Friday, December 30, 2011

My Photo Of The Year

dive buddies 160811 by actor212
dive buddies 160811, a photo by actor212 on Flickr.

There were quite a few candidates, but this one has stuck out in my mind as the most memorable one to take, and among the best composed I had for the year

Thursday, December 29, 2011

All Due Respect, Dick...

I say this as one who subbed for you once when you couldn't make an appearance, but...


$2 to pay your bill online? Without a check?

Make It Your New Year's Resolution


Remember "The Birds"?

You know, that wonderfully thrilling Alfred Hitchcock movie about birds that somehow take a real disliking to a particular woman and begin to mass attack her and the town she's in?
Well, apparently, the film was based on a real incident...

Batten Down The Hatches

It Might Be A Bit Too Late For Many Of My Readers, But...


How To Lose A Day


This Better Include Tony Hayward

Or there's no point to pressing charges.

How Would You Feel About Your Birthday Always Being The Same Day Of The Week?

Well, that might happen if this idea catches fire.

Io-what, now?

Well, Mitt Romney seems to be the inevitable winner of the caucuses in Iowa.
Unless Ron Paul beats him.
Or Newt Gingrich picks up more momentum.
Even Rick Santorum's message is spreading.
And if you're going to look at Santorum, you may as well look at Rick Perry, who's about in the same place as Santorum.
Indeed, about the only candidate who has completely obliterated her chances in Iowa is Mickey Mou-- I mean, Bachmann.
And lurking in the shadows for whomever comes out the front-runner is Jon Huntsman, who decided to insult Iowans and bolster New Hampshirites by skipping and then dissing the Iowa caucuses
Huntsman's strategy at least is clear: skip the nomination this year, position himself for a run against the Democrat to succeed Obama in 2016, and hope for a fluke.
A couple of days ago, a Republican strategist was lamenting how the GOP wasn't fielding their A team (wish I could recall the link, but memory fails me today.)
Well, newsflash: this IS the Republican A team!  Therein lies the tale. It's a tale of thirty years of deciding that power trumps good governance, that compromise is for wusses and arrogance will win the day.
When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1976-- he lost in the primaries to Gerald Ford-- he made a pact with the religious right: in exchange for the support of the evangelicals, Reagan promised to support their platform and espouse it as his own, despite the fact that Reagan was about as religious as any Hollywood movie star was.
He married this constituency to the economic royalists who had lately become the Republican funding backbone. It was an uneasy truce, and early dust-ups between the two factions were always smoothed over by Reagan himself. He'd toss a bone to the ideologues while scrupulously plotting the economic downfall of America while avoiding any hint of upsetting those religious types who might notice.
Indeed, so successful was he at co-opting the religious vote that he managed to ram through dismantling of whole departments that were in keeping with little things like God's commandment to humanity to shepherd the earth and its inhabitants.
No one really noticed.
When Reagan left office, the task of placating both groups fell on Lee Atwater's shoulders, who devised the "big tent" image: an inclusive club that anyone could feel at home in.
Sadly, a complete lie. It might have been a more interesting dynamic if the Republicans worked harder for, say, the minority vote or the gay vote.
In turn, we watched as Republicans tried to discredit science, logic, the Constitution, the Congress, and even a President, with mixed success. It was the underlying message, however, that Republicans would prefer to be elitist and aloof that got leaked out, along with this hatred of anything remotely smacking of liberality or progress.
The people who were attracted to this belief system, the "new blood" added to the already stodgy Republicans of pro-war, anti-humanity ilk, were pretty radical in their beliefs. And they were zealotous in their dogma. My way, or the highway. The perfect patriarchal moment.
Take a look at the Republican field: apart from Huntsman, who almost sounds normal, who there has a clue about the America of today?
They have what they have, and looking deeper into the party, there's not a lot of "there" there. Your frontrunner, Mitt Romney, is about as close to a real candidate as they have, and he's a former liberal who ascribes to a religion that has some very curious and ambiguous standing as a real religion.
Contrast this to the 2008 Democratic primary, where we had three candidates who gave us sharp differences and real choices in candidates. That's the sign of a healthy political party.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hunger In America

It's not just a problem for the chronically poor anymore.

Sabres Rattled

It wouldn't be a new year without a little posturing by Iran and the US

Poor Gary Johnson

He gets the opportunity to be eclipsed by Ron Paul twice in the same campaign.

Life? On PLUTO?!?!?!?

OK, it's premature to say exobiology is now an official science, but when a planet absorbs more ultraviolet radiation than the rocks alone would allow, that means something is absorbing energy and possibly using it.

I, For One, Welcome Our New Ant Overlords

It seems as tho global climate change triggers evolutionary outbreaks.

Outliving The Humans

Cheetah, the chimp from the Tarzan movies, has died.

Thought The Housing Bubble Touched Bottom?

Not yet. But soon.

The Other Iowa Caucuses

Obama, too, has to face up to a caucus.
It's good to hear such enthusiasm coming from Iowa Dems.

Would Make A Helluva Ticket, If You Ask Me

I Have No Doubt The Right Wing Will GO Bananas

Probably for drug running.

Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

So Senator Ben Nelson (nominal D from Nebraska) has decided to retire from the Senate, not seeking re-election in 2012.
Good riddance.
Look, I can live with Blue Dog Democrats, people who would under any other circumstance rightly be labeled "Republican" but for party affiliation. The Blue Dog breed is necessary in order to keep a hand in the poker game that is electoral politics in the heartland, and besides, a little dissent is a good thing. It keeps ideas refreshed by challenging their underpinnings regularly.
What I'm having a problem with is the strategy of how to deploy them, and Nelson is a prime example of the kind of obstructionist Democrat that we can do without.
For example, his vote on the Bush administration's godawful bankruptcy reform bill was a signal to debt-holders everywhere they were fucked for life. His insertion of a measure into healthcare reform guaranteeing that Federal healthcare funds would not be used for abortions was a tricky little device that ultimately had no impact on the final measure as enacted, since his "60th vote" would no longer be needed, but it flew in the face of progressive orthodoxy and cost him support in his own state of Nebraska.
Ironically, the measure he finally agreed to would have allowed for abortions, just not for a Federal mandate imposed on the states or for public funding thru healthcare reform. I'm not sure I oppose that too strenuously, altho I can see why iy would offend people who do.
The question now becomes, who in this very red state of Nebraska can the Democrats run for a seat held for decades by Democrats (the preceding Senator was Bob Kerrey.)
And the obvious choice to replace Nelson would be the aforementioned Kerrey.
So as I said, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ben. We can get someone better.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Don't Blame Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac For The Mess We're In!


Not An Oxymoron


Welp, Here We Go Again!

We need the debt ceiling raised.

Do They Pass The Smell Test?

But they ain't the stinkiest nominees Obama's had.

The Truth Is Out There


Poor Governor Walker


Want To Understand Why The One Percent Keep Winning?


Only FOX Would Do This

How much do they p, anyway?

RIP, Lynn Samuels

One of the secret pleasures of my childhood was a "backyard." I grew up in a short building of what were called "railroad flats," six stories high, twelve apartments. Because of building codes, the back end of the building needed a small space to fight fires from, so my yard was an eight by thirty concrete gap between buildings.
The building that backed up to this space was an old church, which was purchased by Pacifica Radio in the early 1970s and converted to the broadcast studios of their New York affiliate, WBAI.
You may recall 'BAI as the station that lost the Seven Dirty Words Supreme Court decision.
I used to play basketball in my yard. I doubt I interrupted any programming, but I know I annoyed the hell out of the staff, as there was a break room whose window was perpetually open to the yard. I think my cat even snuck into the station one evening.
Anyway, Lynn Samuels was one of my favorite broadcasters on that station, a station that covered politics and arts the way a radio station should. Nothing was out of it's mien, and indeed they were one of the first to have regular reggae and punk broadcasts.
So I was sad to read this.

Lookin' Back My Out Door

In hindsight, there were a bunch of stories this year that were surprises. A few, genuinely so, but many should have been predictable.
An example, in the same story no less, of both is the Fukushima reactor crisis. If you recall, an earthquake all but shattered Japan last January. By definition, earthquakes are surprises.
What should NOT have been a surprise was the fragility of the Fukushima reactor's power systems to a tsunami. Indeed, it was not a surprise as the power plant had reinforced its outer walls against tsunamis and taken other precautions.
It was unimaginable the size of the tsunami, and there's where the predictability comes in: the size of the tsunami was unimaginable only in the context of the budget the plant was willing to expend to prevent a catastrophe.
The budget wasn't big enough.
Another story that held both surprises and inevitability is the Occupy Wall Street story.
It was just a year earlier that a quarter million Americans showed up on the Washington Mall to protest the incivility of the nation, as sponsored by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It should not have come as a surprise that a year later, Occupy Wall Street would employ some of the same tools-- nonpartisanship, civility, non-violence-- to the purpose of raising awareness of the issue of income inequality.
What did come as a surprise was two things: one, this movement did not begin in the US, but in one of the most repressive radically conservative regimes in Africa, Tunisia. Two, the Occupy movement did not peter out as so many analysts predicted it would (I hedged, I admit, and I was wrong to do so.) Indeed, this Sunday, Christmas day, was the 100th day of the protest and indeed, they were out in force, however small it might have been for, you know, the single largest Christian holiday on the calendar.
The new year, 2012, holds a lot of OWS in store for us, I think. I don't expect it will go quietly, and I do expect they'll raise some eyebrows at the two national political conventions next summer. Indeed, the party that deals with them the most honestly will be the one which sweeps the elections. Politicians and pundits have woefully misunderestimated the effect this movement is having on independent voters, frustrated and angry, but mistrusting the Teabaggers as vicious anti-Americans.
In 2009, I had predicted that the top story of the year would be Africa. I was a tad premature on that but not wrong. I'm going to stick my neck out again now.
First, I think sometime in the Spring, either April or May, we will see a wholly made-up story dominate the news, and my suspicion is it will be a "terrorist attack" somehow tenuously linked to Iran. I think this will happen as the Republican party flounders about looking for a bona fide candidate to run against Barack Obama (who will win a surprisingly easy re-election bid-- prediction two.)
This story will be discredited in short order, but not before inflaming the Presidential campaign.
China will be forced to deal with its own "Occupy" movement this year. It won't be another Tianeman Square, but it won't be Zuccotti Park, either. Blood will spill as poor farmers and families wonder why they aren't sharing in the bounty of China.
Oceania, Australia and New Zealand, already reeling from a 2011 of devastation unheard of in recent human history for any one nation, let alone two, will be inundated once more by Mother Earth. Indeed, I don't see an easy 2012 for South and Southeast Asia at all.
And America will have one last stab at greatness in the coming year and will fall flat thanks to an obstructionist Congress.
For me personally, 2011 was a roller-coaster ride. I lost much but nothing I was neither prepared to lose or miss much. I had my bouts of notoriety, but gained more for them than was subtracted from me.
I expect 2012 will be a bountiful year for me.
But I've been known to be wrong...

The Republican Party Gave Us Gifts

A couple of odd items cropped up over the weekend that are like little Christmas presents...left by the cat in the litter box.
Item 1 -- Ron Paul "Uncomfortable" Around Gay People -- According to a former campaign aid, Eric Dondero, Ron Paul has a problem being around gay people. He doesn't want to deny them equal opportunity under the law, anymore than he wants to deny equal opportunity to blacks and Hispanics, other groups he seems uncomfortable around.
Look, all of us have squidgy feelings about some group or other, based on our prejudices, biases and perhaps even past experiences. We learn to set those feelings aside when confronted with a person of that group, we'd like to think. Personally, I'd like to think that this is how Ron Paul feels when he sits across the table from a minority representative.
I have my doubts, tho.
And we've all had that friend, man or woman, who spews some pretty neaderthalic sentiments about "them," and forced ourselves to swallow hard and keep quiet about it because we had some reason to. 
The difference here is, none of us is running for public office and if we were, the last thing we'd do is condone hatred of any sort. Here's where Dondero's defense of his boss as "not racist because he's never said a racist word" rings hollow. As was pointed out last week, Paul had ample opportunity-- opportunity he still has available-- to address the hurtful and hateful things in his newsletter. He has not.
And that negates all of Dondero's weak-ass defense.
Item 2 -- Newt Divorced His First Wife Because She Wasn't Pretty Enough -- Um, think he'd recognize that before he even got married, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say that she didn't age well.
Hey! It happens. Look at Barbara Bush, the wife of Bush 41. It's a bit hard to believe he's actually older than she is.
This was, you may recall, the same Jackie who had cancer and on whose recovery bed he raised terms of the divorce (if indeed he didn't tell her at that time for the first time he wanted out.)  He then married Marrianne, and had an affair with Callista (his current wife, about whom rumour has it that she can suck the chrome off a tailpipe.)
Presumably, he's finally found the wife he wants to be by his side in the White House. Of course, he's blown any legitimate chance at the office with all these machinations.
Personally, her appearance and make up remind me of Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Y'know, Newt, marrying Jack Nicholson would have made more sense, if you ask me.
Sort of makes you wonder that, if Newt was somehow elected through a combination of dirty pool and evil luck, he wouldn't resign for the Presidency of some Polynesian island where the women walk around topless.
But I digress...
Meanwhile, the Republicans are in deep trouble. Here's my thought about the Iowa primary: it does not matter who wins, what matters is the turnout figure.
The entire Republican 2012 strategy hinges on enthusiasm. If the Republicans cannot present a candidate with enough charisma and energy to solidify the base of both economic royalists AND Teabaggers, ballgame over. Iowa is the first and most important test of that enthusiasm.  
My guess is they fail. Epically.