Friday, September 29, 2006

Fraternity Hazing Rituals

Our good friend Tongodeon explains how the practice of "waterboarding" is done in excruciating detail. I'd just like to say that if we had a functioning news media in the so-called "West" somebody on the production team for 60 Minutes at CBS, or any one of its competing "investigative news" operations, would have done a special television report about this. Before the vote in Congress yesterday.

Explain to me again how professional journalists are supposed to be independent guardians of the public interest. I love that faerie tale.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stupidest Thing Ever Said, v2.0

You may have thought the idea of vacuum-schooners plying their way across the Van Allen plains to the hopeful mining fields of Mare Tranquilis, where modern day 49ers scratch a dusty living off the lunar surface searching for precious adamantium nuggets, could not be toppled in the race for Stupidest Thing Ever Said...

But wait, this is just... it's a good thing I've already had a stroke... here's a hint, it is Laura Ingarham
"You know the average American out there loves the show 24, they love Jack Bauer, they love 24, and to my mind that's as close to a national referendum that it's okay to use 'tough tactics' against high level al qa'ida operatives ... I don't know this stuff, but I trust our military interrogators and CIA more than Ron Suskind or Human Rights Watch..."
Just watch the video... it's stunning; watch and join me here in clutching my head like a stunned monkey.

We should conduct the most sensitive functions of foreign policy, matters of international law and military intelligence based on the popularity of a particular tv show. In fact we could replace the entire mechanism of democracy with set top arbitron ratings machines, and direct national policy based on what's on the tube...

Nice job... why is this sollopsistic harpy even allowed to even own a tv, much less be on it...

mojo sends

Monday, September 25, 2006

So... I've had a kinda scary weekend...

(cross posted at Live Journal)


I have had a stroke.

I am looking at the preceding words and still trying to come to grips with what this all means... for me, my family and friends.

This is going to take a while to type, seeing as my left hand and arm have lost a major portion of their function. But my doctor said trying to type would be good for my left hand. Already I can feel my brain trying to re-route the signals to the arm and hand.

My neurologist said that with therapy, my prognosis for a full or very close to full recovery is very good.

I am very grateful to be here typing this at all right now...

I'll keep this short, as I am getting tired. Saturday morning I got out of bed feeling odd... my left arm was tingling, my speech sounded like the village drunk from some early Irish novel and I was a little dizzy and lightheaded. I took a shower thinking that it was just cobwebs from sleeping. Mrs. Mojo took her shower and I was still feeling weird.

I also knew that these were classic stroke symptoms. I sat my wife down and explained what I was feeling and suggested that I go to the emmergency room. Needless to say she did not argue.

Long Beach Memorial got me in fairly quickly and got me a CT scan which came up negative. They were going to admit me for observation and testing but my insurance insisted on transferring me to Los Alamitos Medical Center. So I get an ambulance ride across town.

The next two days I get a series of MRIs that confirm what the first CT scan could not find. A mild to moderate stroke in a lower left part of the brain, caused by untreated severe hypertension and an arterial blockage in an artery going to the back of the brain. The treatment for this is primarily medicine... blood thinners, statins for cholesterol, beta blockers and so on...

Most of the day Sunday I could barely move my left arm. Then on Sunday night, I was dozing and Laurie suddenly asked if I was okay; my left arm was twitching as I slept. It felt funny; a tough sensation to describe, like it was getting a signal to move, but couldn't, then it twitched. I suddenly got a little feeling and use back. I could grab my water bottle and my voice was clearer.

It was not a miraculous cure... but it was a marginal improvement, and that moment, it was enough.

So where am I now? Well, Saturday was about keeping it together and putting on a brave face. Sunday was about icy cold fear and crying jags.

Today is about angry and fighting like hell.

There are some major lifestyle changes I am coming to terms with. I have about a jillion medical appointments in the next couple of weeks. I still uncontrolably cry, mostly when I think of small army of people who are ready to step up for me. And no words will ever be adequate to express my love and gratitude for me wife, without whom, I would not be here now.

Mostly, I am glad to be home.

mojo sends

P.S.: I blame George Bush

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Get Well, Mojo

Our founder and editor, Van Mojo, will be away from the blog for an indeterminate time while he recuperates. The radio show may also be suspended. Hebisner and I shall attempt to carry on without his guidance until he returns. In the meantime, be assured...

Mojo sends.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Don't Worry, It's Only a Shower...

WARNING SIGN - tortureI guess this makes me close to not being an American anymore, apparently...
The agreement says the executive branch is responsible for upholding the nations’ commitment to the Geneva Conventions, leaving it to the president to establish through executive rule any violations for the handling of terrorism suspects that fall short of a “grave breach.”... Democrats have put their trust in Senators Graham, McCain and Warner to push back against the White House, and Thursday they signaled that they intended to continue cooperating. “Five years after Sept. 11, it is time to make the tough and smart decisions to give the American people the real security they deserve,” said the Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.
Great... we are officially codifying the President's ability to order acts recognizable by any sentient being on the planet as criminal acts of violence.

Wonderful compromise. We'll let the Maximum Leader, decide what is and is not torture, in exchange for indemnifying his gang for their felonious conduct, except in circumstances that would take a Hudud tribal court to convict.

And let me just say how very, very proud I am to be affiliated with the Democratic Party at this critical junction in our nation's history. At the moment when a strong moral compass, and a primal sense of right and wrong would have been both useful and politically effective, the party's elected leadership has given us something to be genuinely proud of, yet another pass for Preznit Chucklehead!

I guess this doesn't make me a good Democrat anymore, huh...

mojo sends

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Watching Chuklehead right now at the UN...

Wow... a brother's ripped to the gills... I am wondering if he's going to make through his speechifizing...

OMFG... he's actually doing the Book of Revelation, he's doing a drunken version of John's relation of Christ's admonition to the 7 Churches of Asia, but instead he's talking to the countries of the Middle East... this is really creepy...

mojo sends

Unacceptable to Think...

Maximum Leader, last week:
"It’s unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective..."
The United States Military this week:
RAMADI, Iraq - US forces are taking to collective punishment of civilians in several cities across al-Anbar province west of Baghdad, residents and officials say.

"Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar province, is still living with the daily terror of its people getting killed by snipers and its infrastructure being destroyed," said Ahmad, a local doctor who withheld his last name for security purposes. "This city has been facing the worst of the American terror and destruction for more than two years now, and the world is silent."

Destroying infrastructure and cutting water and electricity "for days and even weeks is routine reaction to the resistance", he said. "Guys of the resistance do not need water and electricity, it's the families that are being harmed, and their lives which are at stake."
You're absolutely right Mr. Preznit. We're much better at it... Nice work, Chucklehead...

mojo sends

Monday, September 18, 2006

Your Daily Moment Of Irreality

Via the mighty Eschaton, we learn from Greg Sargeant that the problem with the SoCalledLiberalMediaƂ™ is their petulant insistence that imprisoning war correspondents who cover the clusterfnck in Iraq ought to involve formally charging them with some kind of crime first.

The edu-grenade, please handle with caution.

Kevin Drum pulls the pin on a edu-debate grenade here. Kevin links to a Prospect article that poses the question of whether the bitter education debates over homework, cut scores, and public vs. private funding are are inconsequential next to the issue of Socio-Economic Inequaility. I guarantee you as someone who hangs out in the rough education hoods of the blogsphere that a nasty brawl is going to break out on the education blogs over this question when it is posed on an influential liberal blog.

Kevin notes:
I'll confess that I have a lot of sympathy for this view. The education world seems to be perpetually riven by fantastically shrill battles between traditionalists and progressives, and in the end it's hard to see that either side ever manages to win decisively in any area. These battles have swung back and forth for decades (the traditionalists seem to have won the latest round in the math wars, for example), but there's precious little evidence that kids today learn any more or less than kids in the 40s and 50s. Or the 60s or 70s. Does any of this stuff really make a difference?

My take is that I too am sympathetic to the viewpoint that the social capital that derives from socio-economic class plays a large role in shaping educational outcomes. But the way Kevin and the Prospect writer poses this question raises several concerns for me.

First, both Kevin and the Prospect article ignore the growing consensus in the educational debate wars that one of the most critical elements in improving student performance is the quality of the teacher. In a world where you can dig up a study to justify virtually every possible viewpoint, that kind of consensus is rare. The better trained, qualified, and motivated among other qualities the teachers are, the better the students do. Studies seem to vary on the improvement in terms of student scores, but they appear to be signficant. By signficant I mean sometimes in the double digits in terms of test scores if I have interpretated those studes accurately. This is a constant theme in education debate circles and they don't seem to be aware of it, or don't consider it important. The reason I point this out is that teacher quality seems to a factor independent of a students economic background ,and it would seem to bear out the argument of many in the education reform movement that there are reforms that should be carried out that are not dependent on economic inequality.

Second, whenever we use jargon like socio-economic inequality, can someone offer a definition when they use it, even in a blog post? Is that strictly parental income and educational background? Inequality is a slippery term these days. Do we count median income in the district as a factor? It's important to know this because of the role property taxes play in funding schools in the United States. We toss these terms around and I suspect they mean different things to different people. I assume that Sociologists have a professional definition of the term, but is that definition used by other academic disciplines like economics?

I'm not convinced that it follows that if socio-economic inequality is important that it renders all other debates as trivial as they seem to be implying. I suspect that even to the most liberal education experts and wonks, the importance of inequaltiy is still unclear, despite numerous and ongoing attempts to quanitify it in a meaningful way. The pushback from people who are advocating for reforms in our public educational systems to Kevin's question is that too often, the economic inequality issue is used as an excuse for a host of political, bureaucratic, and systemic failures on the part of all the players in the education game. Before you ask taxpayers to assume a larger taxation burden, is it too much to ask that we come up with the most efficient, productive, and pedagogically sound system we can under the current financial scheme? Virtualy nobody is arguing we are doing all we can with what we have in terms of resources. We can and should do better despite any social, economic or funding issues. Without a determined and credible effort in this regard, cynical enemies of public education will have a strong hand in subverting and defeating attempts to expand our capital investments in addressing socio-economic inequality in terms of education.

I think we should be extremely careful when we make these broad correlations between class and possible life outcomes. I know this is just a blog post and an online magazine article and it should not be parsed like an academic publication. But, I don't think it's too much to ask that we exhibit caution in tying the cause of improving socio-economic inequality to educational outcomes. Improving socio-economic outcomes should be and is a legitimate goal for liberalism and progressives on it's own merits. If memory serves, the advocates of the Great Society made numrous grand proclamations about the social ills that would disappear if their programs were enacted. Cynical ideologues like Ronald Reagan used this as a way of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. An example I would use is AFDC, which was justfiable as a way of reducing the suffering of poverty, but was not designed or effective at eliminating root causes. My point is that any specific effort by the government to address economic inequality should not be burdened with as complex a problem as public educations challenges. It' way too easy to get hubristic and self-righteous on this issue, particulary when we tie the cause of improving our kids education to it. I'm not saying they aren't related or it's neccesarily a bad notion. I'm advocating caution in what we claim our efforts, whatever they may be, can accomplish.

Ultimately, I strongly suspect that if we want to make a quantam leap forward in educational outcomes for future generations, we are going to have to address the issue of economic class and inequality. But I would argue that issues of curriculum, teacher quality, testing methodolgies and data interpretation, fiscal and political governance, and public versus private funding are important and should not be dismissed as trivial distractions. Homework debates might seem silly depending on the context, but it's damn important to the daily lives of teachers, students and parents, all of whom are less concerned with baroque terms like socio-economic inequality, and more with how well their kids are reading and adding, and if they will graduate high school and college. If you want to advance this cause, you need to convince those sorts of stakeholders in its value.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's On!

We're going. Looks like it will be in the last couple of weeks before the election.

From everything I have been able to read, it looks like it will start with a blockade and air campaign against select Iranian sites. Iran will have no choice but to retaliate against U.S. interests in Iraq and Afghanistan...

And now we've got a ball game...

I really pray to God, I am wrong and just over-reacting to some turgid reporting...

mojo sends

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just Hollywood?

Max Blumenthal provides a us a breakdown of the backstory on the nice little piece of 9/11 agitprop, Path to 9/11.

I think that this story is only the tip of the iceberg. Consider:

Iger now bears ultimate responsibility for authorizing the product of a well-honed propaganda operation--a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far-right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, a secretive evangelical religious right group long associated with Horowitz, founded by The Path to 9/11's director, David Cunningham, that aims to "transform Hollywood" in line with its messianic vision, has taken the lead.

Now take this idea and move it itno the major news divisions at the networks, and it explains alot about the state of the Newtork Corporate Media today. It's not just "reporters" like John Stossel or Bernard Goldberg. It's producers and writers and a host of other believers who all committed to bringing the kind of bias to the news that they accuse liberals of doing. Don't even start me on Little Russ over at Beat the Press.

Just something to keep in mind as we start talking about the 08 race and what kind of media coverage the candidates will receive. It's not hard to predict. McCain will be the greatest thing ever and the Dem candidate will be a elite nerd who has no "charisma" and is too "political". It will not matter a whit who the Dems nominate. The GOP know the political media needs to be bullied into submission. The Dems still, truly, cling to the fantasy they will get a fair shake without ripping it from the still living corpse of the reporters that cover them. And don't count on the freak vote preventing McCain from getting the nomination. The Democratic candidate will be starting leagues behind the GOP nominee on the mind of the press. They better get used to it and act accordingly. Which, to put it simply, is don't trust them. Get your message out despite them, anyway you can.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Just Speechless



mojo sends

You Da Man, Keith... You Da Man!

If you haven't watched this yet, then go, and we will wait for you here...

But here is my favorite part:
So too have they succeeded, and are still succeeding — as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney’s continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm.

Suddenly his car — and only his car — starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man’s lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced.

An "alien" is shot — but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help.

The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen, manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there’s no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it’s themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight.

"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own — for the children, and the children yet unborn."
There are a lot of people out there right now comparing him to Edward R. Murrow for this. Well, that's a tall order, but he was clearly channeling for someone that night... If he keeps up this kind of writing, it will be an apt comparison.

You da man, Keith...

mojo sends

That Big Hole In The Ground

There's been a fair bit of rending of garments about the fact that the site of the World Trade Center in Manhatten, the so-called "ground zero" of the 9/11 attacks— which always rubs very badly on me when I think about how it distracts the mind away from the big chunk of the Pentagon that had to be remodeled— that big hole in the ground remains a big hole in the ground.

Oh, yes— they rebuilt the Pentagon lickety-split. There's a nice memorial in that field in Pennsylvania— though, one wonders whether everyone understands what it supposedly memorializes. But the hole in the ground in Manhatten remains a hole in the ground. As Billmon points out, even the memorial is a jerry-rigged temporary affair built mainly to provide Commodore Codpiece and his rockin' sidekicks a cool backdrop for putting aside all that "partisan rancor" we keep hearing about.

And yet, I'm not all that surprised. Five years after the World Trade Center was destroyed, and they haven't rebuilt anything yet. Look, I live in San Francisco. I remember the last time we had a major disaster here, and a President Bush came out and walked around on the concrete rubble of a mass grave of Americans. It was 1989, in the days after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Granted, I was living in Southern California at the time, but my heart was still staked out in Civic Center Plaza. I watched the television reports while the rest of my SoCal family, friends and acquaintences went on about their lives. It was terrible, but it was happening in somebody else's town. It was when I fought back tears and rage while seeing President George H. W. "Atheists Are Neither Citizens Nor Patriots" Bush posing for a photo op on the remains of the Cypress Freeway while the bodies of several hundred Bay Area commuters had yet to be dug out from under his shiny leather wingtips— that was when I knew San Francisco was my town.

That was 1989. We are still rebuilding the Bay Bridge. How the fsck long did you really think it was going to take to get the World Trade Center site rebuilt?

Honestly. Really, be honest.

Oh, I get it. It's in Manhatten, not some goddamn podunk commie shithole on the Left Coast where nobody cares if the bridges fall down. It's a fscking TRAVESTY that we didn't have another pair of skyscrapers built right in the same spot, this time even bigger than the freaking Taipei 101, inside five years. San Francisco, New Orleans, none of those places matter. Manhatten, though— goddamn it, drop everything, something has to be done right this second.

Meanwhile, we are slowly, steadily making progress rebuilding the most heavily trafficked commuter bridge in the world. Maybe, we'll finish before the next century quake strikes, or some cracker terrorist from South Carolina plants a bomb on it to make us all pay for allowing queer people to get married.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ask Me Again Why I'm Willing To Print The So-Called "Al Jazeera Memos"...

But, watch this video first.

A note...

Please keep Comrade Joshua over at TPM in your thoughts today...

mojo sends

Friday, September 01, 2006


Look, I know I have probably already exhausted everyone's interest in this subject, but that hunky-he-man o' legal luv Glenn Greenwald has another interesting look at the fallout from the FauxNews "Kidnapping." [c.f. this post]

To wit, apparently, some of the warriors of the wasteland are howling for blood, because the season finale did not end with the beheading of either of our protagonists, but had them cowering like "chestless" (no shit, I'm not making this up) sissies. As such, Glenn goes on to bring us the spittle flecked bloviating of one David Warren over at Real Clear Politics

Look, here is the best part:
"And the two Fox journalists, whom I will not stoop to name, begged for their lives even though, in retrospect, their lives probably weren't in danger. . . . Men without chests, men without character, men who don't think twice."
Is it me, or is this a needlesly turgid and yet curious bit of spleen?

Now in light of my previously unsubstantiated bit of conspiracy theorizing that this was primarily a ham-handed attempt by FauxNews to inject a little Vitamin V into their WarNews® to arouse their flaccid ratings, I really have no current model to fit this latest development into it.

Just curious, that's all...

mojo sends