Cheney: How The Grinch Stole Festivus!

• “I’m not talking about the actual country. I’m talking about the idea of America. The idea of America would never torture.” —Stephen Colbert

20 key findings about CIA interrogations from the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released December 2014 (NY TImes):
1 (torture) “not an effective means of acquiring intelligence”
2 “rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness”
3 “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented”
4 “conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher
5 “repeatedly provided inaccurate information”
6 “actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight”
7 “impeded effective White House oversight”
8 “complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions”
9 “impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General”
10 “coordinated the release of classified information to the media”
11 “unprepared as it began operating”
12 “deeply flawed throughout the program's duration”
13 “overwhelmingly outsourced operations”
14 “coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved”
15 “did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained”
16 “failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness
17 “rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable
18 “ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections”
19 “inherently unsustainable
20 “damaged the United States' standing in the world”

• Watch video below: “Dick Cheney's Mind Is 'The Scariest F--king Place In The Universe,' Says Jon Stewart” (after short ad)

• “(The CIA Torture Report confirms that) the CIA's actions a decade ago are a stain on our values and on our history.” —Senator Dianne Feinstein

• ”We didn't treat the Nazis like this. We didn't' treat the Vietcong like this. This is something that is without precedent in American history." —CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin

• “The Torture Convention (effective 1987) prohibits the United States from deporting an individual to a country where there is a reasonable expectation that he will be subjected to torture — physical, mental or otherwise. —Jonathan Shapiro

• “The purpose of torture is not getting information. It's spreading fear.” —Eduardo Galeano

• “There is still much debate about whether torture has been effective in eliciting information - the assumption being, apparently, that if it is effective, then it may be justified.” —Noam Chomsky

• “Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. —Late Senator Edward Kennedy

• Watch below: Former President George W. Bush interviewed by Matt Lauer: Bush: "Look, first, we used the technique on three people. captured a lot of people and used it on three. we gained valuable information to protect the country, and it was the right thing to do, as far as i'm concerned."

• “One of America's greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don't torture.” —Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge

• “We are America; we don't torture. And the moment that is not the case, I want off the train.” — Fox News anchor Shepard Smith

• "We tortured some folks…We did some things that were contrary to our values." —Barack Obama

• “Torture didn’t just happen, after all – contrary to the president’s recent statement, “we” didn’t torture some folks. Real actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still employed by the U.S. government … It is bad enough not to prosecute these officials – but to reward or promote them and risk the integrity of the U.S. government to protect them is incomprehensible. The president needs to purge his administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this program. He needs to force a cultural change at the CIA.” —Outgoing Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Senate Intelligence Committee

• Watch below: Former VP Dick Cheney: "I have no problem (with torture) as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and to avoid another attack against the United States. I was prepared and we did, we got the authorization from the president and authorization from the justice department to go forward with the program. it worked. It worked now for 13 years. We've avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States ... I'd do it again in a minute".

• Watch below: Former POW, Senator John McCain speaks out against torture:

• Watch below: Senator Dianne Feinstein discusses release of the CIA Torture Report:

•” When you send the signal, as the Obama administration did, that torture is not a crime that ought to be punished, it's just a policy dispute that you argue about on Sunday shows, of course it emboldens torturers like Dick Cheney to go around and say, 'What I did was absolutely right.’” —Glenn Greenwald 

Rosa Parks Can't Breathe

• On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York after a police officer put him in a chokehold, a tactic banned by NYPD. Garner was initially approached by officer Justin Damico on suspicion of selling "loosies", single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. While lying facedown on the sidewalk surrounded by four officers, Garner is heard repeating "I can't breathe" 11 times. Garner was pronounced dead an hour later at the hospital. —wikipedia

• “The coroner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. He suffered from asthma, and Pantaleo’s chokehold killed him.” —Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

• “Garner’s death is part of a … trend: The ‘broken windows’ theory of policing, which holds that cracking down on minor, nuisance offenses — such as selling loose cigarettes — is key to reducing serious crime.'"—Eugene Robinson

President Obama in Rosa Parks' seat on the historic Cleveland bus

President Obama in Rosa Parks' seat on the historic Cleveland bus

• President Obama has refrained from direct comments about the merits of the Eric Garner and Micheal Brown (Ferguson) legal cases, but endorses Attorney General Eric Holder's civil rights investigation into Garner's death. 

• "I'm being pretty explicit about my concern ... about the fact that this is a systemic problem … I’ll leave it for people to speculate on what I’m saying to myself or Michelle when we’re alone at night.” —President Obama, 12.8.14

• Watch 60-second video below: George W. Bush, Joe Scarborough and Charles Krautheimer agree the Garner tape is persuasive:

• “Only 1 in 20 white (police) officers believe that blacks and other minorities receive unequal treatment from the police. But 57 percent of black officers are convinced the treatment of minorities is unfair.” —David Brooks, New York Times

• Below: CBS News poll Dec. 2014:

• In the absence of official statistics, it is estimated there are as many as 1,000 police killings in the U.S. each year — compared to no fatal police shootings in Great Britain last year and only eight in Germany over the last two years. Canada, with its own frontier ethos and no great aversion to firearms, averages only a dozen police shootings a year. —Eugene Robinson (paraphrased)

The Illusion of Multitasking

• “Multi-taskers often think they are like gym rats, bulking up their ability to juggle tasks, when in fact they are like alcoholics, degrading their abilities through over-consumption.” —Clay Shirky

• “Fucking two things up at the same time isn't multitasking” —Dick Masterson

• “The heaviest multitaskers — those who invariably said they could focus like laser beams whenever they wanted — were terrible at various cognitive chores such as organizing information, switching between tasks and discerning significance.” —Clifford Nass, Stanford Univ.

New Yorker image

New Yorker image

• (Multitaskers are) “suckers for irrelevancy. Everything distracts them. They’re living and writing in a staccato world.” —Clifford Nass

• “We could essentially be undermining the thinking ability of our society. We could essentially be dumbing down the world.” —Clifford Nass

• (Researchers) “demonstrated that drivers using cell phones—even hands-free devices—were at just as high a risk of accidents as intoxicated ones.” —Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker

• “There is a tiny but persistent subset of the population—about two per cent—whose performance does not deteriorate, and can even improve, when multiple demands are placed on their attention. The supertaskers are true outliers.” —David Strayer paraphrased by Maria Konnilova

• "The flip side, of course, is that, for the ninety-seven and a half per cent of us who don’t share the requisite genetic predisposition, no amount of practice will make us into supertasking stars." —David Strayer paraphrased by Maria Konnilova

• "I can't do anything at once." —R. Chimes

• “Juggling is an illusion. ... In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. ... It is actually task switching.” —Gary Keller

• “When we think we're multitasking we're actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing - quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we're being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we're simply giving ourselves extra work.” —Michael Harris

• “Do three things well, not ten things badly.” —David Segrove

• Above: Typical corporate overachiever in full multitasking mode Art by Heroes of Might and Magic V

• Above: Typical corporate overachiever in full multitasking mode

Art by Heroes of Might and Magic V

C.S.I. Thanksgiving

• “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” —W. Clement Stone

• “My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.” —Phyllis Diller


• “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” —Willie Nelson

• “We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack." —Arthur Schopenhauer

• “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” —William Arthur Ward

• “I say we all take the pledge and stay home. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for what you have, not to save a few dollars to get more.” —Regina Brett

• “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.” —Jon Stewart

• Below: Time-lapse of American seizure of indigenous land, 1776-1887. Betweeen 1776 and 1887, the U.S. seized over 1.5 billion acres, an eighth of the world, from America’s indigenous people by treaty and executive order.  Video concludes with a map of current Indian reservations. (Previously featured in Fizzdom, July 4, 2014.)

Bruce McCall

Bruce McCall

Privacy Means Bupkis These Days

• “Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn't be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet.” —Gary Kovacs, Former CEO, Mozilla

• “I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” —Eric Schmidt

• “Anytime Facebook wants to change how it might use all that data about you, in any way, across any service it has within the Facebook ecosystem, all it has to do is change one privacy policy, tell you about it, and that's that.” —John Battelle, Tech journalist

• "Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds." —John Perry Barlow, Writer/Activist

• "Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?" —Al Gore

• "It's become something of a ritual - every year, Google publishes its year-end summary of what the world wants, and every year I complain about how shallow it is, given what Google really knows about what the world is up to." —John Battelle

 “"Eric Schmidt likes to point out that if you recorded all human communication from the dawn of time to 2003, it takes up about five billion gigabytes of storage space. Now (2012) we're creating that much data every two days.” —Eli Pariser 

Why Be Normal?

• Richard, to his imaginatively-dysfunctional family: "Oh my God. I'm getting pulled over. Everyone, just ...  pretend to be normal."

• Richard, to his imaginatively-dysfunctional family:
"Oh my God. I'm getting pulled over. Everyone, just ... 
pretend to be normal."

• “Normal is in the eye of the beholder.” —Whoopi Goldberg

• “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” —Albert Camus

• “Maybe your weird is my normal. Who's to say?” —Nicki Minaj

• “I don’t think anyone has a normal family.” —Edward Furlong

• “The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well.” —Alfred Adler

• “How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?” —Oscar Wilde

• “I feel 80% of my life is completely normal.” —J. K. Rowling

• “Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.” —Sigmund Freud
• “Sometimes I think, 'Why couldn't I have been normal?’” —Demi Lovato

• “You use your money to buy privacy because during most of your life you aren't allowed to be normal.” —Johnny Depp
• “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” —H. L. Mencken

• “I’m just another douche-bag with a job and three pairs of Dockers.” —Saul Goodman, Walter White’s lawyer in “Breaking Bad”

• “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” —Ellen Goodman

Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.” —Jodie Foster

• “What is normal? That's just a story that we tell ourselves.” —Matthew Quick

• Actual quote from “Mother’s Night”: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

• Actual quote from “Mother’s Night”: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

• Below: Trailer for "Little Miss Sunshine" 
2:29; Writer: Michael Arndt; Co-Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

• Fans of "Little Miss Sunshine" may be interested this study of the film's characters and dysfunctional roles by a Swedish film student (gets interesting at page 17+):

Calvin, Hobbes & Mitch McConnell

    Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Majority Leader as of January 2015     Washington Post 11.4.14

    Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Majority Leader as of January 2015     Washington Post 11.4.14

Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

• "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."  —H.L. Mencken

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

• “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” —George Carlin

• “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” —wall poster by Despair, inc. 

Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

• “Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?” —Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Watterson

• “Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.” —Albert Camus

Political Warning Signs political warning signs politics boehner mcdonnell election republicans

Mid-term prognostications courtesy of Andy Borowitz/The Borowitz Report/New Yorker 10.29.14:

• With just one week to go until the midterm elections, a new poll indicates that billionaires are likely to retain control of the United States government.

• Davis Logsdon, who supervised the poll for the University of Minnesota, said that next Tuesday should be “a big night for oligarchs” and that both houses of Congress can be expected to grovel at the feet of their money-gushing paymasters for at least the next two years.

• Calling the billionaires’ upcoming electoral romp “historic,” Logsdon said, “We have not seen the super-rich maintain such a vise-like grip on the government since the days immediately preceding the French Revolution.”

Mid-term prognostications courtesy of 10.26.14

"What will the GOP Senate do?

  • According to forecasts, the Republicans have about a 68 percent chance of retaking the Senate.
    [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The case that it'll amount to absolutely nothing: "The political roadblocks that have made legislating all but impossible during Obama’s second term aren’t going away. The 114th Congress will probably look a lot like the 113th."
    [New Republic / Danny Vinik]
  • The case that it'll amount to something: "There's one big thing that changes the moment Republicans win Senate: nominations."
    [Vox / Ezra Klein]
  • The House's #2 Republican, Kevin McCarthy, wants to start before the GOP Senate's even in office: "He would like to use the lame-duck session to pass a long-term government-funding bill, so Washington can begin focusing on big-picture legislating, instead of just trying to keep government’s doors open."
    [Politico / Jake Sherman]
  • But Ramesh Ponnuru thinks that's nuts: "McCarthy will be asking Republicans to give up some of their control over the budget in that period by working with a Democratic Senate that's on its way out. Does that sound like something that conservatives in Congress will meekly accept?"
    [Bloomberg / Ramesh Ponnuru]
  • Jon Chait is doubtful: "As the Senate majority leader in 2005, McConnell himself threatened to eliminate the judicial filibuster when Democrats started blocking George W. Bush’s federal court picks."
    [NY Mag / Jonathan Chait]

  •  Meanwhile, anonymous Democrats are worried the GOP will lock up the House for the rest of the decade: "if the Republicans pick up 10 seats or more, then we will have no chance of getting the House back in 2016, and that means we are done until 2020."[Financial Times / Richard McGregor]"

(Thx Jim Palam for "Enough Already" no-bull signage)

Scary-As-Hell Creatures

Above: “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park” (1962) by Diane Arbus. In 2005 an original print of the photograph sold for $408,000.

Above: “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park” (1962) by Diane Arbus. In 2005 an original print of the photograph sold for $408,000.



• Below: For Trick or Treaters who fail to wear an actual costume, are over 16, or fail to say "Thank you" or "No problem."

Source: unknown from tumblr

Source: unknown from tumblr photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder