Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Warning: some expletives. We need to demand more and better from all our politicians, politics, legislators, representatives and, ultimately, government.
Last evening, PBS ran another "Frontline" story, this one on Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant disaster after the tsunami they experienced last March 11. Besides telling an important story and getting the details of what happened to all these people, it also struck me how their Prime Minister Naoto Kan seemed to take charge of the situation, along with taking responsibility. I also respected and appreciated the honor he seemed to take in what became his job. I would love to see that from our elected officials, of course, at all times, but especially in times of these national emergencies and catastrophies. It would have been really nice to have seen when Hurrican Katrina hit the Gulf states here. What strikes me now, however, is that I'd like to hear the truth about what radioactive fallout hit the US and in what amounts, from the West Coast to East. Anyone? News media? Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/japans-nuclear-meltdown/
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
There was yet another program on PBS last evening that I'll mention here today. It was "Red, White and Blues" and it was fun. There were some terrific musicians there and in it, of course. Some of those were B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Keb' Mo, Jeff Beck and more. I just have to make one note, besides saying it was good and well done. That is, the one performer there who absolutely did not belong but who performed nearly alone and for far too long was---wait for it--Mick Jagger. I mean, please. He was sad. When you put him after and before true blues artists and not just people who are "influenced by the blues", as he was and is, it's like comparing the Hope Diamond to cubic zirconia. And that may be stretching it. Mick was all postion this and dance step that while the true blues players of the evening were just up there doing--simply--what they do best and that is, playing the blues. It wasn't about them as it was with Mick. It was about the music. With that one, big caveat, it was a well-spent hour, for sure. Link:
Rick "Mr. Small Brain" Santorum, aka "Education is Snobbery" has--get this--three educational degrees. He has a Bachelor's degree, a law degree and an MBA but accuses President Obama of "snobbery" by apparently even suggesting that Americans and America's youth get college educations. Sheesh. It's one thing to be stupid but to be stupid and a raging hypocrite, both, at the same time, repeatedly, is pretty stunning. But one thing that gets me is, in this video, when Mr. Santorum puts out the line "What a snob" about this President, what is it about that all white, older audience that likes hearing someone say that? Do people just want to put a stick in the eye of authority--in this case, the President--so they clap and show support? Is this their effort and time and place and way to feel that they have more control in their lives, by doing this? It sure seems that way. Link: http://veracitystew.com/?p=31283
Next up, "Star Wars." Certainly, it will never and could never be remade, not that there would be a need. That said, there is nothing like it and never will be. The people, the technology, the ideas--it was the right thing at that right time. It blew us away. I also could have put up so many scenes from this film, it made it very easy.
How's this for irony? (Which I've said here before, I love so much.) If it's real and sincere, it's as ironic as it gets: 'It's a sin': Iran calls on treaty to ban nuclear weapons What's great about this is, first, that Iran would be saying there needs to be a ban on nuclear weapons, just as the US is insisting they're trying to build them. Oh, and that we want to go in, "blow them up real good" (with thanks to SCTV) and keep them from building nuclear weapons because, well, you know, they're trying to. Secondly, the reason this is so grea--and ironic--is that they're not only saying there should be a ban on nuclear weapons but that--this is great, wait for it--"it's a sin"! They're using religion to say it's bad, too. Sure, it's that Muslim religion the Christians villify and look down their noses on but hey, it's still religion. It's still saying it goes against--ulp--God. They couldn't have come up with a better idea right now nor a better way to call us out on this if they tried. You have to hand it to them for this move. It's a beauty, and on at least 2 levels. They're obviously trying to beat us at our own game. Make that games. Link: http://rt.com/news/iran-nuclear-iaea-sin-421/
Yes, sir, here it is. Finally, at last, a good idea in the form of a proposed and sponsored bill coming out of Congress. This one looks likely to get broad, bipartisan support, too, in this election year. It's called the "No Budget--No Pay" bill. It proposes that if Congress doesn't do one of it's biggest jobs--that is, creating a budget for the country and its government--that they don't get paychecks. Sounds like a marvelous idea, doesn't it? Go to this link to read about it and hopefully to send a note to your representative, telling them you support it and that they should, too: http://action.nolabels.org/issue/no-budget-no-pay/
...no one would. The latest example? Last evening on "American Masters", PBS had a one hour show on Cab Calloway. It was fantastic. And the reason it was so good was because Cab Calloway was such an interesting, talented singer, dancer and performer, sure, but also because his story also gave so much history of our country during the time he was here, performing and with us. And to think a lot of us might not even know that much of him but for Jake and Elwood Blues, the "Blues Brothers." Link: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/cab-calloway-sketches/about-the-documentary/1958/
Alfre Woodard, reciting Sojouner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman." How ironic, to hear this, here, now, from anyone, as the Republicans and Right Wing want the control of women's contraceptive and reproductive rights. Some things never change. But things must. (With thanks and a hat tip to MoveOn.org for this reminder).
I'm not one to promote TV shows as a rule, but this one, "Smash", is so enjoyable and well-written and has wonderful tension and dynamics that I'm making an obvious exception. If you're not watching it, you're missing something, I think. You're missing great writing, terrific development, wonderful characters and--what can I say--New York City, if even vicariously. You may want to check it out if you haven't already, on Monday nights.
Don't get me wrong--I'm no Ron Paul supporter, by any means, but all the questions deserve a good, public discussion.
"The Republicans, with their crazed Reagan fixation, are a last-gasp party, living posthumously, fighting battles on sex, race, immigration and public education long ago won by the other side. They’re trying to roll back the clock, but time is passing them by. Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate." --Maureen Dowd, writer, columnist at The New York Times Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/opinion/sunday/dowd-ghastly-outdated-party.html?_r=1
Monday, February 27, 2012
I came across what I thought is a very good, if simple, description of the European financial system and its problems right now: "Underfunded banks buys underfunded government bonds and underfunded governments guarantees underfunded banks.? It's one of those things that, again, is simple and that seems true but you certainly hope is not. Links: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/02/capital-flight-from-italy-greece.html; http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-myths-about-the-european-quagmire-2012-02-27?link=MW_story_popular; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/opinion/krugman-what-ails-europe.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
“The system doesn’t work, it’s broke today. The end of insurance companies, the way we’ve run the business in the past, is here.” --Mark Bertolini, CEO and Chairman of Aetna Insurance, speaking at a recent conference, announced that the end is near for profit driven health insurance companies.
Click on picture for legibility.
Click on picture for better viewing.
There's only six of them. First, Gwyneth Paltrow was "best dressed", hands down. So simple, so beautiful, so unpretentious (which is so rare at this event), wonderfully unique and all white. The dress itself was magnificent but that cape was a simple stunner. The fact that it was designed by Tom Ford just helps it that much more. Side note: The new "greeting" at the Oscars isn't "Hi, hello, how are you?" Instead, it's--immediately upon seeing a "star"--"Who are you wearing?" Could we be more shallow?
As always, click on picture for bigger, better viewing.
A much more important, local show was going on across town for our own Rose Brooks with Kristen Chenoweth hosting their big, annual fundraiser for them.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
One of the best "Star Wars" scenes ever. Right from the opening scene of the first film of the entire series, they had us. What a time that was.
First Dolly, with her very own song: Then there's the very different, younger, soulful Whitney Houston, of course, with her version: Could there be a better example of how important our own uniqueness is to, well, whatever we do?
"I used to be a conservative, and I watch these debates, and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective, and that’s kind of where we are." --Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, brother of former President George W. Bush, son of Former President and Director of the CIA George H.W. Bush. Link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/02/24/jeb-bush-2012-candidates-troubling.html
...I remember when Facebook didn't always keep "refreshing" so that when you were reading something, it would stay right in front of you and not disappear who knows where.
"The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure." --Lyndon B Johnson
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Okay, two weeks ago, Whitney Houston died, as we all--heaven knows--know. Last week, the funeral, which took both Saturday and Sunday. Tonight, her best, most famous movie, "Bodyguard" was on, no surprise. I expected it. But I had totally forgotten that the story involved her character in that movie being up for an Oscar. And of course the Oscars are tomorrow evening. I mean, really, once in a while, coincidence or no, things just rather freak you out with how timed they are. My Father's funeral--his death and the funeral, for instance, and the timing of it and a few things--was very similar. Sometimes you're given to thought about the weird, eerie, syncronicity of things.
...I know what he's singing about. And all the references. And I used to watch the orginal TV show at home with family. On Sunday evenings. (But I didn't know there were words--and these words, specifically--to this theme song).
Yet more on the Kansas and Missouri legislators lately, not doing their jobs. From Dave Helling in The Star earlier this week: Kansas, Missouri unlikely to meet deadline on health care "Kansas and Missouri are almost certain to miss an end-of-the-year deadline for establishing a key component of the nation’s health care law — health insurance 'exchanges' where individuals and businesses can compare and purchase coverage." Forget that thousands--at least--of people in both states don't have and need health care. Forget that this could help lower the cost of health insurance in both states. Sure, forget that. And as if all this, above, weren't bad enough, check this out: "Last year, Kansas declined a $31.5 million “early innovator” grant for an exchange." Nice, huh? If I were from Kansas, this is just one more of many big reasons to be angry. What you have to keep in mind is that both legislatures in these two states have Republican majorities and they don't want to appear to support the Affordable Care Act of this President. Forget that it helps their constituents. Remember, though, to put your political party first. Terrific. There are two glimmers of hope mentioned in the article. Here's the first: "If Kansas or Missouri fails to certify its plan by year’s end, the federal government is required to step in and create one." The second bit of hope is that other states are, in fact, creating their exchanges. You can bet the insurance agencies are out there now, giving untold amounts of "campaign contributions" to our lawmakers, in an effort to kill all this, lest they have to reduce our health insurance premiums. Anyway, again, thanks to both Republican Party state houses--for nothing. Link to original article: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/23/3448606/kansas-missouri-unlikely-to-meet.html
From Steve Kraske and his column today in The Star: "Missouri’s the only state where officials can accept $500,000 campaign donations and unlimited lobbyist gifts. And now, courtesy of a state Supreme Court ruling this week, donors can once again hide whom they’re giving to." How's that for disgusting? Thank you, Jefferson City legislators. Thank you, Republican Party. For nothing. Out of all 50 states--the entire nation--Missouri is the only one where our legislators can be bought and paid for in HUGE sums of money. Worse yet, then the trail can be covered. That is some kind of sick and irresponsible. This, ladies and gentlemen, truly is "what's wrong with our country", to use the cliche'. The wealthy and corporations can--and do, as we know--give sometimes small amounts (as low as $2,000) to our representatives. In the end, that gets them OUR legislation, OUR laws and so, our government. That's why it's government for the rich and for corporations first, if not always. This is why we must change the laws on "campaign contributions." This is why we need tough, stringent, accountable, prosecutable, punishable campaign finance reform. This, like it or not, is why we need to have our government finance our elections. That and make them 3 or 6 months long, at worst, by law. Until we do that, until we get this big, ugly, corrupting money out of our election systems, our government and laws will be for the rich and for corporations first, if not always. Link to original article: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/17/3436381/steve-kraske-where-to-begin.html
Scott Simon's 2nd and final report today on NPR: Saving Kansas City Schools Means Rescuing A City This one was far more full of questions and not of pointing out as many of the School District's faults, in my opinion, compared to last week's broadcast: Link: http://www.npr.org/2012/02/25/147393076/saving-kansas-city-schools-means-rescuing-a-city
Friday, February 24, 2012
Click on picture for bigger, better viewing, as always.
First this, from our very own Missouri: Seven women in Missouri House say they were kept out of debate on contraception And yes, of course they were Democrats but wouldn't you think female legislators ought to be able to speak in the wing of government they work for and in on a subject that directly effects them and all the women in the state? Wouldn't you think? Way to go, guys. And then there's this little beauty from the Kansas side, not to be outdone: Amended Kansas tax plan increases burden on poor Because nothing says "I feel your pain" like raising taxes on the poor. So there you are--two fantastic examples of the Republican Party in America, not working for you. Heartless, ignorant, greedy, selfish bastards. Links: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/23/3448634/seven-women-in-missouri-house.html; http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/22/3446052/amended-kansas-tax-plan-increases.html
Thursday, February 23, 2012
This one: PITCH EDITOR DELIVERS QUOTE OF DAY/MONTH/YEAR I'll get to the meat of the article: "Justin Kendall is an excellent writer and has done a superb job as the Managing Editor at The Pitch alternative weekly the past five months. But not only is Kendall’s writing top-notch, his sarcasm is pure gold. Take for instance his story about Frank Ross III, who ran a stop sign while drunk and obliterated a police car in the process titled “Can you drunk-drive into a cop car and keep your license? Yes – if you’re Frank Ross III.” The well-connected Ross, whose father is a partner in a major KC law firm, didn’t even lose his driving privileges over the incident. 'The driver, officer Warner J. Stumpenhaus, walked away with minor injuries,' wrote Kendall. 'The passenger, officer Serge Grinik, wasn’t so lucky. Firefighters had to extricate him from the cruiser, and he was hospitalized with a fractured pelvis, a fractured shoulder, and multiple abrasions and lacerations.'” And then this kind of crap--with rich people hurting or killing others and then buying their way out of it--needs to stop. At least it wasn't as bad as Curtis Mertensmeyer killing Lucas Bates with his mom's car and skipping off down the street, as happened here in town in 2010. (See 2nd link below) Links: http://www.bottomlinecom.com/pitch-editor-delivers-quote-of-daymonthyear/; http://moravings.blogspot.com/2010/11/if-only-lucas-bates-were-born-where.html
Take a moment and watch this. It lasts 4 minutes.
Former Senator Russ Feingold on the big, ugly, corrupting money in our political system (and so, our government)
The question NPR asked yesterday is one I've put forward before and it's a good and timely one. That is "Should Elections Be Held On Weekends?" I think the answer is partly tradition and partly so we keep the voter rolls down but really, voting in the middle of the week makes no sense at all. If we want voters voting and we want turnout at the polls--and I suggest most of America does, in fact--then why don't we vote on Saturdays when more people are off work? This would likely help both getting volunteers to man the booths as well as making it easier to get to them to do this civic duty. Oh, yeah, it's time this changed.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
"I'm more conservative than you." "I love Jesus more." "No gay marriage." "Obama stinks." Blah, blah, blah... It's all you need to know.
People derisively speak of the Affordable Care Act as "Obamacare" and rail about how awful it either is or must be, in spite of what power it gives back to Americans in our health care but check this out--there are plenty of organizations--state by state and nationwide--that do support it. How much and what kind of support, you ask? Check this out: "On Friday, however, a broad coalition of religious organizations filed an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that should give the lie to any claim that the faith community opposes the ACA. The brief includes a number of major religious denominations, including the policy arm of the United Methodist Church, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church. Additionally, the brief’s signatories include a wide range of Catholic group..." One of those Catholic groups is right here in our own Missouri in the form of The Sisters of the Precious Blood. The article goes on to tell that "Pope Benedict XVI has called health care an 'inalienable right,' and added that it is the 'moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens.'" You can read more about this national support and all the other organizations that support it at the link below. Just know this--if you're bellowing about how awful the ACA is because, well, gee, everyone's against, that just isn't true. That's not true by a long shot. Link: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/02/21/429184/religious-groups-line-up-to-support-affordable-care-act/?mobile=nc
How about pedophilia? Would you give up that one for us, please? And protecting your male, Catholic hierarchy. There's another good one. Please? If not for us and if not for yourselves, how about for your own children?
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine." --Ludwig Van Beethoven
"To me, the gap between President Obama and these people [the GOP candidates] is so enormous that it's a threat to our country to elect people who take such a silly view of the rest of the world," --Former Senator Russ Feingold, (WI) speaking about his book "While America Sleeps. Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/russ-feingold-book-gop-2012_n_1289428.html
"Clean energy was a $260 billion investment flow in 2011. Europe has now more than one million new renewable jobs. The big winner is Germany. They have more solar workers than America has steel workers. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel bet that it would be smarter to send their energy money to their own engineers, manufacturers, and installers than to keep paying it to [Russia’s] Gazprom. She’s right, and it was a winning bet." --Amory Lovins, Chairman, chief scientist at Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org) and author of "Reinventing Fire." Links: http://www.alternet.org/environment/154222/renewables_are_a_reality%3A_how_to_get_our_clean_energy_future_without_any_help_from_congress?page=1
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
"Mitt Romney still losing Michigan - this guy couldn't be less popular in 'heartland' if he strangled Dolly Parton and came out against fishing." --Bill Maher today, on Facebook.
That's some good news. Of course, I don't understand how that's working, that the Federal Government has approved 10 of the 50 states to get waivers from the "No Child Left Behind" law but it's an improvement, nonetheless, and Missouri and everyone else should go for it, too. The NCLB law was and is so monumentally stupid, it's difficult to say how much so. Seriously, since when was any human being, let alone a group, let alone a group of children, supposed to get to "100% proficiency" in all areas of education? How was that going to happen? Suddenly we were to be blesssed with perfect children? An entire generation, nationwide, coast-to-coast that were going to do 100% on all subjects? What planet did these people live on? That provision alone doomed the entire law and effort. You're going to cut back on financial support for schools because they can't and don't reach 100% proficiency with all their students by 2014? Right. Great idea. Why don't you just set the bar even higher (not that that's possible) and then set the trigger date for completion as, oh, I don't know, TOMORROW? On top of that, the whole thing was UNFUNDED. How do you set higher standards for schools and states for their kids but not give any additional funding for things like better teacher-to-student ratios? I'm not saying or suggesting money gets you higher grades every time, either. It doesn't. But if you set impossibly high standards and then don't fund improvements (again, like the teacher-to-student ratio), don't expect better results. And that's just a little bit of what's wrong with the NCLB Act. The bad thing is that it came from Democrats and Teddy Kennedy. (Honestly, how he thought this was a good idea is beyond me). The completely unsurprising thing is that it also came from the George W. Bush administration, as so many insane things did--like his chosen, illegal Iraq invasion and war, for one, and tax cuts only for the wealthy being another. Au revoire, NCLB. We surely won't miss you. Links: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/21/3442579/missouri-board-approves-no-child.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act
Here it is again from The Kansas City Star: DUI checkpoint planned for this weekend Kansas City police will operate a sobriety checkpoint this weekend. I mean, come on, don't we pretty much know the Kansas City Police and/or the Overland Park police are going to be out virtually every weekend, checking for drunk drivers? Isn't that pretty much common knowlege? And for whom is this article, anyway? Is it to tell the drunks or the sobers? Honestly, it's virtually the same article every time, too: "The time and location of the checkpoint was not disclosed, except that it will be conducted sometime Friday through Sunday at a location known for drunken-driving-related crashes or arrests." Notes to The Kansas City Star: 1) Do us a favor, you can stop printing this article. Forever. Really. We know. and 2) It's doing yourself a favor, too, hopefully. Maybe you could have an honest-to-goodness reporter go out, dig up a story and print it in this space, instead, and improve your readership. As stated earlier, the city of KCMO just let a $1m contract for IT work that went to a company down in Florida. Go snoop around there and see what you can find. If all else fails, go talk to Russ Ptacek before he leaves town. See if he'll give you any tips on how to do reporting. He's good at it and knows what to do and where to go. With all the cities around here, surely there's a scandal somewhere, in case you ever get interested in news. Link to original article: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/21/3441992/dui-checkpoint-planned-for-this.html
I've decided Rex Sinquefield has joined Clay Chastain as yet another perennial, pain in the neck nuisances that haunt Kansas City and our environs and they both just need to go away. Mr. Chastain doesn't live here and hasn't for years, residing as he does back East but he keeps trying to drop in and give us mass transit. And while I'm all for mass transit (that's another issue), him buzzing around this city like a pesky, persistent fly at an otherwise pleasant picnic is a pain in the keister. Then there's rich man, St Louisan Rex "I have tons of money" Sinquefield who keeps coming up with ideas he can foist off on Missourians to--in his mind--"make our lives better" by screwing with our tax system, even though he's not an office holder. His latest idea, of course, is to do away with the income tax and to have a sales tax instead. He even brought in famed economist Arthur Laffer to tell "the Kansas City Star's editorial board Monday that there could be problems if Missouri trades its income tax for a sales tax -- if Kansas doesn't do something similar." (See link below).
As Tony reports today on his blog (http://www.tonyskansascity.com/), the city of Kansas City, Missouri apparently just let a contract for one million dollars for an "emergency" IT contract. Three things come to me, right away: First, I hope it was competed, competed fairly and wisely and they can prove it. Second, seriously, as said in the comments section at Tony's blog---why couldn't/didn't they find someone local who would supply these services? I find it difficult to believe there aren't companies here in the area--in the city itself?--that can't and don't supply them. Third and finally, was this contract rushed through? And if it was, why and by whom? Let's hope it wasn't. Now we need a Russ Ptacek-type reporter SOMEWHERE in this town--the Star? KMBC? KSHB? KCTV? somehere--to go do some digging on this and find out at least that much about this contract. It's not so much to ask. Link: http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/liveweb/Documents/Document.aspx?q=FJdztn5pZS50Yvhu0FN92nVbLLjL49qzHW30zeQ6AjxFZ84X8ymz7wOiRYRgkDFa
Oh, yeah. Mitt Romney really "gets it." He's definitely "one of the people." He just oozes sincerity. Absolutely.
"Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan. It has likely cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars Congress might not otherwise have appropriated had it known the truth, and our senior leaders’ behavior has almost certainly extended the duration of this war. The single greatest penalty our Nation has suffered, however, has been that we have lost the blood, limbs and lives of tens of thousands of American Service Members with little to no gain to our country as a consequence of this deception." --Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a 17-year Army veteran recently returned from a second tour in Afghanistan. Link: http://www1.rollingstone.com/extras/RS_REPORT.pdf
Monday, February 20, 2012
There's going to be yet ANOTHER Republican presidential candidate debate this Wednesday!! AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! To make matters even worse--and come on, we didn't think it could get worse, right?---it'll be in Arizona! You know what that means. They'll be trying to further outdo one another by going even farther Right Wing, but especially on immigration. Yikes. This is one sad state of affairs (no pun intended).
I don't know if you aware of this yet or not but there's a movie coming out soon, this Summer, called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." It's my contention that the young people who see this movie--whatever we'll call that next generation--they'll view it as history. If you weren't concerned about future generations of Americans and the future of the country, maybe you will be now.It wasn't enough he held the Union together through the Civil War and that he was literate and a great speech writer and President. Now he's a vampire slayer, too. Yikes.
I'm so old, I remember when this came out.
Why no public or media outcry of Lt Colonel Davis' charges on the Afghan, Iraq wars and Defense Dept?
There's a whole list, almost solely because a military officer recently broke rank and wrote one classified and one unclassified document about how the Afghan war is going far worse than is being represented by the military brass to the American people. Note that one of the sources is The Armed Forces Journal, lest anyone think this is just left-wing, Liberal, "peacenik" jibberish. Pick one, anyway, at least, if you would and see how this war is going, at least in the eyes of one American soldier. He interviewed 250 other soldiers for his reports. If you don't like or trust one source below, pick another: Links: http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2012/02/8904030; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/world/asia/army-colonel-challenges-pentagons-afghanistan-claims.html; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/the-afghanistan-report-the-pentagon-doesnt-want-you-to-read-20120210; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/the-afghanistan-report-the-pentagon-doesnt-want-you-to-read-20120210#ixzz1m1zIKlqq; http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdigger_of_the_week_lt_col_daniel_l_davis_20120217/; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2097603/Army-Colonel-exposes-truth-lies-Afghanistan-claiming-military-leaders-let-down.html; http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/the-whistleblowers-report/?ref=afghanistan; http://www1.rollingstone.com/extras/RS_REPORT.pdf; In addition, there is this YouTube video, shot by an American soldier that I think is important to see. He thought it important to film and get back to us, here in the States: The note/dedication on the video by the filmmaker/poster is: "This video gives the viewer a real sense of what life is like at the tip of the spear in Afghanistan. It is dedicated to two Soldiers who were killed in action less than two months after the photographer took these photos of them..." Finally, if you go to the YouTube page with this video, there are links to more, other videos also shot by other American soldiers, showing more graphically, in some cases, what's going on over there and what they're doing and living through.
"As someone who lived and worked in rural Afghanistan (Sistan) in the years before either the Soviet or the American invasions, I can say with absolute certainty that the American government and Pentagon generals are being disingenuous when they say that what is in fact a foreign occupying army is going to establish any enduring political or social structures in Afghanistan. What we are engaged in there now is an act of utter futility that enhances the careers of Pentagon officers and demagogic politicians, and bloats the bottom line for the military-industrial complex. Lesson one is that social change is not imposed by foreign bayonets. Societies evolve and change slowly in response to their own dynamic. No amount of flag waving in this country, no amount of patriotic chest beating on the part of Americans is going to change this simple truth. When will the American people gain some historical perspective? After all, Vietnam was a teachable moment. Too bad it was squandered. One feels only compassion and pity for the lives sacrificed, both American and Afghan, for the bodies maimed, for the futures warped and stunted." --Howard, Columbus, OH (A commenter on an article online at The New York Times) Link here: http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/the-whistleblowers-report/?ref=afghanistan
50 years ago today.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
A headline and story yesterday from Scott Simon that went national and international on NPR radio: Kansas City's Failed Schools Leave Students Behind. I think I'll just roll up in a ball over here in a corner. Link: http://www.npr.org/2012/02/18/147067123/kansas-citys-failed-schools-leave-students-behind
Saturday, February 18, 2012
News out today: Syrian forces fire on funeral in Damascus, kill 1 (Link to story at bottom). How sick do you have to be to open fire on a funeral procession? Yet it happens repeatedly in the Middle East? To go further, how sick do you have to be to strap bombs to yourself to kill a member of your own religion who believes slightly different than you? (Sunnis killing Shi'as and vice versa). Another step--how sick do you have to be to kill your own countrymen in this fashion? Yet another--how sick do you have to be to kill innocent civilians lined up for whatever reason in this same fashion? Finally, how really sick do you have to be to strap bombs to yourself and kill your fellow countrymen because they're lined up to become police officers or to join your country's military so you can make it safer and hopefully build a stronger, more functioning society? I don't think I'll ever understand. Link: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/18/syrian-forces-fire-funeral-damascus-kill-1/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS
Number one? Dried eucalyptus leaves. It's amazing how long they last and how nicely strong the scent is.
Certainly the most pointed, poignant, constructive and useful stand-up comedy ever. A high point in an 8-year low.
"Obama's had to be the Jackie Robinson of American politics -- never reacting to the taunts from the stands," --Bill Maher, from "Real Time with Bill Maher", HBO
"Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson's strong showing in the 1988 Iowa Caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. The results are all around us: if the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution versus creationism, scriptural inerrancy, the existence of angels and demons, and so forth, that result is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary or quaint beliefs. Also around us is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science; it is this group that defines "low-information voter" - or, perhaps, "misinformation voter." The Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to "share their feelings" about their "faith" in a revelatory speech; or, some televangelist like Rick Warren dragoons the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, with Warren himself, of course, as the arbiter. Politicized religion is also the sheet anchor of the culture wars. But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism? It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes - at least in the minds of followers - all three of the GOP's main tenets. Televangelists have long espoused the health-and-wealth/name-it-and-claim it gospel. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God's favor. If not, too bad! But don't forget to tithe in any case. This rationale may explain why some economically downscale whites defend the prerogatives of billionaires. The GOP's fascination with war is also connected with the fundamentalist mindset. The Old Testament abounds in tales of slaughter - God ordering the killing of the Midianite male infants and enslavement of the balance of the population, the divinely-inspired genocide of the Canaanites, the slaying of various miscreants with the jawbone of an ass - and since American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount), it is but a short step to approving war as a divinely inspired mission. This sort of thinking has led, inexorably, to such phenomena as Jerry Falwell once writing that God is Pro-War. It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? - we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord." -- Mike Lofgren, writer, member of the Republican Party and former staff member of the US Congress. Links: http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/mike-lofgren; https://www.google.com/#hl=en&gs_nf=1&tok=ExReM5_dSQ1A97X7NzYPcw&cp=8&gs_id=w&xhr=t&q=mike+lofgren&pf=p&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&pbx=1&oq=mike+lof&aq=0&aqi=g4&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&fp=1&biw=1249&bih=560&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&cad=b
Friday, February 17, 2012
And how much more safe on a night bike ride could you be, right? Yep. I want one of these, too. (Have a great weekend, y'all).
Breaking just now: Stock Act – Insider Trading Bill Passes Senate While long, long overdue, it's still good news. At least they've passed it. Now, on to the House of Representatives. We can't let Rep. Eric Cantor weaken this. Link: http://inyourfaceradio.net/stock-act-insider-trading-bill-passes-senate/
I can't snowboard but I'd try. And heck, why couldn't I just ski down the mountain in an LED suit like this? Oh, yeah. I want to do this.
The Republicans add yet one more group to their long list of people who shouldn't belong to the group and who, of course, shouldn't vote for or with them. Up to now it's been Blacks, Hispanics and gays, now they add women. Well, women who are for their own rights and reproductive rights, anyway. God bless their pointy little heads. Links: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/virginia_ultrasound_law_women_who_want_an_abortion_will_be_forcibly_penetrated_for_no_medical_reason.html; http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/how-the-gop-went-back-to-the-1950s-in-just-one-day.php
Thursday, February 16, 2012
In case you missed it.
Our own Congressional represntatives push legislation so they can flaunt laws the rest of us have to obey. It is truly maddening. Then, in order to get good information on it, we have to watch a comedy channel and a show of humor and satire in order to know what's going on in our government and country.