Friday, March 13, 2009

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Riffing off what Katrina posted yesterday, here is the full episode of the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart turkey shoot. As a bonus, here are some outtakes, which are even more brutal than what was aired.
2) It took two and a half games to figure out who won this one game.
3) Rumblings from the East are foreboding.
4) Now, this stimulus Republicans actually voted for it, except the three Senators, right? Liberals save the day. Once again!
5) Poor Michael Steele. Looks like he'll have to apologize to Rush once again. Even his clarification calls into question the Republican party platform, since he has officially acknowledged that states have rights over the body of a woman.
6) He probably peed his diaper, as well.
7) The more I read of Michael Phelps, the more I like. Today, he's admitting that letting himself be photographed openly was a mistake in judgement. It's a step up from saying that marijuana is bad and that he's ashamed he's using it. Step by step, pot is making it to the legal list. But as Lewis Black notes, this could be a bad thing.
8) There will be much more spitting going on in New Jersey. Reminds me of the old Rodney Dangerfield joke: "She told me to kiss her where it smells, so I drove her to New Jersey!"
9) Let's all over the world, man in diapers running through airport security door, Michael Steele gaffes on, who could be causing all this?....Oh, I don't know....could it be SATANNNNNNNNNNNNNNN?
10) Watch this become the GOP's latest talking point.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Love Jon Stewart

Even more than I loved Stephen Colbert when he did the 2006 White House Correspondent's Dinner.
Which I didn't think was possible.
That is all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God And Guns

I've always thought it ironic that the people who most demand guns as protection are the ones who claim to be good Christians.
We're taught in Sunday School that vengeance is God's, that God will provide and God will protect us.

He spared no one, not his mother, not his grandparents, not the children, not even the family dogs.

Investigators following the 24-mile trail of death through southern Alabama are still trying to determine what set Michael McLendon on a murderous shooting rampage that led to the deaths of 11 people, including himself.

"He cleaned his family out," Coffee County coroner Robert Preachers said. "We don't know what triggered it."

Savage attack, to be sure, and likely we'll never fully understand what drove him to madness. But there's a clue in the fact that this happened in the Deep South, where people are, how to put this?, a little less flexible in their tolerance of unconformity, of difference.
I chalk it up to God. Not my God, my Jesus, who preaches tolerance and love, but the God of "great vengeance and furious anger" and who commands fear, not respect, abasement, not humility.
The God of the South, altho in truth, He can be found anywhere Christians gather.
You know, it's funny, but the right wing warns all the time about the murderous Muslims and the Koranic calls to wipe out the infidels, conveniently forgetting that the God they worship actually did that once. You might recall the story of Noah. And while He left his covenant never to do that again, the rainbow, that's no guarantee that he won't do everything short of wiping life off the face of the earth.
I wonder why conservative Christians forget that little bit when raging about Muslim jihads?
It is an angry God, this God of the South. I wonder why? After all, if there was to be anyplace that would be considered "godly" in this country, it would be down there, if you believe the God of the South is the one true god.
Which of course, he clearly isnt, else why is such iniquity and pain dealt with such fierce regularity upon the people of the South?
Obviously, I write all this tongue in cheek. God has nothing to do with the deranged mind of a serial killer who has released his own furious anger upon what he perceived as iniquities. Indeed, I suspect before the day is out, a significant number of right wingers will be painting this madman as a liberal.
Which of course, he wasn't. Probably. I don't know, but I think I'm on pretty firm ground here.
What is it, tho, about the right wing, particularly the extreme right wing, that leads them so easily to violence? After all, with the exception of perhaps the Basque Separatists and maybe the extreme "Real IRA", no one from the left ever feels compelled to go on mass murder rampages.
We understand that society has rules and regulations and try to abide by them, even if the short term price is to watch our country be dismantled by thieves and robber barons. Believe me, if ANYTHING could have provoked me to violence, it was watching 8 years of a bush presidency.
So folks, discuss: what makes the right wing go ballistic? Literally?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just A Coincidence, I'm Sure

This eye-popping story began last week and has now taken an intriguing turn:

Mr Mugabe made his first public comments on last week's fatal crash, reportedly telling mourners at Tuesday's church service: "I plead with you to accept it, it's the hand of God."

Suspicions have swirled over Mrs Tsvangirai's death given past acrimony between the prime minister and president.

But Mr Tsvangirai said on Monday it was unlikely foul play took a part in the collision, which involved an aid lorry.

You have to know, tho, that Tsvangirai is playing his cards close to his chest. That it took Mugabe nearly a week to come out and say anything publicly about the death of the wife of his alleged "partner" in governance...well, imagine if Jill Biden died in a car crash in which Joe Biden was also injured. How quickly would Barack Obama offer his condolences and sympathy?
And too, it's a curious comment to make at a memorial, the "hand of God" bit. Almost sounds as if the reporter is signalling to the world that Mugabe, who is not exactly known for his subtleties, had a hand in this.
We're all familiar with the classic line from The Godfather: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." Is there anyplace closer as president than to have your sworn enemy and rival as Prime Minister, where you can keep a eye on him?
It seems pretty clear what Mugabe's intent is here, if you follow this line of thinking to its logical conclusion and take the background of the election at its face: Mugabe, having lost the popular vote to Tsvangirai, rammed through a Bush SCOTUS-like overturn of the election results.
And now that he has what he wants, he intends to kill Tsvangirai. Indeed, it is something of a miracle that he survived the crash.

How a convoy of three vehicles, with one in the middle carrying the second most important person in the land, got involved in a car crash, is what has perplexed many people.

The oncoming lorry, which apparently belonged to a partner of the US government aid agency USAID, is thought to have crossed into the prime minister's path, sideswiping the right bumper of Mr Tsvangirai's Land Cruiser, which then rolled off the highway.

You read that correctly. This magic truck managed to pick off the middle vehicle of a heavily armed convoy. What makes this story troubling to us here in the States is the apparent if probably unintentional involvement of a truck with ties to the United States. 
What to make of this, assuming that indeed it was an assassination attempt? Was it an attempt to draw the US into the African conflagration? Was it a clumsy and ham-handed assassination plot? Or was it just a fortuitous happenstance? Who the intended audience for that message is will be the factor that decides what the motivation for using that truck is.  
Sadly, it will not surprise me if, when the uproar over the USAid truck gathers momentum, the right wing in this country starts using this incident to prove Obama's Muslim ties run deeper than a dalliance in a school in Indonesia.
Nevermind that millions if not billions of lives hang in the balance in this part of Africa and the effect this assassination would have beyond Zimbabwe's borders (to North Africa, China, and the Middle East). These numbnuts will focus on a truck that was probably planted.
Just a coincidence. I'm sure.

Monday, March 09, 2009

And So It Begins

Nevermind the markets. Nevermind the jobs reports. If you want to understand how deep this country is mired in Depression, take a look at this:
March 9 (Bloomberg) -- McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant company, said global sales rose 1.4 percent in February as diners sought cheaper food.

Sales at U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months climbed 2.8 percent, while European orders fell 0.2 percent, Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s said today in a statement. Sales in Asia, the Middle East and Africa gained 0.7 percent.

Value meals, chicken sandwiches and Egg McMuffins are lifting McDonald’s sales in the U.S., where unemployment reached 8.1 percent in February, the highest in more than 25 years. Slowing economies in the U.K., Russia, Australia and Japan are also spurring sales of snack-sized sandwiches and chicken wraps.

People are eating crappier food more often. That right there, in a nutshell, is all you really need to hear to understand how badly the economy has collapsed in the wake of horrendous Republican oversight.

While this has not always been the case, people tend to turn to McDonald's and other fast food restaurants when money gets tight. This is also why you see so many of these kinds of establishments in neighborhoods that have significant numbers of poor and lower-middle class families.

It's not that fast food is cheaper. It's not, at least no cheaper than buying the raw ingredients and cooking it up yourself.

It is, however, easier. Quicker. More convenient. And there's the rub. For any variety of reasons that have little to do with taste or cost, people are eating Mickey D's: because they can pick it up on the way home, they can munch a quick burger in between job interviews, they won't spend an hour in a sit-down restaurant while prices there still hover in the unreasonable range.
Call it the new comfort food for cash-strapped consumers.

"It's cheap and full of calories, and you know what you are getting," said Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and chair of New York University's nutrition and food studies department.

And of course, this raises a host of other issues that will impact Americans for a long time to come, and put that much more pressure on the Obama administration.

I speak, of course, about the health issues. Things like obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, which tend to run parallel to communities where fast food consumption is its highest.

I'm not suggesting a causality, others have already done that, and McDonald's has done yeoman work to silence those critics.

But more than a coincidence, I think it's safe to say. And as more and more Americans slip deeper and deeper into poverty, we're looking at a potential epidemic.

As part of Obama's energy policy, I would really like to see a stress on local production of food, and the use of local vegetables and meat sources in restaurants and supermarkets.

For one thing, it would diversify our diets, for another, it would mark an end to the homogenization of eating that sees Americans in China stop in the McDonald's near Tiananmen Square, as opposed to grabbing an authentic Chinese meal in any of a number of restaurants right there on the block, nevermind Chicagoans eating at McDonald's in Times Square.

This would, as Martha Stewart might say, be a good thing.