Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Told You . . .

. . . that "Stuff You Should Know" was going to generate blog entries. For it's there that I found out about this website at Animal Planet. It is all about parasites, specifically the kind that prey on us, human beings. It is perfectly fair to say that these are not good things. I'm sure there are benign parasites, in fact I know there are--all kinds of bacteria that our bodies host. And some of these are also necessary to our survival, as I understand. But the others. Well, they make us shiver and we'd just as soon not be reminded about them.

Fair disclosure: the subject is gross, the video clips are gross, and the whole thing is scary as hell. You definitely won't want to be looking at this stuff while you're eating. But if, like me, you're interested in almost everything, then this is just another subject, albeit one that is pretty disturbing. I was left with the question about one kind of biologist decides that these repulsive creatures are what he or she wants to spend their life studying. No matter what is is, somebody is fascinated with it.

Here's a promise. I'm not going to inflict another ghastly subject like this upon you for a long time. Cannot promise I never will again, though. Who could make a promise like that?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not a Way to Go

I had lunch with my daughter and Susan yesterday and was pleased to introduce her to a podcast I had recently discovered called "Stuff You Should Know." In the two weeks or so since I found out about this podcast, I've listened to 8-19 back episodes and now I'm downloading them the iPod regularly. This is the home web site. Guaranteed that this site, which covers fascinating subject matter all the time will become a rich source of blog material.

Case in point: 10 bizarre deaths. It turns out, as was discussed on the podcasts, that most human beings have a somewhat morbid curiosity about death. Which for me doesn't seem all that unusual. It's a place we're all going, no exceptions. Something as universal as this is bound to make people curious. I've had a saying for years: "There's only one way into this world, but there are a million ways out of it." It turns out most of us are interested in finding out about the million ways.

So I'm assuming that many of you--well, not that many because not that many read this blog regularly--are going to click on the link to find out about these 10 bizarre ways to die. So I won't be be a spoiler. But I will titillate you with some descriptive phrases. Death by beard, by storm drain, deodorant, hungry sheep, molasses, and more.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Strained Gnats

It's difficult for me--well, it's actually impossible in this instance--not to share this this timely message from Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest I've spoken about several times before. Especially with the absurd rise to prominence of what in my opinion is the very worst kind of advertisement for the Catholic Church. I'm speaking, of course, of former senator Rich Santorum.This guy is a crazy Catholic fanatic of the furthest right. A puckered-butt moralist who has a problem, as he says, with the separation of Church and state. And he's running for the Republican nomination for president.

This little piece is just for people like Santorum.
In recent elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead—and largely from people who think of themselves as “traditionalists”! The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story. When you lose the mystical level, you always become moralistic as a cheap substitute.

Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called “The Three Ps” of power, prestige, and possessions, which are probably 95% of Jesus’ written teaching. We conveniently ignore this 95% to concentrate on a morality that usually has to do with human embodiment. That’s where people get righteous, judgmental, and upset, for some reason. The body seems to be where we carry our sense of shame and inferiority, and early-stage religion has never gotten much beyond these “pelvic” issues. As Jesus put it, “You ignore the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and good faith . . . and instead you strain out gnats and swallow camels” (Matthew 23:23-24). We worry about what people are doing in bed much more than making sure everybody has a bed to begin with. There certainly is a need for a life-giving sexual morality, but one could question whether Christian nations have found it yet.

Christianity will regain its moral authority when it starts emphasizing social sin in equal measure with individual (read “body-based”) sin and weaves them both into a seamless garment of love and truth.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Needed This

So one of the side benefits of the 30-minute walk is 30 uninterrupted moments to listen to podcasts. I just added one to my usual complement of "This American Life" and "Planet Money" podcasts. This one is called "Stuff You Should Know." I'm a sucker for these kinds of things. Little 15-20 lessons--discussions between two knowledgeable guys (usually, because I encountered one with a gal and a guy) about all kinds of stuff that either you should know or that you're pretty curious about. So over the past couple of days I've listened to I've found out about:
  • how altruism works--a philosophical question, really, about whether anybody can actually perform a totally unselfish act
  • is there a worst way to die?--most would say immolation is worst, and drowning is up there, too. And did you know 25 percent of people say they are not afraid to die. But they concluded if you're in a plane going down from, say, 35,000 feet . . . well, the fear would doubtless be universal. Worst case for most people is dying alone.
  • will we soon be extinct? Possibly. Just about everything that's ever been on the planet went extinct before us.
  • how living off the grid works? Did you know some people have arranged to live so they don't ever pay utility bills?
  • how habeas corpus works
I'm just getting into how corporate personhood works, and I have about 15 more episodes to listen to before I'm caught up. I really needed this extra thing to catch my interest. I'll get caught up on "Stuff You Should Know" and then I'll be behind on the other two. Not to mention NPR's Live Concerts and KEBX's Song of the day.

Here's the hook for the Stuff You Should Know podcast:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Better Than I

The writer of this piece, Robert C. Koehler, is a Chicago reporter long connected with the movement to wake people up to the madness that is our militarized country, the insanity that is our military budget in the face of so many crying human wants on this suffering globe. The White House, certainly as mad as the rest of the government, has recently come out with what it calls an "austerity budget." Koehler skewers this falsehood far more eloquently than I could .
First of all, the grotesque insult of "austerity" in the shadow of limitless military spending is destroying our national sanity. And the proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, mental health services, environmental cleanup, National Parks programs and even, yeah, Saturday mail delivery are miniscule compared to the unmet social needs we haven't yet begun to address in this country, in education, renewable energy and so much more. But we're spending with reckless abandon to arm ourselves and our allies and provoke our enemies, and sometimes arm them as well, creating the sort of world no one (almost no one) wants: a world of endless war.
The official 2012 Defense budget of $530 billion, and just a shade under that for 2013, leaves out an enormous amount of defense-related government spending. According to a recent piece in The Atlantic, when you add in, oh, the cost of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our spending on nuclear weapons development (relegated to the Department of Energy budget), Homeland Security, veterans' medical care (inadequate as it is, but rising), military aid to allies ($3 billion to Israel, for instance), and interest on the military's portion of the debt (projected to be $63.7 billion in 2013), our defense spending almost doubles, to $986.1 billion in 2012 and $994.3 billion in 2013. 
These numbers are simply mind-boggling. What we're talking about here, brothers and sisters, are sums just shy of one trillion dollars for "defense." This is insanity. There is no possible threat to our peace and security as dangerous as this colossal annual drain on our country's lifeblood. Is it not obvious that we have collectively taken leave of our senses? War is publicly justified and celebrated every single day of our lives in this country. When's the last day you can remember where you didn't see, hear, or read about the grave threats to our peace and security--i.e., terrorists, drug smugglers, internal plots, Taliban, China's rising power--that supposedly justify this unconscionable expense?

Moloch, the Insatiable
I can't remember the last day this didn't happen. Can you? Rest assured we're not going to see an end to this madness. There's too much fear, too much money to be made, habits of mind too ingrained in our national psyche to alter. There is not a snowball's chance in hell that anything short of our own destruction will change in our state of permanent war. (I have to disagree with Mr. Koehler on this point. We are already in a state of perpetual war.) People in desperate  need, the countless, numberless will continue to be sacrificed into the flaming maw of Moloch. But he is an insatiable fiend. He won't be satisfied till he's devoured us all.    

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Well, it could have happened anywhere, I guess. But South Carolina seems like the appropriate place for an off-duty deputy conducting a concealed weapons class to accidentally shoot one of his students, a woman and the wife of another deputy, at that. The classes are being conducted because the sheriff has encouraged women to pack a gun after a recent rape. “Our form of justice is not making it,” he said at the time. “Carry a concealed weapon. That’ll fix it.”

It almost fixed this lady. Don't worry she's going to be okay, bullet went through her arm and into her side, but it's not fatal. She was having trouble with the grip on the weapon apparently and he, gallant that he is, went over to help. And uh oh!!! The damned thing went off. He hadn't thought to check to see if the gun was loaded.

His boss said "it was just a mistake." Ya think? (Source)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Difference Will It Make?

Really. So what if the country installs Barack Obama back in the White House for another four years? How much different would a Republican president be than him? I would submit to you that despite the constant screeching and hollering the Republicans have done ever since Obama took office, that big business couldn't have a much bigger friend than that sham "progressive" who occupies the White House. What has happened on his watch that has not benefited our corporate overlords? Think about it. And now we read, that Obama is going to propose to Congress that the corporate income tax rate be dropped from its current 35 percent to 28. Here's the blurb:
The Obama administration will propose today reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent along with removing tax breaks for companies to help offset lost revenue, an administration official said.
The plan would eliminate dozens of tax breaks and reshape the current manufacturing deduction to reduce the tax rate on manufacturing to 25 percent, according to the official, who outlined the proposal on condition of anonymity because it hadn’t been released. The restructured tax code would still include incentives for research and development and renewable energy.
The second paragraph is the key . . .  do you seriously think this will happen? What victories over big business lobbies can the administration point to? . . . None that I can think of. So here's what I think will happen. The Republicans in Congress will refuse to pass anything the administration proposes along these lines--along any lines, really--because they refuse to give the president anything. Especially, especially in this an election year. I don't know how good the proposal is, but I do know this. I don't like the sound of lowering taxes on businesses with the promise of offsets that aren't just automatic, just on principle. Give the corporate interests half a chance and they will gut the hell out of anything worthwhile in this proposal.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Drums in the Distance

They are not as faint as they used to be. Those war drums just over the horizon. You can hear them more clearly. Those drumbeats for war with Iran. You don't have to go any further than CNN. That's CNN. I didn't say Fox--which, and this is a total aside, it totally confounds me every time I hear confirmed once again that this right-wing propaganda machine, this organ of Rupert Murdock, is the top news source in this country. What does that tell you about this country? Anyway, have a look at this jeremiad by what Matt Taibbi calls "CNN's resident blockhead." "You can just feel it." he writes, "many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms." (Source) This is very scary stuff, brothers and sisters. Does anybody recall that this is just the sort of media campaign that proceeded our catastrophic preemptive war against Iraq?

Danny Schecther at "The Smirking Chimp" delivers more really bad news: "Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its [alleged] nuclear program, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so." (This article which mostly bemoans the state of the corporate state media is worth your time.)

So gird yourselves. We're on an increasingly gloomy downward slope. I, for one, don't think there is anything to arrest our slide.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I don't know what people who do this for a living get paid for doing, but whatever it is, it probably is not enough. I've encountered, as I'm sure you have too, book indexes that are simply worse than useless. (The only thing I can think of worse is a book that's not indexed at all.) There's nothing more frustrating to someone seeking information between two covers of a book who cannot do it because a good tool has not been provided to help him. That's what the index is. There's no sense in having one at all if it's crappy. The only kind acceptable is one that's complete and accurate. I've been working on building one now for several days. And I've got several days more to go.

Some observations. First, it is damned tedious and hard work doing this. You must comb every page of your galley proofs to find items that should appear in the index. You're constantly having to make decisions. Does this belong in the index? Does it have to be cross-referenced? Which category identifies it? Are there other words or phrases that should be indexed under this entry? And so on and on. Nobody gives much thought to the fact that somebody has to make these decisions, and the quality of the finished index is directly related to the quality of countless decisions like this. Second, electronic indexing until we have real AI is never going to be in the same league and good ole human brainpower. Finally, thankfully we have some electronic tools that ease the burden somewhat. The page proofs I'm working with are both hard copy and an electronic .pdf file. A free .pdf file reader called Foxit will search the entire manuscript for certain words or phrases and give you a list. So at least you don't have to work entirely with hard copy, like I had to do years ago with book on Stephens.

But this is a hell of a lot of work no matter how you do it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Surely You Jest

Well, you betcha. I have to report that Infinite Jest, the magnum opus of the late lamented David Foster Wallace is simply terrific. I'm well into it now. Approaching page 200 (which still leaves a long, long way to go), but I have to tell you, I've laughed out loud several times. Several. A couple of times, I found it difficult to stifle the laughter. The Boston terrier, unused to such behavior from me, gets up in my face and licks. I guess she thinks something's the matter with me.

A quick check with my daughter, who's reading, and with a nephew cousin who has read the book, confirm that this is indeed a book that invokes belly laughter. It's apparent that the book is going to be a hell of a lot of fun. I've decided that it is going to remain ridiculous the rest of the way. Oh boy! And I'm in total awe of this guy's creativity and talent. Amazing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cheaters Never Gain . . .

Latest issue of The New Yorker has a piece about a guy named Quentin Rowan, a writer who produced under the pen name Q.R. Markham. I used the term "produced" advisedly, because Rowan stands alone at the pinnacle of the mountain called Plagiarism. This debut novelist, who had published a number of works before, was discovered to have copied virtually the entire text of a forthcoming novel Assassin of Secrets (for which he had been given an advance and of which 6,500 copies had actually been published) from dozens of already-published sources. The amazing thing about this guy is that the plagiarism was so wide-reaching, the book is constructed "almost entirely from other people's sentences and paragraphs . . . a singular literary artifact," according to the New Yorker article. What's more, Rowan, 34, has left a train of plagiarized works stretching out ten years behind him. Examples of the plagiarized passages can be found here

I note this for a couple of reasons: first, it's fascinating to me as a writer how much effort this guy used to cheat . . . probably much more than would have been required to write the thing himself. The second reason is much more personal. I don't teach at the university level any longer because plagiarism was so rampant and even when it was exposed, it was tolerated and students were not disciplined. What happened was I was disciplined, i.e., not allowed to teach anymore when I made too much noise about letting cheaters get by with cheating.

Cheaters never gain is a quaint expression, but there's no true in it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Harpooned, Again

From the Index in the latest number of Harper's magazine:
  • Percentage of political ad spending during 2010 election that would have been prohibited before Citizens United: 72  An amazing number, don't you think? I see that two Supreme Court justices--Breyer and Ginsberg--are calling for the court to reconsider the decision. Gee, ya think? The dollar amounts reported for the GOP primaries are astounding, and almost all of it not accountable. See correction below.
  •   Percentage increase since 2009 in investment fraud targeting adults over 50: 100  More good news for us seniors.
  • Age at which a typical person's financial decision making peaks: 53.3  So the swindlers ain't no dummies.
  • Estimated number of parking spaces per car in the United States: 3
  • Years by which the average life span of a homeless person is shorter than the overall average: 30  And we have how many hundreds of thousands of homeless in U.S.? and how many are children? About 842,000 in a given week. I checked. And approximately 1.5 million children are homeless in any given year, that's 1 out of 50.
  • Annual savings the U.S. Mint estimates will result from aborting its efforts to circulate $1 coins: $50 million. Are you kidding me? What the hell in wrong with the American people they cannot deal with coins? Which makes everything cheaper and simpler.
  • Minimum number of persons whose remains the U.S. Air Force dumped in a land fill between 2003 and 2008: 274  Support the troops!
  • Number of U.S. servicepeople dismissed for pre-existing "personality disorders" between 2002 and 2007. Don't know all of the personality disorders involved, but you can bet they include aversion to war or to killing people the government has decided are our enemies this week.
  • Percentage of Americans who have been arrested by the age of 23: 30  Just let that number circulate in your brain . . . 3 out of every 10? Really?
  • Rank of the Mafia among Italy's largest lending institutions: 1
  • Rank of Goldman Sachs employees among the largest funding sources for Mitt Romney's campaign: 1
  • For Obama's 2008 campaign: 2

Monday, February 13, 2012

Going Gopher

To my left sits a neat, fairly thick stack of paper. About two inches high, I would estimate. It's a book manuscript. It contains a dozen essays on subjects connected to CSA General Robert E. Lee, which manuscript I co-edited with a colleague. It will be published in May by the University of Tennessee Press.  By March 1, I have to have constructed and completed the index for this volume. The last time I did an index was years ago for my book on Alexander Stephens. I'm probably going to be going underground for the next couple of weeks to get this done. It's hard work, and the only good thing about it now is you can use the computer for some stuff, and you don't have to do everything by hand. My guess is that it is going to take all of the two weeks I have to do this before I can finish. We'll see.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Infinite Jest

It's the title of a massive novel by David Foster Wallace. It is also his last completed novel. I think he left an incomplete one upon his death. Self-inflicted, alas. Apparently the man was crushed completely by depression. How bad does it have to be for you to hang yourself in your 40s? But that is not the point of this entry. I started reading Infinite Jest a couple of weeks ago, and to be honest, I undertook this considerable task because my daughter was reading it and had blogged about it herself. This was too much of a challenge to overlook. I don't know how she came about deciding to read this book. Apparently, from what she says in her blog entry about it, her brother, my son Bernard had something to do with it. Sounds like some kind of shaming device at work. Well, I have to tell you, shame works on me. I could not let my daughter read this book when just recently I had been talking to not one but two people about David Foster Wallace and how I wanted to read some more of his stuff. I've encountered essays in a couple of magazines, and was always entertained. Hence, Infinite Jest. I am now about 130 pages in, and the book is getting better and better. (Something my daughter confirms after being well over 200 pp. in).

This guy is a massive talent but the vocabulary can be damned daunting. But I have found the solution. A whole Wiki devoted to the book that has a page-by-page that has a massive page-by-page annotation collection that pretty much obviates the maddening task of either/or/or both jotting down the latest word you have no idea of what it means and looking it up with an online source like Google, or my favorite dictionary, Ninjawords, the speediest online look-definition-up tool hands down. This is what the iPad was made for. Having that Wiki right there next to me while I'm reading IJ.

I've got a feeling this will not even be my last entry on this subject.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Daily Walk

Today was a really cold day. But no mind. Prozac, the Boston terrier, and I trekked our daily 30-minute walk anyway. Scarf, gloves, the whole bit. They--whoever "they" is; you never know--say that you do some exercise for two weeks, and it becomes something you need to do. I don't know about that part, but I can say in the 3+ weeks I've been making this daily walk, I do feel a lot better. Not sluggish. Not so resigned to the idea that I'll never be able to shed pounds again. As a matter of fact, as of this morning, I've dropped 8 pounds. Not just walking has done it. I've been limiting myself to 1,300 calories a day and have been religious about counting them.

Anyway, Prozac is always ready to go walking. Just the idea of it sets her aquiver. It's one of her two favorite things--excluding food, which is every dog's favorite thing--the other being going for a ride in the car. She gets really excited about the prospect of either. Which makes me think again about what dogs can teach us about how to approach life. Always stay in the now. Enjoy the enjoyable things. Stretch fully. Keep your loved ones close, and always keep to the left.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"A Little Respect When I Come Home"

Just like the song says. This is all the dad in the video wants from his 15-year-old daughter. Alas. He's gotten none and boy, is he pissed! This video has gone viral on YouTube. I can't say I would have done the same thing--the video has occasioned a huge debate on the Net about parenting skills--but I know where this guy is coming from. Let me say right up front here that I wouldn't have ever done this to one of my kids. That's because none of the three would have ever given me cause to. (Not to mention the fact that laptops were still in their infancy when the kids still lived at home.) Susan and I often reflect on what a great set of kids we have, and how proud we are what the three of them have grown up to be. They are all good people, generous people, people with empathy and respect for others. When we think back on it, our kids gave us no problems growing up. Nothing like some of our friends had to deal with, and nothing like this guy in the video is dealing with now.

And it sounds to me like he has a pretty legitimate beef . . . and this was a second offense after a stern warning and pretty severe consequences for the first offense. One thing certain, this guy's daughter will be telling this story (and showing the video) till she's old and gray. And I'll be you a chocolate shake that she won't be taking any disrespect from her kids either.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Repulsive Progressive Hypocrisy

It's the same title as the one in the Salon article by Glenn Greenwald from which I got the inspiration for this entry. In short, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, so-called "progressives" are lined up behind Obama's war on terrorism. Which, it must be observed, is even more repulsive than George W. Bush's--and that is saying something. Here are the basics: 53 percent of so-called liberal Democrats support keeping Guantanamo prison open and filled with suspected terrorists. Remember when that place was an affront to the Constitution? Remember when Obama with great fanfare on his first day in office signed papers to close the prison within a year? Well, that's all gone. The used-to-be symbol of blatant disregard for civil liberties enshrined in our foundational document is now part of Obama's policy.

Even worse, from my perspective, is the fact that fully 77 percent--savor that number--of so-called liberal Democrats approve of Obama's extensive use of drones to kill suspected enemies and innocents alike.
Obama has used drones to kill Muslim children and innocent adults by the hundreds. He has refused to disclose his legal arguments for why he can do this or to justify the attacks in any way. He has even had rescuers and funeral mourners deliberately targeted. As [Bush CIA and NSA chief Michael] Hayden said: ”Right now, there isn’t a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel.”
And the crowning offense, he has even suborned the killing of American citizens via drones without due process of law. Hell, when Bush was in office, liberals went nuts over his eavesdropping on citizens without a court order, now by a count of over sixty-five percent in favor, they approve of executing US citizens without due process.

All of this just disturbs me no end. For if a Democratic president employs such extraordinary unconstitutional means to wage war, what in heavens name will this allow future presidents of either party to do in secret without the slightest pretense of legality? I just never tire of repeatedly pointing out that one of war's most horrifying aspects is the way it dehumanizes its participants. Every war does this. It turns humans into animals,* and it doesn't matter whether the participant is on the battlefield or sitting in the Oval Office.

It's the height of hypocrisy to damn the actions of the other guy when your guy does the same and even worse. It's shameful, and I won't do it. And I'm glad there's an outcry about this from the true remaining progressives in this country.

*A stock phrase, which I'm actually sorry to lose because it risks insulting animals, who are far more honorable than human beings.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Same Song, Umpteenth Verse

There's an article in the NY Times that bangs once again a gong I've been banging for years. "Attention" the gongs gongs, "Our educational system is failing." And it's failing at the most basic of levels. If your school system cannot impart to students the fundamentals of their own native tongue, what good is it really? Would you not agree that literacy is the basic building block of knowledge? Of critical thinking? Of engagement with world? Consider the alternative. Illiteracy shuts people up in a prison of ignorance from which there is no escape. It guarantees that they will be easily victimized by charlatans of every stripe for their entire lives. Even worse, it will diminish the quality of their lives in ways unmeasurable. For what is life without being able to read and understand, think about, take pleasure in? What would it be without intellectual curiosity? All there is and all that's required for such people, as the ancients discovered, is bread and circuses.

The NYT article talks about setting standards for the NY State Regents English exam, which is given to all high school seniors and which they must pass with a score of 65 to get a diploma. The details of the scoring system need not detain us. Suffice it say, the state regents, in order to ensure that failing high school seniors don't clog up the halls until their mid-20s, have dumbed down the exam to such an extent that these student observations deserve credit:

These two Charater have very different mind Sets because they are creative in away that no one would imagen just put clay together and using leaves to create Art.

In the poem, the poets use of language was very depth into it.

 Absurd doesn't seem to quite cover it, does it?

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's Embarrassing

It's humiliating, actually, to have to acknowledge that you are governed, and I use the term advisedly, by nimwits such as Congressman John Fleming, who, be it noted, is a physician in addition to being one of the congressional representatives from the great state of Louisiana.

Let's let this be an audience participation blog entry. Read this piece from "The Onion," and tell me if it doesn't at least raise questions for you, if you don't immediately grasp that what you're reading is not true. It's satire by a master of the craft, whose motto as we all know is "America's Finest News Source." Well, apparently Fleming thought so, too--and you have to wonder about this guy's staff. Aren't they around to keep the congressman from looking stupid? This time they really fell down on their job. Dr. Representative Fleming read this Onion article about the grand opening of a Planned Parenthood's $8 billion "Abortionplex" in Wichita. A place where many more abortions could be performed with greater efficiency. The facility's floor plan showing locations of the iMax theater, pet adoption, facility, gift shop, and food court accompanied the text. And outraged by the notion, Fleming posted a link to the article on this Facebook page along with a comment about "abortions by the wholesale." It was obvious the man took the article seriously.

For many years now, "The Onion" has been America's premier satirical publication. Apparently the congressman wasn't aware of this. I understand that Fleming's faux pas has been taken down from his FB page now. Doesn't it bother you that we've got such uninformed and gullible people at the head of our affairs? And I'll tell you this: this dolt isn't the only one up there who governs by hallucination. There's a whole passel of 'em.

Here is the article about this silliness from The Huntington Post. Oh, and did we mention that the fake news article is a year old?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oh, Man . . .

Long blonde hair, glasses, freckles, barefoot . . . and a voice you could ride to heaven on. Perfect. This little girl is terrific. Her name is Lissie, and I discovered her via my iPad a few days ago. And this is a great tune, a Hank Williams song. I cannot imagine him doing it better than this. You can click to other videos of her doing other songs at the end of this one. All of 'em are worth it. Enjoy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"I'm Not Concerned . . ."

Can this guy Romney really be the best the Republicans can dredge up to run for the presidency against Obama in the fall? You have to be kidding me. Here's a guy who's so clueless he stands up in front of God and everybody and says, and I quote, "I'm not concerned about the very poor" because we have a safety net there to take care of them. And he continues, ". . . and I'm not concerned about the very rich. They are doing just fine." Yes, we know they are doing just fine. And the Republican party is just dying to make sure they keep on doing just fine, and maybe even finer.

We can pretty much assume that a guy like Mitt Romney, who was to the manor born, is not concerned about the poor. He's not concerned about poor middle class slobs either, although he's at great pains to tell us that the mass of Americans in the middle class are who he's worried about.

Let's set aside for the moment the utter crassness, the utter stupidity of a politician saying he is not concerned about poor people--I'm not even going to get into just how illustrative this is of the class of people Romney issues from. They are just not living in the same world as he rest of us. Hell, they don't ever lay eyes on poor people. May never have except in those third world countries where poor people (but not the poorest) serve them frosty cocktails on their expansive verandas overlooking the sea. No, let's look at the smugness and haughty statement that he's not worried about the very rich. They are doing just fine, he tells us. And in the next minute, he advocates policies that will only make them richer. And the other side of that coin is that he likewise favors policies that will decrease assistance to poor people. We're in Alice's Wonderland, people. This buffoon could end up being president. Not like that would be setting any precedents.

Update I: Paul Krugman's column on this incident is great. See it here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The Air Force has gotten caught taking retaliatory action against three courageous whistle-blowers who alerted the country to the fact that the remains of fallen troops from our Mid-East wars were being mishandled at Dover Air Force Base. Dover handles mortuary affairs for all of the services. Last November a report from the Office of the U.S. Special Counsel cited "gross mismanagement" at the mortuary. Things like missing body parts and severing the arm of a dead Marine--without family permission, of course--so his body would fit inside a uniform. Also the disposal of body parts in a Virginia landfill. Had it not been for the whistle-blowers, this appalling situation would have never come to light.

And what did they get for their troubles? Termination, indefinite administrative leave, five-day suspensions. What else did you expect really? This is SOP for any bureaucracy when it uncovers whistle-blowers. It's them that get punished, not the wrongdoers. In this case, however, the tables got turned. The secretary of the Air Force more or less tried to let matters slide. But Pinetta, the DoD secretary, advised him to reconsider. Hence the former commander of mortuary affairs (a bird colonel), his civilian deputy, and the former director of the mortuary, also a civilian. (read about it here). Savor it. It's not often that justice is done in the military bureaucracy. But note . . . it took the secretary of defense to force it. Left to its own devices the Air Force would have just gotten away with it.