Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hot Air

I saw kids lining up in the cold for half a block at 7:30 in the morning to get into Foot Locker. I asked another middle aged gawker what inspired the line, and he told me with some disgust that the kids were foolishly wasting money on the new retro Jordans. I shared his sentiment, then remembered that I was wearing shoes that had inserts that cost me $400 (even with BCBS).

Who Do You Trust?

In October the American Spectator asked: Who do you believe: "professional doomsayers" Meredith Whitney and Nouriel Roubini or the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, and JP Morgan -- Lloyd Blankfein, Brian Moynihan, Vikram Pandit, and Jamie Dimon.

First is Lloyd Blankfein, who testified before Congress in April 2010 at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that Goldman Sachs had "no moral or legal obligation" to inform its clients it was betting against the products which they were buying from Goldman Sachs.

Senator Carl Levin told the veteran banker that he "wouldn't trust" Goldman as he repeatedly asked whether the bank would disclose its position "when they're buying something you solicit them to buy, and then you're taking a position against them?"
"I don't believe there is any obligation" to tell investors, Mr Blankfein responded. "I don't think we'd have to tell them, I don't think we'd even know ourselves."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/7642325/Goldman-boss-Lloyd-Blankfein-denies-moral-obligation-towards-clients.html

Next is Brian Moynihan, whose Bank of America was caught in the robo-signing scandal and now wants to charge $5 a month debit card fee. Moynihan is helping inspire Americans to leave BofA and open accounts in credit unions.

Then there is Vikram Pandit, who recently said the sentiments of Occupy Wall Street are "completely understandable and that the "economic recovery is not what we all want it to be, there are a number of people in our country who cant achieve what they are capable of achieving and that's not a good place to be."
http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2011/10/12/n_vikram_pandit_protesters.fortune/

And finally, there is Jamie Dimon, who has been called "Obama's favorite banker" and served as Chairman of the Board of the New York Fed. Matt Taibbi writes:
...in 2008, in that moonlighting capacity, he helped orchestrate a deal in which the Fed provided $29 billion in assistance to help his own bank, Chase, buy up the teetering investment firm Bear Stearns. You read that right: Jamie Dimon helped give himself a bailout. Who needs to worry about good government, when you are the government?
Dimon, incidentally, is another one of those bankers who’s complaining now about the unfair criticism. “Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it,” he recently said, at an investor’s conference.
Hmm. Is Dimon right? Do people hate him just because he’s rich and successful? That really would be unfair. Maybe we should ask the people of Jefferson County, Alabama, what they think.
That particular locality is now in bankruptcy proceedings primarily because Dimon’s bank, Chase, used middlemen to bribe local officials – literally bribe, with cash and watches and new suits – to sign on to a series of onerous interest-rate swap deals that vastly expanded the county’s debt burden.
Essentially, Jamie Dimon handed Birmingham, Alabama a Chase credit card and then bribed its local officials to run up a gigantic balance, leaving future residents and those residents’ children with the bill. As a result, the citizens of Jefferson County will now be making payments to Chase until the end of time.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/a-christmas-message-from-americas-rich-20111222#ixzz1oRvO6cP7

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus

It's a tough time to be truly observant of the meaning of the season, even though these should be what Catullus called "the best of days." There's gaming, music and drinking and eating to excess! Evergreens are found almost everywhere and yule logs burn in homes that still have fireplaces. Candles symbolizing light and the quest for truth and knowledge are plentiful-even if many are now electric. Preparations for the day of gift giving create hustle and bustle in the shops. But we have lost sight of the true meaning of all these preparations. Soon we will all be observing the birthday of the unconquerable sun and honring the deity Saturn.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

There Ain't No Such Thing as Sanity Clause

I was talking with a Jehovah's Witness about Santa Claus when he was making his round in my neighborhood. He remembered being disappointed and confused when he found out that there was no Santa Claus. I remember being skeptical 51 weeks of the year, but suspending disbelief every December. There was no sudden crisis of faith or outrage at being deceived. I now enjoy the rituals of Christmas and view Santa as the embodiment of the holiday season. When one rambunctious older brother told his mother during a visit to see Santa that I was "F-A-K-E" I told him that there are different ways of being real. Things like truth and justice might not literally exist in the real world, but they're still important ideas, just like Santa. The kid shrugged off my explanation, and his siblings didn't seem to notice his skepticism or my defense of the metaphorical existance of Santa.


The latest from the War on Christmas:

Eng, 58, was in the middle of a lesson about the North Pole Tuesday when one of her students pointed out that that was where Santa Claus lives.

The educator snapped that not only was there no Santa, but their parents are the ones who leave presents under the tree.






To P or not to P

I started my seasonal job last month and was suprised when I showed up for work and was told to wait in the manger's office and not punch in. He told me the HR Director wanted him to talk to me at 1:30, so we waited for half an hour and then he told me I had to retake a drug test at 2:00.
I was shocked, since I had aced three drug tests last year. How unfair is life when you can't pass a drug test but hadn't even had the benefit of a strange trip beforehand? My supervisor couldn't give me any more information, since it was confidential. I called the lab in Kentucky, but they couldn't disclose any information to me since my employer in Florida was their client. A half hour later I retook the test and passed.
It's hard being a recreational drug user these days-especially if you can't afford it. State budgets are tight and legislators seem to be looking ways to cut spendingon public assistance programs. I've read that more than half the states are considering drug testing welfare recipients, home heating assistance, unemployment insurance and other programs. Too bad the cost of putting drug users in jail and making children wards of the state is even more costly than providing marijuana smokers with food stamps or housing vouchers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Who among us takes notice if a sparrow falls to the ground

Around the 2:00 mark, a female protester is pushed back into a bush and a bird drops out. She alerts a policeman who picks it up and it flies away on the left side of the screen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Occupy the Voting Booths

Occupy Wall Street is a hipper version of the Tea Party where the guests refuse to leave. The protesters' commitment is admirable and they have identified dozens of issues that need confronting. Unfortunately, as the weather changes and the public's attention and patience begins to fade, OWS needs to change tactics.
If OWS is going to change the social order, it will have to settle on a plan of action. Had John McCain won the election, no doubt the left would hope that simply getting a candidate like Barack Obama would be the simplest and most effective way to deliver cultural and social change.
OWS supporters have demonstrated strong motivation and commitment for almost 3 months. To successfully change and reform Wall Street, occupiers will have to identify several priorities and engage in extensive planning and commitment to get it. In short, OWS will have to compromise a little and indulge in Realpolitik. The Tea Party did something like this by fielding right wing looney candidates in 2010, but the TEA Party also lost its soul in the process, becoming another cog in the well financed and lubricated vast right wing outrage machine. How OWS will keep its soul is anybody's guess.

Happy Birthday Doctor Who

My favorite TV show turned 48 this week...

Barack Obama was the President of the United States in the early part of the 21st century.

Biography

Barack was making a publicised speech from the White House on the recession when, like everyone else on Earth, he was transformed into a copy of the Master. After the substitution had taken place, the Master made the remark that the solution to the world economic crisis Obama had been about to present was "deleted". (DW: The End of Time)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nanny

Libertarians and Objectivists are always accusing liberals of being collectivists who want a nanny state. I suppose this could be the Objectivist version of one of the few Disney movies I consider a classic.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Job Creators

Years ago, sociologist Herbert Gans asked the question, "Does poverty have functions to explain its persistence?"

His answer: The poor are job creators.

Poverty keeps the fields of penology, criminology, social work, and public health in business. It creates the need for social scientists, social workers, journalists, and other 'poverty warriors.' Poverty provides tenants for run down housing, gamblers for the gaming industry, employees for Walmart and recruitees for the peacetime army.

Because the poor are required to work at a low wage, they subsidize a variety of economic activities that benefit the affluent. The poor also pay a larger share of their income in property and sales taxes.


The poor also play a role once filled by minorities, giving upper and middle class people someone to look down upon.


"Not only does the alleged moral deviancy of the poor reduce the moral pressure on the political economy to reduce poverty, but socialist alternatives can be made to look unattractive if those who will benefit most from them can be described as lazy, spendthrift, dishonest, and promiscuous."

-Herman Gans

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Raging Bachmann


From Michele Bachmann's statement on Iraq:
We have been ejected from a country by the people that we liberated and that the United States paid for with precious blood and treasure...  The United States needed a working democratic partnership in Iraq and we should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues...

We "liberated" the country by sending it into chaos, setting the stage for ethnic violence, the deaths of thousands upon thousands, and over 4 million refugees.  Now the liberated people don't want to be our "democratic partners" if we insist our soldiers have immunity for any future actions.  

The CIA Factbook reports that last year Iraq had a GDP of $113 billion. We've already spent $800 billion on Iraq, and the costs are still mounting.  Maybe next time we should liberate the Cayman Islands or Switzerland so we can get our money back.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mitt wants Everybody to be Rich



Mitt Romney's latest one liner makes even less sense than his "Corporations are people, my friend" zinger from this summer. Most of the economy would come to a grinding halt if everyone suddenly inherited millions of dollars from their parents. Awarding every citizen a million dollars would be a good way to pass immigration reform, however. Mitt used illegal immigrants to take care of one of his houses a few years ago-just imagine if the poor and working class started hiring undocumented workers as well.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Only Socialism When Obama Is for It

Today's headline:

Senate Republicans vote to kill Obama's jobs bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have voted to kill the $447 billion White House jobs bill despite weeks of barnstorming by President Barack Obama across the country.

2005 Headline:

President Bush signed a $286.5 billion highway bill on Wednesday that he said would create new jobs but which critics contend is stuffed with billions of dollars worth of lawmakers' pet projects.


From Desert News archives:

BUSH SAYS HIGHWAY BILL MEANS `JOBS, JOBS, JOBS'

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 1991 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All of the Above

President Bush was wrong about going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, arrogantly abused executive power through the Patriot Act and other secret programs, and disastrously enabled Wall Street and Corporations too Big To Fail to rig the American economy in their favor. 
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President Obama is continuing the same Bush policies. True, Obama has accomplished some good things and has faces ridiculous accusations from birthers and the tin foil hat brigade, but liberals, progressives, and left of center Democrats should not simply acquiesce only because our incumbent candidate is somewhat less disastrous than his predecessor. Rather than stay at home (which may or may not have caused the 2010 electoral "shellacking") I hope registered Democrats will vote for someone...anyone else in the primaries. The time to protest is now, while President Obama is still in office and could actually end the war on "terror" and seriously try to fight the war on poverty. Write in Cornell West or Russ Feingold. Write in the name of your favorite social studies teacher or one of your parents. In the New Hampshire primary, you could even vote for me, if all goes according to plan. 
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Saturday, October 1, 2011

More Right Wing Falsehoods

I was almost hooked by a forwarded Facebook message expressing outrage at hypocritical politicians:



Derek Batchelor's Photos

Unexplainable, Inexcusable 


No one has been able to explain to me why young men... and women serve in the U.S. Military for 20 years, risking their lives protecting freedom, and only get 50% of their pay. While Politicians hold their political positions in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these same men and women, and receive full pay retirement after serving one term. It just does not make any sense. 





The message continued, praising FOX News, condemning the media, and urging everyone to paste the messge on their wall and work for a constitutional amendement to end the federal government from burdening the states. It concluded:

Now, what are you going to do about it? Read and delete, or work for reform? Share on the wall of EVERY congressman, representative, governor, the white house!!!!! Pass it around!!! Make calls, send fax's and email's...............

— with Veterans Freedom, Desertstorm Veterans, Steven Sonich, Bob Veteran and Veterans.See More
By: Tim Shuler

.



It's an effective message and will get the authors lots of attention and outrage many people further. Too bad it was debunked several months ago. Check here or here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You Betcha

Sarah Palin once indulged in sex and drugs according to a new biography. Some of the accusations in the book are obviously false, for example:
-That 'refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' and 'wee-wee'd up' aren't in the dictionary.
-Palin "palled around" with terrorists in collge.
-Palin wanted to form a death panel to kill her baby with Down Syndrome. 
-Spent $2 million to keep her non-native birth secret quiet.
"I love that smell of the emissions!" --Sarah Palin,  May 29, 2011 

Definitely Not Separated at Birth

Andea Dworkin and Jerry Clower were both born on September 26.  If I remember correctly, the "She Coon" in Jerry's anecdote was in fact Andrea Dworkin.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Score: Scientists 0 Religion 0

Neither scientists nor televangelists predicted the earthquakes in Italy a few years ago, but the scientists urged everyone to go back to bed and remain calm. And so...

Scientists in the dock over L'Aquila earthquake
By Susan Watts
BBC Newsnight Science editor

Next week six scientists and an official go on trial in Italy for manslaughter over the earthquake in L'Aquila that killed 309 people two years ago.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9593123.stm


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Have You Forgotten?

I heard the Darryl Worley fight song, "Have You Forgotten" while scanning radio stations this afternoon. I had forgotten this song, which came out in 2003 shortly after the US and the Coalition of the Willing had invaded Iraq. It's powerful in a jingoistic way, but it immediately caused a knee jerk reaction when I heard it once again after 7 or 8 years. It begins:

I hear people sayin'. We Don't need this war.

I say there's some things worth fightin' for.

What about our freedom, and this piece of ground?

We didn't get to keep 'em by backin' down.

They say we don't realize the mess we're gettin' in

Before you start preachin' let me ask you this my friend.


Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?

To see your homeland under fire

And her people blown away

Have you forgotten, when those towers fell

We had neighbors still inside goin through a livin hell

And you say we shouldn't worry bout Bin Laden

Have you forgotten?


I remember how a national tragedy was turned into an excuse to conduct Operation Iraqi Liberation. I remember how Iraq became the most dangerous place on Earth due to the Bush administration's arrogance and incompetence. Soon tens of thousands would be dead, millions made homeless due to bombs, ethnic cleansing and civil war. I remember the missing WMDs, the missing millions of dollars, the lies and corruption, the propaganda about Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, and how we were continually turning the corner in Iraq.

And I remember who it was that said we shouldn't worry 'bout bin Laden:

"And, again, I don’t know where he is. I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him."- George W. Bush. March 13 2002


August 21, 2006:

Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

PRESIDENT BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center.

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing!! ... Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Electoral Sexexcess


Every few years, Republicans bring out there appeals to the right wing religious base. Familiar attacks on birth control, sex education, equal rights, and homosexuality will be made as part of a rigid conservative theology fueled by fear and loathing. Republican presidential candidates will compete to see whose version of America the Promised Land will prevail-and once over, it will be a race to see if Romney or Obama can occupy the center first. Unfortunately, the center now seems to be protecting military spending while cutting services for the poor.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

Luke 17:20-21

King James Version

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.


Monday, August 29, 2011

And now a Message from Jehovah...

Are the disasters of the last year a message from God?
Oil rig explosions, forest fires, tornadoes, tsunamis, nuclear plants leaking radiation, hurricanes, earthquakes... With all the destruction and environmental damage, maybe the message is to increase stimulis spending on public works projects and to fund green technologies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hearing Voices

Penn Jillette says "God no!" to religion on NPR. He begins by challenging religious people with the question "If God told you to kill your child, would you do it? If your answer is no, you are an atheist."

I doubt that most people of faith or otherwise, hearing a voice in their head telling them to kill any child, would assume that God is directing them. Of course, people are conditioned to kill in response to an authority less than an all powerful supreme being. An execution order from a Texas judge may be sufficient, or an order from the head of a gang in other situations.
I thought of all the fathers who, like Abraham and Isaac, grappled with the reality of their son possibly being sent to slaughter at the direction of a higher authority during the draft for the undeclared war in Viet Nam. I thought of the jingoistic "Chicken Hawks" who evaded the draft in the 60s and 70s, but years later encouraged young people to go off and fight in Iraq to rid Sadaam Hussein of his WMDs and in Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden.

Finally, I wondered if the U.S. government drafts my son a few years from now to fight in Absurdistan, will I potentially sacrifice him or encourage him to move to Canada or Europe?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cowboys and Englishmen

A transplanted Texan in England wondered why the police aren't using guns to stop the UK riots:

...As everyone in the newsroom debated the use of force – whether to use rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, Tasers, even bean-bag guns – I wondered why they were wasting their breath.

“If your cops had guns, day number 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this, it would NOT have happened!” I said at a recent meeting.

Texas has around 25 million people. There were over 1,300 murders committed in the state in 2009.
England has around 52 million people. There were over 650 murders committed in the country in 2009. Maybe if guns were more prevalent in England, the UK could one day be as safe as Texas.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry thinks using predator drones on the Mexican border is a good idea.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Who can be bothered to read these things...



Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US was the President's daily brief prepared by the CIA and given to U.S. President George W. Bush on August 6, 2001.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot Air

Headline #1:

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

Antarctica rising as ice caps melt

  • 31 July 2011
  • Magazine issue 2823.


Monday, August 1, 2011

A Majority, But Not Fillibuster Proof


Only 52% of Americans Approve of God's Job Performance

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/07/only-half-americans-approve-gods-job-performance/40268/

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Messin' with Texas


From a story in the Texas Observer:
On September 28, 2009, at 1:40 p.m.
, God’s messengers visited Rick Perry...
A chain of powerful prophecies had proclaimed that Texas was “The Prophet State,” anointed by God to lead the United States into revival and Godly government.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Norway Tragedy

What happened in Norway and who is to blame?

Glenn Beck: multiculturalism is to blame

American Thinker: I remain skeptical about Brevik, just as I remain skeptical of the narrative that Timothy McVeigh was a "right wing Christian" terrorist.

Atlas Shrugs: While the leftist and Islamic supremacist ghouls rush to portray Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik as a Christian and even as an anti-jihadist, the unanswered questions multiply.

Laura Ingraham on Fox: "..two deadly terror attacks in Norway, in what appears to be the work, once again, of Muslim extremists."

FREEDOM FRIDAY WITH CARL GALLUPS: Shooter was an Evolutionist/Pagan:

The shooter was a fanatic. Fanatics can be atheists, Catholics, Protestants, Sunnis, Shiites, communists, capitalists, anarchists, or fascists. Trying to blame a particular philosophy for someone's crimes is absurd, unless people cynically elevate their opinions to divine revelations or fanatically demonize their ideological or religious opponents into something less than human.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Liberal Reading List


1. Atlas Shrugged-Ayn Rand

I heard they're making this novel into a movie. I hope they keep in the good parts. I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing, but it was easy to find the best bits in the library copy I looked at because certain pages showed more wear and tear than others. Here's one well written passage:

He jerked her closer, to stifle the sight of his own shudder. His hands were going through the automatic motions of intimacy – and she complied, but in a manner that made him feel as if the beats of her arteries under his touch were snickering giggles.

2. Sisters by Lynne Cheney

A rough and tumble western novel about two womyn dealing with patriarchy, feminism, rape and the world capitalist system peppered with sizzling hot scenes:

Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl. . . .


...The young woman was heavily powdered, but quite attractive, a curvesome creature, rounded at bosom and cheek. When she smiled, even her teeth seemed puffed and rounded, like tiny ivory pillows.


Lynne Cheney is the proud parent of a lesbian daughter and married to some guy she playfully refers to as "Dick." She's written another steamy potboiler called The Body Politic.

3. Those Who Tresspass by Bill O'Reilly

O'Reilly is a double threat! Not only is he an author, but he also hosted Entertainment Tonight before getting a talk show on some basic cable network.
O'reilly's novel concern a broadcast journalist sytematically murdering members of the lamestream media.

Since he is an accomplished on air personality, the audio book is obviously the preferred format.
Excerpts can be heard here:

4. Getting it Right by William F. Buckley

Buckley had the politics of a right wing swine, but he was cool. Here's a moving scene:

But this time she led him upstairs to a room he had never laid eyes on, a bedroom with a king-size bed and not less than six oil pictures of Ayn on the walls, one of them showing her bare-breasted, the Ayn of twenty years ago. The shades had been drawn and Nathaniel could savor the scent. Today her lover was being welcomed with synesthetical concerns for all the senses, only the music missing. But as he lay and later groaned with writhing and release, he brought the full force of his mind to transmuted, volutptuarian elation in this physical union with the very woman who had created John Galt and Dagny Taggart and Henry Rearden, and had touched down her scepter on him, Nathaniel, igniting his mind, and his own scepter, which paid, now, devoted service.

5. The Apprentice by Scooter Libby
A thriller by Dick Cheney's chief of staff with references to beastiality, pedophilia and rape.

At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest. Groups of men paid to watch.

6. The Starr Report

Read the sordid story of President Clinton pleasuring himself in a sink in his bathroom, taking calls from members of Congress while receiving oral sex and other shameful acts in glorious detail.

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