Friday, August 31, 2007

Kvatch's Kocktail Hour - The Harvey Stallbanger

It's Friday and time once again for Kvatch's Kocktail Hour. This afternoon we honor our favorite Senator, Larry Craig, with a drink concocted especially for him:

The Harvey Stallbanger

- 1 part vodka
- 3 parts orange juice
- 4 drops Rohypnol ("roofies")

Assume a "wide stance" and then serve to the guy on the other side of the partition.

Also check out Tooty-sans-Fruity at Blognonymous.

Suffer the Children...

... unto me. Jesus said it. Beethoven MEANT IT, in the means of simplicity. Holy Cow, this kid is great! A Patriot and Artist, and he doesn't know it yet. There is an awesome and simple beauty about that. So watch this marvelous Canadian citizen wield his axe, and the following video posts in order.

BY will and dedication, that young man has made a mastery and a modification of Beethoven's Scherzo to the 9th. Incredible, Especially in an age where we have inherited the likes of this;

Global Corporate Cronyism stifles SO much. What I am saying is this, and it's ME saying it:

Support Art. You're supporting life and real shit at that point. Support the Dems? Let's do that later, after a little more soul examination. You totally know what I mean.

I'm going to jump on SBT's SPP posts later as this struggle is part and parcel of facing the evils that we must today.

Cross Posted at The Unconventional Conventionist.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Did Rove and Gonzo Flee Siegelman Backlash?

Why did Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzalez choose now to get out of Dodge?

I have long believed that once the purged U.S. Attorneys, Carol Lam in particular, were able to get their stories out to the media the clear obstruction of justice by Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales would lead to their ouster, possibly their arrest. Lam's story in particular looks like it goes right into Dick Cheney's bank account.

But could they have run like hell because another, yet (natioanlly) unknown scandal was close to breaking?

Let's think back: When the purge became a large news story many observers made the point that while firing eight (that number moves around a lot) perfectly competent, in some cases exemplary, U.S. attorneys for a variety of ruthless political purposes is appalling, the damage done by the other eighty-odd loyal Bushie U.S. Attorneys was the real story.

Enter un-fired Alabama U.S. Attorney, Leura Canary. Wife of a notorious state politico William Canary. Confirmed with the first crop of Bush USAs in 2001, Leura Canary went on to prosecute former Democratic Alabama Governor (1999-2003) Don Siegelman. Siegelman (website) is in prison right now serving seven years after his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2006.

When Siegelman lost his 2002 re-election campaign to Republican Rep. Bob Riley, the margin was incredibly slim. Six thousand votes materialized in the dead of night giving Riley a three thousand-vote victory.

After years of continued, bitter partisan sparring between Riley and Siegelman, Canary was brought in with, according to a whistleblower, orders from Karl Rove and the backing of the Justice Department.

Now one of the key witnesses against Siegleman is up for sentencing in his plea deal, and the judge, perhaps compelled by distrust of Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department, suddenly doesn't want to allow that witness to walk despite the prosecution's recommendation.

From Harpers:

The House Judiciary Committee and its staff are continuing their preparations for hearings looking into serious irregularities surrounding the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman, now imprisoned in Texas. As hearings loom ever more likely in Washington, the anxiety level in the U.S. Attorney’s Office run by Mrs. William Canary seems to be reaching the breaking point. Is a mild sedative in order?

How else to explain the latest bizarre eruption in the Courtroom of Judge Mark Everett Fuller? At a hearing to sentence former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, who cooperated with the prosecution and who the prosecution wanted to let off without time, Judge Fuller disagreed, insisting that Bailey serve time. Then Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Feaga offered this, as reported by the Associated Press:

The judge either didn't like Bailey's face or he thought this whole thing stunk bad, because he sent Baily up for 18 months.

Along the way, Canary recused herself from the case, but now Congress has subpoenaed her recusal papers and continue to investigate.

If Rove is made to sit down with Congress, this will come up and I will be monitoring the situation.

Hard to say exactly how hard Siegelman got screwed in this. He was convicted by a jury--though that jury had an emailing problem--so maybe he was a crook. Either way, independent judgment had no part in this prosecution. The integrity of the system was destroyed so Rove and Riley could eliminate a popular political adversary who was the only viable Democrat in a very red state.

Incidentally, Shit Daisy and Gonzo made it out of town ahead of the storm, and surprisingly, all anyone can talk about is toe-tappin' Larry Craig. Amazing how that months-old story just happened to leak the day after Gonzo absconded.

While Rove and Gonzo have reason to dread the outrage this story could generate, I'm thinking the accumulated damage sustained by both men on many fronts led them to the realization that their jobs were untenable. Of course, publicly leaving office doesn't mean you can't keep doing that job. Not in this administration.

Oh, and as bad as the misconduct is in this story, you'll likely never hear about it again.

AUDIO: If you didn't get all that, because I didn't get all that and I wrote it, Thom Hartmann tells the entire epic his way over the course of his first two segments of today's show.
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Chemical Love

Frankly, there is so much going on in the world to anger me, it really doesn't matter what topic I land on; I'm enraged. Here's another one:

Dangerous chemicals in personal care products compromise health. It's true. And the active ingredient in antibacterial soap is chemically similar to Agent Orange. (You're soaking in it...) That's right, you thought you bought a ticket to the Land Free of Germs, but you actually took a ride on the Nerve Damage Express. And it's not just antibac soap, but shampoo, too. But wait, there's more...

Mark Schapiro has written a book, Exposed: the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products. It's on my reading list. From what I have read about the book so far, here's the thrust:

The argument advanced by U.S. industry that making products safer would destroy our economy is a big fat life. (I'M SHOCKED!) That many American and international companies produce two product lines--a hazard free product line for the EU, and a toxic line for the US and developing countries--is the roiling revelation. That the EU economy didn't collapse after such toxic chemicals were banned is the evidence "calling the bluff" of U.S. industry.
Investigative journalist Mark Schapiro discusses why companies that manufacture hazard-free products for the European Union often produce toxin-filled versions of the same items for America and developing countries.

Photo by AtomicMak

Great news. Yes, Democracy, our Democracy, allows us to buy this poison, in both senses of the phrase.

Why is that? Why does the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act allow the industry to police itself?

Why do we worry about toxic products from China, but give American toxic products a free pass?

Why are we (i.e., the Fraud and Drug Administration) willing to protect the public, but only if it doesn't impede the profit of our corporations?

Why do we keep letting American corporations get away with sacrificing our health and safety? (Read this list; it will kill you.)

Why do we do this when we know children are particularly vulnerable?

And congress is going to represent our interests? Ha! Like when the senate voted to protect drug companies' right to hold a monopoly?
What could have prompted these 49 Senators to vote to protect the profits of drug companies? Follow the money and you'll find your answer. As it turns out, nearly every one of the 49 Senators who voted against drug reimportation has accepted money from drug companies.
Some helpful resources:
  • Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, by Environmental Working Group, lets you look up individual Cosmetic products and provides a hazard rating for ingredients, products, and companies. Try it; you will not be comforted.
  • The Household Products Database, hosted by the US National Library of Medicine, can be used to look up the safety of individual chemical ingredients as well as that of products by brand.
Things that make my soft skin crawl.

Lou knew...

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Third Option For Attorney General

You know...nobody likes Michael "Skeletor" Chertoff, and Paul Clement...the Solicitor General? He'd be just as bad as Gonzo. So The Unruly Mob says, "We want a third option!" And here are just some of the qualified candidates whom we think might make a ducky Attorney General:

Mr. Burns

A man that would have the DoJ running like a well-oiled machine.

Former Senator Palpatine

Defeated in his recent bid for reelection, Palpatine is a renowned for his political skill.


Promises to modernize DoJ and revolutionize law enforcement.

General Zod

The "law-and-order" favorite.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Toast!

To the chase. My sister Jennifer died last year, this time last weekend.

I so miss her.

A couple things here:

  • I was with Jen till her end. Literally. The last damn minutes, seconds of her life, I was there
  • We played music the entire time she was conscious/unconscious. Where I was on duty and at the time she passed, it was Karen Carpenter, whether you like it or not

Enough. There is one last thing of this that I do believe everyone would want, were they in the same circumstance. "Take my hand, my darling."

And Jen, I may not take your hand, but I will take your soul to my heart. You nut job. I miss you,


Monday, August 27, 2007


Hey Alberto, I packed you a salami sandwich, you torturing rat bastard.

UPDATE: Steve Benin at The Carpetbagger Report has his initial reactions up, including perspective on Gonzales's horrific tenure.
UPDATE 2: I'm playing Songs for Gonzo over at the station.
UPDATE 3: Kvatch has a great post up at Blognonymous; The Bush Administration - A Modern Politburo
And great coverage as always on justice/legal issues from Firedoglake, here, here, here, and here. Glenn Greenwald weighs in here.
UPDATE 4: Hilzoy offers his take on Gonzo's tardy retreat.
UPDATE 5: Might Bush slip us the Mickey?
UPDATE 6: Nancy Pelosi says that the nominee to replace Gonzo must cooperate with the continuing investigations into the politicization of the Justice Department. That don't make it so, just means that's what she's saying. Harry Reid echoes that.
UPDATE 7: Think Progress has a good guess as to who might take over for Chertoff at DHS if Chertoff is confirmed as AG. Note to Senate, do not confirm Chertoff as AG.
UPDATE 8: Bush announced Solicitor General Paul Clement will serve as the interim A.G.
UPDATE 9: Deal with the devil? Glen Greenwald claims Harry Reid and Bush have a deal for Gonzo's resignation if there's no recess appointment.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Coming This Fall, in Concert:

Jomentum and The Strangeloves

Joe Lieberman is still batshit crazy. He's running his gums about attacking Syria now. He makes Bejamin Netanyahu look like Fonzie (you know, cool).

Hard to believe that Al Gore picked this guy to be his running mate just seven years ago.

From The New York Observer (they can't believe this guy either):

Where did it all go wrong with Joe Lieberman?

Not so long ago, the then-Democratic senator seemed to represent the most mature and worldly strand of his party, especially on foreign policy. Now, his drift to the right seems to accelerate with every passing week and his public pronouncements become ever more bizarre.

The latest example came in an article on the editorial page of Monday’s Wall Street Journal. Of all the multitude of challenges facing the United States, Mr. Lieberman zeroed in on a peculiar target: Damascus International Airport.

Speaking of former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, he's poised for a comeback, sooner, rather than later. The problem for crazy Ben? He's not extreme enough and someone even more extreme is making him look bad. He better order a double-double Guantanamo next time he sees Mitt Romney.

Not to be outdone, Iran has announced it's newest toy, a 2,000 pound smart bomb. Look out for that this fall when you're invading, American forces. Oh, and by the way something, Iranians, if you wanted to look fabulous for the autumn of our discontent, forget about it.

If things weren't cold war-like enough for you, the strangest of the Strangeloves may be Vladimir Putin, who clearly has ambitions to reclaim Soviet-era glory, only this time as a capitalist, non-starving country.

So who's the good guy among significant world leaders? Hugo Chavez? He made things better for a lot of poor people--even poor people in other countries--but he's not so much with the democracy. Gordon Brown? Is he even significant? We'll see. Even Stephen Harper is a total asshat.

And to think, the biggest boogeymen of the nineties, Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, are dead and gone, and they're nothing more than mere afterthoughts less than a decade later. It's not like those guys are missed, but from the way thet were demonized, you'd think we'd be dancing in the street with all our problems solved.

AUDIO: NPR reports on the tensions in Israel over the threat of a nuclear Iran.
VIDEO: The Young Turks predict how history will judge Lieberman.

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Faith, Science, and the Art of Disbelief

I confess. Pluto bugs me. It really, really bugs me. And the reasons are compelling. Let us review...

When I went to school, Pluto was a planet. There were 9. I understood the universe. Now that Pluto has been voted off the island, I feel uncomfortable, old school, like my education was somehow wrong. The scientists voted, and they voted for 8. It bothered people when they heard the earth was round, too.

9, originally uploaded by Leo Reynolds.

OK, I'm over it, but here's what really does bother me: the Religious Right and their War on Science. (And for the record, I personally believe that the rabid radical right has hijacked religion as merely another political tool to achieve their desired ends. That's right, faux faith on parade. Sincere faith has a whole different feel.) It comes down to this: the decision by the science community to defrock Pluto of planetary status provides fodder to the anti-scientists. It allows them to disregard any scientific evidence that undermines their political objectives. It allows them to say, "See, you can't trust science. It's all wrong. Any assertion is as valid as any other. There is no Global Warming. Evolution is just a theory..." And on and on and on. Al Gore's book, The Assault on Reason, delivers a blistering assessment of the fruits of this strategy.

Scientists have joined together in resisting the war on science. In fact, "in 2004, 62 renowned scientists and science advisors signed a scientist statement on scientific integrity, denouncing political interference in science and calling for reform. On December 9, 2006, UCS released the names of more than 10,000 scientists of all backgrounds from all 50 states—including 52 Nobel Laureates—who have since joined their colleagues on this statement." The Union of Concerned Scientists has documented evidence of political interference in their "A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science", organizing the evidence using four broad categories:

  1. The Environment
  2. Public Health
  3. Pollution and Contamination
  4. National Security and Other

"From air pollution to Ground Zero, the A to Z Guide showcases dozens of examples of the misuse of science on issues like childhood lead poisoning, toxic mercury contamination, and endangered species."
Speaking of Evolution...Like others, I have wondered why the Religious Right is so resistant to the notion of Evolution. It's really quite simple: If they can get you to ignore science over the first line of the Bible, they can get you to ignore science anytime, anywhere. It's the alpha, the gateway, the beginning. They assert that if you want to stay in the group, which for some is an important cultural heritage, you must believe the literal interpretation of the first line of the Christian Bible: "In the beginning, God created..." The ability to lead people to reject carefully, conservatively collected scientific evidence--to suspend their disbelief--is obviously valuable. Creation is the beginning, and it's a slippery slope from there. Next thing you know, you're willing to believe that war is peace, censorship protects the right to free speech, spying on America protects the right to privacy, and that forcing a new style of government on a region through military assault and occupation is really "Freedom on the March."

And so the 2008 Republican presidential candidates have bravely signed up to do their part to fight the War on Science. These chickenhawks walk the Creation Science walk. Perhaps they have visited the Creation Museum described here by our resident unruly minister, RevPhat. It's bad enough that science is attacked through doctored government reports and our own complicit corporate media, but the advance of "Creation Science" marks the American classroom as the new front on the War on Science.

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, a site I rather enjoy, describes the current tension between politics and science well:
In this case, science and politics are at exact opposites: science wants information to uncover underlying truths, while political operatives use information as a tool — or, more accurately, a weapon — to further political gain despite the truth. Politicians may actively distort the truth if it disagrees with their pre-determined goals, whereas with scientists, truth is the goal...

I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, what’s happening in the U.S. is a wholesale dismantling of one of our most precious resources: the scientific ability to sort truth from fiction.
(Click to enlarge; it's worth it! H/T SadButTrue)

How can we let Freedom ring, if we can't even let Truth ring?
As a scientist, I object.

Creation Science, Roy Zimmerman

"I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has
endowed us with sense, reasons, and intellect
has intended us to forgo their use."
~Galileo Galilei

P.S. I find it amusing that the newly discovered space object whose discovery in 2005 launched the recent debate about what constitutes a planet and eventually led to Pluto's excision from the planetary family, has been named Eris, after the Greek goddess of discord and strife.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

They've Admitted It

But Still Insist They Did Nothing Wrong

The Québec Sureté (Provincial Police) have admitted that the three unwise men identified as police agents provocateurs by David Coles (bearded man in suit, right) were indeed members of the force.
Quebec provincial police admitted Thursday that their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during the protest at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Que.

"At no time did the police of the Sûreté du Québec act as instigators or commit criminal acts," the police force said in French in a news release. "It is not in the police force's policies, nor in its strategies, to act in that manner."

"At all times, they responded within their mandate to keep order and security."

Police said the undercover officers were only at the protest to locate and identify non-peaceful protesters in order to prevent any incidents.
Ri-ight. I just have a few follow-up questions on this matter.
  • Why have you been forcefully denying these men were police since Monday?
  • Why was one of the men carrying a large rock in his hand?
  • Why were they wearing identical bandanas?
  • Why were the uniformed police in full battle dress, with batons and gas masks?
David Cole, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, said at the time, "[Our union] believes that the security force at Montebello were ordered to infiltrate our peaceful assembly and provoke incidents." It really looks like that to me too. And I'll tell you why.

The identical bandanas, unlike the boots (which were just unbelievable stupidity on the dumbass police's part) could be used so that the uniformed police could identify the provocateurs when the billy clubs started swinging. The gas masks indicate that the police were indeed expecting trouble, even though the demonstration was so peaceful that;
On Wednesday, the mayor of Montebello thanked police and protesters, praising the fact that there wasn't a single report of damage during the two-day summit.
I'm not the only one who has noticed these discrepancies. As Matthew Good reports;
Two NDP MP’s, Libby Davies of East Vancouver and Peter Julian of Burnaby-New Westminster, have sent a letter to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day calling for an inquiry into the Montebello security allegations.
And from that letter;
Along with hundreds of other Canadian citizens who participated in the Monday protest, we were both alarmed at the enormous police presence. We are more shocked at the allegations that inside agents, appearing to be working with riot police, attempted to provoke a violent incident during the peaceful demonstration. Video and photograph evidence has led to many unanswered questions.
We're waiting for some answers. My previous post on this, with the YouTube video of the incident is here.

Related Links: This piece from the Ottawa Citizen has the Sûreté du Québec's statement and more reaction from David Coles.

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Connect The Dots, and Run Like Hell

This has been a tough news week, and it's not even over yet. Today, I learned that White House office that handles freedom of information requests is free no longer.

"...According to the Washington Post, "The Bush administration argued in court papers this week that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act as part of its effort to fend off a civil lawsuit seeking the release of internal documents about a large number of e-mails missing from White House servers."
Having locked up FOIA, The Chimp clowned around at this photo op, and bravo to Christy Hardin Smith for how she took him to task for his inaccurate historical context.

Juan Cole who is entirely reliable, and this AP article do not bode well either. WTF? We go to liberate Iraq, and a non democratic form of government is the answer? While we're at it, let's just walk away from the Utah Miners. Time is money after all.

These unrelated stories, when looked at through the lens of Thomas Jefferson's thoughts become crystal clear and undeniably intertwined:

"In America, no other distinction between man and man had ever been known but that of persons in office exercising powers by authority of the laws, and private individuals. Among these last, the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar." --Thomas Jefferson: Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786
The rights we so cherish are being eroded at a much faster pace. Eroded is not even the right word. How about TRAMPLED UPON? Makes you just want to Run Like Hell

But not so fast. While it may feel like the sound of liberty's heart is fading It Is Assuredly Not. I sense a zeitgeist, a spirit of the times shifting. The sleepers are awakening and getting mad as hell.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pink Floyd University - Part ANIMALS

This is a supplement post to SadButTrue's post below.


I'll get back to them but "Sheep" first.

(Note the time cues are if you double click and look at the Youtube to verify the words)

Here are the first words/parts of "Sheep"
Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
You better watch out,
There may be dogs about
I've looked over Jordan*, and I have seen
Things are not what they seem.

What do you get for pretending the danger's not real?
Meek and obedient you follow the leaders
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise! A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is no bad dream.

This takes the listener through 3:48

*"...Jordan? ...Things are not what they seem..."? AIPAC, the "Lord Voldemort" of PACs as I have heard it at other sites. And you already know "this is no bad dream." Next, the musical development is fantastic, but the words begin again at 6:28 - and echo the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me down to lie
Through pastures green He leadeth me the silent waters by.
With bright knives He releaseth my soul.
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.
He converteth me to lamb cutlets,For lo,
He hath great power, and great hunger.
When cometh the day we lowly ones,
Through quiet reflection, and great dedication
Master the art of karate,
Lo, we shall rise up,And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.

This ain't the 23rd Psalm by any account. What I'm getting at is: did we NOT see fascism rising in power? I say We Did.
What we must do is call a pig, a pig.

Really, most of the lyrics apply. What I want to call your attention to are these words in the 3rd verse:

Hey you, Whitehouse Ha, ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse Ha, ha, charade you are
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street!
You're nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet...'re nearly a treat
But you're really a cry

Bottom line; are you a LAUGH or a CRY?

Dave Coles is neither a laugh or a cry. That brave man stood right there, in the lines between tyranny and violence to make the point. Liberty lives in his heart. So does truth. Let us act the same, and ensure that Liberty lives in our hearts. Grim as the mission might feel, peeling masks, challenging police, the joy in the result is where we will find our revel. Done so intelligently as Dave Coles, we shall NEVER find ourselves on the "Animals" plane.

Yet, should we find ourselves at that converged violence spot, remember what Coles did. Be the line, and hold for peace.

Bravo Dave Coles!

More Pink Floyd University posts: (part one), (part two)

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There's a Riot Goin' On

Or Were Cops Just Trying to Start One?

CBC Canada is reporting that police acted as agents provocateurs at a protest in Montebello Quebec against the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership* (SPP.) Implementation of the SPP is on the agenda for the two day summit in Montebello between US President George Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexico's President Felipe Calderone.
Police disguised as masked demonstrators tried to incite violence at the North American leaders' summit in Montebello, Que., on Monday protesters say, after footage of the incident was posted on YouTube Tuesday.
In (the video), three burly men with bandanas and other covers over their faces push through protesters toward a line of riot police. One of the men has a rock in his hand.

As they move forward, union leaders dressed in suits order the men to put the rock down and leave, accuse them of being police agents provocateurs, and try unsuccessfully to unmask them.

In the end, they squeeze behind the police line, where they are calmly handcuffed.

The RCMP has refused to comment, while Quebec Provincial Police have flatly denied that its officers were involved in the incident.

It (presumably the QPP) said it is not releasing any names as no charges were laid.
It's an old technique that reminds us of the Vietnam-era protests in the US, when police allegedly infiltrated groups like the SDS in order to discredit their opposition to the war. For those of you who don't know how this works, this from Wikipedia:
An agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs, French language, "inciting agent") is a person who secretly disrupts a group's activities from within the group. Agents provocateurs typically represent the interests of another group, or are agents directly assigned to provoke unrest, violence, debate, or argument by or within a group while acting as a member of the group.

An agent provocateur is often a police officer that encourages suspects to carry out a crime under conditions where evidence can be obtained; or who suggests the commission of a crime to another, in hopes they will go along with the suggestion, so they may be convicted of the crime. These are sometimes called sting operations.
Agents provocateurs are also used against political opponents. Here, it has been documented that provocateurs deliberately carry out or seek to incite counter-productive and/or ineffective acts, in order to foster public disdain for the group and provide a pretext for aggression..
Historically, Agents provocateurs activities have been one operational tactic of labor spies who may also be hired to infiltrate, monitor, disrupt, and/or subvert union activities.Within the United States the COINTELPRO program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had FBI agents posing as political radicals in order to disrupt the activities of radical political groups in the U.S., such as the Black Panthers, Ku Klux Klan, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Suffice to say, this is a slimy, underhanded and thoroughly disreputable tactic, in other words something fully worthy of Bu$hCo™ and their international corporatist lackeys. Unfortunately the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper is included in that lackey category. Harper would like to see himself in the position of Bush's lead poodle now that Tony Blair's out of the picture.

So were the masked instigators working for the police? Did they truly "squeeze behind the police line" where they were calmly handcuffed? (But significantly not unmasked - nor have the police identified them, since no charges were laid.)

What I'm seeing there is a bunch of guys in masks who are built like cops and groomed like cops. When they are confronted by protest organizer Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the fake protesters hide behind the cops in order to prevent being identified.

The Toronto Star has even more damning information;
Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.

Kevin Skerrett, a protester with the group Nowar-Paix, said the photos and video together present powerful evidence that the men were actually undercover police officers.

"I think the circumstantial evidence is very powerful," he said.

The three do not appear to have been arrested or charged with any offence.
Draw your own conclusions. It may have been the RCMP and/or the QPP were involved. Maybe not. Bush has lots of Secret Service, CIA and FBI people who will do that kind of work for him. In either case, it's a crying shame to see Bu$hCo's Police State being exported to Canada.

UPDATE: I've changed the link in the still picture at the beginning of the post. If you click now it will open up a very large detailed version of the picture, in which it can be seen that the boot of the cop (in uniform) kneeling is the same as that of the cop (pretending to be a protester) face down on the ground being arrested. Not just the yellow tag but the tread patterns are also identical. A comment on one blog that was covering this story said that the yellow tag just indicated that the boots had steel toes, and therefore proved nothing. As you can see, the similarity goes beyond just the yellow tag. Next time you try a stunt like this guys - change your frickin' shoes, fer gawdsake! More large, clear pictures here.

UPDATE 2: The Quebec Police have admitted to this idiocy, but insist that there's nothing wrong with what happened. Right, that's why they were denying it so vehemently for the last two days. I'll have a new post later. The new post is here.

Related Links:
Dawg's Blawg (Ottawa, Canada) - has a 'roundup' of people blogging this.
Upset The Setup
Art Threat
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
Drinking Liberally in New Milford

* SPP = NAU?
Michael Byers says the agreement under discussion this week by Canadian, US and Mexican leaders Harper, Bush and Calderon should more properly be framed as a secret agreement to hand sweeping military, immigration and border control of all three countries over to the US. On Sunday, Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia told a standing-room-only forum in Ottawa about the politics and persuasion connected with the agreement under discussion behind the barricades this week at Montebello, Quebec.
UPDATE 3: Station Agent posted on the anti-protest manual the Bush Administration wrote in 2002, which outlined ways to keep protesters out of The Decider's face.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Denying Children Health Insurance As Political Cover

The Bush administration is taking advantage the congressional recess to circumvent our legislators' will to expand the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. By issuing new rules that strictly limit the program to families below 200% of the federal poverty level, while at the same time imposing new guidelines for state by state exemptions, the administration is attempting to put a stake in a program that has broad bi-partisan support in Congress and among state's governors. Even Republicans such as Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA) and Tim Pawlenty (MN) are supporters.

But the more sinister aspect of this little bit of Bu$hCo maneuvering is that the new restrictions fall disproportionately on larger, bluer states--those states where the federal poverty level is a woefully inadequate standard. California, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, for example, have all been granted exemptions to extend the program to families making many times the federal poverty level. But the new rules require that states show 95% enrollment of children below the 200% level before they can exercise their exemption, allowing the administration to cut the more populous states off at the knees while protecting the so-called "red states". State health officials have called the 95% standard hard to achieve and impossible to demonstrate.

So, as the election season approaches, expect to hear the Bush administration trumpet how they reigned in a "wasteful" federal program--in their words, "...return(ing) the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children." What they won't mention is that the pain from their changes won't be felt by their own constituents.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Leahy Threatens to Take Pieces off the Board

My dad, an unofficial chess master, taught me how to play chess when I was five. We played daily for years, then less frequently as I got older. I didn't beat him until I was in my twenties, and only now am I threat to beat him anytime we play (he still wins way more than I do).

One of the strategies my Dad uses is to mercilessly attack with his pawns. Very similar to Dick Cheney. If Cheney's pieces are going down, they go down in order of rank. Well Bush and Cheney have had a lot of their pawns, both their bishops, a knight and a rook taken off the table.

Patrick Leahy has Bush in check right now and Bush... He's playing checkers.

So the question is, does Leahy have the balls to stand up and insist on finishing the chess game, even if it means sending guards to arrest... who exactly? Fred Fielding? Like Rumsfeld said when we invaded Afghanistan, there are no good targets left. Just the King and the Queen. You decide which is which, I can't tell.

It's Bush's move, and, like a good chess game, the pace is maddeningly slow. Leahy can't even make his next move until after consulting his committee when Congress returns in September. By then, a much larger matter will have the headlines locked down.

VIDEO: Think Progress has the video from Leahy's press conference.

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Reagan Diaries Called Bush Shiftless

From the Canadian website Global Research, (Via POAC, the best news aggregator by far, IMO) - an excerpt from the just-released Reagan Diaries.
May 17, 1986.

'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.'
I think I can safely put a LOL in here without increasing the number of cats in my future. Saint Ronny himself thought Dubya was a lost cause. Too funny! I'll even risk a LMAO on this one.

UPDATE: The Unruly Mob's first RETRACTION to my knowledge - it turns out this quote isn't really from Ronald Reagan's diary at all, but from a satirical piece by Michael Kinsley. Kinsley heard that he really was mentioned in Reagan's diary, and wrote a piece for the New Republic (vol. 237, issue 1, 7/2/07) in which he speculated on the nature of that mention. (details, from Museum of Hoaxes)

Even if this isn't true it's still damn funny - a tip of the tinfoil chapeau to Mr. Kinsley. And for the record it's the second time I was fooled in the last couple of days, the other time by a parody troll named Kirk on a thread at Americablog. The thing is, the real trolls are sometimes so off the wall that it's hard to tell the difference. Here's Kirk's response to a piece by Cristy Hardin Smith, which I think is brilliant.
I don't understand why you are calling Hardin Smith a "Christy". I saw no religion in any of the excerpts you clipped, nor do I think it is appropriate to mock Christians in such a manner. The irony is that Mr. Smith supports your view of the Senator's "hypocrisy", yet you still can't resist the urge to zing him. Even further irony is that, given Mr. Smith's lack of devotion to the G.O.P., I hardly think he can be labeled a Christian.
Kirk | Homepage | 08.20.07 - 6:06 pm
Now, for my money that is every bit as funny as the phony Reagan diary excerpt.

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Weather Woes

It Really IS Floodin' Down in Texas

(I don't know if all the telephone lines are down.)

If you watch CNN, you would think that the big weather news is Hurricane Dean hitting Jamaica, or maybe the typhoon hitting China. Nice comfortable stories in that they don't effect anybody in the United States.

Surely you've heard about the flooding down in Texas, Oklahoma, and Minnesota that resulted in 13 deaths - but the big story weather-wise, at least in terms of death toll, isn't getting that much interest in the States.
From the BBC: A two-week heatwave in the southern and Midwestern US has resulted in the deaths of at least 43 people, many of whom were elderly, officials have said.

On Sunday, temperatures dropped to 94F (34C) in Memphis, Tennessee - the first time in 10 days they did not top 100F.

Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Mississippi have also been affected.
Mr Wharton said the city's "heat index", a measure that factors in humidity to describe how hot the weather feels, had risen above 100F every day since 27 June.

Weather forecasters said the temperature would be around 96F (36C) on Monday and remain close to 100F (38C) for the rest of the week.
Why isn't this story getting as much airtime as the others? Maybe because it can't be so readily dramatized by the likes of Tucker Carlson (who so infamously put himself in the path of Hurricane Katrina's 100-mph. winds live on CNN a couple years ago.) Or maybe it's just old news, the same old same old. After all, "Last summer, a heatwave killed at least 143 people in California." (Story) And anyway, just because a story has happened before doesn't mean that it isn't news anymore. In fact, the sheer number of weather-related news stories in the last few years is a story in itself.

More probably the US news services are silent on this because people in Big Oil don't like the media talking about something that can reasonably be attributed to man-driven global climate change. That and the fact that free speech is now limited to designated free speech zones by the government. (Apparently none of the big networks, or the cable channels are situated inside such zones.) But they are talking, at least outside of the USA - look at these two related stories from The Guardian:
Scientists Warn on Climate Tipping Points:
Some tipping points for climate change could be closer than previously thought. Scientists are predicting that the loss of the massive Greenland ice sheet may now be unstoppable and lead to catastrophic sea-level rises around the world.

In drawing together research on tipping points, where damage due to climate change occurs irreversibly and at an increasing rate, the researchers concluded that the risks were much greater than those predicted by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

If the Greenland ice sheet melted completely, for example, it would raise global sea levels by seven metres. According to the IPCC report, the melting should take about 1,000 years. But the study, by Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia, showed the break-up could happen more quickly, in 300 years. Professor Lenton said: "We know that ice sheets in the last ice age collapsed faster than any current models can capture, so our models are known to be too sluggish."
But nobody, even in Britain seems concerned enough to actually do anything about it.
Too Much Effort to Adopt Greener Lifestyle
Millions of people across Britain think their behaviour does not contribute to climate change and find it too much effort to make green changes to their lifestyle, a government survey suggests.

About a quarter of people polled agreed with statements such as: "It takes too much effort to do things that are environmentally friendly" and "I don't believe my behaviour and everyday lifestyle contribute to climate change". About half the people disagreed with the statements.
Maybe someone should consider the effort it will take to evacuate London, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle*, and all of Florida and move their inhabitants about 50 miles inland. Wasn't the loss of New Orleans enough of a wakeup call? I think maybe everyone should watch An Inconvenient Truth again. And maybe click the TAKE ACTION link.
* - (to name but a few. Almost ALL of the world's largest cities are at or near sea level.)
"What changed in the US with Hurricane Katrina was a feeling
that we'd entered a PERIOD OF CONSEQUENCES
- Al Gore -
The only good consequence of this is that I get to post one of my all-time favorite live Stevie Ray Vaughan performances.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Speaking of stuff that make me cynical and frustrated...

Dear Mr. Gravel: With all due respect, please put a sock in it and go away.

From an article summarizing today's so-called "debate" between the Democratic Presidential wannabes:

... Another key issue many of the candidates have differing opinions on is education. Some argued for full day kindergarten and an end to No Child Left Behind legislation.

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel urged even more sweeping changes to the school system."These teachers want more pay, but they want all summer off. Give me a break. In Japan, they don't take summer off. These kids need to go to school for a full day, not ending at 3:00," Gravel said.

No, give me a break. After twenty-six years in the classroom, I'm used to this kind of crap, which usually comes from someone whose last day in a classroom was the last day she or he spent in school as a student. In other words, someone who has never been a teacher, isn't married to a teacher, isn't friends with any teachers, and doesn't know any teachers personally. But, geez, not from someone who really wants to be President. It still is just so... tiresome. And you know, Mike, all of us who teach really appreciate you perpetuating one of the most damaging anti-teacher stereotypes out there, on national television (not that anyone was watching, mind you).

I shock some people when I tell them that I'd vote for a longer school year. We go 180 days here in New Jersey. I'd make it 220 or 225 in a heartbeat. It wouldn't happen, however, because too many schools would, for example, have to be retro-fitted with air conditioning (Who ever thought it was a good idea to build a school without a.c. in the first place? Would you work in an office with no air on a day when it's 95 degrees outside? Lemme answer that for you: NO!) Lengthening the school year would cost LOTS of money, for all kinds of things. That would mean higher local and state taxes. And the travel and vacation industry lobbyists would use their clout to veto that proposal in one of their heartbeats, as a longer school year for the children of the Garden State would kill the Jersey shore tourism industry overnight. We have to have our priorities, people! So what if the average kid loses about 30% of what she or he learns each year over the summer, which is why it takes me till about Thanksgiving to get my kids ready for the "new stuff" every term? People need to rent those shore houses for $3000 a week. We can't let the casion industry suffer by making summer vacations shorter! We need that casino revenue for important stuff, like... education!

As for the length of the school day, I'd also vote to start later (say, 8:00 am for my middle schoolers) and I'd go till 4:00. Right now, we start teaching at 7:35 and end at 2:00. Of course, the parents would be against that because it would put a dent in activites like school sports, or all those travel or elite sports teams / cheerleading practices / dance classes / sessions with personal trainers or therapists or counselors / homework coaching sessions (yeah, right) and all the other important things that kids do after school now.

Seriously, I want a longer school year. Most teachers I know would, if for no other reason, because - duh! - we'd get paid more. What nincompoops like Mike Gravel always fail to mention when they make these kinds of smack-headed remarks (maybe because they never bothered to find out) is that most teachers only get paid for ten months out of the year. I don't get a paycheck in July or August, Mike. Many young teachers have to work two jobs because of this. I did that when I first broke in, and let me tell you, it was one of the things that made me wonder why I had picked education as a career.

So, Mr. Gravel, in the debates you have left until your money runs out, or until people finally catch on to your act and stop finding you even mildly amusing, do us teachers a big favor. Stand at your little podium, and when the talk turns to education, don't raise your hand, unless you have a question. Because, while there are no stupid questions, Mike, there are really stupid answers.

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On gratitude.

I hope this makes sense. I'm feeling scatter-brained today, so I'm not sure if this will all come together or not. But I want to talk about something I don't think we all think or talk about enough, and that's gratitude.

I am feeling grateful today, for lots of reasons, but for one in particular: I went to my Meeting for Worship this morning (the Quaker name for "going to church"), and - thank goodness - there was one of our younger Friends (I can call him that, as he's half my age), safe and sound and sitting on one of the ancient benches. This young man is one of my heroes, although he'd blush and shuffle his feet if I told him that to his face. He's recently graduated from law school and just finished his law boards. While he was a student, he and some other students started a program to provide free legal assistance and representation for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. That program will continue now that he's left the school. We are all grateful for knowing him, and I know the people he's helped were all grateful that he and his colleagues were there for them in their time of need. But that's not the half of it.

Late last month, this young man joined a group from Christian Peacemaker Teams and went off for two weeks in Hebron, to live and work with the Palestinians there. Now, if you know anything about the Middle East, you know that this is one of the most dangerous cities on the planet, so we were all desperately worried about him while he was gone. We also all had at the back of our minds the story of the beloved Friend Tom Fox, who, as a member of a CPT group, was taken hostage and subsequently murdered in Iraq. So, we were all terrified for him the whole time he was gone. As is his way, he told us all today that the scariest part of the trip was riding with the cabbies in Hebron, because they drive "like maniacs." We took him at his word. He talked about what an amazing experience he'd had, and we all can't wait to hear more in the coming weeks.

So, as I sat in the silence today, I felt grateful for his safe return to us and to his family. I thought about how grateful I am that my own adult son is safe at home (finally, now, as I write this, after his being away for three days at a "music festival" in America's most dangerous city) with his mother, his brother, and me, and not overseas in harm's way fighting Mr. Bush's War of Empire. I felt grateful for the rain that's been falling here all day, because we so sorely need it, and grateful at the same time that we're not in the path of a hurricane, as so many folks will be tonight. I felt grateful that no one in my family has to go hundreds of feet underground to make a living, and, while I'm saddened at the thought that so many families are grieving today, I guess I'm grateful that I am not, even as I hold those families in The Light.

Most of all, though, I felt grateful just to be in that place this morning. In a week or so, the fifth anniversary of my mother's death will be upon us. My mom died exactly ninety days after my father died of a sudden heart attack. My mom had been sick for years - dying by degrees, really - and my dad's death was the final blow. She literally gave up after he was gone. It wasn't really surprising, but I was there when she died, and it was a really difficult struggle coming to terms with all that, with the experience of watching her die. It's a lot of emotional stuff with which I'm still dealing. For a good six months after she passed, I was totally consumed by the settling of my parents' estate, and I didn't really grieve much. Shortly after the final settlement and the sale of their home, my emotional roof caved in. I should have probably gone to a therapist or something, but I didn't, and I'm still picking up those pieces because of that. Being the cement-headed person I can be sometimes, I wanted to try to get my life straightened out "by myself." My wife and kids were a big help, as were my colleagues and friends at work. The September after my mom's death, I was blessed with a roster of some of the most amazingly compassionate and kind-hearted middle school students I've ever had the honor of teaching, and they helped me get through the year without even knowing what they were doing for me. Things started to work out, although they're still not all "right" yet, but they're getting there..

And I did something else back then: I went back to Meeting. I tried a spiritual route to dealing with my grief, but, at first, it was hard. I'd been away from organized religion for many years, but although I still felt like I was a believing, "spiritual" person, the old way of doing things - the United Methodist Church in which I was raised - had stopped speaking to me in my late teens. I dabbled in Buddhism, but found some its basic teachings clashed with some of my core personal beliefs, although the practice of meditation worked wonders for easing my pain, in the way that sitting in silence does now. Then I remembered having visited the same Meeting where I am now a member during another time of crisis and pain in my life. During my second year in college, my closest friend in the world was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was the first friend I'd ever lost to death, and everyone who knew him was devastated by his untimely passing. I knew Dave (yeah, we were "Dave and Dave") through my old church: we were youth group helpers together. But after he died, the very last place I wanted to be was in that church, because everywhere I went in that town reminded me of him. A close friend recommended I try a Quaker Meeting for Worship. "You'll like the silence," she said (I've never forgotten that). So I attended for about a month, four First Days in a row. I never talked to anyone there: I just went in, sat in the back, took in what was happening, and left at the "rise of Meeting" (when the Meeting for Worship ends). Then I moved on, but I had been moved. Obviously. Because when I needed that warm and trusting silence again, it was there for me, almost twenty-five years later. So I went back one day, almost without thinking, on a whim, really.

And this time, I stayed.

I've been attending my Meeting now for four years, and I've been a member for three. I have made friends there, people I think will be friends for life. I serve on two committees (Quakers love committees), and this past year, I co-led an Adult First Day School ("Sunday school") class, where we discussed and picked apart one of my favorite Quaker books. Becoming a Friend has enriched and informed and improved my life, and it has helped heal and make me whole again. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Yes, there is a point here. When we scroll down the page of this and the other blogs we read and contribute to, it's really easy to become angry or cynical or frustrated or just plain sad. There is so much pain and suffering out there, and so much that makes us angry. And I hope I haven't bored y'all too much with all this religious talk here. I don't think you have to be "a believer" to get my point. But one of the things being a Friend has taught me is the importance of gratitude: of taking the time to think about and to be truly grateful for the good things we have in our lives, whether it be our health, our families, our friends, our careers, or having a place like this to share and rant and laugh with other like-minded folks.

Or just being grateful for a quiet place to sit on a rainy Sunday morning.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

The "Real Verdict on Jose Padilla"?

I know that this is somewhat out of character--you know...a serious post--but bear with me. I promise not to do this too often.

In yesterday's Washington Post, Jenny Martinez, a Standford University law professor and lawyer for Jose Padilla (though not in his criminal trial), tries to detect the silver lining in the ruling. Setting aside that Padilla was convicted on flimsy evidence, by what appears to have been a biased jury, of a far different crime than the one that precipitated his detention and torture, Dr. Martinez spins the trial as a triumph over the Bu$hCo's attempt to dismantle our judicial system:
The trial showed that our federal courts are perfectly capable of dealing with terrorism cases... The Bush administration has claimed since Sept. 11 that the federal courts cannot be trusted with terrorism matters. It has argued that we should scrap our centuries-old constitutional protections and replace our system of checks and balances with one awarding the executive complete discretion to lock up whomever he wants, for however long he deems appropriate. The Founders rejected that kind of arbitrary and oppressive power. And the federal court in Florida has shown how weak the administration's case for abandoning the Constitution really is.
But the stark reality remains. Regardless what this trial showed, the Bush Administration does have the power to lock up Americans indefinitely and without recourse. That power was affirmed by the Supreme Court, and consider how much it worse it would have been for Padilla had he been arrested in late 2006 rather than 2002. In 2006, with its recently granted authority to co-opt the assets of anyone who opposes its so-called "wartime" policies, the administration could have decimated the Padilla family's finances long before the man ever came to trial. The net of punishment could have snared every member of his immediate family, perhaps even his friends and associates.

We now live in a nation of punishment without charges--conviction without trial--which is very convenient for the administration, as it saves them the embarrassment of bungling the prosecution of terrorism cases, and Dr. Martinez' sunny assessment does nothing to obscure that truth.

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Art in the Service of Evil

I do not apologize for the difficulty of this post, just as neither Adams or Beethoven would not. The beauty and complexity of this piece and my concept require that the dear reader pay attention. It's my intention that, if you would be so kind as to observe the word and order of the video performances in this post, dear reader, you shall come to a gratifying end.

Imagine the time. 1824 and John Quincy Adams, a Founder, is President of the United States.

One of the finest pieces of human art creation I know of is Beethoven's 9th Symphony, known as "The Chorale" symphony. Imagine that you composed, but you never physically heard it. That would make you Beethoven. There's a little bit of it that makes you, you.
Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Do you bow down, you millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek Him beyond the star-canopy!
Beyond the stars must He dwell.

Be embraced, ye millions! This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the stars must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced, This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium, Joy,
Beautiful spark of the gods.

These are the wildly crazy words of Schiller, that Beethoven put to music. Now, watch.

This first part, to measure against, is from 1942, April 20th; H*tlers birthday (*), Kurt Furtwangler conducting. Notice the peoples faces in both the orchestra and the audience.

Observe - the conductor is a MANIAC and the audience are zombies. Are these "millions" embraced? No. Lets move to the reconstrucion period in Europe. Earlier in threads SadButTrue urged homework re: the difference between "Manifest Destiny" and "Lebensraum."

Well, here's a 1949 offering from those who lived through "lebensraum" and are pretty much into the Marshall Plan.

There's a very sobering difference when one observes it. The Prague ("Praha" in my family) folks during the Marshall Plan years have an entirely different performance. It's workman-like, and understandably so, since they are re-building. Notice how the simpler approach yields an entirely different performance. A sober, simple and methodical aproach is entirely appropriate, free from the yolk of Nazi opression, UPLIFTING! Observe the faces between the 2 videos so far. Video 1, the Nazis suck. Look at all the crossed arms in #1 and the serious faces. There is no Joy in #1. But - people are so serious about their "Freude." ("Joy") in #2 in Marshall Plan Prague.

And now, to the most serious:

Again- look at the peoples faces, in both the orchestra and the audience. It's so simple for Bernstein and his audience. The smiles alone tell the jubilation of the performance.

Here's the way I look at this. You can only have one opportunity to bastardize a great work of humans for a political agenda. To my mind, what happens is, you get one shot at the bastardization. TIME will prove as the Great Corrector.

The Nazi types may never again appropriate Beethoven's 9th Symphony. They will have to have US give it to them to do so again. Let us keep this particular torch unto ourselves, and never surrender it lightly.

Surrender your art NOT to the service of evil. Beethoven would roll in his grave if he knew that the previous folk had ever used his Art to an ill-purposed, fascist or otherwise anti-human situation.

Be embraced ye millions - this kiss, Freedom, is for the whole world.

(*) I write the H*tler name thus, so this post shall not be found and connected to this post on a search engine.