amari_z: (rage)
I'm probably the last person on the planet to have seen this, but in case I'm not, according to Marvel, Joe Biden is a Knight Rider fanboy! Hee!

Screen shot from the web comic (Obama meets Spiderman!) below the cut, the whole of which can be found here (after the President's Day edition).

Imposter!Obama has just left on his way to the inauguration! Will the Real!Obama and Biden be able to stop him in time!???

Scranton Joe Biden's drivin' now )
amari_z: (egg)
Bwhaahaa!



inaug



From Time, by way of Crooksandliars, which suggests you write your own caption.

(And one day to the Crackiversary!)
amari_z: (daily)
"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. . . . [Our ancestors] understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."
amari_z: (tree)
I've been keeping my mouth shut about it here, but as pessimistic as I always am about getting balanced Middle East coverage from the U.S. media, I've still been completely appalled by the one-sided reporting on Israel's attack on Gaza. But now, even the mainstream press has had to give more than the back of the hand acknowledgment of the death and destruction that Israel has wreaked against civilians.

Quoted in the NYTimes:

“It’s a war against us as people,” a man shouted. “What happened to Hamas? Nothing!”

***

The house had a special meaning. The family had lived for generations in a refugee camp, and six years ago had saved enough money to build it. This morning they came to find it in shambles, a crushing discovery.

“It was my dream and now it is erased,” said Hadija Saker, 55, who ticked off the evidence, as she saw it, of Israel’s unjust actions. She said Hamas lacked influence in the area. A teacher at a United Nations school lived on one side. A journalist on the other. Most painful, she said, were her lemon trees, which she had nurtured for years and now lay crushed under the sandy soil crisscrossed with the marks of tank treads.

***

"The Israeli actions made the situation more intractable, he said. “How can I convince my neighbors now for the option of peace? I can’t.”

He added: “Israel is breeding extremists. The feeling you get is that they just want you to leave Gaza."



For better coverage, I have a lot of respect for Democracy Now!. And although I'm not always thrilled by it, the BBC does a far better job than any major American media outlet.
amari_z: (Time changes everything)
Most likely everyone who’d be interested has already seen these, but in case you haven’t, here are some wonderful “backstage” pictures from election night.
amari_z: (mt whitney dawn)
But tonight I'm going to sleep happy, in a way I haven't been happy in eight years.
amari_z: (summer heath)
Voted.

(I love New York’s archaic voting machines; I hope they never replace them with something modern and electronic. There’s something about physically pulling that long lever and actually flipping little black switches by your candidates’ names. And then you get to pull the lever again, and it makes this great, final, solid, thumping sound. I love that sound.)

Now all that’s left is the waiting. Followed by the either the glee/running around in excited circles/joyful shrieking/(now what?) or the (please, no) horror/rage/disbelief/despair/(fleeing? rioting?).

So if you have lucky underwear, socks, or hats, today’s the day. I’m trying for zen at this point, but yeah, right.
amari_z: (egg)
If you've friended this journal, you might want to read the third paragraph if nothing else.

I’ve been pretty much AWOL lately, and haven’t been spending much time online at all. (So, if there’s something anyone wants me to know, please tell me/post a link in the comments, because I haven’t been keeping up.)

I’m still working on the next part of Resurrection (a/k/a teh crack). I was hoping to finish it by the end of the year, but it’s going slooowly and I don’t seem to have much time/energy for it, so that seems unlikely--although I‘m going to try to have at least a draft done (provided work doesn‘t decide to explode in my face). I’m up to about 20 pages, although they need severe rewriting. There are a bunch of things in this chapter that I’ve been building toward for ages, so hopefully when it’s done, it’ll be somewhat exciting. It’s funny--I think I originally figured I’d get to these plot points in something like the sixth part. Ha! I actually remember sitting in an airport awaiting my connection on my way back from Austria, o so many moons ago (after I had been prodded into making this a series and realized I probably couldn‘t just get away with making bad jokes), and coming up with these vague plotty things. (I think I was smirking to myself because people in the waiting area gave me a couple odd looks. Or maybe that was because they were just worried I was a terrorist.) Anyway, this just means that in addition to the usual agonizing I do when writing this stuff, there’s no pressure or anything.

Also, I haven’t been paying attention to the friending thing for a while. I think a couple people have friended me. If you’re one of them, and you want me to friend you back, you can post something here. If you want to be added to my personal filter (mostly me venting my rage about work and other stupidities, but not even that lately), let me know, but I tend not to do that unless you have an active journal. And at some point when I get around to it, I am going to prune my filters, which are kind of a mess. This means that if you’ve haven’t commented much but are currently friended and included in the filter, I might defilter you on the assumption that you’re here for the fic (when I post any), which is all public. So, if you’re the quiet type, but don’t want to be defiltered, I’m afraid this is your chance to speak up. If you you aren't sure whether you're filtered and/or likely to be defiltered and care one way or the other, feel free to ask.

Ok, complete random change of topic: in one of the last posts I managed to make, the one after September 11, I quoted from a book by Rashid Khalidi, who is Middle Eastern scholar of moderate bent. I just recently saw this. You know, I do find it infuriating that even the hint of being critical of Israel in this country is enough to brand you as evil. I find this comment, made by a student, telling: "'It should have been like, yes, I know him, and I’d like to know more Middle East experts, because that’s an important thing when you’re making policies.’” How the hell are you ever going to begin to address the situation unless you can acknowledge the positions of both sides? It’s absolutely essential as a starting point--unless, of course, your ultimate policy is actually genocide.

And so what if Mr. Khalidi had babysat Obama’s kids? What’s wrong with the concept? The Colin Powell line seems to be the one to take here, not a simple denial. (And, to my mind, whatever else he’s done that I despise, Powell has completely redeemed himself in my eyes. He’s the only major political figure I’ve heard who’s made the point that I’ve felt like screaming since this whole Obama-is-a-Muslim stuff began.)

And also, btw, if anyone is interested in reading something from the non-Israeli perspective, I just finished Palestinian Walks, which is beautiful book about the landscape of Palestine and the change that Israel’s policies have wrought. It gives some sense of what it means to live in the occupied West Bank. I also read Let It Be Morning, a novel set in a Palestinian village in Israel just before the Oslo Accords were signed. Both are recommended.

And speaking of books, I’ haven’t bought a book in at least a month (I think). That’s pretty scary (and has nothing to do with the frightening state of the economy, since I‘ll forgo food before reading material). Consider it my contribution to the Halloween thing, since I worked late yesterday, did not dress up, ate no candy, gave no candy away, and played no tricks. I’m determined to make a good dent in my Big List of Shame. I’m actually down to under 20 books on my fiction list (we won’t mention the nonfiction). This, if you know anything about me, is pretty much unprecedented.
amari_z: (daily)
Because a cult of victimhood is unhealthy and gives rise to a strident self-righteousness, and because, if our true goal is to provide a worthy memorial to those who have been lost, we can only do so by learning the lessons offered, here’s an excerpt from the introduction of The Iron Cage: The History of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood by Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies at Columbia University, that says what I want to say with far more eloquence and erudition than I could hope to manage. Reluctantly excerpted for length.

It seems that even a shock of magnitude of September 11 was not sufficient to free most Americans of such illusions )
amari_z: (daily)
I missed this last night, but I've been waiting years. Unfortunately, nothing seems likely to come of it, but it's about time. It's unquestionable (unless you're a fact-immune pundit) that Bush has broken the law numerous times, and there's every legal justification for impeachment.

You can see the video at Crooks and Liars (and I hope a bunch of other places).
amari_z: (daily)
Although I’ve been trying to keep my mood up, I’ve been not so pleased lately. It’s the usual combination of I hate my job, what am I doing with my life, the world is melting, the world is spiraling further into chaos, my country is no longer recognizable to me, all my painfully-earned savings are shrinking, people suck and so on.

My reaction to Heath Ledger’s death is case in point of my grumpiness. It was shocking, he was young and had a promising career, I feel bad for his family, but . . . why is this so front in center in the news and in people’s minds? I realize this is the unfortunate way that the new news cycle has come to work and that there are much, much less worthy things that the press has focused on (hi Brittany!), but I’m actually just annoyed at this point. Can we bother with the actual news just for the sake of novelty? It’s not like there are a shortage of conflict-oriented stories out there for the media to cover.

I’ve pretty much not talked about current events or politics here in ages—and I’m not going to go into any kind of long rant—but I’m feeling compelled to point to a few things today, just because. If one follows the non-celebrity oriented news, no real surprises, I should think. Some might say don’t read if you don’t want to be depressed, but, despite my current state of mind, I’ve never bought that idea.


A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials made over 900 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Enron investors appeal.

The West should strike first, and with nuclear weapons, if necessary. So says a new, 150-page "manifesto" penned by five retired senior NATO officers and military strategists and distributed over the last 10 days to Pentagon officials and NATO Secretary General.

If you were watching the news, you may have heard about the confrontation between the U.S. navy and Iranian speedboats in the strait of Hormuz. What didn’t get as much coverage (no surprise) is that the incident was basically manufactured out of a routine event. (Also see Jon Stewart poking fun at this--I have to include this clip because of the huge love for Aasif Mandvi’s “I’m from Tampa, Jon.”) Yeah, since the war mongering has been going so poorly, CNN felt it necessary to step in and do all that it could do for its country.

“A new mortality report from the International Rescue Committee says that as many as 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes in the Congo since 1998. A staggering 45,000 people continue to die each month, both from the conflict and the related humanitarian crisis. Amidst the deadliest conflict since World War II, hundreds of international corporations have reaped enormous profits from extracting and processing Congolese minerals.” See here.

Congress fails to override SCHIP veto. And some Republicans call this attempt to extend the healthcare of uninsured children a political stunt.

This summer brings unnerving shrinking of polar ice. “Astonished by the summer’s changes, scientists are studying the forces that exposed one million square miles of open water — six Californias — beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979.”

Surviving a CIA black site. Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah spent over two and half years imprisoned before being released without any charges being filed against him. He describes: “They wanted me to confess to having some connections to some individuals of al-Qaida. They tried several times to get me to confess, and every time I said no, I would get either a kick, a slap or a curse. Then they said that if I did not confess, they will bring my wife and rape her in front of me. And out of fear for what would happen to my family, I screamed and I fainted. After I came to, I told them that ‘please, don’t do anything to my family. I would cooperate with you in any way you want.’”

Prison break in Gaza “But for Palestinians, life has grown more unbearable since Bush decided to get "engaged". Since Annapolis, the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israelis has soared 100%. The ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed last year was the most unbalanced ever, at 40:1, up from 30:1 in 2006 and 4:1 from 2000-2005. The total death toll for 2007 stands at 322 Palestinians and eight Israelis. Of the eight, five were soldiers who died while carrying out military operations inside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The pretext for these endless killings is the Qassam rockets. But the truth is that the daily incursions, assassinations, and embargo, have proceeded without fail before and after the rockets. The excuses change all the time, but the reality of occupation remains the same.”

I could go on, and on. But I’ll stop here since I'm now slightly more angry than depressed. So on a lighter note, just for fun:

Bill Clinton: Screw it, I’m running for President. “While the announcement has come as a surprise to many, Beltway observers said it was not completely unexpected, citing footage from a recent Democratic debate that showed Clinton fidgeting in his seat, gripping the arms of his chair, and repeatedly glancing at all the television cameras while rapidly tapping his right foot. Analysts also noted one debate in which Clinton mouthed responses to all the moderator's questions while making hand gestures to himself.”
amari_z: (tree)
I’ve been keeping the politics limited to snide comments recently, but I want to point out this New Yorker article, discussing the CIA’s “interrogation" program. Its worth a read, especially if you’re an American--know what sort of barbarianisms your government has been engaging in to “defend” you.

A few excerpts:

The C.I.A.’s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura. “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,” an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. “At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”


The former officer said that the C.I.A. kept a doctor standing by during interrogations. He insisted that the method was safe and effective, but said that it could cause lasting psychic damage to the interrogators. During interrogations, the former agency official said, officers worked in teams, watching each other behind two-way mirrors. Even with this group support, the friend said, [Khalid Sheikh] Mohammed’s interrogator “has horrible nightmares.” He went on, “When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but it’s well outside the norm. You can’t go to that dark a place without it changing you.” He said of his friend, “He’s a good guy. It really haunts him. You are inflicting something really evil and horrible on somebody.”


Ordinarily, the U.S. legal system is known for resolving such mysteries with painstaking care. But the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program, Senator [Carl] Levin said, has undermined the public’s trust in American justice, both here and abroad. “A guy as dangerous as K.S.M. is, and half the world wonders if they can believe him—is that what we want?” he asked. “Statements that can’t be believed, because people think they rely on torture?”
amari_z: (jack)
While I do realize that The Daily Show is not exactly news (although perhaps a little more news-like than Fox News), I found it pathetically telling that when Jon Stewart asked his Monday night guest, soon-to-be-former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee (one of the last of the very nearly extinct breed of “moderate” Republicans) to name one thing Congress has done in the last five years that it could be proud of, the answer was silence. It was funny at first, but after about 30 seconds or so, when the man couldn’t come up with one damn thing, it was just really, really sad. (National pet a fish day? Ordering four new trees to be planted in some park somewhere? Anything? ). The senator was clearly at a loss—it wasn’t just a joke. Christ.

You can watch the interview here.



amari_z: (daily)
I don't usually find our Republican overlord and his hangers-on all that amusing, but ROTFLMAO over the fight between Condoleeza Rice and James A. Baker III over Middle East policy. I never thought I'd be siding with James Baker in any universe, but you go, JB!

The New York Times described Baker as having "made little secret in private that he regards the administration as a bunch of diplomatic go-cart racers, more interested in speed than strategy and prone to ruinous crashes."

Oh. Hee. I knew there was a reason I still read you, NYT. The full article is here.

Be Afraid

Nov. 14th, 2006 02:12 pm
amari_z: (grail)
On Monday, the government made its first attempt to use the recently passed Military Commissions Act against a person detained on U.S. soil. See here.

Among many other things, the law basically strips U.S. immigrants of their right to challenge their detention in U.S. court, if they are designated by the administration as an "enemy combatant." In other words, if you are not a U.S. citizen, even if you are in the U.S. legally, even if you are a permanent resident with a green card and have been living in the U.S. for decades, the government has given itself the power to detain you unilaterally at its whim for as long as it wants and has stripped you of the right to challenge its actions in any civilian court.


amari_z: (grr)
So I've been holding off on saying anything, lest it get jinxed, but it looks like the Democrats have now won the majority in both chambers of Congress. Taylor has finally conceded and James Webb has won the Virgnia seat (despite appearing on the voting machines as “James H. Jim” in parts of the state (notably in the liberal parts)). Woot!!

For a little while anyway, I'm going to let myself just be optimistic about this and be happy that (despite the voting machines, the redistricting, the terror-politics and Fox news) starting January there will finally be something to check this administration. I'm not particularly happy with the Dems, whose saving grace right now is mainly just that they aren't Republicans, but, at last, there is ray of hope after five bleak years. Don't let us down, Democrats. I want the day to come when I'm once more feeling complacent about the longevity of the Constitution and its system of checks and balances, the rule of law that it enshrines and the fundamental rights it guarantees. I want to wake up one day and no longer feel quite so ashamed of the country I was born in.

Also as everyone knows by now, Rumsfeld has finally resigned, which can only be a thing of joy. But I will be very surprised if Gates is any way better than Rumsfeld, although Gates is being touted as more moderate and pragmatic than the neo-cons--no doubt, precisely why he was chosen. He's no prize. One, he's Bush's choice (pretty much enough to make me dubious about anyone). Two, he's a former head of the CIA (and we all know how law abiding that institution is). Three, he's known as being less than honest about his government activities (for example, if you recall, he was investigated for lying to Congress about his role in Iran-Contra). Four, he is not a military expert (he served only two years in the military). Five, his expertise is in the cold war, not the Middle East. Six, he has a reputation of pressuring analysts to shape conclusions to fit the administration’s positions (exactly what this administration needs more of).

From an article in the Times:

“This is not a person with a history of telling truth to power,” said the former subordinate, Melvin A. Goodman, a Soviet analyst from 1966 to 1990. Mr. Goodman called Mr. Gates a micromanager and “not a big-picture person,” though he also called him “a hard-working, disciplined person who’s totally loyal to his bosses.”

Sounds like Bush’s kind of guy, so don't hold your breath on the bold new path thing--if he even manages to be confirmed. I hope it’s a tough battle.

amari_z: (fall red trees)
The U.S. Government has (NOT including Guantanamo) been keeping 14,000 prisoners overseas--outside the reach of any law. That's FOURTEEN THOUSAND people being held under the name of the United States, without any due process, without being told why they are being detained, without access to evidence, without access to counsel, without access to any court or public forum, without contact with family, without any any rights whatsoever.

If you don't read anything else on the subject, read this. A couple excerpts )
amari_z: (Aspen leaves)
As a follow up to the previous post (and although no surprise whatsoever, still, oh, so disgusting) Bush seeks political gains from foiled plot.

[White House spokesman Tony]Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism.


and

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.


And more on the convenient timing issue here.

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