Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Viktor Vasnetsov
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Quote worth pondering

Take a look:

You know, we haven't got any business in those far away wars. Seven thousand miles is a long way to go to shoot somebody, especially if you are not right sure they need shooting, and you are not sure whether you are shooting the right side or not.

~Will Rogers

You know, people here in Oklahoma are so proud of native son, Will Rogers, and yet they are typically very much in favor of foreign wars. Sad.

The Corporate Court

The photo above was included in the February e-mail newsletter put out by the People for the American Way. It is, of course, referring to the Supreme Court ruling (Citizens United) which gives corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money in order to influence politicians.

Here's an excerpt:

In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter, "I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country."
The Court, by a one vote margin, kicked open the door for unlimited corporate money in our elections with its radical reinterpretation of the First Amendment. While there's some good legislation out there that would mitigate the damage, the only way to undo the harm of Court's ruling completely is with a constitutional amendment. And support for an amendment is growing.

You can sign a petition in support of such an amendment right here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

The sickness of Ayn Rand

My goodness. I knew that Ayn Rand preached a gospel of selfishness and that this is why conservatives and libertarians love her so much. But I didn't know she was actually pathological.

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer" that I discovered over on Alternet. Here's how it gets started:

There's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don't have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the US.

One reason why most countries don't find the time to embrace her thinking is that Ayn Rand is a textbook sociopath. Literally a sociopath: Ayn Rand, in her notebooks, worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of "ideal man" that Rand promoted in her more famous books -- ideas which were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America's most recent economic catastrophe -- former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox -- along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

Please do go read the rest of the article. It's truly an eye-opener.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interesting lawsuit

Look, I don't know what I think of this, really. But there seems to be a certain poetic justice in the idea:

The widow of an Internal Revenue Service employee killed when a disgruntled taxpayer flew his plane into a seven-story building in Austin, Texas, last week is suing the pilot's wife, according to court documents.

Valerie Hunter, the wife of Vernon Hunter, is accusing Sheryl Stack, wife of Andrew Joseph "Joe" Stack III, of negligence, alleging she she knew or should have known that her husband was a threat to others and, thus, could have prevented the attack, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Travis County District Court.

"Stack was threatened enough by Joseph Stack that she took her daughter and stayed at a hotel the night before the plane crash. [She] owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid a foreseeable risk of injury to others including [Vernon Hunter]," the suit says.

This is from a CNN report that I found here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quote of the Day

And what a distressing quote it is. This was in an email from Sojourners:

The American people and the governing class have accepted that war has become a permanent condition. Protracted war has become a widely accepted part of our politics.

-- Andrew Bacevich, retired Army Col. (and now history professor at Boston University) whose son was killed in Iraq in 2007, on how eight years of war have affected American foreign policy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The importance of politics

I found this on the Spirituality and Practice site:

Reconnecting politics to our best values is now the most important task of political life.

— Jim Wallis in The Soul of Politics

Monday, February 22, 2010

Something about investment

This is both powerful and inspiring. It is also an indictment of the dominant culture's values:

Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.

-- Chief Maquinna

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday art blogging

"Three Graces in Blue" by Antoni Karwowski
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Really understanding the tea party folks

George Lakoff is truly amazing. I do want to urge you in the strongest possible terms to go read his article "A Good Week For Science — and Insight into Politics". It's all about recent advances in brain science research as well as how this applies to understanding the respective conservative and liberal mindsets. Here's an important excerpt:

The conservatives are not fools. Because their highest value is protecting and extending the conservative moral system itself, giving Obama any victory at all would strengthen Obama and weaken the hold of their moral system. Of course they were going to vote against every proposal and delay and filibuster as often as possible. Protecting and extending their worldview demands it.

Obama has not understood this.

We saw this when Obama attended the Republican caucus. He kept pointing out that they voted against proposals that Republicans had made and that he had incorporated, acting as if this were a contradiction. But that was to be expected, since a particular proposal that strengthens Obama and hence weakens their moral view violates their highest moral principle.

Such conservative logic explains why conservatives in Congress first proposed a bipartisan committee to study the deficit, and then voted against it.

That is why I don't expect much from the President's summit with Republicans on February 25. Why should they do anything to strengthen Obama's hand, when it would violate their highest moral principle, as well as weakening themselves electorally. If Obama thinks he can shame them in front of their voters, he is mistaken again. Conservative voters think the same way they do.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama used framing perfectly and articulated the progressive moral system (empathy, individual and social responsibility, making oneself and the world better) as well as it has ever been done.

But he changed after the election.

And that's why many of us are hugely disappointed.

I'm going to re-read the article now. I think it merits further pondering.

Some amazing footage

This is a "prestige" film from 1953. Of great historical interest, I would say:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More GOP hypocrisy

Well, well, well. Sarah Palin's grandson has socialized medicine. Take a look:

The dangers of "death panels" were explained to Americans on Sarah Palin's Facebook page. Oh, sweet Lord, she must not sleep at night...her grandson could be the next victim of "socialized medicine".

Recently released documents from the custody battle show clearly Tripp Palin Johnston has socialized health care through Indian Health Services and the Alaska Native Medical Center.

Palin's family has federally funded health care afforded to them...but if you had it Barack Obama might kill you.

It's from an opinion piece over on Huffington Post by Shannyn Moore. Some of the comments are also particularly interesting.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Why is it not terrorism?

This really disturbs me. It's a QuickVote from the CNN home page today:

Do you consider the Texas plane crash to be terrorism?

No - 68%

Yes - 32%

Needless to say, I voted "yes".

The man flew a plane into a building to make a political point. He wrote a manifesto explaining why ahead of time. (Fortunately, somone sent me a copy/paste email of the manifesto this morning. It was taken off line a little while ago due to its "sensitive nature". Censorship, anyone? If anyone wants to see it, email me privately and I'll forward it to you.)

Oh, I get it. He's white and non-Muslim. (/sarcasm)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

About comparing Obama to FDR

There's a post over on Democratic Underground today by someone who heard an 94 year old Democrat give a speech explaining why we ought not to expect the president to be another Franklin Roosevelt. Here's part of that:

But most of her words were directed to his critics on the Left who complain that Obama isn't acting enough like FDR. Geri remembers FDR, well. She went on to explain just how different it was for President Roosevelt then than it is for President Obama today. For one thing, FDR's white skin shielded him from the virulent racism that Obama is subjected to from many corners. For another, FDR had the prominent Roosevelt name behind him. He was an American aristocrat. FDR had a Democratic majority in Congress that dwarfed that which we have now. Much of the country was in utter poverty and desperation. "If you've ever seen The Grapes of Wrath, that's what was going on. People were losing everything and everything was covered in dust." Essentially, FDR had the power of a dictator and he and Congress, in fact, passed some legislation that was unconstitutional and had to be fixed later. The bottom line was that FDR was in a much better position to effect sweeping changes than Obama could ever hope to be. She ended her remarks by reiterating how proud she was of our President and how great a job she thought he was doing.

You know, I think some very good points are being made here. But I'm still of the mind that the Democrats today are pretty spineless and that Mr. Obama is just too invested in being "nice".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

This is from a Sojourners email:

Rich countries have no excuse for failing to deliver the aid increases they promised five years ago at Gleneagles. The missing $21 billion could pay for every child [in the world] to go to school and could save the lives of two million of the poorest mothers and children.

-- Max Lawson at Oxfam on a study showing that aid to developing countries from richer nations will fail to hit targets set five years ago at the Gleneagles summit.

I did not know this. It's very troubling, actually.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some musing about Sarah Palin and widespread racism

And speaking of racism, I want to call your attention to an article entitled "What If Sarah Palin Were Black?" over on Alternet.

It's a very short article so I offer you here just a little bit of what it says:

If Sarah Palin were black, her lack of intellectual curiosity, willful and cultivated ignorance, and lack of grace both written and spoken, would not be taken as "folksy." Instead, Palin would be viewed as unqualified for any public office.

If Sarah Palin were black she would be tarred and feathered as an "affirmative action baby."

As I write, there are fifty-one comments to this article. Quite a variety. It's clear that the writer has touched a lot of nerves out there.

"Pining for the 1950s"

Okay, folks. Bill Maher is kind of crude here and his naughty words are not beeped out. And I don't entirely agree with him on the subject of religion. But his point about racisim in this video is spot on:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

This merits considerable and repeated reflection:

Life's short and we never have enough time for the hearts of those who travel the way with us. O, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.

- Henri-Frederic Amiel

This is harsh but I get it

Take a look:

President Barack Obama said he is 'agnostic' about raising taxes on households making less than $250,000 as part of a broad effort to rein in the budget deficit.

Obama, in a Feb. 9 Oval Office interview, said that a presidential commission on the Budget needs to consider all options for reducing the deficit, including tax increases and cuts in spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

You S.O.B! Two phony wars, a trillion dollar defense budget, and your answer is to cut Social Security and Medicare? But you're "agnostic" on raising taxes on individuals earning just a smidge less than a quarter million a year.

We are living in a toxic economy with millions who have spent their retirement incomes that will have no chance to recover. Tens of millions who have lost their jobs and ruined their credit, who will never be able to buy another home or new car because of it. Millions of children growing up in cold rooms on bad diets with no health care. A lost generation of children moving from apartment to apartment until they get old enough to just run off and begin their own cycle of poverty and rage.

It's from an article entited "Which Way to the Bastille?" by David Glenn Cox.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why Obama's attempts at bi-partisanship won't work

I know this video is a bit out of date but it really illustrates with great clarity just why the president is not going to succeed at cultivating the consensus he obviously craves:

You know, I had never heard of Lou Engle before. I guess I just haven't been paying attention lately.

Friday, February 12, 2010

An interesting take on what's been happening

I'd like to call your attention to a short opinion piece by Bob Burnett called "Why Did the Obama Agenda Stall?" that I found over on OpEdNews. Here's a snippet:

As Obama's principal political adviser and strategist, David Axelrod is to blame for the Administration's lack of urgency. At the beginning of 2009, Axelrod should have warned the President, "You are inheriting a mess. America is experiencing an emergency unparalleled since the beginning of World War II. Therefore, you need to create a crisis mentality - comparable to what happened after 9/11 - to rally Congress to pass your key legislative initiatives as soon as possible."

While the Dems had sixty votes they should have used thecrisis agenda justification to push as much legislation as possible to a vote. The fact that this did not happen is the fault of Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel, and Joe Biden.

Mr. Burnett also has some interesting comments about the Republican Party and the nature of the Senate in general.

So what is this actually supposed to mean?

Hmmm. Now here's a quote for you.

Take a look:

Think of the Tea Party movement as a boil alerting us to the infection lurking under the skin of the body politic.

-- Arianna Huffington

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today's QuickVote

It's from the CNN website:

Do you believe that Sarah Palin is qualified to be president?

Never - 71%

Not yet - 16%

Yes - 12%

Well, that's reassuring. I guess. What really disturbs me, however, is that we even reached the point with that woman that the question would be asked.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Onece more: Why we need single-payer

I just came across an article called "What to Say to Those Who Think Single Payer Advocates Are Wacko" that was written by an ER doctor. With a title like that I just had to check it out. Here's one paragraph that is illuminating:

Already, 60% of all our health care dollars come directly or indirectly (because employers insurance premiums are tax deductible) from the taxpayer. The care of our oldest neighbors are financed by Medicare, i.e. the taxpayers. The care of our disabled neighbors is financed by Medicaid. Ditto the care of our poorest neighbors who, because health follows wealth, are also at greater risk of high expense. Fourteen hundred insurance companies, at significant expense, stratify the rest of the population by "risk". Their top-secret formula results in them covering the employed people, small groups, and individuals who can prove that they are at low risk. What about the others? When those who can't afford the premiums get sick, go bankrupt, and can't pay their bills, "we" all pay for it in higher charges. Furthermore, employer-paid premiums are tax deductible which means insurance company profits are subsidized by the taxpayer.

There's more. Recommended.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Is it a lie or just a falsehood?

Either is both inexcusable and dangerous. Take a look:

During an interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin falsely claimed that "20 percent of the US domestic supply of energy" comes from Alaska. In fact, according to the most recent data available from the Energy Information Administration, Alaska accounts for no more than 2.9 percent of total domestic energy production.

Does she really not know or is she deliberately telling an out and out untruth?

This is from the Media Matters website. You can read about it in more detail right here and also see the footage.

RIP John Murtha

Oh dear. We've lost another Democrat from the Congress. Here's a bit from the MSNBC article that was just now posted:

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, an influential critic of the Iraq War whose congressional career was shadowed by questions about his ethics, died Monday. He was 77.

The Pennsylvania Democrat had been suffering complications from gallbladder surgery. He died at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., spokesman Matthew Mazonkey said.

In 1974 Murtha, then an officer in the Marine Reserves, became the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress. One of Congress' most hawkish Democrats, he wielded considerable clout for two decades as the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending.

Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq, but Murtha's growing frustration over the administration's handling of the war prompted him in November 2005 to call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

There's more.

You know, with Senator Robert Byrd still hanging in there at 92, Murtha seems young to have left us.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Something to remember

Just came across the following:

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

-- Albert Einstein

This needs to go viral

You can order your bumper sticker right here.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Something about constitutional literacy

Here's the name of the article and its lead:

Constitutionally Illiterate
When even politicians are ignorant of the founding documents, our system is in trouble

Just go read it. It's short. And important. While you're at it, take a look at the comments. Some very good points are made.

Poor goat

What can I say? Just look:

ABC News reports that the president of Pakistan slaughters a black goat every day since becoming president in an attempt to ward off the evil eye. It's good to see these modern, progressive people are our allies in the war against terror.

–Jay Leno

How does one fight superstition? I wish I knew.

(Hat tip to Lisa Casey)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Quote of the Day

It's from Sojourners, naturally. And, let me tell you, it really gives me the heebie-jeebies:

Many repairs are not being done or done properly, and too many flights are leaving the ground in what the FAA calls 'unairworthy,' or unsafe, condition.

-- John Goglia, a former airline mechanic who was a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member from 1995 to 2004, commenting on an investigation into airline maintenance problems. (USA Today)

Monday, February 01, 2010

So, so true

We see this being made more and more apparent every day:

The illiterate of the 21st century won't be those who can't read & write but those who can't learn unlearn & relearn.

- Alvin Toffler

An insightful article on Haiti

I want to recommend an article if only for the title. Take a look: "The West Owes Haiti a Bailout. And It Would Be a Hand-Back, Not a Handout"

Here's a short excerpt:

The world cannot yet find $1bn in debt relief for Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, a country that spent more in 2008 servicing its debt than it did on health, education and the environment combined and that has now been flattened. But, over a weekend, a single country could rustle up $85bn to keep a single company [AIG] in business. It is an obscene reminder that, in the world of global capital, distressed assets are still more valued than distressed people.

I do recommend that you click through and read the whole article that was originally published in the Guardian. It is a short, concise summary of Haiti's history and just why that bailout to them would, indeed, be a hand-back.

Yes, sometimes I think I do: