Happy Halloween

My friend Dan just called from Minneapolis. He’s lonely. He’s sitting at home, sad, alone, in the dark, surrounded by candles, dressed like Edgar Allan Poe, and waiting for trick-or-treaters to ring his bell. So, this goes out to him.

I’m not in costume today. I was yesterday, though. I went to work as Richard Heene, psyience detective – the father of Balloon Boy. I basically looked like myself, but with my hair parted in the middle. And I tried to keep more of a pained look than ususal on my face.

I didn’t tell people who I was. People would ask, and just I’d point up, without saying anything, into the corner of my office, where a silver mylar balloon shaped like a UFO was pinned to a ceiling tile.

And that’s how I spent my day.

The balloon got popped, though, so today I’m back to being myself again. I’d like to say that it feels good, but I’m falling apart again. My back is going back out. And something popped in my eye, so it’s filling back up with blood. I guess you could call it a Halloween miracle. Within just a few hours, I’ve transformed into a monstrous, contorted freak with blood filled eyes.

I don’t want to scare kids though. So, right now, instead of being out on the street, I’m curled up on the couch in my tattered long johns, watching the movie Halloween dubbed in German, and wondering whether or not I should write another letter to PJ Soles.


Posted in Art and Culture, Other | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Jon Stewart dares to talk peace

Last night, Jon Stewart had two Middle East peace activists on The Daily Show. One was Jewish American author, Anna Baltzer. The other was former Palestinian politician, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. I found the exchange extremely informative, but apparently some feel as though the discussion could have benefited from the perspective of someone defending Israel’s right to self-defense. Following is a clip from today’s Raw Story:

The segment drew criticisms from a number of pro-Israeli activists and commenters.

“Jon Stewart [had] a couple of disgraceful guests on his show on Wednesday night for a night of Israel bashing,” wrote blogger Israel Matzav. “No, there’s no pro-Israel counterpoint (perhaps he will try to convince us that ISM activist Baltzer – who is Jewish – is meant to provide balance). And I thought Stewart’s was a comedy show. What if no one watched him?”

Not all pro-Israeli voices were as critical.

“It doesn’t actually seem that groundbreaking,” wrote Rafi G. “He has a Palestinian talking about Palestinian rights and he has an Jewish leftist talking about Palestinian rights. They are advocating a non-violent approach, both from a Palestinian point of view.”

But the blogger noted that “nobody said a word about Palestinian terror or their not accepting peace deals that were offered.”

The show was also somewhat historic, from what I’m told, in that it was the first in eleven years to be interrupted by heckling.

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Anna Baltzer today had the following to say:

…The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it’s only heckler in 11 years.The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired.

That is why it is CRUCIAL that the show receive letters of support from anyone who appreciated the interview.

PLEASE take a moment to give a quick thank you to the Daily Show. I’m sure they will likely be affected by numbers rather than length, so it’s OK to make it short, but spread the word to others! Be sure to put “Thank you” in the subject, and maybe Dr. Barghouti & my names. Fill out the form here (make sure to choose The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as your topic). You can also try calling 212-468-1700…

I believe the interview wouldn’t have happened 3 years ago. Times are changing. Keep on keepin’ on…

At any rate, I’d encourage you to check out the interview… It’s amazing to me that people could be so upset over an interview with peace activists talking about non-violent solutions, but these are the times that we live in.

Posted in Other, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Islamic leader killed by FBI in Dearborn shootout

I’d intended to write about the possibility of John Gosselin and Octomom getting a new reality show together, and how it signaled the coming of an apocalypse far more terrifying than anything in that ridiculous new John Cusack movie, but then I read that a member of a radical black Muslim group in Dearborn was killed today by the FBI, and thought that perhaps my time would be better spent looking into that. (I am, however, for what it’s worth, still very much intrigued by the idea that John Gosselin and the Octomom could mate.)

abdullahAccording to a statement released by the FBI, the man who was killed, a Detroit area imam by the name of Luqman Ameen Abdullah (aka Christopher Thomas) was the leader of an organization known as Ummah, or “the brotherhood.” The FBI describes Ummah as, “a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam, which seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States.”

Federal authorities say that Abdullah, like Malcolm X forty years earlier, also preached that his followers be well armed. The FBI statement goes on to say, “Abdullah has espoused the use of violence against law enforcement, and has trained members of his group in use of firearms and martial arts in anticipation of some type of action against the government.”

Here’s a clip from the Associated Press:

A man described as a leader of a radical Sunni Islam group in the U.S. was fatally shot Wednesday afternoon while resisting arrest and exchanging gunfire with federal agents, authorities said.

Agents at a warehouse in Dearborn were trying to arrest Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods and illegal possession and sale of firearms. Ten followers listed in a criminal complaint were also being rounded up in the area.

Abdullah refused to surrender, fired a weapon and was killed by gunfire from agents, FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said…

No one was charged with terrorism. But Abdullah was “advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States,” FBI agent Gary Leone said in an affidavit.

“He regularly preaches anti-government and anti-law enforcement rhetoric,” Leone said. “Abdullah and his followers have trained regularly in the use of firearms, and continue to train in martial arts and sword fighting.”

Leone said members of the national group mostly are black and some converted to Islam while in prisons across the United States…

Anyway, I thought that this was worth noting, as it took place in Dearborn, and since I don’t think we’ve had a post before about the black Muslim movement in the United States and how it might be evolving post-9/11. And, I think it’s worth noting that the government is getting aggressive when it comes to going after those they perceive as radicals, regardless of whether or not terrorism charges can be brought. In this case, it looks as though the Feds had been working with informants for a two year period, trying to build a Rico case against Abdullah and his followers.

An interesting side note…. The head of the Ummah is none other than former Black Panther Party Justice Minister H. Rapp Brown. Brown, now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, is currently serving out a life sentence in a Colorado prison for the murder of two police officers in Georgia, in 2000.

Posted in Other, Religious Extremism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 62 Comments

Lieberman declares himself the man standing between Americans and healthcare

I don’t know that it would mean anything to him, but, if you’ve got a few minutes free, I’d like to ask that you do me a favor, and call Senator Joe Lieberman’s office. What I need is relatively simple. All you have to do is dial (202) 224-4041, wait until someone answers, and say, “You work for a pathetic, little man.” And, it’s not necessary, but, if you want, and if they don’t hang up, you can add that he reminds you of Willy from Alf. And, if you want, you’re free to work in the word “douche.”

And, yeah, I know it’s not terribly mature, or that well thought out in a tactical sense. I know that there’s probably a better response than just calling the man an asshole and a traitor to his party. But this news that he plans to vote against Reid’s healthcare reform proposal, regardless of what other Democrats do, or how close we are to passing a comprehensive healthcare bill, just has me incredibly pissed off… And I’m not thinking straight.

Here, by way of background, is a clip from Politico:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes agovernment-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will.

“We’re trying to do too much at once,” Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now”…

Funny, but I don’t seem to remember the same concerns for fiscal responsibility when it came to our going to war in the Middle East.

Anyway…. Maybe he’s saying it because he wants to negotiate with Reid. Maybe he wants a better committee assignment, or the promise that the Democrats won’t run someone against him come primary time. I could understand that, if not respect it. I suspect, however, that it’s more twisted than that. I suspect that Lieberman just wants to be the guy to shut down Barack Obama and stop the Democrats. As a majority of his constituents want a public option, I can’t image what else it could be. He’s certainly not looking out for their interests.

And, with that, here’s John-Claude Van Damme’s inspired new Mentos commercial.

Posted in Health, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Reid decides to gamble on the public option

Late this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the healthcare reform bill that he plans to bring before the Senate for a vote would include a public option. It’s a risky proposition, as he doesn’t appear to have the votes necessary at the moment, but I’m encouraged to see someone in the Democratic leadership showing evidence of a rudimentary backbone. The following clip comes from the New York Times:

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, sided with his party’s liberals on Monday and announced that he would include a government-run insurance plan in health care legislation that he plans to take to the Senate floor within a few weeks.

His proposal came with an escape hatch: A state could refuse to participate in the public insurance plan by adopting a law to opt out. Even so, the announcement was a turning point in the debate over how much of a role government should play in an overhauled health care system, and it set the stage for a test of Democratic party unity.

With Republicans united for now in opposition to any bill including a public option, Mr. Reid needs support from all members of his caucus — 58 Democrats and two independents — to take up the legislation. Aides said Monday that he appeared to be short of that goal, lacking firm commitments from several members of the caucus.

Should Mr. Reid prevail, both houses of Congress would be poised to act on bills including a government-run plan to compete with private insurers in selling health coverage to consumers. The House is still weighing the details of its approach, but Democratic leaders have made clear they will include a government plan in their version of the bill…

And in pursuing a public option, it looks as though Reid lost the support of the only Republican who seems to be committed to the idea of healthcare reform, Olympia Snowe… Here’s another clip from the Times:

“I am deeply disappointed with the majority leader’s decision to include a public option as the focus of the legislation,” Ms. Snowe said. “I still believe that a fallback, safety-net plan, to be triggered and available immediately in states where insurance companies fail to offer plans that meet the standards of affordability, could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate.”

And, for the opposing view on triggers, here’s former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

We’re closer than ever to winning a historic victory on health care.

I should know: I served as Secretary of Labor under President Clinton during the last health care fight. And I’m sure that this time around we’re within reach of passing a real health care reform bill—one that includes a public health insurance option.

Unfortunately, some conservatives in the Senate are still pushing a “trigger” plan that would kill the public option through indefinite delay. And they may even be finding support within the White House…

And, for those of you who can’t read, or just refuse to, here he is by way of Youtube:

So, you know what you need to do. You need to call Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, or whoever your Democratic Senators happen to be, and tell them to push back against triggers, and support Reid’s legislation when it comes up for a vote. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to also remind them that this is a defining moment in the history of our country, and that historians aren’t likely to look too fondly on the Democrat who, when push came to shove, sided with the Republicans and the insurance lobby.

Debbie Stabenow
Phone: 202-224-4822
Carl Levin
Phone: 202-224-6221

[More on the state opt out, and why Reid included it, can be found here.]

Posted in Health, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments


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