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BREAKING: Vampires, Gays Insufficiently Frightening; Children in Grave Danger of Inappropriate Sucking

Sunday, March 29, 2009

By Thers
Firedoglake


Over at NRO, the very serious cultural commentator Tony Woodlief warns the nation that just like the gays, vampires are becoming disturbingly fashionable. This is a disturbing trend. In the good old days, real life gays and fictional vampires were, quite rightly, destroyed on sight as incorrigibly evil suckers of various repulsive bodily fluids. But nowadays, sadly, as a sign of our fallen moral world, we no longer consider either inherently evil as an inevitable consequence of their basic nature. Why, sometimes we even go so far as to portray them in films or on the teevee as misunderstood or even sympathetic, shudder.
We have fully reversed the symbolism of Stoker’s vampire, who represented a demonic assault on a virtuous community. Today’s vampire is the hip Other, and the community around him is either bungling, intolerant, or simply a source of comedic relief (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys, and Fright Night, for example). The modern vampire is in touch with his sexuality, but the community suppresses it. The modern vampire is coming to take away your girlfriend, and she kind of likes it. The modern vampire is the guy you wish you had been in high school, or the guy you wish you’d dated in high school, and Meyer has turned that into gold.

The trouble with this evolution is that fictional monsters serve a valuable cultural purpose. They remind us that we live in communities, and that our communities must be defended from those who would rend them asunder.
There's a lot of weird shit in this article, but the nut of the, uh, nuttiness is right here. First, Woodlief gets his vampire stories wrong. The original Dracula (or "Crackula," written by "Gram Smoker," about "Vlad the Inhaler") really is very Victorianly odd on the issue of sexuality, especially female sexuality. There's an odd love quadrangle amongst the male heroes and the absurdly virtuous Lucy, there's the standard-issue virgin/whore fetish (the pure English maids contrasted to the slutty foreign vampires), the asinine cult of masculine virtue (our heroes' unwillingness to let a chick go on an adventure with them leads to disaster; even the Scooby gang was too hip too fall for that jive). In regards to more modern vampire stories, the remark about Buffy clearly shows that Woodlief didn't actually watch the series, or if he did, he sure wasn't sober....(Click for remainder).

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Pinochet Judge Seeks Criminal Probe of Bush 'Torture Lawyers'

By Stephen C. Webster
Raw Story


Six Bush-era officials responsible for crafting the legal justifications permitting the military prison at Guantanamo Bay are the subject of a potential Spanish criminal probe which could place the men under serious risk of arrest if they travel outside the United States.

"[Spanish newspaper] Público identifies the targets as University of California law professor John Yoo, former Department of Defense general counsel William J. Haynes II (now a lawyer working for Chevron), former vice presidential chief-of-staff David Addington, former attorney general and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith," noted Scott Horton at Harper's.

He called them Bush's "torture lawyers."

On March 17, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, published an editorial in the Washington Note which accused Bush officials of knowingly holding innocent men in Guantanamo Bay for years.

"The case was sent to the prosecutor’s office for review by Baltasar Garzón, the crusading investigative judge who indicted the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet," reported the New York Times. "The official said that it was 'highly probable' that the case would go forward and could lead to arrest warrants."...(Click for remainder).

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Dem Senators Press to Sidestep GOP on Climate Change

By Walter Alarkon
The Hill


A group of junior Democratic senators are pressing their more senior colleagues to push through a controversial climate change bill by attaching it to a special budget legislative maneuver.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have said that the budget reconciliation process should be used to get a climate change bill past a GOP filibuster. Reconciliation bills need only a simple majority to move through the Senate, instead of the 60 votes needed to overcome filibusters.

Cardin, Whitehouse and Sanders, all serving their first term, argued during budget hearings this week that the cap-and-trade climate change system that they and the president favor should be attached to a reconciliation bill because it would raise revenues that could be used to cut budget deficits.

"Budget reconciliation was created so you could take a controversial issue such as reducing the deficit, which usually means increasing revenues or reducing entitlements to get an up-or-down vote without it being filibustered," Cardin told The Hill. "That was the concept of budget reform. That's exactly what we're doing with the energy bill."

President Reagan used the reconciliation process in the 1980s to reduce spending while President George W. Bush used it more recently to push through tax cuts.

Obama's budget outlined a cap-and-trade system that would place limits on carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to curb global warming. To exceed those limits, companies would need to obtain permits that would initially be auctioned off by the government. The auctions would raise $646 billion in revenue over the next decade, according to Obama's plan. The president has proposed using the revenue to pay for the permanent extension of a middle-class tax cut that will expire at the end of 2010 and for the development of new clean energy sources....(Click for remainder).

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Nevermind! States Accept Jobless Help

Governors such as Nevada's Jim Gibbons were blasted for even considering rejecting federal funds. Now he and others have agreed to take the money.

By Tami Luhby
CNN Money


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's not that easy to turn down federal funds.

Several governors who initially voiced concerns about expanding state unemployment benefits to qualify for federal stimulus funds have decided to accept the money. Some were feeling the heat from jobless constituents, while others took comfort in learning recently from the federal Department of Labor that they could curtail eligibility later on.

The benefits expansion is among the most controversial components of the stimulus package, and it comes at a time when millions of people across the nation are losing their jobs. The nation's unemployment rate stood at 8.1% in February and is expected to climb to 8.5% when the March figures are released next Friday.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires state legislatures to broaden the unemployment guidelines to allow more women, part-timers and low-wage workers to qualify.

In return, the states will get to partake in a $7 billion federal grant aimed at helping the unemployed. At least 19 states automatically qualify for the funds since they already had widened eligibility.

Some state officials, however, are concerned they will have to fund the expanded program by hiking taxes on employers once the federal money runs out. But they were soon hit by a backlash of anger from state lawmakers, unions and jobless residents....(Click for remainder).

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Syria Calling

The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace.

By Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker


When the Israelis’ controversial twenty-two-day military campaign in Gaza ended, on January 18th, it also seemed to end the promising peace talks between Israel and Syria. The two countries had been engaged for almost a year in negotiations through intermediaries in Istanbul. Many complicated technical matters had been resolved, and there were agreements in principle on the normalization of diplomatic relations. The consensus, as an ambassador now serving in Tel Aviv put it, was that the two sides had been “a lot closer than you might think.”

At an Arab summit in Qatar in mid-January, however, Bashar Assad, the President of Syria, angrily declared that Israel’s bombing of Gaza and the resulting civilian deaths showed that the Israelis spoke only “the language of blood.” He called on the Arab world to boycott Israel, close any Israeli embassies in the region, and sever all “direct or indirect ties with Israel.” Syria, Assad said, had ended its talks over the Golan Heights.

Nonetheless, a few days after the Israeli ceasefire in Gaza, Assad said in an e-mail to me that although Israel was “doing everything possible to undermine the prospects for peace,” he was still very interested in closing the deal. “We have to wait a little while to see how things will evolve and how the situation will change,” Assad said. “We still believe that we need to conclude a serious dialogue to lead us to peace.”...(Click for remainder).

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