Friday, December 31, 2010

Headline of the day

Here you go:

8 Smears and Misconceptions About WikiLeaks Spread By the Media

And here's one of them:

3. Falsely claiming that Assange has committed a crime regarding WikiLeaks. The State Department is working really hard to pin a crime on Julian Assange. The problem is that so far he doesn't appear to have broken any laws. Assange is not a U.S. citizen, he does not work for the U.S. government, and the documents WikiLeaks posted were procured by someone else. As Greenwald has repeatedly pointed out, it's not against the law to publish classified U.S. government information. If it were, hundreds of journalists would be in prison right now.

While the government tries to conjure up a legal justification for prosecuting Assange, the media is helping out by fanning the narrative that he's some criminal mastermind. Major outlets continue to host guests who accuse Assange of criminal behavior without quite specifying what his crime is. In a much derided
CNN debate between Bush Homeland Security adviser Fran Townsend and Glenn Greenwald hosted by Jessica Yellin, Greenwald had to repeatedly bat away the assertion that Assange has "profited" from "criminal" acts.

Go on over there and read the rest of them. The article is certainly an eye-opener.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Look what I just found

Normally, I wouldn't have the occasion to quote this particular person but check out the following:

We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief. Nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief. At the same time as our constitution prohibits state religion, establishment of it protects the free exercise of all religions. And walking this fine line requires government to be strictly neutral.

-- Ronald Reagan

The conservatives these days have practically sainted Ronald Reagan but they also claim that separation of church and state is not in the constitution. (Can you believe it?)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A quotation about Michael Vick

Okay, folks. I'm against the death penalty but I almost want to agree with this:

Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should've been executed for that.

-- Tucker Carlson, on the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback's felony conviction for running a dogfighting ring

Also, I don't think I've ever before found myself agreeing (or somewhat agreeing) with Tucker Carlson, of all people. I guess there's a first time for everything.

(Found at Time Magazine right here.)

One aspect of our education crisis

This is very, very distressing. Unfortunately, not all that suprising:

I absolutely could not believe the number of mistakes — wrong dates and wrong facts everywhere. How in the world did these books get approved?

-- Ronald Heinemann, a former history professor at Hampden-Sydney College, who reviewed a textbook used in some Virginia schools at the state's request

(The above was found here at the Time Magazine site.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010


Wow. Ya gotta watch this, really:

It is part of a lecture by economist Jeremy Rifkin.
Hmmm. While we're at it, let's listen to Barbara Ehrenreich lecturing about the dark side of positive thinking:

Time for the headline of the day

Okay. Enough with the merrymaking, folks. It's time to look at serious stuff again. This article really did the trick for me this morning:

America in Decline: Why Germans Think We're Insane

Well, of course, I am tempted to say that they think we're insane because we are insane.

Here's something from the article:

The European Union has a larger economy and more people than America does. Though it spends less -- right around 9 percent of GNP on medical, whereas we in the U.S. spend close to between 15 to 16 percent of GNP on medical -- the EU pretty much insures 100 percent of its population.

The U.S. has
59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 40 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane.
Can we learn from Europe? Isn't it better to invest in a social safety net than in a large criminal justice system? (In America over 2 million people are incarcerated.)
As you can imagine, the estimated 2 million unemployed Americans who almost had no benefits this Christmas seems a particular horror show to Europeans, made worse by the fact that the U.S. government does not provide any medical insurance to American unemployment recipients. Europeans routinely recoil at that in disbelief and disgust.

The question of the hour is, of course, why don't we Americans recoil in disbelief and disgust?

One is tempted to reply, "Because we're selfish."

Fair enough. But what on earth made us so selfish as a culture?
UPDATE: Oh, my. Do click through on the headline above and read the comments to this article. Some of them almost stopped my heart.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Rudolf Wacker

Some musical fun!

Ya think we can take a break from politics for this one more day? :-)

All right. First of all you need to know that Stella Splendens (Brilliant Star) - a song in praise of the Virgin - is from the earliest medieval manuscript containing music that we still have. So let's hear a version of it performed by the stunningly excellent Waverly Consort:


Listen to THIS version:

Okay. Are you up for one more? You really have to brace yourself for this one but I love it!

Those hautboys/shawms/whatever are something else, aren't they?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A headline I wish the right-wingers would see

This one:

The shameless assault on Christianity by intolerance and greed

The article is very short. And here's the part that really captured my attention:

...Jesus taught again and again about the obligation of Christians to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, treat the ill and help the hurting.

Jesus taught we should sell our possessions and give the proceeds to the poor, not that Wall Street bonuses should be huge while we pass tax cuts for the rich while we neglect hunger and homelessness in the land.

And that's what it's all about, folks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yup, he would be:

Quote of the day

This one is really, really big:

This day has come! 'Don't ask, don't tell' is over, and you no longer have to sacrifice your integrity.

-- Mike Almy, an Air Force major discharged four years ago when his sexual orientation became known, on President Obama signing the historic repeal into law Wednesday

Let us all pray that there is no backlash of any significance.

A headline we need to notice

Here it is:

How Comcast and Huge Telecom Players' Latest Gambit Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It

I'm very, very concerned about this - as we all need to be, I would assert. Here's an excerpt:

As the telecom wars heat up, the American Internet user is the proverbial pig on the spit. A series of recent developments have drawn public attention to major challenges that are redefining the Internet. And it doesn’t look good for those championing Internet freedom, meaningful competition, improved quality of service or an end to conglomerate integration. Sadly, the fix is in.

Some of this is explained in the article linked to above. And, there's more to come. It's hard for me to understand all the ends and outs of the various issues. What I'm clear on is this: big business is trying to rake in the profits at the expense of seeing the internet as the commons that it is now and needs to remain. And that's not good at all.

Some seasonal silliness

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our "Christian" nation

Oh, wow. Just look at this:

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.

~ Stephen Colbert

UPDATE: Sometime after I posted the above, I happened to find this:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Oh, my. He is SO good!

No kidding

This seems rather obvious:

What is requested is that I be taken by force to Sweden and once there, be held incommunicado: That is not a circumstance under which natural justice can occur.

-- Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, on his fighting a Swedish extradition warrant due to the allegations made by two women who have accused him of sexual assault

I'm sorry but this sexual assault business is clearly a pretext. That's not the real reason this man is being persecuted. And we all know it.

( Quote found right here.)

Three good ones


Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.

-- Thomas Jefferson


You show me a capitalist, and I'll show you a bloodsucker.

-- Malcolm X

And three:

The point is that you can't be too greedy.

-- Donald Trump

They bear thinking about. All of them.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote of the day

Oh, my goodness:

We have to ask ourselves what was wrong in our preaching, in our entire way of configuring the Christian being, to allow something like that to happen.

-- Pope Benedict XVI on the cases of sexual abuse of children inside the Catholic Church; the Pope said the abuse crisis had brought "shame" to the church

I'd submit there's nothing wrong with the actual preaching. There something seriously wrong, however, with requiring celibacy for clergy. No, I'm not at all saying that celibacy causes child abuse. I'm saying that a celibate vocation may seem attractive to people who know there's something wrong with themselves sexually and are hoping that celibacy will cure them or at least settle the issue.

Do consider this, dear friends:

Support Wikipedia

(Click on the image to see what it's about.)

UPDATE: I just found out that the foundation supporting Wikipedia and its sister projects is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are fully tax deductible.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Nikater

Hmmm; I think I agree:

Interesting headline

Right here:

How to Be President in a Fact-Free America

It's a very brief opinion article. Here's an excerpt:

The sad truth is that even when presented with concrete and irrefutable evidence, some people still prefer the reality they want over the one they actually live in. Herein lies one of the central problems of engaging with those on the American right. Cocooned in their own mediated ecosystem, many of them are almost unreachable through debate; the air is so fetid, reasonable discussion cannot breathe. You can't win an argument without facts, and we live in a moment when whether you're talking about climate change or WMD, facts seem to matter less and less.

And here's something else that caught my attention:

Now more than ever the only way for Obama to bring about progressive change is by mobilizing his base. If the right can surge when Democrats have the presidency and both houses of Congress, there is no reason the left can't just because the GOP has the House.

Sadly, however, the Democrats won't see it that way. And that's quite discouraging.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Both very illuminating and vitally important:

A Time Magazine Quote of the Day

Have we forgotten about this?

We intend to prove that these defendants are responsible for government removal costs, economic losses and environmental damages without limitation.

-- Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, on the lawsuit that the U.S. government has filed against BP over the Gulf oil spill

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

The State pimping feminism

Naomi Wolf claims that the rape charge agains Julian Assange is actually an example of "the hateful manipulation of a serious women's issue." I really see her point. Something just didn't sit right with me about the sexual assault charge from the get go. Take a look at this:

Never in twenty-three years of reporting on and supporting victims of sexual assault around the world have I ever heard of a case of a man sought by two nations, and held in solitary confinement without bail in advance of being questioned -- for any alleged rape, even the most brutal or easily proven. In terms of a case involving the kinds of ambiguities and complexities of the alleged victims' complaints -- sex that began consensually that allegedly became non-consensual when dispute arose around a condom -- please find me, anywhere in the world, another man in prison today without bail on charges of anything comparable.

Of course 'No means No', even after consent has been given, whether you are male or female; and of course condoms should always be used if agreed upon. As my fifteen-year-old would say: Duh.

But for all the tens of thousands of women who have been kidnapped and raped, raped at gunpoint, gang-raped, raped with sharp objects, beaten and raped, raped as children, raped by acquaintances -- who are still awaiting the least whisper of justice -- the highly unusual reaction of Sweden and Britain to this situation is a slap in the face. It seems to send the message to women in the UK and Sweden that if you ever want anyone to take sex crime against you seriously, you had better be sure the man you accuse of wrongdoing has also happened to embarrass the most powerful government on earth.

You can read the whole piece as part of an article by Amy Zimet entitled, "The Rapists Who Are Free, The "Rapist" Who Is Not".

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sojourners quote of the week

Gosh, this is so sad:

The need is greater this year than I've ever seen it. One little girl didn't want anything for herself. She wanted a winter coat for her mother.

- "Head Elf" Pete Fontana at New York City’s main post office, who leads a staff of 22 people in sorting 2 million letters in Operation Santa, which connects needy children with "Secret Santas" who answer their wishes

Let's all find a way to give something to the needy this Christmas, okay? Even if it's just five dollars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quote of the day

I actually agree with this:

Buy an automobile, to join a gym, to eat asparagus.

-- Henry E. Hudson, the federal judge who struck down a provision in the health care law, saying that if the government requires citizens to buy health care insurance, it could also require them to buy or do other things in the future

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here's your headline

And it's very disturbing:

How the Pentagon Turns Working-Class Men into the Deadliest Killers on the Planet

It's a long-ish article. Absolutely worth it, though.

Here's the first paragraph:

Since the Vietnam War, the United States has dropped all pretense of a military draft equally applied to all. Instead we spend billions of dollars on recruitment, increase military pay, and offer signing bonuses until enough people "voluntarily" join by signing contracts that allow the military to change the terms at will. If more troops are needed, just extend the contracts of the ones you've got. Need more still? Federalize the National Guard and send kids off to war who signed up thinking they'd be helping hurricane victims. Still not enough? Hire contractors for transportation, cooking, cleaning, and construction. Let the soldiers be pure soldiers whose only job is to kill, just like the knights of old. Boom, you've instantly doubled the size of your force, and nobody's noticed except the profiteers.

And here are a few other snippets that really caught my attention:

Spend 10 times the money on recruiting each new soldier as we spend educating each child. Do anything, anything, anything other than starting a draft.
But there's a name for this practice of avoiding a traditional draft. It's called a poverty draft.
Very few people kill outside of the military, and most of them are extremely disturbed individuals. James Gilligan, in his book Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, diagnosed the root cause of murderous or suicidal violence as deep shame and humiliation, a desperate need for respect and status (and, fundamentally love and care) so intense that only killing (oneself and/or others) could ease the pain -- or, rather, the lack of feeling.

And here's something Gilligan said that really gives me pause:

"Some people think that armed robbers commit their crimes in order to get money. And of course, sometimes, that is how they rationalize their behavior. But when you sit down and talk with people who repeatedly commit such crimes, what you hear is, 'I never got so much respect before in my life as I did when I first pointed a gun at somebody,' or, 'You wouldn't believe how much respect you get when you have a gun pointed at some dude's face.' For men who have lived for a lifetime on a diet of contempt and disdain, the temptation to gain instant respect in this way can be worth far more than the cost of going to prison, or even of dying."

Respect. Respect.

We, as a society, need to think long and hard about what we're doing when we make it impossible for people to experience respect any other way.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the day

Right here:

We can agree that in the wealthiest nation on earth, all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow.

-- Michelle Obama, First Lady, on the child-nutrition bill that President Obama signed into law on Monday

Yes, you'd think we could all agree about that. I'm quite certain that there are those who believe the government ought to have no part in it, however.

Unsettling headline of the day

My goodness:

New GOP Congress to be Batsh*t Insane

It's a very short piece over on Alternet. Here's just one sentence:

The 112th House is likely to be a good deal more conservative than the Newt Gingrich-led House of 1995-97.


We're in for some challenging times.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: August Macke

A new George Lakoff article

I want to urge you to go over to Common Dreams and read an article by George Lakoff entitled "Untellable Truths". It's really impossible to excerpt adequately and so I truly recommend reading the whole piece. It's not very long and will not take a lot of your time.

George Lakoff is a professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. His specialty is how various parts of the brain are activated by the kind of language we use. Lakoff is the one who has brought the notion of "framing" to public attention. To my mind he offers the best explanations yet about how Democrats tend to shoot themselves in the foot.

More about DADT

Well spoken, I should say:

Instead of doing what is right, "the world's greatest deliberative body" devolved into shameful schoolyard spats that put petty partisan politics above the needs of our women and men in uniform.

-- Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, on the Senate's failure to pass a defense-authorization bill that includes the repeal of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy

(From Time Magazine "Quotes of the Day" section)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Disgusting headline of the day

Here it is:

Fox News boss instructed staff not to use phrase 'public option' because it tested too well

Here's how it gets started:

Media Matters has posted a very interesting report that once again illustrates just how laughable the Fox News slogan “Fair and Balanced” really is. It seems the network’s Washington managing editor, Bill Sammon, sent around a memo instructing his staff not to the use the phrase “public option” because it was testing too well.

Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox’s reporters should use “government option” and similar phrases — wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats’ reform efforts.

Can anyone doubt that Fox News is a propaganda network?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Something Churchill said

Oh, my. I really like this one:

If the Almighty were to rebuild the world and asked me for advice, I would have English Channels round every country. And the atmosphere would be such that anything which attempted to fly would be set on fire.

-Sir Winston Churchill

What if the tea party was black?

Oh, wow. Just watch:

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Oh, what a headline

Doesn't this say a lot?

The Heartbreak of Premature Capitulation

Here's how it gets started:

There's this old joke about the French Revolution. A group of prisoners is lined up before the guillotine. One by one, their heads are lopped off. Then, the next man is put in place. The lever is pulled, but the blade stops just inches above his neck. This must be a sign of divine intervention, the judge in charge declares, and the man is freed.

The same thing happens to the next prisoner, and the next and the next. Finally, as the very last man is prepared for execution, he looks up at the mechanism and exclaims, "Wait! I think I see your problem!"

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you President Barack Obama, providing needless aid and comfort to those who would do him wrong, handing over his own head without a fight, afflicted with a curious syndrome we men of science have decided to call Premature Capitulation.

Do go read the rest of it. The article is quite short.

RIP Elizabeth Edwards

So true:

Many others in the face of such adversity would have given up. Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration.

-- President Obama, paying tribute to Elizabeth Edwards, who lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday at the age of 61

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

So sick of this party

I'm talking about the Democrats, of course.

And I'm referring to the "deal" (which is no deal, actually) about tax cuts.

Please go on over to Daily Kos and read up on it right here:

Obama's Chamberlain impersonation fuels new progressive uprising

Also this one:

White House says it 'wanted a fight' on tax cuts

I read that Obama is trying to demonstrate that he is a "reasonable" man. Pathetic. In reality, he's just coming across as a spineless wuss. What a tragedy.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

About those tax cuts

First I want you to see how the article gets started before I share the headline with you:

New CBS News poll out confirms every other poll we've seen on the topic - the American people are solidly against tax cuts for the rich.

53% of respondents said there should only be tax cuts for the middle class and no tax cuts for people making over $250,000. That's the number most people in the media are using, but that's not quite accurate. Another 14% said they don't want tax cuts for anybody, including the top bracket. So, the reality is that an overwhelming 67% of the country don't want tax cuts for the rich (including 52% of Republican voters!). Only 26% said that everyone should get a tax cut, including the rich.

So, let's do the math for people who are a little slow. That's 67% to 26%. That's a crushing 41% lead. If it was an election, that margin would be so large they would think it was rigged. The group that doesn't want tax cuts for the rich is more than two and half times the group that does.

Okay. Now I tell you what the article (by Cenk Uygur, by the way) is called:

Is Barack Obama Stupid?

If you really read the excerpted paragraphs carefully, you know why ol' Cenk is asking that question.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The question of the hour

Here it is:

Who Should Pay to Fix the Economy?

Here's how the article gets started:

Imagine you live in the suburbs and the residence next door is sold. The new owners raze the old cottage, build a McMansion and party 24/7. The neighbors complain about the noise but nothing is done until the house is trashed. Then your city council declares the dwelling a hazard and demands that you and your neighbors clean it up. Unfair? Of course, but that's what has happened in the US, where the rich and powerful had a decades-long party and trashed the economy. Now Republicans want average citizens to pay for the repairs.

I do recommend that you read the rest of it.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Here we go again

Once more, I'm embarrassed to live in Oklahoma:

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma has vowed for the second straight year not to march in a Tulsa parade because organizers are calling it a "holiday" event as opposed to a "Christmas" one.

"Last year, the forces of political correctness removed the word 'Christmas' and replaced it with 'Holiday' instead," he said,
according to the Tulsa World. "I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this change."

Senator Inhofe, don't you have more important things to be "deeply saddened and disappointed" about?

(I found the information here.)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Message to the Tea Party

A friend of mine sent me the following yesterday and I'm so glad she did:

For all those Tea Party Members and everyone else who is convinced the Republicans will now save us:

After The 8 Years Of The Bush/Cheney Disaster, Now You Get Mad?
You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.
You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.
You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.
You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.
You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.
You didn't get mad when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.
You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.
You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq .
You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.
You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.
You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.
You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.
You didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.
You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.
You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.
You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks.
You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.
You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.
You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

You finally got mad when a black man was elected President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you, but helping fellow Americans who are sick...Oh, Hell No!!

Sums things up pretty thoroughly, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Well, what do you think?

I admit that I can see more than one side to this whole Wikileaks issue. Any thoughts out there?

Did you know he said this?


I would have made a good Pope.

- Richard M. Nixon


Now here's a headline for you

See what I mean:

Here is something from that article:

See I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralize them. An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern, and I think there's an element in the thinking of some people; we don't want people to be educated, healthy and confident because they would get out of control. The top 1% of the world's population owns 80% of the worlds wealth its incredible that people put up with it. But their poor, their demoralized, their frightened and therefore they think perhaps the safest thing to do is to take orders and hope for the best.

- Tony Benn, former British politician

And don't we do that in the good old U.S. of A.? Subject the populace to fear and demoralization, I mean?

Do go read the rest of the article. The comments are illuminating as well.