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Taps for Larry Craig? Maybe not.

My 9-year-old twins learned about stereotypes in school last week. Ever eager to share social messages they receive while in the hands of the state, knowing that hours of rollicking fun will result, they vomited the latest rhetoric gleefully into my lap. This is a picture of Dave Karsnia, the Minneapolis cop who took down Larry Craig. He received the Officer of the Year award in 2003 from none other than Dick Cheney, which somehow seems appropriate. Karsnia has, based on my limited exposure to all things gay, the look of a cute young, uh, gay guy. Without the adorable personality no doubt. I wonder what would've transpired if the officer had resembled Dennis Franz in NYPD Blue? Why isn't the gay community outraged that the state has hijacked its image and used it for nefarious purposes against them? Aren't we shielded from self-incrimination by the Constitution? Perhaps the Constitution was what Larry Craig was reaching for on the floor of the bathroom stall. To wipe his lyin' heinie. Thank god he didn't flush. Whatever. I actually wanted to post the transcript of a call made, before the big press conference announcing the intended resignation, by Craig to his attorney Billy Martin. Craig accidentally left the message on a complete stranger's phone. Mother of God. If I were his wife I would be so pissed. Larry! Good Lord, pull your head out now and then! "Yes, Billy, this is Larry Craig calling. You can reach me on my cell. Arlen Specter is now willing to come out in my defense, arguing that it appears by all that he knows that I have been railroaded and all that. "Having all of that, we have reshaped my statement a little bit to say it is my intent to resign on Sept. 30. I think it is important for you to make as bold a statement as you are comfortable with this afternoon, and I would hope you could make it in front of the cameras. "I think it would help drive the story that I’m willing to fight, that I’ve got quality people out there fighting in my defense, and that this thing could take a new turn or a new shape, it has that potential. Anyway, give me a buzz or give Mike a buzz on that. We’re headed to my press conference now. "Thank you. Bye." Go figure. I can't imagine that Arlen Specter is supporting Larry Craig for altruistic reasons. It certainly can't be indignation about civil liberties under fire, nor state-sponsored stereotyping. It must have something to do with partisan House politics. As usual. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

We’ve fallen! And we won’t get up!

There's been much hand-wringing over the news that the United States lags behind 41 other nations with regard to life expectancy. Oh my, they say. How could the richest nation in the world be surpassed by lesser mortals? We're #1! We're #1! We're #1 alright. Thanks to our gluttony and laziness (with kudos to the food industry and the government), we have the highest rate of obesity on the planet. A third of adults over 20 are considered obese. Two thirds are overweight. We gorge ourselves on fast food. Know nothing about nutrition. Refuse to exercise. So, duh, we've got heart disease. High cholesterol. High stress. Depression. Anxiety. Addiction. Thanks to our avarice, we also have record foreclosure rates. A negative savings rate. High expectations for our personal prosperity but an unwillingness to work for its attainment. Or, conversely, we are workaholics who spend our lives like rodents in a wheel, running to pointless exhaustion. The rest of the time we sit, slack-jawed in front of the TV or the computer, passively enjoying life from our Lay-Z-Boy deluxe armchairs. Not exactly Heidi in the Alps. Many of the nation's problems are tied to our lack of self-care and low standards for our own health and well-being. Quick to place blame, we are rarely the culprit. We rely heavily on others to slap expensive Band-Aids on the woes we've created for ourselves. We are Americans. We are entitled. To whatever we want. From whatever pocket. What do we want? Whatever we want! When do we want it? NOW! It's a twisted existence we're living. We are ruining ourselves. We are ruining the rest of the world. I'm overjoyed that our life expectancy isn't the highest. I've already had enough and I'm only halfway there.

Ward Churchill unholy heretic

In bygone days of God's absolute truth, we used to burn heretics at the stake, to keep their heresies from infecting fragile minds with ideas against the prevailing wisdom. Today we recoil in horror at the torturing of scientists who would suggest that the earth revolves around the sun. How medieval! In UN-lightened times, heretics might have advocated for peasant rights or regional autonomy. In modern times, could you recognize a heretic if one bit you in the ego? It might be appropriate to note that the judges and pontiffs who fended off heresies weren't erratic or irrational in their pronouncements. Heretics were condemned in harmony with the ardent wrath of the people. As full-fledged cogs in today's hierarchies, could you or I be able to differentiate a heresy from a damnable lie?! What does it take to be a heretic these days? The same as always. In the Department of History, heretics reveal themselves as aspiring revisionists to the official account of how events have come to be, the version to which the majority have invested the foundation of our relative perspectives. Revisions which need to happen more often. History, we all know, is written by the victor. If I ruled the world, I'd want historians to record that I acquired it friendly-like. It wouldn't be a history that would inform and instruct, but the tale would make me feel good, and reinforce public acquiescence to my pre-eminence. Later when I am too dead to take offense, and my heirs have fallen enough out of favor, historians can creep forward to revise the glowing tribute to reflect something closer to what happened. That account can record how I really came to power and how mankind might aspire to learn to keep tyrants from screwing the world over like I did. We all would probably prefer for fact to catch up with fiction sooner than it does, instead of subjecting generations of people to historic transitional untruths. However, when truth-loving scholars rush in before the powers that be are still at their deeds, the scholars are reviled as revisionists. In academic terms that's heresy. At my graduation I remember noting the faculty assembled in their various colored robes, with assorted stripes and sashes denoting rank or whatever. I would not have been able to tell them from high priests or Grand Poobahs. So what's Ward Churchill done to get himself fired from the University of Colorado? To quote the Dean, retired senator Chuck Brown: He was caught creating academic fraud, literally making up history and fraudulently planting stories and misrepresenting sources to change the history of this country. Churchill is content to rest his case on the truth he has spoken to power.

Raul Castro’s daughter blasts homophobia

I thought that this news item was of note, so here it is in full. Walter Lippmann's website is worth visiting, too. See below... Tony Raul Castro's daughter blasts homophobia Havana, May 21 (EFE).- The daughter of acting Cuban President Raul Castro spoke out in favor of tolerance and against gay-bashing on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia. "The communications media have a big responsibility in the education of the public, in developing a culture of respect for people due to their sexual identity and sexual orientation," said Mariela Castro, the head of the National Sex Education Center, in remarks broadcast Sunday by state television. Castro attended an unusual film-debate held in the "23 y 12" hall in Havana, where organizers showed the U.S. film "Boys Don't Cry," which tells a story based on real events of the difficulties, discrimination and violence to which a young transsexual woman was subjected. "Starting with the advances we have had on these matters in our country, it's that we (are) trying to better visualize the goal of this international - and in this case national - day," said the sexologist. Castro said that "homophobia and transphobia still exist in the world in a very strong, very cruel, very distriminatory way against homosexual, transsexual and transgender people in a general sense and, above all, as a result of ignorance." The government of Fidel Castro, who provisionally handed over power to younger brother Raul last July after undergoing major surgery, has in the past displayed marked intolerance for homosexuals, imprisoning gays and quarantining AIDS sufferers. The National Sex Education Center, a teaching, research and assistance institution created in 1989, has proposed in the Cuban legislature a bill to legally recognize the sex changes undergone by transsexuals, at the same time it has been pushing for some time an awareness campaign in the state-controlled media. The International Day against Homophobia was begun on May 17, 2005, a decade after the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Thirteen years after its first showing in movie theaters on the island, on May 5, Cubans watched the first broadcast on local television of the 1993 film "Fresa y chocolate" (Strawberry and Chocolate), an allegory against intolerance and discrimination against homosexuals. Recently, Cuban TV also showed "La mujer de mi hermano" (My Brother's Wife), which also deals with the theme of homosexuality. EFE ============================= WALTER LIPPMANN Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews writer - photographer - activist http://www.walterlippmann.com =============================

The real war on Christmas

  A rabbi in Seattle wanted to put a menorah in the municipal train station to accompany a display of Christmas trees. Was he thinking the trees were another faith's religious symbols? Did he mean to ask to juxtapose a dreidel instead? The train station administrators backed down and removed the trees altogether, a concession I'd argue they needn't have made, but certainly one that fueled the Christian backlash. A now knee-jerk indignation about a supposed war on Christmas! I've got news for the Christians, there is a war on Christmas, you're fighting it, amongst yourselves. You fundamentalists are wanting Christmas to mean something religious again, but the materialists among you, by my count, every last one of you minus Jesus, already ceded the holiday to commerce long ago. "Happy Holidays" is neither religious nor irreligious. "Merry Christmas" does not belie a believer or non-believer. The international holiday as demarcated by what's believed to have been Jesus of Nazareth's birthday and New Year's (for non-Chinese), is called Christmas. It represents a huge surge in retail sales, for some merchants up to 90% of their yearly gross. Retailers of every denomination celebrate Christmas. Put a menorah next to a manger if you must, but neither of them belong at the North Pole with Santa, Rudolf and Ol' Tannenbaum. Joyeux Noel, Gud Yule, and Boldog Karácsony everyone!

Executions in Iraq

Americans are shown nothing of the deaths taking place in Iraq. We hear that people have been taken captive, some may be released, but later bodies turn up with their hands tied behind their back, many having been tortured with electric drills and other methods unfathomable to us.   We may be told of these things, we're certainly not shown them. The picture above was taken as two captives were being executed in the middle of the highway in broad daylight. Iraqi government hiding true casualty figures

Oh, Lord, not Kumbaya!

My muse is upset because everyone is making fun of Kumbaya.   Relax, Kumbaya is safe. The story you read in the Gazette, Oh Lord, not Kumbaya, syndicated from the Dallas Morning Herald, is a rather underhanded loaded question. You know the classic example: "When did you stop beating your wife?" Whether you never stopped or never started, the load is delivered, you do. (But you don't.) The DMH article asked "How did Kumbaya become such a joke?" and then lists instances of the joke being made: A GOP ad, a Christian Science Monitor quip. They are able to find an early instance in an obscure 80's comedy Volunteers spoofing the Peace Corps. It seems to me SNL has made fun of everything, that wouldn't make the ridicule universal. I was tipped off when my friend paraphrased the article as having said Kumbaya was an "international joke." What international? The rest of the world isn't making fun of our spirituals, certainly not our peaceniks. The lambast is purely English-speaking and it's coming from corporate mouthpieces who want to ridicule any tools of grassroots community efforts. Television has no interest in sing-a-long songs. People singing together and not looking at the TV doesn't serve them at all. But for people communing together, a melody and lyric like Kumbaya is very powerful, especially because everybody knows it already. When protestors assembled with Cindy Sheehan last year in Crawford, we sang Kumbaya among others. We wound up singing all the patriotic songs too because they were the only ones we all knew. And so the media is determined to keep the heat on hippies and idealists, religious or not, by making fun of them, and concluding that the derision is universal. The press laughs with each other's jokes and then report the humor to be statistically unanimous. The Dallas reporter asked several etymologists "why did Kumbaya become an idiom for idiocy?" And none of the etymologists knew. Maybe that's a tip off it isn't. Hopefully one day the press will stop trying to paint people who hope for peace and goodwill to all mankind as idiots.

Comparing the death tolls

In the aftermath of bombings and indiscriminate attacks in Iraq which reached record numbers on Thanksgiving, I read that the combined Iraqi civilian casualties raised the Baghdad death toll to 202. For the day. For Baghdad. The count starts anew each day.   Meanwhile the US soldier death toll is 50 and climbing, for the month. For all of Iraq. Why the differing units of measure? Why not consider weekly totals for both Americans and Iraqis, to facillitate comparison? I know something's wrong on the grocery shelf when the price of some items is given per ounce, while a similar commodity is described per pound. Somebody doesn't want the price comparison weighed, and I haven't yet taken a calculator with me to discover who. Why this discrepancy of value for human lives? I'm thankful at least we are new counting the Iraqi lives lost, although the numbers are themselves distorted. US forces are conducting more air attacks where it's more difficult to measure the casualties. Won't somebody come out and say it, we care quite a bit less about Iraqi lives compared to American lives? Even though the Iraqis were likely innocents, often children and children. How can news outlets simply set the standards of measure as if the most important factor was to have the result fall within manageable ranges, figures we can wrap our head around? Or more accurately, figures they can wrap around our head. What's going to happen when the daily toll of civilian deaths reaches higher? Will they break the day into parts, a morning Iraqi death toll for example? To compare not too insanely with the US deaths per month? What a ruse.

Let OJ say he did it

My favorite argument of Michael Moore's was in his book Downsize This. He had a chapter about the OJ trial. Moore's conclusion? OJ didn't do it because the rich can't be bothered to do anything themselves. OJ couldn't pick up late night drive-through burgers. Was he going to traverse Brentwood to give the time of day to a blonde who was sleeping with someone else, actually a waiter? The ownership class does no labor. It even lives off the labor of its money, the interest of wealth. Michael Moore made points too about the racism of the LAPD, as well as the scavenger nature of the media, also racist. Now OJ wants to exploit his own notoriety. He flat beat the case in court, but he simply can't convince the American public. He has to live everyday with the accusations. Maybe OJ has nowhere to go but to give the people what they want. If they're going to insist he killed Nicole, certainly he should deliver. That would be poetic justice. For the historic record, I have no problem with learning what really happened. The American people were subjected to endless speculation, their morbid appetite was fed and developed. Let them get a dose of the answers. What's OJ going to say, he didn't do it again?

Ted Haggard crucified

If today's bombshell doesn't prove the existence of God, nothing will. Perhaps Pastor Ted should have listened to God's inerrant words a tad more closely. Maybe he should've spent some time memorizing the verse clearly stating that "pride goeth before a fall." Biblically, pride is considered arrogance. And I'd say there is something inherently arrogant about a man who claims to speak for God on a daily basis, to millions of people. Yet this same man can very conveniently ignore many of Jesus' words, you know those that are written in red, like "blessed are the peacemakers..." Now we find that there may be a whole slew of God's inerrant words that Pastor Ted conveniently ignored. For shame.   I expect to see all of you heathens in church on Sunday.

Ted Haggard New Life Church

This is FABULOUS! We find out tomorrow when his accuser takes a polygraph test live on a Denver radio talk show, but the preliminary report is that Ted Haggard, fundamentalist scourge of lesser sinners, will be borrowing a page that wasn't even in Brother Swaggart's play book.   It's not that Ted Haggard is gay. Who isn't? Or, who says it's wrong to be gay?   It's not that Ted Haggard paid for sex. For some that's the only sex they want. Who says it's wrong to pay someone to have sex with you?   It's not that Ted Haggard did/does methamphetamine. Who hasn't or wouldn't if they were stupid enough?   It IS that Ted Haggard has been condemning gays and standing in the way of their equal partnership rights, all the while being gay. For me there is absolutely not much worse than a gay bastard! That may sound a little strong, but it's a curiously universal prejudice, isn't it? Evil enhanced by being gay evil? To celebrate, I'm going to have a second look at a documentary that came out earlier this year called Conviction, about three Dominican Sisters who were convicted and sentenced for the Plowshares action they took against a Colorado nuclear missile silo. In particular, the documentary features a splendid interview of Ted Haggard, critical of the sisters' actions, gloating about the prospects of them serving time in federal prison. He brags about the hand-in-glove relationship of church and military in Colorado Springs, frothing at the mouth to condemn the sisters. "This is just inappropriate, it's bad bible interpretation, it's bad Christianity..."

Did Kerry tip his hand?

Did John Kerry tip his hand by conceding early? Perhaps we are better off knowing he was going to betray us. But what now of efforts to recount the election results? Here we are forced to spearhead the efforts ourselves, contribute our own dollars when the Democratic party had millions in reserve for this eventuality. So we overturn the election results, with Ralph Nader's help no less, and what happens if we succeed? Our stand-in Kerry stands in? Perhaps this is better than if Kerry had won outright, because we never would have know he was a turncoat. Now he has to prove he was a different candidate. But I'm troubled quite a bit by the millions still held by the Democrats. Is that something of why Kerry turned so early? And maybe the reluctance many are showing to denouncing Kerry has to do with keeping hope alive for the success of a recount. Specifically a reassessment of the voting irregularities: the paperless electronic voting machines, the bottlenecks created in Democratic precincts, the voter intimidation, the discarding of provisional ballots.

Republicans didn’t trust Kerry

Doesn't Kerry's prompt concession kinda make him look like a SHILL? He and the Democratic party hijacked the grassroots progressive movement and sold us down the river. Holding off a concession might have lead to questions about the vote suppression and the legitimacy of our election methods. Why was anyone forced to wait for ten hours for example?! Instead Kerry concedes and tells us how much he's been touched by all our support. There is no Democratic party. We all owe Ralph Nader profuse apologies and we need another party, if not a military coup. If we could not unseat an idiot-chimp with only blunders to his credit, with a record turnout of new voters, there is something wrong with our electoral system. This was a media coup d'etat, a rigged election, a fascist putsch featuring a straw man to pretend to lead our cause. Bush is a despotic moron. Kerry is despicable. I had as much hope as anyone that Kerry might have lead our nation into brighter times. He seemed earnestly anti-war when he testified before congress in 1971. He seemed to champion the best causes in his many years in the Senate. I excused his centrism as necessary to getting elected. And I figured that his wife, a billionaress, would not have married Kerry if he was only a common profiteer. What would they need with more money? Indeed I thought they both wanted to change the world. I was wrong. Nader was right. In the early debates Kucinich, Sharpton, even Dean, were the only chances we had.

Olympics politicized

The Olympic looks like a rich man's game. An exclusive country club of photogenic faces, the exceptions of which stand out rudely against the art-directed scenes and so are avoided by the cameras. In this age of Tiger Woods, African physical prowess on white turf, where are the black swimmers? black gymnasts? black beach-volleyball stars? And it's all stars. I saw an unknown come in second in the bike marathon. The news people didn't know anything about him, there hadn't been a profile, his win was unexpected, he was a Portuguese. They ignored him. Perhaps he had not been vetted. We saw him only in long shot. And all those chances the athletes get in front of the camera, to say something, to speak out against what's happening in the world. The diciplined and obviously intelligent athletes no doubt have an opinion, a normal average consciousness, but nothing. The Olympics should not be politicized? But they are politicized with the Iraqi soccer team. The Iraqi soccer team was a "Rocky Balboa story," overcoming the odds, flown in by British troops, no longer in jeopardy of Uday's wrath. The Bush people are using the Iraqi team in ads, and the media are using them to drive a point home. I heard an NBC commentator say -actually say- when contemplating the Iraqi team: "It's as if the world were at peace."

What if you were a friend of Valerie Plame?

Put yourself in someone else's shoes for the moment. Let's say you are the wife of a mid-management engineer employed at a manufacturing facility in the Middle East, or Africa, or anywhere in the world. Say you were known to frequent parties thrown by the wife of the American Embassador. Or you attended monthly luncheons perhaps, or any of the multitude of fund raisers and NGO activities which she attended. Say you still kept in touch, or exchanged Christmas cards. Perhaps she called you even after she'd moved away. Perhaps she has asked you to welcome friends of hers who will be visiting your country. Say that wife's name was Valerie Plame, wife of Embassador Joe Wilson. Say perhaps that you were one of many social contacts that Valerie Plame kept to talk about social issues, especially about weapons proliferation. Perhaps you shared a concern for illegal weapons development or manufacture. Now say you suddenly read in the newspaper that it has been revealed that Valerie Plame was not just an embassador's wife, but a CIA operative. Who saw you with her? Who has access to the telephone records which could implicate you? And what about everyone else in danger of being suspected of revealing secrets to the US CIA? Your diplomat, ex-pat friends and fellow nationals, all around the world, members of other social groups, peace societies. Depending on where you live, on how paranoid is your governement, or on how corrupt are you industrialists, you are now a marked person. Among countless others. You may be viewed as a current threat. Or you may be a target for kiling merely for nationalist honor. Bob Novak was the conservative columnist who outed Valerie Plame. He was tipped off by two senior white house sources who wanted to intimidate Embassador Wilson from speaking out against the war. Bob Novak refuses to name the sources, many believe one of them to be Karl Rove. Shouldn't Bob Novak be held liable none the less? He knew that outing a CIA agent was a federal crime. Blowing Valerie Plame's cover was the least of the repercussions. Think of the thousands of her friends and contacts all over the world who may or may not have been helping the cause of reducing nuclear proliferation.

Did Oscar really boo Michael Moore

At Michael Moore's Oscar Night speech, WERE THE OSCAR BOOS FAKED? Say you were programming the Oscars. Say you were able to intimidate all of the celebrities from speaking out against the war. Say you knew Michael Moore was going to win an Oscar for Best Documentary for BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE. You anticipated Moore would violate the network ban on showing dissent about the war. How could you plan to undermine Moore's speech? Could you pre-record an audience response? Could you prepare booing and heckling to drown out what Moore would try to say? Could you orchestrate something to suggest that Michael Moore was a loose canon with whom not even Hollywood agreed? What if the cameras pulled back to reveal an audience neither booing nor jeering? Too afraid to be seen clapping. Too afraid to be seen having any opinion. But smiling. Everyone and their cousin knew what Moore was going to say. Everyone knew Moore would be the only person who could get away with speaking against the war. In fact the audience knew Moore couldn't back down if he wanted. Ironically the showdown had been promoted in advance to boost the ratings. When Michael Moore was announced as winner, the entire hall gave him a standing ovation. Did the same audience immediately boo him? Who booed? According to In These Times, it turns out that a handful of stagehands standing close to the microphones were responsible for the booes. But the networks reported that Moore was widely booed by his peers. Crisis managed?

The RealNews toolbar

The RealNews toolbar (www.newstoolbar.org) as a non-portal frameset which can provide a temporary selection of news sites to your browser, without your having to have the bookmarks, nor even suffer traces of the websites in your browser history. If you've reached this article by clicking on the RN navigation link at the top, then the toolbar should be above this page, pretending to be part of your browser. The toolbar is comprised of over a dozen categories, each with around a dozen news sites. The collection is not meant to be complete. It is rather a handy selection to provide an objective glimpse of current events. If you know of an invaluable web resource that is not included on RealNews, be sure to contact them. A number of other options are accessible from the RealNews home page. There are changeable themes for example, to make the toolbar stand out, or alternatively to make it blend in. There are also several hidden groupings, among them a top twenty list. Simply bookmark the site at whatever configuration you prefer. There are no cookies or javascripts to track your activities. The RealNews Toolbar provides a perfect shield for your reading activities. The browser history will only ever reveal that you have been to the RealNews site, ideal for people browsing at their workplace or at a public machine. My preferred point of entry for reading each day's news is at the top 20, with Google News as the initial page, and the Night Vision toolbar theme. For local news I have bookmarked the Colorado Springs selection.

The economy stupid

Are we in a recession? Could it be a depression? A crash? Does the economy have a hope of recovery without help? The Bush administration doesn't want to call the EMTs just yet, they prefer to tone down the rhetoric: HELP! I've fallen and I can't improve the momentum of my recovery? HELP! I've fallen and my confidence about getting up needs a boost? HELP! I've fallen and I'm double-dipping on floor time? HELP! I've fallen and I'm despairing that my getting-up ability isn't what it was? HELP! I've fallen and everyone wants to pretend I can get up! Or that I haven't fallen, or that it was only a shallow fall. A jobless recovery: Telling a patient he's already recovering to induce him to recover. Or pretending there's an economic recovery to boost consumer confidence and generate an actual recovery. I heard a spokesman say today that this recession has been the shortest in human history. In its first year the hundred year war was short.

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