some russell lee black and whites, iraq and how the press failed america

Creole musicians playing an accordion and a washboard in front of a store, near New Iberia, Louisiana (1938).

Creole musicians playing an accordion and a washboard in front of a store, near New Iberia, Louisiana (1938). Photograph by Russell Lee.

A father and his young daughter enjoy listening to the radio

A father and his young daughter enjoy listening to the radio in their home in Tehama County, Calif., in 1940. Also by Lee.

Neon sign for Hector’s Palace of Sweets Cafe

Neon sign for Hector’s Palace of Sweets Cafe in Crosby, North Dakota.  November 1937. by Russell Lee for the FSA.

Ten Years Ago: Media Coverage of the ‘Fall’ of Baghdad Helped Spark More Years of War

Among Maass’ conclusions:

I had little awareness of the media dynamics that turned the episode into a festive symbol of what appeared to be the war’s finale. In reality, the war was just getting under way. Many thousands of people would be killed or injured before the Bush administration acknowledged that it faced not just “pockets of dead-enders” in Iraq, as Rumsfeld insisted, but what grew to be a full-fledged insurgency. The toppling of Saddam’s statue turned out to be emblematic of primarily one thing: the fact that American troops had taken the center of Baghdad. That was significant, but everything else the toppling was said to represent during repeated replays on television—victory for America, the end of the war, joy throughout Iraq—was a disservice to the truth….

The media have been criticized for accepting the Bush administration’s claims, in the run-up to the invasion, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The WMD myth, and the media’s embrace of it, encouraged public support for war. The media also failed at Firdos Square, but in this case it was the media, rather than the government, that created the victory myth.

Among the handful of studies of Firdos Square, the most incisive was George Washington University’s, led by Sean Aday, an associate professor of media and public affairs. It concluded that the coverage had “profound implications for both international policy and the domestic political landscape in America.” According to the study, the saturation coverage of Firdos Square fueled the perception that the war had been won, and diverted attention from Iraq at precisely the moment that more attention was needed, not less. “Whereas battle stories imply a war is going on, statues falling—especially when placed in the context of truly climactic images from recent history—imply the war is over,” the study noted.

The media was supposed to be a bunch of critical liberals, yet as Chris Matthews on MSNBC announced, “We’re all neo-cons now ” and apparently much of the media was in implicit agreement. They allowed a brigade of retired military analysts to take dictation from the Bush White House and echo that message, without any critical examination. Just before i read that column at The Nation Twitter reminded me it was Joseph Pulitzer’s birthday. Joe was no angel, but he did manage to redeem himself by exposing government corruption. His most famous quote and one that manages to stand on it’s own, “Our republic and its press will rise or fall together”.

Warning this video may cause the impulse to dance.


cab calloway at the cotton club, the sequester cuts and cancer treatment

Cab Calloway Leads Orchestra at New Year's Ball

Cab Calloway Leads Orchestra at New Year’s Ball. The Cotton Club. I’m not sure about the exact year, though definitely in the 1930s. Calloway (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) lead an immensely popular jazz band from the 1930s through the 1940s. His sister, Blanche, who Calloway claimed was his biggest inspiration in his life, actually started a band before he did. Calloway  appeared on the popular Walter Winchell radio program and appeared with Bing Crosby on his show at New York’s Paramount Theatre. He and Duke Ellington broke the network broadcast color barrier.

 Legal Analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. and Fox News Resurrects Death Panels: ‘This Is About People Dying As A Result Of Obamacare’

During an appearance on Fox and Friends Friday morning, Fox News contributor and legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. claimed that Medicare beneficiaries who are losing access to critical medical services as a result of sequestration “ain’t seen nothing yet,” as Obamacare will kill off far more Americans in the next ten years.

Fox news must find their legal analyst rummaging through dumpsters in the back of abandoned bus stations. When I was a kid some adults used to call the TV the idiot box. Networks like Fox and ‘experts” like Johnson are living up to that standard. The cuts at the cancer clinics are due to the sequester cuts, not some legislation or executive order. Conservatives voted for the sequester and the cuts that would automatically kick in unless they reached a budget compromise. I wonder if Johnson is hoping Fox viewers are as unethical and moronic as he is. When Johnson digs up the rotting corpse of a lie about death panels he is referring to medical review broads that look at cost effectiveness of patient treatment. Those panels would also be the same panels that conservatives thought were a good idea and voted for. I’ve had marginal success with trying to convince ideological zealots to stop being serial liars to advance their agenda. I have asked and never received a very good answer to the question; if you’re agenda is so wonderful and patriotic how come it depends on the never-ending river of bullsh*t, dispensed daily.

white wolves wallpaper, history through a haze, man pleads guilty to waterboarding kids

white wolves wallpaper

white wolves wallpaper

History is big right now.

But the further back you go, the harder history can be to sell.  As progress distances us from our pasts, we begin to realize what L. P. Hartley meant when he wrote that “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”  Mod and Rockabilly women already have to justify to their modern sensibilities why they feel such kinship with a far more gender-restrictive age.  Going back in time means going back to an age before Civil Rights, before Roe v. Wade and women in the workplace.  Before homosexuality was decriminalized.  Going back in time means peeling away layers of progress one by one until minority groups who have fought so hard for so long to be heard become voiceless again.

My own nostalgia for the Victorian era sometimes makes me feel like a criminal.

When I was in my teens I liked history well enough. I noticed that a lot of the older folks I knew took a more avid interests. I got the impression that it came with age. Yesterday I was thinking about how much my interests has increased every year – reflected in this blog to some degree. Though I do not feel guilty. I don’t advocate a return to the past – for many of the reason that Rachel Cochran lists. Though unlike her Victorian obsession I have never looked at the past through the haze of misplaced nostalgia. Things like illustrations for flying machines, a photograph of famous documents like the Declaration of Independence, paintings that show a break with classical fine art tradition – those all show imagination and progress. learning about WW II or the Pontiac Rebellion, can – they don’t always, depending on the perspective bias of the reader –  teach us about mistakes not to repeat.

Montana man pleads guilty to waterboarding kids

A Montana man accused of waterboarding four children as a learning experience for them has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in which he will receive probation.

The children were the Jefferson County man’s 9- and 12-year-old sons and two neighbor kids, ages 13 and 15, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

He also tortured a couple of the neighbor’s kids. Maybe he was given the impression by conservatives that torture was moral and legal. From 2000 to 2008, with a few exceptions, Republicans claimed that torture was not only legal, but that being against torture was unpatriotic. Many conservatives still believe that torture is a positive moral act, CNN Republican political analyst Erick Erickson : Give A Medal To Store Employee Who Beat Shopper’s Child With Belt.

bubble on green wallpaper, violent video games and violence, conundrum of incompetence

bubble on green

bubble on green wallpaper. by way of microsoft/corbis with some touch-ups in photoshop.

To date there is no scientific evidence that violent video games cause people to commit violent acts, Shooting in the Dark

The proliferation of violent video games has not coincided with spikes in youth violent crime. The number of violent youth offenders fell by more than half between 1994 and 2010, to 224 per 100,000 population, according to government statistics, while video game sales have more than doubled since 1996.

In a working paper now available online, Dr. Ward and two colleagues examined week-by-week sales data for violent video games, across a wide range of communities. Violence rates are seasonal, generally higher in summer than in winter; so are video game sales, which peak during the holidays. The researchers controlled for those trends and analyzed crime rates in the month or so after surges in sales, in communities with a high concentrations of young people, like college towns.

We found that higher rates of violent video game sales related to a decrease in crimes, and especially violent crimes,” said Dr. Ward, whose co-authors were A. Scott Cunningham of Baylor University and Benjamin Engelstätter of the Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany.

Cause and effect are tricky. So if society has a problem and you roll out the heavy hand of law enforcement it is important to know that you’re regulating the correct cause.

Diamond-Studded Dancer-1965

Diamond-Studded Dancer, 1965. “Disco dancer with a diamond in her navel takes to the floor at Killer Joe’s opening at the Taft Hotel Discotheque.”

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Why The Incompetent Don’t Know They’re Incompetent

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

One of the tell-tale signs of the classic authoritarian personality is the psychological inability to live with some ambiguity.

ancient garden statue wallpaper, monsanto ignores science farmers pay, anat cohen

ancient garden statue wallpaper

ancient garden statue wallpaper

There are many reasons to have a basic understanding of evolution. While it was science-fiction, there was a good sized nugget of truth in the warnings of Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park when he said that nature finds a way, Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Superweeds

Last year’s drought took a big bite out of the two most prodigious US crops, corn and soy. But it apparently didn’t slow down the spread of weeds that have developed resistance to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), used on crops engineered by Monsanto to resist it. More than 70 percent of all the the corn, soy, and cotton grown in the US is now genetically modified to withstand glyphosate.

[  ]…• Nearly half (49 percent) of all US farmers surveyed said they have glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34 percent of farmers in 2011.
• Resistance is still worst in the South. For example, 92 percent of growers in Georgia said they have glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Every time farmers used Monsanto’s Roundup some weeds survived. Maybe they were not in the best shape, but they were healthy enough to propagate. They passed on their glyphosate resistant genetic properties to the next generation. I’ve read some statements by Monsanto scientists, when they’re allowed to speak and they are pretty much in denial of some basic scientific truths. A steady nice sized check every two weeks has that affect on some people.

In jazz, saxophonists and trumpeters get most of the limelight. Seeing that those two groups are also my favorites I can understand the bias. Though it’s good to shift tastes once in a while to experience something new. So a tip of the hat to jazz clarinet today with Anat Cohen: Bringing The Clarinet To The World

Clarinetist Anat Cohen is one of a handful of Israeli jazz musicians making a mark on the American jazz scene. She’s been voted Clarinetist of the Year six years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association, and her most recent album, Claroscuro, showcases the range of her talents and musical influences, from New Orleans-style jazz to Israel to Latin music — particularly that of Brazil.

The rest of NPR’s profile of Anat is at the link.

flag bunting wallpaper, the social security way-back machine, aly spaltro

flag bunting wallpaper, blue sky, colorful

flag bunting wallpaper

Time for another trip in the way-back machine, Social Security’s So-called Unfunded Entitlements

Back in January 2005, when President Bush was ramping up his attack on Social Security, Peter Wehner, a White House political strategist, wrote in a memorandum to conservative groups: “We need to establish in the public mind a key fiscal fact: right now we are on an unsustainable course. The reality needs to be seared into the public consciousness.”

Bush desperately wanted to privatize Social Security—to send the hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street so that the geniuses who manage money could blow the whole wad on their speculative schemes. Just imagine how that would have worked out! The already bubbling real estate and commodity markets could have reached an even more stupendous peak before crashing into what presumably would have been an even worse Global Financial Collapse. And today’s seniors would be dumpster diving without Social Security to fall back on.

Wray  goes on to make the point that what are referred to as The Beltway, The Villagers and assorted pundits and sorry-ass analysts have absorbed this nonsense that the deficit is somehow connected to Social Security – so we have to destroy the safety net for the nation’s very existence depends upon it. It is more like Social Security needs a little tweak and we’ll all be fine. The deficit is another matter. Most of it is still connected to and might still be connected to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that ever so fiscally responsible conservatives – the ones doing all the finger wagging now – put on the credit card, the meltdown that happened because conservatives and conservative Democrats bought into deregulation fever, and the Bush tax cuts.

Feb 3, 2013 was the 100th anniversary of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (February 2, 1913).


Passengers line up in New York’s Grand Central Station to buy tickets, April,1974. A bonus look at the big wall ads showing how 70s fashion has come back around.Via The National Archives.

Main Hall of Grand Central, also 1974

Main Hall of Grand Central, also 1974.

4 Dumbest Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories … Involving Photoshop

During an  interview last month with The New Republic, President Obama was asked if he has ever fired a gun. After the president told the magazine that he goes skeet shooting with guests at Camp David, conservatives — as well as reporters from more mainstream outlets — sought proof. In order to quiet the skeptics, on Saturday the White House released a photo of the president shooting clay targets at Camp David in 2012:

Linking to the picture on Twitter, White House senior adviser David Plouffe  joked, “let the photoshop conspiracies begin!” While Plouffe was mocking the penchant of some conservatives to turn everything related to President Obama into a conspiracy, some conservative outlets quickly proved his point by doing just that (New York Magazine has produced a  comprehensive roundup of the skeet shooting conspiracies).

In an  article posted Sunday at conservative website American Thinker — an outlet frequently  touted and cited by Rush Limbaugh —  titled “Seven Reasons Why it’s a Photoshop,” blogger Michael Harlin concluded, “if he’s shooting skeet, then I’m Daffy Duck.” (While the headline calls it a Photoshop, Harlin seems to waver on whether the picture was manipulated or merely “staged like everything else in President Obama’s life.”)

Perhaps it is naive or overly optimistic of me to expect that a site that calls itself American Thinker ( and not ironically mind you) should do some actual think’n. They have previously posted dozens, if not hundreds of analyst laced conspiracy theories. They insisted for example that President Obama’s book Dreams of My Father was ghost written by Bill Ayers. They came to this conclusion by “expert” language analyst that included the repetition of some words. It turns out that Dreams, using their analytical methods could have also been written by Moby Dick author Herman Melville.


I don’t know how long they will have the link/offer up, but UTNE is giving away an MP3 of Aly Spaltro (of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) new single “Rooftop”.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Between Two Trees

the lone red seat, you appear as i yourself, paloma faith


the lone red seat

The I in Me, Thomas Nagel reviews Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics by Galen Strawson

What are you, really? To the rest of the world you appear as a particular human being, a publicly observable organism with a complex biological and social history and a name. But to yourself, more intimately, you appear as ‘I’, the mental subject of your experiences, thoughts, feelings, memories and emotions. This inner self is only indirectly observable by others, though they ordinarily have no doubt about its existence, as you have no doubt about their inner lives.

One of the enduring questions of philosophy is whether there really is such a thing as the self, and if so, what it is.

I have not read any poll data about the number of people who at some point in their lives, stop and wonder, who am I. When I have done it, more in the past, late teens through early twenties, even then I felt a little silly. I would touch my face in the mirror, I must be me, or that thing in the mirror, the fleshy container of those thoughts, experiences and memories. Throw in some genetic predisposition some intricately woven proteins as well. Since I have read novels, non-fiction and watched movies and sit-coms that deal with the subject I have a perception bias that most people have similar thoughts, if only fleeting or dismissive – too much navel gazing for some. Yet there is a school of thought altogether different,

Others have argued that this idea of the self is an illusion, due to a misunderstanding of how the word ‘I’ functions: in fact it refers to the human being who utters it, and it is you the publicly observable human being, and not anything else, that is the subject of all your experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Galen Strawson’s book Selves, a work of shameless metaphysics, argues that selves exist and that they are not human beings. However, Strawson is a materialist and does not think that your self could exist apart from your central nervous system. He holds that your experiences are events in your brain, and that if there is a self which is their subject it too must be in the brain. But he is a materialist of an unusual kind: a realist about experience and an anti-reductionist. Strawson believes that although experiences are events in the brain, experience cannot be analysed in terms of the physical properties of the material world, so the material world is much more than the world described by physics – at least in the case of brains, and perhaps quite generally.[*] This means that the conscious brain has a mental character that is not revealed by the physical sciences, including neurophysiology.

I cannot bring myself to be completely dismissive of metaphysics, but this is one of the reasons i find it an almost embarrassing subject to discuss seriously. Practitioners will take what is  a kind of mysticism and wrap in up in something that looks a little like rationalism and say see, this is all very logical ( logic in the traditional philosophic sense).

Paloma Faith – Black & Blue (Acoustic Session)

Notes: I deleted the post on my storage issues with WP, but those who are having similar issues can see the forum thread here. They have found out why they put hot-linked thumbnail images from where you are storing pictures elsewhere into your WP media library( a semi-sacred place) – in order to save WP page loading times. That said they have not really solved the problem as much as acknowledge that some WP bloggers might be getting less than their fair share of storage on WP because of this programming quirk. So they worked around it by increasing my storage a little bit. So for that at least, a big thank you to staffer zandyring and member notawoodpecker( who appears to have some programming knowledge).