Thursday, August 31

War of the Words : Rumsfeld vs Reallity

Tuesday, Donald Rumsfeld blasted Democrats and War Critics as appeasers similar to those who failed to oppose the rise of Nazi Germany. Essentially claiming that who oppose our ongoing occupation of Iraq - currently 63% of the American People - are morally and intellectually confused.

TSR-Rummy-Fascists.jpg Rummy is losing it once again:

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Rumsfeld: Once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. But some seem not to have learned history‘s lessons.

Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased? Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?

Any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.

But his comments may have generated something he didn't neccesarily expect, a torrent of additional criticism from Democrats and Administration Critics has gone from a few minor spitballs to a fever pitch. Starting with this stinging rebuke from Keith Olbermann on Wednesday. From Crooks and Liars:


Keith had some very choice words about Rumsfeld’s "fascism" comments tonight. Watch it, save it and share it.

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Olbermann delivered this commentary with fire and passion while highlighting how Rumsfeld’s comments echoes other times in our world’s history when anyone who questioned the administration was coined as a traitor, unpatriotic, communist or any other colorful term. Luckily we pulled out of those times and we will pull out of these times.

Full Transcript:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

We end the countdown where we began, our #1 story. with a special comment on Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion
yesterday. It demands the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty - of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants - our employees - with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right - and the power to which it speaks, is wrong. In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis.

For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone to England. It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it had received, which contradicted it’s own policies, it’s own conclusions - it’s own omniscience - needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile - at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name… was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England - had taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute and exclusive in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient Ones.

That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this:

This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count - not just his. Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago - about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this
nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of America?

The confusion we - as its citizens - must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light and we can too. The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that - though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral."Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full: "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954.

"We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men;Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."

And so, good night, and good luck.

On that same episode of Countdown, Howard Dean also took Rumsfeld to task.


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DEAN: This time, we‘re not going to lay down and worry about what their supposed toughness on defense. The truth is, the defense issue works for us now. They have a war on terror, they have a war in Iraq, and they have a war on the middle class. They‘ve attacked people‘s—kids‘ ability to go to college, healthcare, wages have gone down. Katrina has been a mess. We‘re in a middle of a civil war in Iraq.

They don‘t know how to deal with anything. They can‘t get anything right, including defending America. You can‘t trust the Republicans with your money, you can‘t trust them to fix really big natural disasters, you can‘t trust them to defend America.

It‘s not because they don‘t want to defend America, the truth is, they can‘t. You got to be tough and smart. You got to know what you‘re doing. They clearly do not know what they‘re doing.

No amount of name-calling is going to save them. The majority of the American people do not believe the President Bush is telling the truth, the majority of the American people do not believe this administration is competent. We want a new direction in America, and the Democrats will provide one.

Dean: We believe that security starts at home, and the president has forgotten about home, both in terms of our security, and in terms of our economy, and we believe we need to be tough and smart when we deal with terrorists, and not just talk tough, but have no idea what we‘re doing.

These guys got us into Iraq without asking the military for their opinion, and then when they got their opinion, they ignored it. You can‘t conduct a war without listening to the military. They know what they‘re doing. And frankly, the people who got us into this, very few of them ever served abroad in the uniform of the United States of America. We need to listen to the military before we do things like this.

In his recent interview with Brian Wilson in New Orleans, the President claimed that "Islamic Fundamentalists attacked us (at 9-11) long before he ever thought of deposing Saddam Hussein" - but that is a lie.
DEAN: ... that‘s false. Look at Paul O‘Neill, the former secretary of treasury‘s book, an honest, decent guy, happens to be a Republican—there are honest, decent Republicans—who ran Alcoa Aluminum. He wrote in his book, written by Ron Susskind, he said that George Bush had said he was going to get rid of Saddam Hussein when he got into office in his first cabinet meeting. That was nine months before Iraq. [ne: 9-11]
In the book O'Neill reported the following:
“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,’" says O’Neill. “For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”

And that came up at this first meeting, says O’Neill, who adds that the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later.
Also remember that BushGov completely ignored the warnings about Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda coming from Richard Clarke - who had written his first of many memos on the subject to the then incoming Bush Administration starting on Jan 25, 2001 - until August.

Even before he was President, Bush had Saddam on the Brain back in 1999 when speaking to author Mickey Heskowitz.
According to Herskowitz, Bush told him: "My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it."
And now as people legitimately question why we went Iraq when they not only had no connection to Al Qaeda or WMD's - they told us they had no WMD's and we simply ignored them - in return they are called "appeasers"?

Rather than become cowed and afraid to speak up, Democrats are doing the opposite.

Paul Begala:

"He sounded like a batty old man. A more decent society would put him in one of those coats with no cuffs and take him off to one of those rooms with padding on the walls"

Nancy Pelosi:
"What the Secretary must be forgetting is what emboldens the enemy is sending our troop into the line of fire without the equipment they need to protect themselves and get the job done. What emboldens the enemy is sending them there without the military intelligence to get the job done."
Harry Reid:
Secretary Rumsfeld's reckless comments show why America is not as safe as it can or should be five years after 9/11. The Bush White House is more interested in lashing out at its political enemies and distracting from its failures than it is in winning the War on Terror and in bringing an end to the war in Iraq. If there's one person who has failed to learn the lessons of history it's Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld ignored military experts when he rushed to war without enough troops, without sufficient body armor, and without a plan to succeed.
The LA Times has Piled On, essentially saying Pipe Down Rum.
Maybe Rumsfeld never got the memo, or, if he did, he crumpled it up. His speech was vintage Rumsfeld. It was also unfair and, in places, inane.

Take the suggestion that critics of Bush's Iraq policy are the moral equivalent of those who refused to stop Hitler. There's a reason why high school debaters are warned away from Nazi analogies: They're almost always disproportionate. Even Bush, who recently raised eyebrows by identifying "Islamic fascism" as America's enemy, stopped short of referring to critics of his policies as latter-day Neville Chamberlains.

Even more offensive is Rumsfeld's "blame America first" canard. Who exactly has been pushing what he called "the destructive view that America — not the enemy — is the real source of the world's troubles"? Certainly no one in mainstream American political discourse, not even those members of Congress who want to set a date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Their argument, right or wrong, is that Iraq is descending into civil war and that the U.S. presence there is unavailing and a drain on resources better expended elsewhere, including on counter-terrorism at home.
The Washington Post has also stepped up to the plate:

Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history’s lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. (emphasis added)

So just who the hell are these "appeasers" who would snatch surrender from the jaws of our clearly glorious victory in Iraq?

They're the phantasms inside of Bush, Cheney and Rummy's mind that's what. They are the evil bogey-men Lib-ER-als that make it hard for them to sleep at night. Sweating through a horrid Barbara Streisand/Michael Moore-mare, that keeps Rummy well stocked in Depends(tm). They don't care about Al Qaeda, they don't care about protecting America - Katrina proved that - they only care about destroying Democrats and Liberals, period.

But if this is the Republicans final desperation play to retain a hold on Congress, I have to say they are in dire straights indeed. This dog doesn't hunt anymore. Most of America has finally figured out that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, or Osama Bin Laden. And just where is Bin Laden anyway?

Republicans are losing it as the hot moist breath of defeat - IN CONGRESS - is steaming their collar, and it's driving them off the deep end with this "Nazi Appeaser" bullcrap.

And I can't help but smile - the end is near - and it's coming for BushGov.


Rock Star : Week 9 Elimination

Another elimination show, another fallen soldier. Still this show was just chock full of surprises, twists and turns.

The new Supernovacaine song "Shine On" was debuted, with the Lukatic himself on lead vocals - and it wasn't bad. Lukas's voice sounds pretty good with them, and it helps quite a bit that you can't understand his words considering how creamy and cheesy they were. (Unfortunately I sometimes watch the show with closed caption on - oh yeah - pure velveeta) Lukas has a massave advantage and disadvantage at the same time, his voice is such a huge affectation that he's immediaetly recognizable. That's good, because it will make any band he's in identifiable - just like David Draiman and Disturbed. You know it's them as soon as you hear him clear his throat. The value of that on the radio can not be underestimated. The disadvantage ... is the limitations and reedy sound of Lukas's voice. Man -- he's going to tear that shit up pretty soon if he doesn't get a permanent vocal coach. With Supernova he could afford one, and he needs it - badly.

The encore song went to Toby and "Rebel Yell", which mostly tells me that he's either a bigger front runner than had I had previously suspected, or he's on his way out the door. Only Magni and Ryan had received two encore nods so far. (Yes, Dilana and Lukas have only had one each.) I have to say that both Dilana and Ryan's performances from last night were more impressive. Storm's too, but I wouldn't want to put her through that again. Still Toby managed to step it up yet another notch by going all the way to back of the studio to rock the people in the cheap seats. (I didn't know they HAD people in cheap seats at the back... now I do). He's a total showman.

Then came elimination time, and after the first three rockers stood (Storm, Ryan and Toby) - the names of those who had been just kept coming until only one soldier was left not standing - Magni. (WHAT!?) Yeah, I thought it was weird too. For the first time both Dilana and Lukas had to stand - but Magni, whose already done two B3 performances didn't. Talk about being saved. The only other people with any B3 performances still on the show were Ryan and Toby (one each) - and as I said both of them also have two encores. So what gives?

All I can say is the public is fucking fickle.

Tommy: "They're having one hell of a party in Iceland right now!" - No Shit!

Anyway, the first performance went to Ryan who did a great job on Baba O'Reilly. His vocal tone actually sounds a lot like Roger Daultry's so it was kinda cool and extremely different from Dana's version earlier in the season. Knowing Ryan of course, he had to take it up yet another notch, and not having any pianos to molest and hump he proceeded to climb Rafeal's speaker stacks.

Now if you haven't handled guitar amps and stacked them - you probably don't know how delicately balanced they are - but that shit was fucking dangerous. As a singer I've done the speaking climbing thing, but I climbed the mains (like Sebastian Bach did on Vh-1's Supergroup - and he almost busted his ass) - I wouldn't think of climbing someone Marshall's unless there were braced or I had a death wish. I was a gymnast in school - I know how to easily handle a fall from 10-12 feet in the air. No problem. Falling doesn't bug me, what bugs me is that because the amps are stacked - you can't predict which way they might fall. They could go both directions at once - one forward and one backward - in which case your going to land on one of them and all bets are off the table.

There's such a thin line between incredibly brave and licking the tailpipe stupid - Ryan damn near crossed it with that move.

Storm was next, and boy was she excited. "Anytime I get to Rock with the House Band!!" and proceeded to kick the crap out of "Helter Skelter." I gotta say she took that performance too the next level and then some, touring the entire room in the process and laying back into the crowd at the end. She could've done this song weeks ago if she'd fought for it. This is what happens when you don't battle for the song you really want - you get stuck with dross and bullcrap like "I Will Survive" and have to suffer from having taking a lousy song. She's been letting herself get punked through this entire show -- yes, sure she can sing anything. But that's been putting her 10 and 15 feet behind the starting line while everyone else is right on it. The amazing thing is that she's been catching up to them all this time. If she'd begun in the same place from the start, and gone for the better songs all alone - she'd be miles and miles ahead.

Last up, surprise after surprise, was Dilana. Well technically I shouldn't be surprised - I predicted this. The Resurrection of the Di-lan-a apparently didn't take. Her behavior really has cut into her fanbase severely. She's no longer the favored child. The Bus has arrived and Dilana is under it. Still she still has lots of credit with Stupernova, because her performance of the Talking Heads "Psycho Killer" was a complete and total train wreck. It was embarrising to watch and displayed her greatest weakness - cluelessness. It's like watching the guy come out of the bathroom with a long trail of toiletpaper sticking out of his pants - and he's completely oblivious. That's Dilana. She has no idea. She didn't know how cheesy her lyrics were for the first songwriting clinic - she didn't know that dancing girls on stage with her would look ridiculous, and she didn't know that she is NOT David Byrne. She was the Psycho Killer - the Psycho Killer of that song.

Oh poor Di-lan-a...Di-lan-a....

Your time is coming soon, but unfortunately it wasn't tonight. Since both Storm and Dilana had never been in the B3 before, but Ryan had - it made sense to let Ryan go. But it was still a major shock, he's done so damn well in this competition and shown so many sides. Just about every performance was unique, memorable and special. The energy he brought to the stage affected everyones performance - I honestly think he made all the rest of them a little bit better, especially Toby. They owe him a debt.


It was a bummer to see him go, just as it was for Patrice to leave last week - but it has to happen. They ultimately have to get down to just one. Exactly who that's going to be I haven't a clue - I'm still holding out hope that Storm pulls it off, but I'd be fine with Toby or Lukas. Magni could do it, but probably won't. The only one I'm rooting against at this point - is Dilana. She'd be a disaster for this band, they'd just totally crash and burn in 80's hell. I've been to 80's hell - it's not a nice place. Being there, or just being in a band that was accused of being "too 80's" made me not a nice person. It pissed me off. I don't wish that on anyone, and with Dilana that's exactly where they're headed. Heaven help them all if that happens.


Wednesday, August 30

Rock Star : Week 9 Performance

Well, that was something.

I don't think I've ever seen a more energetic job of reputation resurrection in my entire life. My hat's off to the Mark Burnette Editing team who managed to defribulate Dilana back into this show. As I predicted, they did show the entire incident of her near final flip-out at the mansion including the champion wine-glass toss which ricocheted back and hit Magni, then showed her remorseful "I'm sorry, Magni" even if it was done via subtitles. His lack of any bandage and saying "It was just a flesh wound" pretty much sealed the deal, and magically turned Dilana into the sympathetic character of this little psycho-drama.

Well done, I say - well done.

Problem solved, nobody mind that big lump under the carpet - nothing to see here -move along now, move along.

And so we shall, to the actual performances.

First up was Lukas with "Lithium." Meh. Evs.

Ok, then there was Magni - sans bandage - on "I Alone". This song is just deep in his comfort zone, but I actually wasn't much impressed with his performance. Probably because he sounded so good and had such resonance on his acoustic version of the other Live song "Dolphin's Cry" , since then I've found his full band performances lacking. I can't put my finger on it. He sang it great, commanded the stage well, but didn't impress me because that's already what I expect from him. He went up to the SN pod which was cool, except that Jill and Dilana and Patrice have all previously done that also. It's getting tougher to push back the envelope.

And then Ryan comes on and rips the envelope open with his teeth. Ok, like Wow. This guy is a showman. With some people climbing up on the piano could seem corny. Billy Joel does it. Jerry Lee Lewis has been kicking back the piano bench for decades -but somehow he made this work and seem fresh. I do agree with Jason, once he's away from his instrument - either piano or guitar - he "loses the plot". Actually he loses the beat and stumbles around without ever doing anything in time to the music. But this time I really didn't mind that much. The one cool and subtle thing he did was loop the microphone around his neck just before he did the Starsky & Hutch slide back over the piano. That was thinking ahead, because he knew he didn't have time to put it back in the mic stand - he was going to have both hands busy playing and he had to keep it with him to sing the last section of the song. Bonus points for that one dude. Nice job.

Ok I thought Storm doing "Bring me to Life" was going to be a big problem. I was right, it's out of her normal range but she pulled it off. Except for one note at the very begining ("How can you see through open doors") which was tragically flat, she pretty much nailed it. My only technical complainst would be that it was obvious she was struggling, she seemed breathy, her tone was compromised and she was a bit behind the beat on everything - but it really didn't matter. It was a fight, but she got there - and then went far past it with the falsetto high note at the very end. Kudos.

I would however say that battling with the song caused her to fall back on a set of stock stage moves, like the little spread-eagle hop shes been doing since the first note of Pinball Wizard on Day one, kneeling and laying back at the end of the runway, stalking the stage with her twisted walk. Stuff like that. This might be why Dave said that Toby, who was singing backup, may have upstaged her a bit, and he might have - what he had to do vocally was pretty easy by comparison so he could be more dynamic on stage. But still - Storm is Storm and nobody totally takes the stage away from her. My big problem was that some of the backing harmony vocals were off, and it made the Storms vocals and performance seem weaker than they actually were. At first I thought it was Toby, but on rewatching he wasn't singing at that point. It was someone else in the House Band whose singing was off, which is a real surprise.

I wouldn't be surprised if she goes to the bottom three this time, but she'll also probably do some serious defribulation of her own once she gets the chance. She might even do an original, if she's allowed to.

Toby doing "Rebel Yel"l was much better than I expected. In an opposite move to Storm's, he showed a low range I didn't know that he had. I forget which song it was on, but when I'd heard him sing low previously he seemed really shaky - this time is was strong and clear, plus unlike Lukas version - you could understand what he was saying. And then he goes and brings up girls from the audience to dance with him - way cooler than Dilana and the stripper chicks because a) It was spontaneous b) They were honestly fans, and didn't have to go through the casting couch to get there and c) it was cool. As I've said, this contest hasn't been about singing for quite some time, it's about showmanship and so far Ryan and Toby have been stepping it up big time.

Last up was Di-lan-a... Di-lan-a...

Ok, first of all - I hate when people who can't really play guitar - pick up a guitar and pretend to play it. Now, I'm not saying she literally wasn't playing -- she was -- I'm saying her playing sucked. At the beginning of "Mother Mother" she sings the main verse line gently while strumming the guitar once on the downbeat of each measure while sliding her left hand chromatically down the neck from an A-sus to Gb-Sus chord. On measure five she was supposed to go back to the A-sus and she totally blew it. I'm not sure if she didn't get her hand in position correctly, or simply missed the strings while stumming - but it was not good at all. Then with the next chord she hesitated and was way behind the beat - so that sounded fucked up too.

Look, if you're going to strap on a guitar and play it - then fucking play it. It's not a necklace. It's not part of your wardrobe. If you can't hit a A-sus chord properly... let someone who can do it. Jesus.

Imagine if Ryan went over to the piano and fucked up the chords twice in a row. Would anyone think he should be allowed near the thing again until he got his shit together?

I don't think so.

Anyway, she sang the song fine - but oldly not as well as she did during the footage from the reality episode. She's capable of some real tenderness in her voice and that was totally lost once she kicked things into high gear. Fortunately for her, her gears go to Seven. I thought her performance was really good, I personally like Jill's better but since Jill's gone that's a moot point. She did good, and for once didn't repeat herself.

At the end of the show we had Storm - I think Toby - and Lukas in the bottom three for voting. But let's stop kidding ourselves, at this point half and then more than half of the contestants are going into the bottom three. Only Dilana hasn't even had to stand up yet, but her time is coming soon. The voting really doesn't matter anymore for anyone except Magni who would be hitting his third strike if he goes back again today. For everyone else, it's really just a matter of how Supernova feels, not us.


Tuesday, August 29

First Anniversary of Katrina Day

It's been exactly one year since the American Goverment completely abandoned an America City and all it's inhabitants to the elements and let the Gult Coast be scattered to the winds and drowned by the sea.

One year since Biloxi, Gulfport and many other cities along the Mississipi were destroyed. One year before the beginning of the long wait for help. For food. For medicine. For water.

One year before the New Orleans Superdome, Convention Center and I-10 became a living hell. Imagine running upstairs to escape the rising water, climbing into your attic in desperation, being trapped or days - finally the Coast Guard or even local voluanteers cut you out and take you to "safety" -- only to find that you need to be rescued again from the place they just took you.

This is day that should be remembered in infamy the same way that December 7th or November 22nd are remembered as markers for tragedy. Only the difference is that this isn't just about one day -- it's about the next week where these events unfolded. Not only should we remember today - the day the Levees broke, we should remember the day before when Mayor Nagin called for the first every mandatory evacation the morning before Katrina made. From the Times Picayune Aug 28, 2005:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called for a first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city this morning, saying that Hurricane Katrina’s devastating power may well create the sort of cataclysmic damage that residents have long worried that a killer storm could cause in a city that lies mostly below sea level.

“I wish I had better news, but we’re facing the storm most of us have feared,” said Nagin, flanked by city and state officials, including Gov. Kathleen Blanco. “This is very serious. This is going to be an unprecedented event. ”

Nagin said Katrina’s “awesome” winds are likely to create storm surges that overwhelm the city’s system of levees, causing water to pour into lower-lying areas. Blanco said the water could get as high as 20 feet in places.

The city has 30 boats at its disposal, the mayor said.

The governor also said that President Bush had telephoned shortly before the 9:30 a.m. press conference began. She said Bush said he was “very concerned about the storm’s impact” and urged Blanco and Nagin to order the evacuation.

“We need to get as many people out as possible,” she said.

Around 112,000 Orleanians do not own cars, according to census data. Nagin urged those people to seek rides with friends, family, neighbors and church members. Those who could not find rides were urged to get to the Superdome as quickly as possible.

Regional Transit Authority buses were scheduled to ferry people to the dome from 12 locations around the city beginning at noon today.

Meantime, to make sure word of the mandatory evacuation gets out, Nagin said that police and fire crews would be driving through neighborhoods Sunday with bullhorns, directing people to leave.

We should remember the day after, when most of the cities boats, regional transit buses (which had been used to get people to the Superdome) and schoobuses which might have allowed them to escape were all destroyed, the day when no one in the Federal government except the Coast Guard and Wildlife and Fisheries Commision responded. The resources of the City of New Orleans and other towns in the area were soon exhausted, they needed help from the State and from the Federal Government, but that help simply wasn't coming anytime soon.

mccainbirthday.jpg On this Day President Bush was warned by Max Mayfield that the Levees might be overtopped but instead went to a photo op with John McCain and an Arizona Resort to promote his Medicare Drug Benefit program. He then went to California.

He was contacted by Govenor Blanco - "Send everything you've got", but at the end of the day - he went to bed.

This is the kind of decisive "take charge" leader this guy truly is. In the moment of crisis, he flinched rolled over and went to bed. I wonder if he had a copy of "My Pet Goat: The Extended Version" handy to help him get to sleep?

Is this all Bush's fault? Did he make the Hurricane hit the Gulf Coast? Did he make the Levees fail?

The clear answer to all these questions is "No". But he's also the one guy, who has the ability to cut through the red-tape via executive order and makes sure the fucking rubber hits the road. This the guy who thinks we need to suspend habeous corpus, re-write the 4th and 8th Amendments on the back of some toilet paper in order to "Protect America", yet when America is truly in danger and jeopardy - he can't figure out a way to the job done other than to suspend the Davis Bacon Act and remove the minimum wage in the Gulf Region?

Let's put this in some perspective, a decade previously we had a similar food. The Great Flood of 1993:

Platte River Bridges

The 1993 midwest flood was one of the most significant and damaging natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Damages totaled $15 billion, 50 people died, hundreds of levees failed, and thousands of people were evacuated, some for months. The flood was unusual in the magnitude of the crests, the number of record crests, the large area impacted, and the length of the time the flood was an issue.

Figure 1. Area Impacted by the 1993 Midwest Flood

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated, some never to return to their homes. At least 10,000 homes were totally destroyed, hundreds of towns were impacted with at least 75 towns totally and completely under flood waters. At least 15 million acres of farmland were inundated, some of which may not be useable for years to come.

In 1993 we had 534 counties in nine states were declared disaster areas. 168,340 people registered for federal assistance. And FEMA didn't collapse on itself like a paper accordian. Honed and sharpened by then President Clinton's "Reinventing Government" program, the response by FEMA and other emergency agencies was sharp and crisp, even considering the incredibly large area of destruction. When the Northridge Earthquake hit California - FEMA was ready.

What we saw in 2005 was BushGov in full in action. This is how Conservatives see Government - as useless, ineffective, inefficient and untrustworthy. You can't rely on it - you have to rely on yourself (that is if you have the money to pay for what you need from some corporate entity which has just gotten another fat taxcut from BushGov) And if you don't have the money - that's tough Macaca for you pal.

"Compassionate Conservatism" my left nut ball.

We're now one year down the Road after Katrina and President Bush is taking more photo-ops in Biloxi, while the entire region still looks like Hiroshima. Meanwhile the right-wing is coming after Mayor Nagin for saying Ground Zero in New York is still a "Hole in the Ground".
How dare he violate our Sacred Ground, with a rude comment!
And exactly why isn't New Orleans Sacred Ground too? Nearly 1,500 hundred people died there, and it wasn't nearly as quick as what happened in New York. Many of those people could have been saved - but weren't! Yes, 9-11 was a tragedy - but so is 8-29, and 8-30, 8-31, 9-1, and 9-2 and 9-3... and 9-4!

Here's the burning question - Where the FUCK were the 475 Buses that Michael Brown promised Blanco and Nagin? Why did it take nearly a week for them to show up? Where was the food? Where was the Medicine? Why did they keep the Red Cross out for days? Why did they turn back supply trucks from Walmart, and experienced Firefighters who'd traveled across country to help? How did the Royal Canadian Mounted Police manage to get to New Orleans before our own National Guard?

Certainly Nagin deserves some blame for waiting until the last moment before calling for the Manditory evacuation, as does Blanco - but the buck has to stop somewhere and apparently it's not with Bush.

Nagin on 9-1:
“This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don’t anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we’re running out of supplies.”
Nagin was screaming and crying on the radio, uttering explicitives that would have given FCC chief Michael Powell a hot flash. It wasn't until after that moment that help finally started to arrive.

There's no good excuse, America should be deeply ashamed of it's government. It should be ashamed of itself.

And it should never, ever forget that feeling or allow anything like this to happen again when so much of it is so clearly and easily preventable.


Katrina Timeline from

Monday, August 28

Rock Star : Week 9 Reality

Well, Dilana's gone Meshuggah.

The pressure of the elimination show was too much for her and she had a little flip out moment. Nearly breaking down at the lunch table with the other rockers, going out alone by the pool the stomping off in frustration and tossing a glass - which happened to ricochet and cut Magni's head.

Talk about Drama Queen.

I for one don't believe this was done for the benefit of the camera's, and explains why there has been discussion that the hamsters received a visit from one of the executive producers before Dilana bolted. It was a little uncomfortable to watch, but it was real, and I don't really blame Dilana for how she felt or for expressing her feelings. My only problem with it is that it was totally and competely selfish.

Baring editing manipulations, there wasn't one second that she really seemed to be concerned about the impact of her words and actions on anyone else. She was clearly only worried that she might have blown her chance with Supernova, period. Sure, both Ryan and Lukas said it really didn't bother them -- but I notice that it was both Ryan and Lukas who were talking about her "Not being able to handle the pressure of being on the road" if she couldn't handle things on the show.

Let's put things in perspective. She was embarrised on National Television in front of MILLIONS of people. Messing up at a single show is no comparison. The pressure of a full-on tour is actually nothing like being trapped in that house for 3 months with Cameras on you 24/7, broadcasting your every bad hair day and temper tantrum. The real question is whether she's really learned something with this experience or not, and at the moment I'm doubtful. She was completely oblivious to what happened to Magni and although they may not have shown it - seemed completely uncaring afterwards. Again, selfish and petulant. That's not good.

Now, some might argue that being selfish and petulant is sometimes a major part of being a front person. Axl Rose is selfish and petulant. Trashing hotel rooms - or anything and anyone in your way - when the pressure gets to you is a Rock Tradition. (See - Tommy Lee and the Paparazzi or Sebastian Bach and the thrown bottle, and the "Aids Kills Fags Dead" T-shirt). Rockers will fuck up.

This probably isn't a fatal blow for her, unless she let's it become one.

The week's extra curricular activity was a photo shoot. Storm -whose done modelling work before - took to it like a natural. Toby adapted quickly. Magni had issues with it, and just couldn't seem to get it together. And Lukas... frankly I can't believe Lukas has never done a photo shoot, even the smallest seedy bar band needs to put together a band photo and bio to get gigs. I don't buy that "never done this" stuff for a second. Sure, doing it with an actual professional photographer is a bit different, a bit staged and sometimes silly - but it's part of the business. I've done band photos and personal head shots for acting, modelling (a long time ago - don't ask - EVER!) and I know it can be uncomfortable but you simply have to BRING IT, just like being on stage.

This being fan song selection week, there wasn't any drama involving the song scramble - except for the fact the fans asked Storm to sing "Bring me to Life" and that tune is a Mother-FUCKER! People may not realize it, but it's harder than Aerosmith. Both Z and Jill had previously done and both of them had fucked it up, although Jill - who was probably the best overall singer in this competition - was much better she still had some major problems with it). Can Storm pull it off? Will Dilana have another melt down? What color will Lukas eye shadow be next time?

Stay tuned Tuesday Night Rock Fans - Same SuavePorn Time - Same SuavePorn Channel.


Update: It occurs to me what we may have just seen just might lead to Dilana receiving the Ty Taylor Treatment, and my opinion on this has modified.

Look at the facts : She was a front runner essentially from the very first show as was he and both have become overconfident from that point on. She has since shown a tendency for the cornball during the original song clinics (ie. "Stop/Go"). Neither saw the problems coming and after riding high for quite a while, both hit a brick wall - in Ty's case it was "Everlong", with Dilana it's been her flapping lips - and both proceeded to have a meltdown. Ty crumbled under pressure that was somewhat of his own making (even though the fact is he was 100% correct when it comes to race and rock) and Dilana has turned to a jelly puddle for similar reasons. Even though it may in fact be true that what both of them said is essentially correct - Magni really does love his family and you really can't find more than a handful of success black artists in rock - simply saying these things out loud may have sealed their fate.

There are some things that may be absolutely true, but how and when you say them can be far more important than the technical truth.

It all depends on how Mark Burnett handles the situation on Tuesday. Last year the Reality Episodes where fairly high profile while being broadcast on VH1, but this year it's possible for events on the Webisodes to slip under the radar for most of the audience - unless they replay the events during either the performance or elimination episodes. If they completely gloss over the glass throwing tantrum, Dilana might pull out of this ok - she might not win, but she won't get immediately flushed as Ty was.

On the other hand if they don't skip from Dilana leaving the dining room on the edge of tears to her pulling herself together for the Insight photoshoot, it could go rather badly. She would not only loose the support of the band - she'd be sure to lose the fans just as Ty did when he supposedly played the "race card."

From that point on, she'll be in the bottom three no matter what kind of performance she does. After two, maybe three times - she'll be gone and that will be that.

Either way, Dilana's chances with the band are probably in the toilet.

The only other possibility is that if there's a scene we don't yet know about where she and Magni resolve the issue and come out in the pod in solidarity. Without blame. Without recriminations. Without too obvious a bandage on his head.

Also, Something I've hardly seen anyone mention is the spanking that Phil received after blabbing to the press that he wasn't that much into Supernova's song. Tommy told him...

To say that stuff prematurely in the press - and this is a lesson for all you guys (pointing at the pod) - are you guys listening? What you say, people read, and people take to the heart. Just a warning, be very very careful of what you say.

That was during Week 4, over a month ago and since it wasn't broadcast on the air it made Phil's elimination seem quite strange. The point is they were all warned five weeks ago and Dilana still did what she did with the press. I doubt the band is really as ready to let this blood wash under the bridge as they appear to be. She's basically toast, but if she loses the fans - she's microwaved toast.

Sunday, August 27

Waterboard Congress

Ray McGovern, a former CIA Analyst with 27 years experience, the man who directly challenged Donald Rumsfelds lies and also testified at the original Downing Street Forum with Cindy Sheehan and Joe Wilson has an idea.

A real good idea.

Waterboard Congress until they tell us the truth about Iraq (and Afghanistan, and Global Warming, and Abstinance Only Sex Ed and.... you get the picture.)

A Modest Proposal: Waterboard Congress
Maybe White House-favored interrogation techniques would coax lawmakers to tell the truth about U.S. anti-terror policies
by Ray McGovern

In response to the Supreme Court's June decision in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, the Bush administration has proposed a new Enemy Combatant Military Commissions Act. If passed by Congress, this act would revolutionize American jurisprudence.

The White House wants military tribunals hearing the cases of terrorism suspects to be able to use "coerced" confessions. As Acting Asst. Atty. Gen. Steven Bradbury helpfully assured Congress last month, "there are gradations of coercion much lower than torture."

Because many in the administration and Congress feel strongly that coerced confessions constitute the "best practice" to get truth from people suspected of bad things, then, under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, American citizens should be permitted to use the same method to pry the truth out of their elected representatives.

The "Best Practice?" Is that why everything we tortured out of Ibn Sheik al-Libi about Saddam being connected to Al Qaeda was totally bogus?
One such method is waterboarding: strapping someone to a board and pushing him underwater to make him feel like he's drowning. Since then-CIA Director Porter Goss assured Congress last year that this was a "professional interrogation method," not torture, citizens should be permitted to bring splintery planks, leather straps and water tanks to expedite discussions with any member of Congress who continues to insist that things are going swimmingly for the U.S. military in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has during his tenure approved the use of a dozen extreme interrogation methods above and beyond those previously permitted by the Pentagon, including, but not limited to, hooding, disrobing, placing detainees in stress positions and exploiting their "fear of dogs." When the resulting Abu Ghraib photos leaked out in 2004, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) declared that he was more "outraged by the outrage" than by the actual evidence of detainee abuse.

So: Inhofe should be blindfolded, put in a straitjacket and left in a room full of crazed chihuahuas until he explains why he believes that the U.S. military should not be constrained to follow the laws of the land, such as the Anti-Torture Act.

Sounds good to me, I got an ironing board and a bathtub all ready to go. In fact, I think this would be a great demonstration to have several thousand people show up on the capital mall with big buckets and splinters of wood.

Just to make a point, because it's pretty obvious that Congress isn't getting the point - yet.

It's been pretty clear to me for some time that the entire "secret testimony" argument that scuttled Hamdan, isn't about protecting our sources and methods of intelligence gathering, it's about protecting the Chimp in Chief's ass from War Crimes Prosecution under 18 USC § 2441. They don't want the defendant in the room for certain testimony because illegal methods may have been used to gather that evidence. This was the original impetous for denying Geneva Conventions to detainees, long before the Bybee Memo which essentially redefined torture into "organ failure" - which in plan english means death. Anything short of that - is just fine.

It's long past time certain Congress Critters, especially Senator Lindsay (Sure, we've banned torture, except that no one that's actually been tortured can sue over it) Graham, got a taste of their own medicine.


On Bitches and the Angry Intolerant Left

Yesterday I placed my latest Anti-Ann Coulter rant on Dkos - and because I refered to her as a "Bitch" - All Hell Broke Lose. Here's the update I had to include after changing the title.
Hm, I wrote my post, took a nap and while I was gone a shitstorm happened. Ok, people - I have CHANGED THE TITLE. Obstensibly because of Rule 7. That one word was not the reason I got up a 5am to write this diary. I personally happen to use the word often in a gender neutral way, have been married happily for 15 years - to a female. I express here my thoughts on re-contextualization. Something that singer songwriter Meredeth Brooks explored in her song "Bitch" in 1997, still HER biggest hit ever.

The debate of gender roles and gender rules is a good one, not the point of this diary - but a good discussion none-the-less. I think much of the overreaction to the original dairy title is missplaced and frankly, sad. I tend to agree with Brookes as well as Ice T (when he wrote that Men could be "Bitches 2") that words only have meanings within context and usage. It should be about what idea the person is trying to convey, not simply because the listener has a negative connotation to one particular word that was used because of it's historical meanings. If that's not what they mean, it's not what they mean.

Words change over time, and trying to exlude certain words from usage will never work because people will simply recontextualize other words to make the same point.

About 15 years ago I was member of the Black Rock Coalition and was in attendance of a meeting in UCLA when Living Colour came to town on tour with Rolling Stones. Guns N Roses had been added to the L.A. show dates at the Coliseum and while on the air at KROQ FM two members of LC were asked about the GnR song "One in a Million" which has the line...

"Police and Niggers - that's right - get out of my way. Don't need to buy none of your gold chains today.
While on the air they pretty much trashed the song, and Axl Rose who wrote it - but things weren't that simple at the meeting - which was almost entirely black, except for my wife and stepson) I happen to be black and male. The truth is that black people use the word "Nigger" also, frequently. They have for a very long time, both in a negative context and a positive. Vernon Reid's position was that you can never escape the historical meaning of the word and that ANY usage is inappropriate because it will always have the weight of history attached, no matter who is saying it.

At one point Vernon apologized for his own language use (lot's of "fucks and mother-fuckers" were flying) because of the presence of my 12 year old step-son, who then responded with "I've already heard all that stuff at middle-school, don't sweat it".

Others disagreed with Vernon's position and felt more like the members of Body Count. I was with those others and also sided with Guns N Roses (there was an apology on the cover of the album explaining that that song was "highly generalized" - the song was actually about overcoming racial and ethnic strife by finding a bond with some, but needed some rework to make that point clearer). If you attempt to exclude certain words, you may believe something has been accomplished - but all you've done is short circuited the listening process.

People may not use those words, but they'll still feel the same way and will simply swap in news words to say the same thing. The entire "Macaca" experience shows us this.

I feel it's better to speak your mind openly and honestly rather than self-censor. If people are at least listening to what you say rather than what they want to hear, they probably won't need to decoder manual to understand you.

Yo Nigga, Vyan

Even after making the title change, there were still complaints - because I simply refused to agree with their premise that using such an epithet should always be offlimits because it can be hurtful to women.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Look, I agree that some people are clearly made of candyglass, but my advice to those people is to stay home and stock up on a shitload of bubble-wrap to sleep in. The world is a cold hard place sometimes, if you don't have toughskin to deal with it, it'll deal with you. Whining and crying that somebody hurt your feelings by calling someone who really is a bitch - a Bitch - is ridiculous IMO.

When I discussed this with my own wife, she said "Bitch" is an empowering word for her. It's almost like what you do when you've lost the arguement... like petulantly tossing the gun when you've run out of bullets. I get that. To some extent calling Coulter a Bitch is actually a compliment, she succeeded at her goal of being a "media whore" (Don't fucking start with me, ok- you know what I mean) and drawing attention to her demented ideas. But my original post wasn't really about her anyway - it was about those ideas, which is the real issue.

Was I thinking of the female-dog version of "Bitch" when I wrote what I wrote? Not really. I honestly didn't think about it for more than a half second. I thought it might make people look at the dkos version of the post, but I really didn't spend that much time on the entire thing in the first place. Reformating it for dkos - removing all <> tags took longer.

And they were mean too. (Lol) Check out this irony, their complaint was that I was insulting women - in general, not just Coulter, all women - and it was inappropriate. Unacceptable. EVER. I changed the title, then explained that they hadn't changed my mind about how words can and should be used (as explained in the update above) and some of them said - "Bullshit". "That's a load of crap" and "idiotic pop philosphy."

So I can't say Ann Coulter is a bitch - but I'm an Idiot? A Bullshitter? Full of Crap? What kinda double-standard shit is that?

My direct - and somewhat more measured - response was this:

I have yet to call anything you've said to me either "crap", "Idiotic" or "bullshit" - I've simply disagreed civily and explained my reasons. What I think you've done is give a great example of why the Political Correctness movement has failed so dramatically. Sensitivity is good, but regimented obedience isn't.

Pardon me while I do a Rumsfeld:

Do I think certian words can hurt viciously? Yes. Do I think those certain words should be banned from use always - regardless of context and usage? Hell, no! I think people will just replace them with new words, and then we'll all be in the dark - several steps behind until we finally figure out what they're really saying. (I.e Macaca)

My position remains: Fight the ideas with better ideas, not just the words.

Thanks for your comments.

The thing that still really bothers me is how familiar this is - it took a minute and then I realized what it was. This is exactly the same thing that David Brock (of Media Matters for America) went through in college - and was a key moment in turning him from a Liberal to a Neo-Conservative.

In his sophmore year at Berkeley, Brock was a cub reporter for the Daily Californian scheduled to cover an on campus speach by Reagan UN Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick, architect of much of Reagan's anti-communist policies in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

It was a near riot, with dozens of protestors chanting "Fourty Thousand Dead" and "U.S. Out of El Salvador". They completely drowned Kirkpatrick out. She attempted several times to speak, but was shouted down - eventually giving up and departing. Brock describes the incident in his book "Blinded by the Right."

The scene shook me deeply: Was the harassment of a unpopular speaker the legacy of teh Berkeley-campus Free Speech Movement, when students demanded the right to canvass for any and all political causes on the campus's Sproul Plaza? Wasn't free speach a liberal value? How, I wondered, could this thought police call itself liberal? The few outspoken conservatives on the faculty, and the Reagan [appointed] regents, raised their voices in support of Kirkpatrick'sfree speech rights. The liberals seemed tome to be defending censorship.
That was the moment that set Brock on a path rejecting the hypocracy of the radical left - and into the waiting and willing arms of the radical right. He wrote about the Kirkpatrick incident and was vilified for it. It became a game to him, a constant struggle of "us vs them", eventually the fight itself became his primary moral compass - he would adapt and contort himself into any position simply to "get them" - to "take some scalps" as he later became a writer for the Moonie Times, and Scaif funded American Spectator. Brock is the man who exposed Trooper Gate, and gleefully trashed Anita Hill during the Thomas confirmation hearings. ("She's a little bit slutty and a little bit nutty") It was years before he came to his senses and realized he had essentially betrayed himself, and his own values in the battle to "get those lefties".

The truth is many of today's Neo-cons are Ex-Liberals like Brock. Coulter herself was once a birkenstock wearing Grateful Dead devotee. There's also people like former consumer rights advocate David Horowitz, who went being hard left to becoming a rabid dog (bitch!) for the hard-right.

The second thing that struck me is the fact the Coulter is a public figure. This was a face-to-face conversation, it's not about someone I know personally and the rules really are different, particularly when it comes to the issues of slander and libel. As was shown by the case of Falwell v Flint (Where Hustler Publisher Larry Flint was sued for making a parody that alleged that Jerry Falwell had been conceived in an Outhouse - or put another way - "he was a peice of shit") the First Amendment protects those who would use even the most vile speech against a public figure.

Sure, peoples feeling might indeed get hurt, I tend to feel that's life in the big city - but if I'm talking to someone directly, not a public figure, but someone I know and have some type of relationship with - they'd have to drive me pretty damn far to drop the B-Bomb on them. I probably wouldn't do it to someone in that context.

That's just common courtesy IMO. But in relation to a well known sociopath wing-nut shill like Coulter? Fouggedaboutit! Bombs Away.

Bottom Line: Liberalism has a ways to go still. True Free Speech is painful. People will definatley say shit you really don't want to hear, but trying to shut them up or shout them down isn't the solution. The Radical PC-ites hypocracy tends to inflame and embolden those on the hard right who push back by becoming profane simply because they can - I would argue that Coulter's own make-up is strongly driven by exactly this reaction.

There has to be a better way. Censorship isn't it, but perhaps - just maybe - better speach is.

I'm just saying...