Saturday, December 19, 2009
As usual the GOP has it entirely backwards. Al Queda wants to change our behavior through intimidation - that's the very definition of terrorism. They want us to run and hide, to compromise our ideals down to the very foundation of this country. In short, they want us to act like they do with no regard for life, liberty or justice. They want us to build and maintain Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram where we hold people indefinitely without charging them with a crime; Where we abuse them; Where prisoners are never given the rights that are promised in our Constitution. This sort of behavior gives them the best recruiting tools possible but more importantly it proves that they *can* change us for the worse. It gives them a reason to continue. Closing Gitmo, getting out of Iraq and eventually Afghanistan, putting KSM on trial and locking up terrorists on American soil will show them that we will not compromise what makes this country great. We are stronger than that.
The GOP loves to ignore inconvenient truths, like the fact that not a single prisoner has *ever* escape a super-max prison in the United States; or that we already house domestic and foreign terrorists here; or that more terrorists have been tried in New York district court than in any other so the legal and security experience is vastly in our favor.
Finally the Obama administration has shown us a path to winning the war in Afghanistan and it starts by being true to our ideals: File charges, hold trials, lock up murders once convicted, follow the laws that have kept us sailing true for over 200 years. Do what's right. They'll see it. They'll know. And their foes, our friends, will be inspired to rise up with us to defeat terrorism the way it has to be done.
And then we will see what "mission accomplished" really means.
Fighting that? Absurd and cowardly bordering on treasonous.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
We need to win the hearts and minds of the every-day Afghani. And we're not going to do that with bullets, bribes or battalions. Rather than sending 40,000 army troops why not send 40,000 civil engineers, teachers, doctors, sanitation experts, well-drillers, builders, road crews, nurses and others who are there to save lives not take them, starting with the Army Corps of Engineers. Sure, they'll need military cover at first but once the people of Afghanistan see that we're turning on the electricity, cleaning the water and otherwise improving their lives where do you think their allegiance will turn? The Taliban has been doing some of this but it's a guarantee that we can do it faster, broader and better. Don't assume what they want. ASK what they want then deliver it.
To paraphrase Warren Zevon the shit has hit the fan in Afghanistan. In this case, though, lawyers guns and money will only make it worse. President Obama, you didn't start this war but you can end it and the only way that isn't an absolute disaster is to show the Afghani people that we do want what's best for them by healing, not hurting. It's never too early to start building your legacy and earning that Nobel Peace Prize.
Absurdity to be determined.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I say let them. How long has it been since this country had a "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" style filibuster where the opposition party has to hold the floor 24 hours a day even if it means reading the phone book? Or the legislation? Too long. The Democrats need to grow a spine and tell the party of no to suck it up and start talkin'. Can anyone tell me why they've been able to get away with this for so long?
Who knows, maybe CSPAN will be interesting for the first time in a long while.
You're right, that's a hell of a stretch.
Nothing funny to see here, just a bit of absurd politics.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
[One update to my last post: Bill Owens is actually likely to hang on to this seat in 2010 because the districts are being redrawn and what was the GOP seat will be going away]
But that's just background.
What's more interesting is to watch what's happened with the GOP and the hard right since then. The Tea Party (as they're calling themselves in Florida) isn't taking the hint that they caused the loss of what should have been an easy GOP win in NY-23 and they're challenging other more moderate Republicans elsewhere around the country for the congressional elections to be held next year. The intraparty war I predicted were Hoffman to win is happening even though he lost. This purity purge maybe emotionally satisfying to the ultra-right but this isn't an ultra-right country - independents are the real deciders.
Polling now shows that a generic Republican is several points of a generic Democrat in many parts of the country. If the Conservatives force ultra-conservative candidates on the GOP you can bet the only poll that matters will come as quite a shock to the Republicans next November. A lot can happen between now and then, but on top of this if President Obama and the Democrats can get a solid health care bill passed and even implement some of its improvements right away, the GOP doesn't stand a chance in 2010 or likely for a generation.
And they know it. Which is precisely why they're fighting health care reform with everything they've got including lies, propaganda, rallies sponsored (possibly illegally) by sitting House members and even using infants as props on the House floor. It's a circus.
And they're losing.
Detect a trend here?
It couldn't be happening to a more deserving group of people.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
First a bit of background. If "NY's 23rd" has any meaning to you skip the next paragraph.
Off-year elections, like today, generally don't draw much media attention, especially for small congressional districts most people have never heard of. Like New York's 23rd which borders on Vermont and Canada. Despite the proximity to such deep wells of socialism it's one of the most reliably Republican districts in the country, especially in New York State, not having been in Democratic hands since approximately the Civil War. They're having a special congressional election this year because President Obama chose the sitting Republican congressman, John McHue to be his secretary of the Army. Ordinarily no one would care, another GOP stalwart would be elected and that would be that. This year, however, it's turned into a 3-ring, turned 2-ring circus. The GOP nominated a fairly moderate (though blessed by the NRA so how moderate can she be?) candidate, Dede Scozzafava for what should have been her shoo-in race. The Democrats nominated poor schlub, Bill Owen to take the beating. Things got weird when a third-party candidate, Doug Hoffman, came out of the woodwork under the guise of the Conservative Party because Scozzafava wasn't far enough to the right. This isn't the first time a third party candidate has garnered some attention, right Ross Perot, Joe Lieberman and Ralph Nader? Well, what makes this especially weird is that national Republican figures like Dick Armey and Sarah Palin got behind the Conservative candidate not the one chosen by their own party. (Never mind that Doug Hoffman doesn't actually live in that district and has shown nothing but disdain for local issues. How's that for democracy?!) Weirder still Scozzafava dropped out last weekend. And to top off the weirdness she threw her support behind bill Owen - the Democrat. It's still highly likely he'll lose, but that doesn't make this any less of a spectacle.
And as a proud progressive liberal I hope he does. Bill Owen winning that seat would change nothing in the House. The Democrats already have a very solid, and fairly liberal, majority and he would likely lose the election in 2010 anyway. However, a victory for Hoffman will rev up the Conservative party and force the GOP to give them a lot more attention. In case you don't know, this new party is an offshoot of this summer's tea parties, sponsored primarily by Fox News and Americans For Prosperity, Dick Armey's astroturf lobbying group. They're about as far to the right as you can get without making Ghengis Khan look reasonable. They're upset about their taxes (which haven't changed under President Obama), about their civil liberties (which are stronger under President Obama) about their safety (Obama has kept us safe from terrorist attacks longer than Bush/Cheney) about their gun rights (which are unchanged) and I think you see where this is going. They've often claimed not to be Republicans and until recently I didn't believe them since they sure-as-hell weren't Democrats. But lately it's become obvious that maybe they're something else altogether. Aside from fringers with a tenuous, at best, grasp on reality.
A win for Doug Hoffman will pull the GOP farther out of the mainstream and into the fringe gutter practically ensuring that President Obama is a two-termer, giving him a better chance of unwinding as much of the Bush Presidency as possible. Sure the GOP may gain a few seats in 2010 but nowhere near enough to accomplish anything more than further obstruction and frustration. That frustrations is almost sure to cause a complete rift in the party with the Conservatives taking Sarah Palin and company with them, leaving the GOP a reasonable, conservative/moderate group actually capable of constructive cooperation with the rest of us. A party the original John McCain and John Warner could love.
Assuming that all goes well with President Obama's health care initiative it's going to become another Social Security or Medicare, causing the average American to fall back in love with the Democratic party, blocking the GOP out for another generation, as happened with passage of those two pieces of landmark legislation.
If the GOP remains on the fringe they'll be able to do little more than throw spitballs from the sidelines of history. The best thing that could happen to the GOP would be a complete split between the Tea Party (if they end up calling themselves that this blog is proof that I came up with it and they owe me royalties!) and the Republican Party, restoring a sane two-party balance as our founders intended.
A Conservative party victory in New York's 23rd is just the place to start it. Come on Doug Hoffman. make a liberal proud.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
If you do want some facts there's a ton out there and here, let me help you find it. (click that one - it's fun). What I would like to know is what is behind the extreme aversion to the shot. I understand that having a needle stuck in your arm isn't fun and you aren't quite sure what's in it, which can be unnerving. But if you think that the government or big pharma is going to poison you a) you're possibly insane, b) you have delusions of grand-importance and c) you need to ask yourself WHY. Unless you're a spy and Vladimir Putin is after you the odds are pretty good that both the government and the drug companies want you very much alive. I mean, you're not going to pay taxes or buy medication if you're dead, right? Check your paranoia at the door, thankyouverymuch. There's no sensible reason, whatsoever, for anyone to want you dead. Except maybe your ex. Check into that.
And if you're not sure what's in the vaccine or how it works as your doctor. What? You don't have a doctor? Oh, yeah, I forgot - we haven't passed health care reform yet, but that's a rant for another time. No doctor? Check out the CDC's, the NIH's, any major medical school's web site, etc. Or ask me - I'll be happy to help. Seriously, I know a lot about this stuff. If you're worried about catching the flu from the vaccine rest assured: you can't because it isn't possible. Unfortunately some of the side-effects of the vaccine seem to be a minor strain of the flu: muscle aches, low-grade fever, congestion. But side-effects are generally far milder, they're not contagious and, oh yeah, they won't KILL you.
What makes me the most angry is people I've thought were perfectly reasonable jumping on the anti-vaccine bandwagon: celebrities, actors, talk-show hosts who otherwise seem to have their wits about them. Yet they start talking about vaccines and their conspiracy loon sides come out. Several celebs I (guiltily) follow on Twitter asked their collective followings whether they should get the flu vaccine and in each case they've said that more people told them not to than told them to. And here I thought twits were some of the brighter electrons on-line - WRONG. Even worse, last week I heard Bill Maher, with whom I often agree, rant about how vaccines have done nothing useful but perpetuate the vaccine industry. Really? Do you have Polio? Small pox? Can you find a vaccinated child under 18 who has had the chicken pox? Know anyone with Measles? Mumps? Rubella? Diptheria? I could go on. Vaccines are probably second only to antibiotics as the biggest medical miracle of the 20th century. And these fools are wondering whether to get the shot? Really??
Fine, don't get it, Mr Famousguy. Play Russian Roulette with your own life. But for safety's sake don't encourage your impressionable listeners/watchers/readers to do the same. The odds are good that you have adequate health care being rich and/or famous. Your sheep aren't all so lucky. Think of it this way: if they die or get sick because you told them to avoid the shot you lose ratings, ad sales, readers, etc. How 'bout them apples?
Ultimately I think this comes down to education and rabid gullibility. But that, too, is another blog post. Watch for it here soon.
Rabid anti-vaxxers: Absurdly dangerous and really stupid.
-------------- Bonus material ---------------
With the onset of flu season soon there has been a lot of talk in the news about both the routine, seasonal flu and of course H1N1 swine flu, and whether or not to get vaccinated. There have been stories about people dying from the flu and others about people being hurt by the vaccine. What should you do? Well, I'm not a doctor (nor have I ever played one on TV) so I suggest you check reputable sources like doctors and medical researchers and, you know, scientists. Your new age guru might know the best Yanni tracks and incense but he doesn't know squat about microbiology and the only thing his herbs will protect is the fatness of his wallet. But since you're reading here anyway how about some facts before we get to the good stuff: sarcasm, opinion and some funnies. I don't normally get so serious, but this is, literally, a life-and-death issue.
30,000 people die every year from the seasonal flu, most of whom have weakened immune systems due to other illness or age. Children over 2 are typically spared, though they do go through a week or two of hell. H1N1, on the other hand, impacts 10-45 year-olds (Times of India) much more than the seasonal flu. In fact, as of the middle of October more children in the United States under 12 have died from H1N1 than die from conventional flu in an average year. And flu season hasn't really started yet.
Many news outlets in the DC area (for example) reported a story about a Washington Redskins cheerleader, Desuree Jennings, who came down with what some doctors think may be distonia and which has been reported to be a rare reaction to the flu vaccine. Did you catch all of the qualifiers there? If not let me add another: medical experts are almost unanimous in that she does NOT have distonia and even if she does it is NOT linked to the flu shot.
Just for a second let's take the media reports as truth and assume (against all medical evidence) that it was a reaction to the flu shot and the 1:1,000,000 odds that have been pulled out of thin air are accurate. While the story is tragic, what's even more tragic is that 36,000 Americans die every year from the seasonal flu. So let's say every one of the 310,000,000 Americans gets the shot and one in a million gets Distonia. That's 310 people with a nasty but not fatal disease, but 36,000 people still alive who would otherwise be dead. Over 100 times more people are saved from dying than are harmed. Those are good odds any way you look at it. Never mind all of the discomfort, pain, lost work, lost productivity, lost money, cold remedies, blankets, tissues, etc that you go through when you have the flu.
What's even better is that real medical experts are highly skeptical that Ms Jenning's illness is related to the flu shot especially since there are no other documented cases of people getting Distonia that way. 0. None. So what I've presented is the worst-possible case scenario which is almost certainly wildly divorced from reality. Do you feel a bit better about it now?
As a counter one news report I present another from the New York Times. A 27-year-old Florida woman came down with H1N1 while pregnant and, tragically, lost her baby because of it and had to spend four months in the hospital, five weeks of which were in a coma. It's true that the H1N1 vaccine wasn't out in time to save her baby, but those of you who are pregnant and are considering avoiding the vaccine read the linked story now. Pregnant women are at the top of the list for who gets the H1N1 vaccine. Please tell me you have an OB. Good. Now call to find out when the shot is coming in, then get it. You don't have to thank me. Just live.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
On Tuesday PWC released a statement saying that they were paid to focus on only a small part of the bill and that sections they didn't review could offset "some" of their findings. In other words they cherry picked data to make reform look bad, while threatening Americans with steep insurance rate hikes. (How is this different than what we've seen year in and year out?) Some analysis.
Let me see if I have this straight: The governments wants to regulate the insurance companies who, through a (formerly respectable) mouthpiece, say that rates are going to go up if the bill passes. Did I miss anything?
How is that not blackmail? The insurance industry is threatening to hold their customers hostage if the government does anything to limit their ability to continue to hold us hostage as they have been for decades. Insurance companies add no value to health care other than to suck away 30% of our money as overhead and profit yet they maintain a strangle-hold on almost all of the GOP and much of the Democratic party. They take on no risk of their own but make a huge profit by denying care to sick people.
They're not businesspeople. They're pirates.
No, they're worse than pirates. At least you can negotiate with pirates and they generally don't want to kill you, they just use your death as leverage Insurance companies use death as a business plan.
I don't even know what to call the insurance lobby other than assuredly absurd.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Do you remember when the middle name "Wayne" was the kiss of death for anyone other than Kenny Wayne Shepherd? Do the names John Wayne Gacy and John Wayne Bobbitt ring any bells? I thought so. If you're interested, by the way, News Of The Weird compiled a much more exhaustive list of middle-name-Waynes (MNW's).
I haven't heard of any MNW's making news lately, but a new name may be replacing it: Joe. One of the stars of John McCain's spectacular flame-out last year was a buffoon they picked up on a campaign stop who was quickly dubbed Joe The Plumber. (Yes, I know it was Barack Obama who found him first, but that isn't important,as it was the GOP that made him a celebrity). Well, Joe isn't his first name (and neither is he a plumber.) His given name is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. So, no big deal, right?
Well, as I'm sure all of you know David Letterman was recently the attempted victim of blackmail by a CBS producer, Joe Halderman. But wait, his name is actually Robert Joseph Halderman.
It's not quite the same as the MNW's but there could be a pattern forming. If your middle name is Joseph but you use "Joe" as your first name you may want to rethink that.
Or not. It could just be a coincidence. Either way we'll be watching you MNJ's.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Fundamentalists' need to rewrite history, even arguably fictional history, is astounding. They're not happy unless everything fits perfectly into their restricted world view. I guess it hurts to stretch such a narrow mind, even around their own mythology. It's either black and white or totally incomprehensible. Jesus must be so proud.
Is nothing sacred?
Maybe not, but it is absurd.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Speaking of the rabid right's war on science and the ongoing march to stupid:
In Sedalia, Missouri a high school marching band had t-shirts printed up that showed the "evolution" of brass instruments from the 1960s to today and they used the evolutionary template of a monkeys evolving into humans to add to the visual punch. It's actually quite clever, especially considering that their playlist is based on the theme "Brass Evolutions".
Well a couple of the parents got a look at the shirt and went apeshit. (I love a good primate pun) They complained about the concept and the school superintendent actually made the students turn in the shirts because "the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned". One parent said "I don't think evolution should be associated with our school."
That parent, by the way is a teacher in the same district!
So, evolution is now a religion. All hail the great god... uhm.... MonkeyMan and his prophet Charles.
Are you kidding me? These idiots are the ones molding young minds? It's no wonder so many people buy the lies spun by right-wing talk-show hosts and the nuttier politicians (Word to Michelle Bachman.)
I really don't know that there's much else I can add to this story except to say: WTF?
For a somewhat more in-depth response check out noted blogger Phil Plait's take on the story here.
Wow. Just wow.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
[I'll pause here while I wait for you to finish laughing.]
Ok, welcome back. He and a loony named Ray Comfort have decided that the 150th anniversary of the printing of Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" would be a good time to reprint the book. So far so good, right? Only theirs comes with a 50-page fundamentalist introduction explaining the evils of evolution and modern society versus the holiness of creationism and fundamentalism. Seriously! Oh, it gets better: they're going to give away 100,000 copies of this book at "the top 100 colleges and universities" in the US. All you, the rabid believer, need to do is log onto their web site and (wait for it.......) donate money so they can, uhm.. "print more books". And of course laugh all the way to the bank. It's a money-making ploy, plain and simple.
Speaking of laughing if you want to spend the rest of the day in stitches spend some time googling Ray Comfort. To get you started what the man does with a Banana will have your mouth hanging open. Don't worry - this actually *is* safe for work. Further hilarity is left as an exercise for the reader.
Best of all there's a six minute video (feel free not to watch it - the last thing they need is more youtube hits, but I put the link in there to be fair - and, uhm balanced) they put together starting the child star that will have you alternating between incredulity, laughter and anger. I was working on a blog post to point out the inanity of the whole thing is but someone has already done a far better job than I ever could. Watch her video - it's worth the six minutes.
What the Christina doesn't address is how toxic this whole stream of obsessive religion has become. Let me be clear: I have no objection to honest, individual religions or religion as a whole. If people find comfort and happiness in their faith that's wonderful: the world needs more of both. But that's where it stops.
I happen to love progressive heavy metal music but I don't want it taught in schools, blared out of speakers in the courthouse, played before football games or shoved down the throats of anyone who isn't one of my brothers. (Incidentally both of whom have thanked me for introducing them to that particular genre, but I digress). What's so destructive about the fundamentalists is how they are insistent that their way is the only way to the exclusion of not only other faiths, but of science. Further advancement of the very science that created our modern way of life is threatened by ignorance, mysticism and superstition. In most civilized countries around the world that medieval nonsense is on the decline, but here in the United States it's growing like a fungus and it must be stopped lest we join the third world countries where this sort of thing is already prevalent.
Fortunately this fungus is easily defeated through ample application of intelligence, knowledge, education. What are you going to do today to shine a light on stupid?
Friday, September 11, 2009
For the past eight years we had an administration that shunned thought, controversy and dissent. To question was to oppose and to oppose was unpatriotic. Shoot first and ask questions..... never. And certainly never admit when a mistake was made or, heaven forbid, offer an apology. We saw it over and over from the lack of preparation for the war in Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq on trumped up charges and the non-existent weapons; from Katrina to the medicare drug bill to squashing science. Mistakes were to be covered not fixed, and generally the covering was done from the gut with force, violence or intimidation. Sound familiar?
As I've proposed here before, the GOP is terrified not that health care reform will pass, but that it will work. So they've gone into Bush/Cheney mode and they're blasting it with everything they have rather than taking a step back to analyze and figure out how they can be a real contributing part of the conversation. Their followers, fomented to a froth and fed with blatant lies by talk radio and TV, are merely following in their footsteps: Scream at the opposition; bring a gun to terrify them; don't listen to the answers; walk out without learning or accomplishing a thing.
It's the same story: shoot (your mouth off) first and ask questions..... never.
And it's severely absurd.
UPDATE: I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks but I was inspired to post it by South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson's infantile (and, yes absurd) "you lie!" outburst during the President's address to the join session of congress on 9/9/09. Sadly, his descent into rudeness fits the trend and should shock no one. He apologized for it within minutes but has spent the last two days back-peddling while being lauded by the far right for his "courage" and "speaking truth to power". Never mind that what President Obama was saying at that moment is demonstrably true, making Mr. Wilson the real liar here. Many self-respecting and even some self-satirising Republicans condemned his remark but still there are those who think such behavior has its place on the national stage.
Want to put a point on it that even the Congressman will understand? Send a couple of bucks to Rob Miller, his opponent in next year's election. So far he's raised almost $750,000 in just the last two days. Add a couple more to it. I did. Felt good.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
So, let me get this straight: The history-making, sitting President's message of studying hard, staying in school, learning from failure and achieving more in life was too corrupting and would "indoctrinate" their weak-minded children. The message that could have been recorded to be played back during their lunch break so as not to interfere with classroom teaching (never mind that for many this was the first day of school so little teach is actually done). But it's ok to spend hard-to-come-by school district money (what, you think drivers' time and fuel are free?) to drive kids 30+ miles across town in the middle of the school day to listen to speeches by a former President (and certainly less relevant figure), his wife and other local leaders? Let's put aside, for the moment, the rabidly partisan behavior of the past administration and give them the benefit of the doubt. These kids are still going to miss far more than the 18 minutes of school that President Obama's speech lasted. The hypocrisy is staggering and only serves to prove my point yesterday about the racism behind people's objections to the President's school speech.
What's the message here for kids? Skipping school is OK as long as you're listening to "us" and ignoring "them"? That others' opinions, even the most powerful man in the world, don't matter? That there's nothing a little ignorance can't fix?
I'd weep for our country's future, but so many Texans are talking about secession these days that by then maybe they will actually be a whole other country. A third-world country, but still....
The absurdity marches on.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Right wing talkers like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh protested the speech claiming that the President was going to indoctrinate kids with his communist, socialist propaganda (with a 30 minute speech? I thought he was from Kenya, not Dagobah.) while failing to point out that talking to school kids is a time-honored tradition among Presidents including Reagan, Bush, and we all know about Bush 43's "My Pet Goat" moment on 9/11/01. To be fair, though, the talking heads get paid by generating ratings and they do that by drumming up controversy. Well done, fellas - collect your paychecks while the country burns. And one more note: the Democrats protested Bush 41's speech after it happened though that didn't come within 1% of the fevered pitch of today.
What is even more galling, though, is the school districts that refused to show the speech and the parents who broke down in tears at the thought of the President of the United States speaking to beloved baby. Some protested, some kept their kids home from school. All are insane.
The President's speech was all about how hard work and staying in school was the best path to success. The text of the speech was released on Monday (a national holiday, mind you so there was ample time to read it) so claims of "I didn't know" are lies. How does keeping your kids at home set the right example? On top of that over the last few days those flaming liberals Laura Bush and Newt Gingrich (on Fox News, no less) released statements saying that it was a good speech that children should hear.
So with content and the matching carpets of politics and partisanship yanked out from under these fools what's left? I don't see anything other than garden variety, good old fashioned racism. These people are terrified that their world is changing, that the complexion of America is darkening and they're being left behind. Couple that with the fear being pounded into their brains by Fox News and you get a potent, tear-inducing combination.
Back to the talking heads and politicians for a moment, as they're fueling this for all they've got. Why? Because an uneducated populace is easier to spoon feed garbage like creationism; global warming skepticism; opposition to universal health care; tax cuts as a cure for all ills; the idea of small government meanwhile growing government faster than any previous administration (See Reagan and Bush 43). It has been shown time and again that an educated population is more interested in how we impact the rest of the world and our environment. An educated population is the GOP's worst nightmare. How else can you explain their opposition to science? Their dumbing down of political discourse? The shouting matches in town halls?
Of course the world does need check-out clerks, janitors and fry cooks. So go ahead parents, teach your kids it's ok to skip school, to avoid thoughts that don't fit into their narrow world-view, that challenges them or causes them to think. Follow Sarah Palin's example and teach them to quit when things aren't perfect.
The GOP is banking on stupid and sadly, it's paying dividends.
Absurd and extremely dangerous.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Hey - look over there!
I've always been impressed with those who can think three or four moves down the road and the few who can go beyond that appear to dabble in nothing short of wizardry.
When Barack Obama took office six months ago he said there wouldn't be an investigation into what is looking more and more like the previous administration's despicable use of torture and other illegal actions. I was disappointed and thought maybe he didn't have the stomach for it. Or perhaps he was willing to sweep it under the rug and really did want to bury the hatchet to try to build a new bipartisanship, despite the GOP's strenuous efforts to thwart any such offer.
Two days ago Attorney General Eric Holder appointed an investigator to look into "enhanced interrogation" techniques. Of course the Bushies, especially the former VP, went ballistic claiming partisanship and that Holder is clearly Obama's puppet. I guess they think that all Presidents do as their did and hand pick an AG with more allegiance to the executive branch than the judicial, job description notwithstanding. It was a long time coming.
Those of us in "we're a country of laws not men" land are left with two possibilities: President Obama is unhappy about the special investigation and just hasn't said so; or he saw this coming six+ months ago and decided that by speaking out against investigations early he could reinforce the firewall between the branches of government and give Holder the space to do what has to be done.
Maybe he's 5 steps ahead of the rest of us. Or more.
It's a Jedi thing and I clearly wouldn't understand.
Monday, August 24, 2009
And now back to your regularly scheduled political ranting, already in progress.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
If you still don't quite see why he's right and don't want to do the math, I've done it for you here. Don't worry: it's not hard, and there's no test later. No doctor will call. Operators are standing by.
The first point to consider is that it doesn't matter whether we're talking about a thousand cars or a single car, so in this example we'll assume one of each vehicle that drives 10,000 miles in a given year.
At 10mpg the stock Suburban will require 1,000 gallons of gas (10000 / 10). Improving its mileage from 10 to 13 mpg means it will only need ~769 gallons for that same distance, so that small improvement will mean a savings of about 231 gallons of gas.
The Prius, at 50mpg, will need 200 gallons of gas to drive those 10000 miles (10000 / 50).
Doubling the mileage of the Prius to 100mpg will mean it only needs 100 gallons to drive 10,000 miles (10000 / 1000) for a savings of 100 gallons of gas.
231 is much more than 100. So, as you can see improving the efficiency of a Suburban from 10mpg to 13mpg yields more than twice the savings (in gas, money and emissions) of doubling the mileage of a much-more-efficient Prius. You just can't escape the law of diminishing returns. As the great philosopher Barbie put it "Math is Tough".
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I'm not talking about fear of death panels, or fear of socialism, or fear or the latest bogeyman. I'm talking about the fear of being wrong. Republicans, at least the few smart ones, know that they're on the wrong side of history, yet again. Just as they were with civil rights, Medicare, Medicaid and as history will prove them wrong on climate change, gay rights, etc. Every other developed nation on Earth has some sort of universal health plan which costs them half as much per capita as the US pays and yields significantly better results. We're in the bottom of almost every scale of health measurement: life expectancy and infant mortality nicely cover both ends.
The reason the GOP is lobbing every bit of bull they can at the Democrats is that they know it's the right thing to do but if it gets through the Democrats and, more to the point, President Obama, will receive the credit now and in the history books. They are so incensed at the disaster of the last eight years that they're willing to do deliberate damage to this great country rather than see their names smeared. How's that for representing your constituents.
Those who get their news exclusively from Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News need to read other sources to learn what's real and what's not. Just because it came out of Sean Hannity's mouth does NOT make it true - in fact quite the contrary. You are being PLAYED, people. You're being manipulated and used as dummies - literally. The insurance companies and the GOP (but I repeat myself) are pulling your strings (aren't you glad I didn't continue the puppet analogy?), getting you to spout their lies, and letting you look like the fools. Wake up. Blocking health care reform will hurt you, not the lobbyists, not the ultra rich who own the GOP, you. Why in the hell would you work against your own interest?
Oh yeah, it's easier than thinking.
Absurd. Absolutely absurd.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
In short, a 10-year-old girl was dying of cancer and, basically, was holding on until she could see the movie "Up". Unfortunately by the time it hit the theaters she was too ill to make the trip so after a series of phone calls, Pixar sent someone to her house the next day with a DVD of the movie (which was only in theaters at that point) and a bunch of stuffed animals from it. She was in so much pain she couldn't even open her eyes so her Mom gave her a play-by-play, which she enjoyed.
The poor girl died 7 hours later.
It's rare that a big company like Disney/Pixar does something this right, but even in the darkest story there's a small ray of light. Some people aren't so bad after all.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
During an interview on Tuesday, June 16th President Obama swatted a fly that had been buzzing around him, killing it. We've all done it. We'll all continue to do it, though not all of us have the fly killing prowess of our chief executive who did it with one smack. Say what you will the man has lightning reflexes.
The next day PETA put up a post on their blog implying that were we to think before acting we wouldn't kill flies and suggesting that if you want to be a "bigger person" (Than President Obama? Than a fly? Than PETA?) you shouldn't kill flies but use their non-lethal bug catcher.
I'm an animal lover: I've grown up with cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils and whatever else I felt like bringing home to gross out my mother. But, once again, PETA goes way over the edge. What next? Bacteria bashes to promote the welfare of our single-celled brethren?
I thought it was a joke at first but looking at the other recent entries on their blog it sure doesn't look that way. And their follow-up post confirmed that it far from tongue-in-cheek.
Calling this absurd is an insult to absurdity. This is positively ludicrous.
I wonder if rampantinsanity.blogspot.com is taken....
Saturday, May 30, 2009
"And while many stakeholders made sacrifices and worked constructively, I have to tell you some did not. In particular, a group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout ... I don't stand with them"
The "them" was a bunch of (greedy perhaps?) investment bankers who wouldn't negotiate on the Chrysler bailout and, instead, insisted on more bailout money.
Mr. Price, however, decided that the President was trying to divide the country (into greedy and not greedy?) which made him a bad, bad man. On the video he said:
"What I saw in that clip troubles me a lot. What I saw was our president saying I stand with these people, but not with those people. What he said was I stand with some Americans, but not with all Americans. It's a very chilling statement."
So, Representative Price, you say you stand for and with all Americans?
Do you stand with Murders? Thieves? Child molesters? Spammers? Nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, muggers, buggerers, Bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, sh**-kickers and Methodists?
Just who is your core constituency?
Update 6/10/2009: The video has been restricted on youtube so I can't link to it. Clearly even they realized it was absurd. Sadly this post loses a lot without the video but I'll leave it up since I think you get the gist.
Over the last few days the GOP smear machine has thrown a broad variety of insults at SCOTUS nominee Sonya Sotomayor including racist, bigot, idiot, grammar snob and hot-head, none of which hold up under even the slightest of examination. Karl Rove insisted that despite being 2nd in her class at Princeton and editor of the Yale law journal she's dumb. Yes, the same Karl Rove who backed Harriet Myers for the same court. She was criticized for correcting the spelling and grammar of opinions written by her clerks, which is only a hair's breadth from the racist's favorite back-handed insult "articulate". She's even accused of having the dreaded empathy. Of course Bush 41 praised Clarence Thomas' empathy during his nomination, but because he's a man it's totally different. Most recently G. Gordon Liddy pulled out all the sexist stops in hoping that her female biology doesn't get in the way of her confirmation hearings. What a guy.
Each day there's a new smear from some foaming-at-the mouth commentator who has totally forgotten the previous day's ranting. Sure, they're the opposition party and opposing is what they're supposed to do, but this isn't opposing, it's school-yard taunting. Fortunately the general population isn't buying it. So why do they persist? They know that, failing some unexpected catastrophe, she's going to be confirmed. Does it make sense to alienate someone you'll see in the halls and at cocktail parties from time to time? Someone respected by most of the rest of the country?
It does if you're trying to earn money by the truckload. The far-right has written off the majority of the US population but is throwing bloody, red meat to their die-hard base. Thanks to GOP policies in the early 21st century much of that base has done very well for itself and now the party wants some of that it back. They see this as their vehicle.
However, in the process they're pushing out Latinos, the fastest growing block of voters in the USA. Not to mention the 51.5% of the country comprised of women and those of us with enough sense to wonder WTF they're doing. So even if they are able to capitalize on this nomination fight and rake in the cash what could they possibly accomplish? 79% of voters won't identify themselves as Republicans and 21% certainly isn't enough to win back any appreciable amount of political power.
I just don't think they've thought that far ahead. In fact, they sound a lot like the dotcom business plans of the late 90's. To paraphrase:
1) Alienate fastest-growing swath of voting public
2) Collect money from hard-core base
Now, if you can figure out step three Michael Steele has a job for you.
In 2001 Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor said the following:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
If you stop after the words "conclusion" or "male" it does raise the possibility that she's a racist, or at least that she thinks ill of white men. (Considering how badly white men have screwed things up especially the last eight years she may be onto something). However, if you finish the statement what she is *clearly* saying is that a wise Latina woman (isn't "Latina woman" redundant, by the way?) will generally make better decisions than a less experienced and therefore less wise white man.
Replace "Latina woman" with "person" and I don't think even the GOP blowhards could make hay out of that. Sure her choice of wording may have been lacking, but if after 17 years on the bench that's all they can find with which to tar her she's going to sail right through confirmation.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Harden, Montana has a super-maximum security prison sitting empty and the citizens of the town are asking the government to house 100 of them there. Finally, some sanity. The good people of Harden realize that any convicts from Gitmo are no different from other vile criminals: They're not aliens, they don't have superpowers. They need the same things other prisoners do: three hots; a cot; and solid, reinforced, heavy concrete.
NIMBY be gone. This is PIMBY. Please In My Back Yard.
Definitely *not* absurd.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
That's just it, Mr Chairman. It's not about being liked. It's about being respected, fulfilling promises and accomplishing things that benefit the American people - three areas where the party of Gingrich, Limbaugh and, well, you have been batting exactly 0.0 lately. This isn't a popularity contest. Even American Idol throws in a bit of talent. But you don't get that. Your team flings mud, roadblocks and insults. You're stuck in middle school while the rest of us are looking at graduation.
Sure popularity is helpful but we had a popular guy in the White House for eight years and his incompetence was almost unbounded. Popularity wins you nothing but popularity contests. Popularity for its own sake (also known as "celebrity" - sound familiar?) fails.
Until you realize that Americans are far smarter and more perceptive than you think, you're going to keep losing followers, respect and elections.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
My intention in starting this blog is to highlight the abundant absurdity I see all around me in the hopes that it makes you laugh, smile, groan, throw things at your computer (I award bonus points for sending me pictures if that happens) but most of all to take a moment and think. You may disagree with me (which is probably a tribute to your sanity) but all I ask is that you give what I say here a chance. If you do disagree you're welcome to leave corrective comments because there's little I like more than changing my mind from wrong to right. I may be pretty ardent in my beliefs but if you stick around long enough I think you'll find that I do consider both sides of most issues even if I decide, in the end, to laugh one out of the room.
So, is this going to be all politics? No! Sure, there's ample absurdity in Washington and State Houses everywhere, but that's a pretty limited selection of what's absurd. Trust me, it's everywhere and I'm just the guy to help you find it.
It's going to be a fun ride. Just keep your arms and heads in the car, your seat backs and tray tables in their full upright and locked position, and your batteries not included. Welcome aboard.