Saturday, March 01, 2008

Killing Time

"Waiting for the End of the World"
Self portrait

Bill Maher - Right Wing Whisper Campaigns

A fundamental trait of today’s right wing is the willingness to lie, baldly and repeatedly and without shame. And it always catches the Democrats off guard. Just ask war criminal John Kerry or Munchausen Syndrome sufferer Al Gore. Are people like Sean Hannity really so dumb that they think Barack Obama is an African spy who’s plotting to be the Lion King? Well, in his case, yes, but ... People like Karl Rove know that the more ridiculous the charge you make, the better. Because they’re not aimed at rational people. They’re aimed at that great teeming mass of Americans who wept with joy when they heard “American Gladiators” was coming back. They’re called “undecideds” or “swing voters”, but I prefer the traditional term, “morons”.

Put Your John Hussein Hancock on the Line

by Justin Frank
Reposted from Huffington Post

I voted for Barack Obama in the primaries and my wife voted for Hillary Clinton (though she notes her vote was not against Obama). We completely agree, however, that we're wholeheartedly against Bill Cunningham and all those who support his tactics. We think there will be more hatred to come, with everyone from Rush to AIPAC getting into the act.

The RNC denounced an ad that ran in Tennessee which emphasized Obama's middle name, and we applaud their action. We also think Senator McCain is a gentleman and won't stoop to racist slurs. But we also feel that it's not enough just to hope. We have to act.

Therefore, today we're both changing our middle names to "Hussein" and encourage everyone to do the same.

Justin Hussein Frank
Heather Hussein Frank

"The Scream" After Edvard Munch

"The Scream"
Model: Andrelica, Tucson, AZ

The Munch painting.

See also: Andrelica as Geisha

A quick note to Mike Huckabee and the Creationists

"In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."

-- Stephen Jay Gould

Making sure our troops have everything they need ... sorta

Faulty Helmets? Here's Another $74 Million
by Te-Ping Chen

When it comes to providing helmets for U.S. soldiers abroad, the Defense Department hasn't shown itself to be particularly discriminating in its choice of manufacturers.

Last December, after secret tapes revealed the North Dakota Sioux Manufacturing Company charged with producing helmets for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan had knowingly delivered some 2.2 million helmets made with substandard weave, the Defense Department wasn't fazed by the controversy. Rather, 12 days before the pending Justice Department lawsuit was settled (with a $2-million slap on the wrist), the DOD issued another contract to the Sioux Manufacturing Company worth up to $74 million.

Today, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington launched a campaign for Congressional inquiry into the contract. Two whistleblowers from Sioux Manufacturing publicly released their recorded tapes with Sioux Manufacturing employees this morning (available with transcripts here); Sens. Kerry and Clinton have joined them in their call.

Read the rest after the click ...

IOKIYA ... white?

To Denounce and Reject
By Marjorie Valbrun |

Why the Farrakhan litmus test must go.

The larger question is why Farrakhan is the litmus test for black politicians' views on race and not the politicians' own record of comments, actions and legislative votes? Why is it that only after they repudiate Farrakhan are they then deemed not to be closet black militants? Farrakhan does not have the political influence over black people that some white Americans apparently believe. Nor does Rev. Al Sharpton, or Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., or any of the other prominent black people that the media treat as proxies for all black people.

Reporters did not run out in droves to ask white politicians to reject Don Imus after he made his remarks about the black female basketball players at Rutgers University. White politicians did not eagerly line up to do so. Nor did they repudiate fellow white politicians who did not. A few, and only a few, said they would no longer go on the Imus show. (Tim Russert, who appeared often on the Imus show, was not among those who said they would no longer be a guest.)

Most black people saw Imus as an irresponsible white man with a powerful microphone, not as the living embodiment of white America. We know the difference. We also understand that the major reasons Imus eventually lost his job was not because he hurt our feelings, but because he was hurting NBC's pocket once advertisers started pressuring the station to lose him.

Isn't it time the statute of limitations ran out on Farrakhan? The portion of the black American population who are followers of the Nation of Islam's brand of Islam is minute. Most blacks in this country could give two hoots what the man says or thinks. They do give him props for pulling off the Million Man March – that's credit where credit is due. But they are hardly looking to Farrakhan for direction on how to vote.

More after the click ...

Couples Counseling?

or watch the video here.


Interesting ...

... the demand that Obama "renounce" and "reject" and endorsement from Louis Farrakhan, the renown bigot, white hater, and Jew baiter while McCain can openly embrace the support from John Hagee.

In addition to believing that we are the last generation before God destroys the earth and that "international television" is a sign that Christ's return is nigh, Hagee has maligned the Catholic Church as 'The Great Whore' and 'a false cult.' Accordingly, the Hagee endorsement has raised the ire of Catholic activists who claim Hagee is a bigot who regularly preaches anti-Catholic hate and blames the Catholic Church for the Holocaust.

It's rare, indeed, that I find myself agreeing with that other raving lunatic, William Donohue, Director of the Catholic League ... but this it maybe the one time:

According to Donohue, both McCain and Huckabee are equally reprehensible for courting Hagee:

If Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama were fighting over the support of Louis Farrakhan, we'd say they're nuts. So what are we to conclude about McCain's embrace of Hagee, and Huckabee's lament for not getting the bigot's endorsement?

Sounds to me like another case of IOKIYAR to me.

(See the piece by Jeffrey Feldman on HuffPo.)

Friday, February 29, 2008

The World turned up-side-down

The Coming Negative Equity Problem

Sgt. First Class Nicklaus Skaggs is among those looking to walk way. Mr. Skaggs bought his home in April 2005 shortly after returning to California from a one-year tour of duty in Baghdad.

The $455,000 three-bedroom home he and his wife purchased in Vacaville, about one hour northeast of San Francisco, is worth an estimated $285,000 today, well below the $453,000 he owes on his mortgage. The monthly mortgage payment, which jumped after its interest rate increased, is now $4,000, up from $2,980 when he bought the house.

Mr. Skaggs expects to be redeployed to Iraq again later this year. But he can't sell his home, since there are few buyers, and he can't refinance because lenders require a large down payment he doesn't have. Now, the 18-year Army veteran has decided to walk away from his mortgage. He hopes in a few years lenders see his decision as a unique situation created by the housing meltdown. "I don't think that house is going to recover in value any time soon," said the 40-year-old. "I'd just be throwing the money away."

From today's WSJ:

Goldman Sachs economists estimate that as much as $3 trillion in mortgages could be underwater by the end of the year, leaving 30% of the country's outstanding mortgages in negative equity. Since there is roughly $1 trillion in subprime mortgages outstanding, that means a large amount of better-quality mortgages, such as prime and Alt-A -- a category between prime and subprime -- will be attached to negative equity.

More after the click ...

My comment:

The sad thing is, where ever Congress puts the emphasis, the predatory lenders will be rewarded for making bad bets. If Congress targets bailouts at the lenders, they're rewarded for bad behavior at tax payers expense. If Congress targets the homeowners who were talked into taking on more debt than they could in the real world, the homeowners will pay on their mortgages which, in effect, will bail out the lenders who made the bad bets ... at tax payers expense.

This is not about people who couldn't read the fine print in their mortgage contracts. This is about people who were victimized by a system that told them repeatedly that housing prices would continue to climb ... forever. They were told that they could take variable rate mortgages and either refinance or sell their mortgaged property at a higher price when the escalator kicked in. Their sin was to believe what they were told by "experts" in the business.

This is the "fiscal responsibility" in action that we've been hearing about for the last two decades. This "fiscal responsibility" stood by, watching asset inflation and labeled it "growth". The sad thing is that you're paying the price. The one who ends up holding the bag is the one who ultimately bears the responsibility and they've left YOU holding the bag.

Taking evidence seriously

Alan Sokal in the Guardian (UK)

Public policy decisions should be based on evidence. So why are taxpayers funding faith schools and alternative therapies?

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality," a senior adviser to President Bush told the New York Times in the summer of 2002.

It might seem obvious that public policy ought to be based on reality and evidence, but the implications of taking seriously an evidence-based worldview are far more radical than most people realise.

Here's one example: the British government is now introducing standards of competence in homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology and other "alternative" therapies, in order to protect the public from inadequately trained practitioners. That sounds nice, at first glance. But what, precisely, does it mean to be "competent" in a system of pseudo-medicine that has never been demonstrated to be efficacious beyond the placebo effect? Perhaps for its next act, the NHS will introduce bloodletting and trepanation, duly guaranteed by rigorous standards of competence for practitioners.

Despite the utter scientific implausibility of homeopathy - in which the "remedies" are so highly diluted that they contain not a single molecule of the alleged "active ingredient" - the NHS actively promotes homeopathy on its website and provides homeopathic "treatment" at the taxpayers' expense. And there are five homeopathic hospitals in the UK, of which four are funded by NHS money.

More after the click ...

My comment:

The down-side of faith based decisions is that they're based on faith ... and faith does not require evidence. As a matter of fact, faith requires that any evidence running contrary to belief be ignored. It simply wouldn't be faith if it were based solely on evidence.

Religion in the USA

My comment:

"Man is the only animal that has the one true religion .. several of them." -- Mark Twain

Fear and False Claims


Playing the terrorism card, a GOP-linked group twists facts about a controversial electronic surveillance bill.

A widely-seen ad pushes a White House-backed bill that would make it easier for the government to wiretap Americans. It also would give retroactive legal immunity to telecom companies that cooperated with Bush's secret, post-9/11 warrantless wiretapping program.

Sponsored by Defense of Democracies, a group with GOP connections, the ad takes the House to task for not passing the bill, as the Senate has. The ad appeals to fear, with its image of Osama bin Laden and similar ploys. But we find that it also makes several misleading claims.

Specifically, the ad says that:

  • "The law" allowing government eavesdroppers to intercept al Qaeda communications has expired. But the main, 30-year-old law that lets them listen in, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is still on the books. It's a law amending FISA, making it easier for intelligence-gatherers to eavesdrop on communications that might include Americans, that has expired.
  • "[T]he House refuses to vote" to replace the lapsed law. Actually, the House passed its own version of the legislation months ago. The House and Senate are now in conference to resolve the differences in their bills, which is the normal legislative process.
  • "[N]ew surveillance against terrorists is crippled." The administration has admitted that surveillance authorized under the expired bill will extend at least into August. It has also admitted that when a new member of a known terrorist organization is discovered, that person can be surveilled via authorizations granted under the expired law. And at any rate, FISA itself hasn't expired, and any time the government has strong evidence that someone is a member of a terrorist organization, it can still get a court order to eavesdrop on that person.

Get the facts on ...

My comment:

Who's trying to terrorize whom? And while we're at it, what's the difference between a "misleading claim" and and outright lie?

As a right wing-nut, you may be comfortable with G.W. listening in on your phone conversations and monitoring e-mail and your on-line Internet activity ... but how are you going to feel about it when someone like Billery is eavesdropping on you and monitoring you ... without a warrant ... without any oversight? Can't you see any further than the end of your nose?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Requium for the last REAL conservative

Bill Buckley's Conservatism
by Jacob Heilbrunn

With the death of William F. Buckley, Jr., conservatives have been eulogizing him as a pivotal figure in the history of their movement. President Bush declared, "His legacy lives on in the ideas he championed and in the magazine he founded -- National Review."

Not exactly. As Buckley headed into his final years, he became vehemently opposed to the crusading, neoconservative stance that the younger generation at National Review adopted in championing the Iraq War. Indeed, both Buckleys, William F. and his brilliantly talented son Christopher, became acidulous critics of President Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney. The elder Buckley declared that if Bush were serving in a parliamentary democracy, he would have to resign, if not impeached. And Christopher, writing recently in the Washington Monthly, noted that he hopes the GOP loses in 2008: "Who knew, in 2000, that "compassionate conservatism" meant bigger government, unrestricted government spending, government intrusion in personal matters, government ineptitude, and cronyism in disaster relief?"

The rest after the click ...

My comment:

Bill Buckley passes; a Conservative intellectual departs the field leaving no heirs. I'm sorry to see him go. It can now be said that what passes for Conservatism in the United States has truly and totally lost it's mind.

Plug in your own predictions

and find out whether it's possible for Clinton to catch Obama.

By Chadwick Matlin and Chris Wilson on Slate

For all the emphasis on words in this Democratic primary, it still comes down to a number: 2,025—the number of pledged delegates and superdelegates needed to command a convention majority and secure the nomination.

And with less than a week to go before Hillary Clinton's do-or-die day in Ohio and Texas, questions abound about how—or if—she can take the lead in pledged delegates. To help you explore all possible scenarios, Slate has created a pledged delegate calculator.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Republican Ideology Has Broken the Economy

from Huffington Post by Hale "Bonddad" Stewart

There will always be a debate about the need and extent of regulation. This debate is healthy; it should prevent one side from pushing too far against the other.

However, as the financial system continues to experience a high amount of turmoil, it is clear that deregulation has exceeded the "too much of a burden on business" argument. Instead, too little regulation has broken the economy.

The rest after the click ...

My comment:

Republican ideology has also broken our government, our military, and every business in the lending industry, the residential construction industry, and in real estate sales (and that cancer is spreading faster than anyone can track). That ideology has also "broken" our standing in the world, the accumulated trust and admiration of the international community, built up from the end of the Second World War to the invasion of Iraq. It has shipped jobs our overseas (and I blame Bubbah for caving into the Republican ideology on NAFTA, the economic equivalent of the invasion of Iraq in foreign policy).

That ideology has broken families; the families of our American war dead as well as the victims of predatory lending practices that resulted from the deregulation of the lending industry.

The spiral of unintended consequences that have resulted from short term, quarter-to-quarter, profit-only focus inherent in conservative philosophy is widening at an astounding pace ... and they want McCain and four more years of this "business-as-usual"?

The image of lemmings drinking Kool-Aid.

It's a Process, Not an Event

A little more from yesterday's shoot. Another piece for Rachel's book of Geisha makeup variations.

Available light ... another painting.

Republicans Experiment with Deregulation

from Politico

The accounting scandal now haunting the National Republican Congressional Committee was preceded by a series of decisions over the past decade to relax internal financial controls at the committee, according to numerous Republican sources familiar with the NRCC’s operations during those years.

Under Virginia Rep. Tom Davis and New York Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who chaired the committee from 1999 until the end of 2006, the NRCC waived rules requiring the executive committee — made up of elected leaders and rank-and-file Republican lawmakers — to sign off on expenditures exceeding $10,000, merged the various department budgets into a single account and rolled back a prohibition on committee staff earning an income from outside companies.

These changes gave committee staffers more freedom to spend money quickly and react to a shifting political landscape during heated campaign battles, and House Republicans were able to claim larger majorities after the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections.

More after the click ...

My comment:

The net result? About what you'd expect. A couple of felony indictments. Just like the real world. I bet they still don't get it, though. Does the phrase "Culture of Corruption" ring a bell?

Josh Patashnik summed it up pretty well in The New Republic when he wrote"

"House Republicans can be accused of many things, but at least inconsistency isn't one of them: They adhere to the same low standards of ethics and competence in their own affairs that they expect of the federal government as a whole."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Every Picture Has a Story ... Don't It?

I spent some time shooting today. Busy day ... three models, one makeup artist.

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

Just a sketch. I need to revisit the material and re-do the image to clean up a few minor details that most people would probably never notice. I think it renders the idea of multiple personality disorder quite nicely, though.

Portrait (after John Singer Sargent)

In some ways an homage to my father who painted portraits and his favorite painter, John Singer Sargent. It's remanicent of the late 19th century portraits the wealthy commissioned of their family members ... before photography made painting a lost art. I can't figure out if Pictorialism or f16 is the greater influence. I'm not sure it matters ... but I can see elements of both.

Dueling Geishas

For Rachel's book of Geisha fantasies; a tour de force of makeup styling.

Three totally different mind sets.

Busy day.

And Now for a LIttle Propoganda

The vast Right Wing ... uh ... Left Wing ... conspiracy
as seen by Iran.

or watch the video here.

My comment:

It would appear that Iran is waging it's own war on terrorism ... I guess it's all in how you define it? But it sure has a familiar ring to it ... I guess there are certain similarities in everyone's war on terrorism, only the targets change.

A Little More About Lapel Pins

About not wearing an American flag lapel pin, Obama said Republicans have no lock on patriotism.

“A party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed, or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans’ benefits that these troops need when they come home, or are undermining our Constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary?

“That is a debate I am very happy to have. We’ll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism.”

There's more after the click ...

My comment:

Nice to see someone stand up to the school-yard bullies.

And then there's this from Sean Carman on 23/6:

Small minds, small concerns. Yes, there are big issues facing the country, but never mind them. What really matters is Obama's explanation for his failure to wear an American flag pin on his lapel.

You know, why even have the primaries? Cancel the debates. Let's just interview the candidates about why they wear or don't wear the flag pin. From their answers we'll decide who should govern the country.

Kristol's argument on the Obama flag pin question ("Flag-gate!") is just so unbelievably, insidiously stupid. The man is a 50-year-old fifth grader. Obama explained that at some point he decided to express his patriotism by speaking out against the war in Iraq. That, Obama decided, might be a more authentic expression of patriotism than wearing a flag pin. And so, when he began speaking out against the war, he put the flag pin down.

Actions may speak louder than words, but words, Obama decided, speak louder than flag pins.


I have an idea that might appeal to Bill Kristol: The Flag Pin Police. Let's have paid federal law enforcement officials go around questioning citizens about why they aren't wearing American flag lapel pins. If anyone gives an answer that seems "grandiose" or insufficiently humble for our tastes, we'll disqualify that person from holding public office.

What is that again? There's a name for that. Something we once fought against, I think.

Oh yeah. I remember. It's called "fascism."

Get it all after the click ...

GOP fears charges of racism, sexism

on Politico

The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate, according to people involved. The secretive effort underscores the enormous risk senior GOP operatives see for a party often criticized for its insensitivity to minorities in campaigns dating back to the 1960s.

The RNC project is viewed as so sensitive that those involved in the work were reluctant to discuss the findings in detail. But one Republican strategist, who asked that his name be withheld to speak candidly, said the research shows the daunting and delicate task ahead.

More after the click ...

My comment:

Fear charges of racism and sexism? Why would it bother them now? Use'ta'be they wore those things like badges of honor. Have those time honored Right-wing family values and virtues suddenly become perceived as liabilities? Oh, my!

I guess attacking the candidates on the basis of actual issues would be a loosing proposition and they've ruled that out as an option?

20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Relativity

Galileo invented it, Einstein understood it, and Eddington saw it.

by Susan Kruglinski in Discover

1.) Who invented relativity? Bzzzt—wrong. Galileo hit on the idea in 1639, when he showed that a falling object behaves the same way on a moving ship as it does in a motionless building.

2 .) And Einstein didn’t call it relativity. The word never appears in his original 1905 paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” and he hated the term, preferring “invariance theory” (because the laws of physics look the same to all observers—nothing “relative” about it).

3 .) Space-time continuum? Nope, that’s not Einstein either. The idea of time as the fourth dimension came from Hermann Minkowski, one of Einstein’s professors, who once called him a “lazy dog.”

Seventeen more or less, relatively speaking, after the click ...

Thought for the day

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult."

-- E. B. White

Monday, February 25, 2008

Republicans flaunting their Patriotism

... with lapel pins.

Get the photo summary here.

Secret Service takes a Inopportune Doughnut Break

DALLAS -- Security details at Barack Obama's rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order -- apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service -- was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on.

"Sure," said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned by the great number of people who had gotten into the building without being checked. But, he added, the turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a "friendly crowd."

The Secret Service did not return a call from the Star-Telegram seeking comment.

Mmore after the click ...

My comment: None.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Modern Moai

"Modern Moai"

Another trip to the University of Arizona. This time for the South West Native Arts Show and Sale. We bought matching rings to celebrate eight years* (in July) of togetherness without discord, of peace without harsh words or recriminations, of mutual support and domestic tranquility. the ring are being prepared by Fernando Benally, a Navajo silver worker. Fernando explained the symbolism. His explanation prompted me to comment that the rings represented a complete spiritual first aid kit. He laughed. He'd never thought of the design quite that way. His ain't cheap but we're worth it.

The rings are destined for the right hand ring fingers to balance the set we already wear since the fateful day we decided to take advantage of cheaper medical insurance together ... cheaper than it could have ever been singly. Matching custom made rings seem to be our nod to matching "his and hers" bowling shirts.

Given that we got wedding rings when we married and now, another set of rings to commemorate a bunch of years of contentment, that leaves enough fingers to maintain the tradition for another 90 years (at least) before we run out of fingers.

The rings should be ready by June.

We also took the time to go through the exhibit at the Center for Creative Photography ... an important exhibit for me in that it compared the images of the Pictorialist school of photography with the approach of the f16 group in San Francisco. They represent two schools of thought that are constantly fighting with each other when I approach photography.


"Palms and Brick" - U of A Campus

"Man on a Mission"

* or 10 years of being together (that would be like last January) - take your pick. Edit: 12, actually - we had to sit down and figure it out because neither of us was really sure how long its been.

Fearmongering Timeline

In case you weren't paying attention along the way:

or watch the video here.

Birds Do It. Bees Do It. Dragons Don’t Need To.


DRAGONS and virgin births are the stuff of myth and religion. Except, that is, in Kansas, where they have recently come together in a way that should alter the way many of us look at nature and demonstrate the risks in our habit of using it to help us make ethical decisions.

Keepers at Wichita’s zoo got a surprise last year when they found developing eggs inside the Komodo dragon compound. Komodos are large rapacious lizards naturally found in Indonesia, but increasingly populating zoos around the world. Finding fertile embryos of dragons is a joyous occasion — there are only a few thousand of the lizards in the wild and captive breeding may be the only way to keep the species around.

But these eggs — two of which hatched a few weeks ago — were unusual: they developed from a female that had had no male of the species in close proximity for more than a decade. Judging from similar occurrences over the past two years in Britain, it appears that these lizards sometimes use a form of virgin birth in which eggs hatch without conception. The embryos are genetic clones of the mother.

More after the click ...

My comment:

Interesting how cloning calls into question our penchant for looking to nature for moral guidance on questions ranging from when life begins to same sex marriages. Perhaps looking to nature for that moral guidance is not unlike looking to the Rorschach certainty of your friendly local holy book ... you can find what ever answer you're looking for in it ... and that offers no moral guidance at all beyond the echoes of your own prejudices.