Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Post Turtles

An old Texan was chatting with his doctor and said, "Well, ya know, Republicans are 'post turtles.'"

Not being familiar with the term, his doctor asked him what a "post turtle" was.

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."

The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain.

"You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the dumb thing get down."

Government is Not a Business

Michael Gene Sullivan

"When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses."
- Rep. Shirley Chisolm

There is an idea in our land. It is an idea that has been gaining traction since the 1980s, since the Great Communicator convinced so many that the New Deal had been the wrong deal, that the Social Contract was a pact with the Devil, and that welfare queens, homeless vets, and liberals were undermining that which made America great. The idea, simply put, is that Government should be run like a business. It is a stupid idea, but there you have it.

Reagan, a smiley White man in a dark suit, cemented the idea of the president as CEO, legislators as Middle Management, and the citizens as stockholders. He convinced many that, with Government as Business, careful money management and profit would be the rule of the day. Government waste would be a thing of the past! Surely men who put money first would run our country efficiently -- and anyone who said otherwise was a stinky commie! So it came to pass that where once Congress and legislative houses around the country had been filled mainly with Lawyers, whose training had prepared them to draft and interpret laws, "Government as Business" took hold, and these lawmaking bodies became filled with business leaders who had little or no law study or experience. These elected MBAs and jumped up Chamber of Commerce members worked to get "Government off our backs," deregulating everything they could, and managing the wealth of the county, or country, as they would any for-profit corporation.

But here's the thing: democratic governments are structured and function not as corporations, where profit is the bottom line, but as nonprofit organizations, where the providing of services is their sole function.

The rest after the click.

My comment:

The economy is circling the bowl and my Republican friends who live in the past are circulating a button ...

You'd think that the rank and file supporters of Reaganomics should start to wake up and smell the coffee. After watching a few companies that have been run like companies, one might detect a pattern. Remember Enron, Tyco and WorldCom? Or if your memory doesn't extend back that far, how about taking a look at the current mess the unregulated lending "industry" has gotten itself into.

The so-called business model suggests that all the benefits rise to the top and leave the shareholders holding the bag. Case in point would be all the incompetent CEOs who've recently been forced out of their companies ... with multi-million dollar severance packages as a reward for crashing and burning their businesses. The analog to that business model observation is becoming painfully clear. Incomes of the top 1% of the population have increased four fold in the last decade while your sub-million dollar yearly take buys less than it did ten years ago ... and the top 1% get the tax breaks that the Republicans want to make permanent while you get a check for $300, $600 if your married plus $300 per child up to ... yahoo!!! ... $1,200. It's a lot like tossing a buck or two to a bum on the street in the hope that he'll go away.

"Don't spend it all in one place!!!"

Well, let me tell you, that bad taste in your mouth is the same taste you get on the hung over morning after a night out binge drinking in bars. You got intoxicated on the illusion that you'd accumulated wealth as a result of Republican "borrow and spend" economic policies but now, in the light of day ... particularly if you're trying to sell your house only to find out it's worth less on the market than you what you owe on your mortgage ... you're finding that you were just drunk on the smell of some body else's cork. You were told that we were experiencing GROWTH when, in fact, what you were experiencing was asset inflation. Cheap credit and unregulated credit practices pushed housing prices up faster than that rate of real growth ... and that's the definition of asset inflation. But you bought into the story. You believed you were getting the benefits of a strong economy that resulted from "getting government off the backs of industry".

Now, you're waking up on the morning after and realizing that the house you mortgaged for a million is worth less than half of that and your feeling a little trapped. Slowly the dawn ... you were the last sucker in a Ponzi Scheme. (Don't believe me? check out what the foreclosure rates in California and Florida are doing to to housing prices. Surely you watch teevee now and then or read a newspaper?)

So much for the legacy you thought you'd leave for your children.

Better right-wing Reaganomics believers should look for a button that says "Vote Democratic: Reagonomics robbed my children blind." It might not be as much of a cheap snicker as the Monica button but it certainly contains a more meaningful truth.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Map reveals extent of human damage to oceans news service / Phil McKenna, Boston

Human activities have strongly impacted 41% of the world's oceans and have left only about 4% of their surface area relatively pristine, according to the first-ever global map of human impact upon the oceans.

The new atlas highlights the significant effects humans have had on even the most remote seas and could help guide future conservation efforts, but the findings have also drawn criticism from at least one marine biologist who questions the subjective nature of the ambitious study.

More after the click.

My comment: Should we be filing this under the heading "Droning In Our Own Poop"?

The Lost Kristol Tapes

What the New York Times Bought
By Jonathan Schwarz on AntiWar

Imagine that there were a Beatles record only a few people knew existed. And imagine you got the chance to listen to it, and as you did, your excitement grew, note by note. You realized it wasn't merely as good as Rubber Soul, or Revolver, or Sgt. Pepper's. It was much, much better. And now, imagine how badly you'd want to tell other Beatles fans all about it.

That's how I feel for my fellow William Kristol fans. You loved it when Bill said invading Iraq was going to have "terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East"? You have the original recording of him explaining the war would make us "respected around the world" and his classic statement that there's "almost no evidence" of Iraq experiencing Sunni-Shia conflict? Well, I've got something that will blow your mind!

I'm talking about Kristol's two-hour appearance on C-Span's Washington Journal on March 28, 2003, just nine days after the President launched his invasion of Iraq. No one remembers it today. You can't even fish it out of LexisNexis. It's not there. Yet it's a masterpiece, a double album of smarm, horrifying ignorance, and bald-faced deceit. While you've heard him play those instruments before, he never again reached such heights. It's a performance for the history books – particularly that chapter about how the American Empire collapsed.


So, sit back, relax, and let me play a little of it for you.

To start with, Ellsberg made the reasonable point that Iraqis might not view the invading Americans as "liberators," since the U.S. had been instrumental in Saddam Hussein's rise to power: Here's how he put it:

"ELLSBERG: People in Iraq... perceive Hussein as a dictator... But as a dictator the Americans chose for them.

"KRISTOL: That's just not true. We've had mistakes in our Iraq policy. It's just ludicrous – we didn't choose Hussein. We didn't put him in power.

"ELLSBERG: In 1963, when there was a brief uprising of the Ba'ath, we supplied specifically Saddam with lists, as we did in Indonesia, lists of people to be eliminated. And since he's a murderous thug, but at that time our murderous thug, he eliminated them...

"KRISTOL: [surprised] Is that right?...

"ELLSBERG: The same thing went on in '68. He was our thug, just as [Panamanian dictator Manuel] Noriega, and lots of other people who were on the leash until they got off the leash and then we eliminated them. Like [Vietnamese president] Ngo Dinh Diem."

More after the click.

My comment:

Actually, the list of "our" dictators is quite long. Pick a trouble spot almost anywhere in the world and we've had our thumb on the scale, benefiting our short term commercial interests at the expense of our long term geopolitical interests, our reputation, our credibility and our honor.

Vietnam - we supported Ngo Dinh Diem until it became inconvenient in 1963.

Iran - We replaced the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in order to protect the UKs oil monopoly in Iran in 1953.

Argintina - In 1976 we engineered takeover by a military junta.

Chile - We replaced Allende with Pinochet in 1973 because Allende believed the natural resources of Chile should benefit the people of Chile rather than multi-national mining and agricultural corporations.


and on and on and on ...

And then enter the Law of Unintended Consequences. It seems that invariably we live under the mistaken impression that if we put "our guy" in charge of "their country" it will be good for "our businesses". But if "our guy" was worth anything he wouldn't need our support to become a leader in his country. They don't hate us for our freedoms, they hate us for our sense of license. When those on the right point to our entitlement programs as the source of all our domestic problems they neglect to consider their own sense of entitlement on the global stage and it's contribution to the list of problems we face around the world.

Winston Churchill once said, "You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing ... after they've tried everything else."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Red and the Blue

Voters - Primaries and Caucuses (raw data by way of MSNBC).

I took all the votes cast through the Super Tuesday primaries, both Republican and Democratic (and assumed that the drop-outs from both sides cancel each other out) to get some idea what participation is looking like. I don't know if it's any indication of what will happen in the general election but I suspect my prognostications are just as valid as those of any of the pundits (who've been consistently proven wrong throughout this election cycle so far). Of course, Romney & Paul dropped out of the race after Super Tuesday but, as a further assumption, the chart above is predicated on Republican voters continuing to vote Republican, and likewise for Democratic voters.

If the turnouts for the primaries and caucuses are any indication, it looks like there's a landslide building. It's looking more an more like 60/40 Democratic than 51/49.

So much for the 100 year Republican man-date.

I might be wrong, but it's worth thinking about.

Less jobs, more wars

Or watch the video here.

Actually "fewer jobs" ... look it up.

American Heros on Velvet

Bush, Cheney, Condi, Rove, Ashcroft, Monica Lewinski (for those of you who still live in the past) and even a Velvet Elvis or two ... all at the Black Velvet Paintings Store on eBay. What a fitting tribute to an era we'll all remember with such fondness ... starting 341 days from NOW!

"Original Black Velvet Paintings from Mexico ~ Limited-Edition Black Velvet Portraits hand-painted in Tijuana by professional Mexican velvet elvis artists, exclusively. Collections include: Velvet Republicans; Tabloid Heroes; and The Tijuana Standards -- Sad Clowns to Black Velvet Elvis Paintings."

One of the wonderful benefits of NAFTA!

(Tip of the hat to Wonkette.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Voting to the beat


or watch the video here.


or watch the video here.

So ... What's the beat of your politics?

Ya know ... if I were gonna vote just on the basis of the music ...

Side bar: Outa curiosity, which tune you think was brought to the campaign and which came from the campaign? There's a difference ... and I think you can hear it.

Wonder what McCain is using to fire up the troops? Bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran?


Yup, Bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran!

(Thank you, Trudy.)

Old Proverb

"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Give a fish a man, and he'll eat for weeks!"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shooting Rachel

'Nuff said ...

There's Nothing Mainstream About the Corporate Media

by Harvey Wasserman

As we stumble toward another presidential election, it's never been more clear that our political process is being warped by a corporate stranglehold on the free flow of information. Amidst a virtual blackout of coverage of a horrific war, a global ecological crisis and an advancing economic collapse, what passes for the mass media is itself in collapse. What's left of our democracy teeters on the brink.

The culprit, in the parlance of the day, has been the "Mainstream Media," or MSM.

But that's wrong name for it. Today's mass media is Corporate, not Mainstream, and the distinction is critical.

Calling the Corporate Media (CM) "mainstream" implies that it speaks for mid-road opinion, and it absolutely does not.

There is, in fact, a discernable, tangible mainstream of opinion in this country. As brilliant analysts such as Jeff Cohen, Norman Solomon and the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) organization have shown, the "MSM" is very far to the right of it.

The rest (with more examples than you need) after the click.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Iran: A brief lesson in history

or watch the video here.

My comment:

More often than not, "spreading democracy" and "fighting communism" are code phrases for establishing compliant regimes in other countries that support American corporate interests against the interests of the people of the country.

By labeling something "communistic", whether it is or isn't, has been a rallying cry for disrupting democratically elected governments around the world. It rallies the support of those who don't know the difference.

Side bar: Soviet Communism failed for a reason. The reason was that it devoted more of its resources to military spending than it could sustain in order to compete in an arms race with the United States. It went bankrupt in the process. It failed to attend to the needs of the people of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union crashed and burned ... it deserved to.

Interestingly enough, we are still in an arms race and increasing military spending ... but no one else is playing. In the meantime, our economy is in shambles.

There's a lesson in here somewhere.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

School of Music, Department of Rhythms

School of Music, University of Arizona, Tucson

The Stairs at the Parking Garage,
University of Arizona, Tucson

Photography has been a real challenge for the last year or so. I've been burned out; unmotivated ... hesitant, even resistant.

Balcony, Parking Garage, U of A, Tucson

I think I'm coming out of it. At least I have some ideas I want to work on. And at least I'm starting to see things again.