Thursday, February 15, 2007

Where in the World is Vladimir Putin?

"I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul."
- President Bush, June 2001, in reference to a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Sour Grapes for Georgie Porgie
Not so much anymore.

Let's get a quick review of what's been going on with Putin.

In May, 2001, Putin met with the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. What did they talk about? Creating an alliance against the U.S. as the only super power in the world. Ouch.

The budding romance is revived in July 2006 when Chavez visits Putin. What did they talk about? Putin wants to give lots of weapons and equipment to Chavez. Plan was finalized in weeks. Rut Roh.

Soon after, we have the always memorable Chavez speech at the U.N., "The United States empire is on the way down" and Bush is "the devil." ...and they want to pursue nuclear technology.

In light of those ominous stories, this week has been...

What was that? I can't hear...what? Anna Nicole Smith's autopsy is inconclusive? Hold on, let me shut the media door.

Much better. Now, a quick look at Putin's travels this past week:
Feb. 8th - Meeting with the special envoy of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Akbar Velayati
Feb. 12th - Qatar festivities
Feb. 12th - Putin meets with Saudi officials
Feb. 13th - Meeting with President of the Palestinian ational Authority Mahmoud Abbas
Feb. 13th - Putin in Jordan

Wait, wait. Back up one. Didn't Abbas and Fatah just hook up with Hamas?

This doesn't look good. Putin's all practically crackin' a cold one with with Chavez and Ahmadinejad (who don't like us), wants to knock us down a peg himself, is chatting with the newly-joined Palestinian family, and has made advantageous visits to the Middle East where feelings on the U.S. are an emaciated husk, securing favor and gas/oil conversations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Either Putin's playing a superb game of international chess or it just looks like a revenge conspiracy to rinse the taste of cold war collapse out of his mouth. I don't think Bush has left the country that often since he was elected the first time.

Is this about oil? Gas? World domination? Or is this all a lovers quarrel, a proverbial poke for an unsettling Angry Pirate?
That's not a pillow!

But if nefarious mind of Vladimir Putin should again think to travel diplomatically (just in case it has to do with blowing up the world or stealing all the oil/gas), he should know that despite the battle over the body of Anna Nicole Smith, someone will be watching.

Where in the World is Vladimir Putin?
We know your secret. WTF?

Haredi Rage, or If I Were a Bitch, Man

Daidle deedle daidle Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum

Okay, no more "Fiddler" jokes. We are dealing with "Taliban-like Jewish fundamentalism" here.

What-what? If you didn't hear the story on NPR on Jerusalem's Rosa Parks fights "Modesty Patrols" then go there and listen to/read the story. Now.

The haredi are an ultra-orthodox section of Judaism. A lawsuit has recently been filed with Israel's highest court on behalf of women who have been harassed and abused for not moving to the back of the bus. Naomi Reagan was one such woman who triumphantly retorted "Look, you show me in the code of jewish law, where it's written that I'm not allowed to sit in this seat, and I will move. Until then, get out of my face." Other women have not been so lucky, some succumbing to the harassment some being violently beaten. The story is worth every minute of your time.

So WTF Award goes to the haredi for this round, although it could easily be generalized to most organized religion.

While I was outraged at devout Jews beating women, I was not surprised. A quote near the end was the most telling and the source of today's tangent: These enforcements "help men focus on their family and their wife, and avoid distractions."

Rabbis Ban Skirts, Blouses
Pic from Failed Messiah

That's right, it comes back to the majority of the world continuing to embrace an antiquated, phallocentric worldview. And it's guys like the rabbis pictured above, Ted Haggard, Bill Donahue, Osama bin Laden, and the Pope who all contribute to this attitude: Women must be controlled because men can't control themselves and cannot take responsibility for lack of control.

  • Taliban rule in Afghanistan banned women from schooling, forced them to wear a burqa, and often beat them in public for the smallest infractions

  • Haredi rabbis burned see-through stockings, rioted to kill a gay pride rally, and are considering passing a law to end female education at the high school level.

  • Pope John Paul II declared that Catholic women could never be priests, and since it was "founded on the written word of God," was an infallible judgment.

It's part of every religion, every controlling culture (see female genital mutilation). Burn the books, beat the women, and instill the fear of God.

It's how men and power and religion and control all work together. Now if we could only show that government is somehow related...

Haredi Youth Kickin it
Kickin' it Haredi Stylez (not gay...?)
Photo from here.
Hip Jewish smiley shirt here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

CNN, CBS, ABC Pimp Dead Woman

Here's where I get into personal quagmires. Should media be transparent? Yes. Should we be able to have access to all the information? Yes.

But if I want to read about a shootout in a mall in Utah, should I have to see this?
CNN Front Page

What if I'm just perusing the news (This image was on the home page of What if I'm a member of the family who hasn't been called yet?

Okay, I'm over the lone body on the floor. Click the story.
CNN Body Story

Aww, Jesus, man. Going through her pockets? So I check the other sites: CNN, CBS, and NBC have all followed suit. Who did not? Our bastions of decency are MSNBC and FOX News (yes, aware of irony).

I'm all for impropriety. I'm all for shaking up the establishment. Hell, I've even written about bottles up arses. But this is someone's daughter/mother. There's a certain level of decency that needs to be taken into account when these images hit the newsroom. That I see them on the front page disregards that decency, disregards common respect.

Question: Would it be wrong to show the dead shooter? Or: Would it be less wrong to show the victim of the shooting if we could be emotionally vindicated by the pool of blood surrounding the kid in the trench?

So, CNN, CBS, and ABC: WTF? These pictures came from a photographer to the Deseret Morning News, sold on to AP, sold to you. You chose to post them. I can even sympathize with needing to bring the immediacy of the situation home to us. But give us readers fair warning.

After Columbine we were introduced to a new spectre: The Trench Coat Killer(s). This faded and came back in fits and starts, mostly in other school shootings. "Troubled Goth Teen Who Listens to Industrial Music and the Cure Picked on, Kills 2 With Gun and Trench Coat." Or something like that. It's back.

Let's make it clear, though: the trench coat is not a marker of someone who will kill, simply a symptom of it; no one hides a 12-gauge shotgun in a semi-sheer powder blue microweave windbreaker.

No, it's too late. It's merging with 911 vigilance. There is a part of my brain that will see a suspicious tan-skinned person in a trench coat and I will freeze. And then he will kill me.

Photoshop Love: Flashback Santorum

Some people have killer skills when it comes to Photoshop design. I'm not one of them. But I do have a knack for quality image editing. And this is the perfect forum on which to unleash some of this madness.

This is the first entry of Photoshop Love.

While the Democrats ruling congress has lowered the din from the November elections into the soft hiss coming from your Uncle Arnie's ass, we can't forget that there were some truly hilarious moments.

Case in point: Santorum concedes.
Santorum's daughter and her scary doll

While Santorum's concession was a great moment in American politics, the look on the daughter's price is faceless. You know what I mean. And, please note, she's holding a doll (probably American Girl), dressed just like her.

Ah. Now let's push a little further back and we can dig up why Santorum thinks we're currently safe from terrorist attack on U.S. soil:
As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.

Put 'em together, and what-have-ya got?

Santorum of the Rings

This is going to be fun.