Monday, February 28, 2011

What is he thinking?

Good grief:

Here we are being safe and professional and earning a living, and he wants us to end it? ... This is what I choose to do, and there is nothing wrong with it.

-- Brooke Taylor, who works at a legal brothel in Nevada, taking issue with Senator Harry Reid's comment that "the time has come to outlaw prostitution"

Come on, Harry. Have we learned nothing about how prohibition tends to work out? You outlaw it and it will just go underground. And then there will be a lot more disease and violence and other criminal activity involved. I like you, Harry, but this is not smart.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Marie-Claire Lef├ębure

And now for something completely different

Just for the heck of it, I goodsearched "weird stuff" and came across the following rather intriguing information:

The Slave-Maker ant is so named because it raids the nest of other ants and steals their pupae. Once the pupae hatch, they are made to work as slaves.

Workers in an ant colony only live for about 45-60 days, but a colony's queen can live up to 20 years.

Ants make up 1/10 of the total world animal tissue. The total biomass of all the ants on Earth is about equal to the total biomass of all the people.

By combining force of numbers with organized aggression, ants have become the greatest insect killers on Earth -- even of their own kind.

Ants began farming about 50 million years before humans thought to raise their own crops.

The animal with the largest brain in proportion to its size is the ant. They are the smartest species of insects with about 250,000 brain cells.

Found on a site called Stunning Stuff.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Really serious stuff about Wisconsin

Oh, my. Please go over to Think Progress and read this:

REPORT: Top 10 Disastrous Policies From The Wisconsin GOP You Haven’t Heard About

Here's just the beginning:

...But Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state while dismantling the healthcare programs, environmental regulations, and good government laws that protect Wisconsin’s middle and working class. These lesser known proposals in the 144-page bill reveal how radical Walker’s plan actually is:

1. ELIMINATING MEDICAID: The Budget Repair Bill includes a little-known provision that would put complete control of the state’s Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, in the hands of the
state’s ultra-conservative Health and Human Services Secretary Dennis Smith. Smith would have the authority to "to override state Medicaid laws as [he] sees fit and institute sweeping changes” including reducing benefits and limiting eligibility. Ironically, during the 1990s it was Republicans, especially former Gov. and Bush HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who helped develop BadgerCare into one of the country’s most innovative and generous Medicaid programs. A decade later, a new generation of radical Republicans is hoping to destroy one of Wisconsin’s “success stories.”

2. POWER PLANT PRIVATIZATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEGLECT: The same budget bill calls for a rapid no-bid “firesale” of all state-owned power plants. One progressive blogger called the proposal “a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of
neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism” and suggested that the provision will open the way for large, politically connected corporations to buy up the state’s power plants on the cheap. While it’s unclear whether corporations would be interested in buying the plants, a similar proposal was vetoed six years ago by Gov. Jim Doyle (D), who called the plan fiscally and environmentally irresponsible. Many of Wisconsin’s power plants are in violation of federal clean air regulations and desperately need to be upgraded and cleaned up — not dumped into the private sector.

And those are just the first two of ten.

This is just horrible stuff. Really.

George Lakoff weighs in on Wisconsin

Here's the headline:

The Real Issues: A Wisconsin Update

And here's how it gets started:

The Wisconsin protests are about much more than budgets and unions. As I observed in What Conservatives Really Want, the conservative story about budget deficits is a ruse to turn the country conservative in every area. Karl Rove and Shep Smith have made it clear on Fox: If the Wisconsin plan to kill the public employees’ unions succeeds, then there will be little union money in the future to support democratic candidates. Conservatives will be effectively unopposed in raising campaign funding in most elections, including the presidential elections. This will mean a thoroughly conservative America in every issue area.

Gosh. It's so disheartening. We are definitely turning fascist.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Labor in the United States

From the Rachel Maddow show:

You want to talk about red meat for the base? Listen to some of the language the president used. "Workers have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers. And a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society." Wow.

How about this one? "Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice."

Listen to the way he goes after the right here. "Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible and"--and the president says--"their number is negligible and they are stupid."

That is not what Barack Obama said last night. That is way to the left of any national Democrat at this point. That was all Republican President Dwight David Eisenhower. That was all the stuff he said when he was president.

Found it on this thread over at Democratic Underground.

Truly the quote of the day

This one:

What a terrible, terrible day for Wisconsin, I am incensed. I am shocked.

-- Jon Richards, a democrat representative for Milwaukee, responding to news that the bill to limit Union Rights passed the Wisconsin Assembly vote early Friday following days of debate and protests

One important point about equality

You know, it's bothered me for some time when conservatives assert that because some people "game the system" regarding certain programs we should then eliminate the entire program in question. I refer, of course, to programs that help the poor. They never look at how rich people game the system themselves.

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.

-- Oscar Levant

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An idea...

I'm not surprised that I'm not the only one who immediately thought of the following quotation with regard to all the protests in North Africa:

"Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come."

-- attributed to Victor Hugo

Take a look at this:

“Victor Hugo once wrote: ‘No one can resist an idea whose time has come’...The times when Arab rulers could treat their people like naughty children are over.”

-- Ismail Serageldin, director of The Library of Alexandria in Egypt and one of the country’s leading intellectuals

This one, too:

“In Egypt we are witnessing the 24/7 validation of Victor Hugo's observation in the 1800s that ‘more powerful than the March of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.’ More importantly, we are witnessing the universal power of the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. – their commitment to non-violent civil disobedience as an instrument to successfully effect fundamental political change to peacefully achieve participatory democracy.”

-- Clarence B. Jones, scholar-in-residence, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

I found them right here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hmmm. Let's give it some thought:

(You can click on the cartoon for a larger view.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A tweet from Michael Moore


From what I can tell, not a single elected national Democrat has come to Madison to support the workers. And Obama nearly silent.

I simply do not understand the cowardice of Democrats. Really.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Short, moving, and to the point

And good for them, too

Here's one of the quotes of the day from the Time magazine website:

We'll be here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday — as long as it takes.

-- GARY LONZO, a union organizer, speaking in the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday. Protesters are rallying against Government plans to cut state workers' benefits and bargaining powers

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Journalism" today

Sadly, this is the case:

Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoers of what George Orwell called the 'official truth'. They simply cipher and transmit lies. It really grieves me that so many of my fellow journalists can be so manipulated that they become really what the French describe as 'functionaires', functionaries, not journalists. Many journalists become very defensive when you suggest to them that they are anything but impartial and objective. The problem with those words 'impartiality' and 'objectivity' is that they have lost their dictionary meaning. They've been taken over... [they] now mean the establishment point of view... Journalists don't sit down and think, 'I'm now going to speak for the establishment.' Of course not. But they internalise a whole set of assumptions, and one of the most potent assumptions is that the world should be seen in terms of its usefulness to the West, not humanity.

-- John Pilger

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

More on the union issue

He was absolutely right in this regard:

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right-to-work.' It provides no 'rights' and no 'works.' Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining...We demand this fraud be stopped.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

CNN readers on unions

This is horrible. Just horrible:

What is your general view of labor unions?

Negative - 54%

Positive - 27%

Neutral - 19%

What's wrong with people? Do they not realize that the actions of union members have hugely benefited even non-union members? Remember the airline hero, Captain Sullenberger (and his crew)? All union members.

Here are just some of the benefits unions have brought us. I'm writing just off the top of my head:

Better wages
Safety regulations
Overtime pay
Health care
Protection against discrimination
Protection against sexual harrassment
Family medical leave
Leave for newborn care
Legal protection
Unemployment benefits

Okay. So plenty of non-union shops have those things too. But just watch them disappear as soon as unions disappear. It's the very fear of unions that causes employers to be as fair as they are.

Obama: not a liberal

It's really the second half of this that I want you to see, so don't stop watching too soon.

God, I hope I have her verve and continued dedication when/if I reach the age of 90!


I really like this:

The conservatives could sneer about "social engineering" if they wanted, but I thought that most people believed as I did that government should embody our best hopes and lend a hand to people who were struggling.

-- Joe Biden

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The great sell-out

Here's something to think about:

"People who want to see the budget cut are people who are advocating throwing people out of work, it's that simple," says Dean Baker of the pressure from conservatives on Obama's budget--pressure, it appears, that Obama is conceding to as he brags that discretionary spending will be the lowest since Eisenhower's administration. So Obama's budget includes cuts to infrastructure, education, and more, and for Republicans, that's still not enough.

I found it right here:

Dean Baker: Budget Cuts are the Real Job-Killers

There's a video over there of Baker speaking.

Also, I really recommend that you read the comments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Heartwarming quote

This one:

Larry showed a very strong predatory drive and enjoyed playing with toy mice.

-- Steve Field, spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron, on the selection of Larry, a rescued stray tabby cat, to tackle a rat problem at the premier's central London residence and office on Downing Street

Who knows how much indirect influence this kitty may end up having on world affairs now that he's employed at Number 10????

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quotation of the day

I think this is quite moving, actually:

I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him.

-- Wael Ghonim, a Google executive and activist who was detained for running a Facebook page that played a role in starting the protests, highlighting the importance of social media in Egypt's revolution

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh, you gotta read this!

Just click to enlarge:

Some insight

Wow. Here's something I just came across:

You cannot reason people out of a position that they did not reason themselves into.

-- Ben Goldacre from Bad Science

Well, heck. That explains a lot. (About a lot, actually.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

About those budget cuts

Well spoken, Harry:

After all, you can lose a lot of weight by cutting off your arms and legs, but no doctor would recommend it.

-- HARRY REID, Senate majority leader, criticizing House Republicans proposed spending cuts, which would slash $100 billion from President Obama's budget; Reid says deep cuts in the Republican plan would take teachers out of the classroom and police off the streets

Friday, February 11, 2011

Honoring Egypt

Breaking news from Egypt

This is over at the CNN website:

Mubarak quits: Other countries offer Egypt congratulations, support

I really hope that ordinary people in the US are truly paying attention about one lesson in particular. And that is that when people are oppressed they can take to the streets. And if, indeed, they take to the streets for long enough and in large enough numbers they will finally be liberated.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Have you seen this yet?

Something about undercover "investigation"

Good grief:

A worshipper at a California mosque called frequently for violent jihad against the West. This freaked out his fellow attendees so much that they took out a restraining order on him... and learned he was an informant planted by the FBI.

Well, I hope they're satsified. The FBI, I mean.

I found it here.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

An answer to those tea party folks:

That damn time change

Here's a sensible point of view:

It's just irritating. People either oversleep or wake up early and don't know what to do with the hour.

-- Dmitri Medvedev, President of Russia, on the decision to cancel daylight savings time; Russia has nine time zones

Now, how long will it take to get the rest of the world on board?

Xenophobia and its consequences

This is really pathetic:

We had people who were animatedly fearful of anything to do with Islam.

-- Willie Wimbrey, assistant principal at Cross Timbers Elementary School in Texas, on the district's decision to suspend an Arabic-language program due to a parental backlash

Found right here.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A new normal

Here's something I found over on Yes! Magazine:

Kicking the Habit: Air Travel in the Time of Climate Change

And here's the subtitle:

"Air travel is neither just nor sustainable. So how can environmental justice activists make a global difference?"

Here's a little bit:

A round-trip flight between New York and Los Angeles on a typical commercial jet yields an estimated 715 kilos of CO2 per economy class passenger, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization. But due to the height at which planes fly, combined with the mixture of gases and particles they emit, conventional air travel has an impact on the global climate that’s approximately 2.7 times worse than its carbon emissions alone, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As a result, that roundtrip flight’s “climatic forcing” is really 1,917 kilos, or almost two tons, of emissions....
One option is to use transportation that stays on the Earth’s surface, to accept traveling more slowly, and to make flying a very rare exception instead of the rule.
To do so today, of course, is far more difficult as jet travel has greatly weakened the passenger ship option. But what if, for instance, U.S. and Canadian activists and advocates going to Denmark for the Dec. 2009 climate summit had, instead of booking individual flights, organized to travel together by ship—with all promising to get to and from their ports of call by surface-level transportation? And what if they had publicized this effort as a way of setting an example for, and challenging, others?

This is radical stuff, really. I mean, it is today.

Stuff to think about. I wonder how many people are thinking about this issue?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Has this come to your attention?


George W. Bush Cancels Switzerland Trip Over Fear of Arrest

In case you didn't know, it's about torture.

This country's insane puritanism

Have we completely lost our collective mind? Just look at this:

The pictures were exactly what you'd expect from a European summer vacation: Cafes in Italy and Spain, the Guinness brewery in Ireland. So 24-year-old Ashley Payne, a public high school English teacher in Georgia, was not prepared for what happened when her principal asked to see her in August 2009.

"He just asked me, 'Do you have a Facebook page?'" Payne said. "And you know, I'm confused as to why I am being asked this, but I said, 'Yes.' And he said, 'Do you have any pictures of yourself up there with alcohol?'"

In fact, the picture that concerned the principal - showing Payne holding a glass of wine and a mug of beer - was on her Facebook page. There was also a reference to a local trivia contest with a profanity in its title.

Payne was told a parent of one of her students called to complain. And then, Payne says, she was given a choice: resign or be suspended.

"He told me that I needed to make a decision before I left, or he was going to go ahead and suspend me," she said.

She resigned. Attorney Richard Storrs is fighting to get Payne's job back.

"It would be like I went to a restaurant and I saw my daughter's teacher sitting there with her husband having a glass of some kind of liquid," Storr said. "You know, is that frowned upon by the school board? Is that illegal? Is that improper? Of course not. It's the same situation in this case."

But here's the really troubling part: Payne had used the privacy settings on Facebook. She thought that only her closest friends could see her vacation photos or her use of the "B" word.

"I wouldn't use it in a classroom, no," she said. "But Facebook is not the classroom. And it's not open to the students of my classroom. They are not supposed to see it. I have privacy in place so they don't see it."

The rest of the article is, indeed about privacy. And that's an issue to be concerned about - yes, indeed.

But leaving that aside for a moment, what I want to ask is this: What on earth is wrong with a grown-up having beer and wine on vacation? It just boggles my mind.

The article is entitled "Did the Internet Kill Privacy" and it's posted on the CBS website.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

This person's life philosophy

I want to call your attention to a post over on Democratic Underground called "Cards on the table..." that has moved me considerably. Here's how it gets started:

I am a liberal. No matter who is in charge at the moment.

I stand for the little guy.
I stand for the underdog.
I stand for the working person.
I stand for the poor.
I stand for the oppressed.
I stand against war.
I stand against torture.
I stand against the rape of the lower classes to enrich the wealthy.
I stand for my planet. Not my "country", my PLANET.
I stand for love.
I stand for joy.
I stand for life.
I stand for freedom.
I stand for laughter.
I stand for music.
I stand for art.
I stand for my friends.
I stand for my family.
I stand with other liberals.

If this means I have to stand against Obama when he is supporting war then so be it.
If this means I have to stand against Obama when he is supporting torture then so be it.
If this means I have to stand against Obama when he is supporting Wall Street then so be it.

I will stand with Obama when he acts like a liberal and I will stand against him when he doesn't.

And I recommend that you go read the rest of it.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Saturday night music blogging


Message to all climate change deniers

Over on the List Universe site, there's a post entitled "15 Common Astronomical Myths" that I discovered today. Here's one:

10. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun but despite this, it is not the hottest. The planet with the highest mean surface temperature is actually Venus – a consequence of its mostly carbon-dioxide atmosphere.

You do know, don't you, that the global warming deniers insist that carbon-dioxide is not a pollutant because it's natural.

Okay. I'll concede that. And it still makes the planet hot, okay? (Just try surviving on Venus.)

Friday, February 04, 2011


Well, I'm snowed in - as are a lot of you out there, I'm sure. And so it will not surprise you that the following article caught my attention:

Catastrophic Weather Events Are Becoming the New Normal -- Are You Ready for Life on Our Planet Circa 2011?

Here are a few snippets:

For two centuries now we've been burning coal and oil and gas and thus pouring carbon into the atmosphere; for two decades now we've been ignoring the increasingly impassioned pleas of scientists that this is a Bad Idea. And now we're getting pinched.
But by definition extreme events are supposed to be rare, and all of a sudden they're not.
We don't just live in a suburb, or in a free-market democracy; we live on an earth that has certain rules. Physics and chemistry don't care what John Boehner thinks, they're unmoved by what will make Barack Obama's re-election easier. More carbon means more heat means more trouble--and the trouble has barely begun. So far we've raised the temperature of the planet about a degree, which has been enough to melt the Arctic. The consensus prediction for the century is that without dramatic action to stem the use of fossil fuel--far more quickly than is politically or economically convenient--we'll see temperatures climb five degrees this century. Given that one degree melts the Arctic, just how lucky are we feeling?

You know, what really distresses me is that the global warming deniers claim that the extreme weather we're having "proves" that climate change is a hoax. When, all along, scientists have been telling us that this is exactly what we could expect to happen. Just because it's cold in the winter does not mean that the planet is not getting warmer. In other words (once more, with feeling) climate ≠ weather.

Unbelievable (almost) and truly inspiring

It's Christians guarding Muslims at prayer during the protests in Egypt.

(Hat tip to WillyT over at Democratic Underground.)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sojourners quote of the week

I think it could well be the quote of the year, however:

Washington has been very anxious about what's happening here, but it shouldn't be. It should be happy. This will reduce terrorism. When people have their voice, they don’t need to explode themselves.

--Mohammed Fouad, an Egyptian software engineer. (Source: The Washington Post)

The War on Brains

This is an old video, actually (from August of last year), but it's very illuminating:

Anti-intellectualism has always been a problem in this country but now it's getting truly absurd. It's very worrying.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A headline about Egypt

Here you are:

When Corporations Choose Despots Over Democracy

And here's an excerpt:

Egypt has been the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid for decades, after Israel (not counting the funds expended on the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan). Mubarak’s regime has received roughly $2 billion per year since coming to power, overwhelmingly for the military.

Where has the money gone? Mostly to U.S. corporations. I asked William Hartung of the New America Foundation to explain:

“It’s a form of corporate welfare for companies like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, because it goes to Egypt, then it comes back for F-16 aircraft, for M-1 tanks, for aircraft engines, for all kinds of missiles, for guns, for tear-gas canisters [from] a company called Combined Systems International, which actually has its name on the side of the canisters that have been found on the streets there.”

Hartung just published a book, “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.” He went on: “Lockheed Martin has been the leader in deals worth $3.8 billion over that period of the last 10 years; General Dynamics, $2.5 billion for tanks; Boeing, $1.7 billion for missiles, for helicopters; Raytheon for all manner of missiles for the armed forces. So, basically, this is a key element in propping up the regime, but a lot of the money is basically recycled. Taxpayers could just as easily be giving it directly to Lockheed Martin or General Dynamics.”

Sickening, as far as I'm concerned. Just sickening.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

This sums up a lot:

(Click to enlarge)

An observation about the majority

Well! This is rather discouraging to think about:

The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population -- the intelligent ones or the fools? I think we can agree it's the fools, no matter where you go in this world, it's the fools that form the overwhelming majority.

-- Henrik Ibsen

Today's headline

This is worth reading. Very illuminating:

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism: Item #1 -- There's No Such Thing as a Free Market