pause on Palin for two reasons: 1) Don't know much about her and 2) The selection of a woman by McCain requires some careful thought about potential criticisms which inadvertently wade into misogynist territory. Already we have questions asked about her which wouldn't be asked of a man by the media, and I want to avoid going anywhere near there myself.

That last one is very true. Some of the stuff I've read on lefty blogs has clearly crossed into misogyny territory.

Sarah Palin????

UPDATE: From Dover Bitch at Hullabaloo: "McCain got what he wanted and needed the most: Nobody is talking about the magnificent speech Barack Obama gave last night."

That's very much true. However, I wonder if the whole "there's no such thing as bad publicity" trope is going to hold true on this.

Cody (via email): Whaaa?

Cody 2: "The producers of SNL must be scrambling to call Tina Fey, who must be thanking god for her good luck." [Dennis agrees - the resemblance is striking.]

Melissa (IM): I totally didn't expect it at all...this election is becoming more like a sitcom than reality. I'm reading feministing right now... trying to understand what the hell is happening :)

Atrios: "Proof that all the very well connected journalists know absolutely nothing."

Andrea Mitchell (via Atrios): "The campaign has just given up the experience argument."

Dave3544: So McCain is basically going after the Hillary vote. Giving up the attack on Obama for not having experience and going after the women. Doing so in the most craven way possible.

Adam Serwer at The American Prospect: The pick of Palin is dripping with transparent condescension, the notion that the enthusiasm behind Hillary was simply the result of her being a woman, that it had nothing to do with what she actually stood for, and in that sense it's equally sexist. Palin is essentially a hard-right ideologue, and therefore nothing like Hillary as far as substance is concerned. It's not very different from running Alan Keyes against Barack Obama in 2004.

Ann of Feministing: Let me say right off the bat that, overall, I think it's great that Republicans have chosen to elevate a woman to this level -- no matter what their motivations. I want to see more women of all parties involved in politics. But, as we stated over and over in the primaries, a politician's gender isn't everything. It's merely one factor to be considered. And quite frankly, Palin's political views suck.

Kevin Drum: And what I was thinking about was what a bizarrely contrived and calculated choice it is. I mean, aside from six years as mayor of Wasilla (pop. 6,715) — about which I'm sure we'll be hearing much, much more — her political experience consists of 19 months as governor of the fourth smallest state in the union. That's it... It's hard to think of a more intensely cynical, focus-grouped, poll-driven, base-pandering VP choice in recent memory. Even Dan Quayle isn't in the running. This is ridiculous.

Jill at Feministe (though it's more about CNN than anything else).

Jonathan Singer at MyDD: "It has been forty years since someone as inexperienced as Sarah Palin has been put on a national ticket..."

Dennis' co-worker: This was a reactionary pick, decided in response to the convention. Bad idea.

Dennis: The media is going to have a field day accusing the Democratic Party and its base of sexism because Hillary lost the nomination. Women (and some men) everywhere are going to rip their hair out in frustration, because the media, like McCain, doesn't get that Hillary Clinton's appeal is due to a combination of her policies and the fact that she is female. Palin's preferred policies, as noted above, are not good for women. The media (and the McCain campaign) will fail to understand that women act in their own rational self-interest, and are not, in fact, led around by their uteruses. One almost wonders if this is a product of men being led around by their.... never mind.

Maybe more later, but I highly doubt it. On the plus side, I really like the name Sarah Palin, for some reason.

UPDATE: I removed the duplicate feministing post and added a new line from Cody. Also, I think Sarah Palin is an NPR correspondent or a movie star's name: Too good to be true.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DH News Story on CARES

From the DH:

LEBANON — Petitioners seeking the recall of two Lebanon School Board members have drawn criticism for what some call aggressive tactics.

In a separate development, the organization seeking the recall says it now has enough signatures to qualify the recall question for a special election.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, the aggressiveness of the paid signature gatherers is certainly news. On the other, the DH has barely seemed to cover the petition effort.

Combine that with my distrust of Hering, and Moody's record, and I have the sneaking suspicion that the reason this story happened was Hering - who has also written at least one editorial decrying the recall effort.

Don't get me wrong; what Moody wrote is news, plain and simple. But the story reads to me like the angle was intended to be the complaints against the paid signature gatherers and she managed to sneak the status of the recall effort in.

This is all supposition on my part, of course.... but like I said, I distrust Hering.

"Corvallis showed its love"

Corvallis showed its love
As I see it

We all belong to God, and to Him we will return.

I have received the sudden death of my beloved husband Sheikh Imam Awad Elgarguri with full submission to God’s will and with absolute belief and trust in His Divine wisdom. Since he passed away last month, I have been engulfed by an overflowing demonstration of love and care from the Corvallis community.

People from different backgrounds, religions, ages and nationalities have all been united by benevolent and humane feelings toward the man who lived amongst them and interacted with them all as a genuine and sincere friend for nearly three decades.

As the Imam and religious leader of the Muslim Community in Corvallis, Awad dedicated his whole life to setting an example of true Islam to his community members both inside, and outside, of his Mosque.

Islam means submission and peace. God created us from different nations and tribes, but we are all brethren in humanity. Diversity enriches and nourishes the growth and development of the human race and promotes peaceful collaboration and a coherent coexistence. This is the message Awad sought to exemplify.

I have witnessed firsthand how genuinely he cared for all the people — family, friends and even strangers — whom he may have met once in a store or at the post office, for example. To him, Corvallis was his beloved hometown, and he was so proud of it as a city and as an ideal community.

My children, family and I would like to present our most profound gratitude to all the people who have shared their heartfelt condolences either in person or through telephone calls, e-mails or the mail. My special thanks to the Adair Village Fire Department, the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, Oregon State University faculty and Linn-Benton Community College staff, Oregon Connections Academy, All Family Vision Care and the Samaritan Internal Medicine, to name a few.

The sincere kindness that my family received from the members of BETT AM community, members of First United Methodist Church, and all the members of Salman AlFarsi Islamic Center alike made my husband’s vision of the ideal society a living reality.

To all of you, your kindness has been the light that warmed my heart and rekindled my spirit. This is the true Corvallis that my husband loved so dearly. His life was a celebration of good faith. Your kindness made his passing a commemoration of goodness.

Thank you.

Dalya Ibrahim of Corvallis is the widow of Awad Elgarguri.

Editor’s note: Awad Mohamed Elgarguri, 49, died July 18 in a head-on collision on Highway 99W. He was driving home from a prayer meeting with his 16-year-old son, who is recovering from his injuries.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

OK, it's not even a question anymore, and it's not even protesting

Two more posts from Don't Tase Me, Bro!:

Minneapolis Police Seize Journalists' Notebooks, Cameras, Cell Phones, Money Without Warrant

And in case you read the story and decry "but they're not real journalists," this:

It's Now Ilegal for Journalists To Photograph Politicians and Lobbyists on a Public Street

Yup - ABC News journalists, on a public street, were arrested for photographing politicians.

The first story irks me more personally, but the second is, in some ways, more totalitarian: The sole crime was, it sounds like, annoying people in positions of power.

I can't stop reading that blog, even though all it does is make me stare at my computer screen and my blood pressure go up.

Jaw-Droppage Has Commenced

From Rate Your Students.... ah, I can't even begin to describe it.

Go read.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is Protest Now Illegal in Practice?

I've recently subscribed to "Don't Tase Me, Bro," a blog about the erosion of civil liberties. It's as much horrifying as informative. From the last few days:

Denver Protesters Ordered to Disperse, Then Trapped and Prevented from Dispersing, Then Pepper Sprayed

State Department Plan to Smear First Amendment Protected Protest as "Eco-Terrorism"

Denver Police Bulletin: Protest Sign Handles, Bicycles, Hand-Held Radios and Maps Mark Protestors as "Potentially Violent"

And my personal favorite:

Denver: Protesters Arrested for Refusing to Give Their Names to Police

From that last story:

Two protesters were arrested Sunday for not giving their names to police, raising questions about when that constitutes a crime.

"Isn't this America?" asked Denver attorney John Holland. "Don't you have the right to protest? Don't you have the right to remain silent?"

Law-abiding protesters don't have to give their names to police, he said.

I'll answer my own question: I think that many police view the act of protesting as illegal in and of itself - and since they have the power to enforce that belief (legally or otherwise), protesting has become, in many places, de facto illegal. Certainly elites view protests as illegal.

Also conspicuous: The fact that the Democrats are just as complicit in this erosion as the Republicans. I don't hear Dems at the convention (or even many liberal bloggers, to be honest) decrying the brutal and undemocratic tactics being used by police. Of course, since Dems are elites too, this is not terribly surprising. Sad, yes, but not surprising.

Danah Boyd on lowering the drinking age

I think she's got something interesting to say about the whole debate:

Anyone who tries to tell you that something magical happens for everyone at the age of 21 that makes youth brains capable of moderate consumption at that age is full of shit. The drinking age is not about psychology, no matter how many reports appear to "prove" otherwise. The drinking age is first and foremost about social control. We tried to prohibit everyone from drinking and when that failed, we went about trying to oppress the population that could be controlled. Like all other acts of Prohibition in this country, the minimum drinking age stems from a set of moral values projected onto a population as a means of control.

Read on.

Tom Hayden: Obama Will Probably Lose

He says some interesting things, as usual:

There's no need for so many police in Denver, Hayden says. "With Obama having opposed the war, there's no real reason for demonstrations." Hayden also feels that the "radicals of the 60s don't get credit for what has happened for good in the Democratic Party." He thinks there's too much harkening back to 1968. "All this talk about '68 because we have a fascination with round numbers," he quips. "Our country is full of the wreckage of the 60s."

Hayden observes that "there is a new social movement on a vast scale" centered right now in the Obama Campaign. "These young people will plant seeds for the next twenty-five years." But they are "small-d" Democrats, Hayden says, and they are environmentalists and idealists. "They don't want a war in :Pakistan!" And "if Obama loses, which I think he might," Hayden says, nevertheless the Democratic Party will have grown bigger. As for Obama, "he is losing. He is gonna lose the electoral college."

What do you think? Is he right?

The strange thing, I don't really disagree with anything Hayden, but I still have this feeling Obama's chances are better than Hayden gives him credit for. Today, anyway. Yesterday - and probably tomorrow - I'd say Obama has little to no chance.

Go figure.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Music & Aging

From Carrie Brownstein over at Monitor Mix, a post worth checking out:

Last week, I received an interesting suggestion for a post. I was asked to ponder whether one's relationship to music -- either strictly as a fan or as both a fan and a musician -- keeps one in a delayed or perennial state of adolescence.

So, does music keep us young? And is that a good thing?

I wanted to leave a comment, but the first commenter said almost exactly what I was thinking: What does it mean that most people continue to listen to the music they listened to when they were, say, 15-25?

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