Monday, November 30, 2009

Off the Bus

"You're either on the bus, or you're off the bus." — Ken Kesey
Sarah Palin, the quitter who keeps on quitting, isn't even on her own bus. Her so-called "bus tour" has been hitting small towns to promote her book. It also allows her to meet her fans and spread the word that reading is fundamental. I wouldn't be surprised if Going Rogue is the first non-picture-book her fans have read. Ever.

But here's the funny part. The big ugly bus with the Going Rogue cover painted on the side is a total ruse. It's a prop just like George W. Bush's ranch.

Sarah Palin has been traveling in a Gulfstream II which looks something like this:

How jetset! Another word for jetset is "elite" which is exactly how she loved to portray Barack Obama as during last year's campaign.

Do her delusional fans still think she's just like them?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rewriting History

"Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it." — Robert F. Kennedy, 1925 - 1968
From the mouth of Dana Perino, with no objection from Sean Hannity and his pals: "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term."

(YouTube video)

That extraordinary lie is insulting to our entire country. We won't forget that the attacks on September 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3000 people, and the subsequent anthrax attacks, and the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks all happened under the careless watch of President George W. Bush.

I only mention the Beltway sniper attacks because if anybody wants to call the Fort Hood shootings an act of terrorism, then we also must call the Beltway attacks an act of terrorism.

And I'll tell Perino what she owes the American people: the truth or shut up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Save the Elephants

Last night I watched the Late Show with David Letterman for a change of pace (yes, changing the channel qualifies as a change of pace). Anyway, not sure why, but this little story about Bono made me laugh until my eyes watered (2:47 into video):

(YouTube video)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Purity Pledge

When I first heard that the GOP was considering a purity pledge for candidates, I assumed they were reacting to recent sex scandals. But no, the list of ten resolutions is just the same old laundry list we've been hearing for years:
  1. We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;
  2. We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;
  3. We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
  4. We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;
  5. We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
  6. We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
  7. We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;
  8. We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
  9. We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
  10. We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.
The first item on the list was enough to make me roll my eyes and clutch my suddenly throbbing skull. Republicans keep telling us they're all about the smaller national debt, and yet, in reality, they are notorious for throwing debt on top of debt.

Number two and number nine on the list kind of go together. The government won't be running health care and our current system already rations in a truly American way. Number three on the list? I thought cap and trade was a market-based approach.

But let me skip to number six. We can't define victory in either war, and anyway we've been told the withdrawal from Iraq is already underway. Our only existing cause in that occupation is to support Iraq's mythical democracy. But the real foolishness is that part about the President -- the commander-in-chief -- abdicating his role and obeying military commanders who want more troops. This is a frightening recipe for permanent war, and it's officially part of the Republican plan. It's totally ineffectual for fighting terrorism, and oh yeah... see pledge number one up there? Can't fight a war without money, honey.

Number eight on the pledge list is another non-surprise. Republicans are really determined to reinforce that whole "party of no" image! It's all about what they oppose. There are no new ideas. In fact, the GOP's biggest innovation might be this whole pledge thing.

It's pure politics, and it's insane. Why elect somebody whose loyalty is to a party and not their country or constituents? We hear a lot of controversy over the pledge of allegiance lately, but I believe there should only be one mandatory pledge. Every day, every elected official should put their hand over their heart and pledge allegiance to the people.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let it Snow

It's a slippery slope. First TSA takes our babies (or not) and then they take our snowglobes. Both contain liquid, but only the snowglobes have been banned from flights.

Confiscating liquids at airport security checkpoints is, of course, the ongoing reaction to the 2006 terrorist plot to bring down airliners with liquid bombs.

But I'm not being totally snarky with my remark about babies containing liquids. We all do, and many of the ingredients for explosive mixtures, such as potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and phosphorus, were originally manufactured from putrefied urine, though that process seems a little too complicated to carry out in an airplane lavatory.

So anyway, just consider this blog post a friendly holiday warning to pack your favorite snowglobes in your luggage, and if by chance your wintry tchotchkes mysteriously disappear, look for them on eBay.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dances With Smurfs

"I'm just a normal kid like you, except I ask questions." — Eric Cartman
I guess everybody can impersonate Glenn Beck now -- even a cartoon character. In last night's South Park episode, Dances With Smurfs, Eric Cartman turned his elementary school's morning announcements into his own punditry show slamming Wendy, the student body president, as a "a socialist dunghole." Sound familiar? Cartman even mastered the old Fox trick of a statement followed by a question separated by a colon.

In the end -- well, you really have to see it -- but it's kind of like if President Obama admitted to being an alien from another planet (like Lou Dobbs). But I digress. Watch the episode at least for the part where Butters runs with his pants down.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It's a great achievement of the Internet. The number of idiots doubles every 18 months. In a few short years we will reach the idiolarity, where the level of stupidity exceeds the ability of anyone to contain it. There will be an explosion of stupidity transforming the way we live and work.

Idiolarity is pronounced id-ee-uh-lar-i-tee, but once the idiolarity arrives, everyone will be too stupid to pronounce it anyway.

(Credit to my friend ChaosJester for this rant.)

Fraud News

Does Fox News just not care anymore? Are they not even trying to be real journalists? Why does it take a comedy show to reveal that Fox's Sean Hannity used film footage from a completely different protest to make the GOP's health care rally appear more heavily attended?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

The news media is in a downward spiral. Nine months ago I wrote about Sean Delonas' vile racists cartoons printed in the NY Post. At the time there was a disingenuous controversy over whether the illustrations were intentionally racist. Well, stop the presses. Sandra Guzman, a former NY Post editor fired after speaking out against the cartoon, is now speaking out against the racist and misogynistic atmosphere at the Post. In addition to her shocking allegations of sexual harassment, she had this to say about the atmosphere in the newsroom:
In the complaint, Guzman said that multiple editors knew that the cartoon was offensive, but didn't do anything about it. It was, she alleges, par for the course when it came to the paper's coverage. Guzman alleged that she had once learned that the Post had planned to run a cartoon in the newspaper depicting Jews as sewer rats. She also alleged that "Charles Hurt, the Post's Washington D.C. Bureau Chief and a high ranking journalist at the newspaper, had confirmed to Ms. Guzman that the Post had such a policy in place, telling her that the Post's 'goal is to destroy Barack Obama. We don't want him to succeed.'"
This is the fraud and paranoia that Rupert Murdoch builds his empire upon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Red Flags

I procrastinated digging through the shit pile of misinformation surrounding Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who killed 13 at Fort Hood last Thursday. But now it's apparent that the man had ties to Muslim extremists, and his military colleagues missed some glaring clues:
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who killed 13 at America's Fort Hood military base, once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats.

He also told colleagues at America's top military hospital that non-Muslims were infidels condemned to hell who should be set on fire. The outburst came during an hour-long talk Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, gave on the Koran in front of dozens of other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC, where he worked for six years before arriving at Fort Hood in July.
His colleagues were also psychiatrists. I'm not sure what that says about the profession if people with the proper knowledge and experience could not see that Hasan was dangerous. Hell, American high school students, ever since Columbine, have been expected to report any threats immediately. You'd think these professionals would know better. Military base shootings have happened before.

But we are slow learners in many ways. As if on cue, the anti-Muslim rhetoric is being revved up by, of course, the religious-right:

(Media Matters video)

So Pat Robertson believes that Islam is "a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination." Funny, but I guess that's also how Muslim extremists see other religions too! And with a prominent figure like Robertson sounding like he's embracing a new crusade against the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, we're doomed for perpetual conflict.

Our religions aren't helping us. Well, certainly not fundamentalism. I'm not sure what comes first though. Fundamentalism and then violence? Or a warped desire for violence which searches for some kind of justification in religion. Whatever the religion, the mindset is the same.

Rational and politically moderate people will continue to look for answers for a long time. But the conservative media has predictably jumped to blame who else but President Obama. Unless they can find a red flag titled "Hasan Determined to Strike in US," I think they need to stick to reality. And until a proper investigation is completed, maybe our only response can be sorrow.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fact Check This One

Saturday Night Live hasn't made me laugh since the last time Tina Fey impersonated Sarah Palin. But last night's SNL intro was funny in the same way -- a perfect imitation of a conservative (or a bunch of conservatives) is itself a good joke:

(Vodpod video)

That pretty much sums up the media's "off year" election coverage. It was so totally absurd it left me speechless for the last five days.

And I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for CNN to deliver a thorough fact check -- not of the election -- but the comedy sketch, of course.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

It Takes Time

A year ago it felt like a new world was upon us. Barack Obama won that anxiety inducing election, and we all dodged the McCain/Palin bullet.

I'll repeat what I wrote that night: this historic win is not the answer to everything.

Unsurprisingly, in November 2009, we do not live in a utopia, and I never expected we would. The economy is recovering, but it still sucks. We're not out of Afghanistan, but I was grievously aware that Obama thought that war was "the good war."

President Obama did put a stop to the CIA torture program, but has not held anybody accountable for the many crimes committed. He has not closed the Guantanamo Bay prison yet, nor held trials for all prisoners, and that issue disappoints me greatly. I wanted President Obama to take a firm stand and swift action, but the opposition was fierce.

In the last year, the opposition to change has actually been more farcical than fierce. I don't want to recap the whole teabagger thing because you already know about that.

I'm surprised Congress has made any progress at all on a health-care reform bill. President Clinton couldn't get one passed in eight years, and we want to fault Obama for not being snappy enough?

I think we will get a health-care reform bill and I think we will close Guantanamo Bay, but these things take time. Bush had eight years to fuck things up...

Bush. What did the first year of his incompetency get us? A terrorist attack and an unwinnable war. Maybe I'm hitting below the belt here... no I'm not. It's about time that Democrats remind Americans that Obama has kept us safe.

And he has also been more presidential than Bush. And I believe Obama alone has improved our standing in the eyes of the world.

I never had great expectations, but I had and still have moderate expectations. I still believe Obama mostly has the right ideals for this country. I'm just waiting to see a little more action...

And if you still don't like him, 2012 is right around the corner, and the Republicans, no doubt, will have another moron bullet ready for us.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I'll Have the H1N1 Omelet

I'm starting to feel a little guilty about my light-hearted swine flu posts earlier this year. I'm afraid that karma is going to bite me in the ass and it's really going to hurt this time.

In case you missed it last Sunday, 60 Minutes did an informative piece on the manufacture, distribution and safety of the H1N1 flu vaccine:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

The H1N1 vaccine -- just like the seasonal flu vaccine -- is produced by growing the virus inside eggs which come from secret farms. These farms are considered so important to national security that among the first to get the vaccine are the egg farmers themselves. I assume they don't object to the privilege.

Which reminds me, I'd like to thank 60 Minutes for not interviewing a single moronic celebrity for their report. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius put it bluntly, "I tend to like to get my health advice from doctors and scientists. And that's what we would urge people to do."

Yes, I agree with her, but a lot of people don't. Fear and skepticism about the vaccine is being fueled by the likes of Glenn Beck, Jenny McCarthy and Bill Maher. It was almost funny watching Bill Maher attempting to backpedal and debunk himself on the Realtime season finale two weeks ago. I wonder if his feelings were hurt by that open letter from the editor of Skeptic magazine.

Indeed it's not a laughing matter. A recent and excellent article in Wired explained how the antivaccinationists are creating a panic that is endangering us all:
The [Los Angeles] Times found that even though only about 2 percent of California’s kindergartners are unvaccinated (10,000 kids, or about twice the number as in 1997), they tend to be clustered, disproportionately increasing the risk of an outbreak of such largely eradicated diseases as measles, mumps, and pertussis (whooping cough). The clustering means almost 10 percent of elementary schools statewide may already be at risk.
This is the key to a public health catastrophe. People want the right to make individual choices, but the greatest protection comes from herd immunity: "in diseases passed from person to person, it is more difficult to maintain a chain of infection when large numbers of a population are immune. The higher the proportion of individuals who are immune, the lower the likelihood that a susceptible person will come into contact with an infected individual."

It's ironic that the parents who cavalierly refuse to get their children vaccinated never experienced the tragedy of a real epidemic because their own generation was vaccinated!

So when more H1N1 vaccines become available, I will try to get one, if that bad karma doesn't get to me first.