Sunday, November 25, 2007

Women in Film

A companion piece to the previously posted "Women in Art".

Friday, November 2, 2007

Why Not Dodd?


Translation: Hillary, the most polarizing candidate, is the greatest threat to achieving affordable health care.

The Politics of Parsing

Friday, October 26, 2007

We Know What The Arctic Did Last Summer

This is a NASA satellite timelapse video.


NASA reports: The 2007 Arctic summer sea ice has reached the lowest extent of perennial ice cover on record - nearly 25% less than the previous low set in 2005. The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979, at a rate of about 10% per decade. But the 2007 minimum, reached on September 14, is far below the previous record made in 2005 and is about 38% lower than the climatological average. Such a dramatic loss has implications for ecology, climate and industry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Co-Host of The View Doesn't Know if the World is Round or Flat

You have to see it to believe it. Next up -- a debate on whether gravity keeps TV talk show hostesses from falling into space.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Poor Reasoning to Stay in Iraq

Reason Magazine lives up to it's name:
Whatever its merits as a cost-minimizing tactic in retailing, "you break it, you own it" isn't bad as a cautionary principle in foreign affairs. But as a plan for what to do after you've ignored the warning, it's worse than useless. As Gen. David Petraeus' recent congressional testimony confirmed, the reason not to go in has become the rationale for staying indefinitely.

Read the entire, short piece.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Dems Cave Again

A friend of my sister writes this email:
Subject: an opinion from the Democratic Underground
I tend to look at these things in context, and the context is just as crappy as this one vote.

We watched the Dems cave time and time again, even when we were SURE that the stakes were too high to back down.
We got Alito this way
We got Roberts this way
We got the Patriot Act this way
We got the Iraq War this way
We got those three right wing freako judges this way
We lost the torture bill this way
We let Rice, Gonzales, Ashcroft, etc. get into office this way
We gave tax cuts to the rich this way

And it looks like many of these investigations are just going to result in meaningless reports. Plus we seem to have given the WH carte blanche to ignore our subpeonas.

So this capitulation is emblematic of years and years of capitulations....and it seems to me that a reasonable person in the context of all of the examples above (plus this incident) would presume that the next year and a half will be the same. That is what irks me the most.

And I agree that this will surely embolden the boy emperor. Today NPR announced that he thanked Congress for the bill as he signed it....he THANKED them?

In my final analysis, I know exactly why we have a big problem, and it is always why we have a problem. We have a big tent...so big that a significant portion of our tent votes with the other party while marginalizing the other side of the tent. As long as we have no discipline in the party and tolerance for turncoats, then this scenario will continue to happen no matter what majority we have. Nearly 50% of our Senators are DLC, and a significant portion of the House is DLC or blue dog. They are to the right of party supporters and they are to the right of the American people on this issue, and because we tolerate them, they hold all of the cards.

How would I stop the war? (because that is what the inevitable next question will be) By fighting, of course. Sound off like they have a pair (of something). Invite the American people into Democratically-sponsored protest marches and vociferously demand airtime to get the message out. Cut off the funds for the war and only release earmarked funds for a withdrawal. If he vetos it, fine....proceed further with the investigations and start impeachment proceedings on Gonzales and Cheney with impeachment for Bush "on the table". Send out bulldog Democratic pundits and fire the entire Democratic punditry (and campaign advisors) that is in place.

Send out packets describing the fight within the Democratic party to our ardent supporters. Inform them as to what their party truly consists of and why there "never is a plan".

But for god sakes....no more lying down. No more capitaulting, and no more treating Bush like he is our President or would ever act in good faith. Adhering to his rigged system is a fool's game.

At least the writer has more fight left in him than I do. I myself have given up hope. Not just for the Dems, but in general, as a principle. There are good reasons for doing so. I encourage you to read this bit of original, counter intuitive thinking called Beyond Hope.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The God Test

Which God or Goddess are you like?
Your Result: Jesus
 

You are God's lovechild. You love all and most love you. You help those who need it, and those too. The girls all chase you, and some boys too. You love to have fun, but you keep a serious life of working as well.Congratulations!! You are Christ!!

Budha
 
The Christian God
 
Goddess Sekhemet
 
God Zeus
 
Goddess Bast
 
You are your own God or Goddess
 
Satan
 
Which God or Goddess are you like?
Make Your Own Quiz
The above are my results. Take the test yourself here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Just Like a Stroll in an Indiana Farmer's Market


John McCain's little stroll through an Iraqi marketplace has got to be the Mother of all unnatural, ridiculously staged photo ops. The area, having been swept and secured the day before, then seeded with rooftop snipers and surrounded by more than 100 armed U.S. soldiers, the Senator would nevertheless have you believe that it was, as Rep. Mike Pence (one of McCain's three cohorts in this shameless little charade) put it, "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime".

These Republican hacks are either deranged, stupid as a small soapdish, or cynical beyond description. I personally believe it is an unholy combination of all three. In any case, it is manifest evidence of the extent to which they think the American public, the Iraqi populace and the world community are entirely brainless and gullible.

As the old saying goes -- "Don't piss on me and then tell me it's only raining."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Take Off a Little More Shine


The picture of Obama is becoming a bit clearer -- if duller and darker -- as time goes on. This from the AP wires:

Two leading congressional Democrats yesterday said their party would have little realistic choice but to fund U.S. forces in Iraq without withdrawal timelines if President Bush vetoes a war-spending bill as promised.

"I think that nobody wants to play chicken with our troops on the ground," said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. "Obviously we're constrained by the fact that a commander in chief who also has veto power has the option of ignoring that position," Mr. Obama, a 2008 presidential contender, said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Compare and contrast with this statement from Reid and Feingold regarding their newly introduced bill calling for a defunding of the war and a timeline certain.

U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced today that they are introducing legislation that will effectively end the current military mission in Iraq and begin the redeployment of U.S. forces. The bill requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq 120 days from enactment, as required by the emergency supplemental spending bill the Senate passed last week. The bill ends funding for the war, with three narrow exceptions, effective March 31, 2008.

“Congress has a responsibility to end a war that is opposed by the American people and is undermining our national security." Feingold said. "By ending funding for the President’s failed Iraq policy, our bill requires the President to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq.”
Should Obama be the Democrat leading us out of this war rather than giving up and giving in to Bush's threatened veto?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Take a Little Shine off the Golden Boy


Barrack's response to Larry King when asked about whether his campaign was responsible for the Vote Different video:
"Frankly, given what it looks like, we don't have the technical capacity to create something like this... "It's pretty extraordinary."
Of course, this is either total, mendacious bullshit, or even more alarmingly, lack of imagination and total detachment from 21st century digital technology. (The video was created in one afternoon on a personal computer) I suspect the former because the man is not a dunce. If the latter, then one must ask "Is this the man we want as leader of the most technically advanced country in the world, with all the inherent issues therein, global warming, etc. And do we want a technical illiterate as commander in chief of the most technologically advanced military in the history of the world?"

And while we're dealing in bad answers, let's go back a couple of weeks to Obama's first two responses to General Pace's statement that homosexuality is immoral:
1: "I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That's probably a good tradition to follow."
2: "I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country, should they be able to if they're doing all the things that should be done."
Of course, Hillary's immediate response was no better, which is not saying much:
"Well, I'm going to leave that to others to conclude."
This blog will be tracking these two leading presidential contenders for stupid, dishonest or unprincipled statements and deeds. I expect the Hill to provide plenty enough grist for this mill. But from the O man... I am a bit disappointed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Hero


Sure, it took a senseless and costly war, thousands of suffering Gulf Coast refugees, a national deficit from which we may never recover, the violation of civil rights and the Geneva Conventions, the attempted shredding of the Constitution and installation of a monarchial presidency, loss of precious, hard-earned prestige around the world... well, the list goes on and on. But according to this Pew Research Center report, Karl Rove, with the help of Dick Cheney, working through their mutual sock puppet George W., have succeeded, in just a matter of six short years (although it seems much longer), in creating a dominant liberal, Democratic majority that may last for a generation and beyond.

That is quite an accomplishment. Thank you Karl.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Big Sister


The official Obama campaign did not create, sponsor, or otherwise have anything to do with this video. But that's not really the salient fact. Obama does not control the message. Hillary does not control the message. None of the candidates control the message any longer.

Hillary has been thrust on the mesmerized, distracted, consumerist, American Idol-watching proletariat by the big monied interests that drive the DLC wing of the Democratic party, the Republican party, and big mainstream media. Call it The Establishment... The System... the Military/Industrial/Congressional Complex.

Or call it Big Brother.

Workers of the world, unite! Progressive Democrats, break through!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Worse Than a Hypocrite


Newt Gingrich openly confessed to James Dobson that he had been engaged in an extra-marital affair during the Lewinsky scandal. But he did not confess to being a hypocrite:
“The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge. I drew a line in my mind that said, ‘Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials.”
On a very narrow point, I do agree with Newt. The President of the United States must be held to the rule of law. Despite the questionable nature of the underlying case, perjury and obstruction of justice, especially by a high ranking public official, undermines the basis of the legal system. Does this argument strike a familiar bell in the wake of the Libby verdict?

Bill Clinton did commit perjury before a grand jury and deserved his impeachment. The entire episode was a sorry and unfortunate spectacle, and amid all the moral finger-wagging of the Republicans, it exposed most of them as priggish and self-righteous - and for those who had their own dirty laundry hiding in the closet, as hypocrites. That does not change the fact that Bill should have first kept his dick in his pants and then told the truth under oath. Had he had more character and followed those two simple rules, we most certainly would have had a President Albert A. Gore and not a President George W. Bush.

But although Gingrich drove the Clinton impeachment, the driving force behind him and the Republican party was the Christian Right. It's one thing to preach and espouse your own deeply held morals and principles. It's quite another to espouse the principles of others that you do not hold so dear yourself or even practice in your personal life. That what makes Newt even worse than a hypocrite.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Hillary Is A Phony


This is appalling and idiotic. I am embarrassed for her. Granted, in the first part of the audio, she is quoting a traditional black hymn -- rather broadly and stereotypically I might add. And there is no more reason to do so than there is to use a flowery British accent when quoting Shakespeare. And as for the latter phrases, she is not quoting anybody or anything, but is simply affecting a southern accent for her black audience.

She is a phony, a panderer, a terrible public speaker, a bad Kingfish mimic, a clown and, ultimately, an example of the worst kind of politician.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

FAQ on Iraq


It has always struck me that the press and the public have for the most part settled for Bush's simplistic "They hate us for our freedoms" explanation for the causes of Islamic terrorism. If it's not Bush giving the answers, then it's other Republicans, Democrats or American white men in general. In other words, just about the least qualified people on Earth to answer the question. If you really want an accurate answer, ask some Islamic terrorists. (The same goes for asking partisan hacks why people hate Bush)

So it's about time that somebody put forth the basic facts about what is really going on regarding the nature of the insurgency in Iraq. The title says it best -- The Iraq Insurgency for Beginners. Read it and be educated beyond and above the filter of the uninformed, biased and mendacious politicians, military and government officials.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pelosi: It's So Hard For A Prez To Find Good Help These Days


Speaker Pelosi was on Larry King this evening. I was with her until this exchange.

KING: President Johnson, toward the end of Vietnam, he didn't run for reelection, exhibited extreme torture himself. You see it in all the tapes that have been released, the look on his face. And he died soon after leaving office.

Why do you think this president doesn't appear to exhibit that kind of pain over all this public opinion against?

PELOSI: I think he believes he is on the right course even though the facts on the ground speak to a different reality. And I just don't know, but I don't think he's getting good advice.

Puhleeze. I've heard this excuse made for this sorry example of a decider numerous times. A POTUS can get advise from most any citizen in this country or even the world at the snap of his fingers. If you are a professor or scholar teaching Middle Eastern affairs at the University of Washington, and you are summoned to the White House unexpectedly in the middle of the night because the President wants to consult with you, you wipe the sleep out of your eyes, get dressed and catch the first flight to D.C.

And what was the Iraq Study Group if not one large bi-partisan advisory panel?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hillary's Fantasy Speech


Gary Kamiya over at Salon has penned a wonderful speech that Hillary Clinton might give in a perfect world. In this perfect world, she would be perfectly in tune with her Democratic base as well as with most Independents and even many Republicans. The fact that she never would, and genetically never could, even come close to delivering this speech, is only an indication of how far removed from the truth is the deception she has been living... how far from being honest with her constituents and the electorate she has been. Here is a little taste:

Until now, I have been saying, "If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have voted for it." That is a pathetic evasion. So let me say it clearly and forthrightly. I was wrong to vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq. Like most of my blue-state Democratic colleagues, I voted for the war out of cowardice, for purely self-serving political reasons. I didn't want to appear "soft on terrorism." I knew I was giving an incompetent president surrounded by ideologues with dubious motivations carte blanche to launch an unjustified and incredibly risky war. And I did it to save my own political skin.

Moreover, I knew I was wrong even as I did it. It was the greatest mistake of my life, and I will never stop regretting it. I will feel to my last breath that I bear some share of responsibility for an unjustified war that has become America's greatest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, and has needlessly cost the lives of more than 3,000 American troops and as many as 700,000 Iraqis.

[snip]

For far too long I have been a follower, not a leader, timidly shaping my views to correspond to some imagined political center, some vague sense of a "silent majority." It's the same gutless deference to "Middle America" that caused the media to cave in to Bush's war. Well, I've decided it's time to lead, not follow. The truth is, Middle America is more sensible, and conservative in the traditional sense, than we give it credit for. And it's waiting for someone to tell it the truth.

There are many more big and juicy truths, facts and insights that we will never hear from the mouth of the Senator from New York, even though this knowledge, we sense, must exist in her mind to a great degree. Read the entire thing. It's an eye opener.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bill O'Reilly Finds a Liberal


SEE Bill O'Reilly identify Tammy Bruce as a liberal. LISTEN to Tammy psychoanalyze Bill Maher and the rest of us Bush haters as having unresolved parental issues. HEAR her say Clinton's personal behavior was more destructive to people than Bush's policies. WATCH her claim the attacks on Bush are worse than those against Clinton because Bush critics are without reason.

Why don't news show hosts ask actual Bush haters why they hate Bush? By the same token, why don't they ask actual jihadist terrorists why they hate America instead of asking Republicans? I'm sure you'd get much more accurate answers.

Oh and by the way, DIG Bill Maher telling it like it is!

An Unreasonably Principled Man


Sure, I'm an Obama supporter. He is an attractive, smart guy. Articulate and clean too. But at this point, I have to confess his main attraction for me is mainly as the candidate most likely to slay Hillary before she has a chance to lose in the general election. Should Al Gore toss his hat (or his Oscar statuette or his Nobel Peace Prize) into the ring, I'd jump over to his ship in a heartbeat. But deep down, I'm not really happy about any of it.

This Chris Hedges piece is a brief for arguably the most principled man in politics. And my natural extension, it is also a stark look at our troubled and corrupt system. It is a reminder to me that Democrats look good only by comparison. It confirms to me that there is cause for my general underlaying malaise about the American political process, and a reminder of why I voted for Nader in 2000, and why I have no regrets for doing so.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hillary Can Keep Her Damn Apology


From today's New York Times:
In the end, she settled on language that was similar to Senator John Kerry’s when he was the Democratic nominee in 2004: that if she had known in 2002 what she knows now about Iraqi weaponry, she would never have voted for the Senate resolution authorizing force.

Yet antiwar anger has festered, and yesterday morning Mrs. Clinton rolled out a new response to those demanding contrition: She said she was willing to lose support from voters rather than make an apology she did not believe in.
I myself have no burning desire to hear Hillary apologize for her Iraq vote. She’s had a good four years to do so and she hasn’t yet. It’s far too late now. If it must be forced out of her mouth at this point, it will not have come from her heart. It will just be another political calculation. It will be worthless for those of us who seek leadership, principle and authenticity.

Her Kerryesque "If I knew then" answer to the question of whether her vote as a mistake is inane and grating. There were millions of us who opposed this war from the very beginning, who could see that the administration was lying about WMD, that it was a diversion from going after bin Laden, that it was just a terrible idea to invade and occupy a major nation in the middle of the Muslim Middle East as a response to 9/11, and that it was the wrong way to deal with extremist Islamic terrorism. We protested in the streets and we called and faxed our representatives urging them not to write a blank check for Bush and Cheney -- and they ignored us.

Moreover, many of us were well aware of the "Bush Doctrine" of military preemption, unilateral action, world dominance and hegemony, which he introduced in his commencement speech to the graduating class of West Point on June 1, 2002 and was formally set forth in The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, published on September 20, 2002, well in advance of the Senate's October 11 vote giving Bush his authority to use force against Iraq.

How much warning does a U.S. Senator need? Was Hillary not paying as close attention as we were? When a man (a lying, moron of a man) is threatening to shoot somebody, and then you give him a gun and a license, should you then be surprised when he kills somebody?

Knowing what we all knew then, we all showed better judgment than Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Doug Stanhope

Lately, I've abandoned listening to music and audio books on my mp3 player in favor of comedy albums. But excellence in comedy is hard to find. As in all other fields of human endeavor, most of it is poor to average... puerile, adolescent, safe, hackneyed and unoriginal. In the words of Salieri, "Mediocrity is everywhere." Fortunately, I don't have to listen very long to a comic's act before realizing whether it's shlock or not -- unlike reading or listening to an audio book where you've waded 50 or 100 pages into it before you realize it's junk.

I just discovered Doug Stanhope. You might call him the spiritual heir of the immortal Bil Hicks. I would immediately put him in line for a place in the pantheon with Carlin, Bruce and Pryor. I do not make such declarations lightly and it frightens me that I actually wrote that.

For the faint of heart, I would warn that, yes, he is drunken, foul and coarse, but the content of what he says is unapologetic, irreverent, iconoclastic truthtelling. His honesty strikes you and his audiences immediately as outrageous, as truthtelling often is. His bits don't come off as polished, overly rehearsed, stand-up comedy set pieces. They don't even sound so much like jokes as they do a spontaneous conversation with the audience -- like hanging out at the bar with a good, funny friend riffing with you late at night about junk he's been thinking about in the darkest, but honest corners of his mind. He's less a comic and more a ranting monologist with a strong libertarian bent. By stating those obvious, yet not-so-obvious, dark truths that lurk in the back of our minds, and stating them so bluntly and colorfully, he shocks us into laughter.

Do yourself a favor, buy one of his CDs or rent his DVD Deadbeat Hero. Or go see him live if you get the chance.

9/11 Made Hillary Vote for Iraq War


From an interview with The Associated Press only last month:

Attention focused on Iraq and her vote to authorize the use of force ahead of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Presidential rivals such as former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards now say the vote in support was a mistake.

"There are no do-overs in life," Clinton said. She says Congress received bad information going into the vote and that she would have voted differently given what she knows now.

"As a senator from New York, I lived through 9/11 and I am still dealing with the aftereffects," Clinton said. "I may have a slightly different take on this from some of the other people who will be coming through here."

So, what is her point? That she bought into the paranoid neocon notion that Iraq was connected to 9/11 somehow?