Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quote of the day

Well, this is interesting:

We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions.

-- Kintto Lucas, Ecuador's Deputy Foreign Minister, offering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange residency in his country; Assange has enraged Washington by releasing classified U.S. documents
UPDATE: Well, it gets even more interesting. Look:

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Tuesday dismissed an offer of residency that a lower level official made to the embattled founder of the online whistle-blower WikiLeaks.

The offer by Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas on Monday "has not been approved by Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino — or the president," Correa told

You can read more about that right here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote of the day

This is about Sarah Palin:

... logic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success.

-- Frank Rich

Very worrying.

I found it on Alternet in an article entitled "4 Most Provocative Reactions to Sarah Palin's Lofty Presidential Ambitions".

Inspiring headline; inspiring article

This is the very opposite of planned obsolescence:

Holiday Alert: A Company Curbs Clothing Consumption

Imagine a company that actually encourages people to buy less of what they produce!

Here's a little excerpt:

Very few companies get it right like Patagonia does. Not only do they have well-made, stylish clothing, their strong commitment to protecting both land and water causes, is highly commendable. Patagonia believes in using business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. It is also dedicated to promoting fair labor and environmental protection where their products are made.

Do click through and read about the details. It's a short article.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

So, so true:

He did warn us.

And I'm old enough to remember this:

Relationship between taxes and wages

Okay. Here's your headline for the day:

Why Tax Increases Would Boost Our Wages

And here's the subtitle:

The math is pretty simple: When the ├╝ber-rich are heavily taxed, economies prosper and wages for working people steadily rise.

Do click through and read the article. It's by the very respectable Thom Hartmann and I learned a lot from it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

The most important headline ever

I mean that. Truly I do.

Here it is:

There Won't Be a Bailout for the Earth

That's right. There won't.

Here's how the article gets started:

Why are the world's governments bothering? Why are they jetting to Cancun next week to discuss what to do now about global warming? The vogue has passed. The fad has faded. Global warming is yesterday's apocalypse. Didn't somebody leak an email that showed it was all made up? Doesn't it sometimes snow in the winter? Didn't Al Gore get fat, or something?

Alas, the biosphere doesn't read Vogue. Nobody thought to tell it that global warming is so 2007. All it knows is three facts. 2010 is globally the hottest year since records began. 2010 is the year humanity's emissions of planet-warming gases reached its highest level ever. And exactly as the climate scientists predicted, we are seeing a rapid increase in catastrophic weather events, from the choking of Moscow by gigantic unprecedented forest fires to the drowning of one quarter of Pakistan.

Before the Great Crash of 2008, the people who warned about the injection of huge destabilizing risk into our financial system seemed like arcane, anal bores. Now we all sit in the rubble and wish we had listened. The great ecological crash will be worse, because nature doesn't do bailouts.

And here's a little bit more:

Perhaps the most startling news story of the year passed almost unnoticed. Plant plankton are tiny creatures that live in the oceans and carry out a job you and I depend on to stay alive. They produce half the world's oxygen, and suck up planet-warming carbon dioxide. Yet this year, one of the world's most distinguished scientific journals, Nature, revealed that 40 per cent of them have been killed by the warming of the oceans since 1950.
The paleontologist Professor Peter Ward is an expert in the great extinctions that have happened in the earth's past, and he believes there is a common thread between them. With the exception of the meteor strike that happened 65 million years ago, every extinction was caused by living creatures becoming incredibly successful - and then destroying their own habitats.

So, are we as a species going to do anything to stop it?

I'm not hopeful, sad to say.

In honor of "Black Friday"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Absolutely stunning ignorance


Many observers have argued that Palin could never win because of her embarrassing lack of expertise, knowledge, or interest in foreign policy. Her appearance on Fox News host Glenn Beck’s radio show today, captured by Oliver Willis, suggests they may be right:

CO-HOST: How would you handle a situation like the one that just developed in North Korea? <...>

PALIN: But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies. We’re bound to by treaty –

CO-HOST: South Korean.

PALIN: Eh, Yeah. And we’re also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes.

If that woman gets anywhere near the White House, we are so freakin' screwed. Really.

I found it here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snark of the day

This has probably already come to your attention but I just HAD to share!

She's very happy in Alaska, and I hope she'll stay there.

-- Barbara Bush, former First Lady, when asked for her thoughts on former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin

(This is probably the first time I've agreed with Barabara Bush on anything.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lest we forget

John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

Tragic. Just tragic:

And here's your quote of the day:

"They don't give a flying fuck about your safety. If they did, they would give you universal health care. They want your obedience."

I found the quotation right here on Democratic Underground.

A headline, a question

This has long distressed and baffled me:

Why Do Americans Keep Getting Suckered By Right-Wing Lies?

The article was originally published in The Nation and here's how it gets started:

Almost half of the public is either misinformed or subject to unanswered right wing narratives. If I believed that there was a chance of Sharia law being imposed in the United States I too would be gravely concerned. If I believed that most Europeans and Canadians had inferior health care to that of average Americans, I too would be against health care reform. If I believed that man-made global warning did not exist or that there were nothing we could do about it and that environmental efforts were responsible for unemployment I’d be against cap and trade. If I believed that prisoner abuse would make my family significantly less likely to be killed by terrorists, my thinking about torture would be different. And if I believed that the problems with the economy had been caused by too much government instead of too little, that my personal freedom was threatened by the government instead of large corporations, I’d probably be in a tea party supporter and a Republican.

Mind you, I don't agree with everything in the above excerpt but the writer makes a point.

Here's another paragraph that caught my attention:

The gay rights movement stands as a contemporary role model on how to change public opinion. Gays could not afford to operate solely within the confines of existing opinion and thus were compelled to find ways to change it. The growth from minority to majority of support for gay service in the military and other issues is due to a morally driven effort across many forms of communication to make sure that gays were perceived as full human beings.

The comments to this article are thought provoking as well.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Natalia Pankova

Just a headline

Here you go:

Patriotic Millionaires Explain That Tax Cuts for the Rich Don't Grow the Economy

The article is short and originally published in The Nation. Very illuminating.

Seduced by the idealized image

Have you heard of today's "helicopter parents" -- so called because they hover?

I want to call your attention to an article in Slate Magazine about a subject that concerns me very much. The title of the article is Modern Parenting and here's the subtitle:

"If we try to engineer perfect children, will they grow up to be unbearable?"

I'm not really worried about them being unbearable as much as I'm concerned that they will end up too fragile to cope with ordinary life.

Take a look:

You know the child I am talking about: precious, wide-eyed, over-cared-for, fussy, in a beautiful sweater, or a carefully hipsterish T-shirt. Have we done him a favor by protecting him from everything, from dirt and dust and violence and sugar and boredom and egg whites and mean children who steal his plastic dinosaurs, from, in short, the everyday banging-up of the universe? The wooden toys that tastefully surround him, the all-sacrificing, well-meaning parents, with a library of books on how to make him turn out correctly— is all of it actually harming or denaturing him?
One sometimes sees these exhausted, devoted, slightly drab parents, piling out of the car, and thinks, is all of this high-level watching and steering and analysing really making anyone happier? One wonders if family life is somehow overweighted in the children's direction—which is not to say that we should love them less, but that the concept of adulthood has somehow transmogrified into parenthood. What one wonders, more specifically, is whether this intense, admirable focus is good for the child? Is there something reassuring in parental selfishness, in the idea that your parents have busy, mysterious lives of their own, in which they sometimes do things that are not entirely dedicated to your entertainment or improvement?
Built into this model of the perfectible child is, of course, an inevitable failure. You can't control everything, the universe offers up rogue moments that will make your child unhappy or sick or ­broken-hearted, there will be faithless friends and failed auditions and bad teachers.

If you have time, please click through and read the whole article. And I'd love to know what people think about this. Yes, I know. I don't have children of my own. But I truly paid my dues in the classroom teaching children of a number of different age groups. I know a little something about kids, about parents and about how they interact.

I'm also inexpressibly thankful that I had enough freedom as a child to develop a reasonable degree of self-confidence and to find my own way in life - at least to an extent. If I had been constantly monitored and micro-managed I really don't know how I would have survived!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The inches we need are everywhere around us

Okay, folks. It's not really about football; it's about the fate of the planet. Are we in it as a team, the team made up of all humanity? Or is each each person on his or her own? (You know, of course, what the so-called conservatives say.)

"Now. What are you gonna do?"


Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Headline of the day

This one is from the Washington Post and it's an opinion article:

Can the party of Reagan accept the science of climate change?

Interestingly, it's written by Republican Sherwood Boehlert who served as a Congressman from 1983 to 2007.

Look at the following:

I can understand arguments over proposed policy approaches to climate change. I served in Congress for 24 years. I know these are legitimate areas for debate. What I find incomprehensible is the dogged determination by some to discredit distinguished scientists and their findings.
There is a natural aversion to more government regulation. But that should be included in the debate about how to respond to climate change, not as an excuse to deny the problem's existence. The current practice of disparaging the science and the scientists only clouds our understanding and delays a solution. The record flooding, droughts and extreme weather in this country and others are consistent with patterns that scientists predicted for years. They are an ominous harbinger.

The new Congress should have a policy debate to address facts rather than a debate featuring unsubstantiated attacks on science. We shouldn't stand by while the reputations of scientists are dragged through the mud in order to win a political argument. And no member of any party should look the other way when the basic operating parameters of scientific inquiry - the need to question, express doubt, replicate research and encourage curiosity - are exploited for the sake of political expediency. My fellow Republicans should understand that wholesale, ideologically based or special-interest-driven rejection of science is bad policy. And that in the long run, it's also bad politics.

But will the new Congress listen? Probably not. Probably not given the Tea Party members coming on board and the rampant anti-intellectualism currently afoot.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Church and State

Take a look at this (by a former Supreme Court justice):

When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.

Harry A. Blackmun

It's like this isn't it?

Thanks to "Bad Alice" for sending us this photo!

I really agree with this:

Investigate the TSA, Not the Guy Who Refused to Go Through Its 'Porno Scanners'

And now, look at this:

April 2010: The GAO reports that “it remains unclear whether the AIT would have detected the weapon used in the December 2009 incident based on the preliminary information GAO has received.”

I may just have to stop flying. I don't want to be exposed to the radiation of the scanners and I really don't want to be groped.

Seems to me that the terrorists have already won since we are happy to throw away our freedom for the illusion of security.

Here's another headline for you:

'Porno Scanner' Scandal Shows the Idiocy of America's Zero Risk Culture

There are no guarantees, folks. The universe is just not put together that way.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Georgij Ottschenaschko

Your life in six words

Just thought I'd call your attention today to a website entitled "Six Word Memoirs". Here's a great sample:

Saw war. Pass the flask, please.

Here's one with which I identify:

Blue man in a red state.

This one is quite touching:

survived terrible upbringing, life's getting better

And this one is both funny and understandable:

Might date republicans but never bigots.

Why not try it? I'm going to give it a go! Okay, here's my first effort:

Music led to Convent, now meditation.

Okay. Your turn! Tell us in the comments.

Another headline

Why on Earth Would Americans Vote the Old Bush-Cheney Agenda Back into Power? Europeans Are Perplexed

Sure. Of course, they are!

Here are a couple of paragraphs:

While participating in a conference in Budapest in September, where prominent conservative leaders and thinkers were in attendance, including the president of the European Parliament and two prime ministers, some of the most eye-opening comments had to do with new perceptions about America. One speaker, Christian Stoffaes, who is chairman of the Center for International Prospective Studies based in Paris, stated the "United States is in disarray, extremely polarized. It is practically a civil war there, and you can't count on it."
Keep in mind that these were the conservatives of Europe venting at this conference, who currently are in control of the European Parliament, the European Commission, as well as the governments in Germany, France, Britain, Sweden and elsewhere. The European right is nowhere near as conservative as the Tea Partiers or GOP Congress members. Indeed, in most ways the European right is to the left of the Democratic Party, which is fairly startling to contemplate. If European conservatives were allowed to vote in America’s November 2 election, there is no doubt how they would have voted.

I do so wish American conservatives understood this. Most of them obviously have no clue.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

So here's today's headline

Just look at this one:

16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe -- And the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them

It's been too long a day and I'm too tired to excerpt this article and then comment. Please just click though and read it. (It's not very long but it certainly is an eye-opener.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Artist: Philip Absolon

The Iraqi Christians

Remember that "law of unintended consequences"? Well, look at this:

During Saddam Hussein, we were living in peace — nobody attacked us. We had human rights, we had protection from the government. But now nobody protects us.

-- Athanasios Dawood, Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in London, appealing to Christians to leave Iraq after gunmen attacked worshipers in a Baghdad church on Oct. 31

Quote of the day

This nearly breaks my heart. And it's true:

It's an amazing thing and I often say it in speeches: you can preach a judgmental and punitive God and no one seems to mind, but if you preach a God who is too merciful, too forgiving, too loving, then there are all kinds of awful consequences.

-- Bishop Gene Robinson

Gene Robinson, as perhaps you know, is the first openly gay and partnered Episcopal bishop. The conservative reaction to his election and subsequent consecration sent the worldwide Anglican Communion into a crisis from which it has not yet even begun to recover.

Bishop Robinson is retiring early after a seven year episcopacy. Among other stresses of the job, he has received regular death threats throughout these past seven years.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bush lied

I don't suppose this will surprise anyone but just take a look:

(CNN) -George Bush's memoir only hit bookshelves Tuesday, but already one prominent ex-world leader says the former president isn't being truthful when it comes to his description of a 2002 conversation about the possible use of force in Iraq.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who left office in 2005, is disputing a passage in Bush's new book that claims Schroeder privately offered the president full-fledged support in 2002 should he decide to invade Iraq.

"The former American president is not telling the truth," Schroeder said Tuesday according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

I got the above excerpt right here.

Headline to think about

Most mornings I log on to the Alternet site and this morning's front page just has one headline after another begging to be passed along. But here's the one I finally settled on:

How Republicans and Their Big Business Allies Duped Tens of Millions of Evangelicals into Voting for a Corporate Agenda

Here is the subtitle:

The bible-thumping white underclass have given a big boost to the corporate bottom line.

Of course, we've all know this stuff for a long time. It's just that in this article, the author (Frank Shaeffer - himself a former religious right activist who has managed to come to his senses) outlines the situation in a succint manner that helps the rest of us make sense of it all.

Here's how it gets started:

Tens of millions of American voters got duped badly in the 2010 election. The bible-thumping white underclass thought they hit back at what they regarded as the nefarious forces trying to “take our country away.”

They were bought, paid for, sold, traded and manipulated by the most powerful in the US election: a Billionaire Lynch Mob led by Rupert Murdoch, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and hundreds of millions in organize corporate cash. They peddled a fear agenda: fear of immigrants, fear of government control of our lives, fear that their country would become irrevocably changed.

The rest of the article explains how it all happened. Do check it out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Oh, my. Just look at this headline:

A Collapsed Economy, Hateful Conservatives and Ineffectual Liberals Are a Recipe for Fascism

I have admired Chris Hedges for a long time now and this is one of his articles.

Here's how it gets started:

American politics, as the midterm elections demonstrated, have descended into the irrational. On one side stands a corrupt liberal class, bereft of ideas and unable to respond coherently to the collapse of the global economy, the dismantling of our manufacturing sector and the deadly assault on the ecosystem. On the other side stands a mass of increasingly bitter people whose alienation, desperation and rage fuel emotionally driven and incoherent political agendas. It is a recipe for fascism.

Go on over and read it if you have the time; it's not hugely long. I think it offers some real insight.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Today's headline

Well, it's not a headline of an article in the usual sense. It's the title of someone's post over on Democratic Underground and it's so, so, so true:

Americans do not know jack about history

Very worrying.

Here's an exerpt that talks through something I've been concerned about for a long time:

Let's put it this way and go back to oh WW II, not that far ago.

Back then it didn't matter if the Japanese sunk a carrier. Yes people died, but we could produce three carriers for each carrier they sunk... yes, that simple and the Cheap Carriers proved that.

On the other hand, since the Empire of Japan did not have the capacity to produce the STEEL needed, they could not afford to lose one carrier... and each ship of the Imperial Navy they lost... was a deep loss. One of the reasons actually for Adm. Kurita to pull off the slot, he knew that reality.

Well we are in that situation right now... and this does not just translate to military gear. Yes, I like my IPOD, and yes it was designed in Cupertino, but the chip factory is in China... and those same chips could be used for guidance systems for missiles we no longer can produce without importing a lot of crap.

This country has not had an industrial policy for now two generations... and it has become a second rate power. It is just a matter of time until this becomes like very official. I don't expect the children elected to the House and Senate to understand this...

I've been truly concerned for some time about the security implications of our outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. I simply cannot fathom how this is not seen to be a serious issue by the nation's powers that be.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

A quotation to think about

I don't know why society is not willing to listen to scientists and medical people on this matter:

Drugs that are legal cause at least as much damage, if not more, than drugs that are illicit.

-- Wim Van Den Brink, a professor of psychiatry and addiction at the University of Amsterdam, on a new study in the journal Lancet, which concluded that alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine

About Obama's Asian trip

I just found an article that was pubished last Friday on the ummid.com website. Here's the headline:

Mahatma Gandhi Remains Obama's Inspiration

Here's part of what it says:

"Barack Obama has been profoundly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. The father of the Indian nations' commitment to social justice, equality and the spirit of satyagraha left an indelible mark on Barack Obama, shaping his polity," Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Ashram secretary Amrut Modi told IANS over telephone.

Sabarmati Ashram, or the Gandhi Ashram, was the Mahatma's official residence and played a key role in the famous Dandi March in 1930. It is now a museum, memorial and crafts centre dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi in the heart of Ahmedabad city.

Obama may not be visiting the sylvan retreat of the Mahatma tucked away along the Sabarmati river, but he is the only US president who will visit Gandhi's memorial at Rajghat and the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya - the Mumbai home of the Mahatma from 1917 and 1934.
"Gandhi inspired several coloured leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. The latter travelled to India with his wife to study Gandhi's 'satyagraha'," Modi said.Obama is no exception "because he has a vision for his people and champions the cause of equality," he said.

Here's the problem as I see it: Gandhi was not prime minister when he exercised his powerful leadership that resulted in the liberation of India. Martin Luther King Jr. was not president when he was an inspired and inspiring leader in the United States. And although Mandela eventually became president of South Africa, his greatest influence was before he attained that office. In other words, these great men were able to accomplish what they did without having to worry about political survival in the process.

Now here's a weird headline

It's from Slate:

Pelosi's Triumph: Democrats didn't lose the battle of 2010. They won it.

Basically, the article says that passing the health care bill was more of a triumph than losing the House was a defeat. I'm not sure I buy that but the analysis is interesting.

Go take a look. It's a very short piece.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Okay. Here's the headline:

You know, I'm really not up to giving you even a small excerpt here. Just go read it. The article is actually very short.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Another headline

It's almost unbelievable:

Are they nuts???? Are they suicidal????

Appeasing the Republicans is what caused the Democratic defeat in the first place.

It has been aptly said that If voters are given a choice between a Republican-lite candidate and a Republican, they'll choose the real Republican every single time.

Sometimes I just despair; I really do.

The headline of the day

Here it is:

The More Money You Make the More Likely You'll Vote Republican

Years ago, when I was still teaching at St. Stephen's School in Alexandria, Virginia, I overheard the secretary to the headmaster say, laughingly, to someone in her office, "Oh, now; you're rich enough to vote Republican, aren't you?" (Needless to say, her husband's income was considerably higher than her own secretary's salary.)

This was during the 1980 presidential campaign (Carter vs. Reagan). It chilled me then and the memory of it does to this day.

Here's a paragraph from the article that expresses something I've been concerned about for a very long time now:

Somehow, we have got to convince more of the affluent voters that the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor is not in their interest, no matter how uncertain the future looks. It rips communities apart. It leads to every kind of social ill and unrest, from increased crime to depression to teen pregnancy. It’s ruinous to democracy and it’s even destructive to capitalism. Society will absorb only so much unfairness, only so much disparity between haves and have-nots.

I really don't know why this isn't obvious to the powers that be.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Tina Fey rules!

Just look:

Fey also poked fun at Fox News for referring to Palin as "Governor Palin" when she appears on the network.
"That's like calling me 'Dairy Queen Employee,'" Fey joked. "I was once, but I quit!"

I found it right here.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Quotation of the day

I so, so, so agree with this:

The biggest lesson from last night is actually pretty simple. For Democrats to win in the future, they need to fight for the people they represent and stop cutting deals to water down reform with the same corporate interests who will turn around and spend unlimited amounts of money to defeat Democrats year after year.

-- Jim Dean, Chair, Democracy for America

Your headline for today

Right here:

10 Commandments to Revive Progressives After the November Defeat

It's by Rabbi Michael Lerner whom I've long admired.

Here's just one sentence that seems to encapsulate his point and with which I heartily agree:

Had Obama embraced and fought for a progressive agenda, even if he had passed none of it, he would have entered the 2010 elections as the champion of the huge idealism of the American people that was elicited in 2008 and which would have led the Democrats to an electoral sweep in 2010.

Some of us tried to send that message to the President. I wonder what stopped him from listening.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Have you?

As I write, there's still time in most time zones!

This one is important, people.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Quite a bumper sticker

Someone over on Democratic Underground apparently spotted this one the other day:

Do you have Medicare? Thank the Democrats.

That's rich, isn't it?