Saturday, April 30, 2011

Those monster tornadoes

I agree about the irresponsibility:

It is irresponsible not to mention climate change. … The environment in which all of these storms and the tornadoes are occurring has changed from human influences (global warming).

-- Dr. Kevin Trenberth, one of the world’s top climate scientists

I found the above in an article over on the Think Progress website.

Here's an interesting headline:

Alex Chilton (Big Star) Died Because we don't have Universal Health Care

Very interesting analysis of the situation.

Some of the comments are insightful as well.
UPDATE: In fact, here's a good comment for you:

The other day, an older gent came to our door.
He was trying to raise money to pay for the heart surgery his baby granddaughter needs (hole in her heart). Apparently the parents are stuck in the 'make too much for government programs (SCHIP, etc) but not enough to afford insurance' category.

Every time I go into a store I see another jar, collecting for yet another sick individual who can't afford health care. The number of interschool email messages asking for donations for similar is rising every day.

A nation should define its success by how well it cares for its most vulnerable citizens.

We fail.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Truly the snark of the week

Right here:

The good news is, President Obama was born in America. The bad news is, so was Donald Trump.

--Jay Leno

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today's headline

I'm sending you over to read a VERY short transcript of a Jim Hightower commentary:

From Democracy to Plutocracy

Yes, that's what's going on.

Here's a snippet:

Today's media and political powers... keep using the word "conservative" to describe current political trends in our democratic republic. Poor choice of words. From the Koch brothers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, from GOP House Speaker John Boehner to such anti-worker governors as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, an autocratic power grab is underway...

Rather, a word from America's past best encapsulates their goal: plutocracy. It's the direct opposite of democracy, which is government by the many, by all of the people--by us. Plutocracy, on the other hand, is government by the wealthy--by them and for them.

What I simply don't understand is why "we the people" are letting this happen. I really don't.

Today's CNN QuickVote

I'm not sure what to think of this:

Who would be more likely to get your vote for president in 2012?



It seem to me that even having as much at 31% of respondents preferring Trump bodes ill for our country. What on earth qualifies him to be president?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lincoln's warning about corporations

Oh, my. Look at this:

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.

-- President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
(letter to Col. William F. Elkins)
The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)

Even Fox News finally gets it

that the president was born in the United States. Take a look:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The REAL issue:

Oh dear, dear, dear!

A friend sent me this today and, somehow, I'm not restraining myself from passing it on to you:

Who is undeserving? Of what?

I was sorting through some computer files and came across the following. Unfotunately, I cannot give you a source. It's a comment by someone named Becky and I didn't save a link to the original article so I've no idea where I found it. It's very good though and I hope you'll read it:

I’m British - by the definitions of many Americans I basically live in a ‘socialist state’ I suppose, although I wouldn’t say that myself.

I am a well-educated professional, with two degrees. I have never been out of work or drawn welfare benefits. I have earned every penny I ever had. So far so good.

But what I didn’t earn is the benefits of a family with a strong work ethic, who taught me personal responsibility, who supported me through my education, who showed an example by always working themselves. I didn’t earn being born middle class, which has given me huge advantages in my life.

It’s a fallacy to claim that those who are rich have ‘earned’ their money, implying that those who are poor have only themselves to blame and are basically lazy. There is no such thing as a total meritocracy. And even if there was, who is to say that those who aren’t as intelligent, or gifted deserve less if they are prepared to work? Many people, like my grandparents, work hard all of their lives, doing long hours in tiring manual jobs, and never earn a good salary. In what way are those people undeserving? Why should I have better healthcare than them? Or a better chance at education? My grand parents never saw the fruits of their labour in their lifetimes. But they did manage to provide a better chance for their children, which in turn provided a better chance for me. The dream cannot be fulfilled in one generation. I did not ‘earn’ my status alone - my grandparents must take much of the credit.

If your parents were wealthy enough to send you to an Ivy league college, and you had the right connections to help you into a fabulous job, you should thank your lucky stars, and be prepared to pass a little of your good fortune on to those who weren’t born into such fortunate circumstances as yourself, instead of guarding jealously what you supposedly earned.

We really need to think about this as we take benefit after benefit away from not only the poor but the middle class.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A headline for you today

This one:

Median U.S. household income fell 5% between 1999 and 2009. Globalization remains the core problem

It's a post on the Daily Kos website.

The figures were adjusted for inflation.

Here's how it gets started:

Technologically induced productivity whose benefits are only partially (if at all) passed along to workers. Union busting. Squeezing workers to do more with less (which was something some hotshot facilitator at a management seminar once called "work smarter, not harder" before that insulting slogan went viral). Erosion of the buying power of the minimum wage. A deteriorating manufacturing base abetted by "free trade" agreements that pit Americans against workers in China, India and elsewhere who earn 10 percent at companies which can compete without bothering with safety and environmental regulations. The sum? One of the plagues of the U.S. economy during the past few decades: stagnant wages.

And here's a paragraph from a comment someone made:

And flat wages combined with high unemployment will mean a continued diminished tax base giving those who want to destroy Medicare, Social Security, and other gov programs plenty of ammo.

This is quite worrying. And I don't think it's being pointed out by the mainstream media. More's the pity.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

And now for today

It's Shakespeare's birthday, y'all!

Here are a few passages I particularly like:

And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself,
that of yourself which you yet know not of.
A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
As much or more we should ourselves complain.
Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like a toad, though ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in its head.
The worst is not
So long as we can say, "This is the worst."

Just take each quotation one by one and let it sink in. I promise: there will be benefit with them all.

Yesterday's "Earth Day"

I really wanted to post something about Earth Day yesterday but I found myself really needing to devote my time to contemplation regarding Good Friday.

Here's the title of an brief article I'd like to call to your attention:

Earth Day organizers call for 'a billion acts of green'

And here's part of what it says:

If the environmental movement has a high holiday, Earth Day is it.

The annual effort to raise public awareness about the environment and inspire actions to clean it up marks its 41st anniversary on Friday, coinciding with the Christian Good Friday and Judaism's celebration of Passover.

In an effort dubbed "A Billion Acts of Green," organizers are encouraging people to observe Earth Day 2011 by pledging online at to do something small but sustainable in their own lives to improve the planet's health — from switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs to reducing the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

"Millions of people doing small, individual acts can add up to real change," said Chad Chitwood, a spokesman for the umbrella group coordinating efforts.

Okay. That seems rather obvious, I know. Except it's utterly true. Please don't think that any effort you make is not worth it because it is so small. These things work by cumulative effort and the more people decide to participate, the more effective they are.

I switched out all my light bulbs several years ago and started recycling everything I possibly could. These days I'm working on eliminating toxic cleaning products.

What earth-friendly activities are working for you these day? Do tell us in the comments.

Friday, April 22, 2011

In honor of Good Friday:

This is from the "St. John Passion" by J.S. Bach. The conductor is the great 20th century interpreter of Bach's works, Karl Richter.

It is a lullaby, really, to the Christ as he's laid in the tomb: "Rest well, sacred limbs."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A birther too far

If you don't know the story behind this, go right here.

A really important question

This is from a post over on Democratic Underground:

Why is nobody stating the obvious when it comes to sleeping air traffic controllers?

Here's how it gets started:

Namely that this sudden "crisis" is a direct outgrowth of Reagan's union busting measures thirty years ago.

The main issues surrounding the PATCO strike of '81 concerned hours worked, staffing and safety. Pay wasn't a priority issue. Yet despite all of this, Reagan played the cowboy at high noon, and shot PATCO down. Since then, air traffic controllers have been less experienced, been forced to work longer hours, with fewer staff on board any given shift, and yes, do so with less pay. These issues have now come to the fore, with staff falling asleep on duty and other such issues. Frankly, I find it a bit of a miracle that that is all we've suffered, some snoozing air traffic controllers and not a larger, deadlier tragedy.

The entire post is not much longer. Do click through and read it all - and maybe some of the comments as well.

I well remember that strike and Reagan's actions; the whole situation seemed very ominous to me at the time. We are reaping the consequences, I do believe.

A presidential accomplishment

This is kind of sweet:

I'm the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie.

-- President Barack Obama, at a Facebook event repeatedly poking fun at Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg for his casual dress sense. The two attended a formal dinner party for Silicon Valley's elite back in February where Zuckerberg wore a suit

Our taxes; our values

Here's a headline from Grist magazine that really caught my attention:

What would happen if Americans had a say in how their tax money is spent?

Here's the concept:

What if U.S. taxpayers were allowed, for some small portion of their taxes -- say, 10 percent -- to specify on their tax returns where they'd like to direct the money? [Cait] Lamberton ran some experiments to find out.

One result is that those allowed to specify some tax expenditures felt much less irritation and angst, and much more of a sense of satisfaction and benefit, toward paying taxes. That in itself would be a sea change in U.S. consciousness.
Respondents across the board shifted spending toward education, training, and social services -- all areas that are major job-creation engines and paths to sustainable improvements in standards of living.
For one thing, if taxpayers were allowed to do this, they would demonstrate -- with their own money, which carries more weight than any poll -- what they value. I'm not naive enough to think that would transform the priorities of policymakers, but over time, the disjoint between what Americans want to spend money on and what
politicians are spending on would grow difficult to ignore. Priorities would get dragged in the right direction.

Hey, there's a lot to be said for this.

Whether it's feasible or not, it's a very interesting idea to play with.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Here's your headline

You may think you know this stuff but I learned a few things:

Five myths about Planned Parenthood

And we need to know the truth with all the misinformation out there.

It's a short article in the Washington Post. Do click through and have a look.

The world's artists

Yes, yes, yes:

It is the world's artists, particularly those courageous enough to stand up against authoritarianism, for whom we need to be concerned, and for whose safety we must fight.

-- Salman Rushdie, writes in an op-ed calling for Chinese artist-dissident Ai Weiwei to be released


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

While we're on the subject of elections...

(Click to enlarge)

Headline of the day

This really needs to get your attention:

Programmer under oath admits computers rig elections

It's a video. I'm giving it to you right here:

Monday, April 18, 2011

The truth about our social spending

I just came across an article entitled "U.S. Ranks Dead Last In Overall Social Spending" . Take a look at part of what it says:

The conservative pundits are trying to frame this [budget] debate along the lines that the deficit and debt of the United States was created by the liberal, nanny state programs. This is an outright lie they have drummed into the heads of the American people. Unfortunately, some of the pundits are trusted sources of information for millions of people.

The United States currently ranks thirty-fourth (34th) out of the thirty-four (34) members of the OECD in regards to spending on social programs, DEAD LAST.

The amount the United States spends is currently only 7.2% of our gross domestic product on programs that make up our social contract with the American people.

The OECD is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. You can read about them right here. Members include Australia, Japan, the UK, Canada, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Slovenia, Mexico. Something to think about, people.
UPDATE: Well, this is a bit better. The author says the following: " I used some information that has since been corrected on the original site, Business Insider. It turns out that the United States spends 16.2% of our GDP on social programs, NOT 7.2%."

Your headline of the day

This is definitely a question I have:

Take a look at how the article gets started:

Corporate America appears to be prospering with far fewer workers than it employed before the crash. Wages are down, the stock market is up and firms are expanding their operations overseas. Meanwhile, Congress is suffering from the delusion that our greatest problem is the deficit, rather than the extreme economic insecurity so many Americans are suffering from today. And that focus will only exacerbate the crisis on “Main Street.”

The question is whether these trends will become “the new normal,” consigning millions to an emerging American underclass. Is our notably cruel brand of capitalism ultimately leading to something that looks more like feudalism – with low-paid serfs feeling fortunate just to have an opportunity to toil for their lords' enrichment?

Consider a bleak snapshot of our ailing economy: Real corporate profits are now near an all-time high, yet one out of six working people are either out of a job or have no choice but to work part-time.

Here's what I don't understand about so-called "conservatives". Why isn't providing jobs for Americans considered a patriotic duty for these corporations that have been granted legal personhood by our system?

I simply do not understand how the CEOs involved can sleep nights. I really do not.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Paul Cézanne

Something about how we got here

I'd like to recommend an article entitled "How I View the American Crisis" by Robert Parry. Here's a little bit of what it says:

Generally speaking – and with a number of glaring exceptions – the post-World War II period was a time when the institutions of the Republic functioned along the lines of what we learned in our public school civics classes. The federal government drew from the lessons of the Great Depression and the New Deal to improve the country’s general welfare by creating conditions that helped expand the middle class.


Reagan denounced Medicare as socialist tyranny; he cracked down on the anti-war movement while governor of California; he aided and abetted right-wing death squads in Latin America; he opposed environmentalism and other government regulations; he worked to roll back civil rights, especially affirmative action aimed at ameliorating the legacy of discrimination against minorities and women. Upon taking office in 1981, with the Senate under Republican control, Reagan and his team began systematically deconstructing the institutional safeguards that had defined the New Deal and post-World War II-era.


Reagan emphasized, too, expanding the Right’s propaganda capabilities, coordinating with the growing network of right-wing media and attack groups that went after troublesome journalists and intimidated political critics.


Indeed, by the early-to-mid-1990s, there was little distinction between the mainstream news media and the right-wing press.

Starting to see where this is leading?

I do recommend that you click through and read the whole article. It's not all that long.

Something I did not know

Take a look:

In 1828, opponents of Andrew Jackson's presidential ambitions called him jackass. His response? He defiantly adopted the donkey as his political emblem. It soon became the Democratic Party's official symbol. Democrats point out the hard-working, humble and even the biblical trait of willing service embodied in the donkey.

Found it here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oh, I love this:

What socialism really is

You know, you'd think this would be obvious:

Socialism believes that people working together for a common good can produce a greater benefit, both for society and for the individual, than can a society in which everyone is shrewdly seeking their own self-interest.

-- Frank Zeidler, former socialist mayor of Milwaukee

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

What's happening where I live

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the great state of Oklahoma:

Reversing her previous position, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is now “rejecting a $54.6 million federal grant to help create a health insurance exchange for uninsured Oklahoma residents that is required by the new federal health care law.” Instead, state Republicans are supporting the creation of an “advisory board” comprised of representatives from health insurers, among others, to help establish an exchange.

It grieved me when I read about this in the paper this morning. And to think I live here.

Politics and our wolves

This is just disgusting:

For the first time in history, Congress is removing a species ... from the Endangered Species Act based on political, rather than biological, judgments.

-- A statement from the public-interest law firm Earthjustice, on a rider attached to Congress's budget that would remove federal protections for the gray wolf

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ignoring science at our peril

Just take a look at this headline:

Here's something to get you started:

Scientists have for the first time shown a link between intensifying climate events and tectonic plate movement in findings that could provide a valuable insight into why huge tremors occur. [...]

An Australian-led team of researchers from France and Germany found that the strengthening Indian monsoon had accelerated movement of the Indian plate over the past 10 million years by a factor of about 20 percent.

Lead researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano said Wednesday that although scientists have long known that tectonic movements influence climate by creating new mountains and sea trenches, his study was the first to show the reverse.

Are we going to take this seriously or just keep heading down the path toward disaster?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Today's CNN QuickVote

Well, this is interesting:

Which potential GOP presidential candidate do you prefer?

I wonder how Obama would fare against Romney in 2012?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ft. Sumter

Well, today is the day:

Fort Sumter: Somber 150th anniversary of Civil War

Here's how the article gets started:

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Booming cannons, plaintive period music and hushed crowds ushered in the 150th anniversary of America's bloodiest war on Tuesday, a commemoration that continues to underscore a racial divide that had plagued the nation since before the Civil War.

The events marked the 150th anniversary of the Confederate bombardment of Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, an engagement that plunged the nation into four years of war at a cost of more than 600,000 lives.

Several hundred people gathered on Charleston's Battery in the pre-dawn darkness, much as Charleston residents gathered 150 years ago to view the bombardment of April 12, 1861.

It was the war of "brother against brother". It was a house divided.

And in so many bewildering and painful ways, we are still fighting it.

May these next four years of commemoration bring us greater insight. Yes. Please God.

Who's responsible

A Facebook friend of mine posted the following:

Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither.

I'll chime in here: Yeah, me neither.

My goodness:

UPDATE: The cartoon's creator, Lloyd Dangle, is retiring from this cartoon series. More's the pity. I've valued his work over the years.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A very important headline

I've admired Chris Hedges for a long time. Here's a recent piece:

And here's how it gets started:

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

Which is exactly what big business seems to want. Tragic.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Another very timely headline

Remember that the 150th anniversary of the first shots fired at Ft. Sumter is Tuesday, April 12:

There's much to think about here. I'm not suggesting that agree with everything here but it's thought provoking.

You might read some of the comments for varying points of view.

Headline of the day

Right here:

Now, be honest. How surprised are you, really?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Screwing the internet

This is from a Reuter's article:

- The House of Representatives voted on Friday to reject Internet "neutrality" rules that were adopted last year to keep big Internet service providers from blocking certain traffic

House Republicans, in a 240-179 vote, pushed through a measure disapproving the Federal Communications Commission's rules. Tech and telecom giants such as Verizon Communications Inc and Microsoft Corp could be affected.

The outlook for further progress by the Republicans in rolling back the FCC's actions was uncertain, however.

While a similar measure has been offered in the Senate and has 39 co-sponsors, the White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama's advisers would recommend that he veto any such resolution.

Let's hope he DOES veto it.


Just watch this ---- please:

I simply do not understand why public education is under so much attack in our country today. (This is not unique to Minnesota.) How is it that Republicans blame the poor for being poor and then turn right around and remove every opportunity for people to pull themselves out of poverty? It makes no sense.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Well, this is interesting

and not really surprising:

His behavior went from erratic to completely unhinged.

-- ARI RABIN-HAVT, executive vice president of Media Matters, on why he believes TV star Glenn Beck is ending his Fox News show later this year

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Heart wrenching statement

This could be said of many countries - not just Mexico:

We are sick and tired of you politicians ... because in your struggle for power, you have torn asunder the fabric of the nation.

- Javier Sicilia, a Mexican poet and columnist whose 24-year-old son was murdered by a drug cartel, in a letter accusing President Felipe Calderón of not adequately addressing crime and violence; Sicilia has called for nationwide protests on Wednesday


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I truly do not understand these people

Here's your headline of note for the day:

And here's part of what it says:

While plenty of attention has been payed in recent days to the safety issues with Southwest's fleet, there's also a gaping hole in the GOP's concern for airline employees' rights--the people who keep us safe in the event of an emergency. Yes, there's a major fight brewing in congress over the Federal Aviation Association re-authorization bill. As the AP describes it, "The $59.7 billion Republican-drafted bill is a blueprint for Federal Aviation Administration programs for the next three and a half years." But the bill is attracting heat because its budget cuts are so drastic as to impact safety--and also roll back workers' rights. While the Senate's version of the bill is relatively standard, the House bill presents a raft of major issues for both passengers and workers, from poor safety regulations to anti-organizing clauses that would make it harder for employees to form unions and negotiate.


As Lauren Kelley reported last week, one of the most vocal opponents of the bill has been Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot who safely landed a plane during the last emergency landing that became a major media story. Sullenberger showed up on "The Ed Show" to decry the bill, saying "people will die" if it passes as it stands.

I hope the pilots industry-wide raise holy hell about this.