Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to Report the News

Courtesy of

Looks nice and easy ... I wonder when the Mainstream Media will sue this guy for revealing trade secrets.

Science Saturday

How about a little archeology?

Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum has opened a new Gallery of Greek and Roman Antiquities, and the BBC was kind enough to toss out a small video clip showcasing some of the items on display.

Check out the Roman "Swiss Army Knife!"

The March of the Venal Bastards

Oh boo flippin' hoo, we saw during the State of the Union address President Obama being all mean as he called out the Supreme Court of the United States for being a bigger bunch of venal bastards than this piss-poor bowling team* actually is, and Associate Justice Samuel "Baldy" Alito shaking his head and mouth either "Not True" or "Fuck You."

Either of which should have netted him an elbow to the ribs from Justice Sotomayor.

Perhaps I am being too harsh for referring to the Supreme Court as a bunch of venal bastards, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em. Associate Justice Antonin "Blood Sausage" Scalia went duck hunting with VP Cheney back in the day and didn't recuse himself from any court decisions afterward.

But let's not lose sight of the true people to blame for the current makeup of the Supreme Court, and recall that the Justices have life tenure unless they are either impeached or retire.

No, not the Bushite Junta - although they bear blame for suggesting the names.

Yep, the Democrats in the Senate.

See, they had the chance to filibuster Roberts and Alito, the opportunity to so hamstring things that Bush would have been forced to withdraw the nominations and select someone else. Hell, I watched the Roberts nomination hearings - he was practically laughing his head off at the questions he was being asked, and the smirk on his face boded ill.

But they didn't.

And now the Supreme Court, by the inevitable 5-4 margin, decided to piss a century of precedent away and declare that corporations were people and that Money Does, In Fact, Talk.

My suggestion for the Democratic leadership in the Senate - well, mass seppuku is so messy, so I'll accept a mass resignation.

Now let's drift across the pond to where the British, still proud of their Imperial past, have set up the Chilcot Committee to explore the reasons and whys and wherefores behind the United Kingdom's involvement in the Iraq War and the shenanigans the Blair Government pulled to draw the British into the conflict.

Yesterday it was former Prime Minister Tony "Monsignor" Blair up before the Committee, who allowed him to slip in via a back door rather than face the crowds gathered outside the building howling for Blair to be hauled off to the Hague and tried for war crimes. In his testimony, he reiterated his assertion that the world is a safer place with Saddam gone, and the blame for the current state of affairs is the fault of ... the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Tony, Tony, Tony - didn't they teach you anything in those schools you attended apart from how to avoid being anally raped? When you destroy a regional power, you create a vacuum that inevitably draws another power into primacy. Iraq was the only counterweight to Iran in the entire Southwest Asian region (I exclude Israel as a matter of course), and if Iraq was taken out it was obvious that Iran would take advantage of the new power realities. Of course, geopolitics is no longer taught, but history is. There are ample examples.

Not your fault - you were obviously either blinded by your messianic vision or by the need to find some way to restrain George Bush and the neocons, who were planning on invading and destroying Iraq as far back as the late 90s. Interestingly, though, the people who the neocons relied upon to buttress their anti-Iraq arguments were all Iranian or had been on the Iranian dime (or dinar).

The Democratic leadership in the Senate still refuses to believe that they have a greater majority in that chamber than Bush ever had, and still act like a bunch of spineless jackoffs. The current breast-beating over the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is disingenuous at best.

And while our principal ally seeks to get to the bottom of the debacle that was, is and will be the Iraq War, we continue to allow the neocons and their enablers to whitewash history and make Our Iraq Adventure into a glorious struggle for peace and freedom, rather than for what it really was.

*A piss-poor bowling team in Biloxi, Mississippi, no less.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leaping Lizards!

Well, geckos and skinks, actually.

A German man was caught trying to smuggle the endangered reptiles out of New Zealand.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Breaking News!

In a tape recently acquired by non-Western news sources, Osama bin Laden has now claimed credit for ...

1. The weather being so nice today.
2. The New York Jets making it to the AFC Championship.
3. My head cold.
4. The election of Scott Brown to the vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts.
5. The enduring popularity of American Idol.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Money DOES Talk, It Seems

And it screams rather loudly, too.

Said loudness in proportion to how much of it's being ladled out, I suppose.

The Supreme Court of the United States, by the usual 5-4 vote (and I'll bet those Democratic Senators are really regretting not filibustering Scalia, Roberts and Alito now, I'll betcha) decided that corporations are people and that money is speech. So, for campaign purposes, big corporations and even large nonprofit groups will be able to spend great dirty whopping piles of filthy lucre in order to get certain candidates elected to office. Not through direct contributions, oh my goodness no (that would be way too obvious), but through bombarding the hapless American voter with direct mailings, handbills, radio ads, TV ads, internet ads, emails, tweets, and of course microwave transmissions direct into the chips embedded in our skulls.

The actual American voter, of course, still has a cap on how much he or she can directly contribute to political campaigns.

So, what does all this mean?

Well, for starters it means that the voice of The People will be drowned out by the massed voice of Big Business.

But I am grateful.

I truly am.


It means that the political process can finally come out of the closet and own up to the fact that the people no longer matter and never have, really. It's whoever has the most money that will dictate whoever gets into office now.

But let's face it - all that "of the people, by the people, and for the people" bullshit was so Nineteenth Century.

Monday, January 18, 2010

NFC Division Game - Vikings vs. Cowboys

Well, the game's been over about 13 hours now, and I'm still steamed, just a wee bit.

Not because the Vikings won, 34-3. I predicted that Minnesota would win. On an unrelated note, I'm 4-0 on my predictions this weekend (after going 2-2 last week).

Here's why I'm still a wee bit steamed.

With about two minutes remaining in the game and Minnesota up 27-3, the Vikings were within striking distance of another touchdown. The head coach sent in the play, and Brett Favre executed it perfectly. One Dallas defensive player darted over to the Vikings sidelines to accuse the team of running up the score.

Excuse me?

Since when is finishing the game with the highest possible score NOT the point of football?

I know what causes this - I see it at ball fields where little kids play softball, t-ball and soccer. If one side's score gets too high the game is either ended there and then or the leading team forfeits a player. I think George Carlin called it "the Pussification of America."

And it's not healthy.

Would Dallas Cowboys player Keith Brooking preferred it if, on 4th down and 1 with 2 minutes to go, Favre had taken the snap and put the ball down quite deliberately, and the rest of the Vikings team just stood by and let the Cowboys take the loose ball down the field for a consolation touchdown?

Which would be more humiliating? You choose, Big Guy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This Explains a Lot, Actually

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Collective IQ of the Right Drops Another 10 Points

Yes, it's official.

Sarah "Go Ahead and Rape My Daughter, She Still ain't Getting an Abortion" Palin, the diehard conservative former Republican Governor of Alaska (who doesn't cut and run unless she's at least halfway through the job, then she'll drop it like a hot brick) has accepted a post as an analyst and commentator with ...

Fox News.

This comes as no surprise. A woman who subtracts from the sum of human intelligence every time she opens her gaping piehole will surely find a willing audience for her bile and half-baked 'ideas' on that network.

And I know people who listen to this tripe regularly, and will no doubt insist on watching her every time Roger Ailes decides that Karl Rove has been getting too much air time. I will be on the lookout for absorbent terrycloth ear bibs on people, to catch the leaking brain matter.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Hindsight is Truly 20/20

This made me chuckle in a grim way, as it proves the old adage that you should be careful what you wish for - you just might get it.

Case in point:

Way back in 1963, the shrinking British Empire had only one remaining outpost on the Arabian Peninsula. The port of Aden and its surrounding hinterland had been a British port since 1837, and now two separate nationalist groups decided they wanted the British out.

What followed was the Aden Emergency, which dragged on until 1967 and ended when the British pulled their forces out of Aden. The transition was not a smooth one, with one faction seizing power and proclaiming an independent South Yemen. Later it merged with North Yemen ... and the rest, as they say, is history.

Which is what brought this article to my attention, and raised the grim chuckle I mentioned earlier.

It seems that some of the former nationalist, Marxist rebels are now regretting driving the British out, because the merger with the North has not exactly conferred much in the way of benefits. The population gets disaffected and leaves the young prey to alienation, leaving the field open to extremist views and recruitment by terrorist groups. We must remember that the USS Cole was bombed in the port of Aden, back in the 90s.

And now the aging rebels are regretting their actions.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Voice from the Grave

When I started reading blogs (I read before I started writing, of course), I came across The News Blog, written by a very committed and erudite liberal named Steve Gilliard. He wrote a post that was recently reprinted by the Great Driftglass, and if you've never read it, I'd like to share it with you:

I'm a fighting liberal

You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

What has conservatism given America? A stable social order? A peaceful home life? Respect for law and order? No. Hell, no. It hasn't given us anything we didn't have and it wants to take away our freedoms.

The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, slave owners and pornographers, smugglers and terrorists, understood one thing, a man's path to God needed no help from the state. Is the religion of these conservatives so fragile that they need the state to prop it up, to tell us how to pray and think? Is that what they stand for? Is that their America?

Conservatism plays on fear and thrives on lies and dishonesty. I grew up with honest, decent conservatives and those people have been replaced by the party of greed. It is one thing to want less government interference and smaller, fiscally responsible government. It is another thing entirely to be a corporate whore, selling out to the highest bidder because the CEO fattens your campaign chest. They are building an America which cannot be sustained. One based on the benefit of the few at the cost of the many. The indifferent boss who hires too few people and works them to death or until they break down sick. Cheap labor capitalism has replaced common sense. "Globalism" which is really guise for exploitation, replaced fair trade, which is nothing like fair for the trapped semi-slaves of the maquliadoras. In the Texas border towns, hundreds of these women have been used as sex slaves and then apparently killed, the FBI powerless to do anything as the criminals sit in Mexico untouched by law.

For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment. It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers.

Bush and the people around him disdain that. They think, by accident of birth and circumstance, they were meant to rule the world and those who did not agree would suffer.

Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense. We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it.

It was the liberals who opposed the Nazis while the conservatives were plotting to get their brown shirts or fund Hitler. It was the liberals who warned about Spain and fought there, who joined the RAF to fight the Germans, who brought democracy to Germany and Japan. Let us not forget it was the conservatives who opposed defending America until the Germans sank our ships. They would have done nothing as Britain came under Nazi control. It was they who supported Joe McCarthy and his baseless, drink fueled claims.

Without liberals, there would be no modern America, just a Nazi satellite state. Liberals weak on defense? Liberals created America's defense. The conservatives only need vets at election time.

It is time to stop looking for an accommodation with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?


Steve's no longer with us, having passed away a few years ago. He'd be pleased and proud, I think, at some of the progress made but still angry and still fighting.

And fighting needs to be done. The Year of the Rat has never ended, despite what the Chinese zodiac may say.

Friday, January 01, 2010

This is Not a Surprise

Rush Limbaugh released from hospital; doctors find no heart trouble.

Well, no wonder.

You have to have a heart before you can have trouble with it. Still, here's wishing the flabby, drug-soaked sex tourist (and possible pedophile? Who knows?) luck and good health.

Opening 2010

Address to a Joint Session of Cyberland, the Blogosphere and the Voices in My Head, held Somewhere Out There on the First Day of January in the two thousand tenth year of the Common Era.

Ladies, Gentlemen and Kinnars:

Happy New Year.

Much as we’d all like to forget the steaming pile of compost that was the past ten years, we are forced to be mindful of it. In much the same way that the survivors of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are mindful of a possible recurrence of the disaster that befell them, we too should be aware of the causes and effects of the past decade and how they will affect us in the following years. Past is prologue, so forgive me if I recapitulate.

I wish to congratulate the American People for managing to become both the main winners and losers of 2009. Winners, in that they managed to shrug off twelve years of right-wing fainéant dominance in both legislative houses and eight years of stupefying incompetence in the Executive Branch to elect a President and representatives who more closely represent the majority of the population. Losers, in that the self-same elected representatives have managed to act as if they are still a disregarded minority.

Political Boss Mark Hanna, back in the late 1800s, is reputed to have opined that William McKinley had “the backbone of a chocolate éclair.” To apply such an epithet to the current majority leadership in the United States Senate would be an insult - to chocolate éclairs.

To be fair, however, it would be wrong to deride the previous twelve years of conservative dominance as ‘fainéant.’ Urged on as they were by such stellar intellects as Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and others, they stripped the country’s regulatory machinery down to nearly nothing, lowered taxes on the wealthiest of the nation while increasing the burden on those who had less, and turned their backs on corporations in the belief that the ‘free market’ would look after itself and automatically prevent excesses.

Freed from such restraint the ‘free market’ succumbed to the unbridled greed that is as much a part of human nature as is altruism, with the inevitable result that we are now mired in a deep recession. The government that conservatives despise saved the economy from complete collapse, although it was a very close-run thing. Fortunately, there are indications that we have reached the bottom of the pit; now it remains for us to dig our way out, and it shall be a long and painful process.

We can expect no help in this matter from the former conservatives, who are even now forced to either embrace the more radical fringes of their Party or abandon all hope of reaching political office again. This radical fringe, composed of (I am sure) well-meaning Americans of the middle and lower-income classes, has apparently adopted cognitive dissonance as a normative behavior, actually spending a good part of last summer protesting the imposition of higher taxes on the rich. A small minority have even abandoned the standard rhetorical slogans of “My Country, Right or Wrong” and “America, Love It or Leave It” in favor of seceding from the Union, with hardly a thought to the repercussions of such an action or aware that the last time secession was attempted it ended very badly for the seceding states.

Greater restraint and regulation of greedy and needlessly extravagant corporations must be imposed, but again we are faced with a concerted lack of will in the legislature. Depending on how the Supreme Court may rule, there is a possibility that the next Congress will be even more beholden to these same corporations who have driven us into recession than they are to the people they supposedly represent.

I can see it now – “This session of the U.S. Senate is brought to you by the makers of Brown 25, building block of the future, another fine product from Uranus.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course; we have it in our power to make things better. The first step, of course, is letting our elected representatives – our employees – know that they are obligated to do something rather than sit and moan about any loss of comity in the chamber. I will tolerate a certain lack of comity so long as things get done. The party out of power has decided to opt itself out of the process despite all attempts at a bipartisan outreach. Very well, then; we should frankly disregard them. If they want no seat at the table, we should not keep holding it out for them. The executive branch of the government needs to be more actively engaged as well.

For much of the past decade we suffered a President and Administration who openly lied to us and thought nothing of ignoring the Constitution and common human decency. Thanks to them we are embroiled in two wars that are sapping our armed forces, killing our troops and dragging our economy down. Paying for these conflicts with borrowed money helped deflect the attention of the taxpayers away from any sacrifices, and the media blackout on Dover Air Force Base helped close peoples’ eyes against the human cost of the conflict.

Another casualty of the previous Administration’s actions was a degradation of our moral standing in the global community. No one trusts us any longer to do the right thing.

The current Administration, faced with the choice of the dagger or the bowl in Afghanistan, opted to escalate our presence in hopes that saturating the affected parts of the country will finally suppress the Taliban. However, several provinces have Taliban ‘shadow governments,’ people are paid to fight against us on a seasonal basis, and the flow of drug money to the Taliban in their safe havens in Pakistan continues unabated. The “as long as it takes” argument will not work – the Soviet Union tried for ten years, with many more troops than we have available and more force than we are willing to bring to bear, and failed.

The world is less safe, thanks to the efforts of the previous Administration, and the current Administration is constrained by the actions and choices made by its predecessor. The withdrawal from Iraq is proceeding, albeit very slowly, and we must be painfully aware that we are ceding the stage to Iran, the largest player in the region. We were not invited there, and had no cause to go, but the previous Administration lied and their media sycophants blustered, and we went to war against a country that had never harmed us and had no intention of doing so.

I mentioned earlier in the previous year, that the true heirs of Edward Murrow and Walter Cronkite are not to be found on any of the so-called mainstream information media outlets. Subsumed within the budgets of vast business conglomerates, these once important organs of the Fourth Estate have been politicized and trivialized to the extent that they are now considered entertainment rather than news-gathering organizations. Rest assured, though, that the heirs of Murrow and crusading journalists, the new Muckrakers, are among us even now. They have learned to eschew the sycophantic mainstream and will, eventually, supplant it.

Now we stand at the threshold of a new year. What awaits us in the next twelve months, nay, in the next decade?

We can expect the prison at Guantanamo Bay, that suppurating pustule upon our morality, will be eventually closed despite the fear-filled rhetoric of the radical fringe. We can expect more attempts to destroy aircraft and buildings, and even assassination attempts against our elected leaders. Despite the heated rhetoric that greeted it, the Homeland Security report of 2008-9 was correct – disaffected military veterans returning from the wars will be targeted by various extremist groups and the number of domestic terrorist groups will far outnumber the foreigners who seek to destroy us. Fed on hateful rhetoric, these domestic groups are a source of constant danger yet are frequently overlooked, often deliberately so, in favor of an enemy that is far easier to demonize.

We can expect further progress in the slow and painful process of finally facing up to the fact that the political center of gravity is inexorably shifting east and south. The previous Administration mortgaged this country to the People’s Republic of China in order to finance their military adventures, and we no longer have the moral primacy to dare face the Chinese on human rights. The consequences of China calling in our debt to it are monstrous to contemplate.

Unless there is a political shift leading up to the election in 2010, we can expect a radical right-wing surge against a disaffected and disappointed incumbent base, with the possibility of the current Party in power losing at least one of its two legislative majorities. While I do not foresee the loss of the House of Representatives, the loss of the Senate would spell disaster. It was hoped that something – anything – could get done with working majorities in both chambers, but an obstructionist Senate would cripple the current Administration for the remainder of its term.

I personally do not foresee the loss of the White House in 2012, so long as the following conditions obtain: The economy improves to the extent that unemployment decreases, Guantanamo is closed, we are fully withdrawn from Iraq and several other domestic priorities are satisfied (to include the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’). That includes health care reform, which for all its faults and weaknesses still represents the high-water mark in attempts to rein in the unbridled rapacity of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Turning to foreign policy, I see us drawing closer to the rest of the world. Unilateral action has not served us well; we must reach out, particularly to regional powers like Iran. Issues such as terrorism, energy policy, global climate change and other problems demand a concerted, multilateral approach to problem-solving. Getting other nations to respect us again is another matter for respect, once lost, is hard to regain.

We must turn away from the concept that we can maintain our place in the world without educating our children. Education accounts for a slim, almost penurious segment of our gross domestic product, and teachers are poorly paid and heavily overworked. Education is the only thing that will enable us to raise and train new generations of inventors, researchers, innovators and scientists. Information is the currency of this era; we must never devalue it in favor of superstition, pseudoscience or cant.

I said earlier that we were giants once, and in truth we have been. We said we would go to the Moon, and did. We conquered the atom. We have it in us to be giants again, and lead the world in science, technological innovation and energy. As John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” But it is easier to sit back and let others lead. It is easier still to crawl back into the comforting, dark womb of superstition and rely on magic to somehow produce a deus ex machina that will solve all of our problems. Yes, it is easy, but that is not America.

What awaits us in the next ten years? The future is never clear, but we know that we must work. We must work to ensure a better future for our descendants; we must work to correct the mistakes of the past and to guarantee that those mistakes do not happen again; we must learn from the past, in order to build the future.

Like the card player in Gorky’s Lower Depths, we cry out for “something better.”

“Something better.”

“Something better.”

I thank you all for your attention. I yield back the balance of my bandwidth and reserve the comment box to revise and extend my remarks.

Thank you, Happy New Year, and Goddess bless America.