Here comes 2007, ready or not...
- Live webcams, Times Square New York and more
Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself,
to become what he potentially is.
-- Erich Fromm
Doubt 'til thou canst doubt no more...
doubt is thought and thought is life.
Systems which end doubt are devices for drugging thought.
-- Albert Guerard
"Life engenders life.
Energy creates energy.
It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich."
-- Sarah Bernhardt
"One never notices what has been done;
one can only see what remains to be done."
-- Marie Curie, letter to her brother, 1894
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."
-- Sir Richard Steele
"Humor is also a way of saying something serious."
-- T. S. Eliot
"All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
White Christmas (animated classic)
This rendition of White Christmas was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and
the Drifters in 1953. It was #2 on the charts in 1954. Animation is by
Joshua Held in 2002.
And everyone gets a custom made air guitar.
About your air guitar: configuration and instructions
Here is a great free computer cleaner program.
You can get your free ticket here...
A really cool New Year's party I missed
The self-esteem movement peaked in 2006
Plan for victory
Farewell to the Godfather of Soul
Remembering James Brown
James Brown 1933-2006
Living In America
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX0tEju4cyA video version
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you
shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which
has been your delight.
During the holiday season many people get depressed.
My favorite website for depression and existential angst is here:
A short documentary of a tragic love affair in unexpected places
Amazing mime performance (sound)
The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Dec. 30, 2006
I love those year-end roundups-ubiquitous annual lists of greatest films
and albums and lip glosses and tractors. It's reassuring that all human
information can be wrestled into bundles of 10. In that spirit, Slate
proudly presents, the top 10 civil liberties nightmares of the year:
10. Attempt to Get Death Penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui
Long after it was clear the hapless Frenchman was neither the "20th
hijacker" nor a key plotter in the attacks of 9/11, the government
pressed to execute him as a "conspirator" in those attacks. Moussaoui's
alleged participation? By failing to confess to what he may have known
about the plot, which may have led the government to disrupt it,
Moussaoui directly caused the deaths of thousands of people. This
massive overreading of the federal conspiracy laws would be laughable
were the stakes not so high. Thankfully, a jury rejected the notion that
Moussaoui could be executed for the crime of merely wishing there had
been a real connection between himself and 9/11.
9. Guantanamo Bay
It takes a licking but it keeps on ticking. After the Supreme Court
struck down the military tribunals planned to try hundreds of detainees
moldering on the base, and after the president agreed that it might be a
good idea to close it down, the worst public relations fiasco since the
Japanese internment camps lives on. Prisoners once deemed "among the
most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth"
are either quietly released (and usually set free) or still awaiting
trial. The lucky 75 to be tried there will be cheered to hear that the
Pentagon has just unveiled plans to build a $125 million legal complex
for the hearings. The government has now officially put more thought
into the design of Guantanamo's court bathrooms than the charges against
8. Slagging the Media
Whether the Bush administration is reclassifying previously declassified
documents, sidestepping the FOIA, threatening journalists for leaks on
dubious legal grounds, or, most recently, using its subpoena power to
try to wring secret documents from the ACLU, the administration has
continued its "secrets at any price" campaign. Is this a constitutional
crisis? Probably not. Annoying as hell? Definitely.
7. Slagging the Courts
It starts with the president's complaints about "activist judges," and
evolves to Congressional threats to appoint an inspector general to
oversee federal judges. As public distrust of the bench is fueled, the
stripping of courts' authority to hear whole classes of cases-most
recently any habeas corpus claims from Guantanamo detainees-almost seems
reasonable. Each tiny incursion into the independence of the judiciary
seems justified. Until you realize that the courts are often the only
places that will defend our shrinking civil liberties. This leads to ...
6. The State-Secrets Doctrine
The Bush administration's insane argument in court is that judges should
dismiss entire lawsuits over many of the outrages detailed on this very
list. Why? Because the outrageously illegal things are themselves
matters of top-secret national security. The administration has raised
this claim in relation to its adventures in secret wiretapping and its
fun with extraordinary rendition. A government privilege once used to
sidestep civil claims has mushroomed into sweeping immunity for the
administration's sometimes criminal behavior.
5. Government Snooping
Take your pick. There's the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program
wherein the president breezily authorized spying on the phone calls of
innocent citizens, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act. The FBI's TALON database shows the government has been spying on
nonterrorist groups, including Quakers, People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals, and Veterans for Peace. The Patriot Act lives on. And that's
just the stuff we know about.
4. Extraordinary Rendition
So, when does it start to become ordinary rendition? This government
program has us FedEx-ing unindicted terror suspects abroad for
interrogation/torture. Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, was shipped
off to Afghanistan for such treatment and then released without charges,
based on some government confusion about his name. Heh heh. Canadian
citizen Maher Arar claims he was tortured in Syria for a year, released
without charges, and cleared by a Canadian commission. Attempts to
vindicate the rights of such men? You'd need to circle back to the
state-secrets doctrine, above.
3. Abuse of Jose Padilla
First, he was, according to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft,
"exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological dispersion device,
or 'dirty bomb,' in the United States." Then, he was planning to blow up
apartments. Then he was just part of a vague terror conspiracy to commit
jihad in Bosnia and Chechnya. Always, he was a U.S. citizen. After three
and a half years, in which he was denied the most basic legal rights, it
has now emerged that Padilla was either outright tortured or
near-tortured. According to a recent motion, during Padilla's years of
almost complete isolation, he was treated by the U.S. government to
sensory and sleep deprivation, extreme cold, stress positions, threats
of execution, and drugging with truth serum. Experts say he is too
mentally damaged to stand trial. The Bush administration supported his
motion for a mental competency assessment, in hopes that will help
prevent his torture claims from ever coming to trial, or, as Yale Law
School's inimitable Jack Balkin put it: "You can't believe Padilla when
he says we tortured him because he's crazy from all the things we did to
2. The Military Commissions Act of 2006
This was the so-called compromise legislation that gave President Bush
even more power than he initially had to detain and try so-called enemy
combatants. He was generously handed the authority to define for himself
the parameters of interrogation and torture and the responsibility to
report upon it, since he'd been so good at that. What we allegedly did
to Jose Padilla was once a dirty national secret. The MCA made it the
Whenever the courts push back against the administration's unsupportable
constitutional ideas-ideas about "inherent powers" and a "unitary
executive" or the silliness of the Geneva Conventions or the limitless
sweep of presidential powers during wartime-the Bush response is to
repeat the same chorus louder: Every detainee is the worst of the worst;
every action taken is legal, necessary, and secret. No mistakes, no
apologies. No nuance, no regrets. This legal and intellectual
intractability can create the illusion that we are standing on the same
constitutional ground we stood upon in 2001, even as that ground is
sliding away under our feet.
What outrage did I forget? Send mail to Dahlia.Lithwick@... .
(Wishing you and yours a happy, and freer, New Year.
A version of this piece appears in the Washington Post Outlook section.
a moderator of
thanks to "amazingpowersofobservation"