Monday, December 7, 2009


Tiger Woods!

Tiger Woods had secks!

Tiger Woods had secks with someone Not His Wife!!!




OK, done now.

Monday, November 30, 2009


We here in the Northwest are generally pretty proud of most of our local law enforcement folks. When one of them is shot in the line of duty, everyone gets pretty upset.

We're pissed as hell right now. Some of us at Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas.

Four police officers in the Lakewood area of Tacoma were slain today in a coffee shop. A man came in to the shop, was sitting at the counter, and suddenly turned and opened fire on the four officers in what has been described as an assassination. Another officer fought with him, shooting him non-fatally, but getting shot in the process. As of this time today, he has not been found. This suspect's name is Maurice Clemmons. He is still classified as a suspect, but I would guess that if he doesn't turn himself in, he can be looking forward to death in some sort of shootout. As most cops will tell you, cop-killer suspects have a much greater life expectancy if they turn themselves in. Putting yourself at a patrol cop's "mercy" after executing four of them (even if you're only a suspect) is considered, ahem, foolish.

Why is this relevant to Mike Huckabee? Well, it turns out that he paroled this guy back in Arkansas. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, but the suspect has recently been in court in Washington (he moved here) for both violent offenses and child sexual abuse. So there's going to be plenty of blame to share. But Huckabee paroled another guy, Wayne Dumond, who did far less after he got out of prison. And it pretty much scuttled Huckabee's ever gaining the presidency. After Mr. Clemmons, Huckabee's gonna have a lot of esplainin' to do.

Now we have another case, where someone appealed to Huckabee's Christian teachings, which, while noble, have nothing whatever to do with whether someone is reformed. If it is known that by appealing to the Governor's Christian feelings in order to get an early parole (Clemmons was due to be released in the year 2015 or so), you can bet every lifer is going to figure out a way to work Jesus Christ in to his parole statement. A little naiive, perhaps.


Maurice Clemmons is dead, shot by a lone patrol cop, who claims the suspect refused to remove his hands from his pockets when the officer demanded it (several times). In other words, I told him to reassure me he wasn't armed, he wouldn't, and he kept circling towards me. So I shot him dead. With a few bullets.

While I can't blame the police officer for trying to protect himself, this is a story I've heard before. It is also possible that Clemmons was looking to suicide by cop. We can't know. The only people who know for certain what happened are the police officer and the dead man. Obviously, the dead man ain't talking. If you shoot a guy in the leg (which policemen are NOT trained to do in such situations - it's always kill or be killed), you can at least slow him down if he's thinking about shooting you. Maybe.

I don't know. I hope that there is enough evidence to prove for a certainty that Maurice Clemmons was the shooter. I hope that the fact that he was shot does not end the investigation. If we take it as a given that everyone who gets their mugshot on TV is guilty, we're in trouble.

Not sure how to feel about this one. If Clemmons was guilty then he deserved life in prison. If he was nuts then he deserved life in a mental institution. If he's innocent...

FED Suicide

Well - egg on my face again. The rightwing bloggers are right - as soon as I saw the article about the guy hung from a tree with the word FED scrawled on his chest, I jumped to conclusions about the TeaBaggers and the various rightwing radio and TV screamers having influenced some lame-brain to lynch this poor guy.

Turns out he killed himself and tried to make it look like a murder so his kids would get his life insurance money, which they wouldn't if it had been a straight suicide. Which it was. He wrote the word FED on his own chest, then hung himself.


(hmmm.... time to start my own rumor)

Or the local cops are on the payroll of the insurance companies so they don't have to pay out.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Toys R Death

Introducing the Zhu Zhu Pet, a little toy hamster that everyone really, really must have or someone might have to DIE.

On Black Friday, the day where shopping is more important than oh, thinking about Jesus, last year someone had to die for something. There was a rush at the opening of a WalMart in New York, and an immigrant from Haiti was crushed under the crowd. One of those ironies of life - all the way from the killing slums of Haiti to safe old America, only to be killed by the one thing we do well - consumption.

This is all due to a disorder in the DSM-IV-TR called "Holiday Shopping Frenzy". A dose or two of Adderal or a large amount of red wine usually calms the patient down, but the head-squeezing sensation of not having bought enough stuff will pester them until Christmas morning, after which it will be too late to feed the monkey; the aftermath of HSF is usually NYRD or "New Years' Returns Depression." The prospect of spending half of January in line at WalMart to return the ugliest purse you've ever seen cannot be ameliorated by any drug known to man.

Not all the feeding frenzies have been at WalMart this year, however. Toys R Us has had to deal with the madness associated with these little robotic pets. While the retail price runs around ten bucks, folks are scalping them on eBay for upwards of forty dollars a pop. Don't even include the little car. Pshaw.

I've seen several reports of police being called in to stem the tide of bloodshed.

There have been line-jumpers tased by more law-abiding non-line-jumpers, melees in WalMarts when folks started ripping open the shrink-wrap on pallets of merchandise that hadn't, you know, been merchandised yet. And apparently, a scuffle broke out in Sheboygan over GPS units. Not that big a deal, really, but writing "Sheboygan" is one of those rare pleasures.

My favorite awful irony is for the folks in Houston, Texas, whose cars were towed out of the Best Buy parking lot, because the tow-truck drivers assumed they were late night partiers at the bar/club across the way. Punished for being thought "a drunk," when all you are is "desperate to buy something."

Only in America in the 21st Century.


Not making this up:

One of Santa's little helpers charged with terrorist threats

'nuff said.


According to GoodGuide: "Antimony was measured at 93 parts per million in the hamster's fur and at 106 parts per million in its nose. Both readings exceed the allowable level of 60 parts per million, said [GoodGuide CEO Dara] O'Rourke, an associate professor of environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley."

I was just bein' a little sarcastic about the death part...


According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, these things are actually safe after all.

I don't know who to believe anymore.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Categorical Nonsense

I gotta remember to stay away from the "local forum" site in my local paper. Besides the fact that a lot of non-local folks are doing the commenting (and why shouldn't they?), there are so many people who have very fixed ideas about certain topics and nothing - NOTHING - will change their minds.

First, the "Christians" who hate everyone but themselves. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc., all of 'em - goin' ta Hell. Christians don't propagate violence against other people, only Muslims do that. Christians are always in a defensive posture. Like, oh, Iraq.

Near the "Christian" category are the "Palinites." They are more tolerant of other religions, but negroes seem to bother them, once said negroes achieve a level of power previously thought unreachable by dark folk. All Presidents who do not perceive the value of the Divine Sarah are liklely to be Socialists or Terrorists or both. Suggesting the assassination of such a President could be classified as "blowing off a little steam."

The "Birthers." They perceive any person who won the presidency that has the temerity to be darker in hue than themselves might have stolen the election, or worse, have conspired since birth to take over the country and destroy our way of life. This Obama person has been working (along with his minions in the Communist, Socialist, and Nazi parties - AKA SEIU and ACORN) since 1962 to figure out a way to become President. Talk about ambitious.

All of these folks currently reside on the pages of various newspapers and in the news. One doesn't know their actual numbers, as reliable sources seem to have trouble counting. Unreliable sources, such as Fox News, portray their numbers as a kind of variable, with different angles of the same event showing different numbers of people. Also completely different weather patterns, and dissimilar architecture from one shot to the next. But you know, LOTS of 'em.

They also reside in their own little fantasyland, where folks like Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, etc., reinforce their internal crazy by reiterating (for example) that people who believe the President might not be an American citizen as having "genuine concerns." I think they have "genuine concerns," too - but mostly about why their medication isn't working properly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


sputtering rage.

The Health Care Billwhacky passed the House last weekend, and I hadn't seen how wrong it was until someone pointed out this lovely post over at Welcome Back to Pottersville.




$25,000 fine for the felony of not buying health insurance from some big damn insurance company, even if you can't afford it? And the cost for these health plans? $5,300 per year if you're single, and $15,000 for the "Family Plan."

I don't pay that much (I don't think). And my health care is pretty darn good.

And NO public option at all. WHAT THE F&*K?!?

This will be an absolute disaster if it passes the way it is. I've been a bed-wetting liberal a long time, and the only thing I can think to suggest is to throw all the bastards out who voted for this. And put in real progressives, not these damned, swindling, money-grubbing a-holes that have decided that thirty years on the public tit isn't enough, no - they gotta keep their corporate paymasters happy, or they might not get re-elected by the folks who ACTUALLY PAY THEIR BASIC SALARIES. WHICH INCLUDES HEALTH CARE, DAMNIT!!!

What have we learned, children? That until the election system in this country is completely seperated from corporate money, and until corporations are finally treated as fictional entities of law (not as people), we will have no say in what becomes of us as a nation.

We have no need for $600 billion a year for defense spending, unless everyone else in the world has suddenly developed a nuclear arsenal. We should leave Iraq and Afghanistan right away. But we stay there and blow through money as if we can print it at will. (oh... right.) And once our troops are home, free college educations for every single one that wants it. Or prison. Whichever is cheaper.

If I have to pay more in taxes to give everyone health care, I'll be glad to do it. We must end the "three strikes" laws wherever they have been passed. They do no good, and we now have the largest prison economy in the world. And the educational system has been gutted in favor of locking people up forever.

Rant finished for now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Yet Another Film Quote

From Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis:

"Newswoman: A New Mexico woman was named Final Arbiter of Taste & Justice today, ending God's lengthy search for someone to straighten this country out. Eileen Harriet Palglace will have final say on every known subject, including who should be put to death, what clothes everyone should wear, what movies suck, and whether bald men who grow ponytails should still get laid."

I think is what Repugnicans are hoping for - someone to straighten us all out, make it all work, and basically, define each and every little thing that is or is not permissable for human beings to do.

While letting corporations do as they please, of course.

This line has kept me from growing a ponytail with what remains of my hair, so we have someone to thank for that.


Joe Lieberman. Besides the late-night and Daily Show punchline that he has become, he is looking more and more like the worst politician ever to grace our hallowed Senate halls since the Teapot Dome scandal. But then I think, "what about Tom Delay?" and Joe drops back into the number two spot. He gave us unregulated stock options for salaries, hates the public option, supports Repugnican politicians, and of course, it's all out of "principle."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We're Doing JUST FINE

The Dow is back above 10,000.

Then it isn't.

The economy grew 3.5% in the last quarter.

Until they revise the numbers.

Unemployed people are still unemployed.

Nope, that hasn't changed.

However, consumer confidence has rallied back, thanks to government plans that pay people to buy stuff on credit. Couple thousand for a car, eight thousand for a new house, yay. Cash for Clunkers ended, and the new homebuyer credit is going away, too.

So then there's next month.

Is it my imagination, or does all of this exuberant capitalism smack of dancing while the ship sinks? And you have guys like Jim Cramer, the sideshow clown who is trying to distract you by shouting, louder and louder, "Buy this and sell that!!!"

Health-less debate

It becomes more and more concerning that all of this is occurring while our dear House and Senate can't pass a simple health reform bill, instead trying to pass an ungainly elephant of a bill that may only serve those who make money out of the health inurance industry, and not the poor bastards who are paying our Congresscritters' salaries.

Most favorite son

Obama is trying to be all things to all people and becomes nothing to no one. But he gives great interviews. Where is the Man of Steel Spine that we thought we were getting? Is he a horribly squishy liberal after all?

Friday, October 2, 2009

अच्छा कलम, श्री गांधी!

or, Nice pen, Mr. Gandhi!

Montblanc's current release is raising eyebrows, and causing at least one person's ashes to spin in their respective molecular orbits.

I'd say spinning in his grave, but they cremate people in India.

Yes, Montblanc, living in a level of irony that was once considered an imaginary universe, is releasing a pen on Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi's birthday. They are only making 241 of them (to commemorate every mile Gandhi marched to the sea in order to make salt and protest the British Empire's unreasonable control of the salt trade). The price?

Wait for it...

$23,000. While it oughta be, this is not a joke.

Gandhi's sole possessions for much of his life amounted to little more than the clothes on his back, the sandals on his feet, a food bowl, a watch (he liked to be punctual;I think that may have been the lawyer in him), spectacles, and his wooden staff. These of course, were auctioned off for a little over $2 million to an unnamed Indian businessman, who promised to bring them back to India to be put on public display. Also ironic, but not nearly as many irony particles.

There are so many things wrong with a limited-edition, high-price-tag luxury pen, commemorating the life of a man who thought such things were not only stupid, but verged on criminal, that I can't even begin to figure out what the brainy marketing a-holes at Montblanc were thinking. That Steve Jobs would use Gandhi's image to sell more Macs, well, that's pretty reprehensible, though it's more of the image of the guy, and the fact that he was bucking the system, not that he would have used the computer.

(Would the Mahatma have simply blogged, like the rest of us? Imagine one person being able to influence millions of people through the printed page. Whatever happened to good old pamphleteering?)

Gandhi would be in the streets protesting the thing. That should be enough for Montblanc to not do this. Montblanc is attempting to mitigate the irony by donating a lot of money (the cost of six of these pens, plus a thousand bucks from each sale) to the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation (his great-grandson runs it, and is quoted as using the thin metaphor that Gandhi's "writing instrument was his greatest tool" - apparently not his mind or his courage - what could Gandhi have done with a really great pen?). So much for standing on the old man's principles.

Meanwhile, the folks running his old Ashram think that Gandhi-ji would have sold the damn thing and used the proceeds to feed the poor.

Unfortunately, even Gandhi's own advice to his followers about "adopting every western vice as quickly as possible" would fall upon deaf ears these days. Apparently quite a few Indian well-to-do types have already pre-ordered the pen, including a few government bureaucrats. More irony particles, in the land of one-third of the world's poor.

If I ever get the chance to have my own Montblanc commemorative pen in my image, I want it to include a small firearms function, so that every time someone tries to write with it, it shoots them in the foot.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Future Is Hard To Breathe In

I have seen the future, and we are not required to participate.

The world doesn't need people. It could certainly use a lot fewer of us. We've known this for a good long time.

I'm not going to mandate killing off this or that group - that would be work for a Repugnican (all life is sacred until it's born, then good f&*kin' luck).

And here we are reaching toward the seven billion mark. Houses will have to be smaller, and they're gonna have to start paving stuff that ain't paved yet. Or do the Hobbit thing (an outcome I would probably prefer, except for the spiders that always get into these sorts of structures).

And of course there is the whole God thing. I don't remember exactly where it says be fruitful and multiply, but it's not helping. Mother Teresa can share some of the blame, wandering the world trying to combat poverty and telling women to breed like rabbits. Disconnect, anyone?

Pollution, overpopulation, global warming, noise, buddy comedies starring middle-aged children, it all just keeps getting worse and weirder.

Anthony Bourdain (of Travel Channel and Les Halles fame) goes to these groovy places, meets groovy people (most of the time - his Lebanon special is truly amazing), and realizes that he has begun the downward spiral of more and more tourists going to these out-of-the-way places that still have their magical charm specifically because no one goes there. Horribly enough, because Americans don't go there and demand Big Macs.

Daniel Kalder (The Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-Tourist) goes to out-of-the-way industrial or poverty-stricken hellholes in the former Soviet Union to point out that he may one of the very few people who ever go to these places as a tourist, and he goes there because no one else would. Places that sound made-up like Kalmykia (roughly translated "remnant land") where the Buddhist population is forced to learn to play chess, because the head of the republic, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is a chess freak (also head of the world chess federation, FIDE). Kalder has visited places that don't strike one as potential eco-tourist venues, or even cultural interest spots.

While we decry the spreading tentacles of American culture into otherwise isolated places, we also miss it when we visit places like that (though I'm pretty sure a Big Mac would taste somewhat odd in Udmurtia). And if we keep adding more people to the population while living longer and working longer, won't we run this planet out of things? Oil is certainly on its way out, as is coal - but what about toilet paper?

The future keeps coming and going, and we have learned only that we might be creating the engines of our own destruction, but let's keep making more of 'em, because we all need something to do in our vanishing spare time.

People are odd.

Sweden? Togo? Madagascar?

The more I debate folks about the health care thing, I keep running into this wall of resistance about the military budget. And I finally found a quote that I love. I don't know if you've seen the movie Wag The Dog (most liberals have - I think most conservatives would spend a lot of time going "what did he mean by that?"), but it essentially involves damage control in an election cycle. The pres has been caught with his hands on a girl scout, and the opposition is about to run an ad with a picture of the White House with the music from Gigi, sung by Maurice Chevalier, "Thank Heaven For Little Girls." eeeeew

So, the Pres' handlers begin a fake war against fake Albanian nuclear terrorists, produced by a Hollywood producer, just in time to scare everyone into keeping the Pres in office. The CIA doesn't like the "fake war" and steps in to stop the fixer, Conrad Brean (played by Robert deNiro). The CIA is played by the always fun to watch William H. Macy.

Conrad 'Connie' Brean: Would you go to war to do that?

CIA Agent Mr. Young: I have.

Conrad 'Connie' Brean: Well, I have, too. Would you do it again...? Isn't that why you're here? I guess so. And if you go to war again, who is it going to be against? Your "ability to fight a Two-ocean War" against who? Sweden and Togo? Who you sitting here to Go To War Against? That time has passed. It's passed. It's over. The war of the future is nuclear terrorism. It is and it will be against a small group of dissidents who, unbeknownst, perhaps, to their own governments, have blah blah blah. And to go to that war, you've got to be prepared. You have to be alert, and the public has to be alert. Cause that is the war of the future, and if you're not gearing up, to fight that war, eventually the axe will fall. And you're gonna be out in the street. And you can call this a "drill," or you can call it "job security," or you can call it anything you like. But I got one for you: you said, "Go to war to protect your Way of Life," well, Chuck, this is your way of life. Isn't it? And if there ain't no war, then you, my friend, can go home and prematurely take up golf. Because there ain't no war but ours.

That's verbatim from the script, including the "blah, blah, blah," which I think is a terrific way to simplify all the usual particulars of any conversation between rival factions. If all you have to say to explain your position is "blah, blah, blah" - and they get it - you could win every argument. I also love the "Sweden and Togo" stab. Do we need so much military power in order to defeat essentially a small bunch of people who dislike us for blah, blah, blah reason? Or could we do what we need to do in the current military system with a small force of SpecOps guys along with a bunch of high-tech satellite systems to spot developing threats?

Or, following the current model, do we need to continuously develop new and more powerful weapons systems to defeat enemies that do not exist?

We're pulling out of Iraq (excruciatingly slowly - has no one heard the Band Aid theory of combat extraction?), and we're adding troops to Afghanistan. Or not. But we are. Then we're not. I'm sure the troops would like to know. And their families. This kind of pushmi-pullyu sort of behavior can bring on pre-deployment PTSD.

And once we're out, what does the military need all that money for. I mean, we've been paying for both these wars off the books for so long, it's like working for the Jimmy Hoffa, Sr. teamsters' accounting department. You could dye Iraq in the red ink we're creating.

I know, it would be ugly, but way better than the blood we've been using up to now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sloganeering (feel free to join in)

"The Republican Party - Might Makes Right"

"the democratic party - no offense meant"

"Republicans - Dumb & Loud Always Wins"

"democrats - we're awfully sorry, really, so, so sorry"

"The Republican Party - Standing On Principle Since 1860 (until 1870)"

"The Democratic Party - Winning Through Anti-Republican Acrimony Since 1976"


A Census worker has been found hanging from a tree with the word "FED" scrawled across his chest (they won't say how). Bill Sparkman, 51, was a single father and Eagle Scout who worked as a teacher and a census worker in his spare time.

Thanks to the hysteria whipped up by such Right-wing idiots as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and (most especially) Michelle Bachmann, many people are now in abject fear of the government. Ms. Bachmann has repeatedly said that answering the Census questions might get you interred, like the Japanese-Americans during WWII. Of course, her partner in fun in all this, Michelle Malkin, has no problem interring folks, so long as they are terrorists, or folks who look like terrorists, or folks who think like terrorists, or folks who might become terrorists should the country continue to vote democratic. And the Japanese.

And so, in fear of the government, specifically fear of the Census, a Census-taker has been murdered, apparently for asking how many people live in this house, and to what ethnic groups do they belong? You know, preparations for permanent interment of all the poor white underdogs in the country.

In keeping with being "balanced," I have only one thing to say to these people:


or, if you prefer:


Killing a man for the reasons stated above chills me to the bone. Are we really becoming that paranoid as a culture? Do we really believe - after eight years of warrantless wiretapping, falsifying evidence for war, library and medical records searches, incarceration without trial - that the government would really do anything bad with the records it collects in the census?

Oh. Um...

So thanks to George W. Bush (no one mentions him any more), we now believe the government is capable of anything bad we could ascribe to them. Unfortunately, the folks who think they have the most to lose waited until he was out of office before they completely overreacted.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What to Make of it All

I'll start off by saying that I have no idea of what to make of it all, just to be clear. I'm not some oracle or prophet or super-smart guy with an inside track. I'm a loud-mouthed, opinionated jerk who likes hearing myself talk, and hates liars, wackos and cranks almost as much as they might hate me if they ever read my stuff (most don't or won't). So here's some raw feed:

I think we probably should confiscate every red-blooded American's guns until each one can prove they understand the Constitution better than the Supreme Court. Then they need to prove that they can shoot straight. Then they need to prove that they've never hit anyone in anger. Then they need to show that the only reason they will ever use the gun is to defend themselves or their families against villains. And of course, this puts the onus on them to prove future behavior, which no one can. As a people, we're simply not mature enough to handle the guns we own.

I don't want to read the words "Processed Meat Food Product" on a can ever again. It's everything that's wrong with the American diet. We eat food that has sugar added where none should be needed, food that has fat created in test-tubes that does really interesting things to one's digestive tract, and where everything has either been sprayed with pesticides that can cause grocers' hands to burn (unless they wear gloves), or we modify the crops so that all insects might die from interacting with them, including honeybees (which means fewer crops). So, no more high-fructose corn syrup, and no more ads in favor of it featuring idiots who don't approve of HFCS because they "read somewhere that it was bad." If all the industry can do to counter scientific data with is, "you're dumb," and the population goes, "gee, I guess I'm dumb," then they're right and we're dumb.

Printing money to create lending to create jobs is a morally bankrupt idea that seems to go down well with all but a few very cranky economists. America is still shedding jobs, and we still don't make stuff (except weapons), but trade in your not-very-old car and we'll let you buy a new car. On credit. From Japan. Which might have been made in Ohio. I'm confused.

Everything Obama talked about when he was running for Pres seems to still be in his mind, but not on his radar politically. The idea that healthcare, jobs, global warming and the economy might all be linked is one I've been thinking about for a long time, and of course, so has anyone else who cares to read about why Europe is generally doing better than we are.

So, with universal health care comes one large burden relieved from the backs of business and the poor and the wealthy all at the same time. So everyone has a little more money, and a lot more freedom to move. If I want to quit (for example), I will still have health care, and it won't cost me $500 a month to maintain it. If I have an idea to start up a company, not having health care anymore won't be a reason for me to stop. So, one can have healthcare and a job, or healthcare and no job.

Since there will be more money, perhaps there will be more jobs. If we bring manufacturing back from offshore, perhaps jobs will be more readily available. If we work towards dealing with climate change, there may be more green jobs, and more onshore manufacturing. A bigger middle class. What would be wrong with that?

What's wrong with it is that it's not politically expedient to change things so much that even one Republican senator might disagree with it publicly. Which means that none of it will change without a lot of yelling and screaming and pain. And no one wants to feel any pain. Just keep piling on that anaesthetic, be it WWF or Jack Daniels or Oxycontin or porn, and we'll just keep going along until it all collapses, and then we'll all be in pain at the same time, except for those smart or lucky enough to have escaped with our money.

Is it just me, or do I seem more depressed than usual?

So, it would appear that it's time to take some kind of action (again). And you thought voting was enough. Also, go see Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore's new film.

Don't despair, however - there's plenty of life left in the old country, if only we could harness the energy of the loons in these town halls. What we really need is some genuine, intelligent, burning anger to coalesce in some useful way. Protests are passe. Personally, I'm looking to find some sort of organization to parody, the way the Yes Men parodied the WTO. If, perhaps, i can be portrayed as a kind of everyman, Joe the Plumber sort who, with his native intellect, can correctly portray the underlying attitudes of the Repugnican Party in all its glory.

Kind of like showing up at a town hall meeting and yelling "He's black!", but with more subtlety.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Money Doesn't Just Talk, it YELLS REALLY LOUDLY

So, the Supremes are going to be listening to oral arguments (I thought all arguments were generally oral) concerning campaign financing laws, specifically the McCain-Feingold law, and whether corporations and labor unions can spend money like rain on any advertising they want, without checking whether their shareholders/members approve.

This all hinges on whether corporations are "people." Nike basically said this a while back and lost the argument, because they wanted to lie. They thought, as a "person," they could lie because they had the right of free speech accorded to people under the First Amendment. The Supes said "NO" because commercial speech isn't the same thing as speech by you or I.

So now we come to the New World Order, which may say that corporations have the exact same rights as you or I, so that if they want to, they can spend all of their profits on commercials or "documentaries" that speak ill of folks they are politically opposed to. They will be allowed to spend all the money they want to influence an election.

President Jeb Bush, elected by Exxon/Mobil. Just what you'd expect, really.

Monday, August 31, 2009

War is Exciting, Sexy and Not At All Bloody

Truffaut once said it would be impossible to make an anti-war film that featured actual war footage, because war still looks like fun. All that dodging, skulking, hiding, shooting, and running away seems like an adventure, still gets the blood moving, is very exciting!...

So are the recent spate of "join the service" ads running on TV.

Like the Navy Seal ad that features a calm beach in the moonlight, a wave comes in, recedes to reveal footprints, then the next wave comes in and obliterates the footprints, hinting that a large force has just snuck silently past you. Cool.

Then there's the Predator drones, floating above a battlefield, or over mountainous terrain, or sandy desert, or something, then linking back via satellite to a guy (or gal!) on an air force base or carrier or somethingorother, piloting the drone with a joystick.

Join the Air Force. Be all you can be with a Nintendo Wii!

Then there's the actual war. Where you see the results when a small child picks up an unexploded cluster bomblet, and having it blow his arm and half his face off.

Or cleaning the blood and body matter out of a humvee after an IED blew your best friend apart on some godforsaken road in Afghanistan.

We still use cluster munitions and land mines, even when the rest of the world has condemned both. We still use white phosphorus (we say) as an illuminant, or as a smoke munition, unless it gets too close to the ground, and there's half your face melted off.

Being a US Marine is an honorable profession, so long as the war you're supposed to fight in hasn't been manufactured for the sake of fulfilling some chickenhawk's videogame fantasy of playing Commander-in-Chief.

War isn't pretty, sexy, edgy (well, I guess it's a little edgy), cool or fun, unless you're talking being on leave. War is brutal, painful, leaves men and women burned, maimed, psychologically damaged, and dependent on us for their care; in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Civilians who had no complaint with us before become the next generation of terrorists, insurgents, or whatever you want to call them, because we dropped a 500 lb bomb that blew up their house and killed their child, or their wife, mother, father, husband. Because we fight from a distance, so that we don't have to see the face of the victims of our mistakes or our successes, we can look at war as clean. And the Muslims look at us as cowards.

There was a photo on the front page of a local Sunday paper about two years into the war, showing a pool of blood running out of someone's door into a street in Baghdad. No body parts, no screaming children, just a few gallons of someone's blood. Many people wrote to the paper to complain that they didn't want to see that kind of thing on a Sunday morning over the pancakes. At least one or two wrote in to cancel their subscriptions because they felt this displayed a lack of taste.

I'm all for it. Publicize the violence, show the carnage, let people see the results of their being able to sit back and eat pancakes in peace while other people, many of them innocent victims ("collateral damage"), lay dying in the ruins of what were once their homes. If the only thing this prompts a person to do is cancel their subscription, what does that say about the American character? That, so long as we're not made aware of what is being done in our name, we're OK with it?


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Can Open, Worms Everywhere

This is one horribly long, rambling post, and I apologize, but a lot of things hit me at once.

Common Grounds

A Republican friend (yes, I have a couple) is convinced the current health care reform proposals are all about encroaching government control, i.e., Socialism. He has no problem with the Department of Homeland Security, warrantless wiretaps or torture.

A Libertarian friend (only really have one that I'm aware of) is convinced that the controls are already there, but that some form of universal health care should be part of what government does anyway. He's not a very good Libertarian, apparently.

Both of them think the tax structure stinks (one says he's paying too much taxes, the other says no income tax at all), and in this I heartily agree, but for different reasons. With which they will both disagree. No big surprise there.

What I am finding is common ground. And it's disturbing me. But I'm not sure the R will believe my side of things. I'm certain the L will, but again, he'll have different reasons.

The bank bailout: I agree with you both, we bailed out the wrong people. But to the R, remember: the bailout began under Bush with zero restrictions. Only when Obama continued it did he say, well, if we're going to do this we want to know how you're spending it. Oh, and bonuses? You're kidding, right? You're gonna get bonuses for reaming out our economy? This idea of treating the banks as if we're the shareholders (which, under the Obama plan, we are) is regarded as socialism by the right, justice by the left, and as an example of everything that's wrong with our whole economy to the Libertarians.

Personally, I regard the whole thing as socialism. These guys make record dollars by rigging, gaming, and then tanking the whole system, and then they want the rest of us to bail them out? Not on your nelly. Private profits should not equal socialized losses. There is a special ring in Hell assigned to Joseph Cassano.

We could halve our military expenditures and still be spending more than China, Russia, the UK, France, Japan and Germany. Combined. My L friend would say, oh, so true - bring back state militias, and kill the Standing Army. My R friend has said, "we have enemies." Apparently that's all you need to know in terms of whether or not we're spending enough on the army - if we have enemies, no amount of money is too huge or ridiculous. Our 2008 military budget is 48% of the entire world's military budget. And we're mostly fighting guys who occasionally resort to muskets and rocks.

We're Sheep

We watch television - while one side says something very provocative, and the other side responds with something very provocative, no one actually comes out and says one of you is lying, or both of you are lying. But someone has to be lying, or wrong, or stupid. The Right has no problem calling the Left liars, cheats or thieves, and the Left goes along its merry way trying to be "fair", "nice", or whatever you want to call the affliction of having no damn spine.

Here is my problem with news and newspapers - when someone says something that's not true, don't just print the other side and call it "balance." Balance equals justice, and justice requires facts and proof, not consensus or worse, "fairness."

True fairness is about being fair - not just giving everyone equal time to be stupid. But we accept the dumb with the smart as if both were equally valuable. We trust the large, two-legged beings that feed us, and ignore rumors about the "slaughterhouse."

Will Work for Food, Shelter,
Warmth and Dignity

People should be allowed to work for a living, even a job they may not like, but at least they have the option, and they should make enough money to survive on the one job. Welfare does indeed corrode society, especially if it's unending and simply gives one no incentive for getting a job. Forcing people to work for their welfare, or worse, forcing people to work more than one job for their welfare, on the other hand, is cruel and unusual punishment.

We are the world's richest country, and I'm sure there are quite a few people who live here that simply don't want to work. That doesn't mean everyone who can't find a job doesn't want to work. Poverty breeds illnesses of all kinds.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Agitate, Agitate, Agitate*

In no way is there anything good to be seen in the current administration regarding foreclosed homes, Guantanamo, government transparency, or financial bailouts. And (as with my post below) healthcare isn't too far behind in terms of badness.

We elected a "Progressive" African-American to the White House. Who appointed a Puerto Rican woman to the Supreme Court. So far, so good.

At every town hall meeting that our Senators and Congresscritters are currently putting on to sell the healthcare plan, Repugnicans have been showing up in force to shout the speakers down. In one case, a representative decide not to have his town hall after receiving multiple death threats. Effective, though wrong. But the main thing is, the Rs are getting the noise out there.

FDR once told one of his supporters to "make him" promote the policies she wanted, to change the laws to benefit the maximum number of people. No President will go completely against the will of the people (mostly), and if all the news that's being printed or displayed on the TV machine involves angry people in town hall gatherings protesting health care reform, then the Pres will look at it, and think, well, maybe I should back off a little.

Or when the policies for negotiating a new mortgage with your bank are voluntary - for the bank - I don't know whether many banks would bother.

I think this all boils down to the same basic issue: people are greedy and stupid. They don't want to pay taxes, even if there's a war on, and the idea of sacrifice is not even considered as an option, unless your talking sacrificing a plate of brussel sprouts to the starving children in China.

So we sit here and whine, and wish that Obama would get off his duff and start doing something, use that powerful, articulate voice of his and the bully pulpit and whack a few Repugnican moles back down into their holes. Instead, we get safe speeches and safe actions, and no one's political career is really going to tank over any of this, are they?

Protest. Write letters. Write an angry blog. Talk to your neighbors. We mobilized like maniacs to get Obama elected; did we think that once he's in, that's all we had to do?

*with thanks to Frederick Douglass

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rants At Rallies

I'm thinking of turning up at one of these Health Care Town Hall meetings and yelling "He's BLACK!" really, really loud, and see if anyone joins me.

Or would that be over the line...?

"President" Obama Was Born On Alpha Centauri!

They're called "Birthers," and they're really stupid, and they're really nuts, and they're really getting a lot of press. And apparently, there are a LOT of them.

Begun just after Obama's grandmother passed away (no witnesses, see?), a movement questioning the validity of Pres. Obama's Certificate of Live Birth (not a Birth Certificate - can you see the difference?), sprung up and has not only grown, but flourished, most specifically within the ranks of Republican voters. Unfortunately, many Republican Senators and Congresscritters are proclaiming themselves "unsure" if the documentation provided by the White House is sufficient to settle the issue.

Normally, this is where someone ought to say, "joke."

A woman by the name of Orly Taitz is now famous for posting Barack Hussein Obama's Kenyan Birth Certificate on the internets and calling it genuine. Everyone with half a brain has looked at it and pronounced it an hilariously easy-to-spot forgery. So many inaccuracies on it that it could only come from the mind of someone who simply wants to believe what they see, rather than actually looking for references to prove their point.

David Weigel, of the Washington Independent has posted a wonderful dissection of this new piece of Repugnican hogwash.

Orly Taitz: who is she, and why is she selling real estate, fixing teeth and going to court?

The photo on her website is pretty priceless, as it would appear to be a few years old. I imagine that's the picture she uses for her real estate sales ads. Or her dental practice. Or her legal practice. Seriously - she claims all three titles when she appears on TV. She has apparently appeared before the Supreme Court, for which her current law degree (from a correspondence school) is not sufficient.

Anyway, enough about her. Apparently she's already had one meltdown on MSNBC, and is probably waiting for her next chance to appear hysterical and, well, just plain nuts. The fact that the only other person whose photograph appears on her website is Alan Keyes is another leaf on the crazy tree.

However, while the official spokesnut for this "movement" is not worth the pixels she's printed on, there is one more horrifying fact: 60% of registered Republicans either don't believe Obama is a native-born citizen, or they're "not sure." It's about a fifty-fifty split between the "not sures" and the "certain he's furrin" crowd.


I really don't know what to say about this (obviously, since I've spent so much time talking about it already), except: "ARE YOU PEOPLE STUPID, OR WHAT?"

The worst part is you have supposedly respectable TV pundits like Lou Dobbs bring this item up all the time and giving the Birther movement more airtime than it deserves.

Just like I did.

Anyway they're fun to throw verbal tomatoes at.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Temp Reads $10,000,000,000,000

For those of you that thought most politicians had a stick up their what'sits, it's not exactly a stick - it's a thermometer.

It seems a shame that our Congresscritters and Senatorpeople can't actually look at the healthcare situation in this country without first checking their temperature with Aetna or Cigna or whichever insurance company is paying the bills this month.

It seems very simple to me: if we mandate that people have insurance, and the government is willing to help pay for health insurance for poor people, and we don't have a public plan in place, what do you think the big insurance companies and big pharma companies are gonna think? I'll tell you:


It's going to be Halliburton & KBR all over again, except now we're talking health insurance, instead of army showers that double as execution chambers and food that doubles as bioweaponry. Assuming the government wants to make sure they don't piss off the big industries that pay for their campaigns, all of these contracts will likely be some form of "cost-plus" system. Which means the insurance industry will be guaranteed a profit (duh), only now, the taxpayers will probably be paying more for it than we have been.

I've not been blogging about this yet, simply because the more time passes on this issue, the more complex it all grows. That everyone has shied away from the single-payer system the whole country (except for the dittoheads) seems to want is bizarre enough. Jim DeMint of S. Carolina has even suggested that if Obama doesn't get his public option, this could be "his Waterloo" in relatively hopeful tones. Bill Kristol has stated that instead of letting the process play itself out, the Repugs should "go for the jugular," and make sure that Obama's failure is splattered all over the mediascape, in order that Obama loses the next election, and perhaps the Rs can regain some lost seats in congress. Nice to know that what matters most to some Repugnicans is Obama's failure, not the public's needs.

I know - what else is new?

So here we are, with a Democratic president and a Democrat-controlled House and Senate and still, healthcare is too big a nut to crack. If that doesn't tell you that something is wrong with both the Democratic Party and the way we do politics in this country, well, I can't write letters that large.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Power to the (Rich, White) Minority!

Is Pat Buchanan a 50s holdover? Or just really, really dim? In yet another harangue on the subject of Affirmative Action (or, for the knuckle-draggers in the crowd, "reverse discrimination"), good old Irish Pat went up against young upstart lesbian Rachel Maddow on her show on MSNBC. I think Rachel has him on sometimes just to get the extreme whacko viewpoint. They're friends, of course, but on TV, how could you tell?

While Ms. Sotomayor was having her legal abilities tested by some of the poor, downtrodden, rich white guys in the Senate Judiciary Committee, dear Pat was swiping at her from the sidelines. Quoting Ms. Sotomayor herself, who once said that she was an "affirmative action baby," this incensed dear Pat, because she took some poor, downtrodden, rich white guy's spot at Princeton (in the 70s!). And then got good grades (maybe better than dear Pat's). Her career after law school was a mixture of prosecution, corporate law and public service law in her home community of Brooklyn. She's had many years on the public bench.

Let us remind ourselves how things have "changed" over the last fifty years: In the early sixties, Black people had to prove they could read before they could vote in many southern states. Black people were routinely lynched in many southern states. Latinos were rarely allowed to get beyond "wetback" status in society at large. Even though Puerto Rico is considered a US Protectorate (and its citizens can pass to and from the US without a passport), folks from Puerto Rico won't be treated any better than the local Mexican, Honduran, or Salvadorean population.

Since then, Black people have finally been allowed to vote (unless you're in Florida or Ohio). And being Latino is not as much of a strike against you.

But people's minds don't change that easily. Rachel pointed out that, of the 110 jurists who have sat on the Supreme Court, 108 have been white or male. We've had two jurists who have been Black. And two that have been female. So far, no ethnic minority females (would that be too much, or what?). So what does this tell us? When we pick Supreme Court justices, why do we pick nothing but white guys? Could it be that white people tend to pick other white people, so as to be assured that the person they're picking is as much like they are as possible? And is this not normal, for the person in charge to pick someone who looks like him?

Pat pointed out that he opposed Harriet Miers on the grounds that (even though he suspected she'd vote exactly the way he'd want) she was horribly under qualified. I applaud him for that. Why didn't he say that John Roberts, current Chief Justice, wasn't qualified? He's younger than Sotomayor, and was only on the circuit bench for a couple of years before being nominated to the top post in the highest court in the land. In contrast, Sotomayor was on her local district bench in the early nineties and moved to a federal court bench in 1997. So if she's not qualified, how is he qualified?

Just asking.

The farther right (can you see that far? because I'm needing glasses) comes up with a wide variety of ethnic slurs and/or anti-feminist wackness (G. Gordon Liddy, that perennially law-abiding citizen, suggested that Sotomayor's PMS might be an issue). And I guess I have to say, if people who are paid to be listened to on the TV can't resist revealing what bigots and idiots they are, doesn't that mean that Affirmative Action is still necessary? Don't we need to keep ramming Blacks and Latinos and Indians and Chinese down the throats of these poor, downtrodden, rich white guys, until they either shut up - or evolve? I sure think we do.

I'm convinced that one day, dear Pat will either have an epiphany or apoplexy, and I really hope it's the former.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cats? Cats...

My dear fiend Boegle has requested cats and politics. I will have to approach this obliquely, something about leopards and their (in)ability to change spots...

While the current nominee for the US Supremes has to listen to a lot of pseudo-Hispanic jokes without getting all huffy on them ("you got a lot of esplainin' to do" is the worst by far - Tom Coburn R-OK), it seems as though there is a current of either racism or outright stupidity running through the GOP side of the aisle in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. One Repugnican upbraids her for not voting the same way as another Puerto Rican justice sitting on the same court, while others want to be certain she's as neutral as possible.

So this leaves me confused - either she should be a biased judge and vote with her P.R. posse, or she shouldn't. And while she's sold as a very passionate person when it comes to the law (comments made by defense lawyers that have come up before her appeals court describe her as a kind of Judge Crankypants), if she actually shows any sort of irritation to the members of the Committee, she would be lambasted for being too emotional, too erratic, too... I dunno... female...

So here we rest again, saying that affirmative action is bad, and that the only reason Obama picked her is because she's a Latina. Of course, when the black judge retired during George HW Bush's presidency, no one said affirmative action about Clarence Thomas. Well, except Clarence himself, who basically felt that it tarred him with an awful brush. So, while he's grateful to have received the benefits of affirmative action, it's bad. As Al Franken said in his Rush Limbaugh book, kind of an "I've got mine" attitude.

And so we come back to the spots of the Repugs. When we nominate a perhaps not-perfectly qualified person to the Supremes, it's affirmative action. When the Republicans do it, it's the "right thing to do." Hmmm... the constantly shifting patterns in their fur makes them hard to spot, yet when they bite you, it doesn't matter - it just hurts.

I know. If I'm going to write about politics, facts or truth or whatever you want to call it basically has to go out the window. When you ask a question like, "how far is New York City from Los Angeles?" and all you ever get are answers like, "well that's a complicated question..."

Cats are better than politicians, because they're honest about their appetites. If they want to eat, they eat. Politicians think they have to sound like the food asked for it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Magic Number

Sixty senators. 60. We have no excuses. The Democratic Party is either going to do good works for this country, or it's going to get itself voted out of office for being too Republican.

Al Franken, Saturday Night Live alumnus and best-selling author, decided to go after the late Paul Wellstone's seat, occupied by a man with too many excessively white teeth, Norm Coleman (R). After a vote that was way too close to count, Norm battled his way all the way up to the Minnesota Supreme Court, who (yesterday) unanimously gave Franken the win in last November's senate race. And a long, hard slog it's been.

So now we have a majority that can do things in both the House and the Senate, and we have the White House as well, with a President who is possibly the most progressive person in the White House since FDR.

Shame about the lack of spine, though.

Federal Reserve Notes

In other good news, it appears that the most Libertarian Senator, Ron Paul, and the only sitting Socialist Senator, Bernie Sanders, are both approaching the Federal Reserve with the right idea: "Let's Have An Audit!" Many people are advocating a return to the gold standard, which I am guardedly in favor of. It's all about perceived value, after all, and just because something is rare doesn't mean it's desirable. Uranium is quite rare, but I sure as hell don't want uranium coins in my pocket.

But the Fed is a law unto itself, and feels no compunction to tell the United States government (or the people of the United States) where they spent the money we told them to flood the market with. Or rather, Bush, Obama, and the Congress told them to flood the market with. Still not sure that was such a good idea. But hundreds of billions of dollars later, I'm still paying for a pretty inflated mortgage.

740 + 20% down

And (speaking of credit ratings, et al): why is it that when I pay off a credit card, or my car loans, my credit history is dinged? Or if an account is closed by a credit card company because I've decided to stay away from being further in debt, my credit rating is lowered? Can anyone reasonable tell me this? I know that one must experience small debts before one amasses larger debts (Macy's card, then car loan, then mortgage); but if a person pays their mortgage on time, and pays off credit cards, apparently that means you're some kind of deadbeat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I have run into a wall. Some of my loyal readers may have noticed that posts have gotten far and few between these days, and part of that is my ADD when it comes to choosing a topic.

So, I leave it you, dear readers: give me a topic, any topic, multiple topics, to write about, and I will look through the list. If it's a short list I'll write about all of 'em; if it's long, I might put the list up for a vote.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Political Obedience

And the grand corporations say "sit... Sit! SIT!"

"Good little politico. Have a campaign contribution."

When will we see the influence of money leave politics? Will there have to be a revolution? Will the Supremes finally remember that money does not, in fact, equal speech?

In its most base form, witness the health care debate. On the side of the existing system, there are those who cry out "socialized medicine!", "rationed care!", and (my personal favorite) "the government can't do anything right!" Said, primarily and loudest, by people who work for the government.

When your insurance company says it won't cover certain things, like, say, chemotherapy, because you were diagnosed with cancer right after you got insurance, and they want to claim "pre-existing condition," that sounds like someone's rationing something. Money, maybe. Of course you can get the coverage you need, so long as you go to court. Everyone has time to do that these days, right?

And the idea that the government is just SO incompetent: why do we trust them to do anything right, like, say, protect our borders, or field an army? If they can't buy a light bulb without a hundred forms being filled out, how can they possibly have enough time to move an aircraft carrier from point A to point B?

To all the conservative nay-sayers (who don't read this blog - why do I even bother?): single-payer health care is cheaper than for-profit health care. It means that the government simply acts as the insurance company, paying doctors and hospitals when they are billed for services. You will pay higher taxes in order to get this, but employers no longer need to contribute their own money (unless they so choose, I guess) in order to offer you health care. In other words, you can work anywhere, and have health care. You can be unemployed and have health care. You can be retired and have health care. And you can buy supplementary health care insurance (if you want) so you can get fancier health care. Common amongst Great Britain's wealthier citizens.

Medicare (which has its problems, no denying that) has an overhead cost that is only 15% of private health insurance overhead. For every dollar you spend on your doctor visit, 12-20% of that is spent on paperwork, legal fees and profits for the insurance company. For every dollar spent by Medicare, that number is somewhere below 3%. Because all you're doing is saying how much does it cost, and what was the illness being treated.

The one thing you don't have to ask is whether the CEO needs a bigger yacht.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Glimpse of the Perverse*

In which we discover that Newt Gingrich has no scruples, the Left has no spine, and Rush still has no testicles.

Obama got make his first big appointment, that of judge Sonia Sotomayor, to the United States' Supreme Court, as a replacement for the retiring David Souter. who wrote a famous decision saying that the government had every right to take the property away from those folks who weren't using it to its full potential. Prompting an immediate lawsuit by someone saying that the land under Souter's antique ranch house in New England could be more suitably used for the construction of a shopping mall.

Don't worry, he still lives there.

However, the story isn't about him - it's about her. Or, more importantly, it's about the right-wing punditocracy that's currently foaming at the mouth and flailing around madly trying to come up with ways to block the nomination, or at least to turn the nominating process into irrelevant crap by making the nominee answer all those "when did you stop beating your wife" kind of questions that the Repugs are so adept at creating.

She said once (severely paraphrasing) that being a Latina would give her a different perspective than that of a white male, and that having her background might make her a bit more empathetic to a poor minority person's plight than an old white man might be. Not unlike the quote from Samuel Alito about how his Italian-American background might influence his decision-making.

"Racism!" shouts Newt and Rush. Of course, not to be outdone, G. Gordon Liddy suggested that there might be certain times of the month where she shouldn't be asked to make decisions because of PMS.


I mean.



I have to wonder how Sandra Day O'Connor (a Reagan appointee) might have reacted to Mr. Liddy's statement.

Anyway, the Left, with it's infinite ability to find things to apologise about, has already been out there, full-throated, quite sorry that their prospective nominee actually had the nerve to go out and to say something that's true (darn her!). Both Robert Gibbs and his master, President Obama, have sort of said something to the effect that if she had to do it all over again, she probably wouldn't have said something like that.

When will the left-wing in power develop spinal bones? Get the mealy out of their mouths? Remove the skirting from around the issues?

And for Rush to call someone else a racist...

"You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you, James. Godspeed. " - Rush Limbaugh

That's not racism, that's just tellin' it like it is - right, Rush?

*With apologies to E. A. Poe

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reserving the Right to Arm Bears

So the House and Senate have moved a bill through that makes credit card companies a little less like Captain Jack Sparrow, and a little more like the British East India Trading Company, i.e., they have to put in writing how they're going to rip you off and when, and they can't rip you off quite as much. Can't be so punitive with higher interest rates on late payers (never made sense to me - yes, they're more of a risk, but now they've become even MORE of a risk; how does that help?), have to use plain english in the small print they put into those endless contracts, etc. Vast improvement, while not quite weaning America off her great need to be in debt up to her follicles.

And then there's the gun amendment. Wait, what?

That's right, the gun amendment. One of the beauties of parliamentary procedure is the ability to add amendments to bills that have nothing whatsoever to do with the legislation at hand. Want to make a bill go down in flames? Add something to it that no one wants.

Like a "George W Bush National Monument in Baghdad" amendment. (just made that up - don't worry)

So, good old Sen. Tom Coburn (R - OK) decided that giving consumers better protection from obscure and/or just plain mean credit card policies wasn't enough; he felt it was necessary to protect the rights of the individual to carry loaded weapons into National Parks, including shotguns, rifles, or assault weapons. Going on a climb in Yosemite? Make sure you've got your Barrett 82A1, because you never know when you're going to need a .50 Cal. sniper rifle that can hit a target at two miles out - can you imagine all the stuff you could hit from the top of El Capitan?

Please, write your Senators and Congresscritters and make them strip this amendment off.

Or, as one of my cow-orkers has suggested, if this DOES come to pass, and CITI is having one of their annual meetings in Yellowstone - bring an Armalite AR-15, and express your opinion.*

*The Odd Bald Liberal does NOT advocate the use of violence to solve problems. But it would be fun to scare the snot out of 'em.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whither Responsibility?

Nancy Pelosi may or may not have been properly briefed by the CIA on the question or the possibility or the actuality of torture being used/not being used on detainees at Guantanamo/Bagram/Abu Ghraib.

And the Right says, "well, she okayed torture, therefore she is responsible for the torture."

I leave it to you to fill in the blank: ______ed logic.

Ya see, it's the guys in charge, like Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol who decided whether or not we should be using torture. Then they tell the CIA to do so. The CIA is then told they have to brief Congress about it, but not that they have to be completely truthful (yes, that's called speculation). So, the CIA swears a few Senators and Congresscritters to absolute silence, tells them either faulty or slightly incomplete information, and one of the Congresscritters writes a letter of protest (since he can't actually, you know, talk about any of it to anyone) to the folks higher on the food chain (Cheney), and SURPRISE! nothing changes.

Here we are, years later, declassifying memos, and hiding photos (Mr. Obama, I believe you misplaced your government transparency special power), and people start talking about who knew what when, rather than who ordered what, and then told everyone lies about it. Or not.

Torture is torture, and no matter who knew about it while it was happening, the more important question is who ordered it, and when will they be punished?

I'm not absolving Nancy of any responsibility. If she knew about this and did/said nothing, then she needs to be replaced by someone who will stand up to whomever is president, should that person do something so inherently illegal and (more importantly) immoral. Her fumbling press conference was embarrassing enough without her having criminal knowledge. Hint: it's called "preparation," Nancy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Fought the Law, and the Law Yawned

It appears that perhaps, our long national nightmare of accountability has finally come to an end.

The Conservative will tell you it's all about taking personal responsibility. 

Unless, of course, you're talking actual jail time.

Then, it's about partisan witch-hunts. Heck, even a few democrats are acting  this way about it. Like the President.

Sort of.

I mean mixed messages, folks. Obama has released a bunch of memos detailing the opinions of the various lawyers who decided whether or not waterboarding and other little fun pastimes could be considered torture, and whether or not the Geneva Conventions should be obeyed or ignored, depending on the individual you were dealing with. But "let's not prosecute?" Why tell us they've broken the law, and then tell us we won't go after them?

The Repugs have come up with their own twisted version of accountability - they're saying that if we can declassify these secret documents, then we can also declassify the documents proving exactly which potential terrorist horrors all of our horrors have prevented. Which will come back to bite them, I think. What if there weren't any incidents prevented? What if all we have to show for all this stupid, self-righteous behavior is a great deal of international legal egg on our faces?

And all of this "all in the past" nonsense: fine. I will consult a lawyer who will come up with some sort of (pardon the pun) tortured legal finding that says robbing banks is OK. I will rob a bank based on this. I will admit it publicly. Then I can use the (admittedly inaccurate, or probably illegal) opinion my lawyer has come up with, and the local DA will look at it and go, well, it all happened in the past, so we shouldn't bother with this? I kind of doubt it.

We are still trying to capture Nazi war criminals, even when they're past the point of being punishable for much more than a two or three-month sentence (they're kind of old, you know), but by God what they did was wrong and they should pay. Better still, their crimes should be made public, so that we can all remember the horror that happened.

Our own dear elected officials allowed torture, mistreatment of prisoners, etc., but "that was all so long ago. Let's look to the future."

I'm sorry, but if you're going to hand out evidence of criminal activity that all can see and read, then you damn well better act on it as if a crime has been committed. Because if you don't, transparency and accountability mean very little. The rule of law is only as strong as those who enforce the laws. If a lawyer tells you you can kill people, does that make it legal? Or only if you're the President, and the people you want to kill might be bad guys? And if the President gets to define who and what a bad guy is without trial, isn't that a little too much power for one person to have? Especially one who already has quite a lot of power to begin with?

Just asking...