Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

GWAR - War Is All We Know

This is going out to John McCain (find the lyrics on-line and you'll understand why)

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Followed by a firming of our defense, a grasp of the problem, and finally, the release from the tension.

2) I guess this had to happen eventually.

3) Another tragedy of the mortgage crisis. Two words: exer. cise.

4) I shouldn't be snarky there. That cat didn't do anything to deserve it and his owners must be heartsick. I'm sorry. I'll make up for it with this heartwarming tale, passed along to me by katrina.

5) And people wondered why I thought Obama couldn't win the election...granted, it's early and granted this is just one lousy poll, but come ON!

6) I got my iPhone today! I'm like a kid at Christmas! In July!

7) Yesterday was the trading deadline in baseball and not surprisingly, the Red Sox dumped Manny Ramirez on Joe Torre and the Dodgers. If Boston was a distraction for Ramirez, I shudder to think how he's going to handle LA and Hollywood.

8) It strikes me this shouldn't even have needed a court to decide. It should be in the Constitution!

9) What's a company have to do to keep the stock markets happy? Make $13 billion in a quarter?!?!?!?!

10) I'd like to meet the man who sucked the hose to start the siphon! Maybe it was a woman. In that case, I probably dated her in the dim dark past...

11) Snakes on a Maine.

12) Obama is playing fast and loose with the race card again. McCain correctly calls him on his shit. He did this same stunt in the South Carolina primary, invoking race indirectly then calling the other guy out for responding, irritating a defense from Bill Clinton when absolutely none was needed, a rare time the ex-President (and Greatest. President. Ever.) was on shaky political ground during a campaign.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Story Behind The Story

You know, when I saw this flash past on the news this morning, I wondered if I had been in a coma:
The House yesterday apologized to black Americans, more than 140 years after slavery was abolished, for the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow" segregation.

The resolution, which passed on a voice vote late in the day, was sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a white Jew who represents a majority-black district in Memphis. Cohen tried unsuccessfully to join the Congressional Black Caucus this year.

"I hope that this is part of the beginning of a dialogue that this country needs to engage in, concerning what the effects of slavery and Jim Crow have been," Cohen said. "I think we started it and we're going to continue."
I thought it was odd that only one of two white men representing a predominantly black district was the one to introduce this legislation.

I hate to give credit to a weasel, but Andrew Sullivan came up with the goods on why:
One of the most dramatic congressional races this year is the battle for Tennessee's 9th. Wrapped around Memphis, this overwhelmingly-black district is represented by Steve Cohen (D) -- just one of two white congressmen with majority-black constituencies. In his inaugural '06 bid, Cohen had faced a dozen candidates trying to maintain the district's 40-year streak of black representation. In the end, runner-up Nikki Tinker barely lost to Cohen, 31% to 25%.[...]

As told in a great piece by Jonathan Martin, Cohen had pledged to become the first non-black member of the Congressional Black Caucus upon winning his seat. "He was probably the most liberal white member in the legislature, perhaps even more so than most of the black members," a local politico told Martin. Most of the staffers Cohen hired were black, including his chief of staff. But when a leaked memo circulated by one of the CBC's co-founders made it clear that Cohen's membership was not welcome due of his race, he gave up the effort. Now, two years later, Cohen's fighting to keep the seat against his old rival...
What you've just witnessed is a fairly bold statement made by a man who is pretty desperate to keep his job (although having beaten his rival by six points and having the knowledge that 98% of Congresscritters get re-elected should provide a little more confidence, you would think).

That Barack Obama is running this year for President merely highlights this race as one to watch, and don't think Tinker isn't showing the race card is in her hand:
Her TV ads play up humble beginnings growing up in Alabama with a single mother and disabled grandmother. She argues her campaign is not about race but adds that her supporters hunger for more racial diversity in Congress.
There's a bit more irony than a white Jew apologizing to blacks for slavery that his ancestors probably had nothing to do with in order to win re-election in his district, particularly when you consider it was white northern Jews who stood side by side in Alabama and Tennessee and Mississippi with blacks struggling for equal rights back in the 60s.

That district was represented by Harold Ford, Jr before he ran for Senate in 2006, and lost based on, well, a commercial that played up the old racist stereotype of "black man raping our white women".

Stay tuned. This race could turn into a barnburner.

(thanks, Memeorandum, for showing da love!)

Snapping Back To Reality

I was all prepared to post a rant this morning, when I was stopped in my tracks by an e-mail:
United Nations Humanitarian Awards Center
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London United Kingdom

This is to inform you that you have won a prize money of Two Hundred And Forty Five Thousand Great Britain Pounds (GBP245,000) for the month of April, 2008 Prize Promotion which is Organized by United Nations Humanitarian Office.


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PIN: YM09788

These numbers fall within the England Location file, you are requested to contact our fiduciary agent in Liverpool and send your winning identification numbers to him;

Agent Name: Mr. Leeton L. Smith

Tel: +447024092941

You are advised to send the following information to your Claims Agent to facilitate the release your fund to you.

First name...............................
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Congratulations!! once again.

Yours in service,
Dr. (Mrs.) Gladys Shawn
I had to laugh, of course.

It seems that this mortal coil is one that I would gladly give up if I knew two things: 1) that if I do, I will live life everlasting in some ethereal plane of existence (I'd settle for Hell, because could it really be worse than George Bush's America?) and 2) I was no longer responsible.

Since health issues have loomed large for me lately, I have been acutely aware of my responsibilities, and while not obsessing, have been pondering what to do going forward in the worst case "if" scenario.

Sadly, last night brought these concerns into sharp focus, and I'm rather angry today.

You see, my mom was checked into the emergency room last night by her cardiologist. I'm not sure why (I was too angry to visit her last night), but my suspicions are she is suffering from congestive heart disease. At any rate, the presenting symptoms was very badly swollen legs, possibly gangrenous.

Why am I angry? My mom has access to some of the finest medical care in the world, gratis, for all intents and purposes. She has an old-line union healthcare plan which will pay for nearly everything, as well as Medicare.

She is deliberately refusing treatment.

Now that is her choice, and from that perspective I cannot argue with her, but she also has a responsibility to her family, most notably to my brother, and she is abrogating that duty.

My brother, for reasons some of you know and reasons I won't get into here, lives with my mother. He's 60 years old and two years ago had open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve.

The running trope in my family is, when my mom goes, I will take care of my brother. Fair enough. He's capable of day to day living, holds down a job and lives a quiet life. Low maintenance, in other words. I can deal with that.

What I am angry about is this "suicide by neglect" course my mom has chosen. By putting her body in peril, she risks failing in her stated attempts to just let go of life, and thus becoming a vegetable or at the very least, bedridden and disabled.

As it stands now, my brother is her primary care giver, and so long as she is able to do some things for herself, that's a fair relationship. To burden him with this kind of nonsense is not only unfair to him, but borders on maltreatment.

I know the underlying reasons for her behavior, which I won't get into. Her motives are repugnant to me, and speak of a self-indulgent spoiled brat (and so now you know who I most resemble).

Thanks for reading this, I needed to get that off my chest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

He's Not Even Pretending Anymore

Why does George W Bush hate America so?:
WASHINGTON — The White House predicted Monday that President Bush would leave a record $482 billion deficit to his successor, a sobering turnabout in the nation’s fiscal condition from 2001, when Mr. Bush took office after three consecutive years of budget surpluses.

The worst may be yet to come. The deficit announced by Jim Nussle, the White House budget director, does not reflect the full cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential $50 billion cost of another economic stimulus package, or the possibility of steeper losses in tax revenues if individual income or corporate profits decline.

The new deficit numbers also do not account for any drains on the national treasury that might result from further declines in the housing market.
The real chilling part of this story comes a paragraph or two later...
Mr. Nussle predicted Monday that the deficit would more than double in the current 2008 fiscal year — to $389 billion, from $162 billion in 2007 — before shooting up to $482 billion in the 2009 fiscal year, which begins in about two months.
(emphasis added)

Well, the neo-cons got what they wanted. Grover Norquist must be chuckling behind his latte and scone. They've destroyed America.

The combination of enormous budget deficits, which seem to stretch ad infinitum, a recession, which will likely deepen into a Depression, although no one you know will ever admit to it in our lifetimes, and the ghastly costs of an irresponsible and illegal war, which will cost us in ways we can't even begin to monetarize, have created the perfect economic storm.

One that will force harsh choices on Americans in the coming administration. This is the ultimate "scorched earth" policy: spend, spend, spend and leave nothing in the till for the next guy.

It is, in my opinion, no coincidence that the two largest deficits in American history, $413 billion in 2004, and $482 billion next year, come at the nexus of elections that could see the shift of power from Republicans to Democrats.

In 2004, it was possible for John Kerry to win the election-- certainly he was poised to-- and Bush clearly wanted to destroy this great nation in a temper tantrum.

And now, with Bush leaving office to either his greatest Republican rival or to the Democrats, and with history's judgement of his administration already weighing in negatively, he's pooped his diaper again!

Even McCain is alarmed by what he has perceived from these numbers: he's being stabbed in the back once more:
“There is no more striking reminder of the need to reverse the profligate spending that has characterized this administration’s fiscal policy,” Mr. McCain said.
$482 billion dollars is a lot, to be sure, and that's just the half of it, newswise. See, the Iraq war is fought off-budget. The coming mortgage crisis package, as half-assed as they are, will add a minimum of $25 billion (and in my estimation, more like $75 billion) to the budget deficit short term.

And this is before the warning shot that the IndyMac bank bailout foreshadows!

For example, the S&L crisis of the Reagan years...funny how these always happen under Republicans...cost the government $125 billion over ten years. This crisis could make that crisis look like a bad day at the track! A March 2008 report said that the subprime mortgage crisis alone could cost the government $300 to $500 billion dollars to solve.

So forget the Iraq invasion. Forget Katrina. Forget September 11, and his cowardly dash to safety.

George W Bush will go down in history as the first President to truly hate his country.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yeeeeeeeeeeeea, this was probably a bad idea....

Injured vets. Two hours. Cheney pulls a stunt worthy of a diva:
[Chehey's] staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney's arrival and couldn't leave until he'd finished talking, officials confirmed.

"Word got back to us ... that this would be a prerequisite," said the veterans executive director, David Gorman, who noted the meeting hall doesn't have any rest rooms. "We told them it just wasn't acceptable."
No rest rooms, did I forget to mention that?

We're talking about a bunch of men who left pieces of themselves on a battlefield somewhere, some of whom may take two hours just to go to the bathroom, and this idiot is mocking them.

Oh, but wait...there's the cringeworthy response:
Cheney's office acknowledged the security requests, but insisted he is sensitive to combat veterans' needs.

Spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said the two-hour rule is "a recommendation, not a requirement," and "we always work to make sure the bathrooms are within the security perimeters."

"The vice president would never let us do anything that didn't help facilitate the needs of our veterans," Mitchell added.
I dunno, those bedbugs in Walter Reed...maybe they were there in lieu of stitches for the wounds?

OK, But Where Do You Have Cancer Again?

From The Chicago Sun Times:
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak said today he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor but says that, “God willing,” he plans to be back at work soon.

Novak said he was diagnosed Sunday with a tumor and will soon begin treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Presumably the surgery will be performed by a proctologist. Of course, noninvasive procedures for this kind of cancer in Republicans exists, including a high fibre diet or an enema.

Which would still count as noninvasive given how often they bend over for their dark lords.

It's interesting that a) this happens less than a week after his run-in with a pedestrian in DC cost him a $50 ticket, plus whatever penalties the judge decides to give in any civil trial and b) this happens hard on the heels of the Ted Kennedy cancer revelation.

In Massachussetts. Mere miles from the Kennedy compound.

Seriously, while the guy is an unprincipled, tea-bagging lying sack of shit who probably ought to have had that overbite looked into years ago, I don't want to see anyone suffering from cancer.

That would be wrong of me.

(whistling..."If lovvvving you is wrong...I don't want to be right"...)

Veni, Vici, V.E. Day

Admittedly, this is The Guardian, which is an avowed leftist newspaper in the UK, but still, this gets a bit embarassing to read:
But, mainly, he simply appeared, and sprinkled that stardust. Gordon Brown could be seen beaming. In the dark. The dark of the hall of 10 Downing Street. Obama wasn't allowed, through protocol, to grasp Mr B's hand outside for the cameras, as he is only a presidential candidate, and it wasn't done for John McCain's visit. But there was an Obama arm swiftly around Gordon's shoulders, and a (rather fluid) returning lower-back pat, before the door shut. Asked, a little later, about Brown's prospects, he said thoughtfully: 'You're always more popular before you're in charge. Once you're responsible, you're going to make some people unhappy.'

Gordon and Barack walked together - a few minutes out at the back of Downing Street around St James's Park. Apparently they talked about economies, global warming, terrorism, Middle East stuff. Obama had been up at about four in the morning to do the same thing at breakfast with a tired-looking Tony Blair. Apparently Obama sleeps for four hours every night.

In the garden there was something going on. Psychologists have a word for it - mirroring? Transference? Both had dark suits, done up with one button in the middle, and white shirts, and silky reddish ties, their left hands in their pockets, and their right hands gesturing, constantly. Back in the garden, Gordon waved his right hand to show him various trees. Nobody quite knows why. Nor what he was saying. The crueller watchers had it down pat. 'That tree's going to vote for me ... that one's dithering.' That was possibly a little too cynical, because our Prime Minister did indeed seem to be genuinely, sunnily, smiling. Twenty minutes later, Obama met David Cameron in the grounds of the Commons, and Cameron did the same. Waved his arms and showed him shrubs. Don't they have trees in Illinois?
Seriously, gag me.

I get this was an opinion column, not a hard news piece, but the fulsome love-in that was Obama's trip to Europe was getting a bit "over the top" coverage from the foreign media, as compared to other Presidential and senator visits since, well, Bill Clinton's last world tour.

It's clear that Europe has held it's collective breath at the monument to stupidity that is the American electoral process that saw the current Resident elected not once, but twice. I imagine they believed, "How dumb does half that country have to be to not see what this man is all about?", shook their heads and proceeded to drive down the value of the dollar so they could come over and investigate for themselves.

The candidacy of Barack Obama (and the same would have been more true of a Clinton candidacy) is much like the first ray of sunshine on a rainy March day. It holds out hope for renewal, nevermind that we have no clue precisely what form that renewal will take.

The sweet effluent of praise that has been heaped on Obama is pretty understandable given that. It's not about Obama per se (again, Hillary would have been welcomed at least as heartily and probably even more so), but about America coming back to the arms of the family of the world.

That he's a Democrat is not material. That he's black, or she a woman, is not material. That he's truly the NotBush in this election, that's what matters.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's young, intelligent and can speak a sentence without stumbling across a word he's not said before, like "the". That just magnifies the glaring incapacity of George W Bush to attain that level of affection after eight years of not only neglecting European society, but practically snubbing his nose at it.

The charge the Republicans will raise in the general election this Fall, that Obama is an elitist, that he's too polished, not the guy you'd want to have a beer with, is going to be made more effective by this messianic (sorry, it's an easier concept to grasp. I'm not trying to pick up a right wing talking point) pilgrimage.

Indeed, recent history has shown that the "Bubba" candidate will win, usually hands down, since JFK was assassinated. And I include Richard Nixon on that list, because frankly, you could outBubba George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy with a toothpick.

That Democrats, noting this, still chose between the two most unlikely Bubba candidates (and one could make the argument that Hillary kept it as close as she did for as long as she did by outBubbaing Obama) is a step in the right direction, and perhaps signals a change in the attitude of this nation, that intellect and rationality is ready to retake the mantle of governance, that reactionary policies and knee-jerk actions are no longer anything but the simple tantrums of spoiled rich kids pretending to be "real".

And maybe it is this, above all else, that Europe has sensed in the Obama candidacy.