Saturday, April 2, 2005

Kill Your Television

A t-shirt idea by Mickey Z:
The image will show a family gathered around a TV: watching a video of their toddler trying to stand. Meanwhile, behind them--if they would only tear their eyes away from the TV screen--the toddler IS standing.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month!


Not surprisingly, I'm in just the right mood to celebrate! Click the pic to find out more - but keep in mind that jazz is very much a living art form that goes way beyond what the Smithsonian cats perceive. I've done some features on jazzers on this blog in the past and will continue to do so in order to foster an appreciation of some cool artists and music that is under the radar. Stay tuned.

Some Housekeeping: Comments

A couple quick remarks. I dig comments, and I have been pleased to see more people willing to leave comments - ranging from the favorable to the critical. As I see it, it's all good. Something to keep in mind though: snarkiness is cool, but abusiveness, whether toward me or toward any of the other commenters will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Comments I deem to be abusive will be immediately deleted and the commenter's IP address will be blocked. I'd really rather keep the environment here as cordial or friendly as possible out of respect to my readers. If you're looking for a place for flamefests, go to Democratic Underground, FreeRepublic, or LGF - the standards there are considerably different. This is [snark] a family blog [/snark].

Friday, April 1, 2005

Veterans For Peace Call For Bush Impeachment

Read the full story here. Nothing will come of it, unfortunately, given the current make-up of Congress. However, the detailed documentation of the various violations of Federal and International laws is certainly handy and is the kind of info that we need to be discussing and acting upon.

From the "9-1-1 is a Joke" Department: Oh! The Inhumanity!

This really breaks my heart. When a 9-1-1 operator refuses to send law enforcement officers to a drive-through window at a Karl's Junior so that she can get the Western Bacon Cheeseburger she ordered rather than the regular cheeseburger she received, I am left with one question: what has become of our beloved America? We should all be thoroughly outraged. Why I have half a mind to head down to Laguna Niguel myself and hold a vigil outside of that burger stand in protest! Where's Bush now when he's needed most? Why hasn't Ahnold rushed to this desperate probably wealthy mom's aid as she endeavors to provide a nutritious high-fat/high-carb meal for her well-fed kids? Bill Frist and Tom DeLay - why do you remain silent regarding this frustrated mom's plight? If 9-1-1 operators cannot protect moms from incorrectly filled orders at burger stands, what can they protect us from? Next thing you know, someone gets a malt instead of a milkshake at Sonic! Where does it end?!? It's an outrage, I tell ya!

If you want to listen to the 9-1-1 call, click here.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pertinent question:

But shouldn't Iraqis themselves decide who are "enemies of the Iraqi people?"

To which I might ask, whither the anti-war movement? To me it seems fairly reasonable to accept that the Iraqis are perfectly capable of deciding who their enemies are, and that their right to make those decisions is just. Insurgencies are an inevitable consequence of occupation. We should not be too surprised that those indigenous to a region or nation should be hostile toward the occupiers. Whether or not one "likes" or "agrees with" the various factions of insurgents is immaterial. It is not up to those of us residing in the US to judge, but rather that responsibility rests on the Iraqis. To pretend that we Americans have any say at all in terms of whom Iraqis are to consider "friends" and "foes" is merely to expose ourselves as arrogant fools. To me the moral is clear: it is way past time for the US to get out of Iraq and to accept whatever political and social arrangements that the Iraqi people themselves see fit. Failing that, we will continue to foster insurgents who are perfectly justified in resisting the chains of their occupiers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Competing Views on Schiavo and the Future of the GOP

So, is the Schiavo fiasco (let's just be real and call this circus what it is) the undoing of the GOP or or the beginning of an even more nightmarishly powerful GOP? Inquiring minds want to know.

Meet your...

American Taliban. Think of it as another glimps into the dark recesses of the GOP mindset.

Props to Avedon Carol for the find!

Too Funny Not To Share (From the Schiavo Circus):

Of course this shouldn't be big news by now:

General approved extreme interrogation methods
The highest-ranking US general in Iraq authorised the use of interrogation techniques that included sleep manipulation, stress positions and the use of dogs to "exploit Arab fears" of them, it emerged today.

A memo signed by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez authorised 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 that exceeded limits in the army's own field manual and four that it admitted risked falling foul of international law, the Geneva conventions or accepted standards on the humane treatment of prisoners.

The memo, dated September 14 2003, also stated that the Iraq interrogation policy was modelled on the one used at Guantánamo Bay "but modified for applicability to a theater [sic] of war in which the Geneva conventions apply".

[...]

The memo also authorised techniques to alter the environment of prisoners, such as adjusting temperatures or introducing unpleasant smells, in the full knowledge that "some nations may view application of this technique in certain circumstances to be inhumane". Another technique, called "fear-up harsh", aimed at "significantly increasing the fear level of a detainee", was also given the green light. Yelling, loud music and light control were also cleared "to create fear, disorientate [the] detainee and prolong capture shock".

[...]

The memo also laid out guidance for when the controversial interrogation techniques could be used. It stated there should be "a reasonable basis to believe that the detainee possesses critical intelligence". Dogs should be muzzled and under the control of a military dog handler "to prevent contact with [the] detainee".

It wasn't much of a leap from those harsh techniques outlined in Gen. Sanchez' memo to the sorts of torture including sodomy that characterize the treatment of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Why? When I discuss destructive obedience in my social psychology course, I mention a number of factors that could make torture a distinct possibility (if not probability). The most pertinent to the above article:
  1. The culture of the organization. What values does the organization promote? A value system that promotes various forms of racism or ethnocentrism has the potential to increase the likelihood of destructive obedience. The leaders of an organization lead as much by example as anything. Does the organization operate in the open, or do much of the goings on of the organization remain hidden from view. The more hidden the activities, the less accountability of the participants for their actions, and hence a greater likelihood of engaging in destructive behaviors.

    In the case of Abu Ghraib, it is plain that the organizational culture was primed for human rights abuses. It appears that at every level of the US military organization there was an acceptance of cruel treatment. Sanchez obviously had no problems with activities that were known violations of international law. He led by example. Of course we also know that the military was highly secretive about its treatment of POWs, as has been discussed in detail elsewhere (see the very excellent Guantánamo: What the World Should Know [Ratner & Ray, 2004] for more detail).
  2. Psychological distance from the victim. Destructive obedience is much more easily carried out if the perpetrator can distance himself or herself from the victim. This can be facilitated by deindividuation (e.g., uniforms, etc., that make one blend in with the group, thus decreasing accountability) and/or dehumanization of the victim (e.g., use of racial epithets, claims that the victims are "savages" or "have no souls" or are "sub-human", thus reducing the perpetrator's ability to empathize with the victim). Disguising victims with hoods or masks can also achieve similar effect.
    All one need do is look at the pictures from Abu Ghraib to find evidence of such psychological distancing! Prisoners were hooded. Others' faces were covered by female undergarments. The pictures also showed prisoners completely stripped of clothing altogether, which itself can have a dehumanizing effect to the extent that they are being stripped of their identities, their cultures, etc. The more psychological distance that can be created in such an environment, the more difficult it is for military personnel to have empathy with the prisoners and it is this loss of empathy that may pave the path to torture.
  3. Gradual, repetitive tasks. Destructive obedience does not occur overnight, but rather the perpetrator must be eased into increasingly brutal behaviors over a period of time. Both Milgram and Zimbardo aptly demonstrated this point with their own experimental research, and historically we've seen this point documented time and time again (the atrocities committed by the Germans during the Nazi era come most readily to mind). By gradually escalating the abuses against the victims, those who will perpetrate those abuses don't realize what's going on until they are in too deep. They become increasingly desensitized to the horrors that are going on around them, and that they too may be perpetrating.
    The horrors present in Abu Ghraib did not happen immediately but rather escalated over a period of months. The organizational culture was in place, the dehumanization of the prisoners was in place, but what also happened was that personnel were gradually desensitized to their surroundings. Indeed, it may very well be that the Sanchez memo is one element of that desensitization process. Once personnel are used to roughing up prisoners, threatening them with muzzled dogs, and placing them in highly uncomfortable postures for long periods of time, personnel are unlikely to perceive encouragements to "up the ante" as extreme. Gradually, using unmuzzled attack dogs, sodomy, and other torturous acts become seen as "normal" or "reasonable" behaviors within the context of the military prison - so normal, in fact, that personnel likely saw nothing unusual in posing next to these tortured prisoners as their colleagues took photos.


I could easily say more, but I think this gives you, the reader, an idea of the social psychological underpinnings of the Abu Ghraib situation (and of course also Guantánamo Bay), and how such terrible and illegal behavior could happen.

The Consequences of Hate Speech

I've drawn a lot from David Neiwert in the past regarding right-wing hate speech and its potential to incite violence. Today, I'll draw instead from Larry of Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time without further comment, because what he says pretty well speaks for itself:
Do you remember David Gunn, shot in the back by Michael Griffin in Pensacola, Florida, on March 10, 1993 - murdered because he performed legal abortions?

Do you remember Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard Jim Barret? They were the ones murdered by a blast from a shotgun fired by Paul Hill outside a clinic, also in Pensacola, on July 29, 1994. Same "reason."

Or how about Dr. Barnett Slepian? He was the Buffalo, New York, doctor who was murdered in his home on October 23, 1998 by James Kopp, again because he performed abortions.

Do you remember any of the others?

Do you remember especially how all the anti-choice politicians, all the screeching preachers, all the Falwells and Robertsons and yes, all the Terrys, all those who vociferously, viciously, repeatedly, denounced abortion as "murder," labelled a fetus a "child," called legal abortion a "holocaust" and those who performed them "babykillers," how when the disturbed, the fanatical, the Griffens and Hills and Kopps and Shannons took them at their words and acted on them, they scurried away like cockroaches and hid? "Oh no no no, I didn't mean that! You can't blame me for that! That has nothing to do with me! Oh no no no!" The sniveling cowards, hiding behind the brutality of others, too low, too craven even to take responsibility for the meaning of their own words.

And now, amid the cries of "murder" and "barbarism," amid the charges that Michael Schiavo is a slimy adulterer who abused his wife and even tried to kill her, that he's only interested in the money, amid accusations that Judge George Greer "wants her dead," comes word that a North Carolina man has been arrested on a charge of offering a $250,000 bounty to anyone who would kill Michael Schiavo.
"It is my understanding that whoever eliminates Michael Schiavo from the planet while inflicting as much pain and suffering that he can bear stands to be paid this reward in cash,"
the message said. And that wasn't the only example.
In recent weeks, [Schiavo] has received death threats, and a dozen police officers have been guarding his home, his attorney, George J. Felos, said.
For his part,
Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer has been under the protection of armed guards, and friends say his family also is protected
because of death threats - and he's been kicked out of his Southern Baptist congregation for his failure to "side with the angels."

(Sidebar: The same nutcase who put a price tag on Michael Schiavo's head also said that "an additional $50,000 has been offered for the elimination of the judge who ruled against (Terri) in Florida." The judge was unidentified by officials but may have been Greer - or it may refer to US District Judge James Whittemore, who refused to order the feeding tube replaced.)

If someone does try to act on any of this, if someone does, again, take the slimebags at their word, if someone does accept the claims of those who have done more to dehumanize Terri Schiavo, more to turn her into a thing, than her brain damage ever did, who have turned her into a mere sack into which they can stuff their narrow-minded, reactionary agendas, if someone does try to "avenge her death," what do you think are the chances that any of them, just one of them, will accept an iota of responsibility for the results of the bile-spitting hatred they have roused and espoused? Will the Limbaughs, the Scarboroughs, the O'Reillys, the Buchanans, the DeLays, the Frists, the Terrys, will any of them breathe a single sigh of contrition?

You know the answer as well as I do: There's as much chance of that as there is of Terri Schiavo coming out of PVS.

Attention Part Two

Getting It Wrong:
Members of the National Press Club,

In our previous letter, we noted with concern that serious liberal political bloggers are being intentionally excluded from the academic and media dialogue on blogging. We protested your exclusion of serious liberal political bloggers from an upcoming panel on which you have placed the conservative political operative Jeff Gannon, neé Guckert.

This panel portends to discuss the meanings of the words "journalist" and "blogger" and whether the two are different things or one and the same. We note that this topic has once again been raised in light of the Gannon case, although the debate on blogs as journalism has been going on for years here in the so-called "blogosphere." As Gannon is not a blogger, we feel his inclusion means that the panel is largely about Gannon himself and what his specific case means in context of the discussion. We also note, as you must have, that Gannon's presence on the panel will allow him to once again air his side of the story. Who will air the other side?

While we commend your about face by extending an invitation to Matthew Yglesias to sit on this panel, it ignores the larger issue. We think highly of Yglesias' work publicizing the mission of bloggers and don't want to exclude him, or anyone, from the panel, but he was simply not a central player in regards to the Gannon story. A panel on the case of Jeff Gannon, especially one including Gannon himself, should have representation from someone who did heavy lifting there, someone intimately familiar with the process that brought Gannon's identity and his relationship with the White House Press Corps to the public eye. That voice must be a blogger who was a key player in the investigation of Gannon, his role in the media and his background.

Many people at various blogs, including SusanG at Daily Kos, Media Matters, World O Crap, Atrios, and AMERICAblog were at the fore of this investigation. Traditional media ignored the story until bloggers uncovered it. That's why you're having a panel on it. However, not one of the individuals who worked hard on the story was approached with an invitation to speak on the panel. Even outside the context of right versus left, this exclusion raises a serious issue of journalistic imbalance. This was not a careless oversight. The institutional press is giving the investigated his voice while not allowing the investigator to have its say.

Thus, we cannot recommend strongly enough the inclusion of AMERICAblog's John Aravosis on this panel. He has volunteered to be the representative of those who worked on the Gannon investigation.

As we have noted above, you're discussing a story broken by blogosphere yet cutting out the very people who made it a story there. This exclusion is shortsighted and raises questions of journalistic imbalance and ethical malfeasance. Thus, we again must raise our collective voice and insist that John Aravosis sit on the panel.

Please continue your calls to Julie Shue or Rick Dunham at the The National Press Club and politely insist that they include John Aravosis of Americablog.org at their event. Here are there numbers: 202-662-7500 or 202-662-7501 or email at tglad@press.org and info@npcpress.org.

Word!

ANWR and political trophy hunting

Douglas Yates has an editorial in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that is worth taking the time to read, Politicians were trophy hunting with vote on ANWR. Some excerpts:
The Senate vote on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge confirms the obvious: The Bush regime's responsibility for the environment and human rights has left the building. Absent leadership that knows the root of the word "conservative," many Alaskans assume that greed and manipulation fills the void.

Except for the refuge's coastal plain, the entire North Slope is already open to oil exploration. The final 5 percent is some of the most biologically significant and productive in the Arctic; that's why it's part of a wildlife refuge. To demand the final 5 percent can only be laid at the feet of greed and ignorance.

With the carrot leading the horse, the people driving this issue will make money even if no oil is found.

[...]

The cliff ahead indicates more than a technology gap. While automobile efficiency legislation and most strategies to reduce oil dependence go begging, the Bush regime prefers foreign wars and domestic rape to meet growing consumption. The arrogance of power is blind.

[...]

Experts differ widely on how much oil might exist below the refuge. Based on current average estimates and consumption rates, researchers say that if oil is found, it would fuel America for less than a year. An amount judged insignificant by national security terms.

[...]

According to Republican insiders, refuge drilling is more about political trophy hunting than barrels in the pipe. House Majority Leader Tom Delay is reported to have said it's "about precedent" and sacrificing a "symbol." Inside opinion holds that once the symbol is toppled, public attitudes will shift, making it easier to exploit coastal Florida and California.

Fogged by rumors of more war and record oil prices, what passes for leadership in Congress ignores the people who depend on the land. Gwich'in villages on each side of the border have much to lose. Their culture and food source are tied to the annual caribou migration. In early June, at its northern limit on the refuge's coastal plain, upward of 40,000 caribou are born.

The moral dimensions of drilling have brought over 1,000 mainline religious leaders to the side of the Gwich'in. Along with Canada's government, the faith community elevates human rights into the debate. Unfortunately, that too may be denied. With less-than-legal budget tactics, the Republican leadership hopes to overcome with brute force what reason and compassion denied it for 24 years.

Emphasis added.

Attention

An Open Letter To The National Press Club posted by Sean-Paul Kelly of the Agonist:
We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal political bloggers are being systematically under-represented and belittled in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. By being intentionally excluded away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom about blogging, politics and journalism, as it concerns liberal blogs, becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies.

[...]

The discredited conservative media operative Jeff Gannon, neé Guckert, has been invited to sit on a panel at the prestigious National Press Club to talk about the scandal surrounding his access to the White House and more generally, the similarities and differences between bloggers and journalists. Guckert's token liberal counterpart will be a gossip blogger and sex comedy blogger. While we have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Graff and Ms. Cox we believe that neither represents bloggers who write about hard-nosed politics. And as for Mr. Guckert, he isn't a blogger, he's barely a journalist, and not a single political blogger involved with the Gannon/Guckert scandal, or otherwise, has been invited to sit on the panel to counter Mr. Guckert's arguments.

Read the rest.

My review of Churchill's On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

I'm make an admission up front: until the recent brouhaha regarding an out-of-context quote by Professor Churchill, I had never even heard of the guy. That's not uncommon, as most of us in the academic world toil in relative obscurity and rarely know much about what other academicians are doing outside of our own narrow specialties. Suffice it to say, with the issue of academic freedom on the line I felt compelled to at least read the original essay that caused so much disdain among America's right-wingers and to follow that up with some reading of his more scholarly work. Hence, I chose to pick up "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" and find out for myself what all the fuss was about.

Having now read this book, I'm willing to give it a top rating. The essays are well-written and thoroughly documented, and the chronologies of US military interventions since the Declaration of Independence and of US double-standards and outright violations of UN resolutions since its inception are invaluable. Those features of the book give the lie to the commonly held myths that ours is a "peace loving nation" and a nation dedicated to "upholding laws". Historically, we've been neither, it pains me to say.

Reading this book will not make you feel good. It will likely leave the reader angry, frustrated, and/or depressed - and that is the point. If this book can convey to its readers even an inkling of the pain that has been inflicted upon both our own people and those in developing nations by our own government in our own names, then the author has done his job. The one hope we have as a society of averting a state of perpetual war is to increase the level of empathy that US citizens have towards their counterparts elsewhere. Alternative histories such as Churchill's (along with of course Chomsky and Zinn) are important precisely because they do invite readers to challenge their assumptions and to see our potentially great nation through others' eyes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

"Culture of Life"

Via Empire Notes:
The results are starting to come in. A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Mustansiriyah University concluded that by September 2004 the excess mortality after the regime change was 98,000. The margin of error was high, but given the methodology, it was probably an underestimate. This excess, remarkably, is with respect to a baseline, not of normal life, but of Saddam’s rule and the sanctions in 2002 and 2003, where excess mortality was already probably at least 50,000 per year. All of this was before the horrific November assault on Fallujah. To date, excess mortality during the occupation compared to an imaginary baseline of Iraqi normalcy, something they haven’t seen since the 1970’s, is likely well over 200,000.

About 30-40,000 of those, half fighters and half civilians, were killed directly by U.S. forces. The rest of the excess mortality is due to other causes, including crime, resistance attacks, enforced unemployment, a further collapse in health care, and lack of reconstruction – all of which can be laid at the door of U.S. policy.

This depressing reality is almost never faced in the mainstream media. Just as in Vietnam, we get barraged with military propaganda that things are “turning the corner.” Barbara Boxer, recently returned from Iraq, is optimistic because, she says, “we got a very, very upbeat report” from top U.S. military officials in Iraq.

In fact, things are getting worse. Violence, both by Iraqis and by foreign fighters, continues, and the death toll for Iraqis is increasing. Those foreign fighters include Syrians and Yemenis, but mostly they are Americans and British, who have killed several thousand in the last assault on Fallujah alone and hundreds in continuing operations like “River Blitz” in al-Anbar province afterward.

Note to Sen. Boxer: I wouldn't put too much stock in "very, very upbeat reports" from the US military brass. As much as I like her and respect what she's been doing these last few months, statements like the one quoted above from her give me the willies. So it goes.

Via Billmon we have this nugget from one of the rather vocal right-wingers to be involved in the Terri Schiavo fiasco:
Bill Tierney . . . had just returned from eight months working as an interrogator for US forces in Baghdad, and had come to talk, on the record, about torture.

''The Brits came up with an expression – wog,'' Tierney said. ''That stands for Wily Oriental Gentleman. There's a lot of wiliness in that part of the world.''. . .

After explaining his various psychological tactics to the audience, interrogator Bill Tierney (a private contractor working with the Army) said, ''I tried to be nuanced and culturally aware. But the suspects didn't break.''

Suddenly Tierney's temper rose. ''They did not break!'' he shouted. ''I'm here to win. I'm here so our civilization beats theirs! Now what are you willing to do to win?'' he asked, pointing to a woman in the front row. ''You are the interrogators, you are the ones who have to get the information from the Iraqis. What do you do? That word 'torture'. You immediately think, 'That's not me.' But are we litigating this war or fighting it?'' . . .

Asked about Abu Ghraib, Tierney said that for an interrogator, ''sadism is always right over the hill. You have to admit it. Don't fool yourself – there is a part of you that will say, 'This is fun.' ''

That's right - this guy, who is very worked up over Schiavo, finds torture "fun." He'd have got a kick out of driving the nails in Jesus' crucifix, too, I suspect.

A couple blogs to say hey to:

Liberal Youth, Words Matter, and we won't let you do that.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise!

Homeland Security Covering Up For Right Wing Terror Groups gives us the skinny on the free pass the GOP is willing to give its base:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not list right-wing domestic terrorists and terrorist groups on a document that appears to be an internal list of threats to the nation’s security.

According to the list — part of a draft planning document obtained by CQ Homeland Security — between now and 2011 DHS expects to contend primarily with adversaries such as al Qaeda and other foreign entities affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement, as well as domestic radical Islamist groups.

It also lists left-wing domestic groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), as terrorist threats, but it does not mention anti-government groups, white supremacists and other radical right-wing movements, which have staged numerous terrorist attacks that have killed scores of Americans. Recent attacks on cars, businesses and property in Virginia, Oregon and California have been attributed to ELF.

DHS did not respond to repeated requests for comment or confirmation of the document’s authenticity.

It doesn't take a whole lot of digging to find that the face of terrorism in this country is generally white, ostensibly Christian (albeit a Christianity alien to me). Just to give you a taste, David Neiwert has documented in great detail. That's only the tip of the iceberg if you spend any time perusing Neiwert's blog or read through his books. He knows his stuff. And don't forget nuts such as HalTurner who has openly advocated the murder of Judge Greer.

Social Science Monday

By happenstance I ran into an interesting post at XX, Fatherless Stats Reared Their Ugly Heads At Pandagon. What's useful is the well-documented debunking of the old "kids of single moms are inevitably worse off than kids with both a mom and dad" myth. By the way, that's another blog that I'll be visiting more often.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

This is your GOP base

A couple things that caught my attention were this diary by Georgia10 at Daily Kos, which has its share of disturbing links and stories, along with this little gem over at Steve Gilliard's blog. First some material from Georgia10:
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - Jennifer Johnson, barefoot and in her pajamas, ran to her grandfather's bedside once a hospice worker said his death was moments away. She got there -- one minute too late. Johnson said the chaos outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is dying kept her from saying goodbye.

[...]

"It's a terrible, extra obstacle to put in front of a family. ... Everything is about Schiavo," Johnson said. "It's all about her and in my family's case, it cost us dearly."

[...]

Family members visiting patients must pass through a police checkpoint to park, then show identification outside the door before another security screening inside. They also must walk by scores of signs decrying Schiavo's "crucifixion," "torture," and "starvation," plus navigate around hordes of media who have been camped outside.

"To have to maneuver through all of this and have a hostile environment outside when all they want is peace and quiet and to enjoy those few days they have left with a loved one is a horror," said Dr. Morton Getz, executive director of Douglas Gardens Hospice in Miami.

[...]

"It's causing a lot of grief and questions in their own mind on whether they did the right thing," he said. "It's unconscionable to have a family member to be near the end stages of life and to get there, you have to walk through signs that say, 'Murderer.'" Link

Near one end of 102nd Avenue is Triple O Auto, where Scotty Jackson, a single father raising two sons, has grown used to being cussed at and ridiculed by people clutching Bibles and waving signs. [...]

Since March 18 when Schiavo's feeding tube was removed under court order, Jackson, 44, a good-natured South Dakotan, has run out of patience with protesters who think nothing of blocking his garage-bay doors with their cars, jeopardizing his livelihood.

When Jackson asked one man to move his car, the visitor screamed an obscenity at the garage owner, and "then he walked off with a Bible in his hand."

Triple O stands for On Our Own, and there are times when Jackson struggles to pay his bills and is forced to work on a Sunday -- upsetting one protester, who heckled him about working on the day of rest.

[...] [The father in the neighborhood is concerned about the children], Like the students at Cross Bayou Elementary, on the west side of the hospice, who needed a police escort as they arrived at school. On the day Schiavo's feeding tube was pulled, 200 of the students stayed home.

Or the 10-year-old who was arrested trying to take a cup of water to Schiavo, with his father standing proudly nearby. Or the 7- or 8-year-olds he has seen wearing T-shirts bearing fetuses and the words "Abortion kills." Link

Here are some Pictures of the spectacle:
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That last image is of Scott Heldreth, who is apparently a registered sex offender - yet another one of the cast of oddballs who've made a spectacle out of a family tragedy.

Let's also note that these folks have had a very disruptive presence in the vicinity. For example, apparently "all 600 Cross Bayou Elementary students [will] be moved to new schools on Monday until the Schiavo drama near the school calms down."

And what's happened with old Preznit Junior Caligula in the last few days?
As Dubya starts to see his numbers slide, This Week reported that the Bush administration are starting to distance themselves from Republicans on Capitol Hill, leaking that Bush didn't even want to return to Washington to sign the Schiavo bill last Sunday. Link

That's leadership for ya! Very much in the tradition of Sir Robin:
Brave Sir Robin ran away
Bravely ran away away
When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled
Yes Brave Sir Robin turned about
And gallantly he chickened out
Bravely taking to his feet
He beat a very brave retreat
Bravest of the brave Sir Robin

Congratulations! You Are Visitor 25,000

Compared to the traffic that the big-name blogs generate, that's small potatoes - what's taken this blog almost 19 and a half months is just a small fraction of what folks like Kos, David Neiwert, etc. generate in one day. Still, it's a milestone and one that I'll go ahead and mark. The small regular readership that I do have has been steady over the last few months, and I just want to thank those of you who take the time to check this place out from time to time. My plan is to keep on keepin' on.