Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why Obama doesn't spend the $10 to make Birthers Happy

This is old, but it's worth passing around.

A nice fellow has created a "platonic dialogue" between a Birther and someone who knows their facts, in which we are led to understand just why Obama doesn't bother spend that $10 for the Birth Certificate... which, as we know, he already did.

(courtesy of Oh For Goodness' Sake)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 4 27 10

You have to hand it to My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult - has anyone else gotten that much mileage out of a small handful of trash movie samples? These guys were pushing the edge back in the 90's and making some music that, while it hasn't aged that well, is still a lot of fun. And the quotes are to die for.

Kooler than Jesus, baby.

Monday, April 26, 2010

If the tea party was black

This has been going around a lot of places, and I think it's food for thought.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Read the rest of this here, and Imagine If the Tea Party Was Black.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why LTC Lakin's Birther Quest is Doomed

It's a sad thing to see an intelligent, well-spoken person committing career suicide for such a poor reason. It's sadder still to know, even from the sidelines, that he doesn't have a chance in Hades of accomplishing his goal - unless that goal was to be punished for insubordination.

The shoe has dropped. Lt. Colonel Lakin has been officially charged with violating the UCMJ for not deploying to Afghanistan as he was ordered to do. And with that, his goal of being Court Martialed for that offense comes that much closer to happening.

LTC Lakin says that he regrets having to do this. If only President Obama would just cough up the Birth Certificate, thus proving that he is a Natural Born Citizen, and therefore eligible to be the Commander In Chief, then Lakin would be happy to call the whole thing off and deploy - a proud member of America's armed forces, once again. Why, oh why, won't that mean President just budge?

The obvious answer is because he already did. His Certificate of Live Birth - which, contrary to Birther statements, is just as good as that elusive "long form" they seem to have fixated on - has been seen by who knows how many people since it went up on his website. The announcements of his birth in Hawai'i have also been shown. The statements from various persons from the State of Hawai'i, most notably Dr. Chiyome Fukino and Janice Okubo, have been clear on his having been born there. What more could any reasonable person really want?

The answer is sadly funny, and was already provided by Lakin apologist - and Birther - Alan Keyes: "Some evidence."

Thus LTC Lakin's invitation of a Court Martial, it would seem.

Unless Lakin really just wants to become a martyr for the Birther movement, it appears that his strategy is to have his defense press for the even-more-elusive "full discovery," which Birthers have been trying to get since the start of their legal odyssey. The idea being that, in order to present a proper defense, they will need to request certain documents in order to present that defense - most notably the "long form" Birth Certificate of one Barack Obama, President of the United States of America.

And thus will the Birther dream will be realized: they will have the evidence that there's something fishy about our President's eligibility, and at long last be able to say "I told you so" to the legion of doubters who've been ridiculing their long and arduous windmill-tilt.

All well and good, provided the Birth Certificate doesn't prove what Obama's been saying all along. But there's two problems with that strategy.

The first problem, which many Birthers don't seem to realize, is that they will not get a "long form." According to Hawai'i:

Asked for more information about the short-form versus long-form birth documents, Okubo said the Health Department "does not have a short-form or long-form certificate."

"The birth certificate form has been modified over the years and decades to conform to national standards and models," she said.

Okubo also emphasized the certification form "contains all the information needed by all federal government agencies for transactions requiring a birth certificate."

The second problem, which is more pressing for LTC Lakin, is that his defense is highly unlikely to get full discovery, much less be able to present the Birth Certificate issue as part of their defense.

Why? It's a matter of how military orders work. When a superior officer gives you an order, you are supposed to follow it, so long as it is a legal one. And whether the Commander In Chief is eligible to be President or not does not factor into the equation.

Some have said that, logically, if the Commander In Chief is not eligible, then all orders given are not legal. This is not true. What makes an order legal or not depends on the UCMJ, itself, and whether the order is, itself, a crime. For example, "Kill these unarmed civilians and bring me their ears" is not a legal order. "Report for deployment to the war zone," on the other hand, is clearly a legal order.

So LTC Lakin's conscience does not enter into it, unless he just realized, after all these years of service, that he's a conscientious objector. And somehow I kind of doubt that.

The question before the Court Martial, then, is not why LTC Lakin disobeyed his orders, but rather whether he disobeyed them. Since he has, himself, publicly admitted that he was planning on disobeying them, and then went and disobeyed them, there would seem to be little question that he did, in fact, disobey them. And in a Court Martial, that's pretty much all there is to it.

As Washington Attorney Phillip D. Cave put it, "He is likely to lose everything and accomplish nothing ... No military judge will say that (obtaining documents) of the president is necessary to prove the charges."

From the same article:

We all feel saddened,” said David Price, a former captain and 25-year veteran of the Navy Judge Advocate General’s office, now in private practice.

“He was issued an order to deploy and didn’t. End of issue,” he said. He said the military has dealt with these types of cases since Vietnam, when soldiers tried to make larger political issues the basis of their trials, and is experienced at keeping the proceedings free of politics.

Price also said that if the case does finally get to a general court-martial and a judge is asked to approve discovery requests by the defense, it is unlikely that it would be allowed to encompass the presidency. He said this wasn’t because of a conspiracy, but because the case is relatively simple and doesn’t require it.

So if LTC Lakin is highly unlikely to be allowed to give a defense that would involve full discovery, thus getting a peek at the non-existant "long form" Birth Certificate, then why is he doing this?

Some have suggested that he was given bad advice. It seems that his civilian lawyer, Paul Rolf Jensen, is not exactly an expert in military law. Does Jensen simply not understand that he's bringing a tuba to what is essentially a kazoo recital? One can only hope Lakin's court-appointed, military lawyer will quickly disabuse Jensen of any fool notions he may have about how the Court Martial is going to work.

Some have suggested that there may be something even worse at work. It has been pointed out by our friends at Oh For Goodness Sake that the American Patriot Foundation is a who's who of conservative operatives. Did they go shopping for a judas goat to further some wacko right-wing operation, and find one in Lakin?

If so, what's their endgame? Getting LTC Lakin off the hook is obviously a non-starter, as is getting a look at the mythcial "long form." So are they hoping Lakin's conviction will start a "No, I'm Spartacus" movement amongst the American Military, thus causing embarrassment and unneeded hassle to Obama, and making him look weak in the run-up to midterm elections? Are they hanging Lakin out to dry in order to shore up some poling numbers?

This will be an interesting case to watch, yes, but it will also be a very sad one. No matter what happens from here on out, LTC Lakin's career is effectively over, and it is over because he made a terrible mistake. One can only hope that those who aided and abetted that mistake are also called into account for their part in this, and made to explain their true motives before the court of public opinion, if not civillian law.

(Image shamelessly stolen from safeguard our constitution's website)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 4 20 10

It is with great sadness that we report that Peter Steele of Type O Negative has died. After years of making various wry and self-deprecating jokes about wanting to kick the bucket, the Reaper has finally obliged. Heart failure, or so they say.

My first exposure to Peter Steele came by way of a friend who had CDs of his old band, Carnivore. He would sing the lyrics to "Jesus Hitler" for laughs, and it is, indeed, a very funny song. Also very offensive. I think Peter liked to ski between those two poles - very much in the mold of The Stranglers, right down to the barrel organ that gave his songs a weird, deeper dimension.

The first TON CD I ever got was "October Rust," which was both good and bad. Good because it's an amazing piece of work. Bad because it is nothing like anything that TON did before it or after it. As a result, I was kind of put off by the band's earlier and later output, wondering why it wasn't more like that. I suppose that's like falling in love with Chumbawamba over "Tubthumping" and not realizing it was just a pop song to get the punters in so they could rant at them with their normal songs.

But, in honor of his passing, and because it was the first song I ever heard by them, this is "Love you to death." Vinland forever!

Orly Taitz - The Fame Monster

"Let's play a love game - Play a love game"
Do you want love? - Or you want fame?"

- Lady Gaga, The Love Game

Latest news from Birtherville has it that the Media Sensation Known as Orly Taitz (MSKOT) has had a double-dose of disappointment in the last few weeks.

First she had her Quo Warranto case in Washington D.C. dismissed quite harshly, which means her attempts to get standing and force discovery against Obama are pretty much done now. And then, just to add insult to injury, she was told that the Tea Party in Pleasanton, California, didn't want her to come address the crowd after all - she was "too controversial," even for them, they said.

The commentary on these two events from the peanut gallery - which, of course, includes yours truly - has been laughter, derision, and dark amusement, and with understandable reason. It's a sad and terrible thing to watch someone tilt so furiously at what can only be the most obvious of windmills.

And yet, like people faced with a train wreck, we can't stop watching.

Years ago, there was a Life In Hell cartoon: "Annoying Performance Artists Magazine" had Binky exclaiming "Help! I'm covering myself with stinging red ants!" - or words to that effect. At times, while reporting on Taitz and the other Birthers, it has seemed as though she's been giving those poor ants a real workout. And here we are, laughing at her self-inflicted pain, when we really should be asking her if she's seen a therapist, lately.

Of course, her cheering squad at World Net Daily, and on various forums, think she's doing a great job. She's keeping the flame alive, and not letting "the usurper" get a moment's peace. "Obummer" has had to spend two million dollars* defending himself from the defender of Natural Born Citizenry, and if they have any say in it he'll be spending every cent he has, right down the penny in his loafers, until 2012 or 2016, when it will be a very moot point.

So who needs therapy, then? Her for charging the windmill? Them for egging her on? Us for laughing at the whole thing?

But hey, we can't be in the wrong, can we? It doesn't matter if she's stupid or crazy - so long as she's wasting American taxpayers' money tying up the courts with this nonsense, then we, as taxpayers, have the right to call her out.

That goes double if, as some have suggested, there are racist or Islamophobic tendencies at work, either in her or her fan base - maybe both. We don't have to stand quietly for that shite, ever.

Me, I'm starting to wonder. Maybe - just maybe - this isn't about misplaced patriotism or defense of the Constitution with Orly. Maybe this isn't about insanity or stupidity, or racism, or fear of a secret Muslim in the White House.

(It isn't even fear of a secret Socialist in the White House, either, unless you have clearly not been paying attention to what President Obama's done since he took up residence in D.C. Socialism, ye be not here. )

I think this is all some kind of call for attention gone horribly awry.

I think the Media Sensation Known as Orly Taitz started out wanting something, and got it, and became overwhelmed by it and unable to turn away. Not even when she was facing $20 K fines, not even when she was being told off on live television, not even when she was being made a national laughingstock and international embarassment.

I think this is all about attention. I think Orly Taitz has become MSKOT, and MSKOT is a Fame Monster.

Let's consider the facts, as we know them.

* Orly Taitz is not stupid. She is very clearly incompetent when it comes to legal matters, as the horrible state of her legal briefs will attest to. But she passed a legal course that entitles her to practice law in California, and is a licensed Dentist - both of which take some doing. A truly stupid person would not be able to do both of those things, unless she cheated her way through the exams.

* Orly Taitz is not insane. I know there are those who disagree with me on this point, and there are times I haven't been so sure about that, either. But in hindsight I think her inability to sound rational is partly due to the fact that English is clearly not her first language. When she gets flustered, she starts losing her ability to concentrate and starts tripping all over herself and freaking out.

* Orly Taitz SEEMS TO BE more than a little needy of attention. And if we are willing to take the stories of her wild affair with Charles Edward "Anarchy" Lincoln III at face value - a dicey proporition, yes - then we must also ask if she is more than a little needy of love.

So if she's not stupud, and she's not crazy, and yet she's willing to risk destroying her marriage, professional reputation, and standing in the political community just to feel loved and wanted, then we have that one glaring possibility left. And that is that Orly Taitz really wants attention, for whatever reason.

Doesn't that make a lot of sense?

Doesn't that explain why a person who is not stupid would go out of her way to front for some really stupid beliefs and theories?

Doesn't that explain why someone who is not crazy would go out of her way to champion some really crazy ideas?

Doesn't that explain why someone who has a successful dental practice and legal career would toss them both to the winds to fight for those beliefs and ideas?

And doesn't that explain why she'd toss her marriage aside for an affair with CEL III while engaged in the fight for those beliefs and ideas?

Of course, I could be wrong. She could really believe everything she's saying and doing. She could be a true believer. She could be anything at all.

But I think she's turned into a Fame Monster. ANd if so, I think she'll keep doing this for as long as she's able. Because once you go Fame Monster, you never go back.

You just reinvent yourself, over and over again.

* A well-repeated but obvious lie, as this Mother Jones article points out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 4 13 10

Latest word in the Lakin case - the silly fellow failed to show up for his deployment, and promptly had a can of legal buttkick dropped on his head.

Washington, D.C., April 13, 2010. Army doctor Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin yesterday met with his brigade commander, Col. Gordon R. Roberts, who proceeded to read LTC Lakin his Miranda rights, and who informed LTC Lakin he had the “right to remain silent” because LTC Lakin is about to be charged with serious crimes. Col. Roberts was at age 19 awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the only recipient of the nation’s highest honor currently on active duty in the Army.

LTC Lakin had previously been ordered in writing to report yesterday to Ft. Campbell, KY and then on to deploy for his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. Lakin refused to obey these orders and instead came to work yesterday morning at the Pentagon. Late yesterday afternoon he was confronted by his brigade commander.

Before the meeting was over, LTC Lakin’s Pentagon Access Pass had been revoked, and his laptop computer was set to be confiscated.

The message to LTC Lakin is clear; through official channels, he was informed yesterday that he will shortly be court-martialled for crimes (specifically, missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer) that for others has led to lengthy imprisonment at hard labor.

He's waiting to see what happens next, but I can tell you it will not be pretty.

So what is going on, here? How could a reasonably intelligent fellow have been led this far down the primrose path? Is he really a naive tool for someone else's cause, or is he really that eager to go down in the history books for the wrong reasons.

Someone on another blog asked a pertinent question: his website looks pretty snazzy - do we know who's doing it? Who are the "American Patriot Foundation," and what else, if anything, have they done? Answers to some of the above questions may be forthcoming if we knew who his allies were, provided they're not just a snazzy-sounding front for Lakin, two of his drinking buddies from the base, and a stuffed woodchuck named "merle."

In the meantime, this song's dedicated to Lakin: "When the shit hits the fan" by the Circle Jerks

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Malcolm McClaren - RIP

We at the rANT Farm have just been informed that Malcolm McClaren - manager of the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, fashion empresario, attention junkie, publicity genius, and all around mouthy but brilliant clod - has slipped the surly bounds of current irrelevance and gone to the hall of legends, where, at least in his own mind, he clearly belongs.

He popped his clogs, in other words. Cancer, perhaps.

Let's not mince words - Malcolm McClaren was a dick. He was also a genius at promotion, both in terms of himself AND others, at least when their trajectory matched his own. There's some question as to how much he really had to do with punk's development, other than just being in at the start of things. There's the version he tells in "The Great Rock N Roll Swindle," and there's the version Johnny Rotten tells - which, I'm sure, we're all gonna hear soon, whether we want to or not.

There's a cute story told about Adam Ant's early days. He paid Malcolm McClaren to be his manager, thinking he could benefit from his experience and wisdom. What does Malcolm do for him? Poach some of his musicians to back a new underage singing sensation he found, thus creating the distinctive sound of Bow Wow Wow and leaving Adam Ant minus some players. Mr. Ant considered it a valuable lesson in trusting others, and went on to achieve greater success than Bow Wow Wow ever did - for a while, anyway.

McClaren just laughed all the way to the bank.

Anyone wanting to know more about the "real" Malcolm McClaren is invited to read John Savage's seminal England's Dreaming, which is still THE book about British punk rock. It goes back to McClaren's wayward youth and presence in the Situationist riots, which heralded the filth and fury that would later explode in 70's London by quite some time.

I wouldn't want to serenade him off the stage with someone else's music. I'd rather do it with some of his own. This is his quixotic but haunting handling of "Madame Butterfly." Make of it what you will.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Eight Day Academy - Changing Women's Lives 8 Day Academy (Dubai, India)
Uploaded by VZEntertainment. - More lifestyle, fashion and how-to videos.

When you send your students out into the world, you always hope they'll make some kind of visible mark on it, preferably for good. In that vein I'm happy to report that one of my students from the American University in Dubai has done something really spectacular.

Masarat Daud has created the Eight Day Academy for women in one of the more remote areas of India. It's a crash course in computers, communication, and public speaking skills that gives women who have been previously denied educational opportunities a chance to get jobs in a modern marketplace.

As Masarat puts it, if some American guy -- that would be Greg "Three Cups of Tea" Mortenson -- can go over to Pakistan and make schools, why shouldn't she do something similar for her own folks back home?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tuesday Night Music 4 6 10

There was a time, back in the 1980's, when five lads from Liverpool had the world in the palm of their hand.

They were the right band with the right message at the right time, with just enough raunch to give them rock and roll credibility and just enough social consciousness to give them depth. They were an unstoppable media event, sold as a massive product filled with clash and controversy, and a raw, undeniable power that put them well ahead of other British acts of that time.

They were Frankie Goes to Hollywood. They were fabulous. And then, just as quickly as they'd arrived, they were gone. Frankie say... no more.

This video is the one they always remember. We've got newsreels and an ersatz Reagan and Chernenko duking it out for the world's entertainment. We've got the late Yasser Arafat sayingt the most important thing in the world right now is Frankie Goes to Hollywood. And we've got the world going boom at the end - what more do you want?

Oh, you want three different versions? That was Relax, my friend. This is Two Tribes.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Sad and Silly Career Suicide of the Birther Lt. Col.

As reported at Oh For Goodness Sake, amongst other places - the Birthers are trying the court martial route to discovery, again. This time it's with someone who really should know better.

US Army Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, an active duty officer, intends to disobey a legal order to deploy to Afghanistan, because he decided a year and a half ago that his Commander in Chief was not his Commander in Chief. Sounds familiar. Capt. Connie Rhodes is in Iraq, where she did not want to go for that reason. Major Stefan Cook is out of a job with a DoD contractor, because he did not want to go to Afghanistan for the same reason. Both Rhodes v. MacDonald and Cook v. Good were tremendous losses for the Birther movement and hurt Obama not a whit. Hey! Let’s do it again.

He's got a web page, with an earnest, if somewhat halting, video statement:

Is this a legit arguement? If you take the Birther silliness out of the picture, then one has to wonder when one's loyalty to the office transcends loyalty to the man who sits in that office. Is this patriotism or treason? One could go back and forth.

But while this man may indeed be a patriot, he's basing a possibly-patriotic decision on a horrible delusion. He has clearly been sold a very insidious bill of intellectual goods by people who either should know better, or do but are chasing this "birther" scam down the rabbit hole for other, less seemly reasons.

It's very simple, folks. Obama has provided a digitized copy of his Certificate of Live Birth, which isall the proof that SHOULD BE NEEDED to show that he was born in Hawai'i, and is therefore a Natural Born Citizen, and therefore entitled to be President.

All other issues - his father's citizenship, his time in Indonesia, whether or not he was adopted by his step father, etc. - are just smoke screens that have been thrown up by very desperate people who are largely incompetent, grasping at straws, or rewriting history based on rumors and half-truths.

There is some insanity at work here, also some racism and islamophobia. But even the sane Birthers without hate in their hearts are still tilting at windmills, when they really should be dropping the issue like last week's fish. I don't know whether they just can't let it go because of pride or fear of looking foolish, but they only look even more foolish the more they drag this out.

So yes, this latest legal dog and pony show is just another sad and silly attempt for someone to claim that they're being directly affected by Obama being inelligible for his post, which would give them standing to sue, and allow them discovery, whereby they could go to Hawai'i and demand to see THE REAL THING.

And imagine their surprise when, upon receiving it, they discover it tells them exactly what Obama's been saying all along?

Me, I'll be laughing my tail off. So should we all.

But I'll be very sorry for this man, here, who will have thrown away a long and honorable career over nothing but fairy dust, sprinkled by dubious hands.