November 2010 Archives

too much Miles?

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PopMatters' Will Layman asks "How Much Is Enough?" in the continued reissues of Miles Davis albums, noting that although "His 40-year body of work is one of the highlights of 20th century art...the record companies who control his legacy have shown seemingly little restraint in repackaging Davis:"

In 2010, they are not only selling a re-mastered box set of Bitches Brew, but they are re-releasing nearly all of Davis' recorded output for Columbia in a new trumpet case format and have even licensed a micro-brew in Davis' honor: Dogfish Head's Bitches Brew. [I discussed both the box set and the beer here.]

It's a marketing blitz that begs a question. Is there any reasonable limit on the re-selling of Miles Davis? How much can we really value Bitches Brew, or any cherished favorite, just because it comes in a new wrapper?

Haunted by the specter of Miles' post-retirement Warner albums being collected into a box set, Layman asks, "do we really want to hear outtakes from Doo-Bop or The Man With The Horn?"

Maybe it's just me, but I think that my Miles Davis Box Set days are behind me. I crave the long booklets and the whiff of the "Good ol' Days," sure, but I mainly crave just listening to the music. I don't think that these releases are damaging, but sometimes I fear that they just crowd out vital new music that should be heard.

But, to be sure, I still listen to Miles--boy, do I. This month, it's Bitches Brew I'm reinvestigating. Forty years on, it still sounds jarring and beautiful, thrilling and inevitable. May it ring like that forever.

Too much Miles is probably impossible, but too much marketing is an all-too-common problem.

The Point magazine has an interesting interview with Harvey (Manliness) Mansfield. He candidly admits to the anti-intellectualism of the conservative base, but sweeps much else under the rug. For example, Mansfield falls back on the 40-year-old archetype of liberals as radicals with totalitarian inclinations when the truth is quite the opposite:

I don't think that conservatives believe that they can do away with liberals; they have enough realism to see that this will always be a temptation, and that makes them more tolerant as people, I think, and as citizens. Whereas liberals really think conservatism is based on prejudice and not principle--it's not respectable, and so, also not necessary to exist. They really have greater confidence that they can do away with their opponents, that permanent victories can be attained.
Liberals may be overconfident in the ideological realm, believing that our opponents' ideas are "not respectable," but it is conservatives who are trying to "do away with" liberals through violence. (See David Neiwert's The Eliminationists for details.) Mansfield later writes that he considers conservatism "a reaction to liberalism:"
It isn't a position that one takes up from the beginning but only when one is threatened by people who want to take away or harm things that deserve to be conserved. I think today that the principle task of conservatism is to save liberalism from the liberals. They misinterpret their own doctrine; pervert it and render it dangerous to freedom and peace alike.

Mansfield doesn't mention any concrete examples of these dangerous misinterpretations and perversions--but when the interview veers into same-sex marriage, he wonders "why would the gays, who pride themselves on their own unconventionality, want to submit to this bourgeois convention?" and continues:

It seems to go against the pride they take in being outlaws. [...] ...they should be asked why they desire to do something really contradictory to their way of life.

As if the "way of life" (the conservative intellectual way to avoid saying "lifestyle") of the LGBT community is all that different from that of straights. As if those gaffes weren't bad enough, Mansfield also praises the debunked stingy-liberal thesis of Who Really Cares? and speculates even further along the same lines.

I had been curious about his book The Spirit of Liberalism, but I'm wondering how worthwhile a read it would be given the number of errors in this interview.

I joked about TSA body-cavity searches before, and Christopher Hitchens has a few words on the subject here. He notes a 2009 incident where "the lethal charge of PETN [plastic explosive] was concealed in the would-be assassin's rectum:"

In order for us to take them even remotely seriously, our Homeland Security officials should by now have had no alternative but to announce a series of random body-cavity searches some months ago.

economic illiteracy

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FDL points out that economic illiteracy is a huge hurdle to overcome because "most Americans don't know a damn thing about economics" and the problem "is not limited to the public at large:"

Without some means to educate the public, the media, and our elected leaders about progressive economic alternatives to our current economic crisis, conservative politicians with their message discipline will continue to sway an electorate that is woefully ignorant on economic matters with simplistic and illogical soundbites passing as policy solutions.

Bruce Bartlett provides an example of this while explaining the idiocy of conservatives' "Starve the Beast" theory of budgetary prudence (discussing conservatism and fiscal responsibility in the same sentence is fairly ridiculous, but there you go):

A prime reason why we have a budget deficit problem in this country is because Republicans almost universally believe in a nonsensical idea called starve the beast (STB). By this theory, the one and only thing they need to do to be fiscally responsible is to cut taxes. [...] It ought to be obvious from the experience of the George W. Bush administration that cutting taxes has no effect whatsoever even on restraining spending, let alone actually bringing it down.

Insofar as the Bush administration was a test of STB, the evidence clearly shows not only that the theory doesn't work at all, but is in fact perverse. [...] Because of its obvious ridiculousness, one seldom hears conservatives say openly that tax cuts automatically reduce spending. But it still underpins the entire Republican budget strategy -- tax cuts never have to be paid for, no meaningful spending cuts are ever put forward, earmarks and foreign aid are said to be the primary sources of budget deficits, and similar absurdities.

Starve the beast is a crackpot theory, and its flip side that higher taxes invariably feed the beast is no better. They are just self-serving rationalizations for Republican budgetary irresponsibility.

Following up on an earlier post on Sarah Palin, Aaron Astor also writes about Republicans' reverse elitism. As he defines it, "reverse elitism is often based in a sort of proud ignorance of what the elites hold to be superior. In other words, the reverse elitist listens to Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney in large part BECAUSE the music snobs reject them:"

Unlike anti-elitists who merely scoff at, mock, or defrock the elites, the reverse elitist actually posits the non-elite as "superior" to that of the elite - not, mind you, because the elites happened to have gotten this or that cultural phenomenon wrong, but because the elites are the elites. In other words, the reverse elitist turns cultural envy - jealousy even - to a rallying cry.

Astor sees Sarah Palin as "the classic Reverse Elitist" because "She takes all the exclusive pretensions of cultural elitists, reverses them, and holds her crowd to be the only people who should matter culturally and politically." Astor writes that in addition to being "comically uninformed on the basic issues of the day," Palin is "the classic American Idol candidate:"

It isn't just that she lacks experience. It's that she lacks anything approaching the sort of character that her own conservative and Republican backers supposedly cherish in a strong leader. She doesn't have "resolve." Her values are self-evidently skewed. She is utterly unserious on just about every policy discussion out there.

There is apparently no cultural element that cannot be egregiously misrepresented by determined ideologues. Frank Capra's classic film It's a Wonderful Life was co-opted by Faux News clown Glenn Beck here for one of his media stunts, which drew rebuttals from Lauri Lebo at Religion Dispatches and Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA. Lebo wrote that Glenn Beck "is now trying to steal the great 1946 Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life and turn it into a rallying cry for the conservative anti-government Christian right:"

Did he and I watch the same movie? Because I don't recall the government being the villain in the movie. No, as a matter of fact, it seemed pretty clear that the villain was Mr. Potter, a greedy and corrupt banker who referred to the working class as "a discontented lazy rabble." (Wow. Sound familiar to anyone else?)

And while the movie features a strong element of divine intervention, it is only of the most passive kind. As you may recall, Clarence the Angel's only accomplishment is to point out George Bailey's lifetime of good works and active commitment to "social justice," something that Beck has said are code words for Communism and Nazism.

Look, Frank Capra wasn't exactly known for his subtle messages. Yet, somehow, Beck manages to reinterpret the movie through an unregulated free-market ideological Ayn Rand prism and message of Christian conservatism. For real? Either Beck has never watched the movie, or he's so conservatively deluded that he thinks Mr. Potter is the hero.

Easley observes that "As usual with Beck, we first need to clear up a bit of history. FDR and the banks were not in collusion:"

FDR's bank holiday wasn't an act of collusion with the banks. It was done in order to restore faith in the banking system, so that people would bring their money back. The bank holiday was the topic of Roosevelt's first Fireside Chat where he said, "I can assure you that it is safer to keep your money in a reopened bank than under the mattress." Once again, Beck completely and inaccurately distorted history. [...]

Frank Capra was a Republican who made liberal films. George Bailey's beliefs in people and community come straight from FDR and the New Deal. These were the prevailing ideas of the day. Capra was making his films for a liberal audience during a liberal time, so it is ridiculous for Beck to suggest that It's A Wonderful Life is conservative epic.

What is so conservative about George Bailey's behavior? He made loans to people he trusted, even though they might not be able to pay him back. He turned down a job that paid more money. He completely ignored the profit motive. He selflessly put his dreams aside and stayed home to run the family business. He trusted and believed in his community. In fact, the entire film is tribute to communitarianism, which is the very concept that Beck and the Tea Party's glorification of selfishness and greed attacks every day.

Beck doubled down on his dumbassery by expressing complete ignorance of the film's progressive themes--which are well-explained here: "To Capra, the rich and powerful had none of the essential qualities to preserve freedom in America, nor did they display any of the core cultural values he championed:"

Henry Potter, the films consummate big money capitalist, is half a man physically, existing entirely from the waist up. More importantly, what remains of his humanity is the part triggered by cold monetary self-interest. Potter has neither family nor friends. His only social relationships are those attached by what a wise philosopher once called the "cash nexus." Unlike his nemesis, George Bailey, Potter is intolerant of America's working class and its ethnic minorities. Potter refers to the former as "suckers" and "riff raff," and the later, "garlic eaters." In short, Capra depicts big time capitalists as bigoted predators, itching to direct America toward a predatory existence under their domain.

It's A Wonderful Life warns that a predatory capitalism could prevail unless regular Americans reconcile the tension between self-interest and the communal spirit--each with a grip on our national consciousness. George Bailey not only embodies this conflict, he provides the object lesson for its resolution. He fights the temptations of self-interest every time...

In fact, the film's thematic material prompted the FBI to call it an example of "Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry." Of course, facts don't penetrate very far into the Rashomon Republicans' world--not as long as they can still lie bald-facedly about the beloved film's historical parallels in one breath and attempt to co-opt its popular stature in the next.


update (11/29):
There's a great take on IAWL here; this is the ending:

George stands by the tree while all the supporting players troop past and dump their spare change on a card table. Oh. I guess THAT'S the Christmas miracle. [...] Suddenly Harry is undead and shows up to make a sappy toast, and everyone sings a premature chorus of Auld Lange Syne. Then George bumps the tree, causing an ornament to tinkle, and daughter Zuzu lisps, "Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." Since we got the impression earlier that Zuzu attends the local public school, All I can say is, Madelyn Murray O'Hair needs to get on the stick.

William Rivers Pitt searches for "the appropriate and necessary level of angst and fury" over the TSA's gate-rape regime at America's airports, and notes the collusion between "the leading voices of outrage over this issue" (Charles Krauthammer, Glenn Beck, and Mike Huckabee, among others) and "a 'mainstream' media that continues to push messages that auger inexorably toward the claim that the 'Tea Party' is right about everything even remotely related to government:"

That is not the kind of company I like to keep, and it gives me great pause about jumping on the TSA-outrage bandwagon. I mean, sure, I have a busted watch at home that's right twice a day, so it's possible these far-right mouthpieces may have stumbled onto some truth for a change. But the fact that the attacks against Obama and the TSA happen to be coming from the same people who have made a cottage industry out of claiming Obama is a secret terrorist who wants to bring Sharia law to America, yet who are now saying he has gone too far in defending the nation from terrorism, even in the face of credible threats to the airline industry, leads me to suspect there is a different game afoot. [...]

Bank on this: if the year was 2002, and President Bush declared these TSA measures to be absolutely necessary to the security of the nation, the same right-bent people currently screaming about the heavy-handed Obama TSA policy would be defending those exact same policies to the teeth, with the "mainstream" media right with them all the way down the party line. For the right, this is opposition simply for the sake of opposition itself, and thanks to the media, they have once again managed to shoehorn another "Government sucks" screaming match to the forefront of the national conversation.

It's rather depressing, in a predictable sort of way...

IT-inclined folks out there may want to read the LifeHacker piece "How to Fix Your Relative's Terrible Computer" in preparation for providing tech support while eating that second piece of pumpkin pie.

There are more garment options in the fight against TSA's XXX-ray scanners--Fourth Amendment underclothes (h/t: Maria Popova at Big Think):

20101124-fourthamendment.jpg

If you're looking for a less cerebral approach--or if you can't tolerate the missing comma--there's always the Speedo option:

AlterNet's Sarah Seltzer and Lauren Kelley have some suggestions on dealing with conservative relatives over Thanksgiving dinner:

Given this month's volatile political climate, chances are someone's going to break the no politics/no religion rule and say something to make your blood boil as you sit around the table this Thanksgiving. When that cringe-inducing moment arrives, whether it's over appetizers or dessert, you want to defend the honor of progressives and their ideas without coming across as snotty, snarky, or out of touch. [...] As tempting as it will be to ask sarcastic questions about teabagging and what kind of scones are served at Tea Parties, that will only get you so far.

YMMV, of course, but their list (which is expanded in the article) strikes me as both level-headed and useful:

1. Brush up on Obama conspiracy theories.

2. Point out the infighting on the Right--and keep yourself out of it.

3. Bring up the Koch brothers.

4. Talk TSA gropings.

5. Find common ground by pointing out generational differences.

David Neiwert explains how militias, racists, and anti-Semites have found a home in the Tea Party. One of his examples is Mark French, a Teabagger from Montana who got slaughtered in the primary--a "deep disappointment that led him to feel pessimistic about the nation's future:"

The Constitution, he says, is under serious assault.

Really? I ask. What parts of the Constitution are being attacked?

The question makes him think for a moment...

French then quotes the Bible and mentions both Roy Moore (of Ten Commandments monument fame) and same-sex marriage before complaining, "We've tried to remove God from our society the best we can. There's no foundation for anything." Neiwert adds:

I wonder how all this constitutes an attack on the Constitution, since the First Amendment separates church and state.

The irony is that the Constitution is "under attack" primarily by those who, like French and his Teabagger buddies, want to not just eviscerate the First Amendment but also overturn birthright citizenship, and let states nullify federal laws [* see update below]. The rest of Neiwert's piece is a tale we've all heard before: militia members and gun nuts, Oath Keepers and Christian Identity followers, and those who worry about "fascism in our current government" and fear the Feds "coming over the hills."

This disconnect from reality would be comical if it weren't so close to being clinical.


* update:
Some Teabaggers also believe that taxation without representation is a fine idea, and we should return to restricting voting rights to property owners.

Hanoi Jane, redux

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FactCheck notes that one of the bogus right-wing emails, the "Jane Fonda is a traitor" one, has been modified to include Obama's name although it's now over a decade out of date.

They apparently believe that any lie is OK as long as it makes a liberal look bad.

John Cole has a few reminders for the Right as they join the Left in complaining about "gate rape" by the TSA:

Who formed the DHS?

Who formed the TSA?

Who had no problem with indefinite detention?

Torture?

Illegal wiretapping?

Who greenlit all these scanners? [...]

Something to keep in mind while we all listen to our newly found believers in individual rights and limited government on the right. I mean, welcome to the fight, but the hypocrisy is staggering.

Props are also due to commenter Southern Beale, whose nose for hypocrisy is even keener:

I remember when liberals protesting the Patriot Act were told to STFU because we were HURTING AMERICA and we wanted the TERRORISTS TO WIN and if we weren't doing anything wrong we should just BEND OVER AND TAKE IT, what's the big deal.

Am I the only one who remembers this? Am I the only one remembering Karl Rove telling New Yorkers in 2005 that liberals wanted to "prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers"? This is all part of that same fucking fear mindset. Now the right is whining about what they basically ASKED FOR when there was a Republican in the White House. [...]

I'm not saying welcome to the fight. I'm saying shut the fuck up. You idiots have been wrong about everything since forever, you set up roadblocks and obstructions to every good and decent thing thoughtful people have tried to do and to add insult to injury you've somehow got the American news media in your hip pocket, buying every bit of dribble that ushers forth from your collective gob because it's some kind of "populism"! Whereas when we liberal elites utter the EXACT SAME THING only, like, 6 years earlier, it's "elitism" that's "out of touch with mainstream America."

Shut the fuck up. You don't deserve your role in the national discourse.

A week ago, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg suggested "an idea you might try to make the day extra-special. It's a one-word idea: Kilts."

Think about it -- if you're a male, and you want to bollix-up the nonsensical airport security-industrial complex, one way to do so would be to wear a kilt. If nothing else, this will cause TSA employees to throw up their hands in disgust. If you want to go the extra extra mile, I suggest commando-style kilt-wearing. While it is probably illegal to fly without pants, I can't imagine that it's illegal to fly without underpants.

If anyone was planning to fly in a kilt, read this report about the Scottish Tartans Authority calling commando kilt-wearing "childish and unhygienic." (Sounds like sour grapes to me...)

Meanwhile, Nate Anderson expresses concern at ars technica that "given the TSA's penchant for trying to stop the last terrorist attack, we're more than a bit concerned about what happens when a miscreant decides to smuggle a plastic explosive onto a plane by stuffing it in a body cavity." USN&WR reports that the TSA is "isn't planning to take the next step toward body cavity searches:"

"We're not going to get in the business of body cavities, that's not where we are," says TSA Administrator John Pistole. [...] "Even if it is a body cavity [bomb], you still have to have an initiator, you have to have some external device to cause that initiation," he said. "There's got to be something external that you can then initiate the device and that's what the advance imaging technology machine will pick up: Any anomaly outside of the body."

Are suicide bombers less committed to their goals than drug mules? I suppose that we'll find out.


update (11/23):
In a more-exposed-than-a-kilt- vein, Violet Blue writes about Furry Girl's exploits with the TSA. Although the website of activist/exhibitionist Furry Girl is still swamped with traffic, it has been mirrored here. She writes about her efforts "to use my own body as a medium to protest against invasive security measures, and in a humorous way that upends the expected dynamic:"

The TSA wanted to feel me up or see what I look like without clothes. I get it. I'm a sex worker. My main porn site gets about 3 million unique visitors a year, and clients pay $4 a minute to see me naked on my web cam, so the TSA's interest in me came as no surprise. Normally, I would charge for such a service, but this one was on the house. Duty, country, sacrifice, patriotism, all that.

For my voyage, I donned a see-though chemise and sheer panties under normal clothes. My nipples, crack, and pubes are all plainly visible though this ensemble. The TSA needed to make sure that I wasn't concealing any errant Al Qaeda operatives in the folds of my labia, after all. [...] As far as I know, I am the current record holder for the nearest-to-naked a passenger has gotten at a TSA screening. I look forward to having that title stripped from me.

She asks, "Remember the children's tale of Brer Rabbit?"

It's time to beg not to be thrown into the briar patch. Put on your sexiest, filmsiest underthings, opt for a grope-down, have fun with it, treat it like a performance, and fake an orgasm in public next time you fly. You'll gain self-confidence, amuse and inspire other passengers, draw attention to the sexually-invasive nature of the modern airport security process, and make government employees look more predatory and inappropriate while feeling up strangers. Protesting in such a way won't change TSA regulations overnight, but it adds to the dissent and public conversation, flips around a demeaning dynamic, and for bold travelers, getting this transparent just might be the only way these days to enter an airport with a smile on your face and your dignity intact.

And hey, at least I'm not one of those public embarrassments who wear their pajamas, a blanket, and an inflatable neck pillow to the airport. For fuck's sake, people! Have some sense of propriety.

Have a backbone, too!

update (12/8):
There is some information on actual commando-style kilted men here.

The NYT reported last week that flier patience is wearing thin at checkpoints: "the growing chorus of complaints from travel industry leaders suggests that frustrations with policies on shoes, laptops, liquids and pat-downs may have reached a limit." In Kafka on Wings, Digby referenced that NYT piece as a "story of Orwellian airport hell" and suggested that we all "think about how many of our basic notions of freedom we've given up in the name of 'Homeland Security' in the past few years. [...] These routine insults, humiliations and suspensions of human dignity are training us to submit to the police state."

This TSA debacle experience by John Tyner is, sadly, a perfect example. Tyner refused the backscatter XXX-ray screening, which has been called a "digital strip search," opted for a hand-screening, and told the agent "before he started the pat down, I looked him straight in the eye and said, 'if you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested:'"

I stated that I would not allow myself to be subject to a molestation as a condition of getting on my flight. The supervisor informed me that it was a standard administrative security check and that they were authorized to do it. I repeated that I felt what they were doing was a sexual assault, and that if they were anyone but the government, the act would be illegal. I believe that I was then informed that if I did not submit to the inspection, I would not be getting on my flight.

I told her that I would be willing to submit to a walk through the metal detector as over 80% of the rest of the people were doing, but I would not be groped. The supervisor, then offered to go get her supervisor. [...] He said that I gave up a lot of rights when I bought my ticket. I replied that the government took them away after September 11th.

Tyner then cancelled his trip, got a refund for his ticket, and prepared to return home:

[Mr. Silva] informed me that I could not leave the airport. He said that once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $10,000 fine. [...] I told him that I would submit to a walk through the metal detector, but that was it; I would not be groped. [...]

I asked if I was free to leave. I reminded him that he was now illegally detaining me and that I would not be subject to screening as a condition of leaving the airport. He told me that he was only trying to help (I should note that his demeanor never suggested that he was trying to help. I was clearly being interrogated.), and that no one was forcing me to stay. [...] I looked him in the eye, and said, "then I'm leaving". He replied, "then we'll bring a civil suit against you", to which I said, "you bring that suit" and walked out of the airport.

FDL's Jane Hamsher commented on the TSA's threat:

The new pat-down policy for refuseniks, which started on November 1, has been described by the Airline Pilots Association as "sexual molestation" -- and it's nothing more than a way to punish people who might boycott the Department of Homeland Security's expensive new boondoggle scanners. And prosecuting Tyner is blatant and very public way to intimidate anyone who might follow his lead.

This goes to show just how how constant threats of "terror" are used to create new markets for products nobody needs. The public is then intimidated into compliance in the name of "national security," when in reality they're sacrificing their dignity, their civil liberties and their tax dollars... [...]

...the "groping" technique was developed as a way to punish people into using the scanners [...] ...so nobody gets the idea to follow Tyner's lead, the TSA is using threats and intimidation to guarantee the market for the porno scanners. Whether Tyner is prosecuted or not, people will hear about what happened to him and think twice before refusing to become fodder for their new machines.

This is a full-on outrage.

Indeed it is, and it's another example of how the Obama administration has changed far too little of the Bush police-state apparatus that they inherited. Glenn Greenwald calls this TSA action "the sort of outrage that really merits a national uprising in defense of this citizen:"

Many Americans, to their shame, are typically apathetic to such concerns because privacy and civil liberties infringements are -- at least it's perceived -- being directed only at foreigners and Muslims, not "real Americans." But these patdowns and body invasions are implicating the masses, and...could therefore finally provoke Americans in large numbers to declare they've had enough with invasive surveillance, at least on this front. The fact that they are now making an example of Tyner for speaking out and publicizing his incident may very well intensify that response; it certainly ought to.

John Cole summed up the TSA's attitude quite succinctly: "Don't submit to the police state, and we'll come after you. This isn't a punishment for Tyner, it is a message to everyone else."

To the totalitarian mentality, nothing less than complete submission is acceptable.


update 1:
The TSA has a blog, and one of their minions (Blogger Bob) writes that opting out doesn't fly:

Obviously a passenger can't completely opt out of all screening if they opt out of AIT. That would not make good security sense. [...] While TSA has the legal authority to levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000.00 for cases such as this, each case is determined on the individual circumstances of the situation.

While I understand the underlying desire for transportation security, this is being handled in a Cartman-like "Respect my authoritah!" manner which is less than helpful and creates an oppositional attitude in travelers. For example, see this snarky t-shirt

20101118-tsasucks.jpg

and these Flying Pasties (h/t: bug_girl at SkepChick):

20101117-flyingpasties.jpg

With fully-operational snarkiness, I wonder if the TSA is planning to change their slogan to something more representative of their new activities--perhaps something like this:

"A free handjob with every flight!"

Airports could brag about the new XXX-ray scanners in their branding:

"San Diego is one of TSA's 'Happy Ending' airports."

On a more serious note, Newsweek discusses the new pat-downs as a trigger for sexual assault survivors--surely a sign that the TSA is over the line.


update 2 (11/18):
Fly with Dignity has a once-in-a-great-while image that distills this issue in a memorable way:

20101118-ladyliberty.jpg

The Privacy Coalition is campaigning to Stop Digital Searches, the ACLU has a Homeland Security Wants to See You Naked page, and there is plenty of news at EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center).

Penn Jillette describes his security-theater experience here:

I said, "You have to ask me before you touch me or it's assault."

He said, "Once you cross that line, I can do whatever I want."

I said that wasn't true. I say that I have the option of saying no and not flying. He said, "Are you going to let me search you, or do I just throw you out?"

I said, "Finish up, and then call the police please."

Teller's story isn't as confrontational as Tyner's, but it's still worth reading. Perhaps we should participate in National Opt-Out Day next Wednesday:

It's the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an "enhanced pat down" that touches people's breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, "Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK." [...] We do not believe the government has a right to see you naked or aggressively touch you just because you bought an airline ticket.

Here's an image from 2008 that's been making the rounds:

20101118-cavitysearch.jpg
(French, English)


update 3 (11/19):
Bruce Schneier discusses the backscatter backlash, features more links than you probably want, and includes parts of his previous comments on the TSA:

Exactly two things have made airline travel safer since 9/11: reinforcement of cockpit doors, and passengers who now know that they may have to fight back. Everything else -- Secure Flight and Trusted Traveler included -- is security theater.

On a more sarcastic note, here is a new TSA logo:
20101119-tsa.jpg

Why do I...

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...make fun of Teabagger politicians? Here is one reason:

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland's Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 - 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

"He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care," said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. [...] "Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap," added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris's request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.

Here's a nice example of PR damage-control failure:

[Harris' spokesperson Anna] Nix said Harris, who is the father of five, wasn't being hypocritical - he was just pointing out the inefficiency of government-run health care.

He's complaining about waiting to receive inefficient healthcare? That sounds like teabagger logic to me, and I wonder if he believes the free market will give it to him cheaper or faster.


update:
Shakesville's Space Cowboy brings the snark:

I find the schadenfreude most enjoyable, watching a total dipshit like Harris whinge and cry about the very thing he wants to deny others.

clock-touching

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Has everyone performed the wasteful bi-annual clock-touching ritual otherwise known as Daylight Saving Time? If so, or perhaps if not, you might enjoy the comments of Ron Chusid at Liberal Values:

Republicans are sure disappointed that, even [after] all their victories, we are only turning back the clocks one hour tonight.

Also displaying an enjoyable snarkiness is this post at Mock, Paper, Scissors:

PSA: Set your clocks back...and if you can, set them back to before last Tuesday.

Here's one from Jerry Thomas (h/t: Towleroad):

Daylight Savings is Socialism for clocks. The liberals are stealing an hour that will have to be repaid by our grandchildren.

"...and so did you."

I'm almost speechless after watching this video (h/t: Dale McGowan):

The time-lapse shots of the Milky Way rotating in the night sky (1:50-2:35 and 8:05-8:50) are goosebump-inducingly glorious. Here are a few of my favorite passages from the narration:

"These numbers [the size and scale of the Milky Way] are essential to understanding what a galaxy is. But when contemplating them, some part of the human mind protests that it cannot be so. Yet an examination of the evidence brings you to the conclusion that it is. And if you take that conclusion out on a clear dark night and look up, you might see something that will change your life." (1:25-2:00)


"When I looked at the galaxy that night, I knew the faintest twinkle of starlight was a real connection between my comprehending eye--along a narrow beam of light--to the surface of another sun. The photons my eyes detect, the light I see, the energy with which my nerves interact, came from that star. I thought I could never touch it, yet something from it crosses the void and touches me.

My eyes saw only a tiny point of light, but my mind saw so much more." (3:20-3:55, with a brief clip from the incomparable Blade Runner.)


"That night under the Milky Way, I who experienced it cannot call the experience a religious experience for I know it was not religious in any way. I was thinking about facts and physics, trying to visualize what is--not what I would like there to be.

There's no word for such experiences that come through scientific and not mystical revelation. The reason for that is that every time someone has such a 'mindgasm,' religion steals it simply by saying 'Ah...you had a religious experience.' And spiritualists will pull the same shit--and both camps get angry when an atheist like me tells you that I only ever had these experiences after rejecting everything supernatural." (6:20-7:05)


"If I have something that can be called a soul that needed saving, then science saved it...from religion." (11:35)

It should surprise no one that conservative voters are both older

20101105-age.gif

and wealthier

20101105-income.gif

than liberal ones in the midterms; see other exit-poll demographic information from the WSJ (h/t: Lynn Parramore at AlterNet).

deadpan delivery

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This video by George Takei (h/t: Buffy at Gaytheist Agenda) gave me just the laugh I needed on this depressing morning:

(Check Towleroad for details of the McCance scandal if you're not already familiar with it...)

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