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Photo by joanneleon. December, 2012

"The artificial standard is what I call `ham and eggs' justice," he said. "By that, I mean, it blends. But chickens celebrate ham and eggs. Hogs don't. Chickens drop an egg and move on. Hogs drop a leg and try to move on, but they can't. So what looks like it's equal really ain't equal."

-- Jesse Jackson

Sonny Terry and Woody Guthrie-Ham and Eggs
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Ham & Egg Justice Quotes of the Day

Many White House and congressional officials would like to get a deal before Christmas -- ideally by Friday, Dec. 21, the start of this year's long Christmas weekend.

But for that to happen, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would have to put up a proposal in next few days.
If they miss Christmas, negotiators then have to aim for Jan. 1 -- the start of the year of the "fiscal cliff," a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that kick in if the parties are unable to reach a debt reduction deal.

At a campaign-style event in Michigan, Obama warned his listeners that their taxes would rise Jan. 1 without action by the Congress. "That's a hit you can't afford to take," he declared.

He spoke one day after meeting privately at the White House with House Speaker John Boehner, whose office expressed frustration with the talks to date.

"We continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the 'balanced' approach he promised the American people," said a written statement from the Ohio Republican's office.

[Man, the quality of the propaganda has really gone down these days.]
HOOKSET, N.H. -- Fear and frustration course through the lunch crowd at Robie's Country Store and Deli, a popular outpost 500 miles from where Washington is again locked in tense negotiations over taxes and spending as a critical deadline looms.

"I'm worried," Lorraine Cadren of nearby Manchester says between bites of her chicken sandwich. Her doubt in the nation's elected leaders is palpable: "I'm not sure what's going to come out of Washington next." Not that she has the time to pay much attention; the 64-year-old is unemployed and preoccupied with finding a new job as Christmas approaches.
A few tables away, John Pfeifle shares Cadren's angst while trying to enjoy his $6.99 chicken parmesan special.

"Somebody's gotta have some smarts," says the 63-year-old business owner, complaining that both President Barack Obama and House Republicans seem willing to allow the nation to go over the "fiscal cliff," triggering broad tax increases and massive spending cuts that economists warn could lead to another recession.

TYSONS CORNER, Va. - A group of people protesting the the impending mandatory budget cuts that are part of the coming "fiscal cliff" got into the holiday spirit, by caroling their discontent.

About 40 protesters from Progress Virginia, a liberal advocacy group, showed up at Tysons Corner Mall wearing red Santa hats and singing their own lyrics to the tune of classic Christmas carols.

"Dashing through the snow," from "Jingle Bells" became "Dashing to the cliff," and their version of "Deck the Halls" included lyrics like "the one percent make more than ever" and "the time to act is now or never."

CBS News' political director, John Dickerson, said one of the many challenges with "fiscal cliff" talks is "finding some way to get conservative Republicans to vote with John Boehner."

"This is the reasons that all the details are in secret is because negotiators are kind of suggesting and hinting at ways they may bend and flex. The reason they never want any of those details to get public is that if one side is going to bend, they're going to expect the other side to bend, too," Dickerson said.

"Only until everybody gets their bending sort of aligned can they present them to their sides."

Watch: Rep. Ed Markey on Obama and the Climate Cliff

"If our country goes over the fiscal cliff," Markey explained, "we will be able to climb back up. But if our planet goes over the climate cliff, we will plunge into an abyss of impacts that we cannot reverse."

Housing Agency’s Flaws Revealed by Storm

“Nycha was underprepared,” Mr. Markowitz said. “Senior citizens and the disabled were especially impacted by the lack of essential services available in Sandy’s aftermath, as they were effectively held hostage on the upper floors of their apartment buildings.”

John B. Rhea, a former Wall Street investment banker who took over as the housing authority chairman in 2009, said he regretted the real hardship many public housing residents suffered through — but he said his tenants received more care and attention than those who lived in private buildings, many of which also have large populations of older and infirm residents.


Others at City Hall took a far different tack, saying that it was the public housing residents, in many cases, who brought the suffering upon themselves.


But Rueben McLaughlin, a science teacher from Public School 329 in Coney Island, which was flooded by the storm, saw the next day just how desperate the situation was. He was among several hundred teacher volunteers who were off for Election Day and who, flashlights in hand, visited public housing complexes to see how their students, their families and other tenants were doing.

Climbing the stairs at Surfside Gardens apartment building, towers operated by the housing authority a few blocks from his school, Mr. McLaughlin said he was startled as he went higher and higher in the tower: there were tenants in wheelchairs who had no way of getting downstairs, diabetics who needed insulin, others who were simply short on food or using stoves to stay warm.


What was becoming clear was that the city, and its state and federal partners, were ready for the immediate push — with stockpiles of food and water — but had failed to account for what would happen in the days and weeks after the storm passed.

“We need a longer-term plan,” Ms. Gibbs, who oversees health and human services, said in an interview. “The city emergency evacuation plan works great for huge numbers. But it does not look much past three or four days.”


Volunteer groups like People’s Relief in Coney Island and Occupy Sandy set up curbside medical clinics and rallied teams of people to go door to door searching for trapped residents. They appeared to be better organized than the city. In Red Hook, the logs created by volunteers reflected the evolving needs of tenants: batteries gave way to ice for chilling medicine and adult diapers. “DEAF: Knock Hard,” said the entry next to one man’s name.

Some volunteers felt the roles should have been reversed, with the city leading them. But Nazli Parvizi, the city’s commissioner for community affairs and the mayor’s point person in Brooklyn, said she felt effective in a supporting role. The volunteers were doing a good job, she said, and “I wasn’t here to change that narrative. I was asking them, ‘What do you need?’ ”

A permanent war on terror

When it comes to homeland security, we've been seduced for more than a decade by a "preemptive" mandate that directs us to catch terrorists before they strike next. Where law enforcement once investigated crimes to determine who was responsible and how they could be prosecuted, it now also gathers intelligence to prevent potential future crimes.

This mandate, however, has been characterized by a distinct absence of actual terrorist plots. [...]  Would they have become truly dangerous to America? Maybe. But in the past, these stings have mostly put behind bars a lot of impressionable young men — rather iffy bad guys — who were often urged toward jihad by the intelligence operation targeting them.


The implications of this now-institutionalized model have not troubled most Americans, probably because "intelligence-led policing" has focused on a beleaguered and relatively powerless minority, Muslim Americans. But it is already being deployed against ever-expanding categories of "suspect" citizens.

Under Obama we have seen the offices of longtime antiwar protesters in Chicago and Minneapolis raided on suspicion of providing "material support" to Palestinian and Colombian terrorist groups; in New Jersey, animal rights activists were convicted under a new law that makes any "interference" with an animal-related company a potential crime of terrorism; and in Oregon and Washington, environmental activists were similarly convicted as terrorists for arsons they had committed to protest public lands policies and wilderness development.


That the preemptive paradigm is largely intact suggests we are still haunted by the failures of 9/11. It may be politically expedient for the president to err on the side of national security against civil liberties for fear of being seen as soft on terrorism, but he should consider his legacy. Bush is the president who launched the war on terror. Will Obama go down in history as the one who made it permanent?

Petra Bartosiewicz's book, "The Best Terrorists We Could Find," is due to be published next year.

This gives me hope.  We can do things like this, especially if we step outside the party constraints and look for common ground with others, regardless of their politics.
One tweet has grown into a wide and influential women's network

AN ONLINE group formed to fight sexism is expected to rank highly when Australia's most influential female voices are announced on Tuesday.


A Twitter hashtag was started by the media commentator Jane Caro with the tweet, "Got time on my hands tonight so thought I'd spend it coming up with new ways of 'destroying the joint' being a woman and all. Ideas welcome." Soon hundreds of women were humorously sharing how they, too, were #destroyingthejoint.
A Facebook group quickly followed. Launched by the Sydney academic Jenna Price, the social media collective now has more than 20,000 members.


It's proved an important year for Australian women. It is the year the RU846 drug became widely available; when 5000 people marched in a Reclaim the Night rally after the murder of a Melbourne woman, Jill Meagher; and when Ms Gillard's speech on misogyny became a global news story.

Is the label 'troll' really a gag against unpleasantness?

I'll tell you why: "trolling" has been defined down. Not long ago trolls were easy to identify – they were the kids on 4Chan who caused trouble just for the lulz, or the delinquents who disrupted otherwise serious online discussion of folklore with out-of-nowhere, baiting speculation about Tolkien's cross-dressing fetish (or something like that).
Juan Williams? "Most successful troll in America," says noted troll-hunter Jay Rosen. Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Fox News, the Daily Caller, the late Andrew Breitbart – troll, troll, troll, troll, troll! The Daily Mail. The New York Times. Donald Trump, obviously. Cornell students. Henry Blodget. Glenn Beck. Folks who disagreed with Nate Silver. Slate's Dan Engber, who has always seemed like a really nice guy to me – he's a troll! Katie Roiphe – big, big troll. But why should I be surprised? So too are Slate's William Saletan, contributor Jonah Weiner, and, of course, the late Christopher Hitchens. Even NPR might be a troll. And then, finally, there's the troll of trolls, the woman who has elevated trolling into an art form – Tina Brown.
On the off-chance you have trouble spotting a pattern in that list, let me offer this helpful rule, a definition for troll circa 2012. Any time you don't like something someone else is saying, or even if you do like what he's saying but think he might be saying it the wrong way, there's a very good chance you're dealing with a troll.

And this doesn't give me hope.  At all.  Nobody in the New York film critics circle thinks glorifying torture is a problem? [Redacted].  I think it's best if I remove most of the commentary I had written about all of this and I will just add a few sentences and excerpt some things from articles and Twitter instead and let them speak for me.  A friend told me about the Charlie Rose interview with Bigelow and the screenwriter Mark Boal and I watched it over the weekend.  I found it disturbing for a number of different reasons. It has been on my mind since I saw it but I thought that if I wrote about this whole thing now, I would not be able to keep my cool.  Here is a link to the show.  And today, we found out about all the awards and high praise coming from NYC, and more people have seen it.  To make it all worse, yesterday was Human Rights Day.  Thankfully, a number of people are speaking out about it now, though you probably won't find any of them in the mainstream corporate news.  And guess what? This torture apologism might show up in the Best Pictures category in the Academy awards.
Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty"

Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty has been named the best film of 2012 by the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the National Board of Review. Does it endorse torture?

Rarely would I link Sullivan, but...
Kathryn Bigelow, Torture Apologist?

I have not seen the movie yet, so I have to rely on descriptions of its plot. But if it portrays torture as integral to the killing of Osama bin Laden, it is a lie. If Bigelow is calling torture "harsh tactics" she is complicit in its defense. And lies do have an agenda, whatever Bigelow says.


[...]“There’s no distance,’’ she said, running her fingers over the names of victims inscribed in bronze.* “What we were attempting is almost a journalistic approach to film.’’

To reconstruct the raid, she and Boal consulted Navy seals and C.I.A. staff who had taken part in the mission. [...] “I felt we had a responsibility to be faithful to the material,’’ Bigelow said. “And it was an inherently dramatic story.” The film includes wrenching scenes of a terrorist suspect being waterboarded and subjected to other forms of torture by C.I.A. operatives; the suspect eventually surrenders information that helps lead to bin Laden. Bigelow maintains that everything in the film is based on first-hand accounts, but the waterboarding scene, which is likely to stir up controversy, appears to have strayed from real life. According to several official sources, including Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the identity of bin Laden’s courier, whose trail led the C.I.A. to the hideout in Pakistan, was not discovered through waterboarding. “It’s a movie, not a documentary,” Boal said. “We’re trying to make the point that waterboarding and other harsh tactics were part of the C.I.A. program.” Still, Bigelow said, “the film doesn’t have an agenda, and it doesn’t judge. I wanted a boots-on-the-ground experience.”

[Emphasis added]

Oscars buzz for Bigelow's bin Laden film
Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow's film about the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden is generating Academy Awards buzz. The movie, "Zero Dark Thirty," centers on a female CIA analyst credited as a key force in the hunt for the Al Qaeda chief, and opens in the US on December 19, qualifying it for next February's Academy Awards

Entertainment Weekly tipped it as a possible nominee for best film, best director, best screenplay and best leading actress for Chastain, who was Oscar nominated for her supporting role in last year's civil rights drama "The Help."
The two-and-a-half-hour long docudrama follows the CIA analyst over her decade-long quest to track down bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
It includes graphic torture scenes, including depictions of waterboarding and sexual humiliation, used to obtain information from detainees which ultimately help pinpoint bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Will the New Osama bin Laden Film "Zero Dark Thirty" Rehabilitate Torture?

Defenders of Bush-era enhanced interrogation waged a fierce public relations campaign to rehabilitate torture in the aftermath of the bin Laden killing, in part to award Bush credit for the raid. But the facts kept getting in the way. Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA official responsible for the destruction of videos recording the (ineffectual) torture of detainee Abu Zubayda, went on 60 Minutes and was unable to rebut the fact that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed lied when questioned about bin Laden's courier, despite being tortured. The CIA inspector general found that "you could not in good conscience reach a definitive conclusion about whether any specific technique was especially effective, or [whether] the enhanced techniques in the aggregate really worked." Republicans are currently attempting to block a Senate intelligence committee investigation of the efficacy of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques."


The critical acclaim Zero Dark Thirty is already receiving suggests that it may do what Karl Rove could not have done with all the money in the world: embed in the popular imagination the efficacy, even the necessity, of torture, despite available evidence to the contrary. Whatever the artistic merits of the film, that will be its moral legacy. That's quite an accomplishment, but not a journalistic one.

Inside Mark Boal’s and Kathryn Bigelow’s Mad Dash to Make Zero Dark Thirty

Mark Boal was on the phone with the CIA. It was April 29, 2011, fourteen months after he had collected a pair of Academy Awards for writing and producing The Hurt Locker, and he was back at work. Boal had spent the better part of the years since 9/11 as a journalist, traveling in hot zones, embedding with troops, and covering the “war on terror.”

 They chose to confront the audience with an excruciating sustained sequence of waterboarding, abuse, and humiliation in the first twenty minutes, presenting the scenes in a defiantly uninflected observational style that already has people arguing about whether the movie is endorsing, condemning, or forgoing judgment about torture.


Production took place over a tight fourteen weeks this spring in India and Jordan. Those who were there talk of a spirit of camaraderie, but the mood wasn’t light. “You know, I’m a hippie vegan girl from Northern California,” says Chastain, laughing. “I’m not comfortable in this subject matter at all.” With the help of Boal—who did unusual on-set double-duty as screenwriter and hands-on producer—she threw herself into research, but still, after a week of shooting the torture and interrogation scenes, “there was one day when I had to walk away and just start crying, which was even harder because my character was not like that at all. When I watch the scene, I can see that my eyes were a little red.”

Bizarre.  But maybe there is a silver lining if large numbers of people react viscerally to it and begin to understand what this torture is really like?  I'm not confident of that but it's possible.  But there will be a hell of a lot of people who believe that the torture led to finding bin Laden too.
Senator accuses Bin Laden movie director of fabricating controversial waterboarding scene
First 15 minutes show CIA agents waterboarding terror suspects
Director Kathryn Bigelow says all information in the film was based on 'first hand accounts' of what happened but now Senator disputes theory
Obama only featured in news clip where he says he is against torture

That particular questioning session was key to the case, as American authorities then trailed the courier who lead them to Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, but Feinstein told The New Yorker that waterboarding was not used during the interrogation of the man.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal counter her claim without giving any specific details, saying that the film is based fully on first-hand accounts of the years of investigations.
While the public will have to wait to evaluate the torture scenes until the film is released, TIME Magazine’s Richard Corliss say that the CIA operative’s methods include the use waterboarding, a dog collar, heavy metal soundtracks on full blast throughout the day, and food deprivation.
‘Once you see it, you’ll be writing to your congressman to prevent it from happening again,’ Showbiz411 critic Roger Friedman says of the waterboarding of a suspected terrorist.

Glenn, as usual, does a great job with this.  I started excerpting it but I can't do it justice.  It has to be read in its entirety. It has resulted in a huge conversation.  778 comments and counting on Glenn's piece.  
Zero Dark Thirty: new torture-glorifying film wins raves
Can a movie that relies on fabrications to generate support for war crimes still be considered great?

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

The Evening Blues

Monday morning.  Request goes out across the Twitter ether for important translation info. One response comes back within minutes and another within about a half hour.  h/t to Jay Rosen for bringing attention to it. Networked journalism.  

Woody Pines "Ham and Eggs"


Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky

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