Friday, December 26, 2008

Republicans at their best

... engaged in attacks on the person rather than debating actual issues.

RNC candidate distributes controversial Obama song
By Reid Wilson / The Hill

RNC candidate Chip Saltsman’s Christmas greeting to committee members includes a music CD with lyrics from a song called “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s popular radio show.

... more in The Hill after the click.

My comment: They don't even realize when they're being bigots. I guess it's just Family Values in action. After all, a strict interpretation of the Constitution provides that a "Negro" should be counted as 3/5s of a "White" person. (The US Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, paragraph 3. The 14th Amendment be damned!)

I wonder if they're going to put Ole' Chip in charge of the RNC's minority outreach program?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

... after an early (and leisurely) Christmas dinner of lobster and shrimp.

From two exposures, stitched together in the trusty photo editor. Winter storm warnings above 6,000 feet. There'll be snow caps on the mountains in the morning.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No child left behind ... ?

Sixty-third General Assembly / United Nations

By a vote of 180 in favour to 1 against (United States) and no abstentions, the Committee also approved a resolution on the right to food, by which the Assembly would “consider it intolerable” that more than 6 million children still died every year from hunger-related illness before their fifth birthday, and that the number of undernourished people had grown to about 923 million worldwide, at the same time that the planet could produce enough food to feed 12 billion people, or twice the world’s present population. (See Annex VIII.)

In favour:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

United States.

My comment: "They" hate us for our freedoms.

Pope attacks blurring of gender

Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

His words, later released to the media, emphasised his rejection of gender theory.

Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurred the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race.

Gender theory explores sexual orientation, the roles assigned by society to individuals according to their gender, and how people perceive their biological identity.

Gay and transsexual groups, particularly in the United States, promote it as a key to understanding and tolerance, but the Pope disagreed.

... more from the Beeb after the click.

Getting informed about misinformation

Hannity was not alone in smearing, misinforming on Fox News in 2008

While Fox News' Sean Hannity earned Media Matters for America's "Misinformer of the Year" title for 2008, he was not alone in spreading conservative misinformation on Fox News. Indeed, smears of President-elect Barack Obama and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton were prevalent during the presidential campaign, and false claims about progressive policies, issues, and individuals were common throughout Fox News programming.

... read an interesting list of systematic misinformation on Media Matters after the click.

My comment: What's that old saw about "if you tell a big enough lie often enough, it becomes perceived as the truth?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What do atheists do at Christmas?

The musician, Jarvis Cocker, had the idea to find out how atheists celebrate Christmas. So does Britain's most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, eat turkey and open presents - or is 25 December a day like any other?

Jarvis Cocker asks Richard Dawkins ... and gets the answer here..

Money for nuttin' and chicks for free

from the Rachel Maddow Show:

But first, I here by announce the formation of the “first national bank” of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. We are turning this television show into a bank, maybe a bank holding company.

And you will be happy to hear that we are in really, really sorry shape as a bank. We are an awful bank. We are a terrible bank. We are totally on the verge of tanking as a bank. So, therefore, we will need to fill out an application for federal assistance for the “first national bank” of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.

Then, I think, step two, probably we‘ll just go ahead with plans for the big holiday party. No need to delay. No need to hold back.

See, the application for free money from the government if you‘re a bank, it‘s quite literally two pages long. I thought that was a joke until I went online and I downloaded it. If you google TARP application, it just comes right up first thing and here it is. All two pages. The first page consists entirely of lines where they ask you to fill in the name and address of the bank and a primary and secondary contact person. That‘s half the application done right there.

The second half of the application? Well, let‘s do it, right? Ask for the registration number for the company up there at the top, and then the next three lines are essentially questions about how much government money you want. This next line is, essentially, how is your balance sheet. Then there‘s a “yes or no” question about whether you have gone online and read the small print at the Treasury Department‘s Web site. Yes, right, like people read that stuff, like checking that little box when you download software. Yes, sure, I read all these conditions.

The next line is, essentially, anything else we should know? And then, down at the bottom, this is—actually, this is a really tough one. Down at the bottom, they say state the type of company you are. Oh, proving.

Then, there‘s a line for the date—that‘s a hard one—and a line for the boss‘ signature. And actually, you don‘t even need to provide the boss‘ signature if you don‘t want to. It says boss‘ signature or the signature of a designee. You know, just for hoots, when we do the “first national bank” of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW application, I‘m going to say that Bilbo Baggins was our CEO‘s designee and just sign that name just to see if they even notice.

That‘s it actually. That‘s the whole two pages. That is the full application process for a piece of the $700 billion worth of our money that the government is doling out.

... more on Crooks and Liars after the click.

My comment: Actually the file is six pages but four are the instructions and guidelines for filling out the two page application. Real people and real companies that produce real products need not apply. It's just part of the "You're On Your Own" society.

On having a clear perspective ...

from The Week Magazine

... after a Catholic cardinal in Chile denounced Madonna's "incredibly shameful behavior" at a concert in Santiago and called her an "offense to God." Cardinal Jorge Medina made the remarks at a mass for the late dictator Augusto Piochet, under who's rule tens of thousands of political opponents were executed, tortured or "disappeared".

My comment: Yeah, well ... after all, Madonna is a Jew (sorta) ... Pinochet wasn't.

Stampede for 'Bush shoe' creates 100 new jobs

Guardian, UK

Their deployment as a makeshift missile robbed President George Bush of his dignity and landed their owner in jail. But the world's most notorious pair of shoes have yielded an unexpected bonanza for a Turkish shoemaker.

Ramazan Baydan, owner of the Istanbul-based Baydan Shoe Company, has been swamped with orders from across the world, after insisting that his company produced the black leather shoes which the Iraqi journalist Muntazar al-Zaidi threw at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad last Sunday.

Baydan has recruited an extra 100 staff to meet orders for 300,000 pairs of Model 271 - more than four times the shoe's normal annual sale - following an outpouring of support for Zaidi's act, which was intended as a protest, but led to his arrest by Iraqi security forces.

Orders have come mainly from the US and Britain, and from neighbouring Muslim countries, he said.

... more after the click.

White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire


WASHINGTON — The global financial system was teetering on the edge of collapse when President Bush and his economics team huddled in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a briefing that, in the words of one participant, “scared the hell out of everybody.”

It was Sept. 18. Lehman Brothers had just gone belly-up, overwhelmed by toxic mortgages. Bank of America had swallowed Merrill Lynch in a hastily arranged sale. Two days earlier, Mr. Bush had agreed to pump $85 billion into the failing insurance giant American International Group.

The president listened as Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, laid out the latest terrifying news: The credit markets, gripped by panic, had frozen overnight, and banks were refusing to lend money.

Then his Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., told him that to stave off disaster, he would have to sign off on the biggest government bailout in history.

Mr. Bush, according to several people in the room, paused for a single, stunned moment to take it all in.

“How,” he wondered aloud, “did we get here?”

Eight years after arriving in Washington vowing to spread the dream of homeownership, Mr. Bush is leaving office, as he himself said recently, “faced with the prospect of a global meltdown” with roots in the housing sector he so ardently championed.

There are plenty of culprits, like lenders who peddled easy credit, consumers who took on mortgages they could not afford and Wall Street chieftains who loaded up on mortgage-backed securities without regard to the risk.

But the story of how we got here is partly one of Mr. Bush’s own making, according to a review of his tenure that included interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials.

... get the rest in the NYT after the click.

My comment: Unrestricted, unregulated "free-market" capitalism is a market philosophy that pirates of the Somali coast have adopted. They invest a little capital (in AK-47s and speed boats), take a few risks and net a multi-billion dollar container ship loaded with Nike sneakers headed for the Port of Newark that they can ransom for a couple million.

The idea that an industry can (or will) police itself is absurd. Think study hall in high school when the teacher left the room.

The belief that if we keep giving money to the people who need it least will result in some of it trickling down (particularly in a global economy) is naive.

The thing that differentiates civilization from the jungle is the existence of rules. Any system that has the goal of eliminating the rules also has the goal of eliminating civilization.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just a thought ...

"The two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change."

-- Seth MacFarlane