Friday, December 31, 2010

Best ofs . . .

Below are two of the music videos cited on Slate's "Browbeat" as among the best for the past year. (Here) You can draw your own conclusions about the music. But the videos are very cool.

Herky jerky time-lapse camera and fascinating.



Hip Hop . . . and almost obligatory language advisory.



Finally, I can't resist just putting this song, "We Used to Wait" by Arcade Fire in here. It's from their album Suburbs, which would certainly be on my list of the best in 2010.



This is the first of what will probably be several posts on the "best ofs" for 2010 which I will post during January of the New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

They Said It

The following are quotations from Oklahoma mighty and (mostly) not. What's your favorite? [Warning: it's hard to pick just one.]
  • My first response was I should have been No. 1, not No. 7.” — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe on Rolling Stone magazine naming him among the “planet's worst enemies” in a cover story on global warming titled “You Idiots!” 
  • We have enough sex offenders of our own in this county.” — Mickie Hatfield, who lives with his wife on 130 acres in Lincoln County, on a foundation run by a neighbor that provides jobs and living quarters for registered sex offenders. 
  • The silence was deafening.” — Brent Link in court describing his home after the blind Norman resident beat unconscious his brother-in-law, who had just killed Link's wife, her sister and Link's mother-in-law with a shotgun. 
  • You're at that age, it's nice to see the guys alive. No one is invincible. We're all going to die.” — Kenny King at a reunion with University of Oklahoma football teammates from the 1970s as one of them, Thomas Lott, was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame
  • Don't Taze my granny!” — Lonnie Tinsley in a lawsuit recounting what he told an El Reno police officer before the officer used a Taser to subdue his 86-year-old grandmother, Lona Varner
  • Please don't throw up! Please don't throw up!” — Emcee's plea over a public address system to participants at a bacon-eating contest at Baconalia, the state's first bacon festival, in Enid
  • O'er the land of the free and the home of the Sooners?” — Some University of Oklahoma football fans before kickoff in Norman despite a public address announcer's plea to respect the last line of the Star Spangled Banner on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 
  • I've been in law enforcement 20 years, and this is the first time I've known of anyone that has busted a dog out of jail.” — Hydro police officer Chris Chancellor on a 73-year-old man who was arrested after springing his poodle, Buddy Tough, from the pound using a lawn tractor and bolt cutters. 
  • Buddy Tough didn't die in vain.” — Joyce Carney, chair of a committee to upgrade Hydro's kennels and change ordinances to keep pets alive for at least 10 days, after public outcry over the poodle being put to death in a makeshift gas chamber using exhaust from a police car. 
  • Well, I'd like to say ‘Thank you' to my family for being here, and all my friends. Boomer Sooner.” — Oklahoman Jeffrey Landrigan's last words before being put to death in Arizona in the state's first execution since 2007 for a 1989 murder that was part of a robbery. 
  • I'm not going to admit to anything else here, but obviously you've talked to Betty.” — State Sen. Harry Coates, 60, whose wife is Betty Coates, on allegations he had an affair with a 29-year-old lobbyist. 
  • Forever & Always Property Of Lord Wraith.” — Tattoo on the back of Nanette Larson, 36, married Utah woman raised as a Mormon who signed a sex slave contract with a man who ended up being charged in Oklahoma County with kidnapping and abusing her. 
  • God is already in the churches. Why not the bars?” — Oklahoma native Don Sessions on his lawsuit against the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau seeking to continue using the Pledge of Allegiance on cans of his patriotic theme beer, explaining he wants to “put God in every bar in the country.” 
Here is the source.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Visual Aid



Obviously, I'm pressed for time during these holidays. Full days; family here; all that. So you're just going to have to bear with the spare messages till I can recover. But this is a clever, if not brilliant, depiction of the "grope your way to security" we can experience at our nation's airports. Which, by the way, are in terrible shape this Christmas season because of the snow storm on the East coast. Offer a silent prayer that you're not in an airport. They are bad enough when you're not trapped in them by snow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The American Way, Too

God may not be eternal, but the Pentagon and their wars sure are.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The American Way

According to this story, some of my favorite people, the TSA gestapo, pushed a 56-year old rape victim who refused to subject herself to the so-called "enhanced pat down" procedures in the Austin, TX airport, was arrested. Pushed to the ground and handcuffed and then dragged across the floor in full view of many people. I am telling you, readers, that all these are symptoms of a much worse repression yet to come. The ACLU has received over 900 complaints about the lately revised security procedures. This lady, a person who understandably had a great deal of problem allowing someone, anyone, grope her breasts. And, mind you, this lady is not a sworn enemy of the TSA.
"Now, I don't want this to be about bad TSA agents," she wrote in an email to GladRag's blog.
"They were doing their job, they were as delicate as they could be, etc., etc. But what ultimately happened is that I was subjected to search so invasive that I was left crying and dealing with memories that I thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults."
Apparently, her panty liner was offensive to the irradiation machine, which necessitated the pat-down. Are you kidding me? Has it come to this? We are truly a benighted people.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Here's Joyful News for the Season

A judge in Montana recently found it impossible to seat a jury on a marijuana case. (The story is here.) And he says this is going to be a trend . . . people are not willing to send somebody to jail for possession of small amounts of marijuana. In a recent case against a guy who was charged with possession of about a sixteenth of an ounce of weed, only about 5 of 29 potential jurors said they would be willing to convict the guy. The prosecutor had to work out a generous plea agreement with the hardened criminal smoker's lawyer. The deputy county attorney said the jurors had staged a "mutiny." Well, not exactly. Sounds like to me they just have their heads screwed on straight.

Update I: This you are not going to believe. Pat Robertson has come out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana! Check this out. Man, when the winds start blowing this way . . . something like this could be a game-changer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things Fall Apart

From Jim Kuntsler's blog yesterday. He was talking about the previous great convulsion in American history, the one before the cataclysm he sees coming sure as we're born. He is, I fear, correct about what's happened to Obama. The man has proven totally inept. I've gotten so I don't even like to hear him talk anymore because he's got nothing to say to me.
In this previous historic convulsion the issue was slavery; today the issue is the rule of law - the absence of which from banking is destroying the USA as effectively as a foreign invasion. Poor President Obama looks more like Millard Fillmore reincarnated every day, an empty figurehead servling of less-than-benevolent interests hiding in plain sight. What will become of this Republic when he puts his Santa suit away for the year, nobody knows (and many people dread).
(Actually, I think James Buchanan, as a pitifully ineffective president might have been a better example than Fillmore. Things actually fell apart during Buchanan's administration; Fillmore presided over the immediate post-Compromise of 1850 years, when the country was still 9-10 years from falling apart. I don't think the US has that much time.)

How I do so fervently wish that Kuntsler was wrong and that I'm wrong about what we believe is coming for this country. But I cannot get W. B. Yeats' words out of my head:

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moonshine

It's gonna be a kick-ass moon tonight. A gift from Heaven at Christmas time.
Perfectly timed, as you would expect.
Tomorrow morning, early, for the first time in 372 years, since 1638, a total lunar eclipse will fall on the winter solstice. The eclipse begins at 2:32 a.m. (CST) and it will be total from 3:41 a.m. until 4:53 a.m.--a really long time, 72 minutes. (Story here and here.) And the show will be spectacular because the moon will take on a hue, anywhere from bright orange to red, depending the state of the Earth's atmosphere at the time. I'm gonna be up and so is my dearest spouse, somewhat of a surprise, actually. But I'll be delighted to share this with her. There's lots of good stuff on the Web about this, and if you're clouded over, you can watch the whole thing live via Google Earth.

Being a crazed historian, I got to thinking what was going on in the world in 1638, the last time this happened. So for your edification, a partial list:


    Portrait of an 83-year-old Woman

    Charles I on Horseback


    Prince Baltasar Carlos as a Hunter

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    They're Not Like Us

    Rich people. They aren't like the rest of us. A study in the journal Psychological Science indicates that the more affluent have trouble detecting the emotions of other people. The Huffington Post article where I found this info, says, "Rich people don't choose to be rude. They simply can't help it." I'm not willing to go that far, although I've been convinced for a while that the plane of operations for the wealthy doesn't in the least way resemble the one the rest of us play on, so it's really two foreign countries we're talking about.

    The fact is, the rich are desensitized emotionally from the concerns of all the "little people" who don't share their level of security and comfort. Maybe this explains why the millionaires in Congress are so oblivious to the real suffering of countless people. I'm thinking in particular of the adamant refusal of the Republicans in the lame duck Congress to even consider extending unemployment until the wealthiest two percent of the people in America were guaranteed a tax cut. The notion is just outrageous, utterly indefensible . . . and yet, it has come to pass.

    This is just another piece of evidence that the wealthy people in American society (a generalization of course, there are always exceptions) don't give a tinker's damn about the rest of us. What is the most amazing thing to me is how the pronounced majority of the American people still believe that anybody in this country can become fabulously wealthy. What a crock! I need to look this up so I can present it here, but I know that of the super super rich, probably not one in ten has actually earned their fortune. It's mostly inheritance. And yet, the national myth that Republicans never cease trumpeting, everybody who has money has it because they worked for it, continues to mesmerize the millions upon millions of suckers who will never have money but who willingly lick the boots of people who would just as soon flush them down a toilet as look at them. Only in America.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Tell! Tell! Tell!

    Well, it's finally done. The country is not going to stroke the military's homophobia any longer. On Saturday, the Senate repealed the Clinton-era policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell concerning gay people in the services by a  vote of 65-31. It was a measure that had to pass during the current lame duck because, believe it or not,  the incoming congress, chock full o' Republicans--controlling the House and more in the Senate--would surely not support the change. And gay people would have to wait who knows how much longer to receive a full measure of civil liberties in the Land of the Free.

    A recent Pentagon study verified what anyone who's paid attention to young people at all should have already known, i.e., that they really aren't too disturbed by the notion of somebody being homosexual. Not like many of the fossils are. The study showed that even in the notoriously conservative military ranks, most soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines already know gay people among them, and the sky has not fallen down because they're there.

    Since the current contorted policy has been in effect over 13,000 people have been expelled from the US military for being what and who they are. To me, the idea that someone would willing choose to be a homosexual is patently absurd. I can only suppose that many in the military and in the Congress have come to the same conclusion.

    The new law is going to allow the military to take its time to fully implement the new policy. There's going to be a lot of training and education to be done. It may be months. And while that's happening the current policy stays in effect. Naturally, the law is not popular with all our defenders of freedom. Can you guess their objections? Of course: threats to unit cohesion and good order and discipline, the same tired old abstractions that have been trotted out for years, and indeed, which the DADT policy was justified with in the first place. Well, the hairy-chested men are just going to have to get used to it. Including John McCain, who spearheaded the Senate opposition to the change. You know, that former "maverick" who has transformed himself into a complete whore for any policy his GOP masters push.

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    How Broken is Washington?

    Pretty damn broken. I quote from a piece in The Huffington Post of the same title.
    How do you reach a point where the political center point of our nation seemingly represents the interests of the top 5 percent of the population? The answer is massive and growing inequality in America. Our society is amongst the most unequal on earth. Statistics show the severity: the top 10 percent possess 80 percent of all financial assets, and the bottom 90 percent hold only 20 percent of all financial wealth. These incredible and morally disastrous gaps are growing worse by the day. Consider that between 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.
    Wealth concentration like this is becoming a serious threat to America's greatest gift to the world, our democracy. Billions of dollars from the wealthy now flood into our political and electoral systems. Unleashed by a conservative Supreme Court, independent groups are spending staggering amounts of special interest money. Republicans now openly plot their election and political strategy with "titans of industry -- from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, media conglomerates and real estate tycoons." (MEMO: Health Insurance, Banking, Oil Industries Met With Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck To Plot 2010 Election)
    And let's not forget who makes up our government: rich people. The median wealth for a member of Congress in 2009 was $911,510, about 8 times the wealth of an average American.
    The result is that every GOP Senator can stand up to middle America and say without hesitation or bashfulness: the rich come first. If Lincoln were to deliver his famous address today he would honestly have to describe our government as "of the wealthy, for the wealthy, by the wealthy."
    And they all shouted: "AMEN." For all the good that will do in this benighted society . . . but then maybe providential intervention is what it will take. So let's all say "Amen" again.

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Index III

    From the latest number of Harper's. Snippets from the "Index":
    • Rank of "disappointed" amoung terms used by Americans in an October to describe their feelings about the government: 1
    • Rank of "sucks": 4
    • Percentage of bills proposed by the last Congress that became law: 3
    • Percentage change in spending by independent political groups between 2006 and 2010 midterm elections: +310
    • Portion of these funds in 2010 that came from organizations not legally required to disclose their donors: 1/2
    • Percentage of such groups to supported conservative candidates: 80
    • Percentage of developing nations whose economies have grown faster than the United States' since 2001: 89
    • Number of countries which United States has a trade deficit: 77
    • Percentage change since 2007 in the amount of venture capital raised annually in the United States: -55
    • Number of offshore oil and gas leases approved by the federal government since 2005: 4,603
    • Number of offshore wind projects approved since then: 1
    • Chance that an American teen suffers from a severe emotional or behavioral disorder: 1 in 5
    • Amount the state of California spent last year on each minor in its juvenile-detention system: $224,712
    • Amount spent on each student in the Oakland public school system: $4,945
    • Number of drug and alcohol addicts who've been sterilized since 1998 in exchange for payment from a US charity: 1.325
    • Amount the charity pays per sterilization: $300
    Is this a great country, or what?

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Rapid Robert Feller Dead at 92

    Bob Feller burning one in there.
    His high kick was a trademark.
    Bob Feller, a Hall of Fame pitcher who spent his whole career with the Cleveland Indians, lived a long and full life. He was one of the greatest right-handers in baseball history. Along with a devastating curve, he threw bb's. When 30 pitches of his were clocked in 1946, they averaged 98.6 mph.He died of leukemia today shortly after entering a hospice. He was 92 years old.

    Feller is special to me. He was one of the greats of my Dad's generation. I actually remember him. My memory of Feller goes back to the early 1950s. They are admittedly hazy. But I recall him as a member of the 1954 Indians, a team that won 111 games on a 154-game schedule. By then he was overshadowed by the younger starters. But he had dominated the American League for about 15 years. Like many stars of the time, he lost a chunk of career while serving in the military during World War II. In his case it was three full years and the best part of another in his prime--often forgotten was that Feller as the first major leaguer to volunteer for the military after Pearl Harbor. He enlisted on December 8, 1941, the day after. Feller figured that lost time cost him about 1,000 strikeouts and 100 wins. I don't doubt it a minute, although his estimate on the number of wins may be a trifle optimistic.

    Here is the New York Times story.

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    "You've Got to Stop this war in Afghanistan."

    The real cost of the Afghan War
    Those were the last words of Richard Holbrooke, a titan in American foreign policy for over forty years. He died quite suddenly a couple of days ago from a torn aorta. This piece on the Foreign Policy website decribes the 9-year war as originally a sideshow that has escalated into a nightmare. There is some question about the context of this remark, but nobody can possibly doubt that it's the truth, regardless of context. One thing is certain: Holbrooke had grave doubts about the war that grinds on and on over there. He's quoted as saying, "If there are 10 possible outcomes in Afghanistan, nine of them are bad."

     For anybody who has any knowledge of this insane war, it's flawed on any number of counts. The US cannot win it. What does winning it mean anyway? Defeat of the Taliban? Forget it. The US would have to occupy the whole country for decades just to seal such a victory. The Afghan government is hopelessly corrupt with a president as crooked as the proverbial snake. Plus the guy pretty much hates the US. And he and his family have made off with billions of our dollars. Neither the Afghan police or their army are worth a candle, and it will take years and more of our billions before that changes--if it ever does.

    The fact of it is, we have been here before: we are hopelessly entangled in yet another land war in Asia that's just sucking the lifeblood out of us. Our troops are being killed steadily, for pretty much nothing to show for it. We continue to massacre Afghan civilians with our high tech weaponry. And we're chasing billions upon billions of bad money with yet more billions. Does this make any kind of sense at all? We cannot possibly affect that part of the world in any positive way by remaining. So why don't we get out? Because it would make too much sense. Unless it's nonsense, the leadership of this nation isn't interested.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Headlines of the Moment

    I don't find any of these headlines on Raw Story particularly encouraging. How about you?

    • US Southwest could see 60-year drought: study -- something not seen since the 12th century, according to worst case scenario. Here.
    • Military won't release rape records, ACLU says in lawsuit -- rape is rampant in the military but Pentagon won't release records showing how it's handled. Here.
    • Regulators exist "to serve the banks," next House finance chairman declares -- what a frigging surprise! Here.
    • Think tank: Chances dimming for Patriot Act reform -- in other words, the Obama administration will continue to endorse Bush-era assaults on civil liberties. Here.
    • Bush-appointed judge strikes down health insurance mandate. Here.
    • Ukraine to open Chernobyl area to tourists in 2011 -- No, this is not a misprint. Here
    • Ex-health insurance exec: "I wined and dined" reporters -- former health insurance public relations exec says "It was so easy for me to get my way." Reporters from the NYT and WSJ and other news outlets. Here.
    • Tax deal clears Senate hurdle -- We all knew it was coming, but it still just pisses me off. Here
    • Wall Street sees record revenue -- 2010 set to be the second-biggest ever. Don't it just warm the cockles of your heart, this news? Here.
    • Everything's bullish on the Street.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Combination . . .

    . . . of "Gee, I didn't know that" and names of phobias you probably never heard of. Herewith the list of ten well-known people and their phobias:
    10. George Washington==>Taphephobia, fear of being buried alive
    9. Woody Allen==>Panophobia, fear of almost everything. No kidding: heights, bugs, enclosed spaces, animals, elevators, bright colors(!)
    8. Richard Nixon==>Nosocomephobia, fear of hospitals
    7. Alfred Hitchcock==>Ovophobia, fear of eggs
    6. Sigmund Freud==>fear of weapons and ferns
    5. Oprah Winfrey==>fear of gum chewing
    4. Natalie Wood==>Hydrophobia, fear of water
    3. Billy Bob Thornton==>Chromophobia, fear of bright colors; fear of antique furniture; Coulrophobia, fear of clowns
    2. Nikola Tesla*==>Germaphobia, fear of germs; fear of jewelry (especially pearl earrings)
    1. Napoleon Bonaparte==>Ailurophobia, fear of cats
    Gee . . . I didn't know that! What are you afraid of? Everybody's afraid of something. My mom was petrified of cock roaches. A little of that might have rubbed off on me.

    *Telsa was a famous inventor best known for work on electromagnetism and electricity. (I didn't know who he was either.)

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Google's Maw

    Google is devouring everything in sight. I have to be frank with you. I have had a love affair with Google for a long, long time. Back when there was actually a competition among various search engines as to who was going to be the best, the king of the hill, I discovered this engine called Google that seemed to do it better than anyone else. I don't know how long Google's been around now, but whenever they started on the Web, that's when I started using their search engine. (Here's a short piece on the most popular searches on Google for 2010).

    There is a lot of water under the bridge since then. Google has become a vast empire on the Internet. I have a whole folder in my bookmarks devoted to Google, and I habitually use any number of them: Gmail, the calendar, Google news--every day. Google books and scholar are great boons for my research. Both have come in real handy there. I also use Google maps frequently and of course, YouTube. Less frequently I use Google Earth, Notebook, and Documents. And Google Reader (for blogs and other things like The New York Review of Books.)

    Now comes news that Google's got an e-reader. Why not? Google's got everything else. Obviously this thing is out there to compete with Amazon's Kindle, which at present dominates the e-reader market. I've got one of those myself. You'll never guess what? Google's e-books--you can read on just about anything: the iPad, iPhone, Android-driven devices, the Web itself, as well as the Nook and Sony e-readers. The only thing it won't work on is . . . the Kindle. The e-book wars are going to be real interesting over the next year or so. I'm anxious to see how Amazon reacts to this direct and very potent threat. Google's maw is huge . . . it swallows up almost all before it. Which is a bothersome thing. But that's a whole 'nother post.

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    They're Crazy as Hell in Edmond, OK

    Edmond is a suburb north of the City of Okies (Oklahoma City). It has money. And it has loonies. Which doesn't really make it all that much difference from other Oklahoma cities. It's just a matter of degree with these places.

    OK, are you ready for this? Meeting going on, a city council workshop on the city of Edmond's involvement in sustainable conservation efforts. The gathered citizens are convening to discuss their ideas about this and to discuss priorities. About 200 people are there. Saving money and energy, reducing waste: that's what this Edmond Sustainability Forum is all about. Water conservation, greenspace parks, energy efficient buildings, that sort of thing.

    That was the intention, but one Robert Semands, an upstanding citizen of the fair city, protested the idea of forming small brain-storming groups. Instead he demanded that the origins of the sustainability movement be revealed. To "widespread applause," according to the report. It gets a little dicey from this point. Another guy says he wants the whole group to discuss this thing because he doesn't thing they are going to get anywhere with the "unknowing" leading the small groups. From the report:
    Handouts titled “Why Edmond is concerned about U.N. Agenda 21/sustainable development” were handed to participants entering the Downtown Community Center.
    The reading material states, “U.N. Agenda 21 is a 1,000-plus page, 40-chapter document spelling out how all activities on the planet, including in the USA, are to be brought under the control of the United Nations.”
    Breaking into groups to discuss sustainability is about controlling what is said, one man in the audience said.
    “We don’t even know what you’re talking about with Agenda 21,” [Sharon] Entz [community development manager] said. “This isn’t part of our conversation at all. It’s absolutely not. We’re not part of that; we’re not interested in that.”
    Semands said the language of sustainability comes from Agenda 21 which is a U.N. agenda.
    “Edmond did not sign off with any international agenda,” former Mayor Dan O’Neil said.
    Newsome told The Edmond Sun that the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is a sub-group of the United Nations. The reading material provided by the group protesting the forum compared ICLEI to a Marxist document. He said the city is implementing Agenda 21 plans that have never been ratified at the national level.
    “We feel like we’ve been essentially ambushed by all this,” Semands told The Edmond Sun. “We just found out about it a few days ago. When they post meetings it’s kind of hard to find out about them.”
    City of Edmond meetings are posted at www.edmondok.com.
    “My concern is ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development,’ the words come from UN Agenda 21,” Semands said. He said former President George H. W. Bush signed the U.S. up for U.N. Agenda 21 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janerio in 1992.
    “Bill Clinton with an executive order created a governmental infrastructure to push this stuff as far as they could push it from a government level,” Semands said.
    Local homeowner John Springman said conservation is fine, but he’s concerned the ICLEI movement is tied to the U.N.
    “Who is the U.N. and ICLEI to tell we the people in the U.S.A. what to do?” Springman asked.
    Who indeed? What does the UN have over the people of Edmond, OK? And, by God, they ain't gonna be telling them what to do. This was the heart of the problem. This meeting was an affront to the provincialism of these people and their inveterate intolerance of anything from any further away than Tulsa.

    So what was the upshot of all this? Guess: they shut the meeting down. The organizers have to regroup. They are going to have another meeting in January where they will attempt to address the concerned citizens questions. Somehow I'm doubtful sustainability has got much of an immediate future in Edmond. Why? Because it's a hot button Tea Party issue. (See articles below.) And in the hands of these loonies, you better believe it's all a plot by some nefarious hidden foes to deprive Americans of their liberty.

    I wish someone would deprive people like this of their liberty to make the world more burdensome for the sane.


    Related articles

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Now Here's Some Comforting News

    You don't have to worry anymore, brothers and sisters, the largest corporation in the world is firmly on your side. Wal-mart has joined the front ranks of the anti-terrorist army! The secretary of homeland security (doesn't that strike you as a real creepy name ? I can hear goose-stepping whenever I encounter it.) announced that it has entered into a partnership with the giant retailer to cast millions more eyeballs on everything "suspicious."
    At least 200 Wal-Mart stores will roll out security announcements within 24 hours, Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said. By month's end, 588 stores in 27 states will be participating in the program. A short video featuring Napolitano will appear on TV screens at select checkout lanes, asking Wal-Mart shoppers to contact local law enforcement to report suspicious activity.
    "If you see something suspicious in the parking lot or in the store, say something immediately," Napolitano said in the video. "Report suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff. If you need help ask a Wal-Mart manager for assistance."
    And while you're hunting up the store manager, you might just take advantage of the low, low prices. By the way, this idea is going over like a lead balloon with a vast majority of people who've been asked about it. But you can bet that's not going to deter the crazies who are protecting us from the terrorists all around.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    It's Worse Than I Thought

    I'm kicking myself for not being up on all the ways Obama could sell out the principles he espoused so eloquently and was elected on. And my apologies to you for having to endure yet another rant from me about this so-called "compromise" on the tax cuts for the rich that Obama just signed on to. (There is a glimmer of hope that the Senate Democrats will balk en masse and slap the jowls of this president who has betrayed them at every turn. How I would dearly love to see that happen! But that would require some real spunk from Harry Reid, right? Ya really think that's possible?)

    So here's a complete rendering of what's in this "compromise." You know about the extension of the deficit-busting tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. That's listed first.
    • Extend the Bush tax cuts till 2012
    • Extend unemployment benefits for 13 months. (Without this 7 million workers would have lost benefits next year. But isn't the very notion of trading a tolerable existence for the down and out and their families for $100,000 more in the pockets of the fat cats just outrageous? And isn't it more outrageous that the Republicans held these workers hostage to their scheme?)
    • Include a two percentage-point cut in employee's Social Security taxes for 2011. (This is the "withholding tax holiday". It's OK with Democrats because it does provide a slight stimulus, but the other side of the coin is it takes a hit on social security, something that cannot displease Republicans.)
    • Keep the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and American Opportunity Credit cuts from the stimulus plan last year. This is about $40 billion in tax cuts for students and families. (Well, OK. But notice that this "compromise" is all about tax cuts . . . which is the Republican solution to everything. Democrats are supposed to know much better.)
    • Set the estate tax at 35% for two years on assets of $5 million or more. (The threshold for last year was $3.5 million and 45%. Guess who benefits from this little plum?)
    • Allow businesses to completely write off 100% of their capital purchases next year. (and thereby cut their taxes.)
    Now, all this, except the unemployment benefits would have been fine with the Republicans anyway. And the president is calling this a compromise? You gotta be kidding me. Both Rachel Maddow and Keith Olberman were upset about this tonight on the news. And the good news is the Democratic caucus is also furious with Obama. Maybe they are going to tell him to stop with this cozying up to Republicans and start paying attention to his base. But don't bet on it.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    An Alice in Wonderland World

    Although he has done it over and over for the past two years, I cannot believe Obama's craven surrender to the vile set of harpies that comprise the majority of the Republican party and 100 percent of their leadership. We learn today that Obama has reached agreement with these same set of rogues on a "compromise" on the Bush tax cuts . . . i.e., an extension of them for two years for everybody, including the millionaires and billionaires who received massive tax cuts under George Bush.  One of the commentators I read a day or so ago observed that this postponement of the restoration of the rates for the rich to what they were before Bush lowered them is simply a stopgap for the Republicans. Who once they are in charge of everything--and make no mistake, Obama will be a one-term president and the Republicans will sweep all before them in 2012--will make the tax cuts for their masters permanent. This the reason it's so damn foolish and craven now to give in to these bastards.

    The whimper we're hearing from the White House is that "this is the best we could get." Well, boys and girls, that's el toro ca-ca. It's not the best he can get. The best he can get can be had, but he has to shove it down the Republicans throats. That's the last thing this wimp Obama is going to do. If this president had a set of gonads, he would hold firm on this pledge during the campaign--remember that? He said he was going to roll these tax cuts back completely.--and force the miserable Republicans to actually filibuster against a tax break for millions and millions of struggling middle class people. And then let those tax-cut fiends in the Republican party actually have to stand up and tell us why they oppose tax cuts for people who really need them unless the richest two percent of the population get their "bonus" reinstated too. It's ludicrous. But we live in an Alice and Wonderland world now.

    Can you tell I'm a little angry at this turn of events? Even though I knew this was coming--I know who Obama is now--it still just frosts the hell out of me. I would not vote for this guy again if he was running for sewer commissioner.

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Merry Christmas, Plutocrats

    If you pay attention, you can sense the outrage building among the progressives of the country who in now what seems like a thousand years ago flocked to Barack Obama's banner in 2008 and sent him to the White House with substantial majorities in both houses of Congress. If ever there was a moment ripe for the installation of a progressive agenda for this country which so sorely needs it, it was then. So here we are now, two years later, and the Obama presidency and the hopes of the liberals who so enthusiastically backed him are in tatters. The bill of indictment is long, but here are the major failures of the Obama administration at the halfway point in this most wretched of presidencies. A toothless so-called financial reform bill, a severely watered-down health care act come to mind immediately. On both these issues Obama caved to the Republican party, the hirelings of the corporations, which to this very moment refuses to support the administration. It accepted far less for the broad expanse of the American people than if it had the balls to stand up and vote what was promised during the campaign. We're still in Iraq and we're getting more deeply mired in Afghanistan, endless wars both. There has been no prosecution of the the Bush criminals for the various war crimes committed during his presidency. In truth there's been very little for progressives to be happy about during the past couple of years. We're getting the shaft at every turn.

    Just the latest of the outrages is Obama's apparent readiness to cave yet again on the issue of extending the Bush tax cuts to the plutocrats who run the country. What we're talking about here is simply restoring the rates to what they were in 2002. The idea the deficit should be swollen by another $700 billion so as to put yet more money in the pockets of the richest two percent of the country . . . well, it's ludicrous. And yet this is what the Republican party is insisting on before it will consider or vote for anything else. Including extension of unemployment benefits to people who victimized by the plutocrats' recession. Can hypocrisy be more blatant?

    No. It cannot. But that doesn't make a difference to people any longer. The bigger the lie, the more willing the gulls that comprise the public are to accept it.


    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Best Band I've Heard in Six Months

    Just discovered these guys not too long ago. My son heard them in concert and said they were terrific, better than he was expecting. Enjoy. These are the Black Keys. And can we really call them a band? They are two guys, but they have a BIG sound.



    Update I: Here is a setlist with well over an hour's worth of music from this great band. Stu sent this the other day.



    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    City of Okies Wins Big Time Honors

    Check this out. Oklahoma City, the metropolis to the north of us, is in the news, winning Reason TV's Nanny of the Month Award. Does it involve hypocritical, moralistic posturing? Does it defy anything that could be described as logic? You betcha! But these Bubbas here love this sort of thing. They swear by it.


    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Wikileaks & Other Acts of Patriotism

    Raw Story informs today that online retailing giant Amazon has dropped Wikileaks from its servers. The conduit for this information was that despicable slug Senator Joe Lieberman who said that Wikileaks' "illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world." He also said he would be questioning Amazon about the "extent of its relationship" with Wikileaks.

    OK, boys and girls, what we have here is a typical American story. A corporation, under threat from a senator--or could be a congressman--folds immediately. I have to observe that the extent of the attacks on Wikileaks for its posting of classified diplomatic cables have been extraordinary. None other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the leaks as an attack on both America and the international community.

    Let me just say this. I worked for the federal government for my whole working life, the last half of it surrounded by classified materials. I had a top secret clearance that allowed me access to even to the "purple" stuff where I worked. Way up there stuff. But you know what? Ninety percent of the classified information I saw didn't need classification. Hell, some of it you could read in the newspapers, the Net, or magazines. This country has too many secrets Way, way too many. What they do for the most part is protect people's asses and hide nefarious deeds from the American people so they don't know what's being done in their name and with their money.

    So, hail to Wikileaks and everybody like them. They are performing a public service. The world turns on lies. The more of them that are exposed, the better. That's what leaks are really doing. Showing what's going on behind the public lies.