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       *** MANDOS POST *** I have been thinking about writing another post about Britain and Brexit for some time, but every time I started it, there’d be literally another new dramatic twist, so I’d stop.  But now it seems like a corner is being turned. What the corner really is, we’ll still have time […]
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Airing of Grievances Open Thread

I got a lot of problems with you people!


I started the observance of Festivus here at The Confluence back in 2008 because there’s a lot of stuff that pisses me off.

First of all, I hate people who have no sense of humor. They wander around looking like they just sucked on a lemon, pissing on other people’s fun. Lighten the fuck up.

Second, mind readers. They read a post and then decide they know what I REALLY meant. This group includes the Cinderella wannabes. (No, no! The shoe fits me, ME!) Buy a Magic 8-ball or call Miss Cleo, because you haven’t got a clue.

Then there’s the people who block the aisle in the supermarket. If there are two they’ll stop facing each other to chat. If there is a family they’ll spread out. If there is just one they’ll park their cart on one side and stand on the other, staring at the shelves and ignoring anyone trying to get past them. You should be allowed to ram them with your cart.

Last of all, people in the drive thru lane at fast-food restaurants during lunch hour who get up to the speaker AND THEN start thinking about what they want. Of course they have to ask questions and don’t want anything the regular way. (“Can I get those fries with no salt?“) Justifiable homicide. Seriously.

What pisses you off?



A few questions about WikiLeaks


Ian Welsh has a post up:

I am now an American Express Cardholder because of Wikileaks

Since Mastercard and Visa, in cutting off Wikileaks from donations, decided that they knew better than me who I should be able to give money to, I applied for and have now received an American Express card. Granted, American Express isn’t always a good actor, but at least they are willing to allow me to spend my money, my way.

I know what some of you are thinking (Oh Gawd, here he goes again!) but I have no problem with how Ian chooses to spend his money. It’s a free country.

I did have some questions for him though:

Just out of curiosity, Ian, do you know where your donations to Wikileaks are going?

How much money are they taking in? How much of it goes to overhead (server fees, etc) and how much goes to salaries? Who gets those salaries, and how much do they receive?

Is there some place where we can examine their books?

I think everyone should be interested in the answers to those questions.

Would people feel the same way about WikiLeaks if Julian Assange was raking in millions for himself?

Where the money comes from is another question. One can argue that the sources of the money should remain secret in order to protect them, but the government can get that information fairly easily if it really wants it.

This is a group dedicated to transparency. What if some neocon billionaire was a major donor? How about a foreign government? Wouldn’t that change your perception of WikiLeaks?

Just wondering.


What happened to the anti-war movement?


One of the largest anti-war protests in recent years took place last week. If you blinked you may have missed it. Even if you didn’t blink you had to know where to look.

There was a black-out and a white-out Thursday and Friday as over a hundred US veterans opposed to US wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, and their civilian supporters, chained and tied themselves to the White House fence during an early snowstorm to say enough is enough.

Washington Police arrested 135 of the protesters, in what is being called the largest mass detention in recent years. Among those arrested were Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who used to provide the president’s daily briefings, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the government’s Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, and Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for the New York Times.

No major US news media reported on the demonstration or the arrests. It was blacked out of the New York Times, blacked out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, blacked out in the Los Angeles Times, blacked out of the Wall Street Journal, and even blacked out of the capital’s local daily, the Washington Post, which apparently didn’t even think it was a local story worth publishing.

John Halle has more over at Corrente:

First, one was a rally held at the Lincoln Memorial some distance from the White House while the other centered around civil disobedience at the White House fence.

Secondly, more significantly, the Veterans directly and passionately criticized the Obama administration and its policies. In contrast, at the One Nation rally, according to Patrick Martin of the World Socialist website:

“Nearly every speaker combined warnings of the consequences of a Republican victory in the November 2 election with appeals to those attending the rally to spend the next month in all-out campaigning for a Democratic Party victory. There was no examination of the actual policies of the Democrats, still less of the relatively insignificant differences between the two big business parties.
There was no criticism of the Obama administration by name, even by speakers who criticized some of the policies for which the Democratic president is responsible.”

These two protests clearly display an unmistakeable and unbridgeable difference in perspective-between support (including highly critical support), on the one side and active dissent and militant opposition on the other.

This distinction, which has immediate practical consequences for how, or whether, a protest movement will develop and flourish, admits of an explanation: in the opinion of many, much of the left leadership played a role in fomenting unrealistic expectations with respect to the Obama presidency. Their investment in the Obama brand prevents them from endorsing and playing a role in organizing protests of sufficient vehemence and intensity as these would necessarily shine a light on their failure of judgement and lack of credibility.


Whatever happened to Code Pink? Last time I heard about them they were trying to place Karl Rove under citizen’s arrest at a book signing. Now much as I’d like to see Turdblossom getting perp walked to prison, he no longer has anything to do with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Remember the good old days when progressive bloggers thought that Hillary’s vote on the Iraq War Resolution was THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER? (That was right before they were promising to hold Obama’s “feet to the fire”)

How come they don’t care about the wars anymore? Why don’t they care about Obama’s Drone War in Pakistan?

In the words of Bob Dole, “Where’s the outrage?”


Thursday: Relative

Did this Melanesian get the blonde hair from the Denisovian side of the family?

There isn’t much time left before the big day!  Yep, before you know it, the Republicans will have full control of the House.  What, you thought I was talking about Christmas.

Here’s a frightening cautionary tale: The town of Pritchard in Alabama was warned for years that it wasn’t setting enough money aside to pay for pensions.  Right on schedule, the pension money ran out in 2009 and the town stopped sending checks to its retired public servants.  Some of them have since died destitute.  Others have had to file for bankruptcy.  This is what you get when you don’t fulfill your obligations to the employees who deferred some of their compensation for their retirement.  And Congress has no excuse in the future to say, “Oh, we didn’t know.  who could have predicted that not raising taxes on the wealthy would result in a shortfall in Social Security when we decided to cut everyone a 2% break on their payroll taxes in 2010?”  From the NYTimes article on Pritchard:

It is not just the pensioners who suffer when a pension fund runs dry. If a city tried to follow the law and pay its pensioners with money from its annual operating budget, it would probably have to adopt large tax increases, or make huge service cuts, to come up with the money.

We all know what’s coming because this president and his cowardly Congressional Democrats didn’t have the balls to challenge Republicans when they had a chance.  Instead of throwing the drowning Republicans an anchor, they’ve thrown them a cruise ship and their own private island.  Thanks for the coal, Dems.

Speaking of Christmas, you’ll have to put down another place setting for the newest relative on the evolutionary family tree. It turns out that one of our long lost cousins, the Denisovians, was discovered in a cave in Siberia. We’re only distantly related.  The Denisovians left traces of their presence in the Melanesians of the South Pacific and New Guinea where as much as 4% of their DNA can still be found among the island populations.  The Denisovians are from the Neanderthal side of the family.  Really, they’re more like in-laws.  Fascinating.  We’ll have to see what those 4% residual genes are good for.

Ross Douthat, true believer is feeling repressed:

The first is “American Grace,” co-written by Harvard’s Robert Putnam (of “Bowling Alone” fame) and Notre Dame’s David Campbell, which examines the role that religion plays in binding up the nation’s social fabric. Over all, they argue, our society reaps enormous benefits from religious engagement, while suffering from few of the potential downsides. Widespread churchgoing seems to make Americans more altruistic and more engaged with their communities, more likely to volunteer and more inclined to give to secular and religious charities. Yet at the same time, thanks to Americans’ ever-increasing tolerance, we’ve been spared the kind of sectarian conflict that often accompanies religious zeal.

But for Christians, this sunny story has a dark side. Religious faith looks more socially beneficial to America than ever, but the institutional Christianity that’s historically generated most of those benefits seems to be gradually losing its appeal.

{{Snort!}}  Yes, all that sunshine must be positively blinding to the millions of child brides around the world who are benefitting from our Christian brothers who are withholding aid because they may get information about abortion in their health care services.  Peace on earth, good will to men!

By the way, Ross, that altruistic spirit of churchgoers is beaten to a pulp by the Atheists on the Kiva site where the non-believers out raise the Christians by a HUGE margin.  So, you don’t have to go to church to feel empathy for your fellow man or woman.  In fact, it looks like not going to church may lead to a more generous spirit.  But I guess if you have a column in the NYTimes, you can say whatever you like.  It doesn’t have to be true.

Ross continues:

Thanks in part to this bunker mentality, American Christianity has become what Hunter calls a “weak culture” — one that mobilizes but doesn’t convert, alienates rather than seduces, and looks backward toward a lost past instead of forward to a vibrant future. In spite of their numerical strength and reserves of social capital, he argues, the Christian churches are mainly influential only in the “peripheral areas” of our common life. In the commanding heights of culture, Christianity punches way below its weight.

Is he serious???  Where was Ross when Catholic bishops forced American women into Catholicism during last year’s healthcare reform debate?  If that wasn’t the single most successful example of conversion, I don’t know what was.

But it turns out that Ross is partially right.  The number of people rejecting creationism is creeping up.  It must give the fundagelical holdouts the willies.  Soon, in maybe a century or so, we Darwinists will win out and those true believers will be forced to add the Denisovians to their prayer lists.  Bwahahahahah!!!

Actually, if anyone has a right to feel repressed at Christmas time, it’s not the Christians.  It’s people like me.  My ancestors in the British Isles looked forward to the solstices to mark the passage of time and to honor their dead.  To my people 6000 years ago, the winter solstice must have been a frightening thing.  The sun goes south, the days shorten, the nights lengthen, it’s cold, nothing grows.  Oh, sure, the sun always comes back but what if it doesn’t this time?  The return of the sun on the days following solstice must have been a joyous occasion marked with feasting on the past harvest, lighting of fires and gathering up as much greenery as possible.  It was a simple time back then.  No crass commercialism.  No materialism.  And then the Christians co-opt Saturnalia and force everyone to go to church.  They’ve got some nerve.

If the Christians were really playing Christmas straight, they wouldn’t be celebrating in December.  We know that the New Testament writers fudged the nativity story to make the dates fit.  Jesus wasn’t born in December.  And from what I’ve read, he probably wasn’t crucified on Easter either.  All that Hosanna stuff and palm waving when Jesus rode to Jerusalem on the donkey was associated with Sukkot, a Jewish holiday celebrated in autumn.  So, why don’t the Christians come clean about Christmas?  They don’t have any special claim to the dates.  Late December is recognized by many faiths from around the world going back millenia.  It’s a time to gather together, keep warm, enjoy the glow of the fire, taste the fullness of fat on your tongue, the last you might have for months to come, and to await the return of the warmth of the sun on the land and in ourselves.

Jesus would approve.

Happy Festivus!


Frank Costanza: “Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: “What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: “It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!

Get your poles out of the crawl space, it’s Festivus!

I started the tradition of observing Festivus here at The Confluence back in 2008. It’s our heritage.

The Airing of Grievances will start tonight at 9 p.m. eastern.


The Festivus pole