Wednesday, April 30, 2008

That war

What I want to give you is just the headline for an article published on Alternet:

"Women Are Being Beheaded for Taking Their Veil Off": Honor Killings On Rise in Iraq

Let it not be forgotten that Saddam Hussein protected the rights of women. For all his tyranny, his was a secular state.

The article is an eye-opener if you want to click through and read it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A letter from Sojourners about the food crisis

This is important:

You've probably seen the headlines about record food prices, which have led to deadly violence and panic across the globe.

The U.N. Secretary-General said last week that the situation has "become a global crisis," and the World Food Programme is warning of a "silent tsunami" of hunger. Even here in the U.S., grocery stores are starting to ration sales of rice.

Sadly, this desperate situation is being worsened by our own government's policies. While we spend billions of dollars on food for the hungry overseas, Congress requires that all of it be purchased from farmers in the U.S. and shipped halfway around the world — wasting money and delaying the food's arrival.

As Congress finalizes the Farm Bill, tell them to fix this misguided policy and help feed more hungry people.

It seems so obvious: When buying food for hungry people overseas, buy from farmers nearby — it's simpler, cheaper, and better for the local economy and environment.

But even as children are at risk of starving to death, Congress has shown more interest in increasing profits for big American agribusiness than in ensuring that we feed as many hungry people as possible.

These policies are decided as part of the Farm Bill, a mammoth but little-known piece of legislation that governs our nation's agricultural policies. So far, it's been shaped mostly by a narrow group of farm-state legislators and industry lobbyists — and it's become so laden with pork-barrel spending that President Bush is threatening a veto.

But our lawmakers have one last chance to get it right before the bill goes to the president's desk. One simple change could make a dramatic difference in addressing the global food crisis.

Click here to tell your senators and representatives to fix our food aid policies.

Thank you for raising your voice, as we seek to follow Christ in feeding the hungry multitude.

I truly think capitalism is a very great evil. From a theological point of view it is rank idolatry - with profit taking the place of God.

The problem with soundbites

This is a comment to a clip from the Moyer-Wright interview I told you about a few days ago:

Agenda-driven pundits will likely continue to hammer on the Reverend Wright soundbites in a deliberate effort to link Obama to his words. People like that do not seek "answers", they seek to prolong a swift-boating episode that, amazingly, has had some success. I say "amazingly" because when anyone takes the effort to listen to the full context of the Wright soundbites, their impact is diminished significantly. Unfortunately, the soundbite is what far, far too many, will remember.

What if pundits had given the same treatment to Lincoln after the Gettysburg address?

Lincoln Disowns Troop's Sacrifice!

".... we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground...."

(Rabid denunciations of Lincoln's comment are printed in newspaper editorials across the country.)


Monday, April 28, 2008

Today's CNN QuickVote

All right. If 68% are going to pay down debt or save this money, how's it going to stimulate the economy?

What will you do with your rebate check?

Spend it on needs - 20%

Spend it on wants - 12%

Deal with debt - 42%

Save it - 26%

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Astronomy picture

The Tarantula Zone

This is from the Astronomy Picture of the Day website:

Explanation: The Tarantula Nebula is more than 1,000 light-years in diameter -- a giant star forming region within our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). That cosmic arachnid lies at the upper left of this expansive mosiac covering a part of the LMC over 6,000 light-years across. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. Around the Tarantula are other violent star-forming regions with young star clusters, filaments and bubble-shaped clouds. The small but expanding remnant of supernova 1987a, the closest supernova in modern history, is located near the center of the view. The rich field is about as wide as four full moons on the sky, located in the southern constellation Dorado.

The beauty of the universe consoles me when I think about how we are ruining our earth.

The real differences

He is, of course, right on this one:

The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists.

~William J. Clinton, 1997

Saturday, April 26, 2008

War costs

So far the Iraq war has cost Americans:

$4,681 per household
$1,721 per person
$341.4 million per day

I got that information right here.

Jeremiah Wright

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright

I wish I had known ahead of time that The Rev. Jeremiah Wright was going to be interviewed on Bill Moyers' Journal last night so that I could have urged you to watch it. I was simply blown away by how terrific this man is. Here's part of an article from Common Dreams about it:

As I type this, I am watching the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS here in the United States. It’s quite a revelation.

He is wonderful, wise, and brave. He’s speaking some harsh but necessary truths. The segments of his sermons knit together by the Clinton campaign and the likes of Fox News are a cynical attempt so sow hatred and discord, to win a political campaign by and through fear. If you have not seen this interview, you owe it to yourself and your country, if you are at all interested in justice, honesty, healing, and truth, to watch it all the way through.

He’s absolutely right about the fact that the United States of America was founded through injustice and ugly acts against Native Americans and African slaves. Why is this so hard to absorb? If a nation cannot face the truth about the past, it’s not likely to survive the challenges of the future.
I am very grateful that Bill Moyers, who represents the very best of American journalism, had the guts, gumption, and sense of responsibility to interview Rev. Wright and look at the story behind the story, to ask questions and examine contexts. That’s what sane, responsible, intelligent CITIZENS of a democracy are supposed to do: assume nothing; question authority; look beyond the spin and B.S. and ask “whose interests are being served by presenting history in a particular way?”

I urge you to watch the program. You can do so (or read the transcript) right here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

McCain's Sweet Talk Express

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Real principles

I want to call your attention to an article from the Guardian entitled "Carter's principled mission". Here's how it gets started:

Believe it or not, there is one US politician acting out of principle and displaying the courage of his convictions. And it isn't Obama, Clinton or McCain. His name is Carter. Jimmy Carter. He recently ended several days of what used to be called Middle East shuttle diplomacy visiting Egypt, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Israel seeking to break the logjam that has blocked an agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Carter knew his mission would be unpopular, in fact reviled by the Bush administration, the American Jewish leadership and Israel. But he also understood something none of them do: that the current "freeze out" policy toward Hamas is a failure. You can't simply claim that a policy of inaction is a policy. So Carter decided to call everyone's bluff and create a policy where essentially none existed.

It was, as I said, a gutsy move, since almost no one was willing to give him the time of day. The Bushites called him naive and a dupe of terrorists; the Israel lobby called him anti-Israel; and the Israeli government, with one prominent exception, boycotted Carter entirely. It was an inauspicious way to conduct international diplomacy. But he did it anyway.

Carter understood that no matter how odious one might find Hamas, there simply is no alternative to dealing with them. And in negotiating with them, Carter was only doing what Israel and the US should be doing themselves. In fact, many experts in both countries predict that the US and Israel will eventually be doing this themselves despite all protestations to the contrary. It's important to note that Israel already is negotiating indirectly with Hamas under Egyptian auspices. The question is not "if" but "when".

Of course, Carter is being villified by the mainstream press.

He is a man of great courage and integrity. I'm so glad I voted for him.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cesar Chavez quote

This is important. I hope it's really true:

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.

-- Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I want to call a web page to your attention. Here's a statement from it that is very, very disturbing:

Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, and climate change.

You can find it right here.

There are hundreds of pertinent links on this page.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


This is from Margaret Mead's statement on Earth Day 1977:

Not until World War II, when we explored the whole Earth, its deepest valleys and its highest mountains and looked everywhere for the people that were there, did we know for certain that all of us on this planet were one species, human beings. And then as we began to go into space for the first time, to leave this planet for the first time, we came to know that not only were we the only people on this Earth, and all one people, but also that Earth was the only inhabited planet in the solar system - that we were all alone here, all alone to be the custodians of life on this Earth.

We used to call it, you know, "the Earth." Now, we call it "Earth." And we didn't speak of a "planet" when I was a child. Sometimes we talked of the "globe." But then we referred to an artificial globe which human beings had made to represent this Earth for them.

So that only, in the last quarter of my life, have I, like all those here, come to know what it means to be the custodians of the future of Earth: To know that unless we take care, unless we check the rapacious exploitation of Earth, unless we protect our rivers and our lakes, our oceans and our skies, we are endangering the future of our children and our children's children.

We didn't know this, except in little pieces. People knew they had to take care of their own meadows, of their own forests or their own rivers. But it was not until we saw the picture of Earth from the moon that we realized how small and helpless this planet is, something that we must hold in our arms and care for.

Earth Day is to be the first completely international and universal holiday that the world has ever known. Every other holiday was tied to one place, or some political or special event. This Day is tied to Earth itself, and to the place of Earth in the whole solar system.

Of course, today we know that our predicament as a planet is much more dire than we realized when Mead said the words above. So let us take action. No action is too small. Likewise, no action is too big. The earth needs humans to commit to both as we are able.

Now this is troubling

Monday, April 21, 2008


I wish I had known about last night's Masterpiece on PBS ahead of time to suggest it to you. The program was called "My Boy Jack" and it's about Rudyard Kipling's son who was killed in World War I. Here is the first paragraph of the synopsis:

It's 1915, and Great Britain is at war. Aged only 17, writer Rudyard Kipling's son John "Jack," like most of his generation, is swept up in the enthusiasm to fight the Germans; a sentiment stoked vigorously by his father. However, Jack is cripplingly short sighted and the Army has rejected him twice, rendering him too myopic even for an Army suffering thousands of casualties a week and desperate for recruits. Yet Rudyard is determined that his son should go to the frontlines, like countless other sons, and fight for the values that he, Rudyard, espouses so publicly.

Jack is accepted by the Irish Guards, goes to the front lines and is killed the day after his eighteenth birthday.

Here's the poem Rudyard Kipling wrote in his grief:

"Have you news of my boy Jack?"
Not this tide.
"When d'you think that he'll come back?"
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
"Has any one else had word of him?"
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing and this tide.
"Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?"
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he didn't shame his kind
Not even with that wind blowing and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide,
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Let us not forget that for every casualty of war there is a family that will never be the same again.

I support Jimmy Carter

I so agree with this:

Former President Jimmy Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for what the prize committee described as his "untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts," is touring the Middle East, as a private citizen, in a bid to revive interest in a moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. He's doing so at a time when their decades-long conflict is growing in intensity and distrust on both sides is running high.

As a result, Carter is once again under fire from conservatives. Last week, Republican Rep. Sue Myrick (NC) went so far as to
call for the former president's passport to be revoked on Fox News.

Carter's crime was to sit-down with leaders of Hamas last week to explore the possibility of waging peace in the Middle East. For many Israel-hawks, it wasn't a first offense; Carter is guilty of viewing the Palestinians as human beings and for condemning human rights abuses on both sides of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. "Any side that kills innocent people is guilty of terrorism," he told an audience at Cairo's American University after his sit-down with members of Hamas.

Carter rejects the short-sighted idea that negotiating with one's enemies legitimizes or rewards them for their actions. According to the same logic, when a police department sends a hostage negotiator to talk down a gun-toting lunatic who's barricaded himself in a house somewhere, that department would be guilty of "legitimizing" armed lunatics. It's a ludicrous idea on its face, but one that's essentially embraced by much of the American foreign policy establishment when it comes to the international arena.

It's an ideological construct that defies both common sense and the "best practices" that have been developed in the field of conflict resolution -- best practices that were borne of hard experience. What Carter seems to understand, and his detractors appear unable to grasp, is that there is absolutely no chance of establishing and implementing a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians without offering Hamas a seat at the negotiating table.

And why are they not considered "legitimate" anyway? Israel has committed outrageous atrocities against the Palestinian people - starting with stealing their country from them. And THEY'RE considered legitimate.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oh, this is funny!

And very short. Have a look:

Support the troops?

Take a look:

WASHINGTON -- Nearly eight months ago, Iraq veteran and Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Hubbard lost the second of his two brothers in Iraq, leaving him as a "sole survivor" under military guidelines and requiring that he leave combat operations.

But after he returned home to Clovis, Calif., Hubbard, 33, was dealt another loss when the Army stripped him of his healthcare, took away GI Bill education benefits worth as much as $40,000 and demanded he repay his $6,000 enlistment bonus.


Here's the solution that is being proposed:

On Wednesday in Washington, Hubbard stood with four lawmakers at a news conference, attempting to solve that problem by introducing the Hubbard Act, a bill that would ensure full benefits to all soldiers discharged under the sole-survivor policy.

Let's hope it gets passed.

Hat tip to Paul at Byzigenous Buddhapalian.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

"Worst Person in the World"

The regressive right

If you want to know why I'm turning more and more cynical during this election year, go read the article posted on Common Dreams called "Let’s All Pretend". Here's a little bit of it:

Barack Obama did it again!

He told the truth. Jesus Christ, when is somebody gonna get to this guy and teach him the rules of American politics?

Dude, it goes like this: We’re bringing democracy to the Middle East. Tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy are to stimulate the economy. George Bush is more patriotic than Al Gore. Our government is there to serve the people. America is always a force for good in the world. There is a god; he is a nice fatherly-looking Caucasian fellow with a big snowy beard (if the resemblance to the god of American children — Santa Claus — doesn’t by itself tell you everything you need to know about religion, you’re still not paying attention!). And he’s quite angry at Muslims and other people who didn’t get the memo on who to worship.

You have to say these things — and a whole lot more sheer nonsense — in American politics if you want to have any hope of winning. When a Milquetoast punk like John Kerry defines the port-side limit to what American voters are willing to hear, while any lunatic freak gone way to starboard — like Coulter or Falwell — can blurt out the most outrageous defamations, and any two-bit thief named Bush can actually be handed the nuclear trigger, you know how ridiculously deluded we are. By the time you get done thinking about what can’t be said in this country, you have to wonder what the fuss concerning the First Amendment is all about. Who cares about freedom of speech if you’re not going to actually use it?
Americans are being tested now. They know they’re dissatisfied with the crappy cards they’ve been dealt these last three decades. They know that Bush is a disaster. They know that he’s such a loser that even his parents told him so when he was growing up. (Nowadays Poppy and Bar just try to pretend the kid doesn’t exist at all. Who can blame them? On top of your own weak and forgotten presidency, how’d you like to know that you fathered the worst president in the entire history of the republic? Ouch.) Unfortunately, because they’ve been rigorously dumbed down and subjected to relentless conservative propaganda and highly successful reframing efforts, Americans haven’t yet put together that the source of their malady is itself the regressive right, who of course always claim to be the greatest of patriots.

Just go read the rest of it. Really sums things up.

UPDATE: Here are some very good points made by a commenter to the above article:

Realistically, if [Obama] were to come out now and endorse socialized medicine, a slashing of the Pentagon budget, a sharp tax rise for the rich, an immediate end to the Iraq war and the threats to Iran, and a crash program to replace all the destructive methods of generating energy–oil, coal, ethanol, and nukes–with true renewables, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, that would be great but he would be quickly destroyed. Likely they’d kill him–he’d die in a plane crash or of a hereditary heart condition not previously known, or a James Earl Ray would shoot him. Or, possibly the media could manage to marginalize him as they did Kucinich. But as President, he’d have considerably more power to speak freely and to make change happen. And this is the only real hope we have–Cynthia McKinney is not going to become President, nor is Nader. McCain would be a nightmare this country absolutely can’t afford, and Clinton would be little different. So yes, you can note that your hope is based on thin threads, while still supporting the best remaining chance of this country moving in the right direction before our charge in the wrong direction brings about the collapse of civilization.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quote of the week

This is from Sojourners and I completely agree:

Whether Carter's approach to conflict resolution is considered by the Israeli government as appropriate or defeatist, no one can take away from the former U.S. president his international standing, nor the fact that he brought Israel and Egypt to a signed peace that has since held. Carter's method, which says that it is necessary to talk with every one, has still not proven to be any less successful than the method that calls for boycotts and air strikes. In terms of results, at the end of the day, Carter beats out any of those who ostracize him.

- An editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, discussing President Jimmy Carter's trip to the Middle East. Carter's trip has included talks with Hamas officials, and he is being snubbed by Israeli officials and denied the usual protection by Israeli security police.

Those in need

Good question:

If we accept that others have a right to peace and happiness equal to our own, do we not have a responsibility to help those in need?

~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

That whole "bitter" flap

This is actually a good point:

Barack Obama was called elitist on Sunday for saying small-town Americans turn to guns and religion when they get bitter. He should admit to being elitist. After eight years of a regular guy in the White House, a guy who is better than everybody might be a nice change of pace.

- Argus Hamilton

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something to think about

This is troubling:

... Is it reasonable - is it really a matter of common sense - to assume that leaders who are willing to abuse signing statements, withhold information from Congress, make secret decisions, lie to the American public, use fake evidence to justify a preemptive war, torture prisoners, tap people's phones, open their mail and email, break into their houses, and now simply ignore Congress altogether - leaders with, currently, a 29 percent approval rating - will surely say, come 2008, "The decision rests in the hands of the people. May the votes be fairly counted"?

-- Naomi Wolf

Anything Into Oil

I must say, this is encouraging:

The smell is a mélange of midsummer corpse with fried-liver overtones and a distinct fecal note. It comes from the worst stuff in the world—turkey slaughterhouse waste. Rotting heads, gnarled feet, slimy intestines, and lungs swollen with putrid gases have been trucked here from a local Butterball packager and dumped into an 80-foot-long hopper with a sickening glorp. In about 20 minutes, the awful mess disappears into the workings of the thermal conversion process plant in Carthage, Missouri.

Two hours later a much cleaner truck—an oil carrier—pulls up to the other end of the plant, and the driver attaches a hose to the truck's intake valve. One hundred fifty barrels of fuel oil, worth $12,600 wholesale, gush into the truck, headed for an oil company that will blend it with heavier fossil-fuel oils to upgrade the stock. Three tanker trucks arrive here on peak production days, loading up with 500 barrels of oil made from 270 tons of turkey guts and 20 tons of pig fat. Most of what cannot be converted into fuel oil becomes high-grade fertilizer; the rest is water clean enough to discharge into a municipal wastewater system.

For Brian Appel—and, maybe, for an energy-hungry world—it's a dream come true, better than turning straw into gold. The thermal conversion process can take material more plentiful and troublesome than straw—slaughterhouse waste, municipal sewage, old tires, mixed plastics, virtually all the wretched detritus of modern life—and make it something the world needs much more than gold: high-quality oil.

Now, go read the rest of the article to find out why this technology is more likely to be used in Ireland than in the United States.

Thanks to Frank Ford for sending me this!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Good snark

From Bill Maher:

Never play a sport in public that you suck at. To connect with Pennsylvania's blue-collar voters, Barack Obama went bowling and scored a 37. And the right-wing had a field day. Joe Scarborough said he bowls like a four-year-old. And Ann Coulter offered to loan him one of her balls. But, you know who's a good bowler? George Bush. His specialty is pre-emptive strikes.
Have you seen that Olympic Torch trying to get home to China? The Olympic Torch having a very hard time making it to China. Here’s an idea: why don’t we attach it to one of our manufacturing jobs.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Inventing enemies

I admire Thich Nhat Hanh so much. He gets it:

In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist

World clock

I've blogged the world clock before. I was reminded of it by an email I got from Barbara Santee this morning. Take a look at what she says:


Note the numbers of oil pumped. Goes faster than any of the others.

World-wide there are 260 births a minute and only 114 deaths. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out we're on a collision course with shortages of basic needs - food, water, land -- just about everything if this doesn't change. The number of barrels of oil pumped is directly related to this population increase, and the competition for that oil will only push the price higher and higher.

Check out the world clock- ---Never seen anything like it. It is amazing.
Click here: World Clock

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

We are all connected

This is why the "conservative" attitude of "you're on your own" is so pernicious:

Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. If one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people's children.

-- Lilian Katz

The Art of War

I really do wish our leaders would study this stuff:

There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

- Sun Tzu

Wise words

I found this in a comment on Daily Kos:

It's not enough to be right. You still have to use your nice voice.

-a six-year-old in reference to the Lorax

What a great thing for us all to remember.

"Do what I want, or I won't be your friend anymore."

I want to encourage you to go over to Daily Kos and read an essay that compares the conservative mindset to that of a little girl in the second grade. It's well written, funny and a bit disturbing. Here's a sample:

Of all the habits of two legged little monsters that my daughter has recently adopted, by far the most prevalent and annoying is the phrase "Do what I want, or I won't be your friend anymore." I have no idea which of the cloven hoofed little brats from Satan's personal jungle gym first introduced her to this omnipresent schoolyard concept, but my daughter has now made it fully her own, along with clever variations like "do what I want, or I won't love you anymore," or "do what I want, or I'm not going to listen to you anymore," or the minimalist, unsubtle version, "do what I want, or I hate you." My daughter considers this to be a master stroke of manipulation, the ultimate takedown when faced with any adversary who demands that she brush her teeth or stop tying things to the dog. Of course, all it actually does is enrage the recipient of the threat, convincing them that all promised decades of bitter, loveless relationship with their child will be just fine, thank you very much, if You Will Only Brush Your God Damned Teeth This Instant.

I shudder to imagine what the schoolyard must be like, with my daughter's dozen or so second-grade friends in constant orbit around each other, each threatening at all points in time the ostracism of all of the others unless their will is adhered to at any particular moment. Every child seeks to find that delicate balance between getting what they want and over-irritating all the others to the point of potential retaliation. Every child, when faced with the threat, attempts to be placid enough to not invoke resentment, but all of them are too bent on domination to stop issuing the threats themselves.
In the end, though, "do what I want, or I won't be your friend anymore" is a time-honored tradition of the highest levels of discourse. If you want to witness the interactions of eight year old girls on a school playground, you need look no farther than Bill Kristol, or Sean Hannity, or any number of devoutly conservative pundits and lawmakers.

And, yes, the author gives a great example.

You know, this helps me understand what I find so troubling about right-wingers. They come across as so very immature.

Autism awareness

Maureen Adams sent me the following information:

The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.40 to Autism Speaks for each time the video is viewed. The funding goes toward research studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link below to watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family. It is a great & sad video. They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.

What kind of world do you want?

Note from Ellie: It's actually a lovely video and the music is great. Please go watch.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oh, this is seriously funny!

Karma's a bitch. Take a look:

Wal-Mart's internal meetings are on display in three decades worth of videos made by a Kansas production company scrambling to stay in business after Wal-Mart stopped using the firm.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. dropped longtime contractor Flagler Productions in 2006. In response to losing its biggest customer, the small company has opened its archive, for a fee, to researchers who include plaintiffs' lawyers and union critics seeking clips of unguarded moments at the world's largest retailer.

Those moments never meant for public display include a scene of male managers parading in drag at an executive meeting, a clip used by union-backed critics at Wal-Mart Watch for a recent advertisement castigating the retailer's attitude toward female employees.

"The videos provide insight into the company's real corporate culture when they're not in the public eye," Wal-Mart Watch spokeswoman Stacie Lock Temple said Tuesday.

Much of the interest in the candid videos is coming from plaintiff lawyers pursuing cases against Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart said it is unhappy with the public airing of its video record.

Yes, I'm sure it is. And vast numbers of employees and vendors whom Wal-Mart has screwed over have gone through considerable unhappiness too.

The Real News

I want to call your attention to a news organization that I found out about through Frank Ford. It is called The Real News and here's part of what it says about itself:

The Real News Network is a television news and documentary network focused on providing independent and uncompromising journalism.
We won't blindly follow wire services or official press releases that attempt to set the
news agenda. We will cover the big stories of the day, but we will broaden the definition of what's important.

The Real News will investigate, report and debate stories that help us understand the critical issues of our time.

The movements for the rights of working people, women, children, immigrants, indigenous people, for freedom of religion and conscience, for moral and spiritual values and for peace and against racism are news. The health of our planet will be a story, day after day.

The Real News will give important stories the attention and sense of urgency they deserve.

Here's a video that explains:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Time to lay off the fish

Look, the seas are seriously overfished. Here's just one example:

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- The stunning collapse of one of the West Coast's biggest wild salmon runs has prompted even cash-strapped fishermen to call for an unprecedented shutdown of salmon fishing off the coasts of California and Oregon.

"There's likely no fish, so what are you going to be fishing for?" asked Duncan MacLean, a fisherman from Half Moon Bay. "I have no problem sitting out to rebuild this resource if that's what's necessary."

The Pacific Fishery Management Council meets in Seattle this week and will likely vote to impose the most severe restrictions ever on West Coast salmon fishing to protect California's dwindling chinook stocks.

The Sacramento River chinook run is usually one of the most productive on the Pacific Coast, providing the bulk of the salmon caught by sport and commercial trollers off California and Oregon.

But only about 90,000 adult chinook returned to the Central Valley last fall -- the second lowest number on record and well below the number needed to maintain a healthy fishery. That number is projected to fall to a record low of 58,000 this year. By contrast, 775,000 adults were counted in the Sacramento River and its tributaries as recently as 2002.

90,000 is an incredibly small number. Heck, so is 58,000.

Please, folks. Do what you can to stick to plants. You'll be healthier. And so will the planet.

A culture of corruption

I just want to call your attention to a website I just discovered. It's called Republican Offenders: A Culture of Corruption. So far it lists 272 Republicans charged with criminal activity, 60 of which are pedophiles.

I actually found out about this site from Crooks and Liars.

What can I say? Interesting reading.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

For your listening pleasure

Joni Mitchell, of course.


I want to call your attention to an article on Common Dreams entitled "The US Establishment Media in a Nutshell".

Here's how it gets started:

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

“Yoo and torture” - 102
“Mukasey and 9/11″ — 73
“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16
“Obama and bowling” — 1,043
“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)
“Obama and patriotism” - 1,607
“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

And as Eric Boehlert
documents, even Iraq — that little five-year U.S. occupation with no end in sight — has been virtually written out of the media narrative in favor of mindless, stupid, vapid chatter of the type referenced above. “The Clintons are Rich!!!!” will undoubtedly soon be at the top of this heap within a matter of a day or two.

Very troubling. Very troubling indeed.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Dr. King took on capitalism

How many people know that Martin Luther King said this?

You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry… Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong… with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.

-- MLK, November 14, 1966

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Worst. President. Ever.

Look what I found just now on Crooks and Liars:

In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.

Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category, while only four of the 109 respondents ranked the current presidency as even among the top two-thirds of American administrations.

At least two of those who ranked the current president in the 31-41 ranking made it clear that they placed him next-to-last, with only James Buchanan, in their view, being worse. “He is easily one of the 10-worst of all time and—if the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities matter—then probably in the bottom five, alongside Buchanan, Johnson, Fillmore, and Pierce,” wrote another historian.

Now, none of this is surprising, is it?

Today's CNN QuickVote

This is tragic:

Is the United States "off on the wrong track?"

Yes - 85%

No - 15%

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Children see. Children do.

Oh my. This is very powerful. It was sent to me by Juan Diaz.

McCain is breaking the law

Revealing photo

The above picture is of an assembly at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia - my old stomping ground. I used to teach at St. Stephen's School close by, another Episcopal school for boys (although these days it is merged with its former sister school, St. Agnes for girls). St. Stephen's is a day school and Episcopal High School is boarding.

In Virginia people refer to THE high school, THE university and THE seminary. THE high school is Episcopal, THE university is University of Virginia and THE seminary is Virginia Theological Seminary (with a campus adjacent to that of Episcopal High School) and if a young man graduated from all three, he had an impeccable pedigree. (Ha! Great way to end up a bishop.)

What I want you to notice is the teleprompter toward the back of the gathering. Here's what it reads:

I'm happy to be back at Episcopal, my alma mater, which I have many happy memories of, and a...

Then the sentence was completed:

...few that I'm sure former teachers, school administrators and I would rather forget.

Apparently McCain was known as "The Punk" there.

Interesting that he had to use a teleprompter to speak to his old high school.

You can read more about the occasion here.

Also interesting that McCain has repudiated his Episcopal roots and is now claiming to be a Baptist (although he has not yet gone through believer's baptism by immersion - something that tradition requires.) I guess being a Baptist is more politically expedient these days.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Quote of the day

Take a look:

The Bush administration never had any intention of doing what the Supreme Court commanded it to do a year ago today: regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

--Washington Post editorial

News flash: Wal-Mart does the right thing!

Well, well, well. All the outrage worked. Keith Olbermann's taunting worked. Take a look:

(CNN) -- A former Wal-Mart employee who suffered severe brain damage in a traffic accident won't have to pay back the company for the cost of her medical care, Wal-Mart told the family Tuesday.

"Occasionally, others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way. This is one of those times," Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Pat Curran said in a letter. "We have all been moved by Ms. Shank's extraordinary situation."

This ought to be empowering to people. Enough people protesting can get even a giant like Wal-Mart to change its mind.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Michael Savage wants to send me to Gitmo

I read this on Media Matters. Here's what he said:

If I had the power by executive order, I would round up every member of the ACLU and of the National Lawyers Guild and I'd put them in a prison in Guantánamo and I'd throw the key away. Or I would reopen Devil's Island and I'd put everyone in the ACLU into -- onto Devil's Island.

-- Michael Savage