Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Sentence To Keep You Awake At Night

"[O]nce President Palin appoints Ron Paul as Treasury Secretary, all bets are off."

You can find it in Paul Krugman's analysis of Wall Street Reform passed last night by the Senate. And it's not nearly as bad as the alternative. Substitute Rand for Ron, and you can rest assured you will never catch a z again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You're Gonna Hear About It Anyway, So Here's The Real Story

The NY Times has recently reported that Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal, who is in the running to fill the Senate seat which will be vacated by Sen. Christopher Dodd at the end of his term, has lied about his service record, as evidenced by a video clip from 2008 in which Blumenthal said "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam." When confronted with the excerpt from the video, Blumenthal said he "misspoke."

Nevertheless, news anchors and pundits from all over the political spectrum went on to accuse Blumenthal of intentionally lying and declared his campaign all but finished. Too bad, for Blumenthal and for us, that the NY Times had gotten it wrong and that none of the unprofessional figures that amplified the original report bothered to check its accuracy. Kos at the Daily Kos has more.

If The Real Thing Looks Like A Parody...

Then comedians are in trouble, right? Wrong. Watch.

(via TPM Live Wire)

(via Huffington Post)

Notice how the parody only took some minor re-writing. But then again, as a good friend of mine would say, parodying Alabama is as hard as "shooting at a little boy on the crapper."

Monday, May 17, 2010

You Can Dismiss Tea Partiers As Crazy, But You Cannot Dismiss Their Number

Recently I attended an Organizing for America strategy session. I came away underwhelmed from the experience, though it is always nice to see people mobilizing for a cause they believe in, whatever that might be.

Before the session started, an older gentleman in attendance dismissed the number of tea-partiers around the nation, saying that viewers and readers get an overinflated sense of how many tea-partiers there are because it is in the news media's interest to create controversies where none exist. An older woman immediately offered her support for the gentleman's theory. Perhaps. But, if they have been paying attention, about one week later Sen. Bennett (R-UT), an incumbent once considered a safe bet for re-election in November, was ousted by Republican voters in one of the most shocking results of this primary season. He finished third during the recent Utah Republican convention, failing to earn a place on the ballot for the upcoming Utah Republican primaries. In interview with NPR, Sen. Bennett said that "[t]he normal turnout for caucuses in Utah is between 25 and 35,000. This time we had 75,000, and [activists in the Tea Party movement] swamped all of the normal kinds of political structures." You do the math.

Add to that the news that Rand Paul (yes, Ron Paul's son, who is a fan of Ayn Rand, though he denies that his nickname is due to his fondness for the works of the Objectivist philosopher) is all but sure to kick his Republican opponent's butt in the Kentucky Republican primary, in spite of (or perhaps precisely because of) his wacky and less than commendable ideas, like repealing the American with Disabilities Act.

I am no pundit, so I don't know if the rise of the Tea Party will ultimately spell success or defeat for Conservatives in November, but while criticizing the logic and foundation of tea-partiers is fair game, as well as an exercise of civic responsibility, dismissing their numbers as inflated may be foolish.

Too Crooked To Exist

Read this post from Think Progress: Transocean to give shareholders $1 billion while trying to cap its responsibility for Gulf spill at $27 million. . If it does not get your blood boiling, nothing will.

Now I ask you: Why does this not the top news in all newspapers, newscasts, and over the Internet?

What I find particularly insulting and infuriating is that for years we have had to listen to the mouthpieces of the Conservative establishman rail against "entitlements", which, in their irritating jargon, means things like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment benefits, public education, anything that serves the interest of the lower- and middle-class ans interferes with the right of corporations and their executives to amass ungseemly amounts of money. It seems to me that, more and more, the consensus view is that the only true entitlements to be protected are the unfettered profits of the corporations that have corrupted the political process to the point of making a mockery of what the Founding Fathers might have had in mind when they gave birth to this briefly fair, once great country.

In this land that lies prostrate at the feet of its true god, Mammon, the only thing which never comes up for discussion is the matter of why corporations should be able to continue reaping profits born of corruption, malfeasance and a worship of profit that could not be less patriotic if it tried. When the preferred way of protecting corporate wealth is to lay off workers, to shield the corporation agains legitimate lawsuits, to bribe politicians into submission, to game the system at every juncture, where is all the fucking rage that should bring these thieves to their knees and back to earth? Why don't we start rising against corporate entitlements?

A corporation fighting to cap damages against itself while at the same time rushing to distribute its ill-gotten gains on its sharholders should not be allowed to exist. Call it Too Crooked To Exist. May it burn itself to the bottom of the ocean, along with its damned fucking rigs.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Genius is B(l)ack!

One of my favorite comedians/satirists returned to the Daily Show last night. This is a classic piece of satire, if I ever heard one.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Ballot Initiative to Ban Red-Light Cameras in Colorado

Few things in my daily life aggravate me as much as red-light cameras (another one being cops sitting mid-downhill with their radar guns). In fact, red-light cameras aggravate me so much that I am thinking of starting a drive to change Colorado law. No, I have not been a victim of one of these safety-killing, revenue-generating traps (yet), but the way they are set up it's just a matter of time.

If you have any experience in driving ballot initiatives and would be interested in starting the process to run a referendum banning the use of red-light cameras in Colorado, please post a comment in reply to this post. Fifteen states have already banned the use of red-light cameras.

In the meantime, for the next few weekends, I plan to go out with a stopwatch to measure the yellow-light interval of various traffic lights, some equipped with red-light cameras, some without. I think I have already detected a difference of about one second between the two types (with the red-light camera equipped traffic signals being shorter.) If your idea of a fun weekend can withstand lowered expectations and you would like to help out, drop me a line using the comment feature.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Ridiculous, Scary Map of The Union

"It's time for reform advocates to wake up" says Linda Bergthold, a health policy consultant and researcher who writes for the Huffington Post. Why? Because if you think the battle for health care in this country was over when President Obama signed health care reform into law, you need to come to terms with reality.

Read Ms. Bergthold's post, and you'll understand why you need to wake up.

While We're On the Subject of JC... (see previous post)

I just came across a provocative little post by a former "rabid anti-Christian, very suddenly convert." His name is John Shore, and he makes some interesting points about the many ways in which Christians fail at being Christians.

Here are a couple of my favorite failures:

3) Too quick to believe that we know what God really means by what he says in the Bible.

5) Too invasive of others generally. It is my personal, humble opinion that anyone seeking to mix church and state has failed to understand the nature and role of either.

You can read the rest of Shore's post here.

Use the RC to Turn Off JC

If this is true, and it appears to be, Comedy Central will soon become the favorite target of Evangelical Christians all around the world: It appears that the comedy cable channel is developing a cartoon with Jesus Christ as its protagonist.

According to CNN, the series "would be about JC (Jesus Christ) wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow and to live life in NYC as a regular guy. A lot has changed in 2000 years and he is the ultimate fish out of water. Meanwhile his all-powerful yet apathetic father would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city. JC is a playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb.”

You can always count on the good people at Comedy Central to poke fun at what draws fun-poking upon itself.

You don't need me to tell you what the reaction of Christians would be if the cartoon should reach "pilot" status and later even develop into a full-fledged series, but I will gladly tell you anyway. Accusations that Comedy Central is desecrating religion and defaming the good character of Jesus and the followers of the various cults created in his name will be levelled, regardless of the fact that Christians, Catholics and Evangelicals first and foremost among them, are perfectly capable of giving their religion a bad name all by themselves.

In the meantime, I volunteer to teach Christians in churches and rec halls around the country how they can use their remote controls to change channel or to turn off their TV sets altogether. It would be much easier if we all learned to use technology to our advantage, instead of using it as a means of curtailing other people's freedoms.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Happy National Day of... Prayer?!?

PZ Myers tells the President of the USA to "get stuffed." He is right, of course, about the fact that the National Day of Prayer is an obvious trespass of the line that separates church and state, and that all Presidents who endorse and participate in such proclamations are "pandering, unprincipled hack[s]."

Thankfully, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin ruled (PDF reader required) that the federal law mandating a National Day of Prayer violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Look for this case to make it all the way to the Supreme Court, which--by the way--has shown to be almost completely spineless on matters of separation of church and state (in its current conservative embodiment).

What On Earth Is Going On?

First Glenn Beck defends the Times Square bomber (saying Mirandizing him was the right thing to do, when Sen. McCain said Mirandizing him was wrong), then O'Reilly says that criticizing the Obama Administration for its response to the Deep Horizon oil spill is insane... I know!

You have to see it to believe it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Perfect Name for The Red Nation

A while ago, in my infinite wisdom and farsightedness, I penned a post called Let Them Idiots Secede. It became relevant lately when Professor David Michael Green wrote a post to the same effect.

Now I came across a post by Kos at the Daily Kos which contains the following sentence, which I immediately declare a classic and which contains the ultimate suggestion for the name of secession nation: "Whenever Dumbfuckistan is finally founded (I still say in the Texas panhandle/western Oklahoma), the Politico needs to become its paper of record. Benen has more."

Dumbfuckistan it is!

When The Private Sector Is Not Only Inept But Dangerous

Meteor Blades at the Daily Kos raises an issue that is sure to make conservative skins crawl: nationalizing energy.

Conservatives always tell us, no amount of contrary evidence notwithstanding, that the private sector can do a better job than the government, that collection of screw-ups that brought you Medicaid, Medicare, public education, public roads, and so on.

The recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond serves as a painful reminder that private sector can be just as inept, and as dangerous or more, as the government is alleged to be. But there are nations, for example in Norway or France, that run things better than the United States, from an environmental safety point of view. The dirty little secret that conservatives don't want you to find out about is that the energy sector of those two countries is, for the most part, nationalized.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Plutocrats v Us

You would think that, in a democracy that equates gargantuan wealth with free speech (see Citizens United v. FEC), the plutocrats who buy amounts of free speech you and I cannot even dream of would not try to hide their identity but would proudly associate their identity with the causes they support. Not so, reports Think Progress.

These gutless children of Mammon want to protect their right to buy the outcomes of democracy while at the same time preserving their anonimity, alleging that a "chilling effect on the First Amendment" would ensue were they forced by law to disclose their identity when pouring disgusting amounts of money into the political process. Last I checked, the First Amendment protects people's right to speak freely from govermental interference, but it does not come with an attached clause granting the speaker anonimity.

If these disgusting plutocrats want to defend their plutonomy with the wealth they have (often obscenely) accumulated, they should at least have the guts to show their faces in public.

Why, just this week Justice Scalia, one of my least favorite Supreme Court Justices in history, said that "democracy's not for babies", in Doe v. Reed, adding that "for the first century of our existence, even voting was public -- you either did it raising your hand or by voice, or later, you had a ballot that was very visibly red or blue so that people knew which party you were voting for" and that "running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage. And the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate, or to take part in the legislative process."

So, it would seem, the First Amendement would not provide plutocrats the right to be shielded from public scrutiny or even denunciation. Even according to Justice Scalia.

This is just the type of issue that you would expect all Americans, including tea-partiers and libertartians, Republicans and Democrats, should take an active interest in. Everyone should write Congress to support the DISCLOSE Act of 2010, to increase the level of transparency of an increasingly muddy democratic process.

Start getting involved, contact your local, state, and federal representatives, and make visits to The Sunlight Foundation and Open Secrets a civic routine in your weekly meanderings on the web.
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