Thursday, November 20, 2008

Experts Insist Recent Sightings of Mythical "Democratic Spine" Just Another Hoax

Michael Gene Sullivan
Dateline. Washington, D.C.

Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster. Batboy. Throughout time there have always been those who insist they have seen mythical creatures, people who swear to the existence of phenomena for which scientists say there is no tangible evidence, only hearsay, fable, legend.

But unlike the Abominable Snowman, scientists say the Spine of the Democratic Party is more than a fairy tale. Incredible as it seems today, the legend of Democratic Backbone is based on historical fact, says Prof. Wendy Heep, Chair of Political Archeology at Dartmouth College.

"The fossil record clearly indicates vertebrate characteristics during the early NeoDealistic Period." Prof. Heep explains. "Both the Rooseveltipithicus and the HueyLongicus showed strong indications of backbone, and archeological remains of so-called "Public Works," and badly eroded but still visible "Social Programs" support the theory of ancient spinal strength in Democrats." But according to Prof. Heep, these rudimentary evolutionary advancements were cut dramatically short, and archeologists and anthropologists are still at a loss to explain the political vertebral collapse.

... dig a little deeper into the palaeontological evidence after the click.

It's about the separation of Church and State, stupid!

Giving Up on God

By Kathleen Parker / Washington Post

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

... get the rest after the click.

My comment: What was it that I was saying about the war between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party?

Did you hear the one about the drunk who picked up a barfly just before last call? They stumbled down the street just before closing and found a fleabag motel for the night. Now, sunrise is breaking over the horizon and they both have regrets aplenty! As they look each other over in silent disgust, neither can bear to look in the mirror.

I couldn't think of a more fitting description of the unholy alliance that is today's Republican Party and their collective reaction to a sweeping defeat in the 2008 Presidential election.

Note to Newt Gingrich and the rest who fervently thought they saw a "permanent Republican majority" on the horizon -- be careful who you climb into bed with when you're drunk with power. That bright, shining light you see on the horizon is just the dawning of a new day. (Much the same to the Robertsons, Falwells and Dobsons of the world, too.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God Trumps

Struggling to choose the top religion? Can't decide between Bible-thumping evangelism or benign, gentle Buddhism? Make the process fun and easy with God Trumps, our cut-out-and-keep metaphysical card game for all the family.

... cut out the whole deck of cards after the click.

Keith Olbermann's Point of View

... from inside the TV looking out.

Dollar-a-year men

As we watch the captains of our financial industry who drove the economic bus we were all riding on into the deepest ditch we've seen since the stock market crash of 1929 taking their multi-million dollar bonuses, I can't help wondering what ever happened to dollar-a-year men. In times of national strife - specifically during the Great Depression and the First and Second World Wars, wealthy captains of industry donated their talents to the government in exchange a salary of a dollar a year.

They donated their talents to the common good out of a sense of patriotic duty.

I hope our captains of the financial industry enjoy their bonuses.

How the world works ...

From Kurdistan to K Street

Mother Jones

The routine of Washington foreign policymaking is straightforward and, well, a little boring. Presidents and secretaries of state issue pronouncements in speeches. Diplomats have discussions in ornate ceremonial rooms. That's the official version, anyhow, and even if we're well aware that reality departs from the C-Span, Foreign Affairs version of things, the rhythm, pomp, and ceremony shape our understanding of how countries relate to each other.

This is a story of the other world, the one whose real power players never show up in the CNN headline crawl. It's the story of a man with a habit of popping up, Zelig-like, at the nexus of foreign policy and the kinds of businesses that thrive in times of war—security contracting, infrastructure development and postwar reconstruction, influence and intelligence brokering.

It's also the story of how this entrepreneur and middleman, in the shadowy environment created by the 9/11 attacks and Washington's advance on Iraq, seized the opportunity to propel himself from small-time businessman into global player. The trajectory of Shlomi Michaels is testament not only to one man's driven intensity, but also to the opportunities the war on terror has presented to those with the information, connections, and ambition to seize them.

... the rest of the story after the click.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Search millions of historic photos

Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

... an unbelievable treasure trove after the click.

My comment: I grew up with LIFE Magazine. My father collected them from 1936 until they stopped publishing as a weekly news magazine in the 1970s. The photographs in LIFE Magazine represent the gold standard in photo journalism. The collection is absolutely amazing. Prepare to be lost in images for hours.

Depression 2009: What would it look like?

photo credit: Kozlowski, ©2006

from the Boston Globe

By looking at what we know about how society and commerce would slow down, and how people respond, it's possible to envision what we might face. Unlike the 1930s, when food and clothing were far more expensive, today we spend much of our money on healthcare, child care, and education, and we'd see uncomfortable changes in those parts of our lives. The lines wouldn't be outside soup kitchens but at emergency rooms, and rather than itinerant farmers we could see waves of laid-off office workers leaving homes to foreclosure and heading for areas of the country where there's more work - or just a relative with a free room over the garage. Already hollowed-out manufacturing cities could be all but deserted, and suburban neighborhoods left checkerboarded, with abandoned houses next to overcrowded ones.

And above all, a depression circa 2009 might be a less visible and more isolating experience. With the diminishing price of televisions and the proliferation of channels, it's getting easier and easier to kill time alone, and free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance. Instead of dusty farm families, the icon of a modern-day depression might be something as subtle as the flickering glow of millions of televisions glimpsed through living room windows, as the nation's unemployed sit at home filling their days with the cheapest form of distraction available.

... more after the click.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

'Nuff said.

Church prefers flock to be sheep ... thinking for yourself is a sin

Educated Catholics have sown dissent and confusion in the Church, claims bishop

University-educated Catholics are to blame for the crisis in the Church and the growth of secularism, according to the bishop charged with tackling the decline in Mass attendance.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent / Telegraph

The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church's teaching they are "hedonistic", "selfish" and "egocentric", he said.

In particular, the bishop complained that influential Catholics in politics and the media were undermining the Church.

While not naming names, he suggested that such people had been compromised by their education, which he said had a "dark side, due to original sin".

Prominent Catholics in public life include Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister.

Bishop O'Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to "sickness in the Church and wider society".

... read the rest after the click.

My comment: No, this is not a clip from The Onion. The fact of the matter is, thinking for yourself IS the original sin.

The Governator Gets It Right

"Remember that so many times there's dialogue about, you know, we have to go back to our core values. What is that? What is core? How far does core go back in history in America, the word core? Does it go back 30 years? Does it go back 50 years? Because we know that Teddy Roosevelt talked about universal health care. So they're off the core for a long time ago already. He has talked about protecting our environment. So they've been off for a long time on that. I mean, let's be honest. Ronald Reagan -- let's go to Eisenhower, for instance. Eisenhower has built the highway system in America and he's poured billions of dollars into infrastructure. Where Republicans today say, well, that's spending. We shouldn't spend. That's not spending. That's investing in the future of America.

"So there's a lot of things that they have been off on, if they want to go and talk about the core values. But maybe their definition of core values is maybe different. But I mean, so I think it's all nonsense talk. I think if they just talk about one thing, what do we need now? Now, America needs to be rebuilt, because we haven't really rebuilt America for decades. So we need to rebuild America, fix the bridges, fix the highways, fix the buildings, tunnels and all of those kind of things we need to do. And then we have to go and create great relationships with our partners overseas, with the world, and to build those relationships again. And we have to take care of health care. We have to take care of our environment. And we have to build an energy future. Those are the things that people want right now. And I know in the poll numbers in America -- I mean in California, that's what the people want."

-- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor, California (R)

My comment: Since Nixon and the Southern Strategy the Republican core values have centered around finding a wedge issue to divide the American people. The Southern Strategy played on racism in American and if the wedge issue du jour wasn't racism it was reproductive rights or prayer in schools. Find an emotional hot button and the Republicans were all over it.

A second core value in the Republican platform has been labeling the other side as "tax and spend", forgetting that some spending is a good thing. Some spending represents an investment in the future. But Republicans, over time, evolved to the point of view that ALL spending was bad (because, of course, the world is simple, black and white and without nuance ... and it's so much easier to be against all spending than it is to differentiate).

A third core value in the Republican platform has been that "all tax is bad" ... forgetting that the only other alternative is borrowing ... which is significantly worse. No one likes to pay taxes but we're finding that servicing the debt we've run up under Republican administrations is soaking up huge amounts of our GDP ... and that just pays for the interest on the debt without doing a thing about the principle. The current debt ... the amount of borrowed money ... is $10.6 Trillion. The current estimated population of the United States is 305,110,000 people. Each citizen's share of this debt is $34,716.30 ... so, imagine each of us having $34K on our credit card that we have to pay down and imagine what just the monthly interest on that represents. Let's assume you got a REALLY good credit card rate ... like 7%. It will take you 279 months to be rid of your debt. In that time, you will pay $10,890.80 in interest. And your minimum payment to do that starts at $900 a month! ... to put icing on THAT cake (or lipstick on that pig) ... it only works that way if you NEVER use your credit card again. That's the best of all possible scenarios! Somehow, under THOSE circumstances, paying taxes doesn't sound quite so bad.

A fourth Republican core value has been that "government is not the solution". Of course, it IS the solution when the entire financial industry is circling the bowl. It IS the solution when the auto industry drives itself over a cliff because they weren't paying attention to market realities. It IS the solution when the housing market goes into the tank because we all bought into a bill of goods based on asset inflation being the same as economic growth. It's not ... and we're starting to understand what that really means.

"Cut taxes", "deficits don't matter", wedge issues that divide the people rather than unite them and "government is not the solution" may win elections but they're a piss poor way to run a country.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ugly Americans


Many conservative pundits and Republican officeholders on the national stage have reacted to the election of Barack Obama as a promising step forward in the history of race relations and democracy in the U.S. But gaining much less coverage from the national media are local reactions that are far less accepting and positive.

Away from the spotlight, many local newspapers around the country have covered recent incidents of racially motivated reactions to last week's election, from flags hung upside-down to the dangling of nooses and cross burnings. As we noted last week, a couple in northern New Jersey who had an Obama sign on their front lawn woke up to find the charred remains of a cross. Local residents today announced a "unity march" to protest the still-unsolved incident.


Parents in Rexburg, Idaho, contacted school officials this week after they learned that 2nd and 3rd graders on a school bus were chanting, "Assasssinate Obama!"

The Associated Press revealed on Wednesday, "Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. The graffiti included racist slurs and sexually graphic references. At least one resident in the quiet Mastic neighborhood told Newsday her son's car was scribbled with a message threatening to kill Obama."

From the Staten Island Advance this week: "The NYPD yesterday confirmed they are treating the Election night beating of a black Stapleton teen by a group of whites as a hate crime. Ali Kamara, 17, a black Muslim and immigrant from Liberia, said he was beaten with a baseball bat Tuesday night by four white men who shouted 'Obama,' before beginning the attack."

... there are more ... too many more on the Editor and Publisher site.

My comment: Probably a good idea to consider who your "paling around with". Guilt by association works both ways.