Friday, November 25, 2011

Nigel Tufnel comes home from war.

I must have slept through the other nine.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why no... No, I didn't.

Or wait.... Maybe I did. I can't remember.

From Found Shit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Weird Science News of the Day: Sailing Stones of Death Valley

Aha. This is just what I needed to put a little pep into my day. Here is a bit of the story about these sailing stones that come from, as well as the photos used in this post.

Death Valley National Park in California is home to a place called The Racetrack Playa. The Racetrack is a dry lake situated 1130m above sea level, and even though it is 4.5km long, the ground is surprisingly flat, with only a 4cm height differential between the north and south ends. The mountains surrounding the Racetrack, comprised primarily of dark dolomite, reach as high as 1731m above the lake bed. When the heavy rains come, water rushes down the mountains and onto the lake bed, forming a shallow endorheic lake. Due to the hot temperatures of the region, the water evaporates, leaving behind a layer of soft mud. When the liquid fully evaporates, the ground cracks and leaves a mosaic pattern behind. While all of this is interesting, the feature that makes this area truly unique is something that has yet to be fully understood by the scientific community.

Over time, stones have fallen from the mountainsides onto the lake bed. Some of the stones are small, though others weigh as much as 700 pounds. Once they are situated on the incredibly flat surface, one might be inclined to think that they would sit undisturbed for thousands of years. This, however, is not the case. These gigantic rocks and boulders (known as Sailing Stones, Sliding Rocks, or Moving Rocks) are found all over the dry lake bed with long trails, or racetracks, having formed behind them, extending for hundreds of meters. Since there is no evidence of human or animal intervention in the movement of these stones, one has to wonder how the phenomenon is happening.

Not only to the stones move, but they move in completely different directions. Two stones could start next to one another, and start moving at approximately the same speed, but one will suddenly stop or change directions. Sometimes the sailing stones will turn around completely, moving back towards their point of origin. The tracks left behind are generally no wider that 30 cm, and less than 2.5cm deep. The longest tracks have been forming for numerous years, though to date, nobody has ever witnessed the event.

Ok, that is some really strange shit. Moving stones that leave trails that no one has ever seen move. And stones that are sitting next to each other might move in different directions or one might move and the other not.

I am fully vested in science, in that I think science is the only way that natural phenomena can be explained (i.e., I don't go in for explanations that involve religion or the supernatural). But this one, apparently, is resisting all attempts at rational scientific explanations, at least to date. I will be very interested in hearing if this is every explained.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. Ask and you shall receive, I guess.

However, I am not totally convinced about this. If the incoming water has enough power to push the stones around for many hundreds of feet, then why isn't it powerful enough to also wash away the tracks in the mud?

This just about sums it all up.....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Science moment of the day: Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Wow. That's about all the narrative necessary for this one. Just, wow....

Snapped from the New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Saturn.

Photo from NASA. Click on the photo for a (slightly) enlarged version.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sorry for yet another college football thread: Missouri going to seek membership in the SEC.

See here for the very latest, which will no doubt be totally out of date in the next 15 minutes.

Ok, but here's one thing that I haven't seen anyone mention before. If Missouri goes to the SEC, do you realize that will give that league THREE TEAMS named Tigers? LSU, Auburn and now Missouri. And two other teams are named Bulldogs; Georgia and Miss. State. Yes, the SEC plays great football. They should apply to the NFL, they are so good. But seriously, you are looking very, very unimaginative with the names.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Seatle Times and Seattle P-I have a much different take on Occupy Seattle.

This is how the lead story on the web version of the Times presents the story.

Occupy protest waning; just ask hot-dog vendor

Hum. If you are hoping that the "Occupy" movement really starts to coalesce and influence the political direction in this country, "waning" is not a word you really want to hear. Synonyms for that word include, "diminishing" and "shrinking." Not really good.

And this is how the lead story on the web version (which is, unfortunately, the only version of the P-I anymore) plays the same story.

Occupy Seattle Heats Up.

Wow. The movement is really heating up. Getting hotter, bigger. That’s quite a radical difference, isn’t it, about how two news organizations play the same story.?

Personally, I would go with the Times version, because, you know, who would have their fingers on the pulse of a grass roots movement that is going global than a seller of pork products who operates from a corner stand? If the view of a political movement by a hot dog seller isn't worthy of a front page story, I certainly don't know what is.

I suppose the P-I version might be talking about how one goes about heating up your hot dogs, but I rather doubt it.

Every once in a while, the Times runs a story that just tells you what their world view is.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Perhaps the most ill-conceived advertising campaign ever.

Well, they are British, after all.....

From Picture is Unrelated.

The Rapture is now on for Oct. 21st. How many times does one have to fail completely and utterly before they understand they are wrong?

Apparently never, I guess. Remember Harold Camping, the lunatic fundamentalist who convinced a lot of True Believers that Judgment Day was going to occur last May 21st? A large number of truly deluded and easily lead people got rid of all their possessions in order to be ready to ascend to Heaven when the Rapture occurred.

Of course, Camping got it wrong, in that said event never happened.

Well, now he is back and is now completely confident that the Rapture will occur on Oct. 21st. That whole May 21st thing? That was just the last-ditch date for everyone to get their respective houses in order. Oct. 21st is when the Hammer is going to fall. Jesus is really upset with everyone who isn’t a True Believer, and is going to met out the appropriate punishment for our wicked ways.

That is apparently how Camping sees it. Given what a complete and utter lunatic he looked like on May 22nd, I can’t imagine this guy even showing himself in public anymore, much less making yet another prediction that will be shown to be exactly what it is, total horseshit, on Oct. 23rd.

What is it with the human psyche that allows this kind of behavior? How can this guy believe any of this? And how could anyone listen to him and say, “Yeah, he may have been wrong last time, but boy, he is really spot-on this time! Wait until those non-believers see all those earthquakes and Jesus bringing fire and brimstone down on the world!”

I am totally convinced that perhaps a quarter of the human population of this planet is completely insane. They have lost the ability to deal with actual reality, and have retreated into a complete fantasyland just in order to survive. And then, when facts show reality to be something other than what they fantasize, they somehow find a way to rationalize it all away, just so they can maintain their fantasy that they are the only ones that understand and everyone else is in for their comeuppance.

Cross-posted at Pithy Cabbages.

Photo from the Seattle PI blog.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shih-Tzu blogging.

Just because it's been a while since I have done this....

I wonder if there are doggies on the moon?

What? I was kind of busy here.

Well, since you interrupted my deep contemplation of the mysteries of the universe, I would really, really like for you to rub my tummy, if you have the time.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

I really feel for the parents and spouses of the 31 Americans killed in Afghanistan.

Read the story here in HuffPo if you haven't seen the news.

This is reminding me so much of the Vietnam war. I am old enough to have lived through that time, but young enough not to have been made to go and fight and possibly die for some reason that no one could really explain. Oh, there was probably a valid reason at the beginning for both wars, but as time dragged on and things changed, no one could really explain why we were there and expending our military, other than some vague Domino Theory and communists overrunning the world. In Afghanistan, I have no idea what is going on anymore and why we are there. Al Queida has either been destroyed or picked up stakes and moved into Pakistan. The Taliban LIVE in Afghanistan and it has been proven time and time again that foreign forces have huge problems when they are trying to subdue local forces. Just ask the Soviet Union. Oh yeah, the Soviet Union does not exist anymore, and their foray into Afghanistan was one of the main reasons it collapsed.

Why are we in Afghanistan? Really, why?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

This is an e-mail I wrote this morning to my local TV station about the FAA shutdown.

Why can't you say it's the Republicans who have partially shut down the FAA?

I saw your lead story on the 5:00 news last night (Aug. 3). All I gathered from it was that "Congress" couldn't come to an agreement on the FAA and that the lady you interviewed was upset with "Congress" for not doing its job. None of the Washington state politicians could tell you why this happened? Come on. A 30 second Google search would tell you exactly what is going on, and that it the House of Representative, under Republican control, inserted language into the FAA funding bill that would make it much more difficult for airline and railroad workers to unionize. That is not a secret! Plus, John MIca (R, Fl) admitted that he added language about defunding the rural airport program, mostly in Democratic states, just to "get people's attention." It was the Republicans who decided to use the FAA as a hostage to get what they want, after agitation by the CEO of Delta Airlines. The Democrats asked for a clean reauthorization bill, one that would fund the FAA without strings attached and Republicans refused. This is not a secret!

Are you afraid to say that it is the Republicans yet again who are throwing a wrench into government and are putting 10's of thousands of people out of work during a time of high unemployment? Why did you just incorrectly identify "Congress" as the bad guys here? That is so wrong, and I can't believe you can't get this right. This is one of the first times I have seen your news program lead off with a real hard news story, rather than the normal stuff involving sex or car crashes or house fires. You guys are really good at floods and snow. But come on. If you are going to try to cover a major news story like the FAA shutting down (for which I work, so I have a big stake in this), try to inform your viewing audience about what is REALLY behind it all. Otherwise, you are doing a great disservice to everyone and it looks like you are frightened of the truth. Even Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican Senator from Texas, said that the action by John Beohner's House was "not honorable", to send to the Senate a bill with riders like that that were not negotiated and that had such a drastic consequence. And then, it was the Republicans who decided to take their August break. Not Democrats. Not "Congress." Republicans.

I really, really expected better from you. Tell the truth, why don't you?

I wish I had said more, or in stronger terms, but I thought that this might be the maximum I could get away with and actually have someone read this. It won't help, of course. I would have thought that in a liberal place like Seattle, the TV and newspapers wouldn't be so unwilling to actually identify the culprits here. KOMO 4 TV, owned by Fisher Broadcasting. Anyone in the Puget Sound area, drop them a line if you don't like this hiding of the truth.

One thing I really wish I would have said is this. Republicans have voluntarily CHOSEN to govern by threats, intimidation, coercion and hostage taking. This is their new way of operating, and they are proud of it! John McConnell said as much after the debt deal was signed. This was so successful for them that they plan on doing it the next time! He admitted it, and was proud of it. So, if that is true, then why can't the press actually REPORT this? Why hide the fact, if Republicans themselves are patting themselves on the back?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lest anyone forget in the midst of this discussion about the debt ceiling debacle, the FAA remains partially shut down.

Here’s the HuffPo version to get your started.

The Senate, with the federal debt crisis resolved, is expected to leave by the end of the week for its August recess. The House has already left. Unless the Senate accepts the House bill, lost revenue from uncollected airline ticket taxes could exceed $1.2 billion before lawmakers return to work a month later, senators said.

The FAA's long-term operating authority expired in 2007. Since then, Congress has been unable to agree on a long-term funding plan. The agency has continued to operate under a series of 20 short-term extensions.

The latest extension expired at midnight on July 22 after Senate Democrats rejected a temporary extension bill passed by the House that contained the subsidy cuts. Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic extension that didn't include cuts.

The lost ticket tax revenue is costing the government an estimated $200 million a week. The FAA has furloughed nearly 4,000 employees and issued stop-work orders on more than 200 construction projects.

Air traffic controllers have remained on the job. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has vowed that safety won't be compromised and travelers won't be inconvenienced.

Three times in the last 10 days, senators' efforts to pass a bill to end the shutdown without making air service subsidy cuts have been blocked by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Each time, Hatch has focused his remarks on the labor provision.

"I've been asked by our leadership to make these objections," Hatch explained Monday night. "What is important here – and it's not some itty-bitty little thing – is that you have labor regulators out of control."

To end the shutdown, he said, the Senate must agree to the House's labor provision. Then, the shutdown "would be solved in a nanosecond," he said.

The labor provision would overturn a National Mediation Board rule approved last year that allows airline and railroad employees to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Under the old rule, workers who didn't vote were treated as "no" votes.

Republicans complain that the new rule reverses 75 years of precedent to favor labor unions. Democrats and union officials say the change puts airline and railroad elections under the same democratic rules required for unionizing all other companies.

The White House warned in March that President Barack Obama would veto an FAA bill containing the labor provision.

So, I will recap a couple of important points here.

• The FAA has been operating without a full authorization budget since 2007. They have been operating on a series of extensions that are good for some period of time, a year or less. This is because the Republicans won’t sign a full reauthorization bill until they get everything they want. (Sound familiar?)

• Now, the Republicans won’t even sign a short-term extension of the FAA’s budget without including several provisions that the Democrats really, really don’t like. (Sound familiar?)

• The one provision included by the Republicans that most people are talking about has to do with government support of rural airports designated as important but don’t earn enough money on their own. However, the big kicker is the one discussed above regarding changes to election laws. The Republicans want to make it much, much more difficult for railroad and aviation employees to unionize. The Democrats really can’t accept that, but the FAA is being held hostage until the Dems capitulate. (Sound familiar?)

• Without an operation budget, the FAA cannot collect fees from airlines and airports to the tune of about $200 million a week. All the people in the FAA who get their salary paid from this pot of money have been furloughed. All the contractors and subcontractors throughout the country who depend on getting paid by the FAA for work done on airports and other safety related projects are also out of work.

• After their hard work on getting almost total surrender from the Democrats during the debt ceiling debate, the Republicans in the House have decided to adjourn for the summer until sometime in August without giving the FAA an operating budget. Which means this mess we have now is going to continue for at least two more months.

I find this absolutely unconscionable. During a time of very high unemployment and also during a time when the Republican Party has declared that the federal debt was THE absolute most important thing that must be addressed, they are holding the FAA hostage until their demands are met. They are creating very real safety concerns, all because they do not like unions. The money that would fund the rural airports would have been able to be paid out of the missing revenue in a week!

There is one thing that I don’t think has really been emphasized in the media yet about this issue. There are about 4000 FAA employees on furlough right now. There are a small number of employees within that 4000 that are critical to the safety of the flying public. They travel extensively, going around to airports around the country and inspecting the facilities and supporting infrastructure, such as the transmitters for the Instrument Landing Systems. These are critical functions. These people have been asked by the FAA Administrator to continue working, without pay, and to put all their travel expenses on the credit cards, which are in their own names. The FAA employees get the bill, the FAA doesn’t. These people are dedicated enough to continue with their jobs, even though our totally screwed up government has decided that the FAA can be used as just one more hostage in their new way of “governing.”

The Republicans don’t care about unemployment. They apparently don’t care they are creating the potential for a very real safety issue. This isn’t democracy. I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t democracy.

I also know that when there is another commercial aviation accident or serious incident in this country, there will continue to be calls for the FAA to be more involved, that we aren’t providing enough oversight of the industry, and that we are too “cozy” with the industry we are regulating. There may be some validity in some of those arguments, but I think the despicable actions by the Republicans and by John Mica in particular have undercut any criticisms that they and the people who support them could point our way. They are saying that the safety of the commercial aviation system in this country is NOT a priority. Making it more difficult for some industry workers to unionize is much more important than aviation safety.

I don’t know what those people who are continuing to work without pay and who are putting their travel expenses (which are significant) on credit cards with their personal names on them will do if this continues.

Update: Here's more from Washington Monthly and Crooks and Liars.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just to remind everyone which party caused this "debt crisis" in the first place.

And that is why it is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE to cut Social Security and Medicare, but not important enough to actually raise any taxes or cut defense spending.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I swear, I may never vote in another political election in my life.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Giving in to defeatism. Letting the bad guys wins. Go down swinging, and all that other rot. Not that I don't believe that there is a large amount of truth in each of those statements, or that I would encourage anyone I talk with to do the same. It's just me, on a personal level. I pretty much have lost faith in a democratic government where one half apparently is insane and their overall driving force is to destroy the other half. I can live with differences of opinion on how government should operate and differing points of view on policy issues. But I can't deal with a government that is being driven more and more to the right by a MINORITY of people who don't seem to have a clue about what governing actually means. And unlimited money coming in from undisclosed corporations, many probably foreign, just has so poisoned this form of government that very little will happen that will truly be for the good of the everyday citizen. It's all about how the rich and powerful get more rich and powerful. It's a rigged game, so why bother? That is the emotional state I am in right now.

Like many other Americans, I had just great hopes when Barack Obama was elected president. That was incredible feeling. I truly believed him when he was saying "Yes, we can." But that has turned out to be yet one more hollow campaign slogan, and President Obama has turned out to be a major disappointment. Whether this is because he truly believes in all the actions he is taking or whether he is just turning into a center-right politician because he so strongly desires to be seen as the "adult in the room," I don't know. He just never seems to catch on that negotiating with lunatics who really WANT to kill the hostage and get everything they want as well, which includes making Obama look bad on every single occasion, no matter how large or how insignificant it might be, DOES NOT WORK. All we ever seem to get is "political creep," where the country seems to start in one place and then is slowly dragged and coerced to the right, and we don't even seem to realize it's happening. Eight months ago, who would have thought we would have been looking at major changes to our social safety net to try to satisfy lunatics who think that the country defaulting on its financial obligations is a good thing? Yet, we all seem to have accepted that premise now, because the only thing that seems to matter at this point is to raise the debt ceiling, so worse things don't happen. And this is just what the extreme right wing of the Republican Party planned all the time. And we went for it.

Whatever Obama's driving motivations, we are now going to end up with a disastrous bill that will make major changes to Social Security and Medicare, neither of which add to the deficit, as well as make huge cuts in spending during a huge recession when we are getting close to 10% unemployment, and the Democrats are getting almost zero in return. There will be nothing in this final agreement, whatever it ends up looking like, that one could point to and say, "Look, that is a very progressive piece of legislation." No, it will all be big steaming piles of attempts at appeasing the radical right that really, really doesn't want to negotiate, even if negotiation were to give them 100% of what they want. The fact that they negotiated in the first place would be a major defeat for them, which is insane. That cannot continue if this country is to survive.

I don't know where this is all going to end and where the country will be when the Tea Party, a full 30% of the voting population of this country, gets its way. But I do know I probably won't recognize this country. At an emotional level, all I feel I can do at this point is to position myself as best I can, which luckily isn't that bad. I have a pretty good government job that will be there when I need it, unless the Tea Party decides that the FAA should be killed entirely, along with the EPA and all other government agencies that provide oversight and regulation of industry. I am not going to be rich in retirement, but it's beginning to appear that I'll do OK.

But actively trying to fight against this insanity that's gripped this country? And that's what it is, insanity.... I don't feel I can cope. My state votes exclusively by mail, so it's pretty easy for me to actually vote, so I might just throw it out there anyway. But really, enthusiasm about re-electing President Obama? Nope, my heart's not in it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

So, Obama's "bully pulpit" is to tell us we should call and twitter Congress?

Jesus H. Christ.

Here is the image that comes to mind for me when I think of the Tea Party.

I hope that everyone remembers what happened to Colin Clive at the end of the film.

What do you want to bet....?

If the U.S. government defaults on its payments and, as a result, Social Security checks do not get mailed out, the Republicans will try to blame Obama?

OK, that's not much of a wager. That is pretty much a given.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Republicans: Rioting the night after their team lost the NBA finals.

That my latest analogy to explain this madness. Republicans are still terribly, terribly pissed off because their team lost the NBA finals, aka Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential elections. They still cannot accept this reality, so they are really, really upset, and just to show everyone how upset they are, they are storming their own city (the U.S.A.) and proceeding to set cars on fire and throw anything they can find through plate glass windows. It won't stop the reality that their team lost, but it feels SO... DARN... GOOD!! It doesn't matter that those same people have to live in this country in the future. They are just out to show how awful it is that Obama is the president.

I hope that these white, elderly Tea Party types are really happy when they discover that their Social Security checks, the ones that they are either currently depending on or will in the very near future, are going to be for less than they were if they hadn't thrown their hissy fit.

(To be fully fair about this, that photo is from Vancouver, in Canada you know, after their team lost the NHL finals. But I thought that basketball is a bit more relevant of an analogy than is hockey, and a picture of a riot is a picture of a riot, regardless of the place or circumstances.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thank you, Texas, for being a leader in the drive to let crazy people carry guns anywhere.

From Huffington Post:

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- A gunman opened fire at a child's birthday celebration at a Texas roller rink, killing five people, wounding four others and then killing himself as the private party turned to panic and some fled screaming in their skates, police and witnesses say.

Authorities ascribed the gunman's rampage to an apparent domestic dispute and said no young children or rink employees were killed during the shooting that erupted about 7 p.m. at Forum Roller World in Grand Prairie, about 20 miles west of Dallas. Some people at nearby businesses said they watched as adults and children spilled from the rink in horror.

Police said the gunman began arguing with a woman in Forum Roller World's front area where the party was being held, although the rink was not open to the public because the family had rented it for several hours for the private party.

Clearly, this is a perfectly valid reason to pull a gun on someone, because they couldn't get into a roller rink when they wanted to. But by gosh, if all those kiddies going to a birthday party at a roller skating rink would have been packing heat, you know, then this would have never happened.

I guess if places like Norway get almost 100 of their young people slaughtered by a madman with a gun and a grudge, then I guess it's OK if the U.S. has our own "incidents" every now and again. Like almost every single day....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Republicans have lost their entire grip on reality.

Crazy doesn't even begin to explain this. One huge reason that I haven't been blogging in the last month is that I can't even begin to talk about how crazy this all is.... It's all been said before, so there really isn't any reason for me to try to reword what has already been written by more literate writers than I.

Parts of the FAA will be shut down tonight because Republicans want to make it more difficult for railroad and airline workers to unionize. Although I am safe for the moment, if the impasse goes on for too long (and I have absolutely no idea how long is "too long"), I will probably be out of a job as well. The government will probably end up going into default on payments on money that has already been spent because Republicans want.... I don't even know what they want anymore. For every single instance of someone on the right saying "This is what we are fighting for," you can find several instances of them doing exactly the opposite of what they are saying they support.

I am just in awe about how insane one of our two main political parties has gotten. Let's all hope the consequences of defaulting by the U.S. government are as bad as many are saying they will be, and these warnings are coming from BOTH the left and right. But the current Republicans absolutely don't care. They want to blow stuff up.

I see absolutely no path for this country ever to recover from this mess that started (in my mind) with George Bush getting the 2000 election handed to him by the Supreme Court. All we need is for a horse to somehow get appointed as a senator. The craziness will be complete at that point.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Incredibly, both David Brooks and Richard Cohen come to the conclusion that the Republican Party has lost its mind.

I am paraphrasing, of course. If you want to see the gist of what they both said, here is a summary from Washington Monthly.

First, Cohen:

Someone ought to study the Republican Party. I am not referring to yet another political scientist but to a mental health professional, preferably a specialist in the power of fixations, obsessions and the like. The GOP needs an intervention. It has become a cult. […]

The hallmark of a cult is to replace reason with feverish belief…. This intellectual rigidity has produced a GOP presidential field that’s a virtual political Jonestown. The Grand Old Party, so named when it really did evoke America, has so narrowed its base that it has become a political cult. It is a redoubt of certainty over reason and in itself significantly responsible for the government deficit that matters most: leadership.

Then Brooks:

If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.

A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.

The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.
This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor.

The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor.

I usually don’t read either of these columnists. Brooks sometimes makes some great points and comes across as a thinking, rational conservative. And then he spoils the moment by saying something completely insane. Cohen, well, I have no understanding about why he is thought of as a “center-left” journalist. I can’t think of much that he has written that I agreed with. I think he represents about the worst of the “beltway thinking.” But to have these two people put out columns on the same week that essentially say the same thing, that the Republican Party has lost it’s mind (yes, paraphrasing, but “Jonestown” and “cult” are pretty damning), that’s saying something.

Maybe the tide is finally turning. Maybe our press is finally going to find the backbone to stand up to the Republican Party and report on what is really going on in American politics these days.


Until then, I remain with a deep sense of despondency over the state of American politics. It’s like riding in a car going 90 mph with a madman at the wheel who really doesn’t care if he crashes the car or not, because he doesn’t believe in traveling by cars and if he does crash, well, that sort of “proves” his point, doesn’t it?

Update: Harsh words for Brooks from Driftglass, via Balloon Juice.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And while I am at it, I detest Comcast as well.

I've been dealing with a "hi speed internet" connection problem on my home network that has been getting progressively worse. It's now to the point that, at many times, it's no better than a dial up connection. Bad, in other words. Bad and slow. So, I finally work up the energy to call Comcast, because I know it is going to be an ordeal. I sit through their damn automated menu system and push the right buttons, and I finally do get someone to talk to. Lo and behold, this is actually a nice, seemingly helpful person who wants to help me with my problem. Looks to me to be a bad wireless router. If the computers are right next to it, everything is fine. You get 40 feet from it, and things barely work at all. OK, I think I need a new router. After all, this is Comcast's property, they are "leasing" it to me or something. It's their equipment. Finally, the guy on the phone transfers me to someone else called "Xfinity Signature Support." I figure it's now their arm that supports the high speed internet stuff. After talking with this nice, helpful lady for about 10 minutes, I finally figure out that she is attempting to SELL me a support package, which I will have to pay about 20 bucks a month and a one-time sign up fee of $79. All to fix a problem with a service (high speed internet) that I am already paying for from Comcast, that doesn't work, and I want them to fix it. That's all. I am buying something from them that doesn't work. I want it to work. And they send me to some other "fee for service" part of their company that wants to sell me a 20 buck a month, plus a sign up fee, to fix something that doesn't work!

FU, Comcast. Jesus Christ, what happened to a customer focus in American business? Can't they do ANYTHING without trying to soak their customers just a little bit more? Goddamn..... Once I get my energy back, I am going to call back Comcast, and sit through their stupid automated phone menu that takes five minutes before you get to actually talk to a person, and demand someone come out and fix this without requiring me to sign up for some sort of "Signature Service."

The American business mentality sucks so bad. All they can do is think about how to make more money.

Yet another reason to hate Apple, Macs, and everything "i" related.

I have spent the last half hour trying to get iTunes on my Mac to play some of my old CD's. It appears that if a new disc gets put in the computer that it hasn't seen before, iTunes goes and "queries" some database about the CD. I guess it is trying to get the name and all the songs and other info that iTunes likes to put into it's information. But apparently either there is some problem about contacting that database or else maybe the database doesn't know about these discs. It refuses to play almost every CD I put in. Nope, I don't know what that is, so I am not going to play it. I didn't know this, but there is not a PLAY CD command anywhere. Not until the CD gets a thumbs up from this database.... Oh, I did get it to play Revolver from the Beatles. I guess it knows who the Beatles are. It doesn't like Firefall, or any of the "new age" instrumental music I have from the 80's. It just won't play them.

I can't express how much I detest working with computers which were designed by people who think that they know everything and limit, on purpose, what the user can do.

I am about ready to pitch this stupid Mac out the window. And that is the entire reason I went with a Mac in the first place, because I hated my PC.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Here’s some interesting headlines from today’s Huffington Post.

Tom Matlack Should Women Really "Go Ugly?”

AOL Real Estate: Real-Estate Disclosure: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

PopEater: 'Jackass' Star Ryan Dunn, 34, Dies in Car Crash

WATCH: Jon Stewart Live On Fox News, Tells Host 'You're Insane'

Oh, and then there is this little item…..

'Shocking' Oceans Report Warns Of Impending Mass Extinction

Yeah. Nothing important to see here. Let’s go back and talk some more about why Megan Fox REALLY got fired from the Transformers movie.

Crap. What a society we have. We are currently hearing some of the most dire predictions mankind has ever seen about the environment, and it mostly rates a big, collective yawn. Mankind is going to richly deserve everything that happens to us.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Ummm.... OK, if you say so.

I am assuming this has something to do with the presidential aspirations of Tim Pawlenty...

Here are some reasons I think the United States is in decline.

There are a number of reasons why I can’t say that this country “is doomed” or will be “totally irrelevant on the world stage.” Sheer inertia, for one thing. Plus we are still one of the biggest consumer nations on the planet. Plus we have a huge standing military with nukes. Other countries will have to pay attention to us, even if it is to humor us while privately rolling their eyes at each other in private when our name comes up.

Here are some things that will lead to our increasing irrelevance and eventual downfall as a world power.

• The country is being run by the rich and powerful solely for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Everyone else absolutely does not matter. The only time we get any of the crumbs is if our self-interests also coincides with the self-interests of the rich and powerful, which isn’t that often. The country, the most rich and powerful on earth, no longer cares for its citizenry.

• Ideology trumps good results. One political party has decided that government is evil and is doing everything it can to destroy that government. Yet, these are the same people who mouth patriotic slogans and the drop of a hat and will accuse their “enemies” of being un-American for disagreeing with their ideology.

• Making vast amounts of money is the only thing that matters. Just “making money” doesn’t cut it anymore. Companies have to make the absolute maximum they can, 100% of the time. Doing the right thing by their customers is a thing of the past.

• We have a large number of politicians who will say and do absolutely anything to get elected, even if it means contradicting themselves from two weeks ago and flat out lying through their teeth.

• We have one political party dedicated to destroying the other, and any means, regardless of the ethics or non-legality, will suffice. The end justifies the means. Government will be sabotaged in order to gain a perceived political advantage, even if most of the people in the U.S. will suffer in the short term, and probably the long term as well.

• The Republican Party has lost track of the overall vision of this country. What has been substituted is to object to every single thing the Democrats propose or try to accomplish. Again, the outcome is the only thing that matters. The cost to the country as a whole is not considered.

• Politicians and powerful people with a lot of influence will make up the most outlandish fabrications and outright lies in order to gain some sort of political advantage.

• Our media is no longer dedicated to getting to the truth. The reporters are driven by favoritism, “good old boy” politics, and a desire to remain in “the club.” The conglomerates that own the media outlets are interested in making as much money as possible. News is no longer outside that “for profit” box. Plus, they have huge stakes in the political game so that they can retain their position of vast wealth and power. Neither party has any desire to change.

• We have one media outlet that controls the political discussion and also acts as kingmaker that is totally dedicated to destroying anyone who disagrees with them, and will fabricate anything the can to achieve that goal.

• Our voting population includes a very large percentage of very ignorant people. They can be easily stampeded into voting against their own interests, as long as the issues are framed in a way that it is “us against them” and their own “values.”

• Science, regardless of the subject matter, is now on par with “strong opinions.” Scientific findings can be ignored when inconvenient, but will be trumpeted when a scientific finding happens to coincide with someone’s predetermined beliefs.

• We no longer desire to invest in this country, for things like education and infrastructure. It is more important that "shareholders" get a large return on their stock investments. Anything not collapsing right now can be ignored.

• We celebrate ignorance. Knowledge and experience are now suspect.

• A large percentage of the American people do not care to become knowledgeable about anything. They want to be entertained. Video games, high def/3D television, smart phones that will do almost anything, are apparently all that is required to keep a majority of Americans happy.

• A large percentage of Americans seem to think that America is “exceptional.” However, they have absolutely no basis for this belief. We are behind the rest of the world in almost every category that means anything.

I sure I will think about more. I really, really hate this country right now. If I were in a position to move to another one, I would probably do it. I have about seven years until retirement. I think emigrating is a definite possibility at that time.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Yep, this is exactly what it looks like when I take my family on vacation.

I saw a quote from somewhere this morning that had Piper Palin saying to someone in the media who was part of the Moose Entourage, "Thanks for ruining our vacation." Je-sus.

You know, I really feel sorry for the Palin kids. They are growing up with such an extremely warped view of society and their own self-importance.

Update: Damn, this woman is a moron. This is her take on Paul Revere.

"...he who warned, uh, the...the British that they weren’t gonna be takin' away our arms...uh, by ringin' those bells and um...makin' sure as he's ridin' his horse through send those warning shots and bells...that, uh, we were gonna be secure and...and we were gonna be free...and we were gonna be armed."

Click on this link for a YouTube of this mess, if you don't believe me.

This is such an embarrassment to this country that someone like Sarah Palin could even be considered to be worthy of running for the Presidency of the United States.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Obama-bots deployed to force white, heroic Americans to become socialists and have abortions.

"Come! I shall now murder your unborn baby, even though you are not pregnant."

Obama-bots, or O-bots as they are affectionately called, are indestructable. The product of the nefarious mind of George Soros and the Kenyan-Muslim Jihad and Chowder Society, these automatons were created solely to destroy the God-Fearing United States of America. In its place, a trans-national Muslim caliphate will be created. White people will be forced to bow down to all to scary brown and black people and be forced to sit in the back of the bus. All Christians and Capitalists will be brainwashed, by such entities as the Peace Corp., public schools, and Hollywood blockbusters, so that they won’t wish each other “Merry Christmas” and will demand that the Nanny-State-Government will coddle them when they fall down and get a boo-boo on their knees.

Publicity photo from “Target! Earth”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bob Dylan is 70 years old, Jane Fonda is 73....

I suppose the 60's really are over, aren't they?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Priceless political cartoon.

The text in this cartoon comes, word for word, out of a press release from Newt Gingrinch's camp.

Click on the cartoon to get a bigger version and then you might have to use the magnifying glass to blow it up big enough to read. It is worth the effort.

From John White Studio. Go check out his entire site.

Eric Cantor wants spending cuts to offset emergency aid to areas devastated by tornadoes.

That Eric Cantor, he sure knows how to get potential voters on his side of an issue.

From Washington Monthly:

The scenes out of Joplin, Missouri, are just horrific. The death toll from the deadliest single U.S. twister in generations stands at least 116 people, and rescue workers continue a frantic search for survivors. President Obama will be in the area over the weekend, and obviously the area qualifies for federal disaster relief.

It’s hard to believe, but House Republicans aren’t sure if they’re prepared to spend the money to assist the victims and community.

The No. 2 House Republican said that if Congress doles out additional money to assist in the aftermath of natural disasters across the country, the spending may need to be offset.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said “if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.”

Finding ways to offset disaster relief funds could be a significant challenge for House Republicans and would put their promise to cut spending to a true test.

I don’t expect much from House Republicans, but this has managed to actually surprise me. When disaster strikes and there are deadly consequences, federal officials are expected to put aside politics and ideology, and commit whatever’s necessary to help.

I agree with Steve Benen here. How much more full of themselves can Republicans get? And this isn’t even “normally votes Democratic” areas like New Orleans after Katrina. These states that are getting bashed by tornadoes and floods are mostly reliably red or leaning red states, such as Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee, Montana, etc. What the hell is Cantor thinking? Is he so absolutely convinced that the only subject that the American people believe is important is cutting the deficit? He would actually withhold emergency funds to help American citizens in dire straights though no fault of their own? Are people without homes and places to work in Alabama and Missouri now “leeches?”


Love of money consistently outranks doing the right thing in the United States.

I find that I keep writing blog posts that start out with some variation of “The ONE thing that I find most amazing….” Of course, that only reflects what I am thinking that very day. In reality, there are just so many things is today’s society that I just don’t understand and could never imagine happening in this country.

Today’s “ONE thing I don’t understand” is how often we see stories, from all the various aspects of our complex society, that show us that people seem to consistently put making large amounts of money over doing the right thing. In this following story from Crooks and Liars, “the right thing” not only has to do with following the law but also protecting worker’s safety in a very dangerous workplace.

An independent state probe in West Virginia concludes that mining giant, Massey Energy, was responsible for the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 underground coal mining workers. It echoes preliminary findings by federal investigators earlier this year that Massey repeatedly violated federal rules on ventilation and minimizing coal dust to reduce the risk of explosion, and rejects Massey’s claim that a burst of gas from a hole in the mine floor was at fault. The report also notes Massey’s strong political influence, which it uses "to attempt to control West Virginia’s political system" and regulatory bodies.

Even when people have died and it is shown that the owners were negligent, they still fight against doing the right thing, because it will cost them money. These huge companies already make lots and lots of money for the people running them, as well as all the “stakeholders.” I absolutely detest that word, as it infers that the workers themselves are not “stakeholders.” But it is the idea that companies can’t even spend a 10th of one percent on making workers safer or even paying them little more than subsistence wages if it would mean giving up even that much of their precious profits. Profits are all that matter, it seems. Making huge amounts of money is never enough if there is one more drop of blood that can be squeezed from the stone. Profits for owners and stakeholders. That absolutely comes first these days.

Why is this? Where did this mindset come from in our society? Is our species just that greedy by genetics that it comes naturally? Have we not reached a place in the history of our society that we can afford to make sure that everyone has a piece of the pie, and is confident in the fact that their workplace is safe from hazards in the process? Why does a rising tide NEVER float all the boats? Why is it that the rich and powerful always want more riches and more power? I just truly do not understand this motivation.

In the richest country our world has ever seen, why is it that those on top seem to think those underneath them in the power structure are somehow slackers, that they are undeserving to share in the riches? What is it about people that drive them in this manner? Getting back to the story I quoted above, how could anyone be so callous and uncaring about worker’s safety that they couldn’t spend a bit more time and money in making sure their workers, the ones the rich and powerful depend upon for their riches, are safe when they come to work? What ever happened to “doing the right thing?”

This is a constant theme from today’s news items. Republicans want to bust those greedy unions, the ones that try to give a voice to the people who educate our children, who protect us on the street, and who answer that 2 a.m. alarm bell when our houses catch on fire. They want to demonize anyone who desires to a bit bigger share when it comes to dividing up the pie. How dare they ask for more! It’s ours! Greedy, undeserving maggots! As if someone who sits in a boardroom all day long or manages a hedge fund is somehow deserving of all the wealth they are siphoning out of the system.

Is this some inherited tendency of our species? Are we programmed to act in this way? Or is this a learned behavior? Is greed and avarice so widespread in our society that everyone “understands” that those are the rules everyone is working to?

I don’t know the answer, of course. I was trained as an engineer, not some behavioral scientist. But what I see of our species makes me ill. Yes, there are many, many good people who act selflessly and not just in times of extreme need (such as after this spring’s devastating series of tornadoes). There are many people working to change the system to make it fair to all, not to just the rich and powerful. But I am more interested in the motivations of those who are constantly fighting against doing the right thing by everyone who is part of the system.

I am very much not impressed with human beings as a species. Yes, we are capable of some wondrous things. Awe-inspiring. But we are also capable of thoughtless cruelty, even when the results of that cruelty is staring us back in the face. And we seem to be able to rationalize away any second thoughts or bad feelings this might cause us if we dwelled on it for more than a few seconds. Our ability to hold double standards and believe conflicting ideas at the same time is truly mind-boggling, and not in a positive way.

I hope that humans never do find a way off this planet and start “seeding the galaxy” with other human societies. I think, at this point in our development, we have failed the test and I believe that we don’t deserve any further chances. And God, if She exists, must be shaking Her head and thinking something along the lines of, “Well, I should have seen that coming. I guess I won’t try that again.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

You know, it occurs to me that maybe the Rapture DID happen last Saturday.

It was just that when God started checking the list of who was deserving, it turned out that no one was qualified. Certainly none of these Born Again Christian politicians met the minimum standards to qualify.....

So.... He left.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I just passed the fifth year anniversary of Barking Rabbits.

May 14, 2006, to be specific, is the date of the first post here. Well, that went fast. Sort of. I certainly used to be more prolific than I am now. And I wasn't so much of the one trick pony that I am now.

Anyway, happy anniversary to BR. Thanks to any and all who have ever looked in and decided to come back at a later time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Republicans in Wisconsin have decided to attempt to grab the state government in a way that means, if successful, they will never have to let it go.

(The following information comes from the May 20, 2001 edition of the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. I can't give you a link, as her website launches right into the video without providing a link to the story. If you are interested, click the link below about the voter fraud bill moving ahead.)

I think anyone who cares about what is going on in American politics right now is probably aware of what is happening in Wisconsin. The governor there, once elected, declared war on public unions. The legislature there pulled some fast ones and pushed the laws through, even though the Democrats tried everything, including leaving the state, in order to stop the Republicans. All of this was supposed to be because of the grave “financial crisis” the state found itself in. Of course, the crisis was not so grave that the governor couldn’t afford millions of dollars in tax breaks for corporations and the upper 2%. This is all very much in line with what Republicans are doing all over the country, of course.

The latest effort by the Republicans in Wisconsin is to pass laws, which they have done, that make voting a LOT more difficult that it had been. Photo I.D. will now be required at polling stations, even though that had never been a requirement in the past. You might think that might not be that bad. But apparently, it must be a very specific kind of photo I.D. Students are allowed to vote, but the I.D. offered by every single public college and university in the state does not meet these new standards. Retirees will probably not have these I.D.’s If someone is going to vote by mailing in their ballots, they will have to include a photo copy of their I.D. (which makes no sense to me, given that the person will not actually be present for anyone to check their face against the picture on the I.D.). There are a lot of other restrictions, of course. The estimate that Rachel gave was that this affects around 20% of the voting population of the state. It will cost the state millions of dollars to implement and millions of dollars each time there is an election, at a time where the state supposedly is in the grasp of that “financial crisis” we heard tell about. And all of this is to combat a problem, “voter fraud” that absolutely no one can prove is really a problem.

Take a guess as to which political party that the elderly, students, new voters, and those of ethnic heritage usually vote for? That’s right. Correct. Democrats. THAT is what is behind this. It is not about “voter fraud.” It is not about anything other than an absolute power grab. They know that their attempts to crush unions is not popular with the voters and that there is now a special recall election scheduled for, I believe, something like six Republicans who voted for that bill. Republicans know that the public is not happy with their agenda, especially since they didn’t mention ANY of this in their campaigns. That was all about jobs and bashing Democrats for how bad the economy is. So where did this come from? Many in Wisconsin, right now, are having severe cases of buyer’s remorse. They didn’t vote for this kind of crap, they didn’t see it coming. I don’t blame them for being upset. I do blame them for not looking into the matter of the Republican agenda, both stated and unstated, before casting their votes.

Look at what other headlines there are about Republicans and Wisconsin right now.

Wisconsin governor threatens to call National Guard on state workers (Somewhat old now, but still gives you an idea of how Gov. Walker operates.)

Bill would extend bargaining restrictions to police, firefighters

Walker gives himself more power to fill high state jobs

Assembly votes to give Walker veto over administrative rules

Wis. Secretary of State duties stripped (Who was the last Democrat in the state holding a high office, of course.)

Amid rancor, voter-ID bill moves to Senate

So, do Republicans start changing how they vote and back off on this attack on institutions that have been around for decades to be more in line with what Wisconsinites really would like? No, of course not! That is not how the current Republican Party does things! They have their agenda and they are going to stick to it. It doesn’t matter what everyone else wants. They want to destroy all the social programs and everything else that government currently does that they don’t like. And they will do this in any manner they can. It doesn’t matter if their actions are unethical, immoral and sometimes possibly illegal. The end justifies the means, in all cases. It doesn’t matter to them. They are so enamored of themselves at this point that they truly think they are superior to everyone else and they will crush all opposition. Rigging elections is just one of the tools in their toolbag. Yeah, so what if a lot of people are unhappy with how they govern? If those same people who aren’t happy also can’t vote, then that’s all to the good, right?

When I heard this story, I was just so disgusted. I have said this many times before on this blog. I really do not understand how these people live with themselves. What they are doing isn’t democracy. It isn’t freedom. Their actions are remarkably similar to other groups of people attempting to hijack government. I won’t mention any names, as then I would open myself up to criticisms about Godwin’s Law and other such “How dare you make that comparison!” self-righteous indignation.

This is what I was referring to in my last blog entry about being very fearful if these types of Republicans ever get total control over the government. They will never willingly let it go. Democracy, at that point, will be no more. Do you think that is hyperbole? I don’t. Just look at what is going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Florida. That is the future of the entire country if Republicans ever take control again. They already have the Supreme Court stacked, such that any appeals there will not be supported. We see how Republicans operate in both Congress and the White House. Put all of those different legs of government, the ones that are supposed to be the “checks and balances” against abuse of power by the others, under control of Republicans and you will get Wisconsin multiplied by about 10,000.

I know that many voters are not happy with Democrats and with President Obama. I am not terribly happy either about a number of things. I really thought President Obama would be able to change how things worked in Washington. Sure, Democrats have passed Healthcare Reform. It isn’t what progressives wanted and we all thought Dems kept caving to Republican demands that weren’t even made in good faith. But, even with its flaws, that piece of legislation is still quite an achievement. Democrats have been trying to do something along those lines since Truman. But there is a lot of stuff I am unhappy with. We did not close Gitmo. We refused to investigate the abuses of the Bush presidency. The rich and powerful are still quite in control. Dems aren’t standing up for unions, which are really the only organized support that the Democratic Party has these days.

I can see why people might not want to vote for Democrats. They seem spineless and are willing to let Republicans run over them without anything more than a weak, “Hey, that wasn’t nice!” But I will tell you something. If people are thinking that they will either not vote or vote for Republicans as some sort of symbolic gesture, don’t. Please don’t. Do not hand control of both the House and Senate to the Republicans. Do not give the White House to one of those idiots (with possibly the exception of John Huntsman) who make up the list of contenders. Don’t even vote Republicans for your local and state offices. Republicans do things differently once they are in office than what they said they were going to do on the campaign trail. I don’t care how nice they seem. Republicans lie. They will do anything to get their way. Go do some research into Wisconsin and you will see what the country will look like if that happens.

These people are monsters.

Update: Here's more detail from Parsley's Pics.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Aw, shucks. Donald Trump isn't running for president after all.

I mean, who could have seen THAT coming?

About 90% of me is very happy, as happy as I can muster for something involving politics in the United States these days. This guy is a fatuous gas bag with absolutely no sense of what a clown he has become. I hope his ratings for his "reality show" go in the tank as well. Good riddance. He was such as distraction, the media would amplify every single idiocy the guy uttered. We have better things to talk about. I used to be totally indifferent to the man but now, I detest looking at him. He owes President Obama, and the rest of the country, a big apology.

That remaining 10% of me is kind of sorry to see him leave. I would have loved to see him destroyed in an actual debate. Even some of the current Republicans running for office would have destroyed him. I always love seeing over-inflated egos punctured.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Perhaps the one thing that amazes me the most about Republicans is how they have decided that public schools and teachers are the enemy.

To me, this is a really unnerving thing. The one constant throughout someone’s life is that they had to go to school. For people of my age who grew up in non-urban settings, that meant public schools. They were there, you went to them. You may not have liked going to school, but that’s what you did. The teachers were, for the most part, pretty friendly and competent at their job. Even when I moved to a very small town in rural Alabama when I was in high school, there was the school. They did their best with the very few resources they had. Sure, you could bitch a bit about how things could be done better or the crummy buildings, but they weren’t “the enemy.” That would have made as much sense as declaring air or water the enemy, schooling for children was that ubiquituous.

O.K., fast forward to somewhere in the last decade or so. Public schools, in the minds of many on the conservative right, are about as popular as a coven of witches. They are there to “brainwash” your kids with all their talk of tolerance, multi-culturalism and other liberalist ideas (including evolution, of course). Teachers and teacher’s unions are a bunch of greedy, whiney slackers who are overpaid and just flat out terrible at their jobs. And, on top of all that, get three months off a year! Yes, I am sure we can all agree that teachers having to deal with all sorts of students on a daily basis, many of whom come from poor backgrounds, broken home, and may not even have enough to eat everyday, are just lounging in the lap of luxury on their $50K salary.

Worst of all, apparently, is the fact that schools are run…. by the government!! Horrors!

From Washington Monthly.

March, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum expressed his disdain for public education. “Just call them what they are,” Santorum said. “Public schools? That’s a nice way of putting it. These are government-run schools.”

Campaigning in South Carolina over the weekend, Santorum went even further. (via Steve M.)

Rick Santorum, a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, even raised the specter of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy in a speech here Friday night while explaining why his grandfather emigrated to the U.S. His uncle, he said, “used to get up in a brown shirt and march and be told how to be a good little fascist.”

“I don’t know, maybe they called it early pre-K or something like that, that the government sponsored to get your children in there so they can indoctrinate them,” Santorum said.

There is a fair amount of this talk going around. At a home-schooling rally in Iowa in March, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain — all Republicans who’ve expressed an interest in the presidential race — raised the specter of ending public education in the United States altogether.

This also includes far-right media. CNSNews’ Terry Jeffrey argued a few weeks ago, “It is time to drive public schools out of business.” Townhall columnist Chuck Norris has begun calling public schools “indoctrination camps.”

But I’d note for context that Santorum is a former two-term senator — and he just won a straw poll in South Carolina, which arguably puts him in the tier above folks like Paul and Cain. And in public, he’s comparing public schools to fascism.

Keep in mind, polls show that the American mainstream considers the public education system one of the nation’s most cherished institutions. When asked what areas of the public sector most deserve budget cuts, schools invariably come in last.

And yet, here we are.

"Indoctrination camps?" "Fascism?" And Santorum and Bachmann are not some penny-ante nutjobs. They are some of the "leading names" in the Republican Party and are likely to run for President. So, here's the situation, then. Some of the “most serious” of minds in the Republican Party are not happy with the publc schools. But rather than try to fix them, to put more resources into them so they have a fighting chance of becoming what everyone would like them to be, Republicans have decided that they want to destroy them. “It’s time to drive public schools out of business.” That’s pretty chilling stuff, by any measure.

One of my best friends from back in the 1980’s has become a ultra-conservative. His views apparently match everything I have heard off of Fox News and the Wall Street Jouranal. The unemployed are a bunch of lazy slackers. Unions should be demolished. He is supportive of everything that supports big business. It’s like he has become an entirely different person than the one I knew back then. I don’t like getting together with him anymore, because I know (even if we aren’t talking about it) that everything I hold dear is something is absolutely detests. It’s kind of hard to maintain a friendship with that kind of thing staring you in the face.

Last year, we were having drinks after work and he started off on a number of things that were apparently bothering him. Public schools was one of them. And he was really angry. I thought he was getting ready to punch me on several occasions. He hates paying taxes on public schools, even though his three kids went through their public school and came out of it very well, I think. Then, while he was on a roll, he came out and said what I really think he firmly believes, and that is the government has absolutely no business providing public education. He was for vouchers and private schools. So, once I could find the courage in the face of this anger and hostility, I asked him, “So, you are saying that you want every single kid in the country to go to private school?” He did an abrupt about-face but acted like he hadn’t, saying, oh, no, I just want to be able to opt out of paying taxes for something I disagree with.

That’s a nice thought, I guess. I would have really loved to be able to opt out of paying taxes that went toward two unnecessary wars, tax cuts for the upper 2% who don’t need any more than they already have, tax breaks for huge corporations who move their operations overseas and leave massive unemployment in many communities when they decide that they can get Chinese or Mexicans to work for 10% of what they pay American workers. But I don’t have that option.

But I find it amazing that Republicans don’t seem to understand what I think is a very basic fact. A highly educated population is good for the health of the country and ensures a future in an ever-increasingly competitive world. Do they really want to go back to the 1880’s, where most of the kids of this country just went to work when they were 10 years old and were functionally illiterate? Is that what they really want?

This is not a rhetorical question on my part. I see all the things that conservatives are attempting to tear down these days. The Republican governor in Maine wants to lower the working age for children, at the same time he wants to lower the minimum wage. Some states want to see the minimum wage abolished altogether. We’ve already discussed how many conservatives would like to kill public schools. And we all know how they feel about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and all other aspects of our current society that form a “social safety net” for those who are really in need. Do they really want to see a huge percentage of this country destitute? I just absolutely do not understand their larger vision for our society. All they seem to want to do is transfer even more wealth and power to the upper echolon of American society. But to what purpose? I have never heard anyone on the right even try to articulate their larger vision, past “smaller government” and “taxes are evil.” What do they really expect our society to look like in 50 years if those policies were really enacted?

As I have stated before in this blog, about the only answer I can come up with is that no one (aside from those really rich and powerful people behind these ideas) is even thinking about those larger questions. They have bought into the notion, body and soul, that Democrats and liberals are evil and must be destroyed. And that is not some sort of over-the-top hyperbole. That is really what they believe, and that is the only thing that really matters. That's it. The bigger picture, the one that will occur 50 years in the future, well, I guess that will take care of itself.

If that’s really the case, I am very fearful for this country if these people ever get total control of our government. Because they WILL find a way to never let go of the reins of power again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

OK. this is a real story title and picture in the NY Times.

Aside From the Vampires, Lincoln Film Seeks Accuracy

Ahh....... I'm willing to bet that is the VERY FIRST time that particular sentence has ever been constructed in the history of mankind.

Well, why not? That's Hollywood for you. There isn't any story you could possible come up with that can't be enhanced with vampires. Or zombies, of course. But vampires will probably work best here. Hot, young, sultry, terribly self-indulgent vampires.

Lest you think I jest, here is the NYT link.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Donald Trump's new campaign slogan.

Although it probably isn't one he would voluntarily choose himself....

Image absconded from Balloon Juice.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Being a part time political blogger, I feel I should say something about the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Make no mistake about it, this guy was an evil fuck and deserved much worse than he got by getting shot in the eye and dumped into the ocean. OK, just to make that clear? I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who planned the mass murder of thousands of innocent people.

So, with that out of the way, here are some of my admittedly confused thoughts about the whole subject.

1. I was rather surprised that the mission statement was to have OBL killed and not captured. For one thing, ordering someone killed, even someone who deserved it as much as OBL did, isn’t really what I thought we did in this country. Yeah, it’s a myth, sure. I understand that. But still, to break with that ideal so easily and not let justice really take its course, as we normally do things even with the most evil murderers, seemed not in step with how we like to think of ourselves. The whole thing felt like it was a lot more about revenge and retribution, rather than justice. I have seen some mention of "closure" as well, which I think is a total rationalization. It's closure by the fact that a mass murderer got what he deserved. That's a lot more about revenge than some sort of metaphoric sense of "closure", in my way of thinking. And if you really want to get down and call it for what it was, that was an assassination, pure and simple. That's what South American drug lords do. That's what the old Soviet bloc used to do. Is that really what America wants to be? I suppose that train has long left the station, as we now seem to be quite fine with the concept of being known for torturing prisoners and holding people for years without charging them with anything. We seem to have already stepped off that slippery slope.

2. I know that the events of 9/11 were devastating to us individually as well as a country as a whole. And I don’t want to tell anyone how they should feel or celebrate the killing of OBL. But the whole deal of large masses of people getting together and chanting “USA! USA! USA!”, like at some hockey game or something, didn’t feel right. It was a bit unseemly, I thought. But then again, I am not in those people’s shoes, so I don’t know how they felt. My own feelings were something like, “Finally. It’s about time… Good riddance.” I really didn’t feel any elation.

3. Maybe now we can get the heck out of Afghanistan. We haven’t really understood why we are there for years. Al Quaida isn’t there anymore. Yeah, the Taliban is there and they aren’t very nice. But aren’t those the same people that the Soviet Union fought for so long and the U.S. was giving them arms to help them fight “The Evil Empire.” And look what it got them, a breakup of their huge country and a complete collapse of the central government. Sure, the U.S.S.R. was already rotten to the core and ready to go anyway, their losing war in Afghanistan only hastened it on. But isn’t the same exact thing happening to us? Let’s get out now while the death of OBL at least gives us some cover of getting out with our “honor” intact, since that seems to matter a great deal to some people.

4. It will be really interesting to hear the rationale from the Pakistani government, our supposed allies, about why they didn’t know that OBL was in this huge compound just miles from the country’s military school and where many retired military people live. Sure, it is JUST within the realm of plausibility that they might not have known he was there, but really, this doesn’t look good. They need to come up with some sort of explanation, and pretty quickly. It is a pretty telling indication about how much we don’t trust the Pakistani government that we didn’t tell them about the raid beforehand. Something is really going on here behind the scenes.

5. Those Navy Seals are really scary.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Rick Perry, like most conservatives, hates consistency if it gives him a chance to bash President Obama and the federal government.

So, you remember Rick Perry, who is the governor of Texas and not (supposedly) some nut job tea party type who firmly believes whatever gets handed to him by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh? You remember the time when he was making noises about Texas possibly seceding from the United States because he didn’t like how the federal government was getting too big or wouldn’t leave the states alone or some damn thing?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax "tea party" Wednesday with his stance against the federal government and for states' rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"

An animated Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall -- one of three tea parties he was attending across the state -- that officials in Washington have abandoned the country's founding principles of limited government.... Perry called his supporters patriots. Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

That certainly sounds unequivocal, doesn’t it? No doubt about what he is saying there, is there? He just hates the federal government and wants it to leave the states totally alone.

Except when he doesn’t, of course. More from Washington Monthly (with an embedded link to Daily Kos.)

Now, however, Perry is whining that the "oppressive hand" isn't intervening in Texas enough.

As wildfires continue to do significant damage to the Lone Star State -- last weekend's state-sanctioned prayer days didn't do anything -- Perry wants increased federal assistance.

And when President Obama visited tornado-struck Alabama yesterday, this apparently made poor Rick Perry jealous.
"You have to ask, 'Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?'" said Perry.

Texas officials asked the White House to make the declaration, which would have allocated federal funds to help the state deal with the crisis.

"I know our letter didn't get lost in the mail," Perry added.

Daily Kos' Jed Lewison sets the record straight.

So hundreds die in storms throughout the South and Rick Perry's response is to question why those states are getting federal aid instead of Texas? Funny how he doesn't mention that Texas has already gotten at least $39 million in firefighting aid from FEMA over the past two fire seasons and has already received 22 grants in this fire season alone.

I'm not even sure what Perry is insinuating when it comes to politics. Does the governor expect us to think Obama favors Alabama over Texas for some kind of political reason? The last time I checked, they're both very reliable "red" states.

But what makes the governor's complaints especially noteworthy is the larger context -- it's a reminder of how offensive Perry's anti-government rhetoric was in the first place. He hates federal intrusion, except when Democrats in Washington are helping him balance his budget. He wants to keep federal officials out of his state, except when he's facing a natural disaster.

For this guy's feelings to be hurt when the president visits another state hard hit by a devastating natural disaster is bizarre.

Ha. You know, I think that these morons don’t even try to keep track of what they say on a day to day basis. They just react to whatever is happening then and there, and they come up with whatever comes into their minds so they can try to bash President Obama and the Democrats. It really doesn’t matter to them that they are being ridiculous, really inconsistent and very, very hypocritical. It just doesn’t matter, so long as they can say something bad about their enemies.

Just why this is true is beyond me. If I were to be caught in some of the whoppers these characters have, I would slink away and not show my face in national media ever again. But then, I guess I have some sense of self-awareness. These buffoons don’t. What we really need in this country is an electorate and a national media who would punish people like this. They would get excoriated in the press, and they wouldn’t get votes during the next election cycle.

But getting back to Perry’s statement above, I find that amazing, even in the context of getting to bash President Obama. He is actually saying that he doesn’t like President Obama going to visit one of the states hit by the biggest natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. He want’s Obama to come and visit TEXAS, because, as we all know, Texas is more important that any other state. If Obama doesn’t acknowledge that “fact”, well, there is obviously some problem here that needs to be addressed.