Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Italian Celtic Fingerpicking Blogging

I never heard of this guy before today. I watched several of his videos and now I'm a fan.

Also, there's probably about twelve songs that came over with early Scots/Irish settlers that have come up through history to have had a major influence on the Old Time String Band, Folk, and Bluegrass music genres. I think this is one of them.

Franco Morone - Flowers Of Edinburgh

Thanks to progressivo2, Portugal.

Posse comitatus ...

Don't even get me started.


Heh ... Nucks:

... John Yoo must have been busy polishing [Cheney's] knob that day ...

Update Zwei:

Res Ipsa:


Dear Boalt Hall:

When are you going to revoke John Yoo's tenure? Aren't you ashamed to have him on your faculty? Surely there are some deserving wine law professors out there to whom you can award his coveted slot? Maybe they could discuss the finer points of the limits of presidential power over pinot grigio on your sunny deck? Finally, why isn't today's NYT story isn't on your Faculty in the News page?


Links aplenty over there.

Bush Weighed Using Military in Arrests

Fresh from the Friday Document Dump, this gem from The NYTimes. Links at site:

Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.

Mr. Bush ultimately decided against the proposal to use military force.

Add that to the short list of things he did right. I still have enough fingers left on that hand to pick my nose, and a whole 'nother hand to scratch my ass.

“The president has ample constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States,” the memorandum said.

The memorandum — written by the lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty — was directed to Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, who had asked the department about a president’s authority to use the military to combat terrorist activities in the United States.

Still, at least one high-level meeting was convened to debate the issue, at which several top Bush aides argued firmly against the proposal to use the military, advanced by Mr. Cheney, his legal adviser David S. Addington and some senior Defense Department officials.

The Mayberry Mafia's consiglieri. The usual suspects.

Among those in opposition were Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; John B. Bellinger III, the top lawyer at the National Security Council; Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Michael Chertoff, then the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.

That's a little surprising.

“Frankly, it was a bit of a turf war,” said one former senior administration official. “For a number of people, crossing the line of having intelligence or military activities inside the United States was not worth the risk.”

Yeah, the risk of getting caught putting the Constitution in the shredder again. Bastards.

Please read the rest. Grrrr...

Quote of the Day

From a comment on yesterday's post on the Gates incident:

"It's not that I hate the police, exactly. It's that all the big bellied bastards that I do hate love the police." - Brendan Behan

I couldn'ta said it better myself. Thanks, Shaun.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

Don't forget the Gulf Coast.

Emmylou Harris & Dave Matthews ~ Gulf Coast Highway

Thanks to NZpakeha, UK.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Subliminal Fixer Music Blogging

Fixer says I make some of the stranger bells in his head clang from time to time. Well, turnabout is fair play and he does it to me too. The upside is that the music drowns out the little voices. For a while.

The really disturbing part is that there's about 9660 of these on YouTube.

Thanks to KakashiHatake55, Okie City(!).

The Henry Gates Incident

Dave Lindorff comes about as close to what really happened there as I've seen:

But whatever the real story is regarding the showing of identification information by Gates and the officer, police misconduct in this incident went further. Gates reportedly got understandably angry and frustrated at the officer for refusing to provide him with this identifying information and/or for refusing to accept his own identification documents, and at that point, the officer abused his power by arresting Gates and charging him with disorderly conduct.

There's nothing unusual about this, sadly. It is common practice for police in America to abuse their authority and to arrest people on a charge of "disorderly conduct" when those people simply exercise their free speech rights and object strenuously to how they are being treated by an officer. Try it out sometime. If you are given a ticket for going five miles an hour over the posted speed limit, tell the traffic officer he or she is a stupid moron, and see if you are left alone. My bet is that you will find yourself either ticketed on another more serious charge, or even arrested for "disorderly conduct." If you happen to be black or some other race than white, I'll even put money on that bet. (If you're stupid enough to go out and test this hypothesis, please don't expect me to post your bail!)

Mr. Lindorff goes on to say that we have devolved into a 'police state' where the cops have unfettered power to do with you what they will. I don't go quite that far, although it's true to some extent.

The police are the average citizen's 'point of contact' with government. The cops are at the sharp end of the establishment, ostensibly to protect society from criminals. Prevent crime? Hardly. React to crimes already committed is about the best they can do, given that this is not really a police state where they can pre-emptively bust you before you can commit a crime, although Bush tried to change that.

One definition of government is 'those who have a monopoly on violence'. That's how governments stay in power in the final analysis. The cops have the power of life and death over you, a power that is said to be granted by 'the people', but really granted by 'the state'. If you as 'the people' wish to rescind that power from them on your own out on the street, you had better be prepared with a lot of armed people ready to do serious violence. Most people won't and the cops know this. The cops have one basic motto: "Win or Die", and they are trained and armed and usually have reinforcements on call, particularly in large urban areas, and they will come down on any kind of uprising with all the force they can muster, and it's a lot.

After all, their basic job is to protect the political status quo, basically powerful rich white people, from the great unwashed, which is everybody else, and they have a lot of leeway in how they can do it, although, all things considered and thanks to the Constitution, they're pretty restrained in what they can do in most cases.

If a cop decides you need a little fuckin' with, they're more than happy to oblige. That's what I think happened with Mr. Gates. He was tired and cranky from his flight from China, frustrated by not being able to get into his house, and then the cops showed up on a tip from his neighbors, for God's sake, to put the fucking icing on the cake. That his neighbors didn't recognize him says more about that neighborhood than I want to go into here. I'm glad I don't live there. I recognize my neighbors for a block around even if I don't know them personally.

Gates lipped off to the cop, and from accounts went too far and brought the cop's mother into the conversation. He's lucky he didn't get his lights punched out, but the cop knew better than to do that. The cop decided to teach him a lesson and arrested him for 'disorderly conduct', but the real offense, which isn't in the penal code, was POPO - Pissin' Off a Police Officer. This happens all the time.

This wasn't about race. It was about Gates being a temporary asshole to the wrong cop. It cost him forty bucks in bail and the spurious charges were dropped. If he wasn't a prominent figure, the media wouldn't have turned it into yet another circus and the whole deal would be over with no harm done other than to Gates' pride.

Here's a little personal story about how the cops can fuck with you and be entirely within their rights to do so.

In my drinking days I used to get arrested all the time. Sober up in jail, walk a mile home, go to court, pay a fine. One time, I lipped off to the booking cop waaaay too much and she just said, "That's it! I've had enough abuse. You just earned a trip to the county jail.", and off to county I did go. She probably wouldn't have done that, but it was just my bad luck that there was a jail transport Suburban there at the time to haul some burglar or meth dealer away, so she could and did.

Our county jail, aka "Wayne's World", is 65 miles away, 25 miles on a rural Interstate, up and over and down from Donner Summit, and 40 miles down a state highway with nothing on it, no towns, no people. They just put me in a holding cell, let me sober up, and let me out at about 11PM. All they said was, "Turn left. See ya."

There's not much traffic on that state highway late at night. I waited a while for a car to come and stuck out my thumb and the guy, a local who knew what lay ahead, gave me a ride. Nice guy. His rig was an old Jap Jeep and when he wanted to see how fast he was going, he turned on his flashlight to check the speedo. Heh.

He took me halfway up the forty mile stretch to the Interstate, to the turnoff to the town he lived in. He said he felt bad about leaving me out there with the bears in the middle of nowhere in the dark. I thanked him for getting me that far.

So there I was, exactly halfway between nothing and nowhere on a road with no traffic. None. Zip-point-zilch. Did I mention it was dark? Did I mention it was starting to snow and all I was wearing was a flannel shirt? (Yes, I had on pants and shoes.)

I waited like what seemed forever for another car to stick my thumb out at. I could see the glow of its headlights for miles! It was a CalTrans pickup. The guy wasn't supposed to pick up hitchhikers, of course, but he wasn't about to leave another human being stuck out there, and gave me a ride to I-80. Thank you, sir.

Two cars total, two rides. So far, so good.

Now I was at about 6500' elevation and it was snowing. I-80 had lights, so I went and stood under one of them. Lotsa traffic. Trouble was, it was all big rigs gaining speed on a downhill run for an uphill run ahead, and they weren't about to stop.

Finally a car stopped for me and gave me a ride to town and I walked the rest of the way home and got home to a pretty icy reception from Mrs. G, as might be expected. Took me about 3 hours from the jailhouse door to mine, not too bad, considering.

Lesson learned: Don't mouth off to cops.

Hot Mama

Click to embiggen

That's our pal Lisa of Ranger Against War. She hit the big time. Click the link. Trust me.

Remember, don't sweat the petty stuff. Pet the sweaty stuff.

What it comes down to ...

The Republican Party is a party of, by, and for racists, period.

Pic stolen from here via Ol' Fez.

Trusted ...

Offered without comment:


Jon Stewart - 44%
Brian Williams - 29%
Charles Gibson - 19%
Katie Couric - 7%


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

Oliver Willis:

Harry Reid is a joke. A laughable, sick joke that is allowing Americans to have a substandard way of life.


We knew that...

...but it's good that one of 'em slipped up and said it out loud. Raw Story, with video:

Half the Republicans' opposition to a public health care option comes not from policy differences with the Democrats, or fundamental philosophical differences about the role of government, but purely from a desire to score political points against President Barack Obama, a senior Republican senator has admitted.

George Voinovich (R-OH) said on CNBC Wednesday that a desire to prevent the Democratic president from scoring a historical victory with a public health plan accounts for at least 50 percent of the GOP opposition to the plan.

It's probably more like 99 and 44/100ths%. Fuck health care for Americans that doesn't make the health 'insurance' industry richer, more money for less value, and don't forget to re-elect us, you fucking morons, for wanting this President and this country to fail.

What is a Proud Liberal?

Sometimes I need to remind myself. From A Proud Liberal.

The post starts off with this verse from a song about 'the troubles' in Ulster and people teaching their children to hate:

I was a child in the sixties
When dreams could be held through TV
We had Disney, and Cronkite, and Martin Luther
And, I believed, I believed . . . I BELIEVED

It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go
Words & Music by Nanci Griffith

I'll go 'em one better. Here's the whole deal:

Recorded at Celtic Connections 2009 - Glasgow, Scotlland

Nanci Griffith ~ It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go

Thanks to tomtscotland, Glasgow.

The post talks about how we've been labelled by the never-right and quotes John Kennedy:

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label, “Liberal”? If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But, if by a “Liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes that we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I'm proud to say that I'm a “Liberal.”

Fuckin' A!

I still BELIEVE.

I'm so surprised ...


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An alleged extortion attempt has exposed a possible sexual relationship between a prominent state senator and a young legislative intern.

That senator is Republican Paul Stanley from Memphis, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.


Dudes, if yer gonna preach to everyone else ... Ah, never mind. Were it not for hypocrisy, the Conservatives would have absolutely nothing at all.

Great thanks to our pal Maru for the link.

Representative voice ...

POP speaks for 3/4 of the American people:

I really do care about the healthcare reform bill that is floating around in Congress, and here comes the but, but I am so very tired of hearing Republicans and especially blue dog Democrats telling us how harmful and dangerous it’s going to be. Ninety nine percent of what they are saying is lie after lie and we know they know it. To take something this important and put political motives ahead of common sense is disgraceful.


Now, if you can only convince the "Dead End Quarter"*, darlin'.

*The 20% - 30% of Americans who blindly follow the Republican/Conservative line until it either breaks them or kills them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Subliminal Gordon Music Blogging ...

As I've said in the past, Gord gets my mind working, albeit quite unintentionally when it comes to music. As we've both said, our musical interests are very divergent, only overlapping when it comes to Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt. The old man's last post got me thinkin' about old Cadillacs (coincidence, since I had an old Caddy in the shop with an electrical casualty today), and this song came to mind.

Steely Dan - Daddy Don't Live In NYC No More

Yes, the 'cause' and 'effect' are quite divergent, but I make no excuses for the way my mind works. Enjoy.

Geronimo's Cadillac

One of my favorite songs of social conscience.

Mary McCaslin and Dave Stamey
Stacked Stone Winery July 19, 2009
Paso Robles, CA

Mary McCaslin w/ Dave Stamey - Geronimo's Cadillac

Thanks to garrufat.

The evolution of hate mail

Morford starts off talking about Burma Shave signs of yore ("Frank lit a match/ to check his tank/ and now/ they call him/ Skinless Frank/ Burma Shave"):

(The closest modern equivalent? Burning Man, with similar sequential signs along the entrance road as you drive in -- though of course BM's signs tend to be far less about male grooming and far more about, you know, god and drugs and sex and love and enlightenment and sex and Rumi and Shiva, and no one ever really shaves at Burning Man, unless you're visiting Genital Grooming Camp. But never mind that now).

Geez, and I thought it was exciting making braided keychains and ashtrays at camp...

Then he goes on to a reaction from a group protesting one series of signs that they felt disrespected porcupines (I kid you not!):

Oh were they upset, absolutely incensed that the company dared to disparage their fine totem animal and demanding the company take down the signs immediately, and the slogan writers should be ashamed of themselves and banned and then also shot and beaten with the butts of Beretta handguns and kicked in the face because they are what's wrong with this country and they will surely burn in Sodom-sucking hell forevermore you commie homo lefty pervert pinko jackass fa--ot.

In a way, it was heartening and fascinating to be reminded that hate mail is not exactly new, to ponder just how far back it goes (Cro-Magnon caves, I imagine, to the first disparaging grunt in response to a nice wall sketch of a bison), how deep into the archives of media history you can dig and find some sample of someone somewhere writing a letter to someone else telling them they loathe and disrespect everything they say and represent on this planet, and if said person ceased to exist or was somehow run over by a large tractor-like apparatus, the semi-articulate letter writer in question would positively cream in his Wranglers and shoot a shotgun into a pod of dolphins with joy, and call it America.

Hmmmm. A slight librul bias perhaps? Well, of course! Liberal hate-mail writers use complete sentences, aka 'thoughts', and punctuate well.

Please read the rest.

Less budget problems for CA

Warming Climate Threatens California Fruit and Nut Production

Remember, California is like granola - what ain't fruits and nuts, is flakes. This could reduce California's population by up to two-thirds.

How Serial War Became the American Way of Life

An unnerving Tomgram:

We have begun to talk casually about our wars; and this should be surprising for several reasons. To begin with, in the history of the United States war has never been considered the normal state of things. For two centuries, Americans were taught to think war itself an aberration, and "wars" in the plural could only have seemed doubly aberrant. Younger generations of Americans, however, are now being taught to expect no end of war -- and no end of wars.

We are now close to codifying a pattern by which a new president is expected never to give up one war without taking on another.

And why stop there? To Ignatieff, the example of Kosovo was central and persuasive. The people who could not see the point were "those left wingers" and "isolationists." By contrast, the strategists and soldiers willing to bear the "burden" of empire were not only the party of the far-seeing and the humane, they were also the realists, those who knew that nothing good can come without a cost -- and that nothing so marks a people for greatness as a succession of triumphs in a series of just wars.

And just when are we going to start these 'triumphs'? Oh, we've been 'marked' all right, but not exactly for 'greatness'. Criminal aggression and war crimes is more like it. Thanks, Dick 'n George.

The future wars of choice for the Defense Department appear to be wars of heavy bombing and light-to-medium occupation. The weapons will be drones in the sky and the soldiers will be, as far as possible, special forces operatives charged with executing "black ops" from village to village and tribe to tribe. It seems improbable that such wars -- which will require free passage over sovereign states for the Army, Marines, and Air Force, and the suppression of native resistance to occupation -- can long be pursued without de facto reliance on regime change. Only a puppet government can be thoroughly trusted to act against its own people in support of a foreign power.

Such are the wars designed and fought today in the name of American safety and security. They embody a policy altogether opposed to an idealism of liberty that persisted from the founding of the U.S. far into the twentieth century. It is easy to dismiss the contrast that Washington, Paine, and others drew between the morals of a republic and the appetites of an empire. Yet the point of that contrast was simple, literal, and in no way elusive. It captured a permanent truth about citizenship in a democracy. You cannot, it said, continue a free people while accepting the fruits of conquest and domination. The passive beneficiaries of masters are also slaves.

"The passive beneficiaries of masters are also slaves."

That's us, folks. Support your local military-industrial complex. It will take the money and the Devil will take the hindmost.


Former Fox News Producer Sentenced to 10 Years in Child Porn Case

Now do Congress. I bet there wouldn't be a Repug left.

Senator Franken's First Bill

Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul

A chance encounter inspires my first bill: Legislation making the service dog program more affordable for our troops.

After I met Luis, I did some research. Service dogs like Tuesday can be of immense benefit to vets suffering from physical and emotional wounds. Yes, they provide companionship. But they can also detect changes in a person's breathing, perspiration or scent to anticipate and ward off an impending panic attack with some well-timed nuzzling. They are trained to let their masters know when it's time to take their medication and to wake them from terrifying nightmares.

Service dogs raise their masters' sense of well-being. There is evidence to suggest that increasing their numbers would reduce the alarming suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations, and lower the cost of medications and human care.

Veterans report that service dogs help break their isolation. People will often avert their eyes when they see a wounded veteran. But when the veteran has a dog, the same people will come up and say hi to pet the dog and then strike up a conversation.

When I was at the VA Domiciliary in Prescott AZ, there was an older gentleman who brought his old Rhodesian Ridgeback named Buddy to the chow hall once a week for all us Vets to interact with, and we looked forward to his visits "Hey, it's Tuesday. Let's go pet Buddy!". Buddy was a certified, trained, VA-approved service dog and just sat there quietly while a hundred different guys petted him. This gent volunteered his time, but it was an official VA program.

While I was there, Buddy died. His owner came by at the regular time to tell us. A whole bunch of pretty hard old dudes cried.

Service dogs for Vets are a good thing. Kudos to Senator Franken and I hope his bill passes.

Just for grins, go read about the NAVAHCS at Prescott. There's a video at the website as well. It's a recruiting video, and it loads a little funny (did for me anyway) and starts and stops, but it shows the facility and surrounding area pretty well. Made me homesick for the joint. Full screen it, icon lower right. If they'da let me have a dog there, I'd be there yet. Mrs. G woulda probly let me.

This ...

Is what passes for journalism [not a slam on Newsday in particular, just a representative article] nowadays. And you wonder how the Chimp got away with everything he did?

We can finally stop talking about the first lady's penchant for showing off her toned arms and the national conversation can turn to something substantive: her husband's unflattering, baggy blue jeans.

Fashion bloggers are throwing spitballs at the high-waisted "mom jeans" President Barack Obama wore when he threw out the first pitch at baseball's All-Star Game this week.


Cronkite, Halberstam, and Murrow vomit ...

I'm waiting for one, just one, publication to write the sentence:

"Insurance companies are paying off members of Congress to oppose health care reform."

Because that's what's actually happening underneath all the political posturing; the kabuki put on for our benefit. You'd think, instead of wasting untold column inches, let alone the trees required, writing about a pair of pants on a middle-aged dad, they'd concentrate more on things that concern their readers, like whether or not they can sleep just a little bit easier knowing an illness won't wipe out what little they can squirrel away, and why our elected representatives oppose it so vehemently.

I tell ya what, 'journalists'. Why don't you try to figure out what's in Barry's pants? That might be a bit more interesting. The American people are being screwed nine ways from Sunday, by everybody (it's a target-rich environment) but heaven forbid our President wears the wrong number Levis. Idiots.

An aside: Were I the President, and I read this about myself, I'd walk around for a week in the white boxer shorts with red hearts that Mrs. F bought me. Care less where - in the Rose Garden, the Oval Office, with a suit jacket and tie at public functions too (with wingtips and white socks as well). That'd give 'em something to talk about.

Which made me think of something related for your Wednesday morning musical interlude:

Bonnie Raitt - Something To Talk About

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Military Code Of Conduct

Got these by e-mail from my school pal and retired Master Chief Steve:

Marine Corps Rules:

1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work.
5. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a '4.'
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.
8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral & diagonal preferred.)
9. Use cover and concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to shoot.

Navy SEALS Rules:

1. Look very cool in sunglasses.
2. Kill every living thing within view.
3. Adjust speedo.
4. Check hair in mirror.

US Army Rangers Rules:

1. Walk 50 miles wearing 75 pound rucksack while starving.
2. Locate individuals requiring killing.
3. Request permission via radio from 'Higher' to perform killing.
4. Curse bitterly when mission is aborted.
5. Walk out 50 miles wearing a 75 pound rucksack while starving.

US Army Rules:

1. Curse bitterly when receiving operational order.
2. Make sure there is extra ammo and extra coffee.
3. Curse bitterly.
4. Curse bitterly.
5. Do not listen to 2nd LTs; it can get you killed.

US Air Force Rules:

1. Have a cocktail.
2. Adjust temperature on air-conditioner..
3. See what's on HBO.
4. Ask 'What is a gunfight?'
5. Request more funding from Congress with a 'killer' Power Point presentation.
6. Wine & dine ''key' Congressmen, invite DOD & defense industry executives.
7. Receive funding, set up new command and assemble assets.
8. Declare the assets 'strategic' and never deploy them operationally.
9. Hurry to make 13:45 tee-time.
10. Make sure the base is as far as possible from the conflict but close enough to have tax exemption.

US Navy Rules:

1. Go to Sea.
2. Drink Coffee.
3. Deploy Marines
3. Deploy Marines

"Kua Fu chased the fiery sun across the sky..."

So...if you were wondering why the welding mask that was supposed to come with it was missing out of your new Cheap Chinese Welder, here's why:


Reporting from Beijing -- In a popular Chinese legend, a giant named Kua Fu chased the fiery sun across the sky, hoping to bring about the end of a catastrophic drought. Though the hero dies in impassioned pursuit, the gods take notice of his inspired effort and punish the sun, forcing it farther from the Earth and drawing the calamitous weather to a close.

Now, Chinese media are ablaze with the mythical giant's name -- this time, to refer to amateur astronomers who have flocked to southern China for the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century. International and domestic tourists have descended on government-designated viewing spots such as Shanghai, Suzhou and Wuhan to witness the natural phenomenon.

Shit, I'd steal some Big Nose's welding mask to go see that too! We can send it to him later if he notices and bitches about it.

Budget De-Raptored


WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted today to halt production of the Air Force's missile-eluding F-22 Raptor fighter jets in a high-stakes, veto-laden showdown over President Barack Obama's efforts to shift defense spending to a next generation of smaller, single-engine F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

The defense bill has funds to build 30 F-35s. The plane is currently being produced in small numbers for testing purposes. The single-engine plane will eventually replace the venerable F-16 and the Air force's aging fleet of A-10s. Its primary purposed is to attack targets on the ground.

Man, the F-35 better be something special. The two planes it's to replace are remarkable pieces of gear!

$1.75 billion out of a $680 billion defense bill isn't very much, but it's a start at getting rid of unnecessary pork-barrel expense. There's a lot more to go.

Right Wingers Ready for Violence to Defend the Rich, White Way of Life

The Rude Pundit goes off on some of The Usual Suspects:

Did you get that? If you don't trust the government, go out and buy a gun. Because why? Because you can use the muzzle to push the buttons in a voting booth? Or because you can use it to shoot and kill any government motherfuckers who are going to...well, do what?

So what is driving the good right wing to talk more and more openly about arming themselves for some coming uprising? Has Barack Obama sent the FBI to break down law-abiding conservatives' doors, take their guns, shoot their women, and rape their dogs? Did Joe Biden start an enemies list and had a handcuffed Sean Hannity dragged to a prison where he can be beaten until he gives the whereabouts of Steve Doocy? Holy shit, an ignorant outside observer might think, what is so deadly that a media figure like Beck is, in essence, telling people to buy guns now?

And the answer is a slight raise in the marginal tax rate on the wealthy? An attempt to provide health care to uninsured Americans? A legally-elected government in a representative democracy spending money in the way those campaigning said it would be spent? If Ben Franklin were around, he'd scoff, "Pussies," beat Glenn Beck unconscious with his cane, let Thomas Paine sodomize him, and head back to Paris for more time with whores.

If gun violence was really the answer to anything, there wouldn't be any racists, white supremacists, KKKers, neo-Nazis, skinheads, or neocons, and there'd be a lot less fundies and Repugs, and I would have a lovely modern art sculpture in my front yard made out of melted gun barrels and spent cartridges.

Republicans Will Be Toast in 2010 If the Dems Pass Health Reform, and They Know It


If Obama and the Democrats get health care reform done, the Republican Party is finished in the next election. So it's pulling out the stops.

P.M. Carpenter

Obama quakes at the notion of a Congressional recess, because he knows his party's truly identifying mascot has devolved from the stubbornly determined donkey to the rabbit -- a scared, neurotic, running rabbit. He knows the power of negativity is tenfold that of the positive; some of these lawmaking boys and girls might hit the panic button after experiencing a month of intense, specially interested, home-district pressure groups opposed principally to a public option.

And that is why, in turn, these negative voices are salivating at the thought of delay in the poisonous form of a summer recess; it could well be a cooling period that ultimately ices the odds of authentic reform.

Meanwhile, however, and on the definite upside, these voices aren't doing themselves any big favors in their unthinkingly splashy and over-the-top negativity: and as long as Congress sits (and sits, and sits) in session, Obama can more effectively exploit many of the more egregious examples.

Yesterday, for instance, it was heartening to hear his aggressive pushback to Republican Sen. Jim DeMint's ruthlessly feckless comment -- "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo; it will break him" -- but just as stunning, to me, was the sympathetic cable-news commentary that poured from Obama's rebuttal, which itself noted the wholly politics-centric nakedness of DeMint's comment. Why was I stunned at the high broadcast volume of negativity against DeMint's negativity? Because, simply, I thought that if anything in this world was axiomatic to the now tedious point of non-noteworthiness, it was that contemporary Republicans are always more interested in political success than people's welfare (my em).

Job One to all politicians is to get re-elected.

Job One-A to Repugs is to see that Obama fails so they stand a chance of getting back in power and keep the corporate gravy train running full speed for them. Cash or check.

Health care for all Americans? Best Repug outcome is mandatory private health insurance for profit. 46,000,000 new wallets their masters aren't tapping into yet. 'Single payer' to them is if the money comes from the taxpayers to cover folks who can't afford it. Mox nix, as long as the bucks go to their capitalist bosses.

Health care itself? Not important. Power and money are what's important.

Besides, real health care might keep people from getting sick. Where's the money in that?

So ...

Now, it seems, even straight marriages aren't good if they haven't been performed in church:

The anti-gay circus has arrived in Maine. But, the latest all-male anti-gay group is not content with just fighting same-sex marriage. No, they're also opposed to any marriage performed at City Hall -- without God.

Give 'em an inch ...

Good plan, dickhead ...

Leave it to a Republican to 'control costs':

If you want to boil down the position of Republicans on healthcare reform, this from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in response to a question about the uninsured, says it all: "Well, they don't go without health care, because they can just go to the emergency room."


And who pays the exorbitant bill once the treatment is over? It will probably wipe out the people who need the care if they have any means whatsoever. If they have no resources, it is made up from you and me, the people who do have health insurance, in the form of higher premiums or less options.

The hypocrites who whine about the costs of a 'public option' have no qualms about recommending the uninsured get the most expensive care possible. That's because their masters in the insurance industry and Big Hospital have ways of recouping those losses.

Your Republican Party: Corporations Über Alles!

Demon Medicare ...

Same old song and dance, 50 years later:


Listening to the recording now, it's kind of embarrassing to hear how very wrong Reagan's attacks on Medicare were at the time. In 1961, Reagan was a GE spokesperson, known for his conservative politics. When he lashed out at the idea of Medicare, it wasn't surprising, but it was the message itself that was so bizarre.

According to Reagan, Medicare would lead federal officials to dictate where physicians could practice medicine, and open the door to government control over where Americans were allowed to live. In fact, Reagan warned that if Medicare became law, there was a real possibility that the federal government would control where Americans go and what they do for a living.

In a line that may sound familiar to Sarah Palin fans, Reagan added, "[I]f you don't [stop Medicare] and I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."


Same stupid shit we're hearing now.

I tell ya what, you Republicans who feel so strongly about a 'public option' and the downfall of our society it portends, give up your Medicare for a while and see how well you do. Fucking hypocrites ...

Link thanks to John.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Disgusting ...

(Stays on top today - G, no slouch at kissin' the ass of power his own self.)

As long as we have people like CNN's John King, of which make up the majority of our 'talking heads', any 'change' we can hope for will be dashed on the rocks of American Corporatism.

King: So Donna, what is happening? You know, we had an election in November. What we thought we got was united government, a Democrat in the White House, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate. Instead it seems that we just have a different kind of divided government. You have a Democratic President that's fighting with wings of his own party in congress, including, this is from Democracy for America. It's an email. It's a liberal organization. It is now sending an email to its supporters essentially saying send us money so that we can "run tough ads pressuring Democratic Senators who've taken millions of dollars from the health and insurance interests while standing in the way of one of President Obama's top priorities".


King: I mean, they all raise money, but they're essentially saying they're being bought to block President Obama. [vid at the link]


No shit, a grammar school child can see the obvious. What is the insurance industry throwing at Congress, $1.4mln/day?

And King and his ilk are being bought, whether by direct payments or with the promise of 'access', to either act clueless or to actively help the Republicans (and Democratic Blue Dogs) assure our corporate insurance system lives long and prospers.

I posit that, were it not for our 'corporate media', Bush would have never finished his first term, let alone been 'reelected'. Had the truth been told, had the hard questions been asked after September 11th, we wouldn't be in the dire economic straits we're in now. Had all of King's buddies, back in '96, called the Clinton 'scandals' for what they were, had they held the congressional Republicans accountable for making mountains out of mole hills, maybe we wouldn't be in two wars we can't afford, with the economy tanking, and our health care system in shambles.

Gord touched on this a bit the other day, mentioning the great David Halberstam in relation to the death of War Criminal McNamara, and Greenwald has a great essay up this weekend, about how the media has become a paid propaganda arm of the government (namely the permanent Republican/Conservative residents of Washington). There are few like Cronkite and Halberstam (and Murrow of course) and, as Greenwald points out, it is by design:


When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam died, media stars everywhere commemorated his death as though he were one of them -- as though they do what he did -- even though he had nothing but bottomless, intense disdain for everything they do. As he put it in a 2005 speech to students at the Columbia School of Journalism: "the better you do your job, often going against conventional mores, the less popular you are likely to be . . . . By and large, the more famous you are, the less of a journalist you are."

In that same speech, Halberstam cited as the "proudest moment" of his career a bitter argument he had in 1963 with U.S. Generals in Vietnam, by which point, as a young reporter, he was already considered an "enemy" of the Kennedy White House for routinely contradicting the White House's claims about the war (the President himself asked his editor to pull Halberstam from reporting on Vietnam). During that conflict, he stood up to a General in a Press Conference in Saigon who was attempting to intimidate him for having actively doubted and aggressively investigated military claims, rather than taking and repeating them at face value ... [em in orig]

Now it's just about regurgitating talking points from the people who have enough disposable cash to assure the best outcome (for them) of legislation designed to protect the American people.

An aside: For those of you who got a hundred grand to throw away, try this experiment. Throw it around in Washington; better yet, get a couple friends with that kind of money, pool it, and then throw it around in Washington. See how fast you start hobnobbing with the 'in crowd'. But I digress.


All of that was ignored when [Halberstam] died, with establishment media figures exploiting his death to suggest that his greatness reflected well on what they do, as though what he did was the same thing as what they do (much the same way that Martin Luther King's vehement criticisms of the United States generally and its imperialism and aggression specifically have been entirely whitewashed from his hagiography).

So, too, with the death of Walter Cronkite. Tellingly, his most celebrated and significant moment -- Greg Mitchell says "this broadcast would help save many thousands of lives, U.S. and Vietnamese, perhaps even a million" -- was when he stood up and announced that Americans shouldn't trust the statements being made about the war by the U.S. Government and military, and that the specific claims they were making were almost certainly false. In other words, Cronkite's best moment was when he did exactly that which the modern journalist today insists they must not ever do -- directly contradict claims from government and military officials and suggest that such claims should not be believed. These days, our leading media outlets won't even use words that are disapproved of by the Government.


And thus, today, guys like King feel empowered to present something other than the truth. Fox 'News' is the worst, by far, but by now it's nothing more than an obvious joke, as much as people realize WWE wrestling is really fake. CNBC I refer to as the Financial Fox. CNN and MSNBC aren't really that far behind. CNN has King, Foreman, and Dobbs and MSNBC has, paraphrasing another blogger (I forget who), "Pat Buchanan sleeping on a cot in the Green Room". Was a time, such an obvious bigot wouldn't have a regular job in the 'mainstream media' and had he said what he says, been laughed off any show he did appear on.

It's all about power and status. It's the reason most of these talking heads are making a tax increase on the rich seem like the Sheriff of Nottingham coming to collect the King's tribute from the peasants. If you haven't realized it, all those idiots on TV who talk at you are pretty well off. You know their tax rate will go up. Something like 97% of us make less than $250K a year yet to listen to them, we're all about to get reamed .060 oversize.

Whether we like to admit it or not, everybody is in the corporate pocket except for the majority of Americans who have to pay their bills on time, wonder if they can afford to put food on the table, fix the car, and pray they have some sort of safety net in case someone in the family gets sick lest they lose it all. In a government of, for, and by the people, in a fourth estate designed to protect those same people, the good of the people comes a distant second to the good of the corporate bottom line.

The best, it seems, we can hope for is to collect a few crumbs from the floor after the giants are done eating. It's disgusting.

Yeah, that works ...

Just trust in Jesus ... not:

Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush's evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US's major public health body.

In a report that will surprise few of Bush's critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.

The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs. [my em]


Just let the Jesus freaks run the country and this is what you get. A whole generation of unwanted kids, many of whom become resented by their underage, under-educated, ill-equipped parents, and those young parents also having to deal with diseases that will shorten their lives. Who suffers but the children (whether they be the infants or the parents)? Didn't Jesus say something about that? Just sayin' ...

Link thanks to Oliver Willis.

Henry Allingham: World's Oldest Man Dies At 113

He went to war as a teenager, helped keep flimsy aircraft flying, survived his wounds and came home from World War I to a long – very long – and fruitful life.

But only in his last years did he discover his true mission: to remind new generations of the sacrifices of the millions slaughtered in the trenches, killed in the air, or lost at sea in what Britons call the Great War.

Allingham, who was the world's oldest man when he died Saturday at 113, attributed his remarkable longevity to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women. (my em)"

I knew it! Hope floats! Thank you, Henry.

He was the last surviving original member of the Royal Air Force, which was formed in 1918. He made it a personal crusade to talk about a conflict that wiped out much of a generation. Though nearly blind, he would take the outstretched hands of visitors in both of his, gaze into the eyes of children, veterans and journalists and deliver a message he wanted them all to remember about those left on the battlefield.

"I don't want to see them forgotten," he would say quietly. "We were pals."

As a mechanic, Allingham's job was to maintain the rickety craft. He also flew as an observer on a biplane. At first, his weaponry consisted of a standard issue Lee Enfield .303 rifle – sometimes two. Parachutes weren't issued.

I guess they had plenty of mechanics. Ulp...

In 2001, Henry took up Veterans' issues:

That's about the time he met Goodwin, a nursing home inspector who realized that veterans of Allingham's generation were not getting the care they needed to address the trauma they had experienced at the Somme, Gallipoli and Ypres and the other blood-drenched World War I battlefields. [...]

We're talking about 100+-year-old men who have been living with PTSD for over 80 years. We didn't know about it for most of those years, but they lived with it anyway.

I hope no Iraq/Afghanistan Veteran has to take up that cause for our guys in 2090. Assuming those wars are over by then.

Please go read more about Mr. Allingham. Godspeed, Sir.

California finds pot is a huge cash cow

AP via Seattle Times

SAN FRANCISCO — A drug deal plays out, California-style:

A conservatively dressed courier drives a company-leased Smart Car to an apartment on a weekday afternoon. Erick Alvaro hands over a white paper bag to his 58-year-old customer, who inspects the bag to ensure that everything he ordered over the phone is there.

An eighth-ounce of organic marijuana buds for treating his seasonal allergies? Check. An eighth of a different strain for insomnia? Check. THC-infused lozenges and tea bags? Check and check, with a free herb-laced cookie thrown in as a thank-you gift.

It's a $102 credit-card transaction carried out with the practiced efficiency of a home-delivered pizza — and with just about as much legal scrutiny.

More and more, having premium pot delivered to your door in California is not a crime. It is a legitimate business.

Now if they can just make it free if it doesn't come in under thirty minutes...

Although a dozen other states, including Washington, have adopted similar laws, California is the only one where privately owned pot shops have flourished. Los Angeles County alone has at least 400 dispensaries and delivery services, nearly twice as many outlets as Amsterdam, the Netherlands capital whose coffee shops have been synonymous with free-market marijuana for decades.

California's pot dispensaries now have more in common with a corner grocery than a speak-easy. They advertise freely, offering discount coupons and daily specials.

Meredith Lintott, Mendocino County's district attorney, argues that big-time growers never would bother filing tax returns. "Legalizing it isn't going to touch the big money," she said.

But others predict the black-market business model would fall apart.

Large-scale agri-businesses in California's Central Valley would dominate legal marijuana production as they already do bulk wine grapes, advocates argue. Pot prices would fall dramatically, forcing growers to abandon costly clandestine operations that authorities say trash the land and steal scarce water.

And legalization, supporters insist, would save state and local governments billions on police, court and prison costs.

But others survey California in 2009 and say the cannabis future is now. Richard Lee has parlayed two Oakland dispensaries into a mini-empire that includes a marijuana-lifestyle magazine, a starter-plant nursery and a three-campus marijuana trade school. Oaksterdam University's main campus is a prominent fixture in revitalized downtown Oakland.

All without legalization.

We're gettin' there.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

California Public Debt Rated on Par With Kazakhstan, Iceland
Causes panic in Kazakhstan, Iceland.

Biggest Decline in Video Game Sales Since 2000
Industry fears kids may be going back outside to play.

Many States Closing Rest Areas
Replacing them with speed traps.

Amazon Deletes 1984, Animal Farm From All Kindles
Warns Kindle owners: Jeff Bezos Is Watching You.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obama Axes Pentagon Plan

Sunday Linda Blogging

Here's one for Fixer.

Linda Ronstadt ~ You Go To My Head

Thanks to RickBusciglio.

They Got Some ’Splainin’ to Do

Daddy Frank on the Sotomayor hearings:

AS political theater, the Sonia Sotomayor hearings tanked faster than the 2008 Fred Thompson presidential campaign. [...]

Oooooh, low blow, Pops. Right on the money too!

Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-régime conservatives were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent.

The hearings were pure “Alice in Wonderland.” Reality was turned upside down. Southern senators who relate every question to race, ethnicity and gender just assumed that their unreconstructed obsessions are America’s and that the country would find them riveting. Instead the country yawned. The Sotomayor questioners also assumed a Hispanic woman, simply for being a Hispanic woman, could be portrayed as The Other and patronized like a greenhorn unfamiliar with How We Do Things Around Here. The senators seemed to have no idea they were describing themselves when they tried to caricature Sotomayor as an overemotional, biased ideologue.

[...] Even those viewers who watched the Sotomayor show for only a few minutes could see that her America is our future and theirs is the rapidly receding past.

Oh, ¡sí!

Please read the rest.

Repug Congressman slips up, tells the truth...

...and will no doubt get in big trouble for it.

Think Progress

Today on C-Span’s Washington Journal, a caller told a story of how he was forced to see numerous doctors at different hospitals in the area in where he lives, some as far as 100 miles away, to get a diagnosis. The caller then faulted health insurance companies for preventing the practice of having “diagnostic tests done under one roof.” “So in essence,” the caller noted, “the insurance companies are the ones controlling what tests you can get, when you get them, how you get them and if they’re accepted or not.”

In a remarkable moment of candor, C-Span’s guest — Republican Congressman Tim Murphy (PA) — agreed:

MURPHY: Yeah and that brings up the point here that with regard to one of our big frustrations with insurance companies is they control the market place, they control what’s done, a lot of times doctors not making the decisions here. And you recognize the frustration.

Watch it:

Please do, and read the comments:

Above the Clouds says:

Rep. Murphy--there is a Mr. Limbaugh on the phone for you.

Sunday Mussorgsky Blogging

This one goes out to anyone who mighta missed church this morning. They tell me that Russian music is good for the soul.

The music on this piece is from 3 movements of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" ten-piano suite.
They are:
"Promenade" [from start to 1:38]
"Hut on Fowl's Legs (Baba Yaga)" [from 1:38 to 3:45]
"The Great Gate of Kiev" [from 3:45 to end]

Do you notice the picture on the bass drums? It is a drawing of the Great Gate of Kiev complete with a bell tower to its right.

Animusic 2 ~ Cathedral Pictures

Thanks to Mechaffix326.

Sunday Wake The Hell Up Music Blogging ...

I'm hungover (our cruise pals Annie and Joe came over for drinks and dinner yesterday to plan our piracy and debauchery for September) and I needed a lift. This is from, what I think, is the best album Led Zeppelin ever put out, though you don't really hear much from it.

Led Zeppelin - Out On The Tiles