Friday, November 30, 2007

Ark. Lawmaker Apologizes for E-Mail

By ANDREW DeMILLO, in the Associated Press

(11-29) 14:06 PST Little Rock, Ark. (AP) --

An Arkansas legislator apologized Thursday for an e-mail in which he wrote that "we are being outpopulated by the blacks" and "we are being overrun" by illegal immigrants.

But state Sen. Denny Altes insisted the comments in the e-mail he sent earlier this month to former Fort Smith Mayor Bill Vines were not racist.

"I apologize and I am sorry if it hurt anyone's feelings. ... I'm sorry if it offended anyone, but I didn't consider it a racist remark," Altes told The Associated Press Thursday.

Altes, who is white, wrote in the e-mail that he was in favor of returning illegal aliens to their countries, but "we know that is impossible."

"We are where we were with the black folks after the Revolutionary War," Altes wrote. "We can't send them back and the more we (anger them) the worse it will be in the future.... Sure we are being overrun but we are being outpopulated by the blacks also."

Altes said he was responding to an inflammatory e-mail.

Arkansas GOP chairman Dennis Milligan criticized Altes, a Republican from Fort Smith, for the comments.

"They are disrespectful and denigrating to the practical concerns of how we truly address illegal immigration," Milligan said in a statement released by the party.

My comment: ... at least in public. And regarding the comments about minority groups, I guess the tent just got a lot smaller.

I am not a racist.
I am not gay.
I am not a bigot.
Working hard to out do "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"?

All I know is that racism and xenophobia are not part of my family values.

Why Worry about Big Brother

... when you can BE Big Brother.

Welcome to Satellite Tracking

GSM mobile phone tracking system via the GPS-TRACK satellite network

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Not responsible for possible tracking errors that may occur.

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Wouldn't it be funny if they were tracking YOU?

It explains a lot

Poll finds more Americans believe in devil than Darwin

By Ed Stoddard
DALLAS (Reuters Life!) -

More Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin's theory of evolution, according to a new Harris poll released on Thursday.

It is the latest survey to highlight America's deep level of religiosity, a cultural trait that sets it apart from much of the developed world.

It also helps explain many of its political battles which Europeans find bewildering, such as efforts to have "Intelligent Design" theory -- which holds life is too complex to have evolved by chance -- taught in schools alongside evolution.

The poll of 2,455 U.S. adults from Nov 7 to 13 found that 82 percent of those surveyed believed in God, a figure unchanged since the question was asked in 2005.

It further found that 79 percent believed in miracles, 75 percent in heaven, while 72 percent believed that Jesus is God or the Son of God. Belief in hell and the devil was expressed by 62 percent.

Darwin's theory of evolution met a far more skeptical audience which might surprise some outsiders as the United States is renowned for its excellence in scientific research.

More after the click ...

Richelieu: A Depressing Debate

Weekly Standard
November 28, 2007 • By Richelieu

What a depressing debate. CNN's long slide into mediocrity accelerates. Is this what running for president of the greatest democracy in the world has become? Standing in front of CNN's corporate logo in a hall full of yowling Ron Paul loons and enduring clumsy webcam questions from Unabomber look-a-likes in murky basements?

I feel lucky to be from an earlier century where your own founding fathers knew that the secret to government is to protect it from the daily mob. Clearly the boundless paranoia of middle-aged media executives about the kids and their mysterious "Internet" has led them to stoop to this kind of pandering foolishness. They should feel shame tonight.

So, a good night for for the lowest denominator, a bad night for the GOP. America got to see a vaguely threatening parade of gun fetishists, flat worlders, Mars Explorers, Confederate flag lovers and zombie-eyed-Bible-wavers as well as various one issue activists hammering their pet causes. My cheers went to a listless Fred Thompson who easily qualified himself to be president in my book by looking all night like he would cheerfully trade his left arm for an early exit off the stage to a waiting Scotch and good Cuban cigar. The media will probably award a win to Mike Huckabee, the easy listening music candidate at home in any crowd, fluent in simpleton speak and the one man on the stage tonight who led the audience to roaring cheers by boasting that he had a special qualification to be president that none of the second-raters on the stage could match: A degree in Bible Studies from Ouachita Baptist University of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

after the click ...

No comment (on the debate) ... except maybe ...

Something I can get behind ...

"I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them."

-- George Bush

... as soon as I figure out WTF he meant.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pat Condell has a word or two for you

... or watch it here.

Spreading the misery

International Herald Tribune

The foreclosure crisis in the United States is metastasizing, and communities are in harm's way as property values and tax bases decline and crime increases.

In the third quarter, there were 635,000 foreclosure filings, a 30 percent increase from the previous quarter and nearly double from a year ago, according to RealtyTrac, a national real estate information service. Michigan and Ohio, which were hit early and hard by a combination of economic weakness and reckless lending, continue to reel. Foreclosures rose last year in Colorado, Georgia and Texas and are now surging in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. In those states unsustainable mortgages are at the root of the problem.

The Bush administration has been far too slow to respond, with some officials apparently worried that helping today's troubled borrowers might encourage future borrowers to take on too much debt. That misses a critical point: Much of this crisis can be traced to lenders' failure to vet borrowers and the government's failure to regulate the industry. And it misses an even bigger point: Unless something is done quickly, whole communities, not just people who lose their homes, will suffer.

More after the click ...

Check out the number of foreclosures in YOUR neighborhood with RealtyTrac.

The Algebra of Occupation

by Conn Hallinan
Foreign Policy in Focus

In 1805, the French army out maneuvered, outsmarted, and outfought the combined armies of Russia and Austria at Austerlitz. Three years later it would flounder against a rag-tag collection of Spanish guerrillas.

In 1967, it took six days for the Israeli army to smash Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and seize the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. In 2006, a Shi'ite militia fought the mightiest army in the Middle East to a bloody standstill in Lebanon.

In 1991, it took four days of ground combat for the United States to crush Saddam Hussein's army in the Gulf War. U.S. losses were 148 dead and 647 wounded. After more than five years of war in Iraq, U.S. losses are approaching 4,000, with over 50,000 wounded; 2007 is already the deadliest year of the war for the United States.

In each case, a great army won a decisive victory only to see that victory canceled out by what T.E. Lawrence once called the "algebra of occupation." Writing about the British occupation of Iraq following the Ottoman Empire's collapse in World War I, Lawrence put his finger on the formula that has doomed virtually every military force that has tried to quell a restive population.

Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk has cited Lawrence to this effect: "Rebellion must have an unassailable base... it must have a sophisticated alien enemy, in the form a disciplined army of occupation too small to dominate the whole area effectively from fortified posts. It must have a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy. Rebellions can be made by 2 percent active in a striking force, and 98 percent passive sympathy. Granted mobility, security ... time and doctrine ... victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive."

Finish the though here ...

My comment:

In case anyone missed the turn there, T. E. Lawrence was also known as Lawrence of Arabia. He helped to lead a rag-tag army of "A-rabs" that was instrumental in bringing down the Ottoman Empire during WWI. He was very familiar with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the desert and the people. He spoke the language, he lived by their customs, he fought with them.

Even if our adventure in Iraq was the "right" war (and the preponderance of evidence from the beginning unequivocally says it's not) it is not being fought by "our rules". We are no longer picking the time and place of battle. Our technology is co-opted. We are not in control of the battle field.

We have steadily moved from "Mission Accomplished" to "there's no military solution".

What could T. E. Lawrence possibly know that our leaders don't?

Must be talking about a candidate ...

"His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy."

-- Woody Allen

Compare and Contrast

Fahrenheit 451 / Science Fiction by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 takes place in an unspecified future time in a hedonistic and rabidly anti-intellectual America that has completely abandoned self-control and bans the reading of books. People are now only entertained by in-ear radio and an interactive form of television. The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman, certain that his job -— burning books, and the houses that hold them, and persecuting those who own them -— is the right thing to do.

In Fahrenheit 451, the job of firefighter had morphed from putting out fires to a kind of "thought police" who were charged with ferreting out people who owned contraband books or other proscribed materials or who might harbor "thoughts" that were deemed hostile to or critical of the state -- which maintained constant surveillance of its citizens.

with ... current headlines

Firefighters Being Trained To Notice Terror Planning

City firefighters are being trained to fight terrorism, but that's not sitting well with many civil libertarians.

The Department of Homeland Security began testing a program with the FDNY last December where firefighters are trained to identify material or behavior that may point toward terrorist activity.

Unlike police, firefighters don't need warrants to get into homes and buildings, putting them in a unique position to be aware of possible terror planning. But some critics say the program is a step toward limiting people's privacy rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the program is similar to a White House proposal from 2002 to have workers with access to private homes, like postal workers, report suspicious behavior to the FBI.

My comment: The future is here. 9/11 changed everything. We are sacrificing everything that has made us a great nation in order to preserve our greatness? "They" hate us for our freedoms? So, the obvious thing is to eliminate those freedoms so then maybe "they" won't hate us? What a strange strategy.

If you haven't read Fahrenheit 451, you really should ... but if you do, destroy your copy after reading it ... before the fire department comes and finds it in your house.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Just thought I'd share ...

It's a deep hole and financial institutions are still digging. Their press releases say they've found the bottom, but if you look at the reset schedule for adjustable rate mortgages for the foreseeable future, you know they're whistling past a grave yard.

Credit has dried up ... therefore ...

The number of monthly home sales is dropping ... therefore ...

The inventory of available homes is increasing ... therefore ...

The sale price of a home is falling like a rock.

That's what happens. It's called "supply and demand" ... and right now there's one heck of a lot more supply than there is demand.

In September there was an 8-9 month supply of new home construction sitting in the market. That number has increased in the intervening two months. The situation with existing homes is worse.

Thought for the Day

"Every man thinks god is on his side. "

Jean Anouilh

My comment: If only more were concerned about wither they were on god's side ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Al Gore Was Reviled Before He Was Beatified

from Huffington Post by Nancy L. Cohen

Monday's awkward, silent photo session of Al Gore and George W. Bush on the occasion of the presidential reception for American Nobel Prize winners is a testament to the ironic reversals of history. Gore is admired throughout the world. Only a third of Americans approve of Bush. With the presidential campaign in full swing, and one candidate curiously reviled by certain segments of the left and right alike, it is instructive to remember that Al Gore was once hated by certain segments of the left and right alike. His rehabilitation should serve as an object lesson to Democrats.

The Right likes to dismiss Gore as just the latest liberal media darling. But in the 2000 campaign, Gore-bashing was the liberal media's, and just about everyone else's, favored mode. Most damningly, Gore was reported to be a waffler and a dissembler, if not a liar. Following Texas Republican Dick Armey's lead, USA Today claimed Gore boasted he "invented" the Internet. The New York Times reported Gore asserting that he and his wife Tipper were the inspiration for the bestseller and movie Love Story. The Washington Post misquoted Gore and made him appear to be claiming credit for discovering Love Canal. The hitch was that Gore didn't lie. Like a perverse game of telephone, the truth, casually remarked on by Gore, was relayed, distorted, and then deployed as gotcha character attacks. (For the sordid and illuminating details, see Evgenia Peretz's excellent recent Vanity Fair article, "Going After Gore".) Gore did in fact sponsor the legislation that opened the Internet to commercial use. Erich Segal, the author of Love Story, confirmed that Gore was the model for the main character. And the refutations go on.

More after the click ...

From the Vanity Fair article mentioned above:

How does he feel about it all? "I feel fine," he says, "but, when I say that, I'm reminded of a story that Cousin Minnie Pearl used to tell about a farmer who was involved in an accident and sued for damages."

To paraphrase, at the trial the lawyer for the driver of the other car cross-examined the farmer, saying, "Isn't it true that right after the accident, you said, 'I feel fine'?"

The farmer said, "Well, it's not that simple," before going on to explain that the other car rammed into him, throwing both him and his cow from his car. When a highway patrolman came by and saw the cow struggling, he shot him between the eyes. The farmer continued, "The patrolman then came to my side and said, 'How do you feel?'… so I said, 'I feel fine.'"

Of course, if you REALLY believe:
  • Gore claimed to invent the Internet
  • Gore claimed to have "discovered" Love Canal
  • Gore claimed he and Tipper were the models for the novel and movie "Love Story"
... well, you probably don't want to read that long Vanity Fair article linked above. It would take too much concentration and it would probably disabuse you of any number of delusions you'd rather hold on to.

The good news? I've got a great deal on a bridge on Brooklyn for you ... and some land in Florida, too.

Why Aren’t You Beautiful?

Maybe because the genes that make hot males make distinctly un-hot females.

by Kathryn Garfield

Natural selection, we’re told, is the process by which nature promotes our best qualities. But a look around strains that notion. If nature selects health, beauty, and intelligence, why are most of us far from flawless?

It may be because genes involved in reproduction work against themselves in opposite sexes across generations, says biologist Katharina Foerster at the University of Edinburgh. In her study of eight generations of red deer in Scotland, she noticed a curious pattern: The most prolific male deer sired daughters that tended to have fewer offspring, while the worst male breeders (the deer equivalent of ugly) fathered females that had more offspring. This is evidence, Foerster says, of sexually antagonistic genes. The same gene that makes a buck sexually successful can leave his daughter behind.

Foerster suspects that sexual antagonism is a way to maintain genetic diversity. But with so many reproductive choices available, it would be nearly impossible to detect this pattern in humans.

from Discover.

We have met the enemy ...

... and its important to coordinate all law enforcement agencies to stop them!!!

7.5 Inter-jurisdictional agency cooperation shall be improved for more effective joint action against organized crime, drug cartels, terrorist networks and the Oregon Democratic Party.

Read the rest of the Oregon Republican Party platform here ...

My comment: The Oregon Republican Party sure has an interesting perspective on who the enemy is!

Call out the Brown Shirts and break up those political rallies. Democrats are enemies of the state and must be dealt with ... just the same as organized CRIME, DRUG cartels and TERRORIST NETWORKS!! We know those traitors are out there, plotting the downfall of the guardians of Family Values ... the rightful and righteous protectors of the Fatherland Homeland! Got mit uns God is on our side!!!

Edit: It would appear that the Oregon Republican Party site was hacked. At noon today it contained the reference to the Oregon Democratic Party (above). Checking this evening, I see that the reference has been removed.

Living in the Real World

US Airways counter:

Ticket Agent: "Good morning sir. How can I help you?"

Man: "[Gives last name] party of two, 7:45 flight going to Cancun. I think the flight goes through Charlotte."

Ticket Agent: "Ok, sir, can I see your passports, please?"

Man: "Passports?"

Ticket Agent: "Yes sir, I need to see your passports."

Man: "I gave you our drivers licenses."

Ticket Agent: "Sir, you have to have passports for all international travel."

Man: "We're going to Cancun. That's not international travel."

Ticket Agent: "Sir, Cancun is in Mexico. That's international travel."

Man: "Since when?"

Thought for the Day

"Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him."

- Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H

Name them. Maim them. Kill them.

From the beginning of the American occupation in Iraq, air strikes and attacks by the U.S. military have only killed "militants," "criminals," "suspected insurgents," "IED [Improvised Explosive Device] emplacers," "anti-American fighters," "terrorists," "military-age males," "armed men," "extremists," or "al-Qaeda."

The pattern for reporting on such attacks has remained the same from the early years of the occupation to today. Take a helicopter attack on Oct. 23 of this year near the village of Djila, north of Samarra. The U.S. military claimed it had killed 11 among "a group of men planting a roadside bomb." Only later did a military spokesperson acknowledge that at least six of the dead were civilians. Local residents claimed that those killed were farmers, that there were children among them, and that the number of dead was greater than 11.

Here is part of the statement released by U.S. military spokeswoman in northern Iraq, Maj. Peggy Kageleiry:

"A suspected insurgent and improvised explosive device cell member was identified among the killed in an engagement between Coalition Forces and suspected IED emplacers just north of Samarra. … During the engagement, insurgents used a nearby house as a safe haven to re-engage coalition aircraft. A known member of an IED cell was among the 11 killed during the multiple engagements. We send condolences to the families of those victims and we regret any loss of life."

As usual, the version offered by locals was vastly different. Abdul al-Rahman Iyadeh, a relative of some of the victims, revealed that the "group of men" attacked were actually three farmers who had left their homes at 4:30 a.m. to irrigate their fields. Two were killed in the initial helicopter attack and the survivor ran back to his home where other residents gathered. The second air strike, he claimed, destroyed the house killing 14 people. Another witness told reporters that four separate houses were hit by the helicopter. A local Iraqi policeman, Capt. Abdullah al-Isawi, put the death toll at 16 – seven men, six women, and three children, with another 14 wounded.

More on AntiWar ...

My comment: I don't know what the real story is, but I do know that the first casualty of war is truth.

There's a lesson in here somewhere ...

"Hello seeker! Now don't feel alone here in the New Age, because there's a seeker born every minute."

-- Firesign Theatre

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Question of Impeachment

Democrats took it off the table ...

... so ... the Culture Project it on the stage ...

Catch up on the arguments for impeachment with the Culture Project.

Culture Project brings crucial and timely concerns to the fore once again with a new, unique series that gathers some of the most brilliant and visionary minds of our time to explore and debate the case for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

You may not agree that there's a legitimate case for impeachment, but in a free and open society, when so many knowledgeable, well educated people who care about the future of the country think there is a case ... perhaps we owe it to ourselves to at least hear them out before we fully close out minds to the possibility.

We should at the very least measure the merits of their case on the scale of the case made against William Jefferson Clinton.

... or see one segment of the full presentation here.

A Legacy of Shame

Noma Bar has a talent for creating convincing likenesses by combining a few elegant lines with brilliantly-incorporated symbolic graphical elements. It’s a combination of political cartooning and caricature.

Mr. Bar was born in Israel and lives in London, where he does lots of work for The Guardian, Time Out London, etc. You may order a book of his work and see a few more images here, and there are many other illustrations viewable around the web.

On taking off your shoes so you can count to twenty ...

from Wonkette

The Pentagon has said that 4,471 soldiers sustained injuries to their brains in Iraq and Afghanistan as of September 30th. There’s just one teeny-tiny problem with that number, which is that the the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs have either seen or treated more than 20,000 soldiers for brain injuries than the Pentagon reports have been injured.

The new numbers come from a variety of sources, including VA records and 4 U.S. bases that have supplied multiple units to the conflicts. The Pentagon’s explanation? If they don’t notice that soldiers are fucked up before they leave Iraq or Afghanistan (even if they sustain the injuries there), then they aren’t counted as official casualties. Also, I’m sure that this counting method in no way affects their ability to get treatment or receive VA benefits because our government wouldn’t do that. Nope.

Thought for the Day

"We Americans live in a nation where the medical-care system is second to none in the world, unless you count maybe 25 or 30 little scuzzball countries like Scotland that we could vaporize in seconds if we felt like it."

-- Dave Barry