Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thought for the Day

"There's a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause."

- P. J. O'Rourke

Friday, October 05, 2007

Scandal brewing at Oral Roberts U.

By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS, Associated Press Writer Fri Oct 5, 7:00 PM ET

TULSA, Okla. - Twenty years ago, televangelist Oral Roberts said he was reading a spy novel when God appeared to him and told him to raise $8 million for Roberts' university, or else he would be "called home."

Now, his son, Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, says God is speaking again, telling him to deny lurid allegations in a lawsuit that threatens to engulf this 44-year-old Bible Belt college in scandal.

Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as "underage males."

Religion = morality, always has, always will. Get the rest of the AP story here.

Log Cabin Republicans in Iowa are Behind Romney

... and obviously not waiting for him to bend over.

... or click here for the video.

Log Cabin Republicans are running this ad in Iowa at this writing. You can't say the Republicans are saying anything bad about each other ... they only have praise for each other ... only praise. Republicans can truly say of each other, "with friends like you, who needs enemies?"

Log Cabin Republicans? Be curious.

Larry Craig wants to share his Super Tuber with you

Super Tuber is a great snack that uses one of my favorite vegetables: The Idaho Potato. Of course, I suppose any type of potato could be used, but I cannot guarantee that a Super Tuber made with anything but a true Idaho potato would taste as good.

Larry E. Craig,
United States Senator

Get the foot-tapping recipe here.

Seriously, Republicans are putting comedy writers out of business.

Conservatives Are Such Jokers


In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.

Get the full column here in the New York Times.

Or, as Rachael Maddow points out to Pat Buchanan:

MADDOW: The reason that [Bush] he‘s standing up against this program is because this is a phenomenally successful program that is socialized medicine, in the same way that Medicare is socialized medicine and Medicaid is socialized medicine, in the sense that the government helps out in a market that‘s broken.

That‘s incredibly dangerous to the Republican world view that government can never help.

BUCHANAN: Why don‘t you let…

MADDOW: So, they have got to shut down this working program, so they can continue to say that government is the problem.

Find that critique of the veto here.

My comment
: Given that the President and the members of Congress get federal health care for life, if "socialized medicine" is such a mistake, maybe they should do without their health care plans. Maybe they should be paying for it out of their own pockets.

It would seem that "family values" means if your poor, if your sick, screw you ... and your children, too.

20 Things You Didn't Know About. ... The Surgeon General

They weren't all the presidents' stooges.
by Dean Christopher / Discover

1 In 1871, the Surgeon General post was created as the top officer in the Marine Hospital Service, a quasi-military organization meant to battle diseases spread by merchant sailors.

2 The first SG was John Maynard Woodworth, who created a mobile body of physicians, the Commissioned Corps. Today it remains one of only seven uniformed services of our government. (No, the post office doesn’t count.)

3 Before 1977, all SGs served in the Commissioned Corps. Today the only requirement is that they agree with everything the president says.

Read the other 17 things you didn't know about the Sturgeon Surgeon General on the Discover site.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Springsteen Speaks: Silence is Unpatriotic

When reminded that his anti-war views, prominent on his new album, "Magic," will cause people to say he is unpatriotic -- as his critic have charged before -- Springsteen says "That's just the language of the day … the modus operandi for anybody who doesn't like somebody … criticizing where we've been or where we're going," he tells Pelley. "I believe every citizen has a stake in the course, direction of their country. That's why we vote … It's unpatriotic at any given moment to sit back and let things pass that are damaging to some place that you love so dearly and that has given me so much," says the 58-year-old musician.

Read it here .... and catch the vid, too.

Interview on 60 Minutes with correspondent Scott Pelley this Sunday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT.

I couldn't get past the first seven words of the press release

"Hang the leaders of the Conservative Movement on the wall in your office, home, or dorm! Young America's Foundation is excited to offer our latest breakthrough poster that brings together the strongest leaders and advocates of the Conservative Movement in a unique group photo! This is the only poster of its kind that includes these twelve conservative luminaries: John Ashcroft, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Robert Novak, Ward Connerly, Dinesh D’Souza, Walter Williams and many more."

Maybe you've been wondering about Mitt's Magic Underwear

Well, OK, I was curious, too ... so I looked them up. Here ya go ... let me share.

The Mormon Temple Garment

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and a few other sects of Mormonism, the temple garment is a set of special underwear worn by male and female Latter-day Saints who have taken part in the washing and anointing ceremony in a Mormon temple.

You can find the full story on the magic underwear here.

At least 32% of Republicans are Pinko, Commie Socialists

Republicans Grow Skeptical On Free Trade

Marx and Lennon

October 4, 2007; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- By a nearly two-to-one margin, Republican voters believe free trade is bad for the U.S. economy, a shift in opinion that mirrors Democratic views and suggests trade deals could face high hurdles under a new president.

The sign of broadening resistance to globalization came in a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll that showed a fraying of Republican Party orthodoxy on the economy. While 60% of respondents said they want the next president and Congress to continue cutting taxes, 32% said it's time for some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans to reduce the budget deficit and pay for health care.

... and two out of three are either Commies or fellow travelers.

(Emphasis added)

My comment: What a difference seven years of getting exactly what they've always wanted makes!

Well, right wing conservatives (not to be confused with either Democrats or Republicans) have changed their minds about slavery, child labor laws, and women's suffrage. Somebody has to be on the wrong side of history ... I just wish they weren't so predictable.

A National Embarrassment


Give the man a microphone and he'll talk about anything. For 76 minutes, President Bush prowled the stage Wednesday in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, giving a speech and answering questions about everything from his opposition to tax increases to his veto of a bill to expand children's health insurance.

But he covered a lot of other ground, too.

Bush gave an intriguing description about what happens when businesses expand, as was the case here at a company run by a woman.

"You know, when you give a man more money in his pocket _ in this case, a woman _ more money in her pocket to expand a business, they build new buildings. And when somebody builds a new building, somebody has got to come and build the building.

"And when the building expanded, it prevented (sic) additional opportunities for people to work. Tax cuts matter. I'm going to spend some time talking about it," the president said.

Find further embarrassment here ...

What could possibly go wrong?


When a team of FBI agents lands in Baghdad this week to probe Blackwater security contractors for murder, it will be protected by bodyguards from the very same firm, the Daily News has learned.

Half a dozen FBI criminal investigators based in Washington are scheduled to travel to Iraq to gather evidence and interview witnesses about a Sept. 16 shooting spree that left at least 11 Iraqi civilians dead.

The agents plan to interview witnesses within the relative safety of the fortified Green Zone, but they will be transported outside the compound by Blackwater armored convoys, a source briefed on the FBI mission said.

"What happens when the FBI team decides to go visit the crime scene? Blackwater is going to have to take them there," the senior U.S. official told The News.

from the New York Daily News.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No, no ... really ...

Logo of the US State Department's new blog site.

Comedy writers around the globe are going into deep depression. How do you make this administration seem more of a sad, dark comedy act that it already is?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A New Debate

by Matthew Chapman / on Richard

I am advocating for a Presidential Debate solely on the subject of science, and I hope you will join me in trying to bring this about. Had such a thing occurred during the election in 2000, perhaps we would have discovered that George W. Bush believed "the jury is still out on evolution." In this election, we have been provided with an excellent reason to ask for a scientific debate by the fact that three Republican candidates for president, Brownback, Huckabee, and Tancredo indicated that they do not believe in evolution. For them the jury seems not to be out, but to have rendered a verdict against the theory.

A publication of the National Academy of Sciences states: "The evolution of all the organisms that live on earth today from ancestors that lived in the past is at the core of genetics, biochemistry, neurobiology, physiology, ecology, and other biological disciplines. It helps to explain the emergence of new infectious diseases, the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, the agricultural relationships among wild and domestic plants and animals, the composition of the earth's atmosphere, the molecular machinery of the cell, the similarities between human beings and other primates, and countless other features of the biological and physical world. As the great geneticist and evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote in 1973, 'Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.'"

Given the above, one is faced with two explanations of the three men's statements of disbelief. They are either honestly ignorant of the true scientific status of evolution, or are dishonestly pandering to the genuinely ignorant in order to get their votes. As a matter of politeness, one must accord them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are honest, which leaves only the first and more terrifying option, namely that they are genuinely and profoundly ignorant.

Read the rest of the article here.

The Truth WILL Out

Judge rules Bush can’t block presidential records.

Today, a federal judge “invalided part of a 2001 order by President Bush allowing former presidents to review executive documents before they can be released under open records laws.” The AP reports:

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the presidential order eliminated the discretion of the National Archives to control the release historical records. She said the executive order allowed former presidents to delay the release of those records “presumably indefinitely.”

The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by the American Historical Association and other organizations, which argued that Bush’s Executive Order 13,233 was an “impermissible exercise of the executive power.”

Found it here.

My comment: Who do these S.O.B.s think they work for, anyway.

Sy Hersh on White House plans to attack Iran

Sy Hersh: "You heard the White House spokeswoman say today we're interested in a diplomatic track. Well, all [Bush] has to do is start talking to them, and then you get diplomacy. And he's not talking to them. He has no interest in talking to people he doesn't like. He doesn't want to talk to the Syrians, the Iranians, Hamas. . . . If he would talk to them, I could say to you that there was some reason we might not go to war. But the only thing you hear, from inside, is that these guys really want to do it."

As for the White House attack on his credibility? "This was light," Hersh said. "Usually they go after me personally. When I did Abu Ghraib-- stuff on Abu Ghraib -- they had a deputy assistant secretary of defense accuse me, literally, he said, of throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks -- and this is when I had photographs in print. So this is a pretty light response to say: 'How dare you commit journalism?'"

Get the full article in the WaPo.

(Emphasis added)

My comment: Sy Hersh has more credibility and better credentials for what he does than anyone I'm familiar with in the White House have for what they do ... from the top down.

Hersh has never lied to me. I can't say that for the White House.

Logical Path from Religious Beliefs to Evil Deeds

Richard Dawkins in The Washington Post

Nobody is suggesting that all religious people are violent, intolerant, racist, bigoted, contemptuous of women and so on. It would be absurd to suggest such a thing: just as absurd as to generalize about all atheists. I am not even concerned with statistical generalizations about the majority of religious people (or atheists). My concern here is over whether there is any general reason why religion might be more or less likely to bias individuals towards all those unpleasant things in Christopher Hitchens’s list: to make them more likely to exhibit them than they would have been without religion. I think the answer is yes.

Curious about the rest of the logical thought? Follow this link.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Why Vote When You Can Bet?

Slate's guide to all the political markets.

Why Vote When You Can Bet? The idea behind political prediction markets is simple. Lots of people wager on the outcome of political campaigns: Who's going to be the Democratic presidential nominee? Will the Republicans take back the House? And when the votes are counted, the winning bettors collect. The thrill of prediction markets for political junkies is that they harness "the wisdom of crowds." A single person's bet on an election outcome isn't very good, but thousands of bets, with real stakes, are more likely to predict the correct result than even the best pundit. The Iowa Electronic Markets, the big daddy of the political prediction markets, is consistently better at forecasting winners than pre-election polls.

Pick up on the article on Slate.

The WSJ weighs in on the Family Values Party implosion

GOP Is Losing Grip On Core Business Vote - Deficit Hawks Defect As Social Issues Prevail

'The Party Left Me'

Remember that "Big Tent" that has room for everybody?

October 2, 2007; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- The Republican Party, known since the late 19th century as the party of business, is losing its lock on that title.

New evidence suggests a potentially historic shift in the Republican Party's identity -- what strategists call its "brand." The votes of many disgruntled fiscal conservatives and other lapsed Republicans are now up for grabs, which could alter U.S. politics in the 2008 elections and beyond.

Some business leaders are drifting away from the party because of the war in Iraq, the growing federal debt and a conservative social agenda they don't share. In manufacturing sectors such as the auto industry, some Republicans want direct government help with soaring health-care costs, which Republicans in Washington have been reluctant to provide. And some business people want more government action on global warming, arguing that a bolder plan is not only inevitable, but could spur new industries.

Catch the rest here.

Is the Republican Party committing suicide?

Thomas B Edsall
on The Huffington Post

After convention speeches by the two Pats - Robertson and Buchanan - in 1992 helped elect Bill Clinton, organizers of the GOP's quadrennial gatherings effortlessly replaced Holy Roller hellfire with Happy Days hip hop.

In theory, political parties, whose function is to win first and govern later, are constantly evolving and adapting to changing demographics, issues and culture shifts.

But in practice in 2007, the Republican Party is diving for bottom. George Bush, the party's presidential candidates, and Republicans in Congress have set about destroying virtually everything they built.

They are defying all theories of rational self-interest, with behavior comparable to that of the Mets, that have in just 18 games thrown away a seemingly insurmountable advantage. Or, in the world of poker, behavior comparable to Mike "Full Tilt" Matusow, who has blown millions in stunning displays of ineptitude.

In fact, it is hard to find a match for the GOP's hodge-podge of manic stupidity:

Follow this link, read the obituary.

Guess who sells all those guns to the people who hate us!

file under: Lord of War

U.S. Is Top Arms Seller to Developing World

How many shell casings do you see on the road?

Published: October 1, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 — The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006, followed by Russia and Britain, according to a Congressional study to be released Monday. Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia were the top buyers.

The global arms market is highly competitive, with manufacturing nations seeking both to increase profits and to expand political influence through weapons sales to developing nations, which reached nearly $28.8 billion in 2006.

Get the rest in The New York Times ...

My comment: War is very profitable. Free enterprise is dedicated to profits. Therefore, war is a legitimate business. After all, we're driven by the invisible hand of the market. If there weren't any buyers, we wouldn't be in the business. Besides, guns don't kill people ...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Life lesson

... that's taken a lifetime to digest.

I was an anthropology student in college. I recall something from one of the courses and it has crept into my thinking now and then throughout my life. It was a little triplet:

Each man is like all other men
Each man is like some other men
No man is like any other man

The original purpose of the triplet was to help students remember the distinctions between the various social sciences.

Each man is like all other men

outlined the basis of anthropology. It focused on our common humanity and that fact that who ever we are and where ever we come from, there is a set of universal issues that we all confront as human beings - food, clothing, shelter, our place in the universe, our reason for existing ... those kinds of things. Who ever we are, where ever we come from, we must deal with those universals.

How groups of us deal with those issues brings us to the second line of the triplet:

Each man is like some other men

This is the basis of sociology, the study of groups of people and how they deal with those issues, how we fit into a group, a clan, a service club, a political party or a nation.

The last line:

No man is like any other man

you've probably guessed by now is the underscore of psychology, who we are as individuals.

Each of the three lines represents a truth and each truth functions simultaneously with the other two lines.

I've come to believe over the years that there may be more to it than that. I am coming to believe the degree to which we are healthy is the degree to which those three things are able to function within an individual without getting in the way of each other.

I am seeing the development in this country (others as well) of a set of circumstances where people are abandoning their sense of humanity in favor of either their sense of self or their loyalty to their social group (party, nation, club, whatever).

There are precedents, situations where either individuality or collectivism has been conducted at the expense of humanity. Germany in the 1930s and 1940s saw the rise of the group. In the case of Germany, it was the rise of the Nazi party at the expense of a sense of humanity. The demonization of various groups by the collective was the abdication of a whole people's sense of humanity. That loss of a sense of humanity is, I believe, a major factor in the perpetration of the Holocaust.

We see that loss of a sense of humanity in religious causes. Fundamentalist and Sectarian Islam allows for the most unspeakable acts against fellow human beings. (the favorite weapon of torture among Sectarian Iraqis is reported to be the electric drill.)

We must be careful not to loose our sense of humanity. I see it in some of the attitudes some people in this country hold with regard to "illegal aliens". I see it in the demonization of Muslims in the west.

The frequency and intensity of "group belonging" is taking hold is frightening. Loosing our sense of humanity will be our downfall.

Compassionate Conservativeism

"Whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children I tend to think it's a good idea."

William Kristol, Compassionate Conservative, Describing his reaction to the President Bush's intent to veto the new Children's Health Insurance Program, Fox News Sunday, 9/30/07