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Tuesday, December 29

Holiday Cheer, Right-Wing Style

Well, I sincerely hope that all of you out there in Cyberland and the great Blogiverse had a good holiday.

It almost didn't turn out good for the passengers on Northwest Flight 253, from Amsterdam to Detroit. To put things in a nutshell, a radicalized rich Nigerian kid tried to set off a bomb (liquid PETN) in his underwear. The bomb fizzled, burning him, and the other passengers beat his sorry ass until the plane landed in Detroit.

So now the cranky loser rich Nigerian kid is now a cranky loser Federal inmate. Interestingly, the usual Right-wing screeches of "endangering America by having terrorists on our soil" are strangely silent.

Instead we hear screams from complete idiots that we need to start profiling Muslims at airports.

"They do it for El Al," they say.

Well, maybe so. But we are not Israel. For an example, I don't read this blog right to left, okay?

But, the pundits argue, it's a simple matter - find anyone with a Muslim name and cut them out of the line, take them in the Green Room and have them body-searched.

Anyone with a Muslim name.

Three words, kiddo: John. Walker. Lindh.

Remember him? The "American Taliban," caught bearing arms against his country in Afghanistan, and now serving time in Federal prison? Change his skin color, and you have Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

And - bonus round! - here's two more words: Richard. Reid.

Al Qaeda and other terror groups are recruiting people who look just like you and me, folks. And what kind of "Muslim" name is John, or Richard? Everyone knows that airport security is a complete and total illusion, a comforting illusion to be sure. But it's all smoke and moonshine, designed to make people feel safe. As long as they have that perception, they'll submit to the vast Stanford Experiment that is the Transportation Security Administration.

As usual, the Right is knee-jerking, reacting instead of acting. All the airport officials had to do was follow the arrows on this idiot:

1. He paid at the ticket counter. In cash.
2. He had no luggage.

Those two things alone should have won him a first-class ticket to the Green Room.

And we wouldn't be having this conversation.

oh boo-effing-hoo, the television networks are feeling pinched because advertisers are not ponying up $$

Here we witness an example of where profit-seeking goes too far, one of umpteen bazillion in our culture.  I seem to remember hearing some flimsy factoid on tabloid tv eons ago; the cast members of Friends were each earning nearly a million $ per episode.  And I remember wondering who exactly was paying for that.  And where their money was coming from.  I guess it was from advertising revenues?  Just think of how many homeless families could be fed dinner for $1 million.  Just imagine how much money the average television viewer would have in their savings or in an IRA right now, had they not fallen prey to all that advertising over the past two decades.  Just imagine how much they would have saved up had they not caved in and paid for cable all that time.
Basically, this is a direct message that the sole purpose of any of us watching tv is for advertisers to make money on shit they hope we will want to buy after we see it on tv.  And then the networks will make money because the advertisers are making money off us.  And apparently that money will pay for programming, eventually.  Entertainment, information, news?  Ehhhhhh.  Hey look!  It's Tiger Woods and is he ever in trouble!  (And that's the 'news'...)
At this point, I watch a couple PBS stations, one local station that plays movies, and will be watching the olympics.  The rest of the time, it's just a time-suck and waste of banked solar energy that could be powering my computer or a kitchen appliance.  I haven't paid for cable in about three years.  The 'expanded basic' coverage by Comcast was costing me something ludicrous like $65/month.  I mean... come on.  Those were local channels and a few more PBS stations thrown in, and some cable channels I didn't watch.  I was paying for decent reception on the tv, because this was before the incompetently planned and poorly executed digital conversion, and I was still buying into the myth that television is an informational resource worth forking over money to watch.  $65 is two weeks of groceries in my household.
Anyway, here's the piece in the Associated Press this morning.  Take a look at the URL when you load it up, btw... 'US free broadcasters in peril'.  Sure.  Ya gotta love that Murdoch of Faux is bitching about programming being expensive.  It certainly is, when you lose advertisers by the baker's dozen because you showcase ignorant nutjobs like Glen Bleccch. 

Thursday, December 24

Health Care Reform?

The Senators are on television patting each other on the back because they passed a health care reform bill without any help from the Republicans. I'm not sure it's gonna help us. Supposedly 31 million more Americans will now be covered. If so, that's a good thing and I'm happy for them.

As of today, I still have no insurance even though the husband has money taken out of his paycheck every week to pay for it. I've shelled out over $1000 this month to pay for medications. There are medications I cannot afford and am trying to live without them although there's a chance I am going to get pretty sick if I have to go on without them.

As far as I'm concerned, if the government doesn't stop accepting blow jobs from big pharm, the health care bill can blow me. (Honestly, I can go on and on about how my family's been screwed over by corporate for-profit health care insurance, but I won't. Luckily NY State is on our side and helping us fight them... but I'll save that rant for another day. It's Xmas eve for gawd's sake.)

The Republicans suck more than the Democrats suck, but still, they both suck big time.

You Kind of Expect This

Actually, quite a fine PBS Frontline special on the birth and growth of the Great Borg Religion (that's uh, Christianity for you fundies out there).

Wednesday, December 23

yes indeed, Copenhagen was basically Nopenhagen

I doubt this is news to anyone, but figured I'd get my year-end 'we're all fucked!' post in good and early.
From the Irish Times last week:
"Six reasons why Earth won't cope for long

AS WORLD leaders arrive in Copenhagen for the crunch phase of the climate conference, the focus turns to what kind of deal is likely to emerge. Pre-eminent climate scientist Prof James Hansen of the Nasa Goddard Institute has already given the entire process the kiss of death. Any political deal cobbled together is, he believes, likely to be so profoundly flawed as to lock humanity on to "a disaster track", writes John Gibbons..."

Read the whole thing here

Merry F-ing Christmas (NOT SAFE FOR WORK!)

Merry F-ing Christmas by Mr Garrison, Southpark

Tuesday, December 22

Holiday Season

The approach of Christmas brings harassment and dread to many excellent people. They have to buy a cart-load of presents, and they never know what to buy to hit the various tastes; they put in three weeks of hard and anxious work, and when Christmas morning comes they are so dissatisfied with the result, and so disappointed that they want to sit down and cry. Then they give thanks that Christmas comes but once a year.
- Mark Twain, Following the Equator

As for me, I'm just glad that the days will be getting longer.

How's your holiday season?

Monday, December 21

Love This Article

10 Ways to Screw Over the Corporate Jackals Who've Been Screwing You

A commentary from Peter of Lone Tree

I just spoke to our old friend Peter of Lone Tree who is recovering from a stroke but sounds pretty darn good considering. He isn't on the internet but watches television. He asked me to quote him on a post at blondesense. Here goes:

"They gave the Nobel Peace Prize to a homicidal maniac. Time's Man of the Year is a jerk."

PS: I just read this story by Glenn Greenwald

Excerpt: "President Obama late last week ordered cruise missile attacks on two locations in Yemen, which "U.S. officials" say were "suspected Al Qaeda hideouts." The main target of the attacks, Al Qaeda member Qasim al Rim, was not among those killed, but: "a local Yemeni official said on Sunday that 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women, were killed in air strikes against Al-Qaeda, which he said were carried out 'indiscriminately'." Media reports across the Muslim world -- though, not of course, within the U.S. -- are highlighting the dead civilians from the U.S. strike (one account from an official Iranian outlet began: "U.S. Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Barack Obama has signed the order for a recent military strike on Yemen in which scores of civilians, including children, have been killed, a report says")."

Saturday, December 19

There needs to be a revolution because nothing is going to change on its own

No One Is Going To Save You Fools
That's the title of this amazing piece at Daily Kos by thereisnospoon.

If you want to win, you will ORGANIZE. You will organize in the same way the Right has done for the last 40 years, and you will spend money on persuasion, where it really matters. You will, in short, make the politicians as afraid of you as they are of them. The Right has built vast networks of think tanks, newspapers, periodicals, cable news channels, and political advocacy organizations to spread their finely tuned, well-honed messages. Their politicians may fail them, and their actual policies may be deeply unpopular, but their message machine nearly always works its magic to get them what they want, even when Democrats are in power.
It's true. Can you believe all the sheeple out there protesting healthcare reform? People are soooo easily had by the powers that be, they will literally march in the bitter cold to further an agenda that will only hurt them. And what are the rest of us doing? Watching it.

Friday, December 18


Researchers Say Connecticut is Second Unhappiest in Nation

Guess which state is the most unhappiest?

We need to get out of here. I knew things were a little better when we were living in Jersey.

Maine and VT made it in the happiest half. I love AZ (#5).

I'm freezing my arse off this morning and would move to Arizona tomorrow, except I couldn't take the summer heat. Well, maybe if I had to. Heck, with this mini ice age coming (I just knew all of this global warming due to CO2 emmisions & greenhouse gasses would be beneficial!!), there might not be much difference in temperatures around the country.

So, where are we gonna go my friend?

Thursday, December 17

Reality Check

A Rant, Preparatory to the Closing of the Year

"The inadequate and biased transmission of news, and the profitable dissemination of nonsense, barred the general public from any intelligent or concerted participation in politics, and made democracy impossible."

This little pearl of wisdom is from the historian-philosopher William Durant in his book The Age of Reason Begins (Simon and Schuster, 1961, p. 578). He's describing the burden faced by the newspaper-reading public ... in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

That's about three hundred years ago, folks.

Proof that there is truly nothing new under the sun. The media will always skew things, and people must have the critical thinking skills to weed through the maze of stupidity and contradictions in order to arrive at an informed decision.

This was Thomas Jefferson's dream, an informed electorate.

But now we have Fox News, AM radio and stupidity-spewing websites like Drudge, New Republic and others. All are cleverly designed to stop people from thinking - how else can you see a summer filled with people who protest higher taxes ... on the rich? How else can you get otherwise sane people to believe in complete absurdities?

Sometimes I despair for my nation's future.

I recently saw a picture of the Apollo 11 landing site, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. You can see the tracks Armstrong and Aldrin made in the lunar soil, and you realize with a swelling heart that a scant forty years ago we were giants.

Giants, I tell you.

Despite the wars we were fighting and the domestic troubles we faced, we had the vision to explore, to reach out and plant a footprint on our nearest neighbor in the Solar System. Although an American flag was planted there, we didn't do it solely for national pride. For that reason the plaque on Eagle's leg says "We came in peace for all mankind."

(I shall now speak in generalities. Anyone offended by this, well, mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur.)

We don't have that vision any longer. We don't have the will to forestall environmental catastrophe; we don't have the will to take care of our sick or our poor; a growing number of our citizens no longer have the capacity to think critically enough to look past the bright shiny things dangled before their eyes.

We have mistaken technology for science.

We have decided that our children can get along without education.

We have decided to leave our poor and sick behind.

We have decided to be ruled by Fear, rather than by Intellect, because thinking is too difficult.

That's all I have so far. I'll think of worse things to say before the New Year.

banks and TARP and repayment, oh my

How about the banks get charged interest on their TARP repayments.  Interest like the banks themselves charge you and me if we're late with a credit card payment.  Or if they do a pull on our credit reports and see that we are paying off balances on multiple cards.  I mean... well, it's not like these banks don't owe other banks, right?  Pot, meet kettle.
According to some balance sheet wordplay, the gov't has actually profited ($15 billion, if the linked article is to be believed - and this is due to dividends and interest) with the early repayments being made in haste in order to avoid limits on executive compensation.  So... why not ramp that up a bit?  If these guys can afford to reward mediocrity and bad business decisions handsomely, they obviously have the filthy lucre to afford it.  Come to think of it, if they're able to pay up this money to avoid gov't regulating, it begs the question did they need the freaking bailout to begin with?  Too obvious to answer, I know.
How about a flexible interest rate of 19.99% to 47.99% for TARP repayment, depending on the weather, depending on a bank's willingness to fund home loans at low fixed rates (eliminating ARM loans completely being one criterion), depending on a bank's willingness to put more of its 'toxic assets' (that's REO properties to you an' me) on the market priced to move and priced so that more people can afford them?  And how about with some super low-interest 'home improvement' loan options?  Many of those homes are trashed to hell and back, or in serious disrepair, and buying one of them is taking a humongoid chance in terms of serious repairs, spending time and money on un-fucking what a self-styled house-flipper did in haste, incorrectly, and on the cheap, etc. 
Additionally, if a bank is tattled on for abusing overdraft charges, for raising minimum balances and/or changing terms for free accounts, for changing account terms on their customers for no good reason other than to nickel and dime, their TARP repayment interest shoots up to the 47.99% until they knock it off.
Just thinking aloud here.
(I got a nice note from BofA yesterday, stating that they would no longer engage in the dirty filthy despicable practice of applying payments to lower interest debt before applying it to higher interest debt.  They also informed me that they won't be on such a hair-trigger with raising my APR if I have a late payment, but they still reserve their right to late fees.  How grand of them to do the right thing on the interest.  The only debt I have with them is my mortgage - after it passed through several lenders' hands, but I guess they were really hoping I'd do something like transfer a balance from another card, since they were so kind as to send me some 'convenience checks' the same day.
And then last night on the news, Citi was apparently sniveling about repayment and they're getting a tax-break?  For fuck's sake...)

Republican Obstruction AGAIN

Heard this on NPR yesterday and almost lost my mind while I was driving in the car.
Think Progress At approximately noon today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the Senate floor to introduce his single-payer amendment. The amendment is 767 pages long. In an attempt to delay and disrupt the Senate debate, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) demanded that the Senate clerks read the entire bill.

Sanders demanded at least twice that the reading of his bill be dispensed with so that the Senate could proceed to a vote. But Coburn objected both times:

SANDERS: I would ask that the amendment be considered as read. …

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Is there objection?

COBURN: There is objection.

SANDERS: …and may I ask me friend from Oklahoma why he is objecting?

COBURN: Regular order, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT: Regular order is the reading of the amendment.

I despise Sen Tom Coburn (R-Ok) (and Lieberman too). I have been going through health care battles with my son's insurance company and with mine for months. Right now we have no insurance whatsoever, we need meds and to see doctors. Can't afford it (do you believe how much a bottle of medicine costs these days? Are they kidding me?) .... and this shithead from fucking Oklahoma and the other shit from Connecticut are ruining things for the WHOLE country. I'm sorry, but it's not like either state is terribly populated and contribute so much tax revenue to the government coffers or that they represent a typical cross section of the rest of the US. How the hell dare they? I see that this form of government is not working out very well.


Tuesday, December 15


It's Time to Castrate Joe Lieberman

Quite literally, as well as figuratively.

Let's be honest here - the only reason the Democratic 'leadership' in the US Senate drops to their knees and licks Senator Joe Lieberman (I-can'tbelievehe'sstillhere)'s sweaty pinto bean-sized balls is that he's the Magic Number.

He makes 60 Senators who could conceivably ram any piece of legislation down the GOP's collective throat, and all Sen. Bitch - er, Mitch - McConnell (R-FrogWattles) will be able to do about is run crying to Joe Boehner for a hug.

It's the reason the 'leadership' kept him in his committee chairmanship, even though - despite - Lieberman's support for John "You Kids Get Off My Lawn!" McCain in the 2008 election.

So, what has the Connecticut Quisling gone and done this time?

Well, in the headlong rush to emasculate any whiff of meaningful health care reform in this country for at least the next twenty years, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel applied pressure to Senator Harry Reid - probably by threatening to take away his teddy bear - to bend over at the waist, drop his trousers, and let Lieberman have his way with the Majority Leader from Nevada.

It was bad enough having to deal with the conservative wing of the Democratic Party (and yes, children, there is one). Now they have to deal with the Quisling.

So, what to do?

It is times like this that I could make a few suggestions to Reid, preceded by a Marlon Brando Godfather-esque bitch slap and the roar, "YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!" I would suggest, at the start, castrating Lieberman figuratively by stripping him of his committee chairs and basically ostracizing him, then throwing all possible support to any contender he might have in the next election.

Then I'd waylay him in a dark corner of the Capitol Building, throw a bag over his head and drag him off to the basement of the White House - where Karl Rove used to keep his leather slave.

One night there ought to bring Lieberman around, or reduce him to what he should be - a gibbering eunuch.

Beatnik Christmas

Cue the bongos, please.

Tuesday, December 8

US Bishops dictate the language to be used in Nelson Amendement

The US Catholic Bishops act like most women in the US use abortion as a means of birth control. Furthermore no one was trying to get the government to fund abortions in the first place contrary to what certain congresscritters are saying. And what about separation of church and state? Why is the Catholic church tax exempt? Why are there so many evil white men making laws governing women's bodies? Why am I so filled with hatred for our legislators during the season of 'peace on earth good will to all'? In fact, I am furious at everything going on in Washington. Nice way to say thanks to the American taxpayers, shitheads in DC.

There's a great commentary by Carol Marin in the Chicago Sun Times.

When bishops lobby legislators, they should be required to do what all tax-exempt 501(c)3 groups have to do. Create a parallel political organization and pay taxes on the contributions they receive. And fully disclose, like every other lobbying organization -- corporate or charitable -- what they take in and what they spend to advance positions they advocate.

As a woman and a taxpayer, I rebel against the notion that a group of men more obsessed with our wombs than other significant life-and-death issues -- war, poverty, pestilence -- are given favored tax treatment in order to reduce a woman's freedom of choice.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, argued on the Web site Politico that the bishops "distorted the facts about the health reform proposal by claiming that the proposed system would have used federal dollars to cover abortion care. They're wrong."

Wrong because the original bill "included a compromise that required all plans to separate public and private dollars in the new system."

In other words, women could access the public plan but abortion coverage would come from their private dollars.

Keenan and O'Brien said the bishops, in accepting vast federal funding for Catholic hospitals and charities, "never question their own ability to lawfully manage funds from separate sources to ensure that tax dollars don't finance religious practices. Yet they reject the idea that others could do the same. This is the very definition of hypocrisy."

Hypocrisy compounded by what the bishops are doing in Washington, D.C., when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage, their other primary fixation.

There, the local archdiocese has threatened to shut down its extensive social service programs for the needy if the city goes ahead and legalizes same-sex marriage.

So much for the stated mission of protecting the vulnerable.

Go Barbara Boxer

From Think Progress:
Today, the Senate began debate on Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used for abortions or for plans that include abortion services. Igor Volsky notes that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stepped up and drew a parallel to help the amendment’s male co-sponsors better understand its repercussions. Since Nelson’s measure forces women to purchase special abortion riders — which require women to plan for unplanned pregnancies — Boxer challenged “the men who have brought us this” to “single out a procedure that’s used by a man or a drug that is used by a man that involves his reproductive health care and say they have to get a special rider”:
  • BOXER: There’s nothing in this amendment that says if a man some days wants to buy Viagra, for example, that his pharmaceutical coverage cannot cover it, that he has to buy a rider. I wouldn’t support that. And they shouldn’t support going after a woman using her own private funds for her reproductive health care. Is it fair to say to a man you’re going to have to buy a rider to buy Viagra and this will be public information that could be accessed? No, I don’t support that. I support a man’s privacy, just as I support a woman’s privacy.
This blonde wonders exactly how many men use viagra strictly for the purpose of procreation? And furthermore... do the congressmen understand that if god wanted certain men to procreate, he wouldn't have made them impotent? I'm just asking....

Sunday, December 6

Flying- A growing problem

This is the image that has been making the news lately. It's clearly showing that this man is obstructing the flow of traffic in the cabin of the airliner.

Morbidly obese passengers on airplanes clearly need 2 (or even 3 seats). I'm not quite sure that they should be charged extra or not. I suppose you'd have to take it on a case by case basis and then you run into human rights issues- Is this a pleasure trip or an emergency? Is the person's size genetic or caused by medications that cause obesity or by simple gluttony? Who are we to judge? Well it seems that a lot of people do judge obese people harshly. Quite frankly, I'd be mortified to see this guy board a plane I was on. I would try not to judge him although I would hope that his trip was for an emergency and he didn't dare think that he could get away with paying for one seat and inconveniencing other passengers. (And I'm a former fat person.)

I know a lovely couple that are quite tall and quite fat- when they travel (and they like to travel) they buy 3 seats in the bulk head to accommodate themselves which I think is quite a good thing to do and very considerate. They book their flights way in advance to be sure that they will be accommodated. They are realists.

Let's face it, seating in coach is quite squishy even for regular sized Americans (and most regular sized Americans are larger than they used to be). When I was heavy, I barely fit in a seat, needed a seatbelt extension and couldn't put the arm rest down next to me or it would cut off my circulation. I'm tall and I couldn't even move my legs for the whole flight. The last time I flew, I was mortified as to who would be my seat mates. Boy was I lucky that it was a couple of very young kids. On the way home, I was lucky again that I had a whole row because the plane was underbooked. whew. (I didn't need a whole row, but it was nice to have 2 seats). Normally I wouldn't fly anywhere and didn't go anywhere unless I could drive. I would sometimes book first class because the seats were larger. Now that I am a "normal" size, I'd like to give flying a try again... but I am one of the Americans who used to be middle class, even bordering on upper middle class and is now bordering on being poor... so I can't afford to go anywhere. Figures.

How do you solve a growing (no pun intended) problem like this? Should enormous people have to give a medical reason for their obesity or an emergency reason for flying in order to avoid paying for 2 seats? Should the people at the gate allowed this guy to board the plane in the first place?

This brings up another issue near and dear to my heart... why insurance companies won't pay for gastric bypass surgeries. I asked my insurance company if they would pay for diabetic supplies or for a quadrupal bypass for me and they confirmed that those services are covered. Yet they said that they would NOT cover any services related to obesity. I explained that gastric bypass surgery cures diabetes in most cases and reduces the risk of heart disease and many other diseases associated with obesity. In fact, they would save money by paying for gastric bypass surgeries in the first place. They wouldn't hear of it. Luckily I could cash in my 401k and pay for my own surgery. I have fabulous blood pressure now, no chance of getting diabetes, my heart is great, my cholesterol is 146 and all vital signs are excellent. Before the surgery I was a walking time bomb and possibly a very expensive client for the insurance company in the future. In a mere 8 months, I was transformed... but again, I was lucky that I had the money to pay for it (even if I don't have a retirement fund). I'm also lucky that since I'm rather poor now, I don't eat very much (I can't) and I can walk for miles and miles and miles thus saving on gasoline.

Anyone out there care to comment? If you're obese, how do you deal with traveling?

Saturday, December 5

Luck of the Draw

Yesterday (Friday), the nabobs of FIFA gathered to draw lots and determine who will play who in the World Cup, to be held starting next June 11th in South Africa. Let's see where the chips fell, okay?

Group A: South Africa (host), Mexico, Uruguay, France
South Africa automatically qualified as the host side, and they do have a good chance in this group. However, Mexico is a powerhouse in the CONCACAF, and may make things difficult. I am watching to see if karma is lying in wait for France. Washing out of the first round would be sweet justice for Thierry Henry's handball against Ireland.

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
I watched Greece play a match or two in the last Cup, as well as in the UEFA Euro tournament. They're steady and even a bit boring. Argentina is flashy, so it'll be an interesting matchup.

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Best chance we've had in years. Expect another six months of reminders that we beat England 1-0 the first time we met in the World Cup, back in 1950. An excellent chance for Team USA to advance to the second round.

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Ouch. Not quite the Group of Death, but close enough. Germany has a good record in championship play, but Ghana is a strong side in Africa. Ought to be fun to watch (I recall watching Serbia play back in 2006, and watched the fans dancing around bonfires - in the stands).

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Netherlands is third-ranked in the FIFA standings, and has come in #2 in the Cup final. Expect good matches in this group.

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
I can only hope that Paraguay and Slovakia manage to keep the Azurri out of the second round. It's what the divers deserve, really.

Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
The Group of Death, plain and simple. Brazil's a powerhouse and a perennial contender, with Cote d'Ivoire being the strong second in the group. When these two meet, you can expect some good play. North Korea will be a bit creampuffy, and Portugal can be competitive.

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Spain will likely win this group, in my opinion, with Honduras hard on their heels. Honduras and Chile don't share a border, so we won't expect war to break out if either side washes out of the first round.

Team USA opens against England on June 12, 2010. It'll be fun!

Thursday, December 3

yes, the Slow Food and Localvore movements have truly failed the working poor (but we all knew that, right?)

Great piece in the SF Bay Guardian yesterday.  As much as I emphasize buying locally-grown produce (in my own case self-sufficiency has replaced some buying in general), I myself cannot afford to shop much at any of the local farmers' markets unless I go right before the market ends and buy up stuff that is slightly bruised or that the farmers want to be rid of so they don't have to haul it back.  And let's be frank, even if a market accepts WIC or EBT, there is only so much that can be purchased with a stack of $2 WIC vouchers.
There are some limited inroads being made in making locally-grown organic available to more people (read: even inner-city poor), but there is still this undeclared and unacknowledged class war as far as healthful food being accessible to everyone.  It isn't accessible, in a nutshell.  And, as much as the Slow Foodies like to talk about food justice, it is mostly just paying lip-service.  Which we already knew.  The insularity has always pissed me of, not to mention the willingness to turn the other way and ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room which represents exploited farm/orchard labor, and many going hungy. 
Because it isn't merely about organic, or not.  Or the USDA's watered down organic standards, or not.  Food justice also encompasses the working conditions for the people who grow and harvest the food.  Anyway, enough of me gas-bagging on a topic that gets me worked up.
"Out of reach
How the sustainable local food movement neglects poor workers and eaters
On a sunny afternoon in Civic Center Plaza, a remarkable bounty covered a buffet table: coconut quinoa, organic mushroom tabouli, homemade vegan desserts, and an assortment of other yummy treats. The food and event were meant to raise awareness about public school lunches, although it was hard to imagine these dishes, brought by well-heeled food advocates, sitting under the fluorescent lights of a San Francisco public school cafeteria.

The spread was for the Slow Food USA Labor Day "eat-in," a public potluck meant to publicize the proposed reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, national legislation that regulates the food in public schools. The crowd was in a festive, light-hearted mood. There was a full program of speeches by sustainability experts and a plant-your-own-vegetable-seeds table set up in one corner of the plaza.

A bedraggled couple who appeared homeless made their way through the jovial crowd and started scooping up the food in a way that suggested it had been a long time since their last roasted local lamb shish kebob.

Their presence shouldn't have been a surprise; most events involving free trips down a food table are geared toward a different demographic in this park, which borders the Tenderloin.

In a flash, an event volunteer was on the case, nervous in an endearingly liberal manner. "Sir," she began. "This food is for the Child Nutrition Act." And then she paused, searching for what to say next. I imagined her thinking: "Sir, this food is to raise awareness about the availability of sustainable food to the lower classes, not to be eaten by them," or, "Sir, this good, healthy, local food is not for you."

But there was no good way to say what she meant to convey. She knew it, and delivered her final line hurriedly before walking away. "If you could just, well, just don't take like 25 things, okay?" Indifferent to the volunteer's unspoken reprimand, the couple continued to eat, ignoring the whispers and stares of the social crusaders around them, who all seemed to take issue with their participation in this carefully planned political action.

It was a telling scene from a movement that has yet to really confront its class issues. Though organic grocery stores and farmers markets have sprung up on San Francisco's street corners, it remains to be seen whether our current mania for sustainable, local food will positively affect the lower classes, be they farm workers or poor families.

Even iconic food writer Michael Pollan acknowledges the challenge the sustainability movement faces in widening its relevance for the poor, citing the high cost of local and organic food as just one of the issues that Slow Foodies and their allies must tackle before they can count the "good food" movement a success..."

Read the rest of the piece here.

I must admit -- I would not have a problem with this:

Movement under way in California to ban divorce

I've just spent the last week helping daughter with a debate paper she is trying to put together for a college writing class. The topic is gay marriage and she must debate against it (from a legal perspective). It was pretty hard for her because "I really don't see a problem with gay couples wanting to get married". So I listened to her rewrites over and over, and the other day I said to her that divorce should really be banned also. I really wouldn't have a problem with that. (assuming there were ways out in cases of abuse, etc. of course). Just put marriage under the auspices of religion (if you're catholic you can just get an annulment) and get the government out altogether.

Wednesday, December 2

Remember The Story of Stuff?

Well, Annie Leonard's just released The Story of Cap & Trade.  Faux news has been red-baiting her, calling her 'Karl Marx with a ponytail', which we all know is paranoid newspeak for 'holy shit, the facts are giving me acid-reflux and I think my brain is on fire...'.
The Story of Stuff Project site is here.  Check it out, share it about.
As for Faux News, maybe the network can be relocated to the plastic garbage patch in the Pacific.

I can't believe I fell asleep....

(hey - where's Shatner??)

When I woke up, I thought I was in the middle of a 'Star Trek Deep Space Nine' Episode

guess not.

According to Huffpo's Headline at the moment, it's a, another, um....A WAR REBORN

with NINE KEY POINTS (oh.... like a Feng Shui Bagua?)

Live Long and Prosper


Tuesday, December 1

and this is big news?

Dubai: World lacks understanding of debt crisis

Say WHAT??????......... the fuck?

I have absolutely no fucking lack of understanding when it comes to debt. I'm in debt because I need to feed, clothe, and put a roof over my kids' heads -- oh, and educate them too. OH, and I finally just got out of car debt after 25+ years of driving around gas guzzlers -- YAY!!!

WHAT I DON'T FUCKING UNDERSTAND ARE PEOPLE WHO GO INTO DEBT BUILDING CASTLES IN THE SAND.......and then "request" a freeze on their debt because of - of - of I STILL DON'T KNOW FUCKING WHY -- I've never seen a more ridiculous story in my life

AP Dubai: World lacks understanding of debt crisis
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai's ruler says the emirate's economy is "strong" and "solid" amid financial meltdown in the former Arab boomtown.
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum told the Al Arabiya TV channel that the world did not understand Dubai's announcement on restructuring of the emirate's deeply indebted conglomerate Dubai World.
The remarks came as the Dubai debt crisis dragged down the main stock markets in the Emirates for a second day on Tuesday and also caused other markets in the Gulf to plummet.
Mohammed told the Dubai based channel that the crisis that erupted on the global markets in the aftermath of Dubai World's request to freeze its debt indicates a "lack of understanding of what is happening in Dubai."
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Is this really happening???

I love how the story broke over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunday, November 29

But will this make news in the US?

Well what do you know... it is now official that Osama bin Laden was allowed to walk free from Tora Bora into Pakistan in December of 2001.
Al-Qaeda head Osama Bin Laden was 'within grasp' of US

US forces had Osama Bin Laden "within their grasp" in Afghanistan in late 2001, a US Senate report says.

It says calls for US reinforcements were rejected, allowing the al-Qaeda leader to "walk unmolested" into Pakistan's unregulated tribal areas.

The report was prepared by the Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff.

It says the failure to kill or capture Bin Laden had far-reaching consequences and laid the foundation for the protracted Afghan insurgency.

Thursday, November 26


The Secret Service has been faced with a vast increase in the number of death threats directed against President Obama, so much so that they've had to pull people off Treasury enforcement.

So you'd think, with the number of kooks making threatening MySpace pages, LiveJournal and YouTube entries, and dredging up bits of the Bible to actively pray for the death of a legitimately elected leader, security would be fairly tight at a state dinner held in the White House, right?


In yet another display of ineptitude, the Secret Service allowed a couple to get past the gate, past the door and into the very fucking room at the Executive Mansion. They weren't invited, and just sailed on through. Even had pictures taken with some of the dignitaries.

Talk about embarrassing. What if something had happened? Would the Secret Service simply say, "Oops, our bad?"

The SS is already allowing heavily armed nutcases to get within shouting distance of the President, and allowed Bill O'Reilly to get within ten feet of Obama when he was a candidate. If security is this shoddy, what's to stop a Leon Czolgosz from getting close enough?

Tuesday, November 24

RI Governor Carcieri is a Hateful Flaming Bigot

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- An opponent of same-sex marriage, Governor Carcieri has vetoed bill that would have added "domestic partners'' to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.

In his veto message, Republican Carcieri said: "This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.

Who does he think he is- King Solomon of Rhode Island? He's the governor, not the moral police.

The legislation defines a domestic partner as someone who was in an "exclusive, intimate and committed relationship" with the deceased and had lived with him or her for at least a year prior to the death; is at least 18, not married to anyone else, not related by blood and who was financially "interdependent'' with the deceased as evidenced, for example, by a joint mortgage, shared credit card or domestic partnership contract.

According to its sponsors, the legislation is designed to provide rights to domestic partners regardless of whether they are of the same or opposite sexes.

Carcieri cited at least two other reasons for his veto.

As written, he said the bill would allow the decisions of a "partner'' of a year to take precedence over "traditional family members,'' and he believes a "one year time period is not a sufficient duration to establish a serious bond between two individuals...[relative to] sensitive personal traditions and issues regarding funeral arrangements, burial rights and disposal of human remains.''
More at the link... a sad story of how a partner in a same sex couple went through such an ordeal to bury his partner of 17 years.

This, fellow travelers, is why we have to speak out and speak up when politicians bring their religious opinions into our lives. This is a secular country whether they like it or not. It was founded because people wanted religious freedom. There should be room for people to live out what they believe in without infringing on the rights of others... at least that is what I always thought it was all about.

Monday, November 23

Musical Interlude

Wow. Check out Antony and the Johnsons

Hope there's someone
Who'll take care of me
When I die, will I go

Hope there's someone
Who'll set my heart free
Nice to hold when I'm tired

There's a ghost on the horizon
When I go to bed
How can I fall asleep at night
How will I rest my head

Oh I'm scared of the middle place
Between light and nowhere
I don't want to be the one
Left in there, left in there

There's a man on the horizon
Wish that I'd go to bed
If I fall to his feet tonight
Will allow rest my head

So here's hoping I will not drown
Or paralyze in light
And godsend I don't want to go
To the seal's watershed

Hope there's someone
Who'll take care of me
When I die, Will I go

Hope there's someone
Who'll set my heart free
Nice to hold when I'm tired

I used to think this was a secular country

Today's reading is from the Examiner: Give churches a choice: give up tax exempt status or give up lobbying

Exempting religious organizations from taxes on contributions and donations is one thing. Exempting them from capital gains taxes on secular stock investments is another. But the church as do other religious institutions, claim tax exempt status based on the doctrine behind the First Amendment establishment clause.

Yet Catholic dioceses all over the country are filing for bankruptcy protection because of tens of billions of dollars in jury awards against the church for the serial child sexual molestation that went on for decades with the church's knowledge, (which is why they were held liable). In those cases the church asks to be subject to secular bankruptcy laws to protect them from having to pay the billions in jury awards but, claim exemption from tax laws based on the establishment clause.

Adding to the hypocrisy, The Catholic Conference of Bishops has a well funded lobbying effort in Washington, staffed by 350 people whose sole job is the same any other lobbyist -- to influence and even write legislation that gets inserted in bills. In the case of the church, or any religious instituion it is a clear violation of the separation of church and state and a breaking down of the "wall" between religion and the affairs of state that Jefferson and the Founders said the amendment was designed to create.

This is not to say that the church doesn't have freedom of speech, to speak out about issues that matter to them, to support candidates who support those issues and to exercise their right of free speech to influence elections. But influencing elections is one thing -- influencing, lobbying and writing legislation is another.

Sunday, November 22

Religious Belief and Public Policy

In light of a RC Bishop excommunicating Rep Patrick Kennedy for supporting a woman's right to choose (see Walt's post below, Time to Trim the Fat), I would like people to read Gov Mario Cuomo's brilliant speech in 1984 at the University of Notre Dame. Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective

I am free to argue for a governmental policy for a nuclear freeze not just to avoid sin but because I think my democracy should regard it as a desirable goal.

I can, if I wish, argue that the State should not fund the use of contraceptive devices not because the Pope demands it but because I think that the whole community – for the good of the whole community – should not sever sex from an openness to the creation of life.

And surely, I can, if so inclined, demand some kind of law against abortion not because my Bishops say it is wrong but because I think that the whole community, regardless of its religious beliefs, should agree on the importance of protecting life – including life in the womb, which is at the very least potentially human and should not be extinguished casually.

No law prevents us from advocating any of these things: I am free to do so.

So are the Bishops. And so is Reverend Falwell.

In fact, the Constitution guarantees my right to try. And theirs. And his.

But should I? Is it helpful? Is it essential to human dignity? Does it promote harmony and understanding? Or does it divide us so fundamentally that it threatens our ability to function as a pluralistic community?

When should I argue to make my religious value your morality? My rule of conduct your limitation?

What are the rules and policies that should influence the exercise of this right to argue and promote?

I believe I have a salvific mission as a Catholic. Does that mean I am in conscience required to do everything I can as Governor to translate all my religious values into the laws and regulations of the State of New York or the United States? Or be branded a hypocrite if I don't?

As a Catholic, I respect the teaching authority of the bishops.

But must I agree with everything in the bishops' pastoral letter on peace and fight to include it in party platforms?

And will I have to do the same for the forthcoming pastoral on economics even if I am an unrepentant supply sider?

Must I, having heard the Pope renew the Church's ban on birth control devices, veto the funding of contraceptive programs for non-Catholics or dissenting Catholics in my State? I accept the Church's teaching on abortion. Must I insist you do? By law? By denying you Medicaid funding? By a constitutional amendment? If so, which one? Would that be the best way to avoid abortions or to prevent them?

These are only some of the questions for Catholics. People with other religious beliefs face similar problems.

Palin/Beck 2012 Disaster Movie Trailer

Gotta Watch This Video: Hilarious!

A Bit of Balance

I had occasion to sit in on a recent chat session between two of my collaborators. These two gents are conservatives, whereas I seem to have grown more liberal the older I've become (quite odd, considering - I expect I'll be a rather uncompromising Marxist by the time I die).

Anyway, a few of the salient points stood out and I realized with a sigh that, while everyone is entitled to their opinion, their opinions are actually quite close to mine.

1. Regarding the health care vote, they both were resigned to the recent vote to begin debate on the Senate bill, but were both wholeheartedly against it. I find that odd, as both have health issues (for the record, so do I).

2. One inveighed against the various states, saying that three Senators were in place because of 'finagling' - Burris of Illinois, Franken of Minnesota, and whoever is in Massachusetts now. Apparently it's a grand conspiracy consisting of SEIU, ACORN, unions and so on. Now, to be certain, I have frequently suggested that it was a shadowy cabal of GOP apparatchiki, Halliburton, Diebold and the Trotskyite neocons that put The Mule into office back in 2000, so they can spin what conspiracy theories they wish.

3. Another collaborator suggested that after a few Congresscritters get Something Unfortunate happening to them (something about ropes and lamp-posts), I recognized eliminationist rhetoric. Not surprising, and I've said much the same things (sometimes on this blog).

All in all, I find that we're not as far apart ideologically as I thought.

Or am I wrong?

Time to Trim the Fat

Congresscritter Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) has a minor problem.

His local Bishop, Thomas Tobin, has reportedly banned him from receiving Communion because of Rep. Kennedy's support for abortion rights.


What's next?


Oooh, I am sooooo scared.

Leaving aside the stupidity of a medieval, celibate organization that spent decades concealing pedophile members of its hierarchy daring to dictate to anyone anything about a woman's right of reproductive choice (abortion, for those of you who haven't gotten the memo yet, is LEGAL in the United States of America, fancy that), does Bishop Tobin really want to cross swords with a Kennedy?

Yes, he's one of those Kennedys.

I think that this is a sterling example of why there has been an historically anti-Catholic bias in this nation ever since it was colonized.

And, since Bishop Tobin wants to poke his crozier into a political discussion, it's time to trim the fat off the Church.

Bishop Tobin, you want to play the game? Then you need to pay the entrance fee.

I would strongly support Rep. Kennedy submitting a bill before Congress to strip the Roman Catholic Church of its tax exempt status. It's only fair. Now, Rep. Kennedy isn't from my district (sadly, I am represented by the collared slave known as Adam Putnam), but he has the right to worship wherever he wants.

And if any religious fat cat sticks his nose into political business, well, it's time he went on a diet.

Saturday, November 21

The US Army is Inhumane

For god's sake, why they can't find something for U.S. Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single mother, to do here in the states so she can care for her 11 month old son? They put the baby in foster care and her in jail for not arriving on time to deploy to Afghanistan. I mean, really, come on.... The US Army is just being mean. Yes, I know there are all sorts of arguments on both sides... but still....

Army Sends Mom to Afghanistan, Infant to Protective Services
By Dahr Jamail, AlterNet. Posted November 21, 2009.

Friday, November 20

Joe Bageant is da man!

This is all you need to read today.....

Shoot the fat guys, hang the smokers

Dear Joe,

I smoke cigarettes. This is my 49th or 50th year -- don't know which.

When this war on smokers really heated up, in the late 90's, I wrote to a friend in San Francisco, and asked her what was going on. "Is this some kind of grassroots movement?," I asked, in caps. She said she didn't know what it was, exactly, but that it couldn't be a grassroots deal, because they were very, very rich, and very powerful, and they had the full support of governments, corporations, and all of the media, without exception. They were getting lots of tax money, she said -- hundreds of millions -- and there were rumors that the big pharmaceutical companies were involved in funding and planning operations. "After all," she added: "They want to sell nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and a shitload of tranquilizers to the masses who quit as they get the piss pounded out of them." She said that a mutual friend had remarked that it was sure to become the largest social engineering project in the history of the world, and that, though he didn't smoke -- he found it frightening.


Buddy, can you spare me a lek?
The fact is that America's finest minds and souls have no voice in this chilling new corporate state that has evolved. And if we are not allowed a voice, if our monolithic system ignores us, pretends we do not exist, then for all practical purposes we do not exist. Therefore it does not have to offer us political candidates representing our views or change laws to reflect them. Nevertheless, we are out there -- millions of us.

This morning's mailbox was the usual wonderful variety of letters, mostly responding to the current post, "Shoot the fat guys, hang the smokers." Many offered heartfelt smoking cessation advice, all of it from personal experience, honest and eminently more sensible than anything I've read elsewhere.

Kate & Leopold -- I can't BELIEVE I missed this movie back in 2001

I reserved the couch yesterday, and took the day off. I had to slow down. This frantic pace has really gotten to be too much -- and I don't even work (for money that is) -- I don't know how these working moms do it. I don't think you could pay me enough to do it.

I sat down just in time to catch this movie. It's on one of the starz or encore channels this month. If you don't have cable, or if you've never seen it, I highly recommend you get your hands on it and contemplate this exceptional cinematic experience.

When the movie ended, both my daughter and I agreed that we would give just about anything to go back to those times.....

and then when the credits came on, THE most incredible song followed.... "Until", by Sting. I've NEVER heard a more perfect song that captured the essence of a story

Needing to find the perfect song to compliment "Kate and Leopold's" romantic tale, the filmmakers approached the one artist they knew had the musical and lyrical sensibilities to meet the challenge, Sting.

STING - Singer/Songwriter

You wrote a song specially for "Kate and Leopold?"
I did. It's called "Until."

Did you look at the film first?
They showed me the film and I was very taken by it. I thought it was romantic, and very, very funny. It was just what I needed to watch at the time - there was still all kinds of mayhem going on in the world. So, I thought this film is a perfect antidote and it's very easy to get inspired to write a song in a similar vein.

Is it easier to write a song for a film, than to write a song for an album?
It’s never easy to write a song. It's the most difficult thing I do. It took two weeks, it was difficult to write this song but I was inspired to finish it. Sometimes I’m inspired to start, but I don't finish. This one I really wanted to finish.

Wednesday, November 18

Afghan women are still second class citizens... or worse

Afghan women, in order to escape a life of domestic torture and abuse are burning themselves. Can you imagine being so distraught that you literally set yourself on fire? Some women were forced to get married as early as 7 years old. Domestic violence is still prevalent in Afghanistan despite the Taliban supposedly being overthrown. Women have no rights and it's very hard to get a divorce.


How to Make Your Own H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine

Tuesday, November 17

swine flu, or something else, and quality television viewing

I've been sick since last Thursday night. Today is Tuesday. And I have a good idea what my source of infection was. (Hint: stay away from tour groups with sneezing kids in them).

I don't know if it is THE flu, you know, the CAFO Special, or if it is just some run-of-the-mill seasonal riff-raff influenza. Kaiser won't let me come in to find out what it is. 'Ma'am, I would strongly advise you to just stay home. You could pick something up in the waiting room and get worse.' Not that I was even going to go park my butt in a waiting room full of atomic cooties, mind you, cripes.

My money's on the CAFO Special, because I'm experiencing symptoms I haven't slogged through in a good 20 yrs. Very sore throat, very little congestion breakup even after several days, ears packed with glue, and a squid has taken up residence in my upper sinuses. I even have a couple swollen lymph nodes, oh joy. It's a mucus party up in my head, and I'm invited!

So, I sleep half the day, and stumble thru half the day, downing Sleepytime Tea by the quart, and avoiding decongestant drugs because they tend to make the rebound congestion that much worse. The cats show me their paws and gesture to point out a lack of opposable thumbs, when I mutter can't they open up their own can of food, or clean their own litter box, please.

But hey, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, because Lou "I brake for birthers" Dobbs is finally gone from CNN! But that's almost negated by the fact that they paid him $8 mill to get gone! Holy mackerel.

I watched Matt Lauer do some weird cha-cha shuffle thing around the racist issue with Dobbs this morning on the Today Show, and almost threw my mug of Sleepytime Tea at the television.

It was much more satisfying, by contrast, to watch Rush Limbaugh Karaoke on Jimmy Fallon at 3-something this morning, while I was drinking tea and feeling particularly crappy and congested.

It's the little things.

New Music

Have you seen the band Sonos? Check out this video, I Want You Back (Jackson Five) with a completely new take.

Monday, November 16

How are your local hospitals fairing?

St. Francis Hospital In Hartford Is On Probation For One Year
HARTFORD — - The surgery was supposed to repair the patient's heart, but more than five hours into the procedure, something went wrong — a "catastrophic" failure of the pump meant to keep blood and oxygen flowing through the patient's body. The patient sustained a brain injury and died a month later.

But that wasn't the only thing that went wrong at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center after the device failed, according to state health officials.

Under federal law and hospital policy, the hospital should have notified the federal government or the device manufacturer of the problem, but that did not happen, according to an investigation report by state regulators. Hospital policy called for the device to be impounded and for the director of clinical engineering to be notified without delay, but he wasn't told for more than two weeks, the report said. And, it stated, the device itself was put back into use within three to four days, even though it had not been examined by the required staff.

........Interviews with the director of clinical engineering indicated that the department was short-staffed and did not ask for resources to keep up with the required preventive maintenance, the report said.

Profit takes Precedence!!

Hidden Mistakes In Hospitals
But even when hospitals notify the state, the health department keeps most of those reports secret.
......That secrecy was written into the law after hospitals balked at the state's original adverse-event legislation, which gave the public broad access to reports of medical errors and accidents.

The legislature in 2002 ordered hospitals to disclose all serious patient injuries "associated with medical management." But after the first reports were made public, hospital lobbyists persuaded lawmakers to rewrite the statute in 2004, limiting the types of adverse events that must be divulged and promising to keep reports secret unless they led to an investigation.

Hospital Lobbyists?? Now it's.... LET'S MAKE A DEAL with hospital lobbyists thank you very much Mr. President!

Sunday, November 15

I read the news today. Oh boy.

Liz Cheney suggests Cheney/Palin ticket in 2012

Teh stupid hurts.

Fallujah’s infants suffer from sharp rise in birth defects
Boy, we showed them! God (if there is one) help us.

During House Health Care Debate, Statements By More Than A Dozen Lawmakers 'Were Ghostwritten, In Whole Or In Part, By Washington Lobbyists'

Palin Calls Decision To Try 9/11 Defendants In Federal Court ‘Atrocious,’ Wants To ‘Hang ‘Em High’
What country does she think this is?

Remember when 30 Republicans voted AGAINST Sen Franken's rape amendment?
The Republicans are shocked at the public outcry. Pigs.

That's just a few. Fellow travelers, did you ever try to talk to regular folks about current events? It's mind boggling. Where do you start to educate people when they are completely misinformed? How do you undo all the damage done by cable news?

Sunday Sermons via Dandelion Salad

Dandelion Salad -- a terrific site to add to your favorites.

Here's a sampling of their posts --

Exclusive: The Souls of Wealthy Men by Gary Sudborough (EXCELLENT READ!)

Morality vs Material Interests - Myths of Our Time by Paul Craig-Roberts:

For whatever the reason, morality has shown itself to be an impotent force in 21st century America. Americans show no remorse at over one million dead Iraqis and four million displaced Iraqis due entirely to an American invasion based on lies and deception. The lies and deception are now well proven. Yet, there has been no apology for the horrors that Americans inflicted on Iraq.
Afghanistan is another example. Intentional lies conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda and “terrorists.” The diverse peoples in Afghanistan who were first ravaged by Soviet bombs are now ravaged by American bombs. Weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games, people waiting for fuel or food, people asleep in their homes, people attending Mosques have all been murdered and are murdered routinely by US and its NATO puppets.
Each time civilians are murdered, the US denies it, only to be contradicted every time by the evidence.
Why is the president of the United States contemplating sending yet tens of thousands more US troops to kill people in Afghanistan?
The answer is that the United States is an immoral country, with an immoral people and an immoral government. Americans no longer have a moral conscience. They have gone over to the Dark Side.
Humanity has endeavored for millennia to control evil with morality. In the American “superpower,” this effort has collapsed and failed. The United States needs to be censured for its immoral behavior, not have that behavior rationalized as being in its material interests

Do you want Americans fighting and dying for the Karzai regime?

The Missing Link From Killeen to Kabul
Published: November 14, 2009

THE dead at Fort Hood had not even been laid to rest when their massacre became yet another political battle cry for the self-proclaimed patriots of the American right.

Their verdict was unambiguous: Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an American-born psychiatrist of Palestinian parentage who sent e-mail to a radical imam, was a terrorist. And he did not act alone. His co-conspirators included our military brass, the Defense Department, the F.B.I., the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and, of course, the liberal media and the Obama administration. All these institutions had failed to heed the warning signs raised by Hasan’s behavior and activities because they are blinded by political correctness toward Muslims, too eager to portray criminals as sympathetic victims of social injustice, and too cowardly to call out evil when it strikes 42 innocents in cold blood.

The invective aimed at these heinous P.C. pantywaists nearly matched that aimed at Hasan. Joe Lieberman announced hearings to investigate the Army for its dereliction of duty on homeland security. Peter Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, vowed to unmask cover-ups in the White House and at the C.I.A. The Weekly Standard blog published a broadside damning the F.B.I. for neglecting the “broader terrorist plot” of which Hasan was only one of the connected dots. Jerome Corsi, the major-domo of the successful Swift-boating of John Kerry, unearthed what he said was proof that Hasan had advised President Obama during the transition.

William Bennett excoriated soft military leaders like Gen. George Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, who had stood up for diversity and fretted openly about a backlash against Muslim soldiers in his ranks. “Blind diversity” that embraces Islam “equals death,” wrote Michelle Malkin. “There is a powerful case to be made that Islamic extremism is not some fringe phenomenon but part of the mainstream of Islamic life around the world,” wrote the columnist Jonah Goldberg. Islam is “not a religion,” declared the irrepressible Pat Robertson, but “a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world.”

As a snapshot of where a chunk of the country stands right now, these reactions to the Fort Hood bloodbath could not be more definitive. And it’s quite possible that some of what this crowd says is right — not about Islam in general, but about the systemic failure to stop a homicidal maniac like Hasan in particular. Whether he was an actual terrorist or an unfathomable mass murderer merely dabbling in jihadist ideas, the repeated red flags during his Army career illuminate a pattern of lapses in America’s national security. Whether those indicators were ignored because of political correctness, bureaucratic dysfunction, sheer incompetence or some hybrid thereof is still unclear, but, whichever, the system failed.

Yet the mass murder at Fort Hood didn’t happen in isolation. It unfolded against the backdrop of Obama’s final lap of decision-making about Afghanistan. For all the right’s jeremiads, its own brand of political correctness kept it from connecting two crucial dots: how our failing war against terrorists in Afghanistan might relate to our failure to stop a supposed terrorist attack at home. Most of those who decried the Army’s blindness to Hasan’s threat are strong proponents of sending more troops into our longest war. That they didn’t mention Afghanistan while attacking the entire American intelligence and defense apparatus in charge of that war may be the most telling revelation of this whole debate.

The reason they didn’t is obvious enough. Their screeds about the Hasan case are completely at odds with both the Afghanistan policy they endorse and the leadership that must execute that policy, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal. These hawks, all demanding that Obama act on McChrystal’s proposals immediately, do not seem to have read his strategy assessment for Afghanistan or the many press interviews he gave as it leaked out. If they had, they’d discover that the whole thrust of his counterinsurgency pitch is to befriend and win the support of the Afghan population — i.e., Muslims. The “key to success,” the general wrote in his brief to the president, will be “strong personal relationships forged between security forces and local populations.”

McChrystal thinks we might even jolly up those Muslims who historically and openly hate America. “I don’t think much of the Taliban are ideologically driven,” he told Dexter Filkins of The Times. “In my view their past is not important. Some people say, ‘Well, they have blood on their hands.’ I’d say, ‘So do a lot of people.’ I think we focus on future behavior.”

Whether we could win those hearts and minds is, arguably, an open question — though it’s an objective that would require a partner other than Hamid Karzai and many more troops than even McChrystal is asking for (or America presently has). But to say that McChrystal’s optimistic — dare one say politically correct? — view of Muslim pliability doesn’t square with that of America’s hawks is the understatement of the decade.

As their Fort Hood rhetoric made clear, McChrystal’s most vehement partisans don’t trust American Muslims, let alone those of the Taliban, no matter how earnestly the general may argue that they can be won over by our troops’ friendliness (or bribes). If, as the right has it, our Army cannot be trusted to recognize a Hasan in its own ranks, then how will it figure out who the “good” Muslims will be as we try to build a “stable” state (whatever “stable” means) in a country that has never had a functioning central government? If our troops can’t be protected from seemingly friendly Muslim American brethren in Killeen, Tex., what are the odds of survival for the 40,000 more troops the hawks want to deploy to Kabul and sinkholes beyond?

About the only prominent voice among the liberal-bashing, Obama-loathing right who has noted this gaping contradiction is Mark Steyn of National Review. “Members of the best trained, best equipped fighting force on the planet” were “gunned down by a guy who said a few goofy things no one took seriously,” he wrote. “And that’s the problem: America has the best troops and fiercest firepower, but no strategy for throttling the ideology that drives the enemy — in Afghanistan and in Texas.” You have to applaud Steyn’s rare intellectual consistency within his camp. One imagines that he does not buy the notion that our Army, however brilliant, has a shot at building “strong personal relationships” with a population that often regards us as occupiers and infidels.

In a week of horrific news, it was good to hear at the end of it that Obama is dissatisfied with the four Afghanistan options he has been weighing so far. The more time he deliberates, the more he is learning that he’s on a fool’s errand with no exit. After Karzai was spared a runoff last month and declared the winner of the fraud-infested August “election,” Obama demanded that he address his government’s corruption as a price for American support. Only days later the Afghan president mocked the American president by parading his most tainted cronies on camera and granting an interview to PBS’s “NewsHour” devoted to spewing his contempt for his American benefactors.

Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and, until recently, a State Department official in Afghanistan, could be found on MSNBC on Thursday once again asking the question no war advocate can answer, “Do you want Americans fighting and dying for the Karzai regime?” Hoh quit his post on principle in September despite the urging of colleagues, including our ambassador there, Karl W. Eikenberry, that he stay and fight over war policy from the inside. But Hoh had lost confidence in our strategy and would not retract his resignation. Now he has been implicitly seconded by Eikenberry himself. Last week we learned that the ambassador, a retired general who had been the top American military commander in Afghanistan as recently as 2007, had sent two cables to Obama urging caution about sending more troops.

We don’t know everything in those cables. What we do know is that American intelligence continues to say that fewer than 100 Qaeda operatives can still be found in Afghanistan. We also know that the Taliban, which are currently estimated to number in the tens of thousands, can’t be eliminated. As McChrystal put it to Filkins, there is no “finite number” of Taliban, so there’s no way to vanquish them. Hence his counterinsurgency alternative, which could take decades, costing untold billions and countless lives.

Perhaps those on the right are correct about Hasan, and he is just one cog in an apocalyptic jihadist plot that has infiltrated our armed forces. If so, then they have an obligation to explain how pouring more troops into Afghanistan would have stopped Hasan from plotting in Killeen. Don’t hold your breath. If we have learned anything concrete so far from the massacre at Fort Hood, it’s that our hawks, for all their certitude, are as utterly confused as the rest of us about who it is we’re fighting in Afghanistan and to what end.

Saturday, November 14

10/27/07 Obama Promises To End War

"I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war.... you can take that to the bank."

Thursday, November 12

300,000 Starlings in Spring Ballet

from huffpo:

Have you ever seen 300,000 birds move at once? Buzzfeed posted this video of a massive flock of starlings swarming together over an unspecified area in Denmark, forming a dark, shape-shifting cloud. For all the Harry Potter fans out there, it bears a frightening resemblance to a Dementor.


(A little birdie told me they emigrated from the US. Smart birds!)

USA Paying the Taliban

Did you know that we're paying the insurgents who shooting at us in Afghanistan?

According to a recent investigative article in The Nation, the process goes like this: we, the US taxpayers, give money to the Department of Defense. The DOD gives money to the private contractors who ship supplies to our troops all over Afghanistan. The contractors in turn give money to "private security firms" - local leaders, local warlords and the Taliban - in order to make sure that the supplies get through with as few bullet holes as possible.

A neat arrangement. Of course, what the "private security firms" do with the money they indirectly receive from us (probably augmented from drug operations) is their business. The recent discovery of 250 tons of explosives and bomb-making parts in the Afghan city of Kandahar is a hint, though.

This will only get worse. People on the receiving end of a protection racket will tell you that the amount of money never goes down.

In my opinion, it's time to leave.


Ever had to put up with a snotty brat of a child?

You tell the child that you're going to do something that the child doesn't want or like, and in retaliation the child says, "I'll stop loving you," or words to that effect.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Petulant Child, 2009.

The District of Columbia (our nation's capital) is getting ready to pass a law that allows same-sex marriage, but contains a provision clearly stating that religious organizations will not be required to set aside space or time to conduct ceremonies. No big deal there, as marriage is also a civil rite and American culture allows you to set up whatever ceremony you and your companion feel is appropriate.

But the law also requires organizations to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to provide the same level of benefits to same-sex couples as it does to married hetero couples.

And that's when the Roman Catholic Church became a petulant child.

The RCC has thrown down an ultimatum that is really quite unconscionable for a 'Christian' organization who includes charity as a basic - they're threatening to shut off charitable services to the District, offering as an excuse that they won't be able to afford it.

We all know the real reason, of course.

One of the things that makes it very hard for me to embrace any religion is the separation between what the religion teaches and how it puts those teachings into practice. The New Testament injunctions against homosexuality do not emanate from Christ, but from Paul, who knew how to hate and has struck many people as a bit of a woman-hater.

Of course, we recall William Durant's judgment that "Fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ," and that the canon was fixed by a church council over a thousand years ago.

Nice to see that the RCC is keeping up with the times.

Wednesday, November 11

These CEO's are so so SO OUT OF TOUCH with the real world. It is just plain despicable. How much more are we going to take?

WSJ: AIG CEO Robert Benmosche Ready To Quit Over Pay Constraints

After just three months as head of battered insurer American International Group, Robert Benmosche has threatened to leave his post as he struggles to deal with heavy government oversight and restrictions on what the bailed-out company wants to pay employees, according to a published report.

Back in August (while at his luxurious estate in Croatia) he came out of retirement (former MetLife CEO) to work for AIG --
He was very concerned about his children's future. Check out what he said - UFB!

He also hopes that his purchase of vineyards -- including in the well-regarded Dingac region, and another area where he has reintroduced once indigenous Zinfandel grapes -- will eventually yield good income for his family.

"My children worry about how do they reach my level," he said in a wide-ranging conversation over three hours. "I suspect my son has a better chance because he is in real estate. My daughter is going to be a rabbi, so as a rabbi I don't think she will ever make the kind of money CEOs make. But they were worried about how do they afford this."

"So everything I'm doing, whether it is in New York or here, you will see, provides income. I want to make sure the estate I leave behind not only provides value but is a viable business."

As much as he was looking forward to retiring to Croatia for a large part of every year, he said the economic crisis requires executives with experience to return to action.

"Some of us need to come out of retirement -- who have done this before -- to help deal with the crisis," Benmosche said. "If I sit here, I just felt that there are going to be continuing problems. I felt I had some of the skills necessary to fix the problems of AIG in particular and it made sense to come back."

Oh, and you ladies will love this comment from the article, referencing his estate in Croatia (The terraces stretch across 160 or 170 feet of sea front, where he keeps a 135 horsepower boat parked in front.)

"Every bathroom is like a piece of art," he said while showing off his master bathroom with his wife Denise. "Women go wild when they walk in here."

And then we have Lord Blankcheck from God'sman, I mean Goldman Sachs with this comment

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein: Our Employees Are Among The Most Productive In The World
"I often hear references to higher compensation at Goldman," said Mr Blankfein. "What people fail to mention is that net income generated per head is a multiple of our peer average. The people of Goldman Sachs
are among the most productive in the world."

PRODUCTIVE??? And just what the HELL does Goldman Sachs produce??? (besides Treasury Secretaries)

Remember his comments last week??

I'm just doing "god's work"

At the same time, there does seem to be a strange uptick in religious rhetoric from bankers lately, as they strive to counter an upsurge in anti-banker sentiment. For example, Time Magazine’s Justin Fox writes:

In a discussion about morality and markets at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Goldman Sachs international vice chairman Brian Griffiths, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, described giant paychecks for bankers as an economic necessity. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,” he said.

And the New York Times recently quoted John Varley, of Barclays, telling an audience at London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields that ”profit is not satanic.”

Blankfein’s wry comment that he’s “doing god’s work” seems almost to be a veiled jab at this sort of religio-public relations push, which to a serious banker of Blankfein’s stature, must seem somewhat silly.

Blankfein clearly knows who he works for. After all, God couldn’t afford him.