Archive for October, 2008

A message to Republicans

October 30, 2008 7 comments

Hey, Republicans, things aren’t looking so good for you these days. If the polls are right (and you only get a few more days of denial about it) you are about to crash and burn in the next election.  And do you know why?  Because you’ve been palling around with ideological terrorists and we (the people) are sick of it.

By ‘ideological terrorists’ I mean people who mostly use fear to get what they want.  There aren’t really that many of them, but they offered you all their votes in exchange for doing what – and I mean exactly what – they say.  You took the bait and now you can’t even suggest that gays are people, or that there may be a more realistic approach to abortion than passing laws against it and just hoping teens won’t find out about sex if we don’t tell them.

They’re terrorists because they threaten awful consequences if people don’t give in to their demands.  Not just a bomb in a marketplace, but storms, Earthquakes, volcanoes, even eternal torture.  Step out of line just a little bit, and you’re facing the Lake Of Fire In Which You Cannot Die, baby.  They’re good at telling this story in lurid detail; they’ve had a lot of practice.

What do they want?  To make life miserable for women and gays.  And to make sure our economically-vital science education doesn’t contradict the scientific insights of bronze-age nomads. A subset of this bunch even wants the world to end, so Jesus can come back and show off His new flamethrower. All in the name of love, of course.  They are the only ‘Real Americans’, and they want you to put their approved candidates in office.  Ideological purity is what matters – competence, literally, be damned. 

Really now, what are you getting in return for hanging around with these creeps?  The election you are about to endure, that’s what.  You’ve screwed up big time by putting hypocritical mooks in decision-making positions and you’re reaping the whirlwind now.  So I have a few suggestions for you…

First, tell those Hell-dispensing hypocrites to take a hike.  We have real, grown-up problems to deal with and we need grown-ups on deck.  Make them go form their own political party and stop hijacking yours.  (Formerly, mine too, by the way.)

Second, and this may sound a little odd, but go to church.  Not the megachurches with the SUV’s in the parking lot, but the ones with Priuses and Obama stickers.  The ones you’ve been calling ‘anti-American’.  And sit down in the pews and shut up for a change and listen.  Notice the sermon isn’t about “Us vs. Them” so much as about building a more constructive world through the Golden Rule that Jesus taught.  Notice the absence of war-talk.  Notice those two guys in the fourth row, who really seem close to each other, and people are still friends with them?  Notice the youth group doesn’t seem to be in training for a Made-Up Global Battle Between Good And Evil?  Notice that the pastor is a woman?  Yikes! Just sit and take it in.  It’s OK, really.  These are good people.  Of course none of them perfect, just like any other group.

Third, go find some secularists – unchurched people.  That’s about sixteen percent of Americans, which is one hell of a large demographic you’ve been demonizing.  Again, shut up for a change and listen.  Amazingly, they’re not monsters.  In fact they’re pretty much like you, once you get over small cultural differences.  Some of them stay married for their entire lives, some get divorced, the vast majority work and pay taxes and obey the law.  And yes, they do serve their country in the same ways as anyone else.  There really are atheists in foxholes. Of course none of them perfect, just like any other group.

Go wandering around.  Hang out with some American Muslims and Hindus.  They’re pretty much like anyone else. Of course none of them perfect, just like any other group.

It’s America.  Or more correctly, The United States Of America, which is a country full of human beings.  And we need you to take part in America again, instead of just trying to bully everyone with religious rhetoric.  Let God divide the sheep from the goats, if there is a god, and if that dividing needs to be done.  You’ve been letting your new friends tear this country apart; pick up needle and thread and let’s start stitching it back together again.  Pick candidates who actually know what they’re doing and people might vote for them.

Or what the heck; just go on dispensing hellfire and damnation.  We can find out how many elections cycles it will take before you get the message.

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Monday Morning Music: Deodato’s Zarathustra

October 27, 2008 1 comment

I’m re-watching Sagan’s Cosmos, and the first episode had a snippet of a somewhat jazzed-up Also Sprach Zarathustra.  Which reminded me of my favorite version of that theme, by Eumir Deodato.  I had it on stereo cassette in my hopped-up VW back in ‘77, pushing the boundaries of safety and sanity on back roads of East Tennessee:

Let this one play while you get ready (the video is quite superfluous) and hit the week with rhythm and verve, baby. 

Categories: music, Reviews

Conservatives for Obama

October 26, 2008 5 comments

Something weird is going on.  Conservative leaders like Colin Powell, Chris Buckley, and Ken Adelman are endorsing Obama. 

Conservative newspapers are going for the Senator from Illinois, too.  The Chicago Tribune has endorsed their first Democrat in their entire 163-year history.  The editor-in-chief of Dallas Magazine now calls himself A Conservative For Obama.  The most important newspaper in Alaska is swimming madly for the Obama ship: Anchorage Daily News endorses Obama – McCain erratic, Palin not ready 

Hell, even our own Pantagraph has endorsed Obama.  Twice they endorsed Ike over Stevenson, and Stevenson was from Bloomington.  And owned half-interest in the newspaper! (In case you think there’s no such thing as editorial independence.)

That conservative bulwark, The Economist, not yet emotionally ready to take the endorsement plunge, says:

For their part, hard-core Republicans are handling their party’s travails abysmally, retreating into elite-bashing populism and denouncing the Obamacons as “rats” who are deserting a sinking ship. If the Republican Party continues to think that the problem lies with the rats, rather than the seaworthiness of the ship, then the Obamacons are here to stay.
(Click the picture above to read the rest.)

So I ask again, what the hell is going on? Just this: Obama is a better candidate, and there are still a lot of conservatives out there who will vote for the better candidate, regardless if they have an R or a D after their name.  It’s called “thinking”.  HuffPost contributor Eric Hirshberg set out to interview some of the thinking conservatives, and found it a moving experience; Conservatives voting for Obama, in their own words. Here’s a sample:

This is what democracy is supposed to be. These people actually listened, considered and were open to the possibility of change. They didn’t support a candidate. They actually chose one. And while I’m happy this year they are voting for “my team,” they also inspired me to be more open in my own political life.

I thought we were making an ad campaign about Obama. But I think we ended up making an ad campaign about the essential ingredient that makes democracy work: an open mind. We don’t belong to our political parties. Our political parties belong to us.

“…they also inspired me to be more open in my own political life.”  Think about that for a minute – that’s what is coming out of the Obama camp.  That is Americans finding common ground.  That is how our country can come back together, and be the leader for the 21st century. 

The endorsements linked above are not just marks on a scoreboard: they are thoughtful essays on why Barack Obama should be our next president.  In the words of each editor are resounding themes: Obama is a realist, a pragmatist, he will act prudently in office, he has a steady temperament, and he has actually read the Federalist Papers.  I know I’m ready for that, and so is our country.

Categories: Uncategorized

Movie Review: ‘Man On Wire’

October 24, 2008 Comments off

A documentary film?  Yes, but much more.  A heist movie?  Yes, a really good one, excitingly told, but much more.  Also a privileged look into the human soul of art in the face of death, Man On Wire does all three these things well in just 90 minutes.

It is the story of Phillipe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.  Journalists demanded to know ‘Why?’ but there simply is no ‘why’.  We meet a full cast of people who carried off the heist right under the noses of the authorities, stringing a steel cable between the towers so the artist – no other word applies – could throw open the perception of human boundaries farther than anyone could imagine.  That was his gift to the world. 

The movie does not mention 9/11 and that is entirely fitting.  The WTC was itself an extraordinary achievement and how wonderful to associate it with an artistic triumph instead of one of humanity’s darker moments.  That is a different story, one full of heroism that overshadows evil, which deserves its own telling.

Seriously, see this movie, in the theater if you can and on DVD again later.  I don’t need to worry about building up expectations too high – it is moving and funny and exciting and beautiful.  (It will be showing tomorrow night and Sunday, 25 and 26 October, at the Historic Normal Theater if you’re in town)

Categories: Movies, Reviews

Adding two sharp old broads to the blogroll

October 24, 2008 3 comments

My friend Deb said:

When I’m in my 80’s, I hope that I am as witty, relevant and mobile as dear Helen. You betcha. Enjoy!

Of Margaret And Helen, who remind me of my grandmother.  An excerpt from today’s post; Those damn poor people ruin everything!:

… What really gets my goat is that I could have put that same wardrobe together at JC Penny for about $300 with enough money left over for a piece of pie and coffee.  Are you telling me THAT is the best they could do with $150,000?  I know I’ve seen the same three outfits about a dozen times this week alone.  And when this is all over, it all goes to charity.  Well isn’t that just rich?  Don’t give them health insurance, give them designer clothing.  Honestly, only a Republican could have come up with that one.

But it really all comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding of the poor.  When you hear Palin screaming “socialism” or John McCain spouting off about “redistribution of wealth” that’s really code for “those damn poor people”.  What they are really saying to those people who live in pro-American parts of the country is that Obama is going to take your hard earned money and give it to some poor person who is sitting at home in anti-America with too many kids just living high on the hog off the government.  And most likely that poor person doesn’t look like you (wink wink).  I doubt Palin even knows the definition of socialism.  After all it has three more letters in it than Muslim.  By the way, the average welfare recipient has less than three children.  Sarah and Todd Palin?  That would be five.  John and Cindy McCain?  Seven.

I do know this – taxes piss everyone off.  Nobody likes to be taxed.  Hell, Margaret’s husband Howard still has the first dollar he ever made.  Tax day to him ranks right up there with his annual prostate exam. And my Harold is no better.  But we all eventually take it in the rear because we fancy roads, schools, healthcare, national security, law enforcement, energy…  Those things represent the majority of what our taxes go to.  And speaking of majority, the majority of welfare recipients are children.  You know, those precious little bundles of life that the Republican base likes to ignore once the cord is cut…

There’s more, and it’s powerful stuff.  Enjoy!

Categories: Uncategorized

Man, the foresight of those “global warming” hucksters is amazing

October 23, 2008 3 comments

Lookee: they started laying the groundwork for their phony “global warming” scam back in 1957.  Al Gore was only 9 years old and they were already paving the way for him – with environmentally correct recycled asphalt, of course:

(Hat Tip to Les)

This is not news: the properties of carbon dioxide have been known for a long time.  Asimov wrote about the greenhouse effect in 1967 but it goes back farther.  I remember a 1950 Heinlein novel called Farmer In The Sky in which Ganymede was being terraformed by raising the CO2 content of the atmosphere to retain more heat.  Even Dwight Eisenhower called for space-based climate studies, presaging the already-built DISCOVR satellite that the Bush administration can’t seem to find the trivial amount of money to launch.

What staggers me is we’ve got airline travellers taking off their shoes to see if their gel inserts might be made of C4 (no jogging!) but so many resist thinking about the threat to civilization coming out the jet’s exhaust.

Categories: Uncategorized


October 21, 2008 6 comments

Why would the GOP go after ACORN?  Simple: they’re losing and they want to de-legitimize the election in advance.  They want to create doubt ahead of time.  John McCain knows better, but he’s carrying that swamp water, too.

The sensational TV reports you’ve seen leave out one important detail: the fraud was against ACORN, not against the election. It was a few employees trying to get paid for more registrations than they actually did.  (There are slackers in every organization.) ACORN spotted the fraud, flagged it as such, and turned it over to the authorities in accordance with the rules.  Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has the whole story in detail.  Short version:

  • The number of fraudulent applications was wildly exaggerated

  • All voter registration cards, valid or not, must be turned in.  ACORN tagged the ones they found “problematic” and fired dishonest canvassers.
  • All registrations must then be vetted by election officials’ screening.  The guy who filled out 73 cards for himself, for example, wouldn’t have a chance.  Nor would Micky Mouse.
  • Any fraudulant registration that did slip through would have no effect unless an actual person showed up to vote under that name.  And in many cases, they’d have to show ID, risking a felony.  And it would have to happen thousands of times to have an effect.
  • And finally, when ACORN signs up a voter, they really don’t know how that person will vote.

The GOP tries to discredit ACORN every election cycle.  The last thing they want is poor people voting. If you wanna talk about election fraud, look at voter roll purges and polling complications.  And read Blogula Raisa’s Now THIS is voter registration fraud.


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BBC News Guide To ‘Joes’

October 21, 2008 3 comments

In case you’ve been getting confused by all the Joe Six-Packs and Joe Plumbers tugging on the presidential campaign from different directions, BBC News has a guide to the Joes of this campaign: “A six-pack of Joes”.  Ahh, British humor.  Or straight reporting; when the news gets absurd enough, it’s hard to tell the difference.

Categories: Uncategorized

Not something for America to be proud of

October 19, 2008 5 comments

Tangled Up In Blue Guy asks; Is my country disintegrating?

The only reason that I have a question mark at the end of the title is that I wonder if it was any better at any other time. I certainly don’t remember an election in which people decided on the issues. Maybe America never has been as great as advertised, and I will accept that right now my cynicism is based on the debasing attacks that I see hurled by people like those in the video.

The video in question, of McCain supporters in Johnstown, PA, is difficult to watch.  I shudder to think of people in other countries seeing it, and thinking it might represent the United States of America.  Because if that’s what we’re united around, it’s frightening.

Categories: Uncategorized

Sunday Potpourri for a week of mind-blowing politics

October 19, 2008 1 comment

It’s too much; I can’t put it all into a series of posts.  Instead, I’m going to rip off ***Dave and use his idea of a potpourri post to aggregate a sampling from the InterWebs.  He’s been in India all week so maybe he won’t notice me stealing his method.

By the way, if you use your mouse’s scroll wheel (press down without turning) to click the links, they’ll open up in new tabs without closing the link page.  Handy for linky-pages like this one.


  • This just in: Apparently Colin Powell is a ‘Fake American’.  No, really!  According to Congresscritter Michele Bachmann and McCain advisor Nancy “let me hear you say my last name after a few drinks” Pfotenhauer, Obama supporters aren’t real Americans.  And in spite of that terrible price, Colin Powell has endorsed Obama.  Damn…
  • (HT John Weber)

  • And if that weren’t amazing enough, the Chicago Tribune has endorsed Obama – first Democrat they’ve backed in 136 years.
  • McCain’s campaign has said that the people yelling ugly slogans at Palin rallies or who support McCain with racist imagery are “isolated nuts”.  Pam’s House Blend has a compilation of nuts which include GOP party officials,  attendees at the ‘Values Voter Summit’,  Republican fundraisers, and McCain campaign offices. And of course, some genuinely isolated nuts too.
  • Be sure to watch Saturday Night Live’s Palin vs Palin
  • Greg Laden has an excellent video report from Keith Olberman on The Hate Talk Express including some old-lady on young-man violence.  The important point is that using hate in your campaign… is a dangerous game.
  • And since we mentioned the ‘Values Voter SummitAmericans United got an inside look (it wasn’t easy).  Read as much as you can stomach about the ‘values’ of the Religious Right.
  • Stupidity can be found everywhere, but… Oh my gosh…
  • If you doubt that the religious right only thinks that they are real Americans, or that racism is a component, listen in on this coffee shop conversation
  • Folks, racism doesn’t advertise itself by name.  Very few people – let’s call them overt racists – wake up in the morning and think to themselves; “Gee, people of color turn my stomach”.  Most racism hides in pervasive, unacknowledged bias, and it has been carefully measured in a study at Stanford University.  (NY Times:  Racism without racists.) 

Economics-y and somewhat politicky stuff

  • Greg Laden has a great roundtable discussion video with Bernie Sanders, and a comedian and two actors, on disparity of wealth and what it really means. Obviously Sanders is the only credible one there, but the best quote was from FDR’s Fed Chairman, Marriner C. Eccles, comparing the economic crisis to a poker game.  Of course, it was a quote, because Eccles is sort of dead these days.

Sciency stuff

Social and historic-y stuff

Whew!  I actually could go on for quite a while.  How do people get bored with all that life goin’ on around them?  I didn’t even get around to ACORN.

Categories: Uncategorized