Monday, August 31, 2009

Robert Frank's Elevator Girl Sees Herself Years Later

Robert Frank's famous image from 'The Americans' Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art
Enlarge Robert Frank/Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Sharon Collins is the elevator girl of Robert Frank's famous image from The Americans.

Collins poses in a recreation of the scene. Courtesy Ian Padgham/SFMOMA
Enlarge Ian Padgham/SFMOMA

A half-century later, Collins poses in a recreation of the scene.

August 30, 2009

One of photographer Robert Frank's most famous images aroused a particular interest from his friend, beat writer Jack Kerouac.

In his introduction to Frank's book of photos The Americans, Kerouac writes, "That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what's her name & address?"

Now we know.

Read Ian Padgham's blog entry detailing how he met Sharon Collins.

Today, Sharon Collins lives in San Francisco. About 10 years ago she visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and found herself drawn to a particular photo — the same photo Jack Kerouac wrote about.

"I stood in front of this particular photograph for probably a full five minutes, not knowing why I was staring at it," she says. "And then it really dawned on me that the girl in the picture was me."

The iconic shot shows a young girl, pressing an elevator button, looking up with an unreadable expression.

At the time, her name was Sharon Goldstein, growing up in Miami Beach. At fifteen, she got a summer job as an elevator girl at the Sherry Frontenac Hotel. She says the hotel was always full of tourists, and many of them had cameras. Although she wishes she remembers this particular tourist, she doesn't. But she pieced together what happened by looking at Frank's contact sheet.

"Robert Frank took about four photos of me without a flash in the elevator. I didn't know he was taking them. And then when the elevator emptied of its 'blurred demons,'" she says, "he asked me to turn around and smile at the camera. And I flashed a smile, put my hands on my hips. I hammed it up for about eight or ten frames."

But from the single image that was chosen for The Americans, Kerouac guessed she was lonely. Collins thinks he was pretty close.

"He saw in me something that most people didn't see. I have a big smile and a big laugh, and I'm usually pretty funny. So people see one thing in me. And I suspect Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac saw something that was deeper. That only people who were really close to me can see. It's not necessarily loneliness, it's ... dreaminess."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Morales Named “World Hero of Mother Earth” by UN General Assembly

LA PAZ – The president of the United Nations General Assembly, Rev. Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, on Saturday declared Bolivian President Evo Morales as “World Hero of Mother Earth” in a ceremony at the presidential palace in this capital. With a medal and a parchment scroll, the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization named Morales “the maximum exponent and paradigm of love for Mother Earth” in the resolution for his decoration that was read during the ceremony. The document added that the decision was taken “after extensive consultation” among representatives of the General Assembly’s member countries. D’Escoto recalled that Morales “was the one who most helped” the United Nations declare last April 22 as International Mother Earth Day, or “Pachamama” as Mother Earth is said in Bolivia’s Aymara Indian tongue. For his part, the president said that the honor is not for Evo Morales, “but for our ancestors and the native peoples” that “have always defended Mother Earth.” He added that he will continue trying to get the international community to acknowledge the rights of Mother Earth. Besides Morales, the former Cuban head of state Fidel Castro has been named “World Hero of Solidarity” and the late ex-president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, will be honored as “World Hero of Social Justice.” “What we want to do is present these three people to the world and say that they embody virtues and values worth emulation by all of us,” said D’Escoto, who like the socialist Morales is a staunch critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. D’Escoto was elected president of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly on June 4, 2008, and was Nigaraguan foreign minister during the first Sandinista government from 1979 to 1990.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Only the Super-rich Can Save Us!" by Ralph Nader

Nader does fiction...

"In the cozy den of the large but modest house in Omaha where he has lived since he started on his first billion, Warren Buffett watched the horrors of Hurricane Katrina unfold on television in early September 2005. . . . On the fourth day, he beheld in disbelief the paralysis of local, state, and federal authorities unable to commence basic operations of rescue and sustenance, not just in New Orleans, but in towns and villages all along the Gulf Coast. . . He knew exactly what he had to do. . ."

So begins the vivid fictional account by political activist and bestselling author Ralph Nader that answers the question, "What if?" What if a cadre of superrich individuals tried to become a driving force in America to organize and institutionalize the interests of the citizens of this troubled nation? What if some of America's most powerful individuals decided it was time to fix our government and return the power to the people? What if they focused their power on unionizing Wal-Mart? What if a national political party were formed with the sole purpose of advancing clean elections? What if these seventeen superrich individuals decided to galvanize a movement for alternative forms of energy that will effectively clean up the environment? What if together they took on corporate goliaths and Congress to provide the necessities of life and advance the solutions so long left on the shelf by an avaricious oligarchy? What could happen?

This extraordinary story, written by the author who knows the most about citizen action, returns us to the literature of American social movements—to Edward Bellamy, to Upton Sinclair, to John Steinbeck, to Stephen Crane—reminding us in the process that changing the body politic of America starts with imagination.


As inspirited a work of the political imagination as Tom Paine's Common Sense. Nader casts his best hopes for America in the form of a Utopian dream, imparts his idealism to a quorum of
-Lewis Lapham
Since the Progressive era, Ralph Nader has done more than anyone else to protect American consumers. With this utopian fantasy, he shows us how good he thinks things could be. -Warren Beatty
A high-spirited visionary romp melding the wisdom, humor and imagination of Ralph Nader. May it inspire action. -Patti Smith
In this eye-opening and mind-expanding work of "practical utopia," Ralph Nader conjures up a world in which our richest and most powerful citizens deploy their wealth, fame, and brains on behalf
-William C. Taylor, Founding Editor of Fast Company
Ralph Nader turning to the "super-rich" for salvation? The answer is a resounding "Yes," and Mr. Nader has produced a wonderful piece of fiction that I'd love to see become non-fiction! -Tom Peters
"With heart, passion, wit and humor, Ralph Nader's stunning masterpiece provides both a sharp critique and measured remedy for our current world, in which ethically bankrupt financial leaders
-Nomi Prins, author of "It Takes a Pillage"
Ralph Nader's "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us" is a breakthrough book that sparks the imagination and inspires us to think about the political economy our country deserves. Using
-Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director of the California Nurses' Association & the National Nurses Organizing Committee
Ralph Nader is an exemplary citizen and prophetic leader who tells the truth at great cost to himself on behalf of everyday people. This tale has a moral substance and political content that is quite relevant for our time! -Cornel West, Princeton University
Pre order the book here...

Friday, August 28, 2009

An Ode to Mike Patton


Faith No More Live: Faith no More: Pukkelpop Belgium 2009 entire playlist Watch this vid first though at 2.40 a man tries to stage dive but falls short and hits the barricade mouth first, losing all his front teeth: Mike Patton versus the VIP(er)s, 3 vids: Faith No More music vids: Mike Patton's other projects: Check this one here (embedding off)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sexual Freedom: Healthy or Harmful???, by Mosaic

From: My Mosaic Life... Current mood: excited Category: Romance and Relationships
I wrote this blog a while back but have been too busy to post it. Yet today, Luke and Coqueto both wrote blogs about abstaining vs. giving into sexual desires, so I figured while the topic is hot, why not post it? This blog is not about casual sex, but it IS about sexual freedom. I want to open a discussion about sexual freedom. And by sexual freedom I don't mean "I went got drunk and kissed a girl." I mean really letting go and letting yourself tap into that deep dark place that is taboo and makes you blush to even think about. I have a friend that I call the "Fantasy Fulfiller." He has helped many women live out their deepest, darkest fantasies, the ones that most men would run scared from. Yet he fulfills them to the letter, no matter how twisted the request, without any sort of judgment or hesitation. He has the absolute ability to separate the sexual needs of a person from the actual person themselves. I happen to think it is absolutely amazing, and practically salivate at the thought of having that kind of freedom. Just the idea of being able to name anything I want, anything at all, and know that I can have it without any kind of judgment is so completely fulfilling that it is practically indescribable. It's like standing at the counter of a sexual fast food joint and having endless amounts of money to spend with a menu that wraps around 10 Empire State buildings. Absolutely limitless. Why is it so taboo to act on something just because others are too scared to do so? The majority of people on this Earth live their entire lives according to what other people deem acceptable. Why is this any way to live? To constantly suppress ourselves in order to fit into a pre-determined mold that others have for us is so stifling. Why must we conform to the standards of the majority of the population just to feel good about ourselves? Is it a matter of pleasing others or pleasing our own egos? Are we just too proud to rise above all that bullshit and say fuck it? Why not break free from that and actually LIVE rather than just going through the motions? How exhilarating and fulfilling do you think it is to actually be able to act out those dark twisted things that you secretly fantasize about without any fear of judgment from the other party? To be sexually free, I mean TRULY 100% free, to be able to look at your partner and say exactly what you want without any kind of hesitation whatsoever, how amazing must that feel? Think about it...think about how fucking great it must be to have that kind of freedom. Everyone fantasizes. Everyone. And everyone has twisted fantasies whether they realize it or not. If you take your small, slightly risque fantasies and really dig down past the surface of them, you'd be surprised at what you'll find. How many woman want to be slammed against the wall the way it happens in the movies? The couple is kissing in the hall, the next thing you know they are just inside the door and he slams her into the wall and "takes" her. Now take the feeling behind that, the emotion at the base of that scenario, and strip away everything else. It's aggression. Male aggression makes women feel alive, it gets their blood pumping and their heads light and their skin hot. To know that a man wants you bad enough that he absolutely cannot hold back is extremely erotic. (I know, I wrote a blog about it and had 8 pages of women enthusiastically agreeing with me.) Now take that aggression and let your mind run with it. Think about other ways that a man could be aggressive to you sexually, but forget about your mother, your sister, your church, your children, your job, your entire life. Let it all go, and really let your mind wander and see where it goes. Let's say that this little experiment leads you to a scene where you are running through the woods being chased by a man, who eventually "catches" you and aggressively fucks you. Let's say that it turns you on to think about it. Now let's say you willingly allow someone to do that to you in order to live out your fantasy. Does you think that it would make you more healthy sexually or less? Do you think that you would feel relieved afterwards? Do you think that it would be a phenomenal release for you? Do you think that the endorphins of such a complete release from life as you know it would be stimulating? Just imagine the decreased stress level of people if they truly let themselves go like that! Imagine how relaxed and content you would feel after successfully participating in something that goes against everything that has been drilled into your head since birth. Just imagine the satisfaction you would feel, the absolute control over your own life, more so than you have ever experienced before, with no regard for anyone else's opinion. How do you think you can reach the point of allowing yourself to get there psychologically? What would it take to be able to actually act, rather than imagine? Why not do it anyway, despite those circumstances? What's really holding you back?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Answer To A Sonnet By J.H.Reynolds, by John Keats

"Dark eyes are dearer far Than those that mock the hyacinthine bell." Blue! 'Tis the life of heaven,—the domain Of Cynthia,—the wide palace of the sun,— The tent of Hesperus, and all his train,— The bosomer of clouds, gold, gray, and dun. Blue! 'Tis the life of waters:—Ocean And all its vassal streams, pools numberless, May rage, and foam, and fret, but never can Subside, if not to dark-blue nativeness. Blue! gentle cousin of the forest-green, Married to green in all the sweetest flowers— Forget-me-not,—the blue-bell,—and, that queen Of secrecy, the violet: what strange powers Hast thou, as a mere shadow! But how great, When in an Eye thou art alive with fate! *

Monday, August 24, 2009

Flipbook style video for the Jake LaBotz song Hard to Love What You Kill

Inspired by turn of the century flipbooks, Jake La Botz's Hard to Love What You Kill was captured one frame at a time on a still camera and then animated to create a motion picture. A film by Henry Crum... in 1381 photographs.

Five Best Video-Sharing Sites

From: By Jason Fitzpatrick With everything from our cellphones to laptops to keychain trinkets coming sporting video cameras these days, more and more people are capturing and sharing digital video. The following video sites make sharing your video missives easy.

Photo by Jakob Montrasio.

Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite video sharing web site and tell us what made it your favorite. We've read over your comments, tallied the votes, and now we're back to share the most popular video sharing sites. (Basic: Free, Pro: $96/year) is a video-sharing service aimed at people producing web shows. The site isn't designed for or marketed to people uploading single videos or viral-video content. The site is strongly oriented towards users producing continuous videos and includes revenue sharing to help independent producers make money—50% of the ad revenue from your content is shared with you. Both the basic and the professional account are limited to file sizes of 1GB, but one of the benefits of the professional account is that you get priority conversion and additional conversion time per episode, which allows you to use higher quality video. The professional service is really only necessary if you're consistently uploading large amounts of long videos and want priority conversion, so the free service should cover the needs of nearly everyone besides people producing full out web-based television series.

YouTube (Free)

YouTube has reached a level of ubiquity in the video-sharing market that for millions of internet users, YouTube is not only how they were introduced to video sharing—it's also the only video sharing site they're even aware of. Videos uploaded to YouTube have to be smaller than 2GB, and they must be 10 minutes or shorter in length if you're using a basic account. YouTube places no restriction on the number of videos you can upload as long as they follow the 2GB/10min rule. You can't edit your videos once you've uploaded them to YouTube, but you can annotate them with additional information and links. YouTube lets you embed and customize the player, again, for free.

Vimeo (Basic: Free, Plus:$60/year)

Vimeo is a video sharing service with a heavy emphasis on community and creativity. You can't host commercial content on Vimeo; instead, all uploaded content must be original and non-commercial. Vimeo accounts come in two flavors. The basic account is free and includes 500MB per week of uploaded video, including one HD video per week. You get three albums, one group, and one channel with basic accounts. Basic accounts also let you embed and share your work as well as set basic privacy restrictions. Upgrading to the Plus account kicks your upload cap to 5GB, removes the restriction on HD movies, lets you embed HD movies, and gives you unlimited album, group, and channel creation. A Plus account also expands your privacy control and allows you to customize the embedded player.

Viddler (Free)

If you're put off by the length restrictions of some video-sharing sites, Viddler has no limit on length. As long as your file is 500MB or less in size, you can make it as long as you like. (500MB holds a lot of web-cam quality video.) In addition to the 500MB limit, you're restricted to 2GB of storage and bandwidth per month. If you sign up for a partnership account, instead of a personal account, your videos are overlaid with advertisements but the storage and bandwidth restrictions are removed. Both the personal and the partnership accounts are free.

Dailymotion (Free)

Dailymotion offers two different accounts for content sharers. The basic account allows you to upload videos up to 1GB in size. If you're sharing original content, you can sign up for a Motionmaker account. Motionmaker accounts are intended for the distribution of Creative Commons videos and allow you to upload HD content. Original content by Motionmakers is more aggressively promoted on the front page and through search results.

The technical information on the various video-sharing sites is usually buried in help files and not particularly clear in most instances. If you're basing your selection on a very specific aspect of the service like whether or not you can upload .mov files without converting them or whether or not the site supports 256kb audio, we'd highly recommend checking out this extensive set of charts on Wikipedia to see if the site meets your needs.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

MIT’s Personas Creates a Portrait of Your Online Identity

From: ilibrarian A new project from the MIT Media Lab called Personas will create a data portrait of your online identity. You simply enter your name and it searches the Web for information and context and computes a visual representation of how the Internet sees you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2001 :: A Floyd Odyssey (Full Ending Scene)



I happened upon this the other day and bookmarked it. If you (like me) have a jones for the early Floyd, with a serious appreciation for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, then I just made your day and/or week. Alright, off to watch it again.

Download: MP3: Pink Floyd :: Echoes ————– Amazon: Pink Floyd - Meddle

Friday, August 21, 2009

-Fate, however, had other plans.- (LOL!)



I hadn’t seen her in years and if it were up to me, it would have stayed that way. Fate, however, had other plans.

Of all the clubs, in all the cities, in all the world, she walked into mine. I saw her as soon as she sauntered through the door, wearing those damn red heels I love and a form-fitting black dress that stuck to her hourglass shape like a label.

“Who the hell invited her,” I thought to myself.

Truthfully, it didn’t matter. She was here now and there was nothing I could do about it.

Her name was Remy. She and I had an on and off relationship for a few years. We always had a good time together but she was bad for me. Real bad.

When Remy got in my system, wasn’t no telling what kind of trouble we’d get into. I always found myself doing things out of my character when in her presence but the sex was amazing and kept me coming back. She was my addiction and I finally kicked the habit.

She was out of my life and I was better for it, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss her.

Remy was a big part of my life. Back when I was hitting any and every party, she was always by my side. We’d club hop until the wee hours of the night and ravage each other’s bodies before we even got home.

I can only imagine how many cabbies witnessed her sucking me off in the backseat of their cab or listened to her moan while I finger fucked her. This became our ritual. Remy stopped wearing panties altogether so nothing could impede my curious fingers from exploring her throbbing clit as we crossed the bridge back into Brooklyn.

All these memories flooded my mind as soon as I saw her.

She looked good. Real good.

But I knew she was bad. Real bad.

Still, I indulged her.

Our eyes had locked across the room a while ago, and she finally made her way through the sea of people towards me.

Keep your cool, man, keep your cool.

She arrived at my section and I extended my arms to welcome her into my embrace.

She smelled amazing.

I didn’t stand a chance.

We exchanged pleasantries and kept things PC, but then came the million-dollar question: “So, what are you drinking?”

“Just pineapple and orange juice,” I replied.

And…,” she asked, inquisitively.

“Nothing, I’m keeping it light tonight.”

Remy had other ideas.

She ordered round after round and it wasn’t long before we hit the dance floor. We slow grinded to “Murder She Wrote” and she had me hooked.

I palmed her ass in a darkened corner of the club and she liked it.

I pulled on her hair in front of the bathroom and she wanted more.

She kissed me and I dropped my drink on the floor. I didn’t even care, I was all into Remy.

We danced as if we had the club to ourselves. My hands found a familiar place at the small of her back and worked their way down to her ass. I quickly discovered that some things never change.

She wasn’t wearing panties.

Remy looked up at me with this seductive gaze, before leaning up to my ear and whispering, “Do you miss me?”

The question alone made me hard, but I wanted to be good. I wanted to say no, but Remy discreetly grabbed my dick and had her answer.

She kissed me again. Deeply. Passionately. Intently.

I did miss her, but right now I wanted her.

It wasn’t long before we were exiting the club and hailing a cab back to my place.

It was just like old times. My rock hard dick was Remy’s plaything. She sucked me off from the Chelsea to Crown Heights, while our audience of one listened intently from the front seat. When we arrived at our destination and I tossed the cabbie $40 for his troubles.

Remy and I clawed at each other’s clothes all the way up the front steps. By time I got the key into the lock I could barely contain myself and pressed her against my hallway wall. I hiked up her dress and dropped down to my knees so I could taste her love.

She was sweet.



Although every part of my being knew this was a mistake, I was too weak to resist Remy so I fucked her.

I fucked her for old times sake. I fucked her because she looked good. I fucked her because she wanted me to. I fucked her because I wanted to. I fucked her because I could.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized how fucked up I was as I woke up alone with an empty bottle of Remy by my side.


Have you ever had a lover you knew was wrong for you but you just couldn’t resist? Have you ever made out in a crowded club or room full of people? If so, did the audience turn you on? Would you take an old lover up on their offer for one last night together with no strings attached? Why or why not? Do you think sex is better or worse when you’re drunk?

Speak your piece…


Common Sense 2009, by Larry Flynt

Publisher of Hustler magazine and free speech advocate August 20, 2009

The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate. It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government.

This was never more obvious than with the Wall Street bailout, whereby the very corporations that caused the collapse of our economy were rewarded with taxpayer dollars. So arrogant, so smug were they that, without a moment's hesitation, they took our money -- yours and mine -- to pay their executives multimillion-dollar bonuses, something they continue doing to this very day. They have no shame. They don't care what you and I think about them. Henry Kissinger refers to us as "useless eaters."

But, you say, we have elected a candidate of change. To which I respond: Do these words of President Obama sound like change?

"A culture of irresponsibility took root, from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street." There it is. Right there. We are Main Street. We must, according to our president, share the blame. He went on to say: "And a regulatory regime basically crafted in the wake of a 20th-century economic crisis -- the Great Depression -- was overwhelmed by the speed, scope and sophistication of a 21st-century global economy."

This is nonsense.

The reason Wall Street was able to game the system the way it did -- knowing that they would become rich at the expense of the American people (oh, yes, they most certainly knew that) -- was because the financial elite had bribed our legislators to roll back the protections enacted after the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Congress gutted the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial lending banks from investment banks, and passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed for self-regulation with no oversight. The Securities and Exchange Commission subsequently revised its rules to allow for even less oversight -- and we've all seen how well that worked out. To date, no serious legislation has been offered by the Obama administration to correct these problems.

Instead, Obama wants to increase the oversight power of the Federal Reserve. Never mind that it already had significant oversight power before our most recent economic meltdown, yet failed to take action. Never mind that the Fed is not a government agency but a cartel of private bankers that cannot be held accountable by Washington. Whatever the Fed does with these supposed new oversight powers will be behind closed doors.

Obama's failure to act sends one message loud and clear: He cannot stand up to the powerful Wall Street interests that supplied the bulk of his campaign money for the 2008 election. Nor, for that matter, can Congress, for much the same reason.

Consider what multibillionaire banker David Rockefeller wrote in his 2002 memoirs:

"Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure -- one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."
Read Rockefeller's words again. He actually admits to working against the "best interests of the United States."

Need more? Here's what Rockefeller said in 1994 at a U.N. dinner: "We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis, and the nations will accept the New World Order." They're gaming us. Our country has been stolen from us.

Journalist Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone, notes that esteemed economist John Kenneth Galbraith laid the 1929 crash at the feet of banking giant Goldman Sachs. Taibbi goes on to say that Goldman Sachs has been behind every other economic downturn as well, including the most recent one. As if that wasn't enough, Goldman Sachs even had a hand in pushing gas prices up to $4 a gallon.

The problem with bankers is longstanding. Here's what one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, had to say about them:

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation, and then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their father's conquered."
We all know that the first American Revolution officially began in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence. Less well known is that the single strongest motivating factor for revolution was the colonists' attempt to free themselves from the Bank of England. But how many of you know about the second revolution, referred to by historians as Shays' Rebellion? It took place in 1786-87, and once again the banks were the cause. This time they were putting the screws to America's farmers.

Daniel Shays was a farmer in western Massachusetts. Like many other farmers of the day, he was being driven into bankruptcy by the banks' predatory lending practices. (Sound familiar?) Rallying other farmers to his side, Shays led his rebels in an attack on the courts and the local armory. The rebellion itself failed, but a message had been sent: The bankers (and the politicians who supported them) ultimately backed off. As Thomas Jefferson famously quipped in regard to the insurrection: "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Perhaps it's time to consider that option once again.

I'm calling for a national strike, one designed to close the country down for a day. The intent? Real campaign-finance reform and strong restrictions on lobbying. Because nothing will change until we take corporate money out of politics. Nothing will improve until our politicians are once again answerable to their constituents, not the rich and powerful.

Let's set a date. No one goes to work. No one buys anything. And if that isn't effective -- if the politicians ignore us -- we do it again. And again. And again.

The real war is not between the left and the right. It is between the average American and the ruling class. If we come together on this single issue, everything else will resolve itself. It's time we took back our government from those who would make us their slaves.

Earth Days - New Film About the History of the Modern Environmental Movement

Listen to this segment | the entire program

earth daysA new documentary by Robert Stone, traces the history of the modern environmental movement through the lives of nine pioneering Americans. Titled Earth Days, the film reaches as far back as the post-war America of the 1950s, the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s seminal book Silent Spring, and the first ever Earth Day marked in 1970. With vintage footage and stunning visual panoramas, Earth Days follows the vision and fate of people like one-time Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, futurist Steward Brand, former Congressman Pete McCloskey, non-profit leader Hunter Lovins. It highlights the successes but also the failures of the movement. The New York Times reviewed Earth Days, calling it a “beautifully composed tribute to visionary thinking and political ingenuity, a timeline of peaks and valleys stretching from the early initiatives of the 1950s to the legislative successes of the ’70s.”

GUEST: Robert Stone, writer, producer, and director of Earth Days, film credits include Oswald’s Ghost, and Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst

Find out more at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Left of The Left is Right!

by: buhdydharma Thu Aug 20, 2009 Simulposted at Daily Kos

Hey Mr. Senior Anonymous Source, YES the Left is digging in on Health Care and the Public Option and you would be wise to take notice. Even that President BO guy, after all, said that HCR must contain the PO or we will all be SOL PDQ!

In addition, I would like to give you a bit of a refresher course on the sagacity and veracity of The Left of The Left in the (no doubt vain) hope that you will actually stop IGNORING The Left of The Left and start listening to them. For one simple, non-politically calculating reason.....The Left of The Left are almost always right!

It is okay, you and the rest of the Moderates, Centrists, and DLC/Establishment Dems don't have to acknowledge or even associate with The Left of The Left and get Left of The Left cooties all over you shiny suit. We know you despise us and treat us like the rented mule of the Democratic Party....beating us mercilessly while we do the hard work on the ground and make up the donations you don't get from your Very Serious Corporate Buddies. (You know, all those small donations that got Obama elected and stuff) We don't need to be wined and dined. We just want you to LISTEN.

And we don't need credit either (though it would be nice!) we are used to you stealing our ideas and claiming them for your own.

buhdydharma :: The Left of The Left is Right! But please do remember, as you make your capitulatory concessions to your enemies on the Right while ignoring and reviling your FRIENDS on The Left of The Left, that The Left of The Left were the ones that came up with virtually the entire Democratic Agenda!!!!

In fact you could say (but you won't!) that The Left of The Left came up with modern democracy itself!

Some of what follows may be stretching a bit....but I hereby present for your consideration the following items:

First of all, to get the ball rolling, Jesus was a Hippie. He was The Left of The Left. He preached Peace and Love and fed the poor, healed the sick.... and believed in Single Payer! (Monotheism joke, sorry!) Since our whole society is (allegedly) based on his values, you might wanna think about that!

Second, The Left of The Left brought us The Enlightenment and the scientific method....the OTHER foundation of our society, iirc.

Next The Left of The Left, natural born rebels that we are, brought us the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights (Check Google, you will find reference to these things I speak of there.)

Then came Abolition, a definitely Left of The Left idea, what with that whole justice equality and love for your fellow man no matter what color he is deal. People as property? That is the Republican (and don't give me that Lincoln was a Republican crap, he would roll over in his grave!) wet dream!

Next, The Labor Movement came from The Left of The Left. As the bumper sticker says, sorta...If you enjoy weekends, thank The Left of The Left. If you are against Child Labor, thank The Left of The Left. Yeah, they were called Commies and Socialists too, remember? Oh wait that;s RIGHT, they WERE Commies and Socialists, before the Repubs made those into BAD things.

Women's Suffrage? Yup...The Left of The Left.

The New Deal? You betcha, wink! They are STILL calling FDR a Socialist Commie too. Even though he 'stole' (was smart enough to steal!) all of the ideas of the New deal from The Left of The Left, even though he was an entrenched Ruling Class dude. But when the shit hit the fan he was smart enough to know that the ideas of The Left of The Left were the way to go.

I believe The New Deal is on teh Google too, look it up. Study it. It works. And it came from The Left of The Left.

The Left of The Left ended the McCarthy and HUAC witch hunts.

The Left of The Left brought us the ideas of the Great Society too. Not to mention the Civil Rights Movement, that worked so well that we now have an African American President. Who has studiously ignored The Left of The Left on your advice Mr. Senior Anonymous Source. Well until the Centrist post partisan approach to HCR is getting trounced by the Right Wing Noise Machine....NOW he is starting to reach out to us....against your advice I am sure, Mr. Senior Anonymous Source. So let me try to bypass you here...

Hey Barack! Remember us, The Left of The Left? WE were the ones in the streets fighting for your right to become President!!!

The Left of The Left KNEW that the Imperialism of the Vietnam War was Just. Plain. Wrong. and was instrumental in ending that debacle that killed over two million people.

As we, The Left of The Left, tried to stop the tragedy of the Iraq War....and were ignored by the Moderates, Centrists, and DLC/Establishment Dems. Good job guys! Don't you EVER get tired of being wrong???

Affirmative Action? The Left of The Left.

Consumer Protection against stuff like putting lead in paint and toys and brought you life saving seat belts and stuff? Yeah that horrible The Left of The Left villain Ralph Nader.

Women's Liberation? The Left of The Left.

LGBT equality? The Left of The Left.

The Environmental Movement that had the foresight to start trying to save our planet for your children back in the 70's? The Left of The Left.

And those are just the highlights of what the Dirty Fucking Hippies of The Left of The Left have contributed to the world we live in today.

The Left of The Left are the Keepers of Democratic and Progressive Values and Principles, Mr. Senior Anonymous Source, and all you Moderates, Centrists, and DLC/Establishment Dems.

We are your conscience.

We are where your ideals and ideas come from.

We are also your political foot soldiers, without whom you would NOT win elections. We are your base. Not the Corporations that fund your

And YOU work for US.

For now. 2010 is right around the corner.

YOU GUYS and your advice to the President to be wishy washy on the Public Option to appease your sworn enemies on the Right and ignore your base have lost The Pres 10 points in the polls and THIRTY points on the generic Public Option Polling. YOU GUYS, you capitulating calculating Centrist hacks, fucked that up but good, again.

YOU GUYS are wrong....and The Left of the Left is, once again, right.

Because even though in the quest for some imaginary deal with your enemies (which was, if I may say so, Fucking Stupid, Mr. Senior Anonymous Source) you are willing to, once again, sell out your base...The People, once again, agree with The Left of the Left:

Just 34% of voters nationwide support the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats if the so-called "public option" is removed. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 57% oppose the plan if it doesn't include a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers.

We ARE The People that this government is supposed to be by, for and of.

And we are....once again.....right.

You are used to ignoring and reviling The Left of The Left, you take us for granted and ridicule us and sell us out at the drop of a hat.

But things have Changed, Mr. Senior Anonymous Source.

We will NOT be ignored any longer. We had a bad stretch under Bush, and we are fed up, pissed and yes, angry.

But we are BACK.

The Left of The Left is here to stay. And we are increasingly organized and increasingly Yelling Louder.

Ignore us at your political peril, Rahm Mr. Senior Anonymous Source.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Lanny Davis Disease and America's Health Care Debate, by Glenn Greenwald

After Tom Daschle was selected to be Barack Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services and chief health care adviser, Matt Taibbi wrote: "In Washington there are whores and there are whores, and then there is Tom Daschle." One could easily have added: "And then there's Lanny Davis." Davis frequently injects himself into political disputes, masquerading as a "political analyst" and Democratic media pundit, yet is unmoored from any discernible political beliefs other than: "I agree with whoever pays me." It's genuinely difficult to recall any instance where he publicly defended someone who hadn't, at some point, hired and shuffled money to him. Yesterday, he published a new piece simultaneously in The Hill and Politico -- solemnly warning that extremists on the Far Left and Far Right are jointly destroying democracy with their conduct in the health care debate and urging "the vast center-left and center-right of this country to speak up and call them out equally" -- that vividly illustrates the limitless whoring behavior which shapes Washington generally and specifically drives virtually every word out of Lanny Davis' mouth.

Davis' history is as long and consistent as it is sleazy. He was recently hired by Honduran oligarchs opposed to that country's democratically elected left-wing President and promptly became the chief advocate of the military coup which forcibly removed the President from office. He became an emphatic defender of the Israeli war on Gaza after he was named by the right-wing The Israel Project to be its "Senior Advisor and Spokesperson." He has been the chief public defender for Joe Lieberman, Jane Harman and the Clintons, all of whom have engaged his paid services. And as NYU History Professor Greg Grandin just documented:

Recently, Davis has been hired by corporations to derail the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize, all the while touting himself as a "pro-labor liberal."

Davis was also the chief U.S. lobbyist of the military dictatorship in Pakistan in the late 90s and played an important role in strengthening relations between then President Bill Clinton and de facto president General Perez Musharraf.

Most recently, Davis has aggressively attacked progressive critics of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey after Mackey, whose company targets progressive consumers, published a Wall St. Journal Op-Ed opposing health care reform. Needless to say, Davis had been hired by Whole Foods, serving as its lawyer in a protracted and expensive (i.e. profitable for Davis) antitrust battle with the Federal Trade Commission.

If Lanny Davis were just another Beltway lobbyist/lawyer piggishly feeding off our political system by serving whatever corporate interests happen to rent him, all of this would be too common to bother noting. But Davis parades around as -- and is treated by media organizations as being -- some sort of political pundit as well. He's presented by numerous media outlets as an independent analyst who opines on the news of the day -- yet does so almost exclusively in order to promote the interests of those who are paying him, relationships which are often undisclosed. Here's how he describes himself to clients and potential clients on his bio page at the firm, Orrick, where he's a partner:

He has been a regular television commentator and has been a political and legal analyst for MSNBC, CNN, Fox Cable, CNBC and network TV news programs. He has published numerous op-ed/analysis pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and other national publications.

In other words, if you pay Davis to shill for you, he's able to exploit those media platforms to advocate for your interests while pretending to be an "analyst." When the Israel Project issued a Press Release announcing his hiring in the middle of the Israel-Gaza war, they pointedly touted that he "is Available Immediately for Interviews on Israel/Gaza and More." Though his service to the Israel Project was volunteer work, that's how it works in general: you drop coins in the slot in Davis' back and he dutifully goes forth on television and in newspapers and recites what you feed him. In their Press Release, they proudly noted:

Now a Washington, D.C. attorney, Mr. Davis is also a weekly columnist and frequent political analyst on major broadcast and TV cable shows, including NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News Channel, and is and op-ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and leading blog sites such as The Huffington Post, and

Davis' new piece in The Hill and Politico demonstrates how this works. Presenting himself as the Responsible Liberal-Centrist, he warns of what he calls "The Dangerous Joining of the Far Right and Far Left." He argues that "the extreme left and extreme right share more in common than those on their own side of the ideological divide when it comes to the issue of health care." In order to defeat the extremists on both sides "who threaten our democratic traditions and institutions," he pompously assumes the voice of Thomas Paine and issues this call to action: "When the far left and the far right join in the Politics of Hate and Demonization, it is time for the vast center-left and center-right of this country to speak up and call them out equally. Silence is no longer acceptable by responsible liberals towards the reckless far left or by responsible conservatives towards the reckless far right. Silence is complicity."

As for the monsters of the Right, Davis lists "the shouters shouting down other people who wish to speak at town meetings, whacko 'birthers,' and liars inventing 'death panels' and obscenely and recklessly mentioning Adolph Hitler and Nazi symbols to scare people." And who are the equivalents on the Left? The people who do this:

on the far left -- including the most vicious posters on the so-called liberal blogosphere, threatening businesses with one or more executives who offer personal ideas for achieving national health care reform different from the Administration's or Democratic congressional leaders' versions (full disclosure: I support all of President Obama's core principles for national health care legislation, though I still have many unanswered questions); hateful e-mails, phone calls, blogs, and personal attacks, distorting alternative ideas different from the Administration's approach and attacking the motives of those airing them; and intolerance for anyone who disagrees, including personal invective and demonization of those with different views.

Plainly, this whole rant has no purpose other than to argue that "the Left" is as bad as the screaming, gun-wielding right-wing townhall Limbaugh followers. Why? Because some progressives, in the wake of Mackey's anti-health-care-reform Op-Ed, organized a boycott of Whole Foods, Davis' client (that's all Davis means when he complains of "threatening businesses with one or more executives who offer personal ideas for achieving national health care reform different from the Administration's or Democratic congressional leaders' versions": they're harming the business interests of my paid client).

But there's no disclosure whatsoever that Davis here is doing nothing more than spewing outrage on behalf of a corporation that pays him (even as he deceitfully inserts the phrase "full disclosure" into the middle of his rant-- and then proceeds to "disclose" nothing other than his allegedly pro-Obama bona fides in order to make his attacks on "the Left" seem more credible). All Davis is doing here -- as usual -- is fulfilling his whore duty: Whole Foods dropped coins in his back slot and therefore he defends them by demonizing critics of its CEO. But readers of The Hill and Politico have absolutely no idea of Davis' real motives or his relationship to the corporation he's defending because both he and those magazines conceal that relationship. Instead, readers are misled into believing that he's an independent analyst who -- though a "liberal" himself -- just so happens to object to progressive campaigns against health care opponents because he's such a sincere, objective and responsible-centrist advocate for civility and fairness.

The overlap between -- and deliberate blurring of -- political power, media opinion-making, and large corporate largesse is unlimited now. The aforementioned Tom Daschle just spent an hour this past Sunday on Meet the Press ostensibly to analyze the health care reform debate despite the fact that, as Time's Michael Scherer documented, Daschle currently works for numerous health insurance industry interests, relationships completely undisclosed during the entire one-hour health care program. Between Richard Wolffe, the Pentagon's military analysts, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Daschle, and Davis, one wonders if NBC News ever presents any "political analysts" who are free of undisclosed conflicts of interest.

What makes all of this particularly notable is that the centerpiece of Barack Obama's presidential campaign was putting an end to this type of corporate influence over our political debates -- particularly when those influences are concealed. Just marvel at how clear Obama promised to conduct health care negotiations out in the open in order to ensure that undisclosed pharmaceutical and insurance industry interests did not drive the process:

Obviously, as David Corn recently complained, none of that has even come close to happening. There is substantial debate over the role the Obama White House played in the apparent death of the "public option" -- did it happen against their wishes or with their blessing? -- but all one can do is guess at that question because, contrary to his crystal clear and oft-stated campaign pledge, the negotiations that lead to that collapse were completely secret. What one does know is that the pharmaceutical industry is so delighted with what they think will be the ultimate plan that they are spending vast sums of money to advocate for it, preceded by a secret White House deal with that same industry to ensure there are no government negotiations for better prices (a result that, when combined with mandates to buy health insurance, would vastly increase the profits of these industries). Indeed, it's difficult to recall a single piece of major legislation recently enacted over the objections of the large corporate interests that control and own the American political process.

Lanny Davis is just a face that reflects the grime and sleaze that lies at the core of our political culture. But it's a rather vivid face for what is typically meant by Centrism (i.e., it's shrill and irresponsible to suggest there's anything fundamentally wrong with our political culture); Civility (it's rude and disrespectful to highlight the oozing conflicts of interests and paid whoredom which animate our leading political luminaries); and Bipartisanship (the same narrow set of corporate forces always prevail no matter which party is in "control" by constantly paying those who control those parties). As unpleasant as it is, that's why there's value in casting one's eyes on how Lanny Davis functions.

Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mayer Hawthorne - Preview

From: posted by Eric Luecking

Mayer Hawthorne - Maybe So, Maybe No from Stones Throw on Vimeo.

Stones Throw just released a new video for Mayer's “Maybe So, Maybe No” cover. Nice little summer party toward the end of the video. A couple of shout-outs to the King of Pop are mixed in the video, too. Also, on Stones Throw's Jukebox you can hear “Your Easy Lovin (Ain't Pleasin Nothin)” from his upcoming album. He definitely shows his Detroit roots with this nice little Motown Sound backbeat. With the mini-break coming out of that first hook, I always think The Supremes are going to jump in with “No love, love... don't come easy.” Of course they don't, but that's okay. That infectious hook and the way he stretches out “blue” right before the chorus as well as that sax solo are more than enough to put a nod in my head and a smile on my face. Best believe this album is one to buy come September 8/9. Hold off on just one Beatles reissue for this album. You won't be disappointed.

Michael Vick and the problem with forgiveness

From: August 17, 2009 by Dr. Slammy NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has conditionally reinstated former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, who was convicted of running a dogfighting ring in 2007. Vick served 23 months in federal prison, followed by two months of house arrest.

Last Thursday the Philadelphia Eagles answered the question as to which team would sign a convicted dog-killer (there were 32 possible answers to the question, and “none of the above” wasn’t one of them), and in doing so touched off a long-awaited PR war for the souls of their stunned fans. That the move is this controversial in Philly is instructive, because this is a city that has some of the meanest, most hardcore fans in the sporting world. Imagine if the team had instead been somebody like Seattle or the 49ers.

In any case, this is America, and as such there was never any doubt that Vick would be reinstated and that some team would pay millions to sign him. If Saddam Hussein had been able to break down a defense and get to the rim he wouldn’t be in Hell right now, he’d be in the NBA. So the controversy, such as it is, has nothing to do with anybody being surprised that Vick would find his way back onto the field.

Nonetheless, the argument is raging, and not just in Philadelphia. As I’ve read what people on “both” sides of the question have to say, as I’ve listened to the takes from local and national various sports commentators, as I’ve heard callers to sports talk stations offering their humble (and utterly meaningless) opinions, I have to admit that I’ve gotten a little tired of some of the memes being trotted out to defend Vick, the Eagles and the league. No matter how self-evidently inaccurate or utterly silly a particular idea may be, once it reaches the point of cliché the chances of somebody not repeating it are about the same as a crack addict not honking on the pipe every chance he gets. It’s true that much of what I’m complaining about comes from a noble place and it’s also true that many of those who are getting on my nerves are in fact good people espousing worthy ideals. Still, we have to understand that good intentions don’t guarantee positive results, and sometimes the pursuit of even the best ideals can effect unanticipated and undesired outcomes.

Here are some examples.

Everybody deserves a second chance…

Really? Everybody? Let’s test this. How about Charles Manson? Does he deserve a second chance? If so, can he stay at your hosue when we release him? Did Ted Bundy deserve a second chance, and if so, would you have let him escort your daughter to the prom? How about TIm McVeigh, or Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold or Pol Pot or Stalin or Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer?

Okay, okay. What Vick did wasn’t as bad as those guys. I get that. But two things to remember. First, the meme says everybody, not almost everybody, and this ain’t no straw man – I’m quoting lots and lots and lots of people that I’ve heard with my own in ears in just the past month. If we agree, as I suspect we do, that it’s not really everybody, then what we’re literally saying is that not everybody deserves a second chance.

Second, let’s try a scenario involving nobody famous. Say you’re a parent and you have a brother named Fred. And one day you catch Fred molesting your five year-old daughter. Assuming you’re even vaguely human, Fred’s ass is off to jail (assuming you can keep yourself from killing him on the spot).

So one day Fred gets out of jail. Do you let him babysit your daughter? If not, why not? After all, everybody deserves a second chance.

Give me a few minutes and I think I can convince just about anybody out there, even the most charitably minded person alive, that some people don’t deserve a second chance. Once we get to that point, the only thing left is to decide where to draw the line. At a minimum, though, we’ve demonstrated the ridiculousness of ever saying those words again.

He’s paid his debt to society…

We’re a nation of laws and we must, at some level, invest a measure of faith in the collective justice of our system if we’re to live civilly. Otherwise there’s a lynch mob on every corner, a vigilante lurking in every dark alley, and that’s a prescription for chaos. Who will watch the watchers, right?

That said, it’s hard for an intelligent and moral citizen to take the system at its word, to assume that justice is done in each individual case. If a man breaks into a home, rapes and murders a woman, and winds up pleading to a misdemeanor because the prosecutors can’t cobble together enough evidence to get a felony conviction, has the perpetrator paid his debt to society? Has OJ Simpson paid his debt to society? (Remember, he was found liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman in a civil case.) Or has he merely paid a fraction of the debt he should have incurred?

The “paid his debt” meme forces us to assume and to assert that the system is always right, and I’ve never yet met anyone who believes that, I don’t think. Yes, the system has run its course, but it’s not hard to find cases where offenses are punished too heavily or too lightly and every day the guilty walk free (and the innocent are sometimes convicted, as well). We do have an obligation to accept the results of the justice system, writ large, though, so while I’m mad as hell that Michael Vick only served a fraction of what I think his crimes merited, I’m not campaigning to throw him back into prison. Given a chance I’ll certainly support much stiffer penalties for dogfighting, but that’s about the future, not the past.

That said, what should I think of people who spout these kinds of clichés when they clearly have no idea of the implications of them? Further, what do we do with those who seem to think that the framers of the Constitution meant that multi-million dollar sports contracts were an inalienable right?

The system has rendered a verdict and exacted a punishment. In one context this means Vick has a right to pursue a life for himself. But in no sense does this entitle him to resume the life of royalty he lived before he was caught.


Don’t get me wrong – forgiveness is a wonderful thing, taken in moderation. People make mistakes and it wouldn’t be much of a world if we couldn’t forgive the simple fact of human failing. For my part, I’ve made massive mistakes in my life and am the (hopefully worthwhile) person I am today because I’ve been afforded the chance to learn from those errors. By the same token, I have been the victim of the mistakes of others, and have tried to be as generous with my own spirit of forgiveness as possible.

That said, we Americans have some problems where forgiveness is concerned. For starters, not all mistakes are created equal. I do not believe that all things deserve forgiveness (refer to my comments above on Tim McVeigh and your Uncle Fred) and even if I did, I think it would need to be earned by a regimen of penance that was proportional to the offense. Despite what 90% of Americans are required by their religions to say they believe, I don’t think that if we all felt free to voice what we really believe that I’d be in the minority at all.

For example, if you’ve been around long enough you’ve probably had the misfortune to be involved with some form of marital or relationship infidelity. Maybe he/she cheated on you, or maybe you were the cheater. Or both. Or maybe you’ve been lucky enough not to be involved, but you know people who have. In any case, tell me if you have heard some variation of this: “I forgave him/her, but I can’t ever forget.” My guess is that most of us know of a case where person A forgave person B, but nonetheless exiled person B from his/her life forever. Well, is that really forgiveness? If so, then what is the functional difference between forgiveness and can’t-forgiveness? The practical results are the same in both cases – the only distinction is that in one case you repeat the words that you’ve been taught you have to repeat when issuing mandatory forgiveness.

An ever bigger issue has to do with the hypocrisy of forgiveness – in short, the ways we use the certainty of forgiveness to enable all manner of bad behavior. We get a lot of this from those in the ministry, it seems. Jim Bakker. Jimmy Swaggart. Ted Haggard. Henry Lyons. If it isn’t a preacher it’s somebody famous in the news all the time. Right now the happy guys in the spotlight are Louisville hoops coach Rick Pitino and former Senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards. (One wonders if “Catholics in Louisville” would be less forgiving of a coach who knocked up a stranger in public restroom and then paid for her abortion if said coach’s record was in the .500 range.)

The problem here has to do with the concept of intent. It’s one thing to forgive someone who acted improperly in a time of crisis, or who made the wrong choice when the choices were ambiguous, or someone who hurt us accidentally through some form of negligence.

But what about those people who intentionally did that which they knew or believed to be wrong with clear planning and/or forethought? Jim Bakker didn’t realize that he shouldn’t cheat on his wife? Really? All those Catholic priests didn’t know that molesting little boys was bad? Really? Ted Haggard can’t say hello without railing against the abomination of sodomy but he thought it was okay to buy a male hooker for himself? Really? In these kinds of cases there’s a good degree of arrogance associated with even asking for forgiveness, because the regret very clearly isn’t about the action, it’s about getting caught.

To this point, can you actually argue that Michael Vick didn’t realize dogfighting was wrong? If so, then why did he take such effort to conceal it?

We’re not just talking about famous people and preachers here, of course. The certainty of forgiveness plays a big part in the way some of us plan our lives. For instance:

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. How many times do you suppose that the aforementioned legion of priests confessed for buggering altar boys? What do you think is the world record for number of consecutive weeks confessing to buggering altar boys?

At some point, we’re not talking about genuine forgiveness, we’re talking about enabling.


The purpose of prison – or at least one of the purposes – is rehabilitation. We send people who do bad things to prison so they won’t do them anymore. Studies indicating national recidivism rates of better than two-thirds tell us what we need to know about the rehabilitating effects of incarceration. Still, it’s a nice idea.

But even in the absence of this data, we’re assuming that all things can be fixed. In truth, an extremely detailed study would probably conclude that some kinds of anti-social behaviors are more easily addressed than others. For instance, a small-time mugger who encounters a strong vocational training program in jail is a very different case from a pedophile. A few experts seem to think that pedophilia can be treated, but I don’t believe this is anywhere near a majority opinion.

So if we’re going to talk about rehabilitating Mike Vick, it’s fair to ask about the nature of the crime and its amenability to treatment.

And here’s my biggest problem: what Michael Vick did was simply sub-human. I don’t mean that word in a pejorative, insulting way. Instead, I’m referring to a clear deficit in human empathy. One of our greatest writers, Philip K Dick, in one of his greatest books, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, confronted a world of increasingly human-seeming androids and posed the question: what quality makes us essentially human?

The answer: empathy. In the narrative (upon which the film Blade Runner was based), humans worked hard to cultivate their empathy (which was central to the society’s dominant religious ideology) through the stewardship of animals. A citizen who didn’t have an animal to care for lived a deficient, hollow life, and few sins were more damning than the failure to properly care for one’s animal. In one of the central moments of the novel, one of the replicants kills an animal – something no human could have even contemplated. The lesson is undeniable: only something inhuman could harm an animal.

Dick’s depiction of a strange science fiction near-future was brilliant in its grasp of the fundamental character of our actual humanity, here in the real and now. Empathy makes us human, and there are few measures of empathy that are more revealing than our treatment of animals. Why animals? Because they are helpless. They rely on us.

There’s no absolution here for Michael Vick

We all have our own means of evaluating other people and the moral codes that govern our lives, but for me no bell has ever rung more clearly than the one PK Dick sounds in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? From where I stand, there is no more meaningful and reliable measure of human character than how one treats the innocent and those who cannot take care of themselves. Animals are one case, and a good one. So are children. And if you’re a man, especially a strong one, I know all I need to know about you if you abuse women. You are sub-human.

I have no forgiveness for that, and I’ve never really understand people who do.

So here’s how I see it from the context that I’ve described here. The NFL has said that sub-human behavior doesn’t disqualify you from membership in their highly paid club, and the Philadelphia Eagles have gone a step further and said they’re willing to subsidize those who exhibit sub-human behavior.

You do what your conscience tells you is right. For my part, though, I won’t be spending a penny on the NFL this year. Further, I’ll be paying attention to who advertises with them and making sure I don’t patronize their businesses, either. It’s not much, I know. I don’t have a lot of money and the NFL doesn’t care what people like me think. But my principles must matter to me and I won’t apologize for having a code that isn’t subject to compromise on something as essential as the default qualities of humanity.

Meanwhile, it’s a shame that Rae Carruth isn’t up for parole anytime soon. I’d like to see if the league would at least put its foot down when the victims are human.

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