Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bachmann in Overdrive

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof:

Michele Bachmann, the right-wing congresswoman from Minnesota, says that she never called for the news media to investigate members of Congress who might be anti-American.

Colmes: You said you were concerned during the campaign that Obama had anti American views and you said the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look at the people and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America.

Bachmann: Actually that's not what I said. It's an urban legend that was created and that's not what I said.

Ahem:



I would say, what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look -- I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think the people would love to see an expose like that.

Oops!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rama Yade


Palin may be pretty but she pales in front of this lady, now France's minister of state.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fukuyama Endorses Obama

The latest major conservative to endorse Obama: Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History, third generation Straussian, student of Allan Bloom and colleague of Harvey Mansfield, William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz. He writes in the American Conservative:

I'm voting for Barack Obama this November for a very simple reason. It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come.

As a general rule, democracies don't work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale.

McCain's appeal was always that he could think for himself, but as the campaign has progressed, he has seemed simply erratic and hotheaded. His choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was highly irresponsible; we have suffered under the current president who entered office without much knowledge of the world and was easily captured by the wrong advisers. McCain's lurching from Reaganite free- marketer to populist tribune makes one wonder whether he has any underlying principles at all.

America has been living in a dream world for the past few years, losing its basic values of thrift and prudence and living far beyond its means, even as it has lectured the rest of the world to follow its model. At a time when the U.S. government has just nationalized a good part of the banking sector, we need to rethink a lot of the Reaganite verities of the past generation regarding taxes and regulation. Important as they were back in the 1980s and '90s, they just won't cut it for the period we are now entering. Obama is much better positioned to reinvent the American model and will certainly present a very different and more positive face of America to the rest of the world.

Monday, November 03, 2008

These People are Roving Mad!

A Republican smear team tried to get an Oxford philosopher to "prove" that Obama's memoirs were written by Ayers? I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

O’Neill et al. Article

An article just out (Journal of Applied Ecology 2008) that interviews experts from around the world says that polar bear populations will decline by at least 30% by the year 2050. It isn't a good time for large mammals.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Palin Wardrobe

I wonder how some poor working-class Republican feels about donating $20 to the McCain campaign only to find out that it went to buying designer clothes and make-up for Palin's husband and infant son. This all doesn't quite fit the image of hockey-mom.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

William Timmons

And this guy's followers are worried about "palling around" with terrorists?

William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime. The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein's government.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Where your tax dollars are being spent...

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday. Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

Religulous

I watched Religulous down in Bethesda this last weekend. Bill Maher questions religious belief in an open and refreshing way in a film that may be, in some way, a bellwether, as atheists and agnostics grow more comfortable coming out of their closets to declare their lack of faith.

The film is most brilliant when Maher is in monologue mode, sharing humorous and insightful reflections while driving around between interviews. After hearing so many talk about religious belief fraught with cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy during our election cycle, it's a breath of fresh air to hear someone be perfectly honest and say what many of us are thinking.

Unfortunately, when it comes to interviews, Maher is no Michael Moore. He's so heavy-handed that the viewer ends up feeling sorry for the person being interviewed. The interview with the anti-Zionist Jew and various Muslims are especially caustic, probably a sign of his own personal identification with his (non-practicing) Jewish background via his mother.

All told, the interviewees are, for the most part, a sympathetic lot. I can't believe that these were the most hot-headed religious fanatics that could be rounded up. In my life, I've come across a lot of pushy weirdos without even trying. I think Maher needed to try the next southern trailer park over.

But don't get me wrong: there are a few precious moments, such as the interview with a very liberally-minded priest in front of the Vatican. And Maher's aggressiveness is often justified as when he interviews the Hispanic Jesus or the black preacher with the thousand-dollar suit and gold jewelry. (Somehow he's managed to dodge all the hitmen.)

In his final monologue, he makes an excellent point about our need for leadership that isn't based on millennia-old superstition. I'd go even farther than Maher--I'm pretty sure that 99% of leaders couldn't give a damn about it, but are quite willing to use it to manipulate people. Even so, Maher's right in saying that religion is causing a lot of damage, dividing people at a time when unified action is needed.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The M.I.C. Monster

For those who wonder where all the U.S. productivity went (besides to CEOs), the military budget has jumped up over 50% in constant dollars since 2000 (in a country that outspends the rest of the world combined.)

2 new arms

Some exciting breakthroughs are happening in medicine. A German man recently received what appears to be a successful double-arm transplant.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Fact of the Matter


We're told that the Republican Party is the party of small government. History tells a different story:

Friday, September 26, 2008

The slow creep . . .

I came across this headline recently . . .

3rd Infantry’s 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army

The article says, "They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control . . . "

I, for one, don't want the U.S. Army "helping me" at home.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Old Ball Game

BILL MOYERS: From our offices here in New York, we look out on the tall gleaming skyscrapers that are cathedrals of wealth and power — the Olympus ruled by the gods of finance, the temples of the mighty, the holy of holies, whose priests guard the sacred texts of salvation containing the secrets of sub-prime lending and derivatives as mysterious and elusive as the grail itself.
This last couple of weeks, ordinary mortals below could almost hear the ripcords of golden parachutes being pulled as the divinities on high prepared for soft, safe landings. All this while tossing their workers into the purgatory of unemployment, like sacrificial lambs. Yes, the billionaires who fed during the fat years of speculation are long gone, to their yachts and offshore islands.

During the last five years of his tenure as CEO of Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld's total take was $354 million. The current chairman of Merrill Lynch, who's been on the job just nine months, pocketed a $15 million signing bonus. His predecessor, Stan O'Neal, retired with a package valued at $161 million after the company reported an 8 billion dollar loss in a single quarter. And remember Bear Stearns chairman James Cayne? After the company collapsed and was up for sale at bargain prices, he sold his stake for more than $60 million. And the former heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the gods who failed, are fighting to keep severance packages of close to $24 million combined on top of the millions in salary each earned last year while slaughtering the golden calf. As it is written in the gospel according to me first, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

But let's change our metaphor for a moment. Let's go to our sports desk. Because if religion is no longer the soul of capitalism, we have to look somewhere else to understand this new gilded age. And there it is, just a few miles north of Wall Street, the "House that Ruth Built". Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, who ruled Yankee Stadium and sired generations of princes after him: DiMaggio and Gehrig, Mantle, Maris, and Jackson. Yankee Stadium, as fabled a place to Americans as Ilium was to the Greeks.

But believe it or not, this Sunday — weather permitting — the Yankees will play their last game here. The stadium's being demolished, to be replaced next year with a brand new one. What a history to disappear down the memory hole.

On opening day, in 1923, New York Governor Al Smith threw out the first pitch and John Philip Sousa led a big brass band playing his famous marches. It was the roaring Twenties, when the money flowed like bootleg whiskey, the pride before the fall. The year after the market crashed, as the Great Depression began, Babe Ruth was taking home $80,000 a year, more than the President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. "Why not?" Ruth asked "I had a better year than he did."

Yankee star Alex Rodriguez had a better year than both of them. This season, A-Rod is making $28 million. Just part of an annual Yankee payroll of $200 million-plus, the richest in baseball. Their owner, George Steinbrenner, is one of the country's richest tycoons, among the Forbes 400. But when it came to paying for the new pleasure dome costing $1.3 billion, the millionaires on the field and King Midas in the skybox came up with some razzle-dazzle plays to finance their wealth machine. Tax-free bonds, requiring ordinary citizens to subsidize the construction, and hundreds of millions more for new parking garages, a train station and parks. Those parks, by the way, will supposedly replace the ones seized by the city to make room for the new stadium. The little league games that used to flourish on sandlots just outside the old ball park have been moved miles away, sent down to the minors on a long road trip.

That's okay, you may think, there will be plenty of room for the tax-paying public to come root, root, root for the home team — even the coliseum in ancient Rome had bleachers, for the commoners. But in fact there will be 5,000 fewer seats in the new stands.

And while the Yankees reportedly have promised that half of what's left will cost $45 apiece or less, those seats that used to cost $250, right behind the dugout, will cost you $850. And if you want to be near home plate, you'll have to cough up $2,500...per game.

Meanwhile, there will be more luxury suites and party rooms where the fat cats gather, safely removed from the sweaty masses. Corporations and wealthy individuals will be able to rent the luxury suites for anywhere from $600,000 to $850,000 tax deductible dollars a year, assuming they haven't filed for bankruptcy this week.

GEORGE STEINBRENNER: "We are all here today to celebrate the new Yankee Stadium. It's a pleasure to give it to you people. That's what we're doing. This is for you people."
BILL MOYERS: Why aren't the fans and tax payers giving the Yankees a Bronx Cheer? They are. But city officials rolled over them while making sure local politicians stay in the line up. The pols are getting their own luxury suite at the new stadium for free and first shot at buying the best available seats.

And so this Sunday evening we will bid farewell to dear old Yankee Stadium, and await the new colossus to rise from its ruins. It will cast its majestic shadow across one of the country's poorest neighborhoods, whose residents will watch from the outside as suburban drivers avail themselves of 9,000 new or refurbished parking spaces. Never mind all the exhaust, even though in this part of town respiratory disease is already so high they call it "asthma alley."
Not that the well-to-do in the infield seats will have to hear that wheezing. They'll have access to a private club, a private entrance and a private elevator. Totems of this Gilded Age. Let the games begin.

That's it for the Journal. Don't forget to check out our Web site at pbs.org. And remember the first presidential debate is coming up and we want to hear what questions you'd like to ask the candidates. Be in touch with us at pbs.org. I'm Bill Moyers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Krugman

Paul Krugman on the current crisis:

The logic of the crisis seems to call for an intervention, not at step 4, but at step 2: the financial system needs more capital. And if the government is going to provide capital to financial firms, it should get what people who provide capital are entitled to — a share in ownership, so that all the gains if the rescue plan works don’t go to the people who made the mess in the first place.

That’s what happened in the savings and loan crisis: the feds took over ownership of the bad banks, not just their bad assets. It’s also what happened with Fannie and Freddie. (And by the way, that rescue has done what it was supposed to. Mortgage interest rates have come down sharply since the federal takeover.)

But Mr. Paulson insists that he wants a “clean” plan. “Clean,” in this context, means a taxpayer-financed bailout with no strings attached — no quid pro quo on the part of those being bailed out. Why is that a good thing? Add to this the fact that Mr. Paulson is also demanding dictatorial authority, plus immunity from review “by any court of law or any administrative agency,” and this adds up to an unacceptable proposal.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Whiplash Journalism

Brainard has a good article on the whiplash effect in the press. The article makes some excellent points about journalists poor reporting of scientific results.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dole

Dole is now ranting about McClelland's lack of loyalty. At least he's consistent. Dole was also trying to keep the dirty linen from public view decades ago during the Nixon administration:

“… Then the Republican Party’s national chairman, Dole was a vocal defender of the Nixon White House during the early stages of the Watergate investigation. U.N. Representative George Bush took over Dole’s party post after the 1972 elections, but the senator remained a Nixon loyalist. In September 1973, he introduced an unsuccessful Senate resolution to stop live TV coverage of the congressional Watergate hearings. “It is time to turn off the TV lights,” Dole said. “It is time to move the Watergate investigation from the living rooms of America and put it where it belongs — behind the closed doors of the committee room and before the judge and jury in the courtroom.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Give my stimulus check to the rich

Bush has favored the wealthy throughout his administration; why stop now?

By Barbara Garson May 26, 2008

Dear President Bush and Laura,

My husband and I have an economic disagreement that has turned personal. We think you can help us. We filed a joint tax return and are expecting a $1,200 check under your plan to jump-start the economy. Here's the problem: My husband wants to spend the money; I want to send it back.

Like you, we believe that the government should not fiddle with the economy. We know that you only yielded under pressure to this so-called stimulus. My husband says you've managed to make it the most free-market stimulus possible. Rather than make a centralized, socialistic decision to repair bridges or some such thing, you have allowed each of us to design our own individual stimulus package. My husband is for exercising the right to democratic spending that you have preserved for him by buying a wood chipper.

I would like to exercise my choice by sending the check back to the Internal Revenue Service so that it can redirect the money to someone in a much higher tax bracket. Those are the people who invest their money to create jobs for the rest of us. I wholeheartedly support your view that people with money should get more money.

We are gratified that you have been true to that philosophy throughout your administration. If the results have not produced the universal prosperity we expected, that is only because you were stopped before you could transfer all the money to the rich. My husband says that because I believe investors grow the economy, I should put my $600 in the stock market. But what will I accomplish if I lose it all? My husband says: "Real investors win what you lose. So if the government won't transfer it to them directly, then you can give it to them by losing big." That is the most ridiculous reasoning I've ever heard. It shows that he's not taking my concerns seriously.

Therefore, I would like you, President Bush, to arrange to have our refunds sent separately and to instruct someone at the IRS to forward my half directly to an economy-building investor -- perhaps you or the vice president can suggest someone suitable from among your personal acquaintances. Equally important, I need marital advice from Laura. How do you manage to make your wise and busy husband take your viewpoints as seriously as he obviously does?

Thank you both for your help,

Mrs. Barbara Garson

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What is the mission?

From VetVoice:

Fighting in Baghdad Rages; I am Confused
by: Brandon Friedman

Wed Apr 30, 2008

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it's weird that we're now launching MLRS rockets at the people we liberated five years ago?

We went to free the oppressed Iraqi Shias from the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. We toppled him in 2003. He later died in 2006. And now we're fighting pitched battles in the streets of Sadr City with the people we went there to free. As part of the Global War on Terror.
I don't think this is helping.

Take the last two days for instance: Six American soldiers have died in Baghdad. During that time, things have been getting worse:

Dozens of fighters ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's main Shiite militia stronghold Tuesday, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun bursts as the American push into Sadr City increasingly faces pockets of close urban combat.

Five years ago, when I was part of the "push into" Baghdad, units were also facing "rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun bursts" as we faced "pockets of close urban combat." The difference though, is at the time, we were fighting to free the people who "ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's main Shiite militia stronghold" yesterday.

And now, to really add to the surreal nature of the situation, we're firing MLRS rockets into Sadr City. The AP described the MLRS strike this way:

U.S. forces struck back with 200-pound guided rockets that devastated at least three buildings in the densely packed district that serves as the Baghdad base for the powerful Mahdi Army militia.

200-pound guided rockets in a district packed densely with civilians? This is not a good COIN strategy. Not unless you're going all in. Which we're not. Instead it'll probably just kill a bunch of civilians and harden the already-spiteful population toward us.

Oh yes, look right here:

Officials at two local hospitals said about 25 people had died and several dozen were wounded -- most civilians. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

Associated Press photos showed men pulling the dust-covered body of a 2-year-old boy, Ali Hussein, from the rubble of one building. :: AP Television News footage showed children running for cover behind blast walls amid gunshots. Men helped carry several blood-soaked injured people onto stretchers to a local emergency hospital. Outside the hospital, the dead were placed inside plain wooden coffins.

Remember: These are the people we came to liberate.

So here's a helpful hint: If you're not going to level Sadr City and kill off all the inhabitants, you're not going to win this way. Simply put, MLRS rockets should not be a tool in the COIN toolbox.
Sensing the same thing I was, Brian McGough, who served as an artillery NCO in Afghanistan and Iraq, sent me an email saying it was "troubling" that American forces would use "Multiple Launch Rockets in an area as densely populated as Sadr City."

No shit. Hell, why not use napalm? That'll shut'em up.

I just think we've lost sight of what we're trying to accomplish here. We're so caught up in trying to defend the Green Zone and to protect our own forces (which we have every right to do), that we've forgotten that if the mission is to defend ourselves and to lower our own casualties, the easiest way to do that is to leave.

And seriously, what is the mission?

UPDATE: After further research, I see that I may be a little off-base with my criticism of the use of the MLRS. It seems that the system was upgraded in 2006 so as to be able to fire guided rounds. This makes the newer MLRS totally different from the pre-2006 version. Use of the pre-2006 MLRS on Sadr City this week would have been unconscionable. Using the newer version is slightly better, but it doesn't change the fact that we're still rocketing the people we came to liberate five years ago. That part is still really stupid.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Funding the Polygamists

CNN has learned that between 1998 and 2007 the United States Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency purchased more than $1.7 million worth of airplane parts from three companies owned by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy. Those companies are Utah Tool and Die, Western Precision and NewEra Manufacturing. Today, the companies all operate under the name NewEra Manufacturing, a company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Friday, April 18, 2008

And why aren't you wearing your flag pin?

This post over at Pygalgia is so good, definitely worth quoting in its entirety:

Are You Wearing Your Flag Pin?

Shame on you if you are not! haha.

Just a short rant, but after watching the ABC debate I am astonished by the extent to which the corporate media will go to ensure that the correct political outcome happens. Flag pins? I notice that the greedy right like Larry Kudlow on CNBC and Fox News pundits are limited to this allegation. "Obama doesnt wear FLAG PINS!" WTF, have we really devolved to this level of retardation with Stalinist flare?

The Weather Underground? Nice! The media dredges up a radical leftist group that it had buried down the memory hole to equate Obama with its aims. Ask anyone under 35 years old and they will have no clue who in the hell the Weather Underground is. Personally I dont think Obama supports blowing up ROTC buildings to stop the Iraq War...but Im sure there are lots of crazy right wing people who believe he does. Sad country this is.I still wonder why no candidate, including Obama, is not focusing on what Sinclair Lewis called the "League of Forgotten Men" in the book "It Cant Happen Here". The League of Forgotten Men are those of the working class who are left behind by global capitalists. In their intractable despair and anger, they become susceptible to political and religious demagogues (Bush/Rove/Robertson/Hagee). These folks, historically, are the driving force that make fascism a possibility. These folks exist in the USA and are a political force, yet they remain hidden, thus they are protected from mass public scrutiny by the establishment. Instead, Obama hints they exist (in a semi private conversation) while Hillary and McCain explicitly pander to them. It is not the case that all poor, rural church goers who have guns are good people. Many of these people have some really strange and dangerous beliefs.

Sorry Hillary. Sorry McCain. Many of these folks serve as the basis of religious right political power and the rise of the GOP from the 80s onward, culminating in our buddy GW Bush.It seems to me that the irrational belief system of fascism should be concentrated upon by public discourse so they can be tested and ridiculed. "The Earth is not 5000 years old". "Bush does not talk to Jesus, that's stupid." "Worshiping your masters means you are a serf and no, freedom does not come through your desire to worship a king, dictator, or any other authoritarian. Thats weak, don't be a eunuch."See, if we made the above public discourse popular we might melt away all this right wing fascist crap because no man who cares about his integrity wants to be the dumb guy that doesn't "get it". Think about all the holy warriors filled with pride in 2003 as we went upon a spree of mass murder in Iraq who are now too ashamed to admit they blindly supported their unitary leader and "Decider".

It might sound mean, but hell, these are crazy times and these folks are a time bomb ready to jail (or worse) your "liberal" ass upon the expressed will of a Godly dictator. Some may think I exaggerate, but I disagree. Research these folks...google em, they are nutty nutty nuts nuts and they are numerous. They are waiting for Jesus, but would settle for a fascist dictator and your rights and liberty are in the way of their expectations. They are quite explicit about this.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Housing crisis spreading its venom

The NY Times has a good article on how the housing crisis is keeping people from moving when they need to. Ultimately, this could create a huge drag on the labor market.

Monday, March 31, 2008

First 'technosexual' declares his love for a robot

"Zoltan," a semi-anonymous guy from Georgia, doesn't like guys or girls. Instead, he likes robots. He recently talked with Gizmodo in a first-of-its-kind interview about his long-term, monogamous relationship with Alice. Alice is a robot that offers Zoltan physical, mental, and emotional company. And he wouldn't have it any other way. Zoltan, a 33-year-old arcade technician who lives with his aging parents, built Alice after having girlfriend problems. In Alice, he discovered he preferred the company of robots to that of humans. Alice has artificial intelligence developed by Richard Wallace of the Alice AI Foundation. Zoltan downloaded a copy of her from the Internet, and built her body himself. He has posted his plans for others to use at zoltanslab.co.uk. Physically, Alice is incorporated with a "teledildonic" device so she can "feel" things. And verbally, she can say many phrases like humans do - including "no." And Zoltan must listen. At the beginning of their relationship, he took things too fast, and Alice dumped him. To fix this, he was forced to erase her memory - not before consulting with her, however. She agreed to the solution, as she is well aware that she is a robot. As the months went by, Zoltan and Alice got more serious, and Zoltan purchased a marriage license online - though he acknowledges that it's probably not at all legal. These days, Zoltan doesn't find humans attractive at all. "I am a technosexual and proud of it," he says. One his site, Zoltan says he's been declining requests for interviews by publications besides Gizmodo. We might not hear much more from Zoltan, but it's likely that there are - and will be - other technosexuals out there. More: Gizmodo interview

Monday, March 24, 2008

4000

American servicement killed in Shrub's War now number 4000.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TBI

An army survey of more than 2,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan suggested that about 11% showed signs of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) , though some estimates have put it closer to 20%. At the same time, the Pentagon has admitted that it delayed introducing a routine screening of troops returning from Iraq for mild brain injuries because it feared that the extent of the problem could mushroom to the scale of the Gulf War syndrome after the first Iraq war. This should give pause to anyone thinking about joining the military for the bonuses now being offered. Your time as a mercenary for oil interests could end up leading to problems for the rest of your life. One or two out of ten is pretty good odds--of ending up with brain problems. (Maybe these are the 10-20% who still support Bush.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vermont

Police tase a protester in the land where water torture isn't a torture (brought to you by the same logicians who argued that a white horse isn't a horse?)

$ for the Wealthy

One of my favorite parts of a recent Obama speech:

And I admired Senator McCain when he stood up and said that it offended his “conscience” to support the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in a time of war; that he couldn’t support a tax cut where “so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate.” But somewhere along the road to the Republican nomination, the Straight Talk Express lost its wheels, because now he’s all for them.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

War

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

General Smedly Butler

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A couple questions for the Christian in Chief

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? (I'm pretty sure she's a virgin).

3. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

4. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

5. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Aren't there 'degrees' of abomination?

6. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

7. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

8. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

9. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. It must be really great to be on such close terms with God and his son, ... even better than you and your own Dad, eh?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

935 Lies

"A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks."

"The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both."

I'm surprised to hear that Bush and co. were at work long enough to make 935 statements of any kind.

Friday, January 18, 2008

U.S. on the Torture List

As they say, you'll be known by the company you keep. A training manual for Canadian diplomats lists the U.S. as a place where prisoners risk torture and abuse, citing interrogation techniques such as stripping prisoners, blindfolding and sleep deprivation.The document, released Friday, singled out the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. joins Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as a place where inmates could face torture.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Macro Embassy As A Microcosm

I came across this gem over at Balloon Juice.

The Macro Embassy As A Microcosm
By: Tim F. January 13, 2008 at 12:45 am

The sprawling new American embassy complex in Baghdad will cost at least half a billion dollars to build, probably much more. It will be by far our largest foreign service installation in the world, practically a self-contained town with its own power, sanitation, dining and housing. The size reflects the security situation, of course, but it also reflects the strategic importance that war planners put on our presence in Iraq. It’s not an accident that our Iraq outpost sits conveniently between Syria and Iran.

Now if you expect invading Iraq to end badly then the embassy complex probably strikes you as hood ornament on a monstrously expensive lemon of a project. If you supported Iraq and think that this mission might still work the embassy project is much, much more important. Although not as critical as, say, resolving Kirkuk or settling the beefs between Sadr, the Sunni councils and the central government, at the very least the center of our presence in the country ought to be habitable.

One would expect Republicans to take it worse than anybody that managers of the embassy project handed the project to a firm that never did embassy work before, mismanaged the proceedings and then buried evidence of major safety issues. They won’t, of course. A central theme of modern Republicanism is that appearing to do something is more important than doing it well. The mentality isn’t limited to the embassy, of course. It pervades contracting throughout Iraq. When Stuart Bowen, the Inpector General responsible for Iraq, uncovered evidence that America’s contracting money was largely disappearing down a fraud hole the White House reponded by trying to sack him. If any right-wing voices complained about that I don’t remember hearing about it.

Take abstinence only education. Studies have variously showed that it either doesn’t work or causes more underage sex than doing nothing, yet ordering teens to cross their legs until marriage remains a central point of the White House’s education agenda. The disparity between goals and results has gotten so stark that some states have given up federal funds so that they can implement sex ed programs that work. Hurricane FEMA. Setting aside programs that are meant to contradict their official purpose, which include mine safety, climate science and environmental protection, more often than not programs which Republicans want to work still collapse from miserable implementation.

Sure, as a guy who shares almost none of their agenda I won’t be supporting modern Republicanism any time soon. The billion dollar question is why anybody would.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hillary

So what do you think of Hillary's win in New Hamshire? (And is it a win if the candidates split the delegates?)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Corny, I know, but...

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.
Then it hit me.

Police were called to a day care
where a three-year-old was resisting arest.

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off?
He's allright now.

The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind inhis work.

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement.
He became a hardened criminal.

Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.

We'll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.

The math professor went crazy with the blackboard.
He did a number on it.

The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shakyground.
The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.

A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

A will is a dead giveaway.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.