Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Few Thoughts for Today (Verse)

by Dee Newman

Life begins and ends
In mystery – in between,
Lies savage beauty.

When absent, touch seems
To be as necessary
As air and sunlight.

Is art the effort
To create a different

Should despicable
Acts and deeds be entitled
To escape disgrace?

Are we what we are
Because we are not what we
Could or should be?

Is a man wretched
Whose motives and actions make
His deeds infamous?

Do you know which is
The product of the other –
Drama or people?

Do all poems express
A mood or an emotion

Friday, February 26, 2010

Latest in Clinical Nutrition 2009

A Must See!

1 of 20

2 of 20

7 of 20 (skipping ahead: it seems vegans are healthier than the average American)

 8 of 20

To view the entire series click here.

From By Pen Or By Sword

First Contest of 2010!!! Two great Books!!

Hello and welcome to my first contest for 2010. It is a "200 Follower Contest" and it is in celebration of Black History Month (BHM). You can read my heartfelt opinions on BHM and my hope that in the future history will be adequately written to represent all cultures fairly and accurately HERE.
For this contest:
Please comment with your email address, mention whether you are a new follower or an existing follower. Each comment by an existing follower will count once (+1), Each comment made by a new follower will count twice (+2). You can comment as often as you like as long as you write at least one sentence and copy & paste your email address and follower status in every comment you leave. Good luck. Now here is what the winner will get.

Product Description from Amazon

To Be A Slave by Julius Lester. What was it like to be a slave? Listen to the words and learn about the lives of countless slaves and ex-slaves, telling about their forced journey from Africa to the United States, their work in the fields and houses of their owners, and their passion for freedom. You will never look at life the same way again.
Product Description from Amazon
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross the color line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man. His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity-that in this new millennium still has something important to say to every American.
If you Twitter or use Face Book, MySpace, Live Journal or Blogger you can get an extra entry by writing your own Black History message/post and mention this contest. I'm only on Myspace and Blogger so it's difficult to get the word out. 
The sharing of this contest will be very much appreciated!
Contest Ends on February 28th!!
Due to Broken Links This Contest will be extended until 3/5/10

From Harpers and The Daily Show

Health Care and Meat Inspectors: Obama at the Health Care Summit

Poor Obama. It must be hard being so much smarter than his political opponents, which was so evident at yesterday’s health care summit. Of course, being smart doesn’t always lead to smart policy, but in terms of brainpower the gap between the president and his political foes could not have been more evident.

The problem is that Obama comes off as being arrogant. But who can blame him? When you’re forced to deal with the likes of Congressman Eric Cantor, it’s hard not to be condescending. Check out the Daily Show’s take on the health care summit below, and watch Cantor’s face after Obama responds to his call to get government out of health care, telling him, “We could set up a system where food is probably cheaper than it is right now, if we just eliminated meat inspectors.”


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon—Thurs 11p / 10c
Bipartisan Health Care Reform Summit 2010
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorVancouverage 2010

From Democracy Now

Healthcare Summit Ends in Deadlock; Single-Payer Advocates Excluded 
After nearly seven hours of televised debate, President Obama’s so-called bipartisan healthcare summit ended Thursday without any substantive agreement between Republicans and Democrats. Republican lawmakers remained staunchly opposed to using the federal government to regulate health insurance. We speak to Columbia Journalism Review contributing editor Trudy Lieberman and pediatrician Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program. [includes rush transcript]

The Last Days of Bud

I am sobbing as I write this . . . I just read a small simple story, a true story, by a dear friend.

Whether or not you have had to endure the agonizing and helpless experience of watching a love-one suffer and die, you will be transformed, brought to your emotional knees, by the imagery of Dan’s words.

Please read . . . The Last Days of Bud.

Just Another Political Hack

by Dee Newman

Though ideologically, I have often disagreed with him, there was a time when I thought Lamar Alexander was a statesman, but it seems that in his desire to assume a leadership position in the Senate and his party’s hierarchy, he has sold his soul to the devil and become just another political hack.

Yesterday, in his opening statement at the White House health policy conference he declared, "for millions of Americans, premiums will go up" under the Obama plan. He knows, as well as anyone, that a half-truth is not only deceitful, it is a lie.

He knew when he composed his opening statement and when he opened his mouth and uttered it that it was intentionally misleading. He knew that though the premiums for millions of Americans may go up, for millions of others, premiums will go down and for those who may face higher costs they will be receiving better coverage than they do now.

Not once did he veer from his party’s hostile and obstructionist script. And, he delivered the talking-points of that script with passion and without shame.

Fortunately, President Obama did not allow the false claims of Lamar and his “loyal opposition” to go unchallenged. The President quickly and sharply disputed Alexander’s assertion, quoting from the Congressional Budget Office’s report, the President insisted that the facts were on his side:
Lamar . . . that's just not the case, according to the Congressional Budget Office . . . it's not factually accurate . . . Here's what the Congressional Budget Office says: The costs for families for the same type of coverage that they're currently receiving would go down 14 percent to 20 percent. What the Congressional Budget Office says is that because now they've got a better deal, because policies are cheaper, they may choose to buy better coverage than they have right now, and that might be 10 percent to 13 percent more expensive than the bad insurance that they had previously.
Giving a much fairer and accurate summary of what the CBO analysis found, the President offered important context that Senator Alexander had intentionally left out.

Though the analysis estimated that average premiums for people buying insurance individually may be higher in 2016 under the Senate bill, as Alexander had claimed, their individual policies would actually cover more, while over half the people would be receiving substantial government subsidies to defray the additional costs.

As the President pointed out, even without subsidies, the policies offered today, if offered in 2016, would be considerably less expensive under the Senate plan because many more healthy young people would be signing up for the coverage because insurance would become mandatory, moderating costs for all of us.

Though the Senate bill sets minimum levels of coverage, requiring some people to pay for better insurance than they have now, the CBO analysis anticipated that nearly 60 percent of the people covered under individual policies would qualify for subsidies, bringing their own costs down by more than half from what they pay now.

As Representative Anthony Weiner said yesterday on the House floor, “Make no mistake about it, every single Republican I have every met in my entire life is a wholly own subsidiary of the Insurance Industry!”

Even Lamar Alexander!

"You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts"

Bipartisan Meeting on Health Reform: Part 1

Thursday, February 25, 2010

From Salon.Com

Inside the mind of Newsweek on "terrorism"

Aside from the suffocating denseness of their discussion -- most of them ramble on about who is and is not a "Terrorist" for three straight days without even attempting to define what that term means -- just look at how blatantly tribalistic and propagnadistic they are about its usage.  Many of them all but say outright that it can apply only to Muslims but never non-Muslim Americans.  The whole thing has to be read to be believed -- and what's most amazing is that they published it because they obviously though it was some sort of probing, intelligent discussion which would enlighten the public -- but let's just examine a few of the contributions.  First, here's the question posed to the group by Newsweek Editor Devin Gordon:

We've been having a discussion over here about the aversion so far to calling the Austin Tax Wacko a terrorist - or as the Wall St Journal called him "the tax protester." And I'm wondering if anyone has read yet - or would tackle themselves - a thorough comparison between our ho-hum reaction to a guy who successfully crashed a plane into a government building versus the media's full-throated insanity over the underpants bomber, who didn't hurt anyone but himself.
This is the first answer, from Managing Editor Kathy Jones:

Did the label terrorist ever successfully stick to McVeigh? Or the Unabomber? Or any of the IRS bombers in our violence list?
Here is my handy guide:
Lone wolfish American attacker who sees gov't as threat to personal freedom: bomber, tax protester, survivalist, separatist
Group of Americans bombing/kidnapping to protest U.S. policies on war/poverty/personal freedom/ - radical left-wing movement, right-wing separatists
All foreign groups or foreign individuals bombing/shooting to protest American gov't: terrorists.
So according to Newsweek's Managing Editor, only a foreigner who "protests the American government" can be a Terrorist.  Americans cannot be.  Indeed, according to her, "all foreign individuals bombing/shooting to protest American government" are "Terrorists," which presumaby includes Muslims who fight against American armies invading their countries (which is how the U.S. Government uses the term, too).  Meanwhile, Leftist Americans who engage in violence are "radicals," while those on the Right who do so are merely "protesters, survivalists, and separatists."  Only anti-American foreigners can be Terrorists.  That's really what she said.  Then we have this, from reporter Jeneen Interlandi:

I agree with Kathy. Right or wrong, we definitely reserve the label "terrorist" for foreign attackers. Even the anthrax guy (not that we ever found him) wasn't consistently referred to as terrorist.
Reporter Dan Stone takes that a step further:

Yep, comes down to ID. This guy was a regular guy-next-door Joe Schmo. Terrorists have beards in live in caves. He was also an American, so targeting the IRS seems more a political statement -- albeit a crazy one -- whereas Abdulmutallab was an attack on our freedom. Kind of the idea that an American can talk smack about America, but when it comes from someone foreign, we rally together.
One might think he was being ironic or merely describing how Americans (but not Newsweek) foolishly thinks, but he described the views of his fellow reporters and editors perfectly, and virtually nobody in the discussion took that as anything other than accurate and serious.  Reporter Eve Conant goes so far as to provide the justification -- or at least the mitigation -- for what Stack did as opposed to those dirty people with beards in caves:

Isn't the ho-hum reaction in part the simple psychology behind the fact that a) no one likes the IRS and b) he's an American (so closest he might get is "domestic terrorist" in terms of labels) who doesn't hate Americans but hates an institution. The act is horrible, but somehow the motivation is perceived as less offensive. As one conservative at the CPAC conference told me, Stack simply "made a poor life choice." There's no way anyone would say that about the underwear bomber.
Now here's Mike Isikoff, not even pretending that the term has a consistent meaning:

ok, just to weigh in on this -- I think some of the comments miss what I take to be the fundamental distinction. The underpants bomber, for all his ineptitude, was equipped and dispatched by a foreign enemy -- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- whose ultimate leader (bin Laden) has declared war on the United States and who has demonstrated his willingness and intent to inflict mass casualties on our civilian population. That makes underpants man a terrorist and had he been captured overseas, would have made himan enemy combatant -- and why the Obama administration dispatches the U.S. military and Predator drones to destroy the people who sent him here. Similarly, the Fort Hood shooter may have been a disturbed "lone wolf" but he was in ideological alignment and in communication with a member of the same foreign enemy.
That makes them both terrorists.
The Austin tax protestor, the anthrax scientist wacko, the Unabomber -- all did heinous things that we can describe any way we want -- certainly what they did were terrorist acts --  but they all remain a very different kettle of fish, which is why Mr. underpants man gets more attention that Austin tax protestor flying plane into building.
So when a Muslim attacks a military base that is deploying soldiers into a war zone, that's Terrorism.  By contrast, when non-Muslim American slaughter civilians -- even by sending lethal biological agents or bombs to them through the mail -- perhaps it's "terrorism" in some technical sense, but not the real kind (as Fox News put it:  it's "not Terrorism with a capital T").  Michael Hirsh added:  "Isikoff pretty much has it right. Al Qaeda and Islamist extremism co-opted the term 'terrorist' after 9/11."

A couple of the participants in the Newsweek discussion pushed back against this mentality and cogently argued that because it's the act, not the identity of the person, that determines "Terrorism," Americans can and often do qualify.  Articles Editors Kate Dailey and Ben Adler, for instance, argued that those who kill abortion doctors are clearly "terrorists," because -- as Adler put it -- "trying to bully [people] thru fear of violence into behaving a certain way that suits your political views strikes me as the epitome of terrorism."  But of course that applies to everything from the American "Shock and Awe" campaign in Iraq to the Israeli attack on Gaza, though Newsweek would never, ever apply the term that way.

What's perhaps most strange about the Newsweek discussion is that it often lapses into the Innocent Bystander Syndrome of journalism, where journalists talk about phenomena that they cause as though they have nothing to do with it and merely observe it.  Thus, several of them don the voice of objective scientist studying the mating habits of farm animals (i.e., American citizens) -- let's try to understand why these interesting, bizarre creatures get so pent up over the Underwear Bomber but don't care about the IRS attacker -- without acknowledging or realizing that their jingoistic, tribalistic, and government-mimicking use of the term Terrorism (that's what is done by those Muslims who don't like us, but never by us) plays a major role in how these episodes are perceived.

It's quite similar to the way that other countries' use of barbaric interrogation techniques is "torture," while the same methods when used by Americans are -- at worst -- "enhanced interrogation techniques that some critics refer to as 'torture'."  Or how the short-term detention of American journalists by Bad foreign countries receives endless media attention, while America's years-long, due-process-free imprisonment of Muslim journalists is studiously ignored.  Journalists bolster these narratives through their sycophantic, government-serving behavior, and then marvel at the outcomes they spawn as though they are nothing but detached, impotent observers.

All of this yet again underscores the prime function of establishment journalism in the U.S.:  to uncritically amplify the views of those who wield political power.  And it is also perfectly consistent with their first mandate:  the U.S. is incapable of acts of evil (and certainly incapable of "Terrorism"), which is reserved only for those foreigners who dislike and "protest" the United States.

From Rachel Maddow Show

Republicans Lie About Reconciliation

Republicans have used reconciliation 16 of the 22 times it has been used since 1980.

American Health is not a Business Goal

Anthony Weiner has balls! It is time for the majority to find theirs.

A Special Comment from Keith Olbermann

This may be the most important and best special comment Olbermann has done. A must-see.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From The New York Times

Why I’m Leaving the Senate

Published: February 20, 2010
BASEBALL may be our national pastime, but the age-old tradition of taking a swing at Congress is a sport with even deeper historical roots in the American experience. Since the founding of our country, citizens from Ben Franklin to David Letterman have made fun of their elected officials. Milton Berle famously joked: “You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think.” These days, though, the institutional inertia gripping Congress is no laughing matter.

Challenges of historic import threaten America’s future. Action on the deficit, economy, energy, health care and much more is imperative, yet our legislative institutions fail to act. Congress must be reformed.

There are many causes for the dysfunction: strident partisanship, unyielding ideology, a corrosive system of campaign financing, gerrymandering of House districts, endless filibusters, holds on executive appointees in the Senate, dwindling social interaction between senators of opposing parties and a caucus system that promotes party unity at the expense of bipartisan consensus.

Many good people serve in Congress. They are patriotic, hard-working and devoted to the public good as they see it, but the institutional and cultural impediments to change frustrate the intentions of these well-meaning people as rarely before. It was not always thus.

While romanticizing the Senate of yore would be a mistake, it was certainly better in my father’s time. My father, Birch Bayh, represented Indiana in the Senate from 1963 to 1981. A progressive, he nonetheless enjoyed many friendships with moderate Republicans and Southern Democrats.

One incident from his career vividly demonstrates how times have changed. In 1968, when my father was running for re-election, Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, approached him on the Senate floor, put his arm around my dad’s shoulder, and asked what he could do to help. This is unimaginable today.

When I was a boy, members of Congress from both parties, along with their families, would routinely visit our home for dinner or the holidays. This type of social interaction hardly ever happens today and we are the poorer for it. It is much harder to demonize someone when you know his family or have visited his home. Today, members routinely campaign against each other, raise donations against each other and force votes on trivial amendments written solely to provide fodder for the next negative attack ad. It’s difficult to work with members actively plotting your demise.

Any improvement must begin by changing the personal chemistry among senators. More interaction in a non-adversarial atmosphere would help.

I’m beginning my 12th year in the Senate and only twice have all the senators gathered for something other than purely ceremonial occasions. The first was during my initial week in office. President Bill Clinton had been impeached and the Senate had to conduct his trial. This hadn’t happened since 1868, and there were no rules in place for conducting the proceedings.

All of us gathered in the Old Senate Chamber. For several hours we debated how to proceed. Finally, Ted Kennedy and Phil Gramm, ideological opposites, were given the task of forging a compromise. They did, and it was unanimously ratified.

The second occasion was just days after Sept. 11. Every senator who could make it to Washington gathered in the Senate dining room to discuss the American response. The nation had been attacked. The building in which we sat had been among the targets, and only the heroism of the passengers prevented the plane from reaching its destination. We had to respond to protect the country. There were no Republicans or Democrats in the room that day, just Americans. The spirit of patriotism and togetherness was palpable. That atmosphere prevailed for only two or three weeks before politics once again intervened.

It shouldn’t take a constitutional crisis or an attack on the nation to create honest dialogue in the Senate. Let’s start with a simple proposal: why not have a monthly lunch of all 100 senators? Every week, the parties already meet for a caucus lunch. Democrats gather in one room, Republicans in another, and no bipartisan interaction takes place. With a monthly lunch of all senators, we could pick a topic and have each side make a brief presentation followed by questions and answers. Listening to one another, absent the posturing and public talking points, could only promote greater understanding, which is necessary to real progress.

From Around Tennessee (Photos)

Dennis Kucinich: Health Care Reform Is ALL About the Left!

A Sonnet for Alex


Choices, without them there’s no morality,
No reasoned will by which to live and learn.
Be brave; do not fear your mortality.
Give, yet expect no reward in return.
Whatever may be the consequence,
Whatever the punishment or the prize,
Choose to speak and to act without pretense,
Resist all temptations to compromise.
Whatever your longing or your desire,
Whatever your hope, your wish, or your dream,
There is nothing you may ever acquire
That is worth losing your own self-esteem.
So, within the many murmuring voices
 Remember to always make good choices.

                                                by Dee Newman

From The White House Website


Find out what health care reform means for you.Over the past year the House and the Senate have been working on an effort to provide health insurance reform that lowers costs, guarantees choices, and enhances quality health care for all Americans. Building on that year-long effort, the President has now put forth a proposal that incorporates the work the House and the Senate have done and adds additional ideas from Republican members of Congress. The President has long said he is open to any good ideas for reforming our health care system, and he looks forward to discussing ideas for further improvements from Republicans and Democrats at an open, bipartisan meeting on Thursday.

The proposal will make health care more affordable, make health insurers more accountable, expand health coverage to all Americans, and make the health system sustainable, stabilizing family budgets, the Federal budget, and the economy:
  • It makes insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today.  This helps over 31 million Americans afford health care who do not get it today – and makes coverage more affordable for many more. 
  • It sets up a new competitive health insurance market giving tens of millions of Americans the exact same insurance choices that members of Congress will have.  
  • It brings greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.  
  • It will end discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • It puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years – and about $1 trillion over the second decade – by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.

Key Provisions in the President’s Proposal:

The President’s Proposal builds off of the legislation that passed the Senate and improves on it by bridging key differences between the House and the Senate as well as by incorporating Republican provisions that strengthen the proposal.

One key improvement, for example, is eliminating the Nebraska FMAP provision and providing significant additional Federal financing to all States for the expansion of Medicaid.  For America’s seniors, the proposal completely closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap.  It strengthens the Senate bill’s provisions that make insurance affordable for individuals and families, while also strengthening the provisions to fight fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid to save taxpayer dollars.  The threshold for the excise tax on the most expensive health plans will be raised from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500 and will start in 2018 for all such plans.  And another important idea included is improving insurance protections for consumers and creating a new Health Insurance Rate Authority to review and rein in unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.

Summaries of Key Elements of the President’s Proposal:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From The Narrows (Photos)


I spent this last weekend visiting an old friend and colleague, Phil Fratesi up in Baltimore. Sunday night we went to see Gründlehämmer, a rock opera produced by the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS). The 3-hour long production was created by director Aran Keating, music coordinator Dylan Koehler, band director John DeCampos, and prop master and floor manager Eli Breitburg-Smith.

Phil’s son, Jackson, plays Mammoroth and the Gründle – the giant, grotesque, green and yellow, multi-armed, cave-dwelling monster – who guards the highly coveted musical weapon – the Gründlehämmer – using the torsos and limbs of its dismembered victims as instruments of musical power and strength. Jackson gives a sterling performance as Mammoroth, but his portrayal of the Great Gründle is outrageously magnificent!

Jacksom as Mammoroth

Jackson as the Gründle

The plot you may recognize. It is a familiar one: the kingdom of Brotopia, is forced into years of darkness and despair by a sinister ruler (Lothario) who murders the noble king.

Brandon Arinoldo as Lorthario

The infant heir to the throne, Benedon, (played by Christopher Krysztofiak) is miraculously rescued from his dead mother’s womb and raised by a family in a distant agrarian hamlet called Coxally Glen (those from Baltimore will readily understand the significance). Observing the child as he grows up, we watch as he is mentored by Gunnora (played brilliantly by Vanessa Eskridge) who imparts the necessary knowledge and skill to become the man he needs to be in order to slay the Gründle to obtain the Gründlehämmer, so that, he may successfully challenge the evil Lorthario to become the good and noble king he is destined to be.  Though the plot may be hackneyed (the confrontation and destruction of an evil antagonist), the spectacular and dramatic production is not.

Vanessa Eskridge as Gunnora

 The Death of Gunnora in the arms of Benedon

Gründlehämmer functions often at hysterical and hilarious extremes. Everyone in Brotopia has a stringed instrument of some sort or another that represents their trade or place in society . . . from shovel and pitchfork-headed guitars for farmers to various skull and axe laden stringed instruments for the villains. The storyline is not only epic and larger-than-life with multi-sub-plots, the sets and costumes are completely over-the-top . . . as is the complexity of the music and the extremely large cast and vocal and dance routines.

 Gründle with some cast members


Entire Cast

However, the real appeal of Gründlehämmer lies not in the excessive extremes of the imaginative and creative production, but in the viewer’s bond with the characters. Gründlehämmer excels at almost every level. It is an extraordinary social and theatrical event and experience . . . one I will never forget!

Jackson and Phil

From DC Bureau

Trento’s Take: Fox News Can’t Upset Murdoch’s Saudi Prince
03 February 2010
Written by Joseph Trento

Last month I appeared on Fox News Network’s morning show, Fox and Friends, to talk about airline security. Normally such appearances end up as clips on the Fox News Web site. Granted, the Steve Doocy interview was hardly groundbreaking, but that is seldom a criterion for feeding the beast that is a major cable network news Web site. Curiously, I was quoted in a written piece on the site that got a fair amount of pick-up, but no video.

It was not until a few days later that I learned what may have been behind the absence of a video clip on the Web site. I had said to Doocy that Saudi Arabian money was still financing Al Qaeda. Doocy did not react to my comment. But ten days later I learned that Fox’s parent company, News Corporation, was, at the time of my interview, negotiating with a Saudi prince to vastly increase his stake in the company.

The notorious Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, nephew to the Saudi king, met with Rupert Murdoch in Hong Kong on Jan. 14. The prince issued a press release after the meeting stating that the prince’s Kingdom Holding Company had discussions that "touched upon future potential alliances with News Corp."

By the time I appeared on Fox News, Prince Alwaleed was about to become News Corp’s fourth largest voting shareholder (behind the Murdoch family, Liberty Media, and Fidelity Management & Research Co, a mutual fund). The prince has repeatedly defended his homeland as a problem-free place. What he has failed to mention is that he has personally donated huge amounts of money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Alwaleed is the same Saudi prince who made headlines right after 9/11 when he personally went to Ground Zero and offered then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check for the relief efforts. But Alwaleed could not keep his mouth shut. He released a bizarre statement that blamed the attacks – not on the 15 airline hijackers from Saudi Arabia – but on the United States’ support of Israel. Giuliani, “America’s mayor,” saw a political opportunity and, confident that his reaction was appropriate, immediately refused the prince’s donation. He said: “There is no moral equivalent for this attack.”

Giuliani, who is a frequent guest on Fox shows, was widely praised at the time for turning back the prince’s money. Flash forward nine years. Since the prince upped his ante in his Fox/News Corp. holdings, we have not heard much from the normally vociferous Fox hosts.

Don Imus now hangs his hat at the Fox Business News channel. Each day the “I-Man” proves his loyalty to his new network overlords by making certain there are not too many “panty wearing liberals” visiting his glitzy new set. It is true that some of his liberal friends abandoned him after he made racist and sexist statements on his MSNBC show. But when the I-Man’s talented crew was in media exile, his producer, Bernard McGirk, helped pave the way for the show’s move from RFD-TV oblivion to Fox, thus proving that ratings trump behavior.

The prince becoming a player at News Corps is perfect fodder for the normally fearless I-Man. One Imus regular, an explosive ex-New York cop turned security expert and friend of the famous Bo Dietl, used to unload loud and unending tirades against the Saudis. But curiously, in recent appearances, Bo has been uncharacteristically restrained and has not said a word about the Saudis since Murdoch kissed the money frog that is the Saudi prince.

I never figured Imus was someone who would pass up a really easy and cheap joke. But that is just what he has done over the last few weeks. After the Fox Business News’s other top marquee name, Neil Cavuto, did an unbelievably fawning interview with the prince shortly after he increased his shares in News Corp, the Imus show continued the charade.

Remarkably, I find myself agreeing with Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan appointee who is not happy about Murdoch’s new dealings with the prince. He recently wrote:

…Even more troubling than having a Saudi spinmeister, even a lousy one, at the decision-making table of America’s most successful, and conservative, television network is another aspect of Al-Waleed’s deal with Mr. Murdoch. The Australian entrepreneur has reportedly also given the prince the unfiltered ability to broadcast Saudi-produced materials directly into America on Murdoch’s satellite. Here’s how that part of the deal will evidently work: Prince Al-Waleed’s Rotana Audio Visual Company, which operates TV channels in the Middle East, has signed a deal with DirecTV, the TV-satellite firm controlled by News Corp. As a result, it would seem Rotana will be able to beam its programs into U.S. cable boxes without interference from federal regulators, or anybody else…What passes for entertainment in Saudi Arabia mostly looks like jihadist agitprop to the rest of us. Rotana has a huge library of movies, music and television programs. Such programming has to also include vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and anti-American incitement. That is, after all, the only kind of material the Wahhabi religious censors approve for production and broadcast in Saudi Arabia. Could that be what the prince has in mind for DirecTV subscribers?
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal
Then the question occurs: Can we rely on Rupert Murdoch to keep the Saudi prince from abusing his new platforms? Perhaps not. After all, Mr. Murdoch is having succession, financial, and other problems with his business empire. In fact, he was reportedly so concerned about losing control of the News Corporation that he arranged to put a ‘poison pill’ defense in place to stop a hostile takeover bid from one of his rivals, media magnate John Malone. Malone’s Liberty Media had taken an 18 percent share in News Corp’s voting stock. Since the Murdoch family owns only 30 percent of the company’s voting shares, he is likely to be very grateful now that his prince has come. And Al-Waleed seems to understand how to reinforce that sentiment. He has told the press that he is ‘a vocal and open ally of Mr. Murdoch.’ In his inimitable fashion, the prince added that he hasn’t given Mr. Murdoch official control of his vote, but News Corp’s founder can count on him to vote the Australian’s way. ‘He does not have proxy for me, but he has my verbal proxy.’

Could it be that the Saudis’ troubling move on Fox and its sister companies is getting so little attention from the competition because they hope such a step will make them look at Fox News as less ‘fair and balanced’? You decide.”

The thing about the prince that can make us all rest a little easier is that he does not hide his feelings. Our friends at 60 Minutes were invited to do a profile on him in the wake of the return of his 9/11 check. The late Ed Bradley dutifully demonstrated for all to see that the prince is one of the most self indulgent of the Kingdom’s thousands of royal cousins. With a straight face the prince told Bradley: “...Saudi Arabia has no civil unrest, no civil disobedience. Sorry. Saudi Arabia is a very stable country. Sure…we had these bombs here and there, but they were all related to a certain subject.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

From Jackson's Blog – Sablesma

Michael K. Williams (Omar Little from HBO's The Wire)

Explanatory: Trix and I had just gotten bagels delivered, from about two blocks away and it took an hour, but we were happy to stay in bed and wait, and we’re just starting to tuck in when James and Andy head out to actually make the walk.  I wasn’t through another bite of my (Toasted-Everything-Scallion-Cream-Cheese-Cucumbers-Tomatoes-Sprouts) bagel before back comes Jamie, arms up and declaring it time for shots of Patron*.
My reaction, based on the sun’s position in the sky, to say nothing of the previous night’s revelries, was something like “shut the f**k up.”  It may have been “get the f**k out.”  I don’t remember exactly!  Whatever it was, it couldn’t make it all the way out of my mouth without dying a quick death when I saw who followed him in.
Wes said it, and it’s real, tequila’s never gone down so smooth.  We talked about Baltimore, he’d just been down to party with Snoop.  He took another shot and complained about the semi-limited release of the Road, his family couldn’t find it anywhere near them.  He smoked a cigarette inside.  His five-month-old Min Pin with a sweater jacket that read BAD DOG, which his mom bought and he hates but it was very cold, peed on the floor.  We all laughed and loved him for it.  He was very friendly and no one mentioned The Wire but our blank, admiring stares said it all for us and he was very happy to let Jamie take pictures with his very nice camera.  He even got Jamie’s contact information in case he needs any photos taken, which is very exciting.
As he left, he paused at the door and turned, jumping back in to kiss Tricia on the cheek and flash his smile full of very white teeth one more time.  She very nearly had a small breakdown on the spot.  I seriously doubt I’ll ever be so pleased to watch another man kiss my girlfriend.
*This was Jamie’s stated plan all along, as he’d been seen around the neighborhood a few times before.  If he saw him out front, he’d invite him in for Patron.  Bless his heart for following through.
Then I asked him if I could touch his scar, and while doing it he just said “Indeeeed”….

From Baltimore

I'm just north of Baltimore visiting my good friend Phil and his family. Tonight we will be going to see his son, Jackson, in a rock-opera – Gründlehämmer. The following are several photos of what remains of the four feet of snow that fell in the Baltimore area in the last couple of weeks.

The following is from Jackson's Blog.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

From The Narrows (Photos)

Rachael Maddow Show

Rachel Maddow stopped by the 2010 CPAC conference and roamed around with her video camera.

CrossTalk: Norman Finkelstein vs. Israel

Ariel Sharon’s press secretary and Finkelstein agree: “Israel is not a normal state”

Friday, February 19, 2010

From The Tribe of Heart

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peaceable kingdom at peace on earth film fest
You're invited to the Chicago premiere of Tribe of Heart's award-winning documentary
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home
at the Peace on Earth Film Festival
Q&A with filmmakers Jenny Stein & James LaVeck, and film subject Harold Brown
Saturday, February 27th at 7:15 PM
The Chicago Cultural Center - Claudia Cassidy Theater
78 E. Washington Street in downtown Chicago Map | Driving Directions
Note: The film screens as part of a block of films, preceded by three shorts,
so it will begin at approximately 8:15 PM

Please help us publicize this event! Share this invitation
with people you know in the Chicago area, or send them a Facebook Invitation.
The film will also screen in Vancouver, Canada, and Washington, DC.
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About the film...
Peaceable Kingdom
Watch video highlights from the
world premiere screening

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home is a new documentary by the award-winning filmmakers of The Witness.
A story of transformation and healing, this groundbreaking new film explores the awakening conscience of several people who grew up in traditional farming culture and have now come to question the basic assumptions of their way of life.
The 78-minute documentary features seven remarkable individuals engaged in a courageous struggle of conscience, each trying to re-integrate the parts of themselves that were fragmented by expectations and experiences that went against their deepest natures. The film provides insight into their sometimes amazing connections with the animals under their care, while also making clear the complex web of social, psychological and economic forces that have led them to their conflict.
Described by many viewers as "a life-changing experience," Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home shatters stereotypical notions of farmers, farm life, and perhaps most surprisingly, farm animals themselves.
Festivals are saying...
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home truly is a journey of inspiration;
a journey to an enlightened consciousness.”
—Elizabeth English, Founder
Moondance International Film Festival

“I believe this important, groundbreaking film deserves the widest possible audience because of its potential to advance our understanding of the essential personhood of animals and our innate human capacity to relate to them with compassion, joy and respect.”
—Steve Grumette, Co-Founder
Ojai-Ventura International Film Festival

Audiences are saying...
"Phenomenal film. Life-changing."
"I felt 'whole' after watching the film. It makes connections that I don't encounter in everyday life. It made me feel larger than myself, like I am a part of something bigger."
"Moving and honest."
"Beautiful. Courageous. It has raised my awareness to a whole new level."
"The first time I cried and laughed at the same time. I feel awakened and alive."
"This is by far the best film on our modern agricultural system, and an alternative view, that I have ever seen."
"It has re-awakened in my soul what I have known all along and now I must follow. Thank you."
"We are truly all connected, and this documentary shows this better than anything else out there."
"Very clarifying, morally and ethically."
"Our world needs this message -- it was heartfelt, tragic, hopeful and inspiring. I'm overwhelmed and grateful."
"I can honestly say that after seeing this film, I am changed for the better."
"This film reminds me to live with heartfelt connections to animals, people and the earth."
"My heart has been broken, and opened."
"Everyone on the planet needs to see this film. I am deeply moved."
PK web site
Visit the film's official web site
Watch the online trailer

For instant news updates and breaking information about Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, follow Tribe of Heart on Facebook and Twitter:
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  Event details...
claudia cassidy theater FREE ADMISSION!
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home will be shown in a block of films, preceded by three shorts (Unlimited: Renewable Energy in the 21st Century, Colors, and Night Bus). The film block begins at 7:15 PM on Saturday, Feb. 27th, but the actual screening time of our film will be around 8:15 PM. However, since seating is on a first come, first served basis, it is advisable to attend the whole film block. The other films look very interesting, too!
Chicago Cultural Center PARKING: The Chicago Cultural Center is located at 78 E. Washington Street ( map). A list of neighboring parking lots can be found here.
Q&A following film...
Filmmakers Jenny Stein and
James LaVeck
Jenny Stein and James LaVeck
The work of documentary filmmakers Jenny Stein and James LaVeck has been recognized by film festival juries and audience members for its uncompromising yet compassionate portrayal of the interplay between what is most troubling in human society with what is most inspiring in human nature. Stein (director) and LaVeck (producer) are co-founders of the Ithaca, New York-based non-profit documentary production organization Tribe of Heart.
For the last ten years, Tribe of Heart films have appeared in 72 festivals around the world and won 15 awards, including 3 for Best of Festival and 11 for Best Documentary. Their work has appeared on PBS, LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and the United Kingdom’s Community Channel.
Film subject Harold Brown
Harold Brown A fifth-generation farmer from Michigan, Harold Brown worked in animal agriculture for half of his life. In Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, he shares the touching story of how he broke away from the traditions of his upbringing to forge a new way in the world, based on his desire to live in harmony with his most deeply held values. In 2008, Harold founded a charitable organization called Farmkind, “to be a resource for farmers who want to make the transition from animal based to plant based agriculture, for consumers to learn a different perspective on how food is produced, to help those who desire to reconnect with the land and become farmers, to support local food production, environmental and social justice issues, the rights of all living beings to be co-cohabitants of this planet, and how these things have everything to do with creating the peaceful world that all beings desire.”
About the festival...
Peace On Earth Film FestThe Peace on Earth Film Festival (POEFF) was established to celebrate and encourage the work of independent films from around the world on the themes of peace, nonviolence, social justice and an eco-balanced world. Through the power of motion pictures, the non-profit POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness into the light of communication, compassion and understanding.
The festival runs Feb. 26 thru 28 at the Claudia Cassidy Theater in the Chicago Cultural Center. All screenings are free and open to the public.

Spread the word...
Please share this evite with your friends in the Chicago area! You can use the handy send-to-a-friend button below, or the share button at the top of this evite. We also have a special Facebook Invitation designed specifically to be sent to your Widget Facebook friends.
Also, please help us publicize this and other upcoming screenings of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home by adding a widget like the one pictured here to your web site or social networking page(s). Choose from widget options here.
All widgets will automatically update with the latest news and events. It's never been easier to help us get the word out!

Tribe of Heart logo Tribe of Heart is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that produces award-winning, life-changing films about the journey of awakening conscience and the ethics of the human-animal relationship. As a small organization with a big vision, we depend on the power of our community to make our programs come to life. Thank you for the many ways you help Tribe of Heart encourage positive, peaceful transformation.
Donate Donations can be made online or mailed to
Tribe of Heart, POB 149, Ithaca, NY 14851