Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dedicated To My More Paranoid Readers

Fund Raising Time

It's time once again folks:

Free Speech TV and LinkTV are having their semi-annual fundraisers.

You know those few bucks you send to NPR or PBS? You know "public" TV and radio? Divert them. Send them to Link and Free Speech television. Corporations will make up your shortfall to the CPB-run fascist media outlets (except for Moyers and one or two others, of course, but they have corporate funding too). Meanwhile, two progressive media outlets who broadcast progressive programming 24/7 (no Tucker Carlson on THESE stations!) could use the bucks and you get more bang for them.

Just today alone, I've watched "Orwell Spins In His Grave", a replay of the Democracy Now! where James Gilchrist, head of the Minuteman Militia runs off the set in the face of the exposure of his Klan roots, and "Iraq For Sale", an exposé of who really benefitted from our "war on terror".

Please. Give. You need this programming to be there. And if you haven't already, switch from cable to DISH Network, the only outlet which carries both FSTV and Link.

The War On Halloween

(Hat tip to Catherine for the idea and the links for this post)

Before I start, this post has been Hannitized for your protection, meaning there will be minimal contact with the lunatic right wing fringe...

You're all aware of the War On Christmas trope that Fox News humped last year like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on a poodle in heat, I'm sure. You know, the Christmas holiday is under attack from a general secular trend or from persons and/or organizations with a deliberate or unconscious anti-Christian agenda....that kind of crap.

Obviously, Christmas won. No Christmas trees were taken hostage, no presents hijacked by a tall gangly green beast driving a sled pulled by a dog...none of that happened.

But not satisfied with this, the right wing has opened an attack on another pagan holiday of nearly equal import, co-opted by Christianity: Halloween.

From the front lines comes this dispatch...pardon the pun...
Pumpkin Panic! Pumpkin Shortage Predicted for Halloween

Halloween without a jack-o'-lantern is like Christmas without a pine tree, Easter without any eggs and election day without any smear ads. It just doesn't happen.

But this year, it just might be a pumpkinless holiday for many pumpkin procrastinators. Between heavy rains rotting seeds in the ground, harsh summer temps reducing fruiting blossoms and two mysterious pumpkin rots attacking pumpkins in the field, a significant portion of the pumpkin harvest this year has been ruined.

I think not. Halloween has a long dark pagan history, one that as the father of a Wiccan and former non-practicing Druid (still have my body paints), I've been reminded of over and over again: "Dad, it's going to be Samhain soon! Can we light a bonfire in the bathtub?" Samhain marked the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the dark half, where evil spirits and malicious the denizens of some bizarre groupthink cult...begin to predate on the good people of the village. The idea of the Samhain celebration was to scare the spirits into staying away and to reinforce boundaries.

Now, who would these dark forces be today? My money is on the anti-Christians of the right wing, and I suspect this notion is not too far from the truth. They're always accusing the left of harboring "witchy lesbians", as a certain televangelist would put it.

Given their plummeting popularity and the subsequent loss of power, likely in both houses of Congress, isn't it likely that, as a last desperate attempt to create confusion and sow the seeds of a miraculous victory, the far right would attempt to destroy the one holiday they simply must believe is the most important to the liberal intelligensia of America?

And so, war has been declared on Halloween.

But unlike our war on Christmas, which was fought in the trenches and check-out lines of Macy's, with many casualties on both sides, they've taken a page from the other great pagan religion, Islam (just kidding, my Muslim friends!), and have decided to use stealth and cunning, along with biological weaponry.

As noted above, the right wing has powerful allies in the form of the weather control folks at the Pentagon....what? You thought Iraq was always a desert????...but I think they've co-opted the CDC as well:
Purdue University plant pathologist Daniel Egel says two types of fungus or rot have affected crops from the Midwest to New England. They cause pumpkins to develop mold spots and rot from the inside out.

He says a combination of high temperatures and record amounts of rain in August helped the fungi flourish.

One White County pumpkin farmer says she's lost about 85 percent of one pumpkin variety due to the rot.

Egel says shoppers should look for bright orange pumpkins with strong, green stems. He says consumers should also check for moldy areas or soft spots, especially on the bottom of the pumpkins.
Yes. The "bright orange" ones will clearly mark you as a liberal, and make it that much easier for the forces of light to TP your trees and soap your car windows, the next step in this war. Count on it! I can guarantee that at least one of you reading this will wake up the morning of November 1st with broken eggs on your sidewalk!

We must plan for our counteroffensive. I suggest the following: on Halloween, dress up in costumes. This will distract the terrorists, and confuse them. If they think that the house that contains a 6'4" tall white balding male in fact contains a Wookie with a bowcaster and a bandalero of power packs, they might slip up in their haste to get away. Similarly, if they're expecting a mom with her hair up in a pony tail and three kids, and instead find a nurse tending to three little teddy bears, they might get confused, since their orders were specifically to leave animals alone.

The powers that be wouldn't want to have bestiality included in the list of moral sins they've committed, not this close to the Foley incident.

I urge you out today and find a costume! Buy it! And come October 31, prepare for war!

And then we can prepare for the real assault on Christmas: returning gifts.

UPDATE: The counter-counteroffensive has begun! As James Wolcott reports:
This morning Mona Charen, whose career consists of objecting to things nobody (probably not even she) really cares about, crabs about some inane piece in the Times about gender stereotypes in trick-or-treat couture. When Jonah Goldberg, waiting for the foam in his protein shake to settle, notes that his daughter still dresses in innocent get-ups, Mona, deploying the maternal voice of experience, tries to scare him straight.

"The children's costumes are still okay. But just be aware that childhood now ends at age 8. By nine, some of her classmates will be dressing as sexy vamps. This is the wonderful world liberalism and feminism have purchased for her."

Her warning so intrigues the horndog that under the guise of "research," he dives head-first into Wal-Mart's online catalog, which seems to have fallen under the spell of Victoria's Secret.
Go read the article. Stellar stuff.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Kitten Blogging

Friday Music Blogging

All the leaves ARE brown, or turning...

A Worthy Recipient

OSLO (Reuters) - Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for grassroots efforts to lift millions out of poverty that earned him the nickname "banker to the poor".

Yunus, 66, set up a new kind of bank in 1976 to lend to the neediest, particularly women, in his native Bangladesh, enabling them to start up small businesses without collateral.

In doing so, he pioneered microcredit, a system copied in more than 100 nations from the United States to Uganda.
The first time I'd heard of "microbanking" was during the Clinton may recall those eight years, of unparalleled peace and prosperity when everyone was making enough money to live on and not trying to make ends meet so hard? connection with creative ways to help Africa out of its economic doldrums and helping it create a viable lasting free market economy.

You know, like how Democrats always help people by getting obstacles out of their way?

I'd never paid much attention to that kind of microeconomic application before, but what caught my ear was the fact that the program targeted women in particular as recipients of its assistance.

The world is tough for women, hell, even AMERICA is tough for women (some would argue it's tougher here for a woman than in most Western European countries...and I couldn't give much of an argument there), to make it on their own. Prima facie evidence suggests that it will continue to be tough for generations, in America, and centuries, worldwide. But programs like Yunus' can shorten the gap.

Empower a man, and you make him more competitive with the other men around him.

Empower a woman, and she can change the world.

It really is that simple. This program can help eradicate poverty, feed the hungry, clothe those who need clothes and shelter those in need of shelter.
Returning from a Fulbright scholarship in the United States, Yunus was shaken by the 1974 Bangladesh famine and headed out into the villages to see what he could do.

He found the region's women in severe debt to extortionate moneylenders. His initial goal was simply to persuade a local bank manager to give villagers regular credit, but the banker said that was impossible without a guarantee.

Yunus set out to prove him wrong and never looked back. Grameen -- the word means "village" or "rural" in the Bangla language -- has lent $5.72 billion since it began. Of this, $5.07 billion has been repaid.

The bank, which has turned a profit in all but three years, lends to 6.6 million people, 96 percent of them women, and has not received donor funds in eight years. It counts beggars among its members, giving them interest-free loans and life insurance.

Today the bank is 94 percent owned by the rural poor it serves and 6 percent by the government.
Much like American "foreign aid" to Third World nations, debt engendered servitude to a power far greater than any individual could fight. Whether it's the IMF, the World Bank, or the local loan shark, what can one person (or one country) do to stem the tide of blood that must be paid back with these promises?

"One" cannot. But "one" as a part of many, can. Find the sisters and brothers who can hear all the truth in what you say. Go. Do it. This weekend. The time has come for the world to rise as one. We can end hunger. We can end poverty. We can end terrorism, and warfare and countless thousands of ills of the planet. But it starts with one. Muhammad Yunus got it, and ran with it, and look at what he's created.

Bonus Friday Music Blogging: In honor of Muhammad Yunus, and women of the world.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Your Next President

She came, she saw, she kicked ass...
As a New Yorker, I have had an unique perspective on watching Hillry evolve as a campaigner, and let me tell you, the scripted robot of the 2000 Senate campaign, where there were legitimate concerns that she'd lose the race simply because she couldn't string a paragraph of cogent thought together, even scripted, are gone.

I do have a critique of her campaign staff: work on your fire. I realize there's 25 days until the election and you have an insurmountable lead, but the point of last night's rally was to fire people (crowd was pretty sparse, I might add) up to go out and get out the vote in their districts. If you guys can't summon up the passion for this, then no one's going to want to go out and take on the tasks of defeating peter King or John Sweeney. Your shpiel needed punch and vinegar. Other than moments when you alluded to Hillary running for president, the crowd was pretty much getting drunk at the bar.

After a spirited and unique performance by a hip-hop violinist (yes, you read that correctly, and as soon as I can dig up her name, I'll edit this post and link to her stuff), including a pretty....errrrr...interesting rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, the lady herself came out from backstage for a fifteen minute pep talk.

She had fire, and spark, and the crowd responded nicely. She talked about universal healthcare and not getting into a war ever again without knowing all the facts and explaining all the facts ahead of time. She stumbled momentarily at this point, repeating this theme of "knowing going in" for some domestic policy which was clearly a mistake (she even caught herself) but she has the polish now not to let a slip up like that throw her off stride.

She ran with it, completed the thought, then went right back and corrected herself.

Most important, she reminded people that she has two opponents: John Spencer, but also, voter apathy. Not so much for her or Elliot Spitzer, but for people like John Hall, Kristen Gillibrand, and Eric Massa, among other New York State Dems running to take Republican seats away, and also took the time to mention three races in Connecticut that New Yorkers can and should get involved with, to unseat Republicans in that state.

But her biggest cheer came when she mentioned never having to see Rick Santorum in the Senate again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Off To See The Wizard....

Thanks to my good friend Britisher over At The Fifth Estate, a stellar blog and one I highly recommend for the thought and prose that goes into it, I will be attending "Hillarypalooza" tonight, a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's Senate re-election campaign (nominally...we're giving to her Presidential campaign by now).

I will be meeting up with old friends, new friends, and new-old friends, and reliving...well...times. I won't call them bad or good.

Enjoy your evening. I'm bringing a camera, altho there will be a professional photographer among us so it seems silly and redundant.

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That...

OSLO (Reuters) - The birds and the bees may be gay, according to the world's first museum exhibition about homosexuality among animals.

With documentation of gay or lesbian behavior among giraffes, penguins, parrots, beetles, whales and dozens of other creatures, the Oslo Natural History Museum concludes human homosexuality cannot be viewed as "unnatural."

"We may have opinions on a lot of things, but one thing is clear -- homosexuality is found throughout the animal kingdom, it is not against nature," an exhibit statement said.

Boy, When You Make The Terminator Flip Flop...

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger distanced himself from President George W. Bush on national television on Wednesday, saying he was as far from his fellow Republican as he was from winning an Academy Award during his film career.

"To link me to George Bush is like linking me to an Oscar," the former bodybuilder and Hollywood action star joked during an appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." "That's ridiculous." this:
Schwarzenegger plans Ohio trip to boost Bush
Carla Marinucci and John Hubbell, Chronicle Political Writers

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans a high-profile trip to the presidential battleground state of Ohio on the weekend before the Nov. 2 election -- an effort aimed at pumping up GOP voters and leveraging the governor's star power to boost President Bush's chances of success.

Though the governor downplayed the idea Tuesday of campaign appearances for Bush, insiders said plans are under way for a trip the weekend of Oct. 29 -- enabling the former Mr. Olympia to maximize his influence in Ohio, where he has real estate holdings and a following thanks to his annual Columbus-based Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition.

Some political insiders have wondered aloud why the most popular GOP politician in the nation -- who publicly broke ranks with Bush and his party on the issue of stem-cell research this week when he endorsed California's Proposition 71 -- has been noticeably absent from the campaign trail for the Republican president.
Poor Ahnuld...buyer's remorse, perhaps? Why would you turn your back on Bush, Arnold? Why wouldn't you show him the love you showed him in 2004? After all, his grandaddy helped your daddy during World War II, by funding Nazi projects! I think you owe him at least a little debt of gratitude.

Or perhaps you summed up your link to him best yourself:
We are one America, and President Bush is defending it with all his heart and soul.

That's what I admire most about the president. He's a man of perseverance. He's a man of inner strength. He is a leader who doesn't flinch, who doesn't waiver, and does not back down.

My fellow Americans, make no mistake about it: Terrorism is more insidious than Communism, because it yearns to destroy not just the individual, but the entire international order.

The president did not go into Iraq because the polls told him it was popular. As a matter of fact, the polls said just the opposite. But leadership isn't about polls.

It's about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind those decisions.

That's why America is safer with George W. Bush as president.

He knows you don't reason with terrorists. You defeat them. He knows you can't reason with people blinded by hate. You see, they hate the power of the individual. They hate the progress of women. They hate the religious freedom of others. And they hate the liberating breeze of democracy.

But, ladies and gentlemen, their hate is no match for America's decency.

We are the America that sends out the Peace Corps volunteers to teach our village children. We are the America that sends out the missionaries and doctors to raise up the poor and the sick.

We are the America that gives more than any other country to fight AIDS in Africa and the developing world.

And we are the America that fights not for imperialism, but for human rights and democracy.
You made your bed, now sleep in it.

, ,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hump Day Marx Brothers

Today's Episode: The Marx Brothers explain how Michael Brown got his job

Public Service Message

I'm fine. That plane crash happened nowhere near either me or my home. I did grow up near there and if it's the building I think it is, dated an Iraqi-French girl many many many years ago who lived there.


I do miss her. She had a wonderful sense of humour.

Genocide, Anyone?

LONDON (Reuters) - American and Iraqi public health experts have calculated that about 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent violence, far above previous estimates.

Researchers used household interviews rather than body counts to estimate how many more Iraqis had died because of the war than used to die annually in peacetime.

"We estimate that as a consequence of the coalition invasion of March 18, 2003, about 655,000 Iraqis have died above the number that would be expected in a non-conflict situation," said Gilbert Burnham of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States.

That means 2.5 percent of the Iraqi population have died because of the invasion and ensuing strife, he said.
Curiously, the United States was the last of the permanent UN Security Council members to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1988, though only with the proviso that we were immune from prosecution for genocide without our consent), so presumably it should still be fresh in our memories what this word means.
The Convention (in article 2) defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:"

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
OK, we qualify on numbers 1, 2, 3. But then, there's that whole "we have to agree we committed genocide" escape clause.

So basically, we rank right up there with the Tutsis and Idi Amin, but we're not quite as bad as the Khmer Rouge or of course, Adolph Hitler. In fact, we're running neck and neck with Slobodan Milosevic, who ceded the competition with his untimely death suicide last March.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


For your viewing pleasure, a full-length film: Caddyshack!

Words To Live By

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

* Never buy a car you can't push.

* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

* The second mouse gets the cheese.

* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

* We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

* A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

And The Bitch Is Back

Last week, I wrote how payback is a bitch, and when you set yourself up as some moral authority, you're going to pay a heavy price when (not if) you show your feet of clay.

Well, here it comes:
Democrats have big lead after sex scandal": polls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic candidates have a big edge on Republicans one month before elections to decide control of Congress, a flurry of new polls said on Monday, with ratings for President George W. Bush and Congress dropping after the Capitol Hill sex scandal.

A USA Today/Gallup poll gave Democrats a 23-point edge on Republicans in the battle for Congress, while a CNN poll gave Democrats a 21-point lead.

A ABC News/Washington Post poll found Democrats held a 54-41 percent lead in the congressional horse race among registered and likely voters, which ABC said was the biggest Democratic lead this close to election day in more than 20 years.

And a new CBS News/New York Times poll showed 79 percent of respondents thought Republican leaders were more concerned with politics than the well-being of the teenage congressional assistants who received lewd messages from former Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida.
Key, that last paragraph, so I emphasized it.

For more than twelve years, we've had, first, the televangelists running the Republican party, then Congress, and then a President, lecture to us about the "moral values" that are sorely lacking in this nation. We heard about it during the Clinton sex "scandal", the battle over gay marriage, Janet Jackson's nipple slip, Ten Commandments in the courtroom, Terry Schiavo, Howard Stern, immigration policy...all the while, all this was happening as a subtext to it all.

Even as those stories began leaching out, the GOP would continue to hammer the rest of the country, good decent folks, some of them actually liberals, about terrible Hollywood moral values and how the Coasters (Left and Right, as opposed to the honey-voiced harmonies of the 50s singing group) were out to ruin heartland America with their beliefs of tolerance and peace.

Well, it looks like the dam has burst and the American people, while they'll tolerate some hypocrisy, won't be overstuffed like a bad Thanksgiving turkey.

But why is it always about sex with us? Bush and the Republicans lied about a war, and thousands of America's youth are dead for it. Bush and the Republicans have likely stolen more than a few elections, and yet people are not up in arms about the sanctity of their vote. Bush and the Republicans stole money from the working classes in the form of programs designed to clear a path to a moderate amount of wealth, and gave it to the rich, and hardly a blip appeared in opinion polls. That list goes on.

But a pervert lets his pecker lead his brain, and suddenly Americans are storming the barricades, trying to throw the fuckers out?

It reminds me of the old joke: "I am the CEO of one of the world's biggest corporations, but does anyone call me a magnate? I give millions each year to charities, but does anyone call me a philanthropist? But suck one cock..."

Why is this? It can't be that we're the most moral country in the world. France has a greater percentage of church attendance, Islamic countries certainly have tougher moral codes than we do, hell, many Third World countries practically govern by Papal bull, but none seem to have the particularly noxious reaction that America does to a good old fashioned sex scandal.

Why is that? Yes I know, in the UK, Foley would also have been forced to resign in disgrace, yadayadayada, and probably any country would have similar reaction to sex (or even just sexual advances, if you buy the right wing spin on this) with a minor below a certain age...although I'm fairly sure 17 would pass cultural muster in places like France or Spain...but here, if you want to take down a celebrity or leader, just find him or her in a compromising position with a person he or she is not married to, and the nation eats them alive.

Hell, even we liberals are as guilty as the next critter of similarly offensive behavior when it comes to judging our own peers. Remember Gary Hart? A man who, stupidly, challenged the press to discover Donna Rice. When he was found out (the next day!) did liberals rush to his defense?

Nope. They left him twisting in the wind, despite the fact that he could still have made a good President, and hey, if he was getting a bit on the side, damn, she was a fiiiiiiiiiiiiine one to be getting it from!

This is a puzzle I've pondered on more than one occasion, and frankly have never been able to come up with a satisfactory...well, not even a rationalization, much less an answer. Jealousy? Morality? Media manipulations?

None of these fit the bill, and all seem more to describe symptoms than the root problem. For example, media manipulations would only skim the surface, seeing as so many in media have their own perversions and peccadilloes to deal with, some of which even make the radar of society as a whole. Why would they call so much attention to sex scandals knowing the clown at the door will be ringing their bell next?

Any thoughts?

UPDATE: scribes at Martini Republic posts an interesting thought on this precise issue.
The reality-insulated suburban soccer moms have never seemed to mind the war too much, so long as there’s no draft. They’ve never cared about the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice Axis of Lies running the country, because that’s just all about terror, which only happens in cities, so who cares. They know that military service is for poor people, not children of the married smug in the suburbs. They’ve never worried too much about global warming, oviously; their SUVs and minivans and neighborhood-bereft lifestyle is testimony to that. And rape only happens in the inner city, doesn’t it? And birth control will always be available to white people, right? So the fundie zeal against choice hasn’t fazed them much either.

But they’d like to think that one of their highly-pampered, safety-seat-strapped darlings might end up a Congressional page someday—and that has given them pause.
It's a start, but far from an answer.

Monday, October 09, 2006


While stressing his commitment to diplomacy, Bush said he had told South Korea and Japan that "the United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments" in the Asia-Pacific region.
What? We'll honor a treaty????? Wait...Bush walked away from START...Or the Geneva Conventions....suddenly treaties matter?