Monday, September 27, 2010

There's So Much Beautiful Music . . .


The artist is Youssou N'Dour from Senegal and this is a duet with Neneh Cherry. The tune is "7 Seconds".

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rangers Clinch!

For anybody who is a Texas Ranger fan out there, now hear this. It's official the Rangers are in the American League playoffs for the first time since 1999, a fairly long time. And considering that the Rangers as a franchise in the league have been around since 1961, and this is only the fourth time they have reached the post-season, it's a reason for celebration.
For the interested:


Can you believe I'm going to be out of the country during the entire first round of the playoffs? Who knew?

GO RANGERS!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

This Just In

The state of Virginia--the state of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison--has struck a blow for justice and the American way. She stood tall for us all . . . by executing by lethal injection a 41-year-old grandmother with an IQ of 72 named Teresa Lewis. Appeals to governor of the state for clemency and the U.S. Supreme Court were both turned down. A 72 IQ is borderline mentally disabled.

But that don't make a damn bit of difference to a red-blooded 'murican. Hell, no. Give us our blood. This is just so us, brothers and sisters. By God, we have justice now, don't we? The case stirred widespread outrage and thousands of protests. And apparently there was more to it than the crime she was convicted of: a plot where a couple of triggermen shot her husband and stepson in exchange for sex and a cut of the insurance money. Evidence emerging after the trial indicated that the woman had been manipulated by one of the shooters, both of whom, by the way, received only life sentences for actually doing the murder.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pledge to Continue the Corporate Rape of the Country . . . Check

Shaded below the sum total of Paul Krugman's comments on his blog about the latest bullshit Republican "plan" to save the country, the so-called Pledge to America. I'll bet you can tell us what the plan is without even reading the whole thing (which is provided for your perusal in the link below). Let's see now. What would you think? Continuance of the outrageous Bush tax cuts for the fattest cats in the country. Check. Repeal of the Health Care bill. Check. Freezing all federal spending except for the Pentagon and the Homeland Security goons. Check. Making moves to privatize social security and Medicare. Check. Rededication to circumscribing civil liberties in the name of security. Check.

Here's Krugman:


Deficits Are Evil! Let’s Make Them Bigger!

What is there to say about the Republican Pledge To America (pdf)? No ideas;
no respect for the public’s intelligence.

Looks like a winner to me.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Arcade Fire



This is a helluva fine band! I discovered them some months ago. Give a listen. It's from their second album, Funeral.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

History Stuff

Maj Gen Jubal A. Early, CSA
Sorry I've been erratic of late getting posts up here. It's because I'm in the grip of the history demon. Trying like hell to get an overdue essay completed before taking off for Ireland. Time is running short, and when the words are flowing as they are now, you don't want to impede them. I had been stuck for a couple of days at a place where I was lucky to squeeze out a couple hundred words. But now things are moving right along again.

The guy to the right is Jubal Early, the subject of my work this time. He was a Virginian, opponent of secession, atheist, and father of four illegitimate children by a woman he lived with for 20 years without benefit of clergy. He eventually rose to the rank of corps commander in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Led a famous campaign down the Shenandoah Valley in the summer of 1864 that brought about 14,000 Confederate troops to the outskirts of Washington, DC. On top of everything else, he was one mean son of bitch. Apparently he was most renowned cusser in the army, which when you think about it is quite a distinction.

But the paper is not about all that. It's about Early after the war. He was not a bad general, a pretty good one, in fact, but his real claim to fame came after the war. He is probably the main driving force in the inauguration and perpetuation of the so-called Lost Cause myth. Which, in very short, was a bevy of justifications for the Confederacy and explanations as to why the South lost the war. Early devoted himself tirelessly to this virtually until his death in 1894.

So there's your history lesson for the day.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cheers!

Guess which one is the subject of this post . . .
On the verge of visiting Ireland, I found this piece about the Irish prime minister pretty interesting. Seems the old boy, Brian Cowen, has been a tippler of note for some time. Apparently the guy was a lush as far back as his university days when he was a law student in Dublin. He admits that he leaned on his dad for food because he spent his own money on liquid lunches.

But obviously, given his political prominence, and I suppose you cannot get more prominent than prime minister of the country*, a pronounced tendency to drink yourself silly is not something your party or even you would want to advertise. But it's been an open secret for years. The opposition likes to goad him particularly on days after he's had a happy night out. He's more likely to get snippy in his responses and thus gain TV time for them. The article recounts several instances of his public drunkenness. And now he's in a good deal of hot water after giving an interview on radio in an inebriated condition.  

Somehow, given Ireland's well-known reputation as a drinker's paradise, this guy seems to be just the right guy for the job. At the very least, stories like this are much to be preferred over those about the sexual abuse of kids by Catholic clergy.

*Learned a new word in the course of reading about this guy. Taoiseach. It's the Irish word for head of government, prime minister, and I haven't the foggiest idea how it's pronounced.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Getting Psyched

The last time I was in Europe was in 2004, I think it was, when I was in Oberammergau, Germany, in the dead of winter on TDY trip for my work. So I am excited as the time for Susan and my trip to Europe approaches. Susan and I have not been there together since we left Germany in 1992. Since I'm not an owner of highly portable electronics upon which to post blog entries from the far corners of the earth, "Powderfinger" will be shutting down a week from tomorrow, on September 26, and it will be down until October 16 or 17.

In the meantime getting spun up for the trip is exciting. I had no idea that there was so much travel-specific stuff out there. When we lived in Europe, we just had our own stuff. Going over for two weeks and traveling as light as possible necessitates some stuff we didn't have. Like an umbrella that opens to 42-inches but skinnies down to a small cylinder about as big around as a coffee mug and maybe 8 inches long. Like a travel vest with 22 pockets where you can carry everything from travel documents to a water bottle, camera to i-Pod and ear plugs. There's even a pocket big enough to accommodate an i-Pad. It's actually what you use to carry all your carry-on stuff. I love containers--just ask my kids--so you can imagine how thrilled I am with this vest. I also got a back pack which will be luggage. I didnt' have any real idea how spacious the thing was, and once I found out, I stopped worrying about having enough room.

Itinerary in Ireland: Dublin, Galway, Kenmare, Kinsale, Kilkenny, and back to Dublin's environs. Then we fly to Spain to Seville. It's trains in Spain. Next Cordoba, then Madrid for about three-and-a-half days. I've really enjoyed reading up on a lot of these places. Of course now with the Net, you can never get to the end of what you can find out about other parts of the world without even leaving your desk. We live in an amazing world.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Six Things You Won't Believe . . .

. . . are more legal than marijuana.
Don't ask me how I manage to find such things on the Web, but here's an interesting piece from Cracked.com. Yes, I know it's a humor site. But apparently some of the stuff there is strictly the tongue-in-cheek kind of humor. The style at this place is sophomore potty-mouth, but that doesn't kill the message. Check it out. There are plenty of illustrations. That this stuff is not against the law in America doesn't surprise me at all. The moral impulse that decrees one should go to jail for years for possession of small amounts of a mildly hallucinogenic weed is exactly the same one that doesn't have any problem with truly lethally dangerous stuff. Like:

Is the flag on the tank? Or is it just the neighborhood?
  1. A blaster rifle, which you can buy for a couple of thousand bucks. It can send out a 6000 watt pulse, which is enough to "blast small holes in the hardest of metals." Or for a lot less cash, only $300, you can get an S3 Spyder Arctic laser gun . . . which can "light your hair on fire or blind a man at a fair distance."
  2. Real battle tanks. For a thousand bucks in Sherman, Texas, you can rent one and drive it around. (See above.) But for the really serious, you can buy your very own battle tank ($50K) or a Fox Armored Car ($17K), or if you've got a pilot license and a real stash of cash, consider a fighter jet of your very own.
  3. Deadly exotic animals, such as flesh-eating piranha fish--less than $100 for 8 of these suckers. Or perhaps a brown bear or two? (Legal in 7 states.) Or big cats? The article doesn't mention it, but I think extremely poisonous snakes like cobras may also be legal in some states.
  4. Grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons and more. "With enough money or the right license you can buy just about any weapon you've ever seen." Like a 60mm mortar or 20mm anti-tank cannon.
 

5.  DXM--I never heard of it, but a truly dangerous and legal drug. Numerous deaths have been reported. Over-the-counter cough syrups with dextromethorphan in it. Restricted to the over-18 in a lot of states, but for less than $20 on Amazon you can get yourself "1200 milligrams in 10 milligram capsules."
6.  Crime cookbooks--also available on Amazon, a couple of books with precise recipes for dozens of psycho-tropic drugs. Or how about the extensive availability of dozens of guides for concocting your very own explosives?
    Is this a great country, or what?

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Some Index Bullets to Make You Muse

    Here are some of the entires in the latest "Index" in the current Harper's magazine.
    • Total number of pages in the financial reform bill enacted by Congress in July: 848
    • Number of pages in the bills that created Social Security in the Federal Trade Commission, respectively: 29, 8
    • Net change in the amount of money kept in U.S. stock-based mutual funds since 2007: -$249,400,000,000
    • Date on which the Oakland Police stop responding to burglaries not in progress due to a budget shortfall: 8/2/10
    • Percentage of Oklahoma's population that is Muslim: 0.81
    • Date on which state legislature approved a referendum to ban judges from using shari'ah law in their decisions: 5/24/10
    • Estimated number of "behavior detection officers" employed by the US airports to spot potentially dangerous travelers: 3,000
    • Percentage of the officers' 266,000 referrals since 2006 that led to arrests: 0.7
    • Percentage of Americans who say they would have cosmetic surgery if they could afford: 69
    • Percentage increase in the number of US buttock-augmentation surgeries performed since 2008: 37
    • Date on which a Dutch porn star plans to "give a BJ" to her Twitter followers if the Netherlands won the World Cup: 6/28/10
    • Number of people who signed up to follow her between then and the World Cup final: 105,269

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Multiple Related Predicaments

    That's what James Kuntsler is writing about this week, a recurring theme. Both the predicaments and the American people's heedless inclination to ignore all the warning signs and go about their lives as if nothing is wrong--except maybe this little economic problem with the unemployment and all. But that will get better. It always does. So let's go watch the NFL and have another beer. There's another reaction going on in the country, but it's assuredly not about Kuntsler's predicaments. I'm referring to the Tea Party madness, which has managed to topple several establishment Republicans in primaries for the Senate and House. I'm still trying to figure out what these people want other than no taxes and as little government as possible. They want "to take our country back." Kuntsler had a great observation about these fruitcakes this week:
    "And the Tea Party aims to fix all this, to make things right again. I listen to their blather about "freedom" and all I can imagine is the sound of boots outside the door, and men in badly-fitted camo uniforms and buzzcut hair commanding me to accept John Boehner as my personal savior. Pardon me, but I don't see how this will really improve anybody's lot in life."
    Before I get to wound up about these people, let me get back to the point. The three related predicaments: 1) energy resources, 2) vanishing capital, 3) ecocide. The inability of the leadership "to decode the clear and present dangers to civilized life is a failure of leadership and authority without precedent in the American story."

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Potpourri

    A small grab bag today. Well, actually a couple of Sarah Palin-connected stories and another on the anti-Muslim mania in the country.
    • There's really nothing more illustrative than letting Ms Palin speak for herself. How this woman, a past master of vacuity, can possibly be taken seriously by anybody continues to utterly baffle me. That she is by millions of people, however, is reason for alarm. But to the quote. She was speaking in sight of the Statue of Liberty: “This Statue of Liberty was gifted to us by foreign leaders, really as a warning to us, it was a warning to us to stay unique and to stay exceptional from other countries. Certainly not to go down the path of other countries that adopted socialist policies,” And the crowd cheered. This needs no comment.
    • And then there's this birdbrain, one Shannon Love, who is trying to figure out why "leftists" like me can't abide this woman. Let me just quote an example or two of the compelling logic this dude (dudette?) displays:
      • "The best explanation for the left's bizarre Palin obsession is status-anxiety. Status-anxiety occurs when a person believes that their position in a real or imagined social hierarchy is threatened. Leftists react emotionally to Palin because of the threat she poses to their own individual sense of status. All their other arguments are just put forth to rationalize that emotional reaction." So we are jealous of the bubble-brain, and we're really just upset aout it all the time. We get so emotional. Right. That explains it.
      • "In short, it is not the ideas she puts forth, its [sic] that someone like her is significant at all." Actually, no. It is her simplistic, contorted, uninformed, and vacuous ideas that disturb us. And, correction. I could apply many adjectives to this woman, but "significant" would surely not be one of them.
      • Finally, this. I'll just quote the top two paragraphs of the story. I didn't know this, and I can guarantee you all those people screaming about a Muslim "mosque" being too close to Ground Zero didn't either. But you think this knowledge is going to make any difference to them? 
      The New York Times has a story up about what it calls a Muslim “prayer center” in the World Trade Center. Muslims who worked in the Twin Towers met there for their daily prayers — there was even a wash room nearby set up for the pre-prayer ritual cleansing.
      By any measure, the “prayer center” in the trade center is much closer to the definition of a mosque than Park 51, the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” — a 12-story non-sectarian community center with a culinary school and sports facilities.

        Sunday, September 12, 2010

        It's Time

        I've restrained myself so far this baseball season. In fact, I don't think there's been a single baseball entry here  all summer long. A summer of extraordinary excitement for all fans of the usually hapless Texas Rangers. Of course, these are the Rangers, and something dreadful can always happen, but at this point in the season and barring a catastrophe, the Rangers are going to win their division title, which means they will get into the post-season playoffs. Which in turn after a couple of playoff rounds leads to the World Series for the winners in both leagues up to that point.

        I have been an ardent fan of this team since 1983; it's now 2010. In that period of time, the Rangers made it to the first round of the playoffs exactly three times. Each time they played the damned Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, which are a best of five series. The Rangers are 1-9 in playoff games. Which means they never got past the first round, and they were swept twice.

        As they have been saying since the beginning of the season down there in Arlington, Texas, "It's Time."

        Follow-Up I: For over a year Susan and I have been planning a trip to Europe to a couple of countries we did not see when we lived there some 20 years ago. We leave for that trip, 16 days, on September 28; we return on October 12. The playoffs, best of five series, begin on October 6, and if they go the full five games, the last game will be on October 12. There are two ways of looking at this. First, DAMN! Who would have thunk to plan a major vacation trip around the possibility of the Texas Rangers making the playoffs? Answer: nobody in their right mind . . . still. Second: The only way there can be a game on October 12 is if the American League series in knotted at two wins apiece. Which means that the Rangers are still in it, and I will get to see the deciding game of the first round. I like both answers.

        Saturday, September 11, 2010

        Great!

        Oily deposit in seabed core sample from the Gulf 
        Did anybody catch this on NPR?
        Scientists on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico are finding a substantial layer of oily sediment stretching for dozens of miles in all directions. Their discovery suggests that a lot of oil from the Deepwater Horizon didn't simply evaporate or dissipate into the water — it has settled to the seafloor.
        They've also found recently dead shrimp, worms, and other invertebrates.

        "It's all over the place," said one of the research scientists. And they haven't even tested the bottom close to the wellhead yet.

        And then there's this from a researcher at LSU who takes exception to the widely reported statement that 75 percent of the spilled oil has disappeared.
        The reason is that when he flew over the Gulf of Mexico in late August, he saw "clouds" of oil that the skimmers and dispersants had missed. He also says there are regions where oil has gathered on top of the sediment. It's only a matter of time before some of it washes up on shore again, probably after a storm.
        As I said: Great! Why? Because nobody has a clue as to what the long-term effects of this and perhaps other as yet undiscovered effects of the spill are going to be on the ecology of the Gulf, the economy of shoreline region, or the lives of people who live and make their livings there. These latest discoveries, after all, may mean nothing. Perhaps 4 million barrels of oil dumped in the Gulf is basically benign and won't have any lasting effects. Raise your hand if you really believe that.

        Friday, September 10, 2010

        Where Do They Find This Stuff?

        Contemplating the fruit cake Florida "pastor" who wanted to burn copies of the Qu'ran on Saturday to commemorate 9/11, I'm reminded again that Fark has a special category for "Florida" since the state consistently generates more stories about nut cases of various sorts. (I know. I lived there for 13 years.) A few days ago I was talking about the lack of inspiration sometimes about a blogging subject. Well, Fark is yet another place on the web that just overflows with possibilities.

        Here, for example, is the Florida entry for today: about a pedophile who blamed his cat for the abundance of kiddie porn cops found on his computer. (He dropped this defense later, but that he could even conceive it . . . well, I must say, it's nothing if not original.) And then there's a 22-year old woman who flags down a cop to ask for directions . . . and then gets busted. Because she has an open container of malt liquor between her legs--with a straw poking out, no less--and a crack pipe plainly visible in the car.

        There's apparently an army of people who make suggestions to Fark for entries every day. The site posts 50. There's always a tremendous surplus.

        Thursday, September 9, 2010

        Blissful Ignorance, Where Are You?

        It's not just Muslims in Pakistan (and everywhere else) who are outraged.
        So what can we say about this idiot pastor in Gainesville, Florida, who, in the name of Jesus, of course, is all set with members of his minuscule flock--the evangelical church has about fifty members, tops--to burn several copies of the Quran on Saturday to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11? Saying anything would be redundant. Just review in your own mind all the reasons this plan to insult and enrage the entire Muslim world is bad. See, there's no need to spell them out. There's worldwide outrage and, the New York Times has the right word: scorn. So what more can we say to express our detestation for this sacrilege on American religious liberty than what everybody from President Obama to the screaming demonstrators in the streets have already said? What a wonderful sign this is to the entire world of the kind of empty-headed, mean-spirited haters that populate this land of the free.

        Think about how insulated and isolated we were from the world's innumerable crackpots, chalratans, fools, and idiots before the dawn of 24-hour television news. I seriously wonder sometimes how much of an advance this was for civilization. There's a lot to be said for blissful ignorance, which is what we had before any imbecile could create "news" by simply being an imbecile.


        Update I: The idiot pastor has decided to cancel his planned Saturday event, and get this, he is going to fly to New York meet with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the group that's attempting to build an Islamic Center a couple of blocks from Ground Zero. He reportedly is going to move the site of the  Center somewhere else in Manhattan because of the un-American outrage that's been raised by millions of Americans over the location of the Center. This is not confirmed yet, but it smells like a quid pro quo, with Islam the losers, and Americans looking like the idiots so many of them are.

        Monday, September 6, 2010

        We're Sinking

        Below are a few salient paragraphs from a piece I read a couple of days ago. The author is David Michael Green, a political science professor at Hostra University. He is progressive Democrat and he is pissed off. I mean really angry about what he sees, and what many of us who share his political outlook also see, as the utter, craven cowardice of Obama and his administration to stand up to the assorted thugs, liars, and political opportunists populating the Republican party, Fox News, and right wing talk radio. And it will be because of this cowardice and the stupidity of clutching the ghost of bipartisanship long after the Republicans had basically taken a shit on his head several times that control of the government will be handed over to the real subverters of democracy: the servants of the plutocrats and corporations who will complete the take over of the country. I seriously thought--and it seems like a million years ago now--that Barack Obama was going to turn this country around. What a fool I was to trust in a politician. I'll never, ever do it again, for all the difference that will make.

        It took me about 5-10 minutes to read the entire article, but if you don't have that much time to spare, the following will give you the flavor and main points.
        As Robert Reich noted in a recent New York Times op-ed, the richest one percent of Americans have gone from taking in nine percent of the total national income right before the Reagan era began, to nearly one-fourth of it today. As Reich also reminds us, the last time this happened was in 1928. I would rush to say, "Hey, remember how that one turned out?", but it's pretty unnecessary to crack the history books for that reference, since we're now living it. As just about the stupidest society that ever was, we've decided to get together to explore the fun and exciting question, "What would happen if America had a devastating economic downturn once again, boys and girls?!?!"
        There is one big difference between today and the 1930s, however. Once there was a political party in America - the one that did the New Deal and the Great Society - that stood up a bit for the middle class and the poor. But Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have led the Democrats down a different path. Now the party stands for a slightly weaker version of the GOP's plutocracy protection service. And, seemingly, for getting its face bitch-slapped bright red at every possible juncture. Both aspects of the New Democrats are a puzzle, but particularly the latter. What sort of psychology of the self-loathing explains how a Clinton or an Obama can be so passive, even when getting handed their heads by the most scurrilous of creeps on the political landscape, pieces of (allegedly) human garbage who could be destroyed with the slightest show of self-defense, let alone a wee assertion of political courage?
        ........................................................................ 
        The worst, though, is what is to come. Obama and the Democrats will get slaughtered in November. This will happen not so much because of the socialist crimes they are alleged by the right to have committed - which are of course utter nonsense - but simply because of what they have not done, which is to solve the country's problems. Yet, because of the socialist, big-spending, freedom-crushing narrative that regressives have successfully fomented and that the administration has been completely inept about countering, and because the other post-election option of actually getting it right would appear to be (and would be vociferously made to appear to be, by Republicans) an act of spiteful spitting in the public's eye, the administration will have no option after the election but to tack yet further to the right in the ensuing two years.
        That will be disastrous for Obama, for Democrats and for the country. (I could care less about the first two, who deserve it, and frankly I'm leaning that same way for number three on the list as well.) Like Clinton before him, Obama will try to placate voters and Republican monsters with their sponsoring oligarchy by moving to the right. Of course, there is absolutely nothing there except tax cuts for the wealthy (he is already proposing tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent). The Republicans have no other solutions for the economy (or anything else, for that matter), though these dam-busting boondoggles for the fiscally obese are, of course, no solution either. And, like Clinton before him, Obama will be relentlessly hounded by congressional investigations into every manner of bogus scandal that the fevered minds of the closeted perverts on the right can dream up to keep the administration reeling.
        Unlike Clinton, however, there will be one big difference. I often said, back in the day, that the only thing that kept the American public from immolating Wild Bill, and the only thing that kept the Senate from convicting him in his impeachment trial, was that the economy was jumping at the time and Americans were therefore fat, dumb and happy. Today, however, they're merely fat and dumb, and even the fat part isn't a good thing in this case. The public could not possibly be more surly - apart that is, from how surly they'll be in a year or two. Obama has been as idiotic a president as could be created if you sat down with the intention of making one, and they will be happy to watch him get savaged him when they have a chance. By bringing timidity and compromise with criminals to bear against multiple severe crises, and by refusing to fight for anything, he has launched a vicious cycle that is sucking him inexorably down, and us with him: He fails to solve the problems, the public gets angry and frustrated, his party loses elections, the right accuses him of everything from being a socialist to a fascist, he says nothing in response, the public gets angrier and more frustrated, his party loses more elections, they are then even more unable to govern than before, the public is about to explode in anger and frustration, he moves to the right and thereby offers even less of a solution to these crises than the non-solutions already on display, and ... so on. And so on, again. Rinse and repeat.
        Obama and the rest of the cowardly and corrupt members of his party have guaranteed their own destruction, that's for sure, but that is likely the least unkind thing that history will say about them. If we think about where this all goes next, it becomes clear what these shallow punks are trading away for their pathetic self-interest and unwillingness to fight against treasonous criminals. Democrats will be smashed in the next two elections, and the right will gain full control of the government and full responsibility for the state of the country. At that point, Republicans will have to put up or shut up. Since they will have no remotely viable way to solve the problems people face - since, indeed, their real mission is to make those problems worse, because that is necessary to further enrich their sponsors - they will reach for ever greater means of distraction to keep the public's attention elsewhere. All I can say is, "Watch out, third world countries everywhere".

        Sunday, September 5, 2010

        Your Sister's a Muslim, Too--If Fox Says So

        Pick your epithet--courtesy a bevy of liars
        Newsweek comes to our house every week. I scan it; my wife reads it; my grandson reads it when he's over--we used to pass on copies to him, but I think he's got a subscription now to Time or something. (We're not passing copies along anymore, as far as I know.) Anyway, to the right there is the cover of the latest issue. Not too long ago, just last week, I had occasion to note the unbelievable fact that almost half--46%--of the Republican party believes that the president of the United States is a Muslim. One out of four people in this country don't believe that he was born a US citizen. A lion's share of the responsibility for spreading these lies belongs to Fox News and the hate-mongering radio: Limbaugh, Savage, and numerous other raving liars.

        (Just as an aside, I don't think anyone could possibly imagined an engine of propaganda such as this network ever been allowed to put its stuff on the air. Say, 10 years or so ago. Have you ever watched Fox news for a few hours? It is absolutely unrelenting in its hostility to the White House and Obama. Whatever truth they present you have to find underneath mountains of lies, innuendo, half-truths, sneers, and self-righteous posturing – all, it goes without saying from the right of the political spectrum. Not the center, the right. And apparently, since this is the most popular news network in America, this bilge strikes a responsive chord with a large number of dreadfully na├»ve and uninformed people.)

        This story, which offers a considerable number of direct examples, indicts the right wing media for propagating these half-truths and downright falsehoods about the president. Nor does it spare other people responsible, to wit:
        The blame for this extends from Fox News and the Republican leadership, to the peculiar psychology of resentment in public opinion, to the ham-handed political response of the Obama White House. Whatever the cause, if smash-mouth tactics are validated by huge GOP gains in the midterm elections, then Big Lie politics may be with us for good.
        What's really got me concerned is that the Big Lie has been in ascendancy ever since Fox News came on the air. This network is nothing but an organ of Rupert Murdoch pro-business, pro-military, far right conservatism. Its ludicrous motto – fair and balanced news – is actually, I think, a tongue-in-cheek in-joke for all of the fat cats, generals, defense contractors, and closet racists whose interests it serves. Fox news has never been fair and balanced since the day it started telecasting. But who would've thought that such transparent bullshit daily served up by this network would be the main determinant shaping the political life of this country? Amazing, isn't it?

        Friday, September 3, 2010

        We Need . . .

        . . . a Village Green Preservation Society.

        The Kinks are gone, but not forgotten. What a great band they were.

        Thursday, September 2, 2010

        I'm Not Ready for This

        Not to worry . . . this one is in shallow water. Right.
        Another oil rig is on fire in the Gulf of Mexico and has already produced a sizable slick on the water. Off the Louisiana coast. West of the mouth of the Mississippi. I suppose this one is not as alarming to some since it's in "shallow" water, 320 feet. All the heartburn I had about the last disastrous spill still is with me with this one. As a displaced Louisianian, I take these oil spills personally. And even if they get this fire out quickly and contain the spill quickly too, I'm still pissed off. I think these kinds of events--that are happening all the time all over the world--are just more warnings, insistent warnings, that we're trashing the Earth as if there is no tomorrow. When in fact the tomorrows we're headed for are not all that encouraging.

        Along with this story about the latest spill is this one from a German military document reported in the magazine Der Spiegel about what the arrival at peak oil will mean for all of us. In short, it will not be a  good thing. Not one of the consequences of shrinking oil supplies are going to be good. In fact, they could lead to "mass-scale upheaval" with the next 15-30 years as the world's economic foundations are increasingly eroded. International trade would be crippled by transportation costs. So shortages everywhere and collapse of the industrial supply chain. "In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse." The worldwide economic crisis would in turn call into question the political institutions that created the economic systems. Another way of saying that democracy could not survive a crisis like this. The situation would be made to order for totalitarian, repressive governments and grave internal and external political crises all over the globe.

        James Kuntsler, who I talked about the other day, has been warning about peak oil and lamenting our blindness to its consequences for a long, long time. I have absolutely no reason to believe that this latest evidence of a national government getting extremely nervous about peak oil is going to have the slightest effect the U.S. We have far more important things to worry about--NFL season opens Sunday! Besides, say many, peak oil is just a hoax. There's plenty of oil.

        Seems to me this is just a variation on the biggest hoax of all: Tomorrow is going to be just like today.

        Wednesday, September 1, 2010

        Some Days You Are Inspired . . .

        . . . and some days you're not. And if you are an anal person like I am on some things, for example, fixated on doing a blog entry at least six times a week, and you're not inspired, you find yourself casting about for something to write about. All writers know this feeling. It's like your mind is just gone south for vacation leaving the comfortable old familiar house locked up and silent. It's at these points that I either cast about for some sort of think aid, most commonly for me one of the other bloggers that I read frequently. Or sometimes I'll get an idea just from clicking on Google News and reading the headlines. Every day I think how odd it is that we have all become so inured to an avalanche of information, constantly changing, on just about anything you can think of all the time. That's what the Internet is: a never-ending gusher of information, kind of like the BP blowout preventer, except usually not as toxic.

        Take, for example, what I just turned over in Google News "WTF" section. (Like many things Google, you can tailor your news to your interests. So I have chess news, baseball news, Texas Ranger news, US news, world news, news from the Norman, Oklahoma, newspaper, and so forth. Just for grins I have weird news and the WTF section, which is usually good for a laugh if nothing else.)
        •  One Reverend Fred Niles in New South Wales, Australia, also a member of Parliament, angrily denies accessing porn sites on the Internet up to 200,000 times. He explains that his staff was doing research on the Australian Sex Party and the Eros Foundation using his login name. Right…all I can say is this looks like pretty thorough research to me.
        • Georgia officials say they received anonymous letters alleging that a police chief gave alcohol to an underage woman and hosted sex parties in his home. Let's hear it for the thin blue line.
        • In Glendale, California, road rage turned almost deadly. An incident of one car cutting in front of another one led to profanity at a stop a stoplight and eventually one driver stabbing the other one with a knife and putting him in the hospital with a perforated liver. They haven't thought the other guy yet.
        Just three stories out of a bunch, for just one day, in one little section of Google News. You would think that a blogger would never have writer's block with all this good stuff floating around for the picking. Well I will say this, it got me an entry today.