Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Don't worry, Darlene. He'll be back. He hasn't forgotten you."

I'm on a business trip to the nation's capital. Be back in a week or so. Check out some of the lesser-known, but worthwhile, links over at the right.

Conservatives are taking the term “cognitive dissonance” to an entirely new level lately.

(For those who need a refresher on what cognitive dissonance is, check here.)

Conservatives apparently don’t understand how absolutely insane they collectively sound these days. Or maybe they do but continue to spout nonsense at a very high volume anyway. I don’t know which hypothesis is scarier. Either way, conservatives are lashing out and anything and everything these days, and they aren’t even stopping to consider what fools they look like while doing it. Historically speaking, raving lunatics standing out on the street corner, screeching at anyone who comes by, all the while drooling all over themselves, tend not to rate very high on the believability index. They contradict themselves with ease and have apparently forgotten all about the eight years that George Bush and his cronies were in charge. In a normal world, if you would like to have any sort of credibility at all, you normally do NOT go around shouting about how upset you are when what you are saying CONTRADICTS your earlier stated position that is STILL ON THE PUBLIC RECORD!

For example, remember when torturing detainees didn’t happen? But then it did happen, but it was only a couple of times by a few “bad apples?” That has now somehow morphed into a patriotic imperative on part of most (but admittedly not all) conservatives that we MUST torture anyone who MIGHT have any information at all that MIGHT be useful in breaking up a SUSPECTED terrorist plot, and anyone who believes otherwise is anti-American. Does no one even remember these various stumbling steps forward, which just happen to all contradict each other? And how does this jive with all the (past and current) statements that “America does not torture?”

Here’s some more ranting and raving from a prominent Republican on this subject. From Balloon Juice.

New York Republican Rep. Peter King thinks his party needs to go nuke if Bush era officials are prosecuted on torture charges.

King, the outspoken ranking member of the House homeland security committee, said Republicans should “shut down [legislative] activity across the board” if any Bush-era officials are hauled into court.

“We would need to have a scorched-earth policy and use procedural means to bring the place to a halt — go to war,” he told POLITICO.

He added:

“If we have another 2,000 people killed, I want Nancy Pelosi and [liberal philanthropist] George Soros, John Conyers and Pat Leahy to go to the funeral and say, ‘Your son was vaporized because we didn’t want to dump some guy’s head under water for 30 seconds.’”

So, the choice that seems to be put forth here is that we either “dump some guy’s head under water”, which is a very benign sounding thing indeed, or having someone’s son vaporized. Gosh, when you put it like that, WHO could possibly object to that?

If these “enhanced interrogation techniques” are so damn fire important, but they aren’t torture, then why must we do them? We keep hearing idiots like Rush Limbaugh say that these techniques are not torture, it’s just slapping, or like some college hazing. THAT’S what we have to do to keep this country safe? “College hazing?” “Slapping?” “Dumping some guy’s head under the water for 30 seconds?” (All those are very real quotes, I may or may not look up the links at this point.) How can anyone actually argue that these techniques are so benign that no one with any sense should object, but still maintain that we must do these things to protect every person’s safety? It’s really that easy? You are actually telling me that these Al Queda guys, who have been training for years to go on missions to kill as many of their enemies as they can, and kill themselves in the process, who are absolutely convinced in their own minds that God is on their side and they will receive all sorts of rewards after they die and take as many of their enemies as they can with them are actaully so wimpy that they are just going to give up after "dunking their head in water for 30 seconds" and tell the interrogators everything they know? THAT is what you are saying, Representative King? It isn't torture, it's really nothing at all, but yet, if we don't do it, everyone in this country will die? Does that make the SLIGHTEST BIT OF SENSE to ANYONE!?!

For a very detailed timeline of the history of torture as we know it, check out this post in DailyKos.

Here’s another version of the conservative oxymoronic universe. Remember when ANY sort of criticism leveled at President Bush or his policies immediately required a resounding response from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et. al., to the effect of “criticism of the President is unpatriotic in the time of war.” Dissenters didn’t “support the troops” or were “for the terrorists.” Remember that? The country had been stampeded into invading and dismantling the government, military, police force and infrastructure of a country who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, and no one in the Bush government had the FIRST IDEA of what do to with Iraq after the first two weeks because absolutely no one had done any post-invasion planning. But yet, if anyone dared criticize Bush and his policies, they were labeled as un-American.

Well, all it takes for the Republicans to change their minds about what is and is not un-American is President Obama’s plan to jump start the economy with a massive infusion of capital and to rescue some corporations who are “too big to fail” (a process not only necessary because of the policies of the Republicans in power for the last eight years, but a process started by then President Bush). A significant number of Texans believe that Texas should secede from the United States. From Talking Points Memo.

A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll finds that Rick Perry's suggestion at the Tea Party last week, that Texas might have to secede from the Union, actually has significant support from his home state's Republican voters.

One question: "Do you think Texas would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America?" The top-line number is United States 61%, independent nation 35%. Among Republicans, it's a dead-even tie at 48%-48%.

And then there's this one: "Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Rick Perry's suggestion that Texas may need to leave the United States?" The top-line is only 37% approval to 58% disapproval -- but among Texas Republicans, it's 51% approval to 44% disapproval.

This is not somehow “unpatriotic” or “un-American?” Protesting being stampeded into the Iraq war is un-American but actually saying that some states should secede is somehow NOT un-American? I cannot think of anything MORE un-American than publically state that you would like to start splitting the country apart because you don't like Obama's actions (which just happen to coincide, for the most part, with what he promised to do before he was elected). Gosh, it's like Obama was ELECTED by a large majority of the people or something like that! We can't POSSIBLY let him get away with this!

O.K., how about this one? One of the new Republican talking points is say that the U.S. is becoming a “banana republic”, all because Obama has released Bush-era memos trying to find a way to rationalize and legalize interrogation techniques that the U.S. has considered torture since the 1800’s, and that many people believe that those who were behind this actually BROKE THE LAW and should be held accountable. THAT, according to some Republicans, makes us a “banana republic.” Washington Monthly has a good throwdown of that particular exercise in name-calling.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a "Banana Republic" is an accountable chief executive who ignores the rule of law when it suits his/her purposes. The ruling junta in a "Banana Republic" eschews accountability, commits heinous acts in secret, tolerates widespread corruption, and generally embraces a totalitarian attitude in which the leader can break laws whenever he/she feels it's justified to protect the state.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Rove, McCain, Bond, Hannity, Beck, et al are so caught up in their partisan rage, they've failed to realize they have the story backwards. They're so far gone, they're so blinded by their rigid ideology, they have no idea that they're projecting. It's genuinely pathetic.

If our goal is to avoid looking like a "Banana Republic," then we would investigate those responsible for torture, which is, not incidentally, illegal. The accused would enjoy the presumption of innocence and due process rights. The process would be transparent, and those who act (and have acted) in our name would be held accountable.

When you look at almost any of the polls these days, you find a very large percentage of the American people generally supportive of the President and his handling of the economy. A large number of people now think the country is headed in the right direction, as opposed to several months ago when that number was in the teens. In other words, the Republicans are losing the argument. They can stomp on the floor, and throw a tantrum like a very petulant four year old that has been told it is bedtime. What’s a good Republican to do, then? Why, it’s obvious!! Call Democrats name!!

From Balloon Juice:

A conservative faction of the Republican National Committee is urging the GOP to take a harder line against both Democrats and wayward Republicans, drafting a resolution to rename the opposition the “Democrat Socialist Party” and moving to rebuke the three Republican senators who supported the stimulus package.

In an e-mail sent Wednesday to the 168 voting members of the committee, RNC member James Bopp, Jr. accused President Obama of wanting “to restructure American society along socialist ideals.”

“The proposed resolution acknowledges that and calls upon the Democrats to be truthful and honest with the American people by renaming themselves the Democrat Socialist Party,” wrote Bopp, the Republican committeeman from Indiana. “Just as President Reagan’s identification of the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire’ galvanized opposition to communism, we hope that the accurate depiction of the Democrats as a Socialist Party will galvanize opposition to their march to socialism.”

So, let me get this straight. Republicans “drafted a resolution” to rename their opponents’ party. Can you do that? I had actually thought that organizations got to pick their OWN names. This is how far Republicans have gone around the bend. They want to rename the Democratic party. Actually, I hope they do. These jerk faces who insist on calling the Democratic party the “Democrat” party do not look like intelligent adults putting forth rationale ideas. They look like vindictive, petulant grade school kids who make up names to taunt whoever they don’t like in the schoolyard. If they take this one step further and go for the “Socialist Democrat Party”, that is REALLY going to make them look stupid. Of course, people like Michelle Bachmann are going to think that this is a great idea.

We even have, on public record, the reason why Republicans make up names to call their opponents. Because the old names DON’T WORK ANYMORE! From Sadly, No!

“Rhetorically, Republicans are having a very hard time finding something that raises the consciousness of the average voter,” said Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who recently lost a bid to became national party chairman.

Workaday labels like “big spender” and “liberal” have lost their punch, and last fall, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska gained little traction during the presidential campaign by linking Mr. Obama’s agenda to socialism.

So Mr. Anuzis has turned to provocation with a purpose. He calls the president’s domestic agenda “economic fascism.”

We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,” Mr. Anuzis said. “Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.”

Well, at least this guy is being honest about it. They’ve so overused the terms “liberal” and now even "socialism" that there is has no emotional content left in those words. They're just words. So, Republicans need to find another term that DOES upset everyone. And it doesn't really even have to make any sense, in the historical context. THAT’S the big Republican plan, everyone! Find a name-calling technique that gets a response!! "Ooh! Look at the Fascist!" How adult! How rational!

I might expect this kind of behavior, like I said earlier, out of grade school kids. But adults? Hardly. And elected officials to national and state positions? No. Absolutely not. In any sort of rational world, I would not expect that kind of behavior. The real problem here is that Republicans have absolutely NO IDEA about how to govern and actually get things accomplished for the good of the country. The just don’t. All they know how to do is push people around to get their way when they are in power and whine, name call, stomp their feet on the floor and threaten to hold their breaths until they turn blue when they are out of power.

And I have missed a few, like the overwhelming threat of a Republican filibuster on just about every piece of legistation, when I distinctly remember Republicans threatening the "nuclear option" if Democrats used the threat of a filibuster. Or blocking a very large number of Obama appointees, some for reasons unknown, when Republicans and their Limbaugh-like mouthpieces were decrying Democratic objections to Bush's appointees. "Republicans won the election, therefore WE get to pick the nominees we want! You Democrats should try winning an election now and then, if you don't like how this works!" Yeah, now that Democrats have convincingly won the last couple of elections, where is that concept now? Not hearing much about that these days, are we?

Here’s a good windup from Steven Weber at HuffPo:

In everything -- from defending torture to eschewing diplomacy to regularly engaging in Orwellian contradiction to its unctuous servility to radical religion to its blatant corporate cronyism to its obvious disdain for intellect -- the Republican Party shows few signs of being a viable political organization and every sign of being a condition, one which causes creeping, mean-spirited dementia; a virus which attacks the conscience and renders it inert; an infection which causes even the most sensible persons to engage in such behavior that, as though trapped within a robotically compliant body, they must watch in mute horror as they utter sentiments similar to those spoken by superstitious inn keepers from the year 1738.

I wish I had said that.

(My apologies for the many typos in this post. When I get really upset, I start typing very fast and that doesn't make for a very clean copy.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wow, is that Michelle Bachmann a dumbass, or what?

One of the things in life that really rankles is dumbasses who happen to think they are so much smarter than everyone else. I used to think Oklahoma with James Inhofe was the state with the stupidest elected official. I now think Oklahoma and Minnesota are now tied. (Texas is running a very close third.)

Bachmann apparently believes that not only is global warming a myth, but carbon dioxide is really, really good for all of us. She is apparently not familiar with the concept that too much of anything is poisonous. From Think Progress.

On the House floor on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) argued that threat of manmade global warming doesn't make any sense because "carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature":

Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature. Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can't even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that's on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that -- that flies in the air, we need to have carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth.

Oh, my. CO2 is a “natural by product of nature?” Not only is she a dumbass, she’s a redundant dumbass. On Earthday, no less.

Here’s another one of her outlandish statements about global warming, also from Think Progress.

TPM notes that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) told OneNewsNow that the U.S. doesn't need environmental advocates such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) because Jesus saved Earth already:

[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet. ... We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that.

Ah. I see. I… Um… You know, I can’t even come up with something snarky to say about that, it’s so stupid in its own right.

I am just amazed that someone on the Republican side of the aisle hasn’t pulled Bachmann aside by now and told her to sit down and STFU, because she is making herself, and by extension the Republican party, look like a raving lunatic. How did this person ever get elected, even if she is from a very conservative district? If I were from Minnesota, I am pretty sure I would feel obligated to personally apologize to every single person in the United States right about now.

The Ceiling Cat Bible, plus a couple of other alternative Bibles

My apologies to those who might be offended by this, but I am of the opinion that religion, just like all other things in life (including death) should be laughed at. I offer several different versions of the Bible, because that King James version has been around for quite some time. Here, for instance, is the Ceiling Cat Bible version of Genesis, written in LOLcat prose. This is just one small example of the learning you might find therein.

Boreded Ceiling Cat makinkgz Urf n stuffs

1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.

4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.

5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

6 An Ceiling Cat sayed, im in ur waterz makin a ceiling. But he no yet make a ur. An he maded a hole in teh Ceiling.

7 An Ceiling Cat doed teh skiez with waterz down An waterz up. It happen.

8 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has teh firmmint wich iz funny bibel naim 4 ceiling, so wuz teh twoth day.

9 An Ceiling Cat gotted all teh waterz in ur base, An Ceiling Cat hadz dry placez cuz kittehs DO NOT WANT get wet.

10 An Ceiling Cat called no waterz urth and waters oshun. Iz good.

11 An Ceiling Cat sayed, DO WANT grass! so tehr wuz seedz An stufs, An fruitzors An vegbatels. An a Corm. It happen.

12 An Ceiling Cat sawed that weedz ish good, so, letz there be weedz.

13 An so teh threeth day jazzhands.

14 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has lightz in the skiez for splittin day An no day.

15 It happen, lights everwear, like christmass, srsly.

16 An Ceiling Cat doeth two grate lightz, teh most big for day, teh other for no day.

17 An Ceiling Cat screw tehm on skiez, with big nails An stuff, to lite teh Urfs.

18 An tehy rulez day An night. Ceiling Cat sawed. Iz good.

19 An so teh furth day w00t.

20 An Ceiling Cat sayed, waterz bring me phishes, An burds, so kittehs can eat dem. But Ceiling Cat no eated dem.

21 An Ceiling Cat maed big fishies An see monstrs, which wuz like big cows, except they no mood, An other stuffs dat mooves, An Ceiling Cat sawed iz good.

22 An Ceiling Cat sed O hai, make bebehs kthx. An dont worry i wont watch u secksy, i not that kynd uf kitteh.

23 An so teh...fith day. Ceiling Cat taek a wile 2 cawnt.

This web page invites everyone to take a shot at "updating" the Bible until it is completely done in LOLcat. I find the concept pretty amusing, but that might get JUST A BIT tedious after about three pages....

And here, for a radical change of pace, are some highlights of the Stinque Zombie Bible.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth and the Zombies sprang forth from the roiling foam of creation, barking in uncontrollable rage, hungry for human flesh to eat and pestork, giving pause to our Lord who shat himself and uttered 'Oh, f**k' amidst the primordial celestial gloom.

Judges 5:6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways, whereas the zombies sped through using EZPass.

Job 2:2 And the LORD said unto Satan, "Where the HELL did you come from? ha ha ha, that joke never gets old. Two drink minimum."

Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the man that shuffleth not in the gait of the zombies, nor standeth and stareth at nothing in the way of zombies, nor eateth the brains of the scornful.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for their brains shall be eaten first.

Here’s the Un-Bible. This one needs some work, methinks. (I was going to do some selective editing, as I think #2 below is quite a bit racist, probably unintentionally so. But if I did that, the whole thing loses whatever coherency it has. So I'll leave it as is, with the caveat that I didn't write this.)

Chapter 1 - Creation

In the beginning, as a failed attempt at making humans, God created aliens. However, God was unhappy with because:

1. They outsmarted him.

2. They all looked the same.

3. They don't believe he exists.

For these reasons, he banished them all to Space (hence its dense population). that's why most of Space's population is athiest and will not believe in this page.

Chapter 2, back to the drawing board.

God ,after realizing his mistakes, remade the alien but instead of big eyes he slanted them and made them see through gave them slits,(eyelids) and called them chinese, however after a few months the medical bills and lawsuits started pilling up, guess they were walking and falling into everything, dammit said god ,and not willing to give up sent them to build a great wall to keep them safe inside.

Chapter 3: the dog

after 2 assnumbing failures god decided he needed a spy so he created a four legged friend for his next project , a rere-atempt at the human, guess he didnt trust the slimy f**ks, why do you think your dogs always around , hes droppin the dime on ya homey.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dick Cheney has “formally requested” that the Dept. of Justice release more torture memos.

Cheney seems to think that waterboarding the mastermind of 9/11 182 times in a single month has really given us good information that “kept this country safe.” Most people are rightly asking, what could we POSSIBLY have gotten after the 182nd time that we didn’t have after the 163rd? Or event he 5th, if waterboarding is so damn effective (but isn’t torture)? Six times a day? And they think this guy wasn’t lying to them to get them to stop? And that was only a single month. How many times, overall, did this guy get waterboarded?

The question I would like someone to answer, however, is a bit different. Cheney “officially requested” that the DOJ release more memos, with the reason being that he believes that something out there will vindicate his position that torturing all these people (including over 100 that died due to these procedures) really produced information vital to the security of this country. So, how is Cheney able to request anything of the government? Other than having secret service protection for the rest of his life, how is this man, who did so much damage to this country, able to official request anything at all of the government? He is no longer in office. He has no power. He isn’t even an ex-president. He’s just an ex-vice president. Even George Bush is pretty much keeping quiet these days. Maybe Cheney is going the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request route. I kinda doubt it, though.

This guy is a monster.

I’ll have more to say later on President Obama’s decision to let everyone involved in this very dark chapter of this country to skate. No punishment for breaking the law. I am sick to my stomach and I am now no longer willing to give Obama much benefit of the doubt. I hope he rescues the economy of this country, but “unhappy” doesn’t even begin to describe how “unhappy” I am about this.

UPDATE via Washington Monthly. I guess I was not the only person who thought Cheney’s “request” very odd.

It's not all clear what "formal" request Cheney made to the CIA. He's a civilian with no authority at all, so what did he do, write Leon Panetta a nice letter? For that matter, what's the point of the declassification? Even if Cheney could produce instances in which torture led to reliable acquired intelligence, there's little chance that President Obama is going to say, "You know what? Cheney's right; committing war crimes isn't such a bad idea after all."

But Greg Sargent did a little digging today and found that the CIA apparently hasn't received any "formal" requests from Cheney.

"The agency has received no request from the former Vice President to release this information," [an intelligence source familiar with the situation] told me a few moments ago.

Last night, Cheney said he'd asked the CIA to release memos he had read containing all the intelligence that had been collected via torture. "I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions," Cheney said.

According to the source, there are several ways this could happen: Cheney could lodge a Freedom of Information Request (which is hard to imagine a former Veep doing); he could contact CIA officials; or he could submit the request via the White House. Cheney said he'd made the request to the CIA.

But at this point, the claim is at least suspect. And given Dick Cheney's record of breathtaking dishonesty, it seems safe to wonder if the former vice president just made this up out of whole cloth to impress the Fox News audience.

And then again, it could be that Cheney is just batshit crazy. As Wee Mousie suggests in the comments, it probably would be a good thing to get all these memos out there. "Sure, Dick. You want all these released? Sure thing." I seriously doubt that anything at this point would vindicate his position that torturing people really has kept this country safe. If anything, and many people have said this, all it has done is bring more people INTO the mob of people that hold a grudge toward the U.S. So, sure, let's get them all out there. I was just questioning how Cheney had any power to request anything like that. If he still DOES retain some sort of power within government, then this is yet one more thing that needs serious looking into.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chinese Dragon Body Art

Well, just for a change of pace, I’ll post this. I am interested in many different kinds of art (click some of the links under “Visually Interesting Posts” over at the right). Body painting is an emerging art form, apparently well known in many circles but very unusual and esoteric to the rest of us. One of the most popular posts I have done is one about last year’s South Korean Body Art Festival.

How “serious” this is as a true art form I suppose is debatable. Much of its popularity is, no doubt, related to the very high titillation factor of female models being used as the “canvas”, such as the photos of body paintings that are now showing up in the yearly Sports Illustrated famous swimsuit issue. Yes, there is that. Men always have and always will enjoy looking at the female form. Famous artists throughout history, such as Bottcelli, Degas and Modigliani, to name just a few, have painted canvases featuring females in various degrees of undress. Body painting seems to have turned the “classical” art form upside down. Instead of the female being the subject of the painting, the female is now the canvas and the subject of the painting usually has very little to do with the female physical form.

I really do enjoy the artistic aspects of these photos. This particular body painting, for example, is very striking. (I like Chinese dragons as well.) I don’t usually post adult-oriented material on this blog, or something that would turn off any female that might come across it. But this photo, from Human Body Art, just really caught my eye. How much effort the artists put into these works is pretty astounding, given that, by its very nature, it is very temporary in nature. Somewhat like drawing on the sidewalk in colored chalk, you know it isn’t going to be around very long. That is when the photographic aspect of the artwork comes in. There is quite a bit of effort that goes into making the final photograph of the art in question getting the model posed correctly, getting the lighting just right, having a good background to bring out the subject, etc. So, there may be several different “artists” involved in making the final product.

For much more on this subject, go check out Human Body Art. There are some pretty amazing works of body art presented there. Warning, there is some significant nudity involved in many of the shots. However, I think it is presented in a very tasteful manner. There is much more overtly sexual stuff that can very easily be found on the web, so I doubt I will be corrupting any impressionable youngsters.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I just saw a clip where George Bush said, in a very loud and angry voice, “We do not torture!”

God, what a liar this person is. The four newly released torture memos give specific details about how to go about torturing someone. The only logic, however flawed, involved in the Bush administration’s position is that, since it is obvious that we don’t INTEND to torture anyone, then, by definition, it isn’t torture! We even have a doctor on the scene, so that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt we care mightily about the overall health of the person being interrogated. See how easy it is?

Republicans seem to be able to rationalize anything these days.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Three months into the Obama presidency, and some Republicans are talking about succession.

Oh, of course, they phrase it in such a way that there is “plausible deniability” there, so they can so, “Oh, I didn’t mean it that way.” Sure…. How can you possibly put a spin on this, from Rick Perry, the governor of Texas?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who's been talking up the idea all week, tried to add some caveats yesterday to his secession talk:

"This is interesting that this has really kind of bubbled up, to uh... I refer people back to my statement, and I gotta a charge out of it. I was kinda thinking that, maybe the same people who hadn't been reading the Constitution right were reading that article and they got the wrong impression about what I said.

"Clearly, I stated that we have a great union. And Texas is part of a great union. I see no reason for that to change. I think that may not be the exact quote, but that is, in essence what I said."

Well, "essence" aside, what Perry actually said was that he saw "no reason" to "dissolve" the "union." He added, "But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that."

Forget "wrong impressions." What the elected chief executive of one of the nation's largest states is supposed to say is secession is ridiculous. That Perry has left it on the table only helps reinforce how completely batty some Republican officials have become. If the GOP wants to rejoin the American mainstream, the party needs to reject these absurdities out of hand. It's radical, fringe politics.

When George Bush was president, any sort of talk from anyone that openly disagreed with the President was labeled treasonous. But note that Democrats and liberals who were upset with the way we were stampeded into the Iraq war usually threatened to move to Canada or maybe New Zealand (my favorite choice). I do not remember anyone, ever, talking about certain states seceding from the United States. And keep in mind that this kind of crap is happening all the time. There is also this from Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, who just happens to be thinking of running for governor:

Congressman Mark Kirk is standing by his earlier comments that Illinois residents "are ready to shoot anyone who is going to raise taxes" as much as Gov. Pat Quinn is proposing.

Kirk says the many people facing unemployment don't need a tax increase. Quinn has proposed a graduated income tax increase to help fill an $11.5 billion deficit.

And we all realize that Obama has already passed major tax CUTS for the middle class. I can maybe expect crazy talk from Rush Limbaugh dittoheads, but these quotes are from actual Republican elected officials. (Yeah, I have posted about Michelle Bachmann already.)

I just do not know what is in store for this country. Three months in and Republicans and their supporters are already frothing at the mouth about anything and everything. They don’t really even need to have a substantive reason (i.e., yesterday’s “tea parties” to protest tax increases that haven’t happened yet). They are just spitting mad that Democrats are in power, and want to “take back our country” or else take it one step further and secede from it.

It’s amazing how little Republicans and conservatives really believe in democracy now that they are no longer in power.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hey, it’s nice to know that NASA has a sense of humor.

Any government agency that can laugh at itself is a good thing. This one happens to be NASA.

The backstory is that NASA ran a contest to name a module in the International Space Station. There was a huge write-in for Steven Colbert, after he sort of suggested it on his show. Well, Colbert won out over a number of other more, shall we say, traditional names. I am pretty sure that NASA never saw something like that coming. But you know they were not going to name something as high profile and expensive as the ISS after a fake news commentator/comedian. But NASA did find a nice way out of their dilemma. From Balloon Juice:

Colbert received more than 230,000 votes out of 1 million, but NASA reserved the right to be the final arbiter.

While it wasn’t the leading vote-getter, Tranquility was one of the top 10 suggestions submitted by respondents to the online poll, which ended March 20, NASA said in a statement. It was selected in part because of a connection to the 1969 first manned lunar landing.

“Apollo 11 landed on the moon at the Sea of Tranquility 40 years ago this July,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations. “We selected Tranquility because it ties it to the exploration and the moon, and symbolizes the spirit of international cooperation embodied by the space station.”

As a consolation prize to the comedian, Gerstenmaier said NASA is naming “its new space station treadmill the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT.”

That’s pretty damn funny. My hats off to NASA. (I just sort of happen to work for a different government agency, and I honestly can say that I seriously doubt we would ever do something like that. We’re too damn important and serious.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It’s April 15, and you know what that means! Tea Party Day!!

I have been wondering for many days just what point these “Teabaggers” (I still can’t get over the fact that these morons (or should that be "morans") don’t know what that means) are trying to make. Obama has already enacted a tax cut for the middle class, so it can’t be protesting going back to the tax rate, prior to the Bush tax cuts, for those earning greater than 250K, right? That doesn't make much sense. Maybe it’s the outlandish deficit that we have going now, and is going to be worse given all the money we are pumping into the economy and to prop up failing banks and companies. I suppose that could be it, except for the fact that a huge portion of the current deficit came from the George Bush administration, including the cost of two simultaneous wars which he decided to never actually put IN the budget but ask for “emergency funding” ever six months. I never heard any protests about the deficit from conservatives then. In fact, Dick Cheney (that paragon of financial wisdom) famously stated, “Deficits don’t matter.” So, teabaggers (*snicker*) can’t be protesting the deficit, right? Or else, they shouldn’t be, if they want to retain any sort of credibility at all, I would think.

Turns out that Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, had the same problem. He posted about it this morning.

WITH AN EYE ON THE FUTURE.... Over at QandO, McQ wants to help me understand why the Tea Baggers are getting together tomorrow. Since I've been struggling with the point of the Tea Parties, I'm anxious to get some additional insights.

Much of the left, Steve Benen serving as a perfect example, are missing an essential point about the tea parties planned around the country. They aren't about the level of taxation now. Instead, those attending them understand that with the massive spending undertaken by the federal government and the massive amounts of currency pumped into the system by the Federal Reserve, taxes aren't going to remain anywhere near where they are now, no matter what politicians promise.

I see. So, at some point in the future (we don't know when), some politicians (we don't know who) might find it necessary to raise taxes. Whose taxes would be raised? It's too soon to say. How much would taxes go up? No one knows.

But the mere prospect of a possible future tax increase has led untold thousands of activists, an entire cable news network, corporate lobbyists, conservative bloggers, conservative talk-radio hosts, and Republican officials to organize a series of national events. With extraordinary foresight, they've organized thousands of rallies to register their outrage, not at existing tax rates, but at tax policies that haven't been proposed, but might exist at some undermined point.

Well, I suppose that’s somewhat believable. Otherwise, it just looks like everyone is getting ready to spend a whole lot of money to throw a lot of tea bags into a lot of water, just to protest the fact that there is a fairly elected Democratic president, with a fairly elected large Democratic majority in both houses.

Actually, that probably makes the most sense of any explanation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spain prepares to indict six ex-Bush administration officials for enabling torture.

This is going to so embarrassing to the United States. And make no mistake about it; this is embarrassing for both the Bush and Obama administrations.

This is from The Daily Beast, via Hilzoy at Washington Monthly.

"Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantanamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in Madrid. But the decision is likely to raise concerns with the human-rights community on other points: They will seek to have the case referred to a different judge.

The six defendants -- in addition to Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith -- are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in "the war on terror." The case arises in the context of a pending proceeding before the court involving terrorism charges against five Spaniards formerly held at Guantanamo. A group of human-rights lawyers originally filed a criminal complaint asking the court to look at the possibility of charges against the six American lawyers. Baltasar Garzon Real, the investigating judge, accepted the complaint and referred it to Spanish prosecutors for a view as to whether they would accept the case and press it forward. "The evidence provided was more than sufficient to justify a more comprehensive investigation," one of the lawyers associated with the prosecution stated. (...)”

A Spanish court is about to indict U.S. citizens for their role in torturing Spanish citizens. If convicted, these six would be in danger of being arrested should they ever set foot outside the United States. This is extraordinary. And what makes it even more extraordinary is that the current administration refuses to investigate the matter. Although I support President Obama on many things, this is not one of them. We, as a country, MUST know what was done in our name. Worldwide, the words “United States of America” and “torture” have become synonymous.

For a country that seems to believe in its own exceptionalism, we certainly have a double standard when it comes to our actions vs. the rest of the world. I, for one, hope that the Spanish courts go ahead with their prosecutions and then make all their findings public. I hope that one or more of these bastards gets arrested. My choice would be Yoo or Addington. I hope the U.S. gets fried in the Court of World Opinion. Maybe then we will learn something about what is really right and what is wrong. If we have, in the past, prosecuted and sentence Japanese military officials after WWII for essentially the same thing that many in this country are now defending, that should be a signal to us that we need to stop and take a very long look into ourselves.

Update: From Balloon Juice - I guess the Spanish are backing down and not going to investigate anything. I suppose they were worried that Bill O'Reilly wouldn't visit them, or maybe that Dick Cheney would shoot someone in the face... This figures. Everyone's going to get away with this and we will never know what exactly happened and what the Bush adminstration did in the name of the United States of America. I am really pissed about this, and will probably remain so until the day I die.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Republicans decide that all they need to do to win elections is "rebrand" the Republican Party.

Photo from Princess Sparkle Pony.

Glenn Beck announces a “Comedy Tour.”

Ah, this has “heaping piles of steaming goose poop” written all over it. Glenn Beck doing a comedy tour, and a “poor man’s Jerry Seinfeld” comedy tour as well. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this. Maybe he will cry for everyone while telling Obama jokes in front of a backdrop of marching Nazis.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I can't watch.

The ice floe of my childhood is melting.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Conservatives give the term "hysterical" a bad name.

I know I said I was going to take a blogging sabbatical for a month or two, but this has just been getting under my skin. Many bloggers have been talking about this, and I may end up linking to several of them. I am not going to add anything that hasn’t already been said.

Many people predicted that conservatives would go absolutely nuts after the ’08 election. I suppose I agreed with them, but I had absolutely no idea about how bad it would get so quickly. I am going to do this from memory, at first, just to see what I can come up with.

- Congressman Bachus from Alabama states that he has the names of 27 socialists in Congress, but of course does not produce those names. Where have I heard this one before?
- Michelle Bachmann states that the Obama adminstration is getting up “reeducation camps” for young people that volunteer that will essentially brainwash our impressionable teens and twenty somethings to support the Democratic party.
- Fox News, CNN and others go overboard in covering Obama bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia, saying essentially (I’m paraphrasing here) that Obama is acknowledging that Muslims are above all others, while ignoring that George Bush used to hold hands with this same king and kissed him on the cheek in one famous photo.
- One Texas state legislator called on Asian people to change their names to make them easier to deal with for Americans.
- Glenn Beck… What can one say about Glenn Beck? He talks about Obama’s coming police state while standing in front of an electronically generated background showing Nazis marching across the screen. He screeches that Obama is going to take away Americans guns.
- Republican congresspersons, directed by Republican whip Eric Cantor, try to ambush freshman Democratic congresspersons by shouting at them and disrupting their speeches in front of Congress, trying to get "You-Tube worthy moments” to embarrass the Democrats.
- Conservatives disparage Obama for the use of teleprompters and essentially say that he is verbally challenged, ignoring all the while that the last Republican president mangled the English language at every opportunity given to him and could not even pronounce the word “nuclear.”
- News organizations all over blast Vice President Biden for calling out Dick Cheney’s lies, but say absolutely nothing about Cheney’s initial statements declaring that Obama is making the country less safe by discontinuing the policies of torture and illegal imprisonment.
- Newt Gingrich wanted to go into North Korea and destroy their missile (which turned out to be a colossal and embarrassing dud) with “a laser.”
- Republicans go apeshit about Obama “cutting the military budget” and “gutting the military of the U.S.” when he is, in fact, actually raising the total dollar amount while redistributing the allocation among programs. This activity is being supported, if not directed, by George W. Bush’s last Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.
- Conservatives everywhere, upset about something, after being prodded repeatedly by Fox News, organize massive “tea parties” to protest something. They do not acknowledge that President Obama has already passed a very large middle class tax cut. The protestors seem to be protesting setting the tax rates back to pre-Bush tax cut levels for the wealthiest Americans. They also fail to recognize that “tea bagging” has a previous, overtly sexual, meaning. Look it up in Wikipedia. I’m not going to link that one.

There are, no doubt, more examples out there from just the last couple of weeks. You get my point.

All this is occurring just about three months into the Obama presidency. Three months. The hard-core conservatives of this country are absolutely insane. They have lost all ability to reason and to actually try to act in a rational manner. All they know how to do is call their enemies names and to try underhanded tricks to score political points for them and/or undermine the Democrats who were elected fairly. Oh, that reminds me, I forgot to list that whole Norm Coleman thing in Minnesota, where Republicans would rather undermine the democratic process and deprive Minnesota of full representation in the Senate just so they can withhold one more Democratic vote in the Senate.

I’ll tell you one thing. Republicans and conservatives better get their last kicks in now, because after the midterm elections of 2010, there will be even a greater majority for Democrats in both houses. There will be a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, so it won’t matter what kind of stunts these clowns try.

I am actually all for a strong two-party political system. I think unbridled power, for either side, is not a good thing. Eventually, people start to overreach. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the current Republican party is not holding up their end of the bargain. Both sides need principled people willing to put national interests in front of political grandstanding and trying to demolish their sworn enemies, at whatever the cost to the country. The current Republicans are hard-core ideologues who spout off whatever comes into their pointy little heads. It does not matter they are all up in arms because they are accusing Democrats/liberals of doing things that they have been doing for the last eight years. They don’t care if they change their positions from statements they have made, on the public record, just so long as they can score some political points.

I suppose I can take some solace in the fact that, as the Republican party sinks deeper and deeper into insane rage, their ranks are growing continually thinner. They are condemning themselves to irrelevancy. If they continue this way, the Republican party will never be anything more than a regional political party. I am not saying that this is a good thing for the country. But before Republicans are ready to get back in the saddle, they need to do a massive amount of housecleaning. Until then, the whole lot of them can wander around in the desert for a while. Maybe that will bring them to their collective senses.

But I'm not holding my breath on that one.

UPDATE: Oh, yeah. How could I forget the Republican non-budget budget? The one that essentially RAISED the deficit by giving a HUGE tax cut to people making over $100,000 a year and freezing all spending in the midst of the biggest financial crisis since the 1930'S? And all the while making a huge show out of it, so much so that even the conservative media people made fun of them?

Many of these people can't even see how ridiculous they look.