Sunday, November 30, 2008

You're dirty sweet and you're my girl

Normally I ignore these viral memes but I've been tagged by Valley Girl, who was tagged by T Rex.

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
6 random things... hmmm, OK:
1) I have arachnophobia. The bigger they are the more I hate 'em, but small ones freak me out too. (Don't bother trying to educate me on this, it's a phobia.)
2) I'm a crappy guitarist but it doesn't stop me from playing for my own amusement. (I don't hardly ever inflict myself on others.)
3) I spent 20 years running sound in live venues and yet these days I hate being in the audience, especially assigned seating. (As I've aged I've become more anti-social. Now get off my lawn!)
4) I love my current career but if I had my druthers I'd be living on board a sailboat in constantly changing warm, sunny climes.
5) I miss L.A. a lot more now that I'm not living there than when I did.
6) I shan't tag 6 other bloggers, 2 is the max for me.

Time's up, I've put my #2 pencil down and I hope I passed the audition.

Bill, Vid? Tag, you're it.

The Devil went down to Georgia

("Midnight Train to Georgia"-Gladys Knight & The Pips)

Thankfully, the empty vessel that is Sarah Palin ruined John McCain's last chance for the Presidency. Sadly, though, she seems determined to continue her crusade for fame and power. Let's hope she has the same effect on the Republican Party as she did on McCain's candidacy.

Like a good Party soldier, she's gone gone to Georgia to campaign against a real soldier, by supporting the truly awful Saxby Chambliss, who was never a soldier. The largest newspaper in Alaska says:
Gov. Sarah Palin is putting her conservative Republican fame to work in Georgia, stumping for Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is in a tough runoff for re-election.

I wonder if she knows the true measure of the man she is eagerly helping.

Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 by running one of the most reprehensible campaigns of modern times. He was up against incumbent Democrat Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran who lost both legs and his right arm to a grenade during that conflict.

Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam. He got four student draft deferments, and when his number finally came up, he was medically disqualified with knee troubles.

In the best Karl Rove fashion, Chambliss the draft-evader attacked Cleland the war hero for being soft on terrorism. Distorting Cleland’s votes about workplace rules for the new Homeland Security Department employees, Chambliss portrayed him as a tool of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

Here’s how the Almanac of American Politics (2006) described it:
“Chambliss ran an ad, much attacked in the press, showing pictures of Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Max Cleland, and saying that Cleland 'voted against the President’s vital homeland security efforts 11 times.’” (Those “vital homeland security efforts” Cleland opposed were intended to strip homeland security employees of union rights and other workplace protections.)

The man who couldn’t bring himself to serve in the military said a man who left three limbs behind in war was a weakling who would turn the country over to terrorists.

Go, Sarah, go.

Slate has a dry but thorough summary of the emptiness of the Palin Mystique. Here are a couple of tid-bits:

What command experience does Palin have as head of the Alaska National Guard?

The Alaska governor has no command role with National Guard troops engaged in combat operations or with the 49th Missile Defense Battalion, which is stationed in Alaska. She does command the National Guard when it comes to natural disasters and homeland security. These issues are handled by a member of her cabinet, Maj. Gen. Craig, the adjutant general for Alaska, who also handles veterans' affairs. Palin has called up the guard only once, in 2007, to fight wildfires. They were on standby for a 2007 whaling conference during which they expected protesters but were never summoned.

Cindy McCain and others have asserted that Alaska's proximity to Russia has contributed to Palin's foreign-policy knowledge. What dealings has she had with Russia?

The campaign has not come up with any. Palin has never been to Russia.

You betcha. Oh, and people of Georgia, are you stupid, or just dumb?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Not just news, it's Farking news!*

What's da matta wit Brooklyn!?
Ex-city cop wins huge award after chair he sat in broke, sending bullet into his knee

Former New York City Detective Anderson Alexander was sitting in it in Brooklyn's 73rd Precinct on Jan. 1, 2002, when his partner handed him his gun so the partner could interview a suspect.

Alexander leaned back to put the gun in his waistband, but the back of the chair gave way, his finger slipped and the 9-mm. Smith & Wesson fired a bullet into his left knee.

"This case is not about him shooting himself," Alexander's lawyer Matthew Maiorana told the Daily News. "This case is about a broken chair and an unsafe workplace.
Alexander, 49, who retired on a three-quarters-pay disability pension, moved to South Carolina, where he works as a sheriff's deputy.
He declined comment.
Alexander made more than $90,000 a year before he retired, including overtime.
Safety off and a chambered round is a recipe for disaster!

Brooklyn cops can make $90k a year!?

$4.5 MILLION for being an unsafe idiot!!!

A disability so bad he gets 3/4 pension ... but well enough to join another police force!!!!

What professional stuffs a gun in his waistband while sitting at his desk when he could just put it in a drawer? He shouldn't get squat, except maybe a Darwin Award.
The Cane Mutiny!
Man wielding plastic candy cane subdues attacker

Police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong says the man used the two-foot-tall plastic ornament to subdue the attacker until officers arrived.

He says the 49-year-old suspect became intoxicated, went over to a neighbor's home on Thanksgiving and began waving a kitchen knife at people gathered on the lawn.

He cut several peoples' clothing before one of them decided to fight back.

Police say the man with the knife was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. The guest who took up the candy cane was not arrested because police determined he acted in self-defense.
Sounds like he got a Frosty reception.
Moving up we have
Lawmaker to Homeland Security: Don't forget to credit God for keeping Kentuckians safe

A lawmaker is upset with his state's Department of Homeland Security for its lack of credit to a "higher power" for its work in protecting the state's citizens.

Kentucky State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister who helped establish a requirement that the federally funded agency credit God with keeping the state safe, is upset that under Gov. Steve Beshear, the department's 2008 annual report did not do so.
Among the requirements of the 2006 anti-terror law is that a plaque be placed in the department's Emergency Operations Center. Part of the statement on the plaque reads: "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."
Yeeeees, because god has worked so well in protecting people, excluding his son of course.

Dude, your 'kingdom' is in heaven, I suggest that Rep Riner (R-U stupid) pray in one hand and defecate in the other. See which one is full of the lord's loving bounty first. Oh, and read the Constitution, 1st amendment.
Your DHS at work AKA FearFactor:
TSA ads aim to get fliers on board with security measures

A passenger focus group conducted for TSA by New York City business consulting firm Blue Lime found that "unquestioning compliance has diminished." Passengers say they are more afraid of missing their flight than they are of an airplane being attacked, the 73-page Blue Lime report found.

In a 97-second video, Washington National Airport screener Stephanie Naar gently explains that homemade bombs "are the No. 1 threat to aircraft, and we know terrorists have concealed these items in shoes."
So they use our tax dollars to say "homemade bombs "are the No. 1 threat to aircraft."

Ummm, no, no and a resounding NO!

The major threats to aircraft & travelers are bad inspections and lax enforcement of standards in the FAA as decreed by Bush et al.

Of course the prize statement the TSA propaganda video is "unquestioning compliance has diminished" 'Unquestioning compliance' is only called for by tyrants.
And speaking of tyrants:
State justice confirms he yelled "Tyrant!" at Mukasey before AG collapsed

Richard Sanders, a justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, has never been one to shy from controversy or blunt language. And last week, as he sat at a Federalist Society dinner and listened to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Sanders reached his tipping point.

After listening to Mukasey defend the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies — its detainment practices at Guantánamo Bay, its interpretation of the Geneva Conventions' reach — Sanders stood and shouted "Tyrant! You are a tyrant!"
In his speech, Mukasey said that almost every article in the treaty is "plainly addressed to armed conflicts among the nations that signed the Conventions. It is hardly surprising that the United States concluded that those provisions would not apply to the armed conflict against al-Qaida, an international terrorist group and not, the last time I checked, a signatory to the Conventions."

Sanders, on Tuesday, said that being a signatory was beside the point. "I didn't sign the Geneva Conventions, you didn't sign the Geneva Conventions, but the United States did sign the Conventions. And that's the point, isn't it?"

He also took umbrage at the Bush administration's detention policies at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, saying: "I think it's a disgrace to hold people without charge, without trial, to hold them incommunicado."
My hero!

* These stories aren't all from Fark, but they could be!

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Friday, November 28, 2008

Trickery, the unconscious power

We had some interesting political discussions around the old Thanksgiving table. One long-time friend, a thoughtful conservative, said he wondered if Obama/Clinton, had enough real world foreign policy experience to be President/Sec. of State.

I offer this in reply:

Another person bemoaned the Big 3 auto manufacturers plight, having to pay all those fabulous pensions to those selfish and lazy retirees.

To him, I offer this:
DETROIT, Sept 28, 2007; Kevin Krolicki and David Bailey writing for Reuters reported that General Motors Corp. agreed to keep 16 union-operated plants through 2011 in exchange for a cost-saving deal on health care and other concessions, according to the terms of the top U.S. automaker's tentative labor contract with the United Auto Workers union.

Under the deal, GM would shift a retiree health care obligation, estimated at over $50 billion, to a new trust in exchange for initial payments of $30 billion, a step analysts have said could save the automaker some $3 billion per year.

In another cost-cutting move, GM will offer more buyouts to UAW workers, creating room for new hires at reduced wages and benefits.

And the myth of UAW workers making over $70 per hour was raised. Read this:
Question: Is the press just being sloppy on this issue of supposedly pampered autoworkers, or are there other elements in play? Because honestly, I've had trouble escaping the not-very-subtle elitist, get-a-load-of-this tone that has run through the media's misinformation on the topic; i.e., "These autoworkers get paid that?!"

Answer: No, they don't, so please stop reporting it. (And why has the press been so reticent to note that Big Three autoworkers recently made significant concessions to management?)

And it's funny, because I don't remember hearing much coverage in the press about AIG workers' six- and seven-figure salaries when the U.S. government announced it was bailing out the insurance giant. And I haven't seen or heard a single press reference to the annual salaries pocketed by Citigroup employees, even though the government has moved in quickly to bail the banking giant out of a hole its executives dug.

Happy post-Turkey day!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

While it's probably too late for most of you, here is an excerpt of talking points for dealing with you conservetard relatives:
Talking Turkey: Ten Myths Conservatives Believe About Progressives

1. Liberals hate America.

For the record: Liberals love America. In fact, what makes us liberals is that we actually read and believed all those pretty words in the Declaration of Independence about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and in the Bill of Rights about freedom of speech, religion, assembly, privacy, and all the rest of it.
4. Liberals hate our troops.

We love our troops. We love them so much that we want them brought home safe and sound to their families, as soon as possible.

5. Liberals are a bunch of elitists who hate decent working- and middle-class Americans. opposed to those sainted corporate men-of-the-people who fly around in private jets and pull down eight-figure salaries while closing plants and cutting 10,000 jobs at a time. That's what real populism looks like, you betcha.

Liberals are funny people. We think that sending well-paid American jobs overseas is a bad idea. We think the minimum wage should be big enough to cover life's necessities, with some left over. We think it's insane that over half the bankruptcies in the country are due to lack of adequate medical insurance.
The whole post is great, I urge you to read it all.

At least you'll be ready for Xmas dinner.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Listen, please listen, that's the way it should be

OK, I'm going off the reservation here, and I'll probably get in BIG trouble, but I'm going to reveal a secret: There is a Liberal Bloggers' Club.

There's a secret handshake, a motto, but fortunately, no dues. There are several local chapters, and the L.A./SoCal Chapter meets in a treehouse in Arianna Huffington's back yard, at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles, every so often. She makes great peanut butter sandwiches.

There is, however, an initiation test. Passing requires clear and deep understanding of history, politics, and Anaheim Angels baseball stats going back at least 20 years.

Seriously, most people who stop by here have a good grasp on politics and history. So here's a challenge: take this test on American civics:
Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? Questions were drawn from past ISI surveys, as well as other nationally recognized exams.

How'd I do? Glad you asked:
You answered 30 out of 33 correctly — 90.91 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 78.0%
Average score: 78.0%

You can take the quiz as often as you like, however, your score will only count once toward the monthly average.

If you have any comments or questions about the quiz, please email

You can consult the following table to see how citizens and elected officials scored on each question.

Where to from here?

And I clanked one question, just hit the wrong answer, so I should have gotten 31 of 33 correct.

Seriously, I hope everyone takes this test, and learns from it. We need to do better than rail against the Ridiculous Right™, we need to be confident and aware of our heritage and history, of constitutionality and law.

The better educated we are, the better we can criticize our government, both Democratic and Republican.

Especially Republican.

For fun: Young Rascals "People Got To Be Free" & a wonderful picture collage of the civil rights movement:

Update by The Sailor: Kathleen Parker, (yes, that Kathleen Parker) has a column on the test's stats:
Out of 2,500 American quiz-takers, including college students, elected officials and other randomly selected citizens, nearly 1,800 flunked a 33-question test on basic civics. In fact, elected officials scored slightly lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent compared to 49 percent.

Only 0.8 percent of all test-takers scored an "A."

It's Getting Hungry Out

The following should tell us something...

At a 600-acre farm in Platteville, Colorado, an astonishing 40,000 people from around the USA turned up this weekend ready to partake in the ancient practice of gleaning – the act of collecting leftover crops from farm fields following the harvest.

Joe and Chris Miller, the farm owners, had invited people from neighbouring communities to come and take home the remaining potatoes, leeks and carrots on their land - expecting between 5,000 to 10,000 people to show up.

When an estimated 11,000 vehicles converged on the farm, 37 miles north of Denver, Chris said, 'Overwhelmed' is putting it mildly... People obviously need food’.

The couple decided to open their fields to those suffering hardship and as a thank you to customers after being informed of raids in local churches where food was being stolen.

The farm visitors were so numerous and did such a thorough job of cleaning up the leftover vegetables on the Saturday, that the second day of gleaning had to be cancelled.
As many of us in the U.S. look forward to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner there are an estimated 36 million of our fellow Americans that cannot. There is a real and growing food crisis in what is purported to be the richest nation in the world.

According to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger demand is up 28 percent. In Chicago there is 33 percent rise in the number of people who have turned to a pantry for food assistance compared with a year ago. The Los Angeles Regional Foodbank reports that demand is up 41 percent and the quote that "One out of every ten people in Los Angeles County is at risk of hunger." With all of this new demand and a Thanksgiving dinner costing 12 to 15 percent more than it did a year ago, 72 percent of the food banks across the nation are receiving less government funding then they did last year.

Some 28 million Americans now receive some amount of help from the Food Stamp program, known since the beginning of this month as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Soup kitchens everywhere are in tough straits. That's because food prices have increased at a time when the numbers of people in need have risen and the people who donate, hampered by economic difficulties of their own, are contributing less. A family of 4 qualifies for about 28 dollars a week and if you have been to the grocery lately you know what $28 bucks will get you.

This is a big problem and growing bigger by the day. The great majority of us folks are feeling the pinch of the times but many of us not as much as a lot of us. Look real closely at your budget and see what you can spare for your local food bank. Even $10 will help. This is a special holiday week but next week and the week after people will be just as hungry so consider setting aside a small portion of your weekly food budget for those that have a whole lot less. Here in Atlanta and in other large cities the problem is staggeringly large but even if you live in small town America you can find someone that needs help with food. Check with local churches and they can point you to groups that are trying to help. Even if you can't help financially you might be able to help by volunteering.

cross posted at Fallenmonk

Did you ever listen to your heart

(The Accolade, by Edmund Blair Leighton)

Among the certainties of life are Death & Taxes. Oh, and repression breeds rebellion.

Saudi Arabia
is a troubling, repressive U.S. ally. And apparent enemy, as it was home to 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.

Still, some progressive movement has taken place in Saudi Arabia. Music other than traditional Arabian is becoming popular, and women are becoming bolder, and rebelling against repression.

Among such women are The Accolade:
They cannot perform in public. They cannot pose for album cover photographs. Even their jam sessions are secret, for fear of offending the religious authorities in this ultraconservative kingdom.

But the members of Saudi Arabia’s first all-girl rock band, the Accolade, are clearly not afraid of taboos.

The band’s first single, “Pinocchio,” has become an underground hit here, with hundreds of young Saudis downloading the song from the group’s MySpace page. Now, the pioneering foursome, all of them college students, want to start playing regular gigs — inside private compounds, of course — and recording an album.

It's hard to know how supportive of these women we should be. On one hand, exposure and publicity will help their cause and careers. On the other, more notoriety may cause a backlash by the religious zealots in charge in Saudi Arabia:
Today, there is a growing rock scene with dozens of bands, some of them even selling tickets to their performances. Hip-hop is also popular. The religious police — strictly speaking, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — have largely retreated from the streets of Jidda and are somewhat less aggressive even in the kingdom’s desert heartland.

They took their name from the pre-Raphaelite painting "The Accolade", by Edmund Blair Leighton:
“I liked the painting because it shows a woman who is satisfied with a man,” Dina said.

Indeed. Their MySpace page is There you can listen to their first single, Pinocchio. Pop-metal, a lot of fun to listen to, and a cultural milestone.

Keep it coming, please. It sounds like change.

Here's a brief video of the song "Pinocchio":

Monday, November 24, 2008

Money for Nothing

From the same folks that brought you the 1989 S&L collapse, please welcome the 2008 team!
Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose

The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system.
``We need oversight,'' Paulson told lawmakers. ``We need protection. We need transparency. I want it. We all want it.''
And that's just the money Congress voted for.

But wait, there's more!
Fed's Role in Crisis Is Giant, if Opaque

Largely outside public view, however, the Federal Reserve is lending far more than that amount -- $893 billion, roughly the equivalent of the annual economic output of Mexico -- to help a wide range of institutions weather the economic storm.

As of last week, the Fed's loans included $507 billion to banks, $50 billion to investment firms, $70 billion for money market mutual funds, and $266 billion to companies that use a form of short-term debt called commercial paper. It is considering a new program that would make billions more available to prop up consumer lending: auto loans, credit cards and the like.
And if you act now you'll receive:
U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.

“Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Congressman Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”
And then there's this:
Banking Regulator Played Advocate Over Enforcer
Agency Let Lenders Grow Out of Control, Then Fail

When Countrywide Financial felt pressured by federal agencies charged with overseeing it, executives at the giant mortgage lender simply switched regulators in the spring of 2007.

The benefits were clear: Countrywide's new regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision, promised more flexible oversight of issues related to the bank's mortgage lending. For OTS, which depends on fees paid by banks it regulates and competes with other regulators to land the largest financial firms, Countrywide was a lucrative catch.

But OTS was not an effective regulator. This year, the government has seized three of the largest institutions regulated by OTS, including IndyMac Bancorp, Washington Mutual -- the largest bank in U.S. history to go bust -- and on Friday evening, Downey Savings and Loan Association. The total assets of the OTS thrifts to fail this year: $355.7 billion. Three others were forced to sell to avoid failure, including Countrywide.
Senior executives at Countrywide who participated in the meetings said OTS pitched itself as a more natural, less antagonistic regulator than OCC and that Mozilo preferred that. Government officials outside OTS who were familiar with the negotiations provided a similar description.

"The general attitude was they were going to be more lenient," one Countrywide executive said. For example, he said other regulators, specifically OCC and the Federal Reserve, were very demanding that large banks not allow loan officers to participate in the selection of property appraisers. "But the OTS sold themselves on having a more liberal interpretation of it," the executive said.

Winning Countrywide was important for OTS, which is funded by assessments on the roughly 750 banks it regulates, with the largest firms paying much of the freight.
But of course no one could have; predicted/foreseen/anticipated 9/11, New Orleans' levys, Iraq quagmire, financial disaster ... except all the experts in those areas that weren't drinking the Bush koolaid (and us DFHs.)

I know this post has been long, especially if you followed and read the links, so I'll leave you with a joke I saw in comments here:
"A parody on how the bailout works: A man wanted to buy a donkey, so he went to a farmer and asked him to sell him one. The farmer agreed to sell the man a donkey for $100 but told the man he would have to come back tomorrow to pick it up.

The man returned the next day to retrieve his donkey only to be told by the farmer that the donkey had died overnight. OK, said the man, just give me back my $100 and we're good. I can't do that, said the farmer, I spent the money last night.

No problem, said the man, I know how to fix this situation. So the man started a raffle for the donkey, not telling anyone that the donkey was already dead. He sold 500 tickets at $2 each, for a total of $1000.

Confused, the farmer asked the man, 'Didn't anyone complain about the donkey already being dead?' 'Only the guy that won the raffle and I simply gave him his $2 back and he was happy', said the man."

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

There was a band playing in my head

No particular reason, it's just beautiful music that needs to be heard:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Look at me way up high, Suddenly here am I, I'm flying

Beethoven wrote some beautiful music while totally deaf. Talent and drive, plus hard work.

Some people, however, can hear just fine and yet are completely tone-deaf. Like GM's Rick Wagoner:
General Motors said today that it is putting two of its five corporate jets out of service because the planes are not being used enough. The top three executives at GM, however, will continue to use the private luxurious jets for all of their business and personal travel, despite a flurry of criticism over the perk following an ABC News report this week.

An ABC News investigation revealed that the top three automakers have together spent several hundred million dollars to buy, maintain, and operate a fleet of top-of-the-line private jets for their top executives.

GM leased a fleet of seven planes at the beginning of this year, according to a company spokesperson. Two of the planes were dropped from the fleet in September and two more will be dropped by the end of the year.

"We're cutting back very drastically on all travel," said Tom Wilkinson, a spokesperson for GM. Wilkinson said the downsizing is "strictly in response to the planes not being used" and not a reaction to the harsh treatment CEO Rick Wagoner and others received from Congress this week after it was learned that the CEOs of all three big automakers flew to Washington on private planes to plead for public funding to bailout their ailing companies.

Selling 2 of 5 jets is sacrifice? 3 guys fly in from the same fucking city to attend the same fucking meeting, and they each fly on their own corporate fucking jet? And they want taxpayer help?

My congressperson made me proud:
"I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you're planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial," asked Rep. Bradley Sherman (D-CA). "Let the record show no hands went up."

Indeed. Here's the video:

I will follow

There's been some bitching in the progressive bloggersphere that the new Obama administration hasn't been picking real progressives for senior positions. Emanuel, Clinton, etc., represent, to some, not "Change" but business as usual. At least they have 'D' after their names.

But I'm not too worried. I think 2nd & 3rd tier positions, where most of the policies will actually be written, are often more important than the figureheads. We'll see.

But I'm encouraged today by this from Pres.-elect Obama, in his Saturday address:

"I have already directed my economic team to come up with an Economic
Recovery Plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011
– a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to
sign soon after taking office. We'll be working out the details in
the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to
jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong
and growing economy. We'll put people back to work rebuilding our
crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our
children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient
cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our
dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the
years ahead. "

Sounds pretty damn progressive to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sail on, sail on sailor

With all the other things going on in the world it would be remiss of me not to note the Vendee Globe, the around the world, non-stop, single-handed sailboat race is happening.

This race is the farthest people are from terra firma except when mankind went to the moon. If disaster happens aircraft and ships probably can't reach you in time, only your fellow sailors can rescue you. It's like climbing Mount Everest or sledding the Iditarod ... for 3 months.

Except you don't have teammates and your nearest competitor is miles away and would have to sail back in 50'-60' seas to rescue you. Imagine sailing alone in the Antarctic Ocean 40 to 50 degrees below the equator in seas taller than your Open 60 boat is long, in winds between 30 & 60 mph, for days on end. Oh, and watch out for the icebergs.

It's not for the faint of heart.

Here's the official Vendee Globe website where you can follow the race.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I wanna hold your hand...

Let's me use this pic again...


But if convicted felon Ted Stevens got an ovation, I wonder what Congress will give Georgie?

A war crimes tribunal would be nice...

Update 11/22: To be fair, he had already had a photo op hand shake with everyone before this event. But still, everybody is looking past Bush's shoulder and waiting to talk to President-elect Obama:

Bush is hoping that the APEC countries, which include a number of nations that benefit significantly from trade, will promise, as the G-20 nations did, not to raise new economic barriers to trade over the next year, hoping to avoid the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that helped turn the 1930s downturn into the Great Depression.

The APEC leaders were also expected to endorse a new commitment to wrap up the broad outlines of an agreement on the current round of global trade talks, known as the Doha Round, by the end of December.

However, analysts said it was highly unlikely that goal would be met since many nations will be holding back on their negotiating offers, waiting for Obama to take office. Obama will not have representatives at the APEC meetings.

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Forever Young

Talk in everlasting words, and dedicate them all to me

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

From the Borowitz Report:
In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.

"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate - we get it, stop showing off."

The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.


Doctor, doctor, give me the news

I work in vision research, so I have no idea of what the doctors and patient went thru for this but it seems miraculous:
Teen lives 4 months with no heart, leaves hospital

MIAMI – D'Zhana Simmons says she felt like a "fake person" for 118 days when she had no heart beating in her chest. "But I know that I really was here," the 14-year-old said, "and I did live without a heart."

As she was being released Wednesday from a Miami hospital, the shy teen seemed in awe of what she's endured. Since July, she's had two heart transplants and survived with artificial heart pumps — but no heart — for four months between the transplants.
The pumps, ventricular assist devices, are typically used with a heart still in place to help the chambers circulate blood. With D'Zhana's heart removed, doctors at Holtz Children's Hospital crafted substitute heart chambers using a fabric and connected these to the two pumps.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It seemed so funny to me

It's Laugh At Lieberman day.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry, so I'll just laugh:
WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Lieberman will keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite hard feelings over his support for GOP nominee John McCain during the presidential campaign.

The Connecticut independent will lose a panel post on the Environment and Public Works panel as punishment for criticizing Obama this fall.

Lieberman's colleagues in the Democratic caucus voted 42-13 Tuesday to approve a resolution condemning statements made by Lieberman during the campaign but allowing him to keep the Homeland Security Committee gavel.

Dammit. Thankfully, not all Senators were OK with this:
Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Senator-elect Jeff Merkeley, D-Ore., spoke against allowing Lieberman keep the Homeland Security and Government Affairs post. Reid, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and John Kerry, D-Mass., were among those speaking in his favor, according to a Democratic aide requiring anonymity to discuss a private meeting.

Some, like Iowan Tom Harkin, still harbor hard feelings for statements Lieberman made during the campaign. Harkin took particular offense when Lieberman said a vote against funding the war in Iraq without a deadline for a troop withdrawal meant Obama had voted to cut off funding for troops in harm's way.

"That's outrageous what he said," Harkin said.

What's outrageous is that Kerry would support Holy Joe. He's toxic in CT, likely to lose the next election, especially if Ned Lamont runs again. More proof that the Senate is a very exclusive club, and no one ever gets booted by insiders.

Et tu, Howard:
Speaking to the Huffington Post just moments after it was announced that Democrats in Senate had voted to keep Lieberman as committee chair, Dean said the party had done the right thing by not giving into urges for retribution.

"You know, the desire of revenge is great, of course. But the truth is public policy doesn't run on revenge very well," he said. "And when you see the trouble this country has gotten into in terms of foreign policy, where Bush basically ran a foreign policy based on petulance because he was mad at, for example, Mexico, for abstaining on the Security Council when the Iraq War came up, if you have to actually run the country, it is best not to do it based on feeling of anger towards your enemies."

Crap. Double crap. This from Jane says it all:

Asked what it would mean if Lieberman kept his chairmanship, one Senate Democratic aide said bluntly: "The left has been foiled again. They can rant and rage but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes. Their influence would be in question."

I hope this puts to rest the notion that this is all some master stroke of kumbayah, of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

This is about telling you that you mean nothing. That democracy is a nice word, but it should never threaten the entitlement of the most exclusive club in the world.

No matter what Joe Lieberman does, the people who are protecting him hate you much more than they hate him.

Take The Pledge: “I Will Work To Defeat Joe Lieberman in 2012″


Gimme that old time religion

That needs a scapegoat to beat to death in the village square:
Discussing actions by individual protesters of Proposition 8, Newt Gingrich stated: "I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion."
Apparently nobody in the Republican party has taken the trouncing they received this past election to mean they need to stop dragging out the same hate-filled talking points and blaming everything from acne to Alzheimer's on them. Obviously the islamofascist-marxist-terrorist-socialist-communityorganizer-sympathizer carnard has served them so well.

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your cheatin' heart will tell on you

(Elvis rarity: outtake of "Your Cheatin' Heart")

A few days ago, "entrepreneur" and Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban criticized Barack Obama at HuffPost for not consulting "entrepreneurs" as economic advisors:
Notice anything missing?

Not a single entrepreneur. Yes Warren Buffett started a business, but he will be the first to tell you that he "doesn't do start ups". Which means there isn't a single person advising PE Obama that we know of that knows what it's like to start and run a business in this or any economic climate. That's a huge problem.

If we are going to solve our current economic problems, our president needs to get first hand information on the impact his proposed policies will have on real Joe the Plumbers. People who are 1-person companies living job to job, hoping they get paid on time. We need to know what the impact of his policies will be on the individually owned Chrysler Dealership in Iowa. The bodega in Manhattan. The mobile phone software startup out of Carnegie Mellon. The event planner in Dallas. The barbershop in L.A. The restaurant in Boston.

Entrepreneurs that start and run small businesses will be the propellant in this economy. PE Obama needs to have the counsel of those who will take the real risk inherent in creating companies and jobs. Those who put their money and lives on the line with their business.

Well, today we find out more about Cuban's personal experience as an "entrepreneur":
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed insider-trading charges against Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, over his sale of shares in Internet company after he learned it was raising money through a private financing.

The SEC alleges Mr. Cuban sold his entire 6% ownership stake on June 28, 2004, immediately after learning that was raising money through a private investment in private entity, or PIPE. The next day, after the markets closed, the company announced the PIPE financing. When the markets opened the morning of June 30, shares of the company dropped by 9%. By selling his stake, Mr. Cuban avoided more than $750,000 in losses, the SEC alleges. (Read the full text of the complaint.)

I'm pretty sure the Obama team won't be calling you anytime soon for economic or financial advice.

On the other hand, you might find some Republicans willing to listen to you.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hey you, get offa my cloud

This anonymous letter has been floating on the internets for around a year, I think, and good friend Jess reminded me of it, emailed it to me today.

It's particularly witty now, since so many formerly Red states voted Blue:
Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the entire Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard.

You get Ole' Miss. We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulphur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico

Peace out, Blue States.

While I was trying to track the provenance of the piece, I found it posted at some really vile Right-wing blogs, with some of the following comments:
Sounds like Obonga. Egotistical Snobbery.
All of you libs should move to the "new country" of California because the state motto fits. California, the land of fruits and nuts. Pray to Hollywood while your at it.
We in the South will just sit under a shade tree and collect your government provided socialst dollars while you vacation.


If this ever happened, all of the companies in the Demoncunt states would leave and move to the Republican states. Demoncunt states would be left with nothing but a bunch of illegals and other assorted dumb motherfuckers. Whoever wrote this scenario is an idiot. Maybe then we could start a war with the demoncunt country and kill them all.

The retard that wrote this piece of bullshit must be completely unaware that California's agricultural areas are "red counties", populated by "bitter people clinging to guns and religion".

And they hate the libs in San Francisco and Los Angeles more than any Southerner could ever imagine.

No, you idiot wingers. It's not serious. It's almost like it's already two countries, one rec, one blue.

Idiots. And who is going to be fanning this outrage, cheerleading for the Republican Party? Howard Fineman, on Hardball today:

Howard Fineman: It won't be out of the Hill at all. It's going to be Rush Limbaugh, and what's left of the conservative commentariat. They are going to be in charge of this party until the Republicans begin to get their act together.

Matthews: So the ticked-off voices.

Fineman: The ticked-off voices, and Rush will be the guy.

Let them eat Limbaugh.

Note: Updated for clarity.

It’s show time for dry climes, And bedlam is dreaming of rain

A great contributor to the danger of the Southern California fires, this week, and always, is the phenomenon of Santa Ana Winds.

Commentor, friend, and former San Fernando Valley resident Valley Girl writes a guest post covering the Santa Anas from several perspectives, inc. art, poetry, and meteorology:

Bedlam is Dreaming of Rain- The Santa Ana

Once again destructive fires are raging across Southern California. It's fire season, the time of the Santa Ana. Anyone who knows SoCal knows what the Santa Ana is. It's an ugly wind, a dry wind, one that can turn the smallest ember into a raging destructive fire. The human consequences are obvious, but not so obvious the fate of animals and household pets. The following is just a sample, but it goes out with thanks to all of the animal shelters and private animal hospitals who are stepping up to help:

VCA Animal Hospitals Offers Free Boarding for Pets Affected by Southern California Fires

Horses and other large animals were being taken to a makeshift shelter in Hansen Dam Park. A mobile kennel was set up at Sylmar High School, and small pets can be taken to the Mission animal shelter

At the Brea Community Center, 230 evacuated residents signed in for help, 65 stayed overnight, said Anthony Godoy, a Brea accountant acting as shelter manager. The center also was temporarily housing small pets, including 18 dogs and two cats.

Sylmar Fire: Animal Evacuations LA CITY DEPT. OF ANIMAL SERVICES Officers will try to pick up pets from fire areas and take them to shelters for care, according to the Los Angeles City Department of Animal Services.

"This is the official theme song for southern california fires" a commenter said in response to the YouTube. People may take offense at this, but as a Valley Girl, I'd say it's apt. As are the visuals in the YouTube. Let me repeat, the Santa Ana is an ugly and destructive wind, and creates bedlam both externally and internally. It whips up the dirt and dust and pushes it right under your skin.

Bad Religion and Los Angeles is burning" Click on the link for the full lyrics.

~~GROWING up in West Hills, Brett Gurewitz learned that Los Angeles was a more unruly beast than the far-off cities he read about in schoolbooks. “The telling thing about L.A. is the fact that it has a fire season. I’m a third-generation Angeleno, and proud of it, and if you grow up here you learn that fire is a cyclical thing. To me, it meant L.A. wasn’t quite tamed. Other cities, like New York and Paris, are settled and established – they long ago became docile, tamed things. Not Los Angeles.”

Gurewitz plays guitar in Bad Religion and writes many of its songs, which long ago established it as the most high-minded band among L.A.’s pioneer punks. In the fire season of 2004, Gurewitz watched the blazes on TV and in the vacuous news chatter he heard themes that would become the song “Los Angeles Is Burning.”~~

Somewhere high in the desert near a curtain of blue
St. Anne’s skirts are billowing
But down here in the city of limelights
The fans of Santa Ana are withering
And you can’t deny the living is easy
If you never look behind the scenery
It’s show time for dry climes
And bedlam is dreaming of rain.

Joan Didion captured this in 1967 in an essay "The Santa Ana" from "Slouching Towards Bethlehem"- snips:

~~There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air this afternoon, some unnatural stillness, some tension. What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes, blowing up sand storms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to flash point. For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear sirens in the night[...]

~~I recall being told, when I first moved to Los Angeles and was living on an isolated beach, that the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the bad wind blew. I could see why. The Pacific turned ominously glossy during a Santa Ana period, and one woke in the night troubled not only by the peacocks screaming in the olive trees but by the eerie absence of surf. The heat was surreal. The sky had a yellow cast, the kind of light sometimes called "earthquake weather." My only neighbor would not come out of her house for days, and there were no lights at night, and her husband roamed the place with a machete. One day he would tell me that he had heard a trespasser, the next a rattlesnake.

~~"On nights like that," Raymond Chandler once wrote about the Santa Ana, "every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen." That was the kind of wind it was.~~

And, for a more scientific take, this is from NOAA

~~What are Santa Ana winds?

~~During the fall and early winter, high pressure over the high desert of the Great Basin region causes winds on the southern side of the high to blow from the east, toward the Pacific Ocean and lower air pressure offshore. The winds push dry air from the inland deserts of California and the Southwest over the mountains between coastal California and the deserts.

~~As the air descends from mountains, it is compressed and the temperatures increase. These hot, and very dry winds(relative humidty of 10 to 20% or lower are common) dry out vegetation, increasing the fuel available to feed fires. The gusty winds and eddies of winds swirling through canyons and valleys also fan flames and spread tinders.~~

Cross-posted at teh-kitteh-antidote-anecdote

And nothin left was all she left to me

(Janis Joplin 1st take: Me & Bobby McGee)

Racism's just another word for nothin' left to lose. That is, if you're stupid enough to believe that because someone different from you is successful, it's because they're different from you:
  • If I'm a fuck-up,
  • and he's successful and black,
  • then I'm a fuck-up because I'm not black.
Well, it's in full bloom this fall, after the Obama election victory.

First, from the LATimes:
Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting "Assassinate Obama." Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.

From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.

. . . —Black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. The president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas said a rope found hanging from a campus tree was apparently an abandoned swing and not a noose.

—Crosses were burned in yards of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J., and Apolacan Township, Pa.

—A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted 'Obama.'

—In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying "now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house."

Emotions are often raw after a hard-fought political campaign, but now those on the losing side have an easy target for their anger.

"The principle is very simple," said BJ Gallagher, a sociologist and co-author of the diversity book "A Peacock in the Land of Penguins." ''If I can't hurt the person I'm angry at, then I'll vent my anger on a substitute, i.e., someone of the same race."

"We saw the same thing happen after the 9-11 attacks, as a wave of anti-Muslim violence swept the country. We saw it happen after the Rodney King verdict, when Los Angeles blacks erupted in rage at the injustice perpetrated by 'the white man.'"

"It's as stupid and ineffectual as kicking your dog when you've had a bad day at the office," Gallagher said. "But it happens a lot."

Indeed. And it's happening in Orange County, CA, where the local newspaper, the OCRegister, notes this with absolutely no irony:
Upshaw, 47, is a wiry black man who wears a silver cross on a chain around his neck. He's an elevator mechanic by trade, but he's been out of work and living on disability for about seven years. He says he was hit by an errant shotgun blast during a drive-by shooting in Chicago that broke his hip and left shell fragments in his skull.

He moved to Fullerton a few years ago, because the vicious Chicago winters made his bad hip ache. He lives now in a cramped studio not far from the train tracks.

He was walking to get some Bugler cigarettes Tuesday evening when the two men stopped him on Commonwealth Avenue, not far from Brookhurst Road. One was short and bald, wearing a white T-shirt and plaid shorts. The other was taller, skinnier, dressed in black and wearing a black hat.

This is Upshaw's account of what happened next. And it starts with four words: Give me some money.

Upshaw told the two men he barely had enough to buy his cigarettes. They demanded his watch and a silvery ring that his estranged wife had given him. He shoved his hands into his pockets.

“I don't like (racial epithet), anyway,” Upshaw remembers the short man saying and the taller man repeating. “(Expletive) Obama…and (expletive) (racial epithet).”

. . . Upshaw flagged down police, who caught Mancillas and Carbajal nearby. While he was being arrested, Carbajal told officers he was a gang member and liked to kill police officers, prosecutors said.

Swell. Stupid, racist, and stupid! More from the LATimes piece:
The day after the vote hailed as a sign of a nation changed, black high school student Barbara Tyler of Marietta, Ga., said she heard hateful Obama comments from white students, and that teachers cut off discussion about Obama's victory.

Tyler spoke at a press conference by the Georgia chapter of the NAACP calling for a town hall meeting to address complaints from across the state about hostility and resentment. Another student, from a Covington middle school, said he was suspended for wearing an Obama shirt to school Nov. 5 after the principal told students not to wear political paraphernalia.

The student's mother, Eshe Riviears, said the principal told her: "Whether you like it or not, we're in the South, and there are a lot of people who are not happy with this decision."

You mean the decision by the majority of the electorate to vote for Barack Obama 52-46%? You mean the decision by voters in Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina?

See, the thing is, the majority of Americans are not happy with the way the South has voted for a long time, and those Americans made it clear this year.

Buh Bye, South. Watch your political relevance trickle away like water from Bull Connor's fire-hoses, down the drains into the sewers.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

This wheel's on fire, Rolling down the road

This makes me so damned happy: Barack Obama in a collage of over 600 headlines from around the world on November 5th, 2008 after wining the US presidential election.

This makes me so damned sad:
SYLMAR (CBS) ― A fast-moving brush fire has burned at least three homes and is threatening dozens of others in Sylmar, near the intersection of the 210 and 118 Freeways. About 500 firefighters are battling the blaze and more are on the way.

That's about 5 miles east, 2 miles north of Casa Audio.


View Larger Map

Update 11:00 AM Sat:

The fire passed about 2 miles north of us, and is heading west/slightly south. Everything is a big mess. What a horrible time for the folks who lost homes. We're still feeling pretty lucky.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Old Blackwater, keep on rollin'

New Blackwater Iraq Scandal: Guns, Silencers and Dog Food

A federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food, has learned.

Under State Department rules, Blackwater is prohibited from using certain assault weapons and silencers in Iraq because they are considered "offensive" weapons inappropriate for Blackwater's role as a private security firm protecting US diplomatic missions.

"The only reason you need a silencer is if you want to assassinate someone," said former CIA intelligence officer John Kiriakou, an ABC News consultant.
Two other former employees tell they also witnessed the dog food smuggling operation. They say the weapons were actually hidden inside large sacks of dog food, packaged at company headquarters in North Carolina and sent to Iraq for the company's 20 bomb-sniffing dogs.
A Blackwater spokesperson, Anne Tyrrell, said certain arms shipmens were sent to Iraq surrounded by dog food "to secure them on the airplane and not to smuggle them."
Yeees, we had to put the illegal weapons in dog food to 'secure' them. Gee, I wonder what the cargo manifest said? (Actual reporters might have, you know, tried to find that PUBLIC INFORMATION out.)

While it isn't proof, it's indicative that it wasn't just a few 'bad apples', but a coordinated effort by a mercenary corporation to subvert the laws of the US and Iraq.

But what do you expect from a company that rapes women and shoots civilians?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

I think everyone not as my nation for you are my people and there must be no change

For those who think rock'n'roll isn't cool unless it's played by people with no real musical skills but just passion: here's what happens when skills and passion are combined:

Gentle Giant: Proclamation.

I saw them at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, '73. Blew the roof off the place.

Deal with it. Progressive Rock is perfectly suited for Progressive Politics. Atrios knows, he listens to Yes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And when I feel my finger on your trigger I know nobody can do me no harm

Stay classy, Idaho:

Kids chanting "Assassinate Obama" on the school bus. Seriously, 2nd & 3rd graders. Good for these parents for speaking up.

Of course, this could happen anywhere. There are racists right here in blue Los Angeles.


Be Careful What You Wish For ... or ... The Law of Unintended Consequences

Supreme Court tackles Utah's monument display rules

For decades, Pleasant Grove, Utah, permitted a Ten Commandments monument and an array of historical artifacts amid the benches, trees and flowers of its Pioneer Park. Yet in 2003 when the Summum church asked to erect a monument displaying its core principles, "Seven Aphorisms," the city declined.

The city said it wanted only monuments that related to Pleasant Grove history or were donated by groups with long-standing ties to the community. That rejection spawned a case, at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, that could have ramifications for monuments across the country.
In a 1995 case, [Justice O'Connor] devised the current compromise standard. The court ruled Ohio could not keep the Ku Klux Klan from adding a Latin cross on Capitol grounds where other groups were allowed to put up a Christmas tree and menorah.
Summum, established in 1975, merges Egyptian customs, such as mummification, with elements of Gnostic Christianity that teach, for example, that spiritual knowledge is experiential. Summum followers believe that before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, God handed down a stone tablet of seven aphorisms of a higher law.

Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative organization specializing in religion cases, represents Pleasant Grove. He says the city need not accept Summum's monument simply because it displays the others.
"Accepting a Statue of Liberty does not compel a government to accept a Statue of Tyranny," he told the justices in his brief.

Sekulow contends the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which ruled against Pleasant Grove, erred in considering Pioneer Park a "public forum" for private speech. He says the city was engaged in "government speech" as it selected permanent displays to convey its own themes and can choose among artifacts offered for its 2½-acre park in a historic district.
[Pamela Harris, representing Summum] says Pleasant City cannot claim markers at the site are "government speech" because the city did not create their message. "The city did not control the content of the Ten Commandments monument when it was created; the Eagles did," she wrote.

Privately sponsored speech must be "allowed on equal terms" when governments create a public forum, Harris said, referring to O'Connor's test in the 1995 case.
"Every park in the country that has accepted a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) memorial is now a public forum for the erection of permanent fixed monuments," [Judge Michael McConnell, an appointee of President Bush who previously was a prominent religious-law scholar] said. "They must either remove the war memorials or brace themselves for an influx of clutter."

Fourteen states and the federal government have urged the court to reverse the 10th Circuit decision. The U.S. Justice Department says that if the ruling stands it could affect national parks, which contain thousands of privately funded objects.

Nine municipalities, led by Casper, Wyo., urged the justices to adopt a "bright-line rule" that says when government accepts a donation of property, any resulting message becomes government speech. The municipalities contend the 10th Circuit decision could force a city to choose "between removing works it has accepted" or displaying works from private groups regardless of whether they "promote the common good."
Conservative justices, including Antonin Scalia, have pressed for rules that would allow governments wider latitude to accept certain religious markers and to reject others. He wrote in the 1995 case that "government suppression of speech has so commonly been directed … at religious speech that a (constitutional) free-speech clause without religion would be Hamlet without the prince."
Hoist on their own retard!

Point by point:
The city said it wanted only monuments that related to Pleasant Grove history or were donated by groups with long-standing ties to the community - Umm, I'd say 33 years of a religion is both history and "long-standing ties to the community." Besides, who are the Mormons to reject another's religion!?

"Accepting a Statue of Liberty does not compel a government to accept a Statue of Tyranny" - Strawman anyone? Dude, we're talking about suppressing a religion you don't agree with, not building statues to Bush!

"Sekulow contends the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which ruled against Pleasant Grove, erred in considering Pioneer Park a "public forum" for private speech. He says the city was engaged in "government speech" as it selected permanent displays to convey its own themes" - In the first place, there is no such animal as 'government speech', there is only 'free speech' in the constitution.
In place the second, it is public land, it belongs to the people, and promoting one religion over another is unconstitutional, (see 'US Constitution; 1st Amendment'.)

"They must either remove the war memorials or brace themselves for an influx of clutter." - OMG, clutter!!! Won't someone think of the children!
If you didn't want 'clutter', you shouldn't have allowed certain select groups of private entities to raise monuments on OUR land.

And finally we (unfortunately) have JustUs [sic] Scalia:
"government suppression of speech has so commonly been directed … at religious speech ... - I wonder what mental backflips Scalia will have to perform to wind up ruling for Pleasant Grove?

The decision by the city to suppress the free speech and religious expression of Summum should not stand. At least according to previous rulings, as always INAL.

My personal opinion: If you want to donate money to a city to beautify a park, that's great. If you donate money only to erect a shrine to your cause in a public park, it shouldn't be allowed.

But once it's allowed, you have to make it available for all Americans.

It's called 'free speech' and 'freedom of religion.' You can look it up.

Bonus track:

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just Farking Around

Flying Blind Has A New Whole New Meaning!
I'm a private pilot and this feat just amazes me:
Pilot blinded by stroke is guided safely to ground

A British pilot who was suddenly blinded by a stroke during a solo flight was talked safely down by a military pilot, the Royal Air Force said Friday

Jim O'Neill asked for help after he was went blind 40 minutes into a flight from Scotland to southeastern England last week. The BBC reported that O'Neill, flying a small Cessna aircraft, lost his sight 5,500 feet in the air.
OK, that was the Cliff Notes version.

Here is the original BBC article with audio goodness:
Blind pilot guided to land by RAF
In aviation when we speak of 'flying blind' we mean that we are in clouds and relying on instruments to fly and to get somewhat close to landing where we can visually acquire the runway.

This guy actually became blind in the air and had an RAF pilot flying on his wing, who along with ATC, talked him down.

I'm amazed. I don't think I could have done any one of their jobs.

Well done my fellow aeronauts, well done RAF!

Next up is a 'truth in advertising' post:
If State Signs Were More Truthful
C'mon, you know you want to see that! (p.s. The comments are as good as the original site!)

If this was a separate post I'd title it Pink Floyd's Animals, but this is pure Fark:
Swedish bestiality ring exposed

But the man was quick to defend his relations with a bitch he bought online from a city-dwelling family who said they wanted the dog to have a better life in the countryside.

"Any of the times I did anything with her she was the one who backed into me and provoked it. She was in heat and made herself available. There were also times later when she didn't want to and then I backed out immediately," he told Expressen.[...]
Gosh, how gentlemanly of him, he backed out if ... ewwww!

If you think that was baaaaad, check out
"I was tricked into a church abortion freak show!"

It started with a young woman who went to have an abortion. The woman laid on a table and spread her legs. The lower half of her body was covered by a sheet.

"Then she started screaming bloody murder," Smith recalled. "All of a sudden, the doctor pulled a naked doll out from between her legs."

The doll, which was supposed to be a fetus, appeared to be wet. The doctor then threw the doll into a metal bucket.

At that point, Smith recalled, the clown took the doll out of the bucket and whipped it in the air, spraying the audience with the liquid that was on the doll.

And finally:
Your Guide To Holiday Romance
Me thinks the writer has avoidance issues.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You put a gun in my hand, And you hide from my eyes

As a young man, facing a draft into the Viet Nam-era Army, I did everything I could to avoid service.

In 1969, I turned 20. The Viet Nam war was raging on, and the Nixon Administration, in an effort to add more bodies to the Army, held the first Draft Lottery on Dec. 1. Based on birthdays, mine was drawn 13th. Holy crap!

I was actually called up for a physical, but managed to keep from being drafted. Orthodontic headgear and a bum knee worked that magic. But with such a low number, I was initially pretty scared. I did discuss going to Canada with a new friend from Vancouver, who told me she could find me places to stay, but once my deferment came through, I stayed in the US.

I felt strongly then, as I still feel, that the Viet Nam war was a disaster for the US and for Viet Nam. Much like Iraq, we wasted money and lives on a stupid ideological war that benefitted no one except for military-industrial manufacturers.

All that said, I have no problem with the many who went and served. Some felt they had no choice, others disagreed with the war but felt they had to serve the country. And some actually felt it was a just war that called them up. Regardless, all were brave, and all who served deserve our undying respect.

Because someday, those in our military may have to fight in a necessary war, to save lives, help battle genocide, or stop starvation somewhere. As much as I hate war and violence of any kind, it would be foolish to believe that it won't ever happen. And when it does, we will need our Armed Services.

The men & women in our military do what the civilian leaders tell them to do, go where they are told to go. I truly believe our new President will not dishonor them the way the Bush administration has. As our brave defenders, they deserve better.

Happy Veteran's Day.