Saturday, June 28, 2008

Annals of Irony

From the AP, via MSNBC (plenty more links there, should you desire, we're just disgusted w/ the entire disgusting mess) we learn that President Chucklenuts* isn't completely happy w/ the election process in Zimbabwe.
"We will press for strong action by the United Nations, including an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and travel ban on regime officials," Bush said in a statement issued while he spent the weekend at Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
Gee, could we have an arms embargo on the United Snakes, as a result of our two most recent presidential events? No arms coming in, & none shipped out either? We're perfectly willing to let regime officials travel, however, especially to places where they're likely to get picked up for war crimes. *"President Chucklenuts" courtesy of left-wing hate-monger (That boy is ANGRY!!) Mike Molloy, M-F 1800-2100 PT.

Into the Future, Coughing

Sci-fi author Gregory Benford sent a letter to the LAT, stating

Carbon caps and the like ask billions of people to act against their interests for many decades. Demanding that billions in India, China and other countries abort their dreams will not save us. Geo-engineering (which might better be called "climate control") can buy us time. Gregory Benford Irvine

The writer is a professor of physics at UC Irvine.

Please, professor, tell us how it is acting against one's interests to stop pumping pollutants in the air. Is it not in people's interest to leave as much land & cool, breathable air on the planet as possible for their children? Here's a free clue: Even if we got all of oil from our neighbors, cousins & friends in Canada, it only cost $10.00/barrel, & there were no climate change problem associated therewith, IT'S A STUPID FUCKING IDEA TO SPEW TONS OF CARCINOGENIC, RESPIRATORY SYSTEM-AFFECTING PARTICULATE MATTER INTO THE ATMOSPHERE ON A DAILY BASIS!!! Perhaps Prof. Benford enjoys standing downwind from campfires & barbeque grills, or even wrapping his lips around a tailpipe every so often, but most people don't like smoke or anything else of that nature in their eyes, throats or lungs. (Except pleasing, relaxing & tasty tobacco smoke, of course.) A guy who writes future fiction being this shortsighted. Like wow, man. What are we buying time for? Death from cancer?

Washington Weak in Review

We heard on the radio last evening what were no doubt the juiciest parts of a horrible display that took place in Congrefs on Thursday. Horrible in the display of cowardice by alleged representatives of the people, specifically Democratic douchebags, who seemed unable to follow through on the incredibly arrogant evasions by the legal minds behind the torture memos & the like. We don't comprehend why Addington & Yoo aren't cooling their heels in a cell or cells right now, on contempt of Congrefs charges. Slate cranked out a few paragraphs about the hearing, but you would have to have heard the actual exchanges to get a true idea of what went on. YouTube, anybody?

UPDATE & Addition to "Wrong Again, Glibertarian Dilrods"

Two things: We were going to make a plea concerning Medicare for all at the end of the referenced item, but ran out of typing time. Later in the day, we discovered there's a House Resolution (H. R. 676) to do just that. Of course, the insurance cos. & the like won't allow it to pass, there'll be loud screeching about "socialism" & lack of choice (Absolutely untrue, as you'll be able to see any doctor or practitioner your little heart desires, not just the hacks on your insurance co.'s list, & you'll be able to use any hospital you desire as well. In other words, all the competition the market will allow, as opposed to the restrictions imposed by the insurance cos.) but it wouldn't kill you to donate & attempt to pressure your representatives in Congrefs to vote for this. Find out more here. And thing two, about the DMV. We're afraid the motorized paper towel dispenser in the men's room (We kid you not!) may not be the best use of our energy resources. Seriously, it was either this one or this one. What next, America?

Friday, June 27, 2008

[start sarcasm]Democracy Triumphs[end sarcasm]

Run-off day in Zimbabwe. Our time is short, we'll just link you all to whatever. The LAT speaks w/ some of the thugs. The NYT attempts to explain South African Pres. Mbeki's non-involvement. And another NYT story has the word "grim" right in the headline. The WaPo has a sad tale about Morgan Tsvangirai, who of course may be an instrument of Euro-Yankee neo-colonialism. (Who'd a thunk we'd be able to spell "Tsvangirai" & "Mbeki" w/o even looking?)

Vigilante Justice: Not Always Wrong

Today in History: In 1844, Joseph Smith, who started the Great Mormon Con Game, & his brother Hyrum, were dealt the justice of the people by a mob in Carthage, Ill. That means the mob lynched their criminal hypocritical asses. In 1969, the NYPD raided a bar in New York City's Greenwich Village. The patrons resisted the fascist repression, & the gay rights movement started to gather some steam. "Get up, stand up, etc.!"

Wrong Again, Glibertarian Dilrods!!

Many foolish "free-market" morons & other glibertarians, opposed for whatever reason (over investment in insurance cos., perhaps?) to universal health care, use the DMV or MVD or whatever it's called in your state as an example of how gummint bureaucracy will make you die. Today this reporter visited the Calif. DMV, in the City of Santa Monica, to renew his ID card. Made an "on-line" appointment for 0950, showed up maybe five minutes late, had to wait no more than five minutes after filling out the form & returning it to the first window, paid the fee & had a pleasant conversation w/ the guy at the second window (& the customer at the window next to us, all of us bitching about show bidness agents & managers) then went to the signature, thumbprint & photo window, & was out of there by 1025. That's half an hour. Compare this rapid, efficient & pleasant experience to dealing w/ an insurance company whose sole purpose for existence is to make a profit, which is best achieved by screwing the customers out of as much health care as possible. Or by laying off employees, thereby making it even more difficult for the insured to get help, the tests or procedures that they need, & so on. Which do you choose? Minimal care from profit-driven "insurance," or shared risk in the largest possible pool, provided by people who aren't driven by greed? Tough choice, we know.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gays, Guns & God

In observation of today's Supreme Court's decision that the Second Amendment (at least the "well regulated militia" part) doesn't mean squat, here's an item from The Onion.
Homoerotic Overtones Enliven NRA Meeting February 19,1997 COEUR D'ALENE, ID—Repression was the order of the day as the National Rifle Association's North Idaho Chapter held its annual convention this weekend. More than 25,000 dedicated gun lovers from across Northern Idaho flocked to the Coeur d'Alene Convention Center for the two-day event, happily sublimating homosexual impulses amid a carefully maintained facade of platonic camaraderie. Moscow, ID, resident Richard Hoflinger, 47, a longtime gun-rights activist, exhibited the collection of antique rifles through which he has channeled his culturally unacceptable impulses. "Guns should be part of any upstanding Christian family," Hoflinger said, sticking a long, thick, oily pipe-cleaner 14 inches up an 1886 Remington. In the next booth, another latent gay man, Duane Erlich, moved his hand slowly up and down a well-polished 1948 Winchester. "Ain't she a beautiful baby?" he said, displaying the kind of feminization/infantilization of firearms for which NRA members are renowned. Erlich then demonstrated the proper loading procedure for his "baby," lovingly inserting a pair of bullets into the dark, snug-fitting tunnels before thrusting the gun's bolt smoothly into the action, cocking it firmly. "This'll blow a man straight to heaven," he said. The tone of the event was set by chapter president John Henry Unger, whose opening remarks cited the "wonderful variety of weaponry on display, from little snub-nosed pieces that fit snugly in your pocket to big, meaty shooters with barrels as thick as your arm." Unger then fired his father's prize Colt Peacemaker revolver into the air, drawing raucous applause from the crowd, many of whose own fathers had suppressed latent physical attraction for their adolescent sons by channeling forbidden feelings into totemistic firearms. All over the convention floor, gun manufacturers proudly unveiled new technologies which will allow simmering homoerotic tensions to be expressed with greater nuance than ever before. At the Smith & Wesson booth, company spokesman Darrell Trace displayed a handgun made from a newly developed metal alloy whose "incredibly hard" nature, he explained, gives it no recoil after use, providing its user with "a far greater sense of control over his piece." "It's a very comfortable gun, very soft in the hands," Trace added, noting that Smith & Wesson had designed the gun to appeal to "shooters tired of coming home from the firing range with sore, worn-out wrists." But even as conventioneers reveled in a two-day orgy of firearm-to-phallus transference, a dark cloud hung over the event. The NRA has declined in power over the last decade, and its once-potent lobbyists have come out on the small end of key legislative battles like the Brady Bill, causing many members to bring their lifelong subconscious fears of castration to the fore. "If the gun-control lobby wants my rod, they'll have to yank it from my dead body," said Pocatello-area bar-owner Joseph Greer, holding a tell-tale snub-nosed revolver. "Those guys up there in Washington are tryin' to take our guns away, but we ain't gonna let 'em," Greer continued, adding classic paternal displacement to the already rich psychosexual tapestry. "No siree, Bob."
©The Onion. Used w/o permission. You tough English majors going to do anything about it?

It's All Clinton's Fault

You've heard how Bill Clinton did something awful to America's military (& the industrial half of the complex, as well) by not continuing to increase its size when there was no more menace from the Commies (as if that were any reason to downsize the military). Of course, you've heard it from the blood-lusting war-mongers of the right, who rely on kickbacks from the defense industry disguised as campaign donations to the Republican Party for their war chests. Imagine, then, our surprise when we found out that Bush's Unsuccessful Wars, besides killing about 4,500 American service people & who knows how many innocent civilians, have also pretty much ruined our Army, Navy, Air Force & Marines. This is not a right wing fantasy, as accusations against Clinton's sensible drawdown were, it's real. See?
The military is scrambling to re-equip because the Pentagon failed to plan for the long and expensive war in Iraq, Murtha said. That failure, he said, makes the Pentagon's plan to add 92,000 new soldiers and Marines unrealistic. Although new troops would help reduce repeated, lengthy deployments, he said, there are more pressing demands. "It's going to come from personnel cuts," Murtha said. "That's where it's going to come from. They know it." Pentagon leaders realize they face a choice between a larger military and improved equipment, said Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We must reset, reconstitute and revitalize our ground forces," Mullen told a Senate panel in May. However, the costs "will force us to a smaller military or force us away from any kind of modernization or programs that we need for the future." [...] •The Army wants $17 billion a year, for as many as three years after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end, to re-equip itself. Since December, the Army has issued repair contracts worth more than $1 billion for armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles. •The Marine Corps estimates it will cost $15.6 billion to replace its damaged or destroyed equipment, including light armored vehicles "lost in combat." •The Air Force puts its costs at $10 billion. Sue Payton, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, told Congress that the wars' demands have "taken a toll on our airlift and air-refueling aircraft." Murtha said the Pentagon will need much more. He put the cost at more than $100 billion. "We went unprepared. And we're paying a heavy price for it." Repairs have skyrocketed in recent years. The Army repaired 6,000 rifles and handguns per year before the Iraq war. This year, that number jumped to 200,000, said James Dwyer, with the Army Materiel Command.
Heckuva job, Bushie. You & the military morons who didn't plan ahead. At this rate, the Chicoms will be riding the Ferris Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier before Xmas, & Hugo Chavez will be wintering in South Miami.

Straight Talk Express Smashes into Wall of Truth; No Survivors

Telling it like it is, "maverick" style:
Summary McCain released a Web ad that distorts Obama's positions on clean-energy innovation and nuclear power. The ad portrays Obama as saying "no" to energy "innovation" and to "the electric car." In fact, Obama proposed a $150 billion program of research into a wide variety of clean-energy technologies last year, long before McCain proposed to award a $300 million prize for developing a commercially viable battery package capable of powering automobiles. The ad also has Obama saying "no" to "clean, safe nuclear energy." In fact, Obama has said, "I have not ruled out nuclear...but only [would support it] so far as it is clean and safe." Analysis Sen. John McCain's campaign announced the new Web-only ad on June 25. It portrays Obama as "The Dr. No of energy security." We find that some of the claims in the ad go too far and misrepresent some of Obama's positions.
From Factcheck.org, as published by Newsweek.com.

Last Words from George Carlin in This Space

The redesigned (Too big a word. The new graphics of) very local cage-liner Los Angeles CityBeat are reflected in its website. And from that website we grab a George Carlin quote that sums us up as well as it capsulizes the late Mr. Carlin's worldview.
“I’m happy to tell you there’s very little in this world that I believe in. Watching other comedians comment on political, social, and cultural issues, I notice most of their comments reflect some kind of belief things were better once. I don’t feel so confined. I frankly don’t give a fuck how it turns out for this country. That is precisely what I find amusing, the slow circling [of the] drain by a once-promising species and the sappy, ever-more desperate belief in this country there’s some sort of American Dream which has merely been misplaced. My motto: Fuck hope.”
And the horse it rode in on.

No New News is No News

Not much new from Zimbabwe; we're sure things continue to be terrible. Nelson Mandela & Desmond Tutu made some noise about what a mess it is, but they seem to be scared of offending South African Pres. Mbeki, who's been dragging his feet, to put it mildly, as far as saying, let alone doing, anything. Timothy Garton Ash (How many fucking names do you need, Tim?) of the Hoover Institution & Oxford U., in Limeyland, in an op-ed today, suggests that there are choices between the extremes of invading & ignoring. One of these would be to
shame the mining giant Anglo American into not pushing ahead, under Mugabe, with its $400-million investment in a platinum mine.
Anything that gets in the way of corporate profits is the best course to us. Especially if it's profits based on colonialism. Sanctions that have been applied by Her Majesty's Gov't. are against Mugabe (Who is 84 & has been in power for 28 yrs. Get out, you wretched old bastard!!) & his cronies in the ZANU-PF party. The sanctions may now be extended to family members of the 160 weasels targeted. We note that the NYT, like the LAT, is not giving the name of its reporter in Harare either. And there is yet another grim personal story in the NYT story. Don't even click if you don't want to be more horrified.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Situation Deteriorates

Below: The apparent good guy (unless he's a tool of Western interests) in all thai mess, Morgan Tsvangirai. Photo: Alexander Joe/AFP – Getty Images
Worse & worse: The L. A. Times' unnamed staff writer reports that the secret ballot concept has yet to reach Zimbabwe. And you thought Republican plans to disenfranchise American citizens were bad.

"Even the ladies, even the Women's League chairwoman, was talking about killing, saying, 'Don't vote for Tsvangirai or the youth will kill you. We have got strong youth and we are not joking. We are serious.' They said, 'This is not America,' " Ndaziweye recounted.

[...]

The atmosphere at Sunday's meeting was loud and frenzied, almost festive, Ndaziweye said, making it even more unsettling. ZANU-PF youths sang and danced furiously. People exchanged the party greeting, touching fists with each other.

"I was shocked because whenever anyone gave a speech, everyone would yell, 'We will kill! We will kill!' The youths were singing horrible songs and shouting."

[...]

At Sunday's meeting, Ndaziweye knew she stuck out like a sore thumb. She was one of the few not wearing a ZANU-PF scarf or T-shirt, she said. When she tried to shake hands with people instead of touching fists, there was a chorus of accusations.

"The women and youth were accusing me of being MDC. They said 'Why are you shaking hands? You don't know our slogans!'"

But the most frightening moment came when the provincial chairman said voters would have to write the serial number of their ballot paper on their arm before entering the voting booth.

"When you come out, you have to show the number to your party chairman and they will write it down with your name and ID number. So after voting, they will know how you voted. If you are going to vote for Morgan, that will be the end of your life," she said in an interview Tuesday.

"They said, 'Even if you run away, we'll chop the heads off whoever you leave behind at your house. We don't care if it's your children or your grandchildren,' " the mother of four said.

[...]

He [Tobaiwa, 33, who also asked to be identified by only his first name] said people at the meetings were warned that whoever voted for the opposition would face severe retribution. "They will launch another operation, called Operation Elimination, where people will be disappearing," he said. "They repeat the same message over and over."

Most of the youth gone wild here appear to be doing it for food.
She believes most youths are there because they are provided cornmeal porridge, called sadza. "They were singing [on Sunday] because they had enough food for today. They don't know about tomorrow. After the vote, they will be thrown away, they will just go starving because [ZANU-PF] can't keep looking after them."
Meanwhile, the head of state of the former colonial power that helped make Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia, look that up in your Wikipedia) took a brave step.
In a symbolic but deeply significant move reflecting the West's revulsion with the human rights abuses of Mugabe's regime, Queen Elizabeth II stripped him of his knighthood on Wednesday.

The queen acted on the advice of Foreign Secretary David Miliband. It was a highly unusual move, but there was precedent for it: The late Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu was stripped of his title in 1989.

Mugabe was made an honorary knight in 1994, when he was considered an anti-colonial hero. But Miliband said the honor should be revoked following widespread violence and intimidation of Zimbabwe’s opposition ahead of Friday’s presidential runoff election. After Tsvangirai withdrew, Britain said it wouldn’t recognize the result.

Whatever. Meanwhile, the South African president, Thabo Mbeki,
has been widely criticized for being ineffective and too soft on Mugabe.
Check out some of Mbeki's statements on AIDS, if you have the stomach. And be ready for another Rwanda.

Why Even a "Law-Abiding Citzen" Such as The Editor Here Shouldn't Have a Job

More morbid inspiration, from Henderson, KY.
The employee, a press operator, began arguing with a supervisor and was escorted from the building, company CEO Bud Philbrook told The Associated Press.

As the employee was leaving, he took out a gun, shot the supervisor, then charged back into a break room and shot several employees. Then he returned to the floor and shot another employee before killing himself, Philbrook said.

Dead: One supervisor, four possibly innocent wage-slaves (In reality, of course, no one is innocent.) & the shooter, by his own hand & gun.

Total: Six

Another Cynic Heard From

A letter to the Times in response to the John & Cinderella McCain: "Yes to drunk driving by teen-agers" story we mentioned.
Hard to swallow Re "McCain may have conflict brewing," June 22 Poor John McCain. He might have a conflict of interest because his wife owns a beer distributorship that holds federal and state licenses to distribute beer and lobbies Congress and regulatory agencies on alcohol-related issues that involve public health and safety. Give us a break. That didn't stop the oil moguls from becoming president and vice president. Nor did it stop Dick Cheney from holding secret energy meetings. The entire premise of this article is a joke. Kate Lansing West Hills
Wow. An article in a once-better, semi-major metropolitan cage-liner is a "joke?" Oh, such cynicism. We worry for our republic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pastor Ted's Golden Parachute

Run out of town on a rail, & doubtless paid a handsome sum to stay the hell out of town, Ted Haggard's agreement w/ New Life Church, which he founded & then was booted out of for, well you know, expired at the end of 2007, & he & his family have moved back to Colorado Springs, several yrs. in advance of his "spiritual restoration program's" expected end.
Haggard and church officials clashed last summer after Haggard sent an e-mail to a Colorado Springs television station outlining his plans to work as a counselor at a Christian-run halfway house in Phoenix. The e-mail also solicited financial support. A four-pastor team of overseers said that those plans were unacceptable and that Haggard would seek secular employment instead. Boyd said Haggard was in private business but didn't have any further details. He said there were no plans for him to work again at New Life.
Looks as if he already has a new scam going. He'd be perfect in one of those big-box electronics stores, w/ the corporate polo shirt, a lanyard reading "Pastor Ted, I'm here to serve you!" & issue khakis, wouldn't he? Curiosity compels us to ask what glibertarians think of this whole religion thing. These holy bastards rake in millions of dollars, tax-free, yet do not increase efficiency, or produce anything of value. Indeed, they probably send thousands to long-term counseling or analysis, not to mention the medication so many of their victims need. It seems to be on the same level as panhandling to us. Should this be tolerated?

Hey, Look! No, No, Over There!! It's The New Journalism!! Or "Gonzo" Something!!

Matt Taibbi belittles John Sidney McCain III in this week's or bi-week's or whatever the hell issue of Rolling Stone. Here's why we called it the New Journalism.

You'd never know it from listening to McCain, whose kickoff speech is the same election-year diatribe that Republicans have been giving for decades, one long broadside against those goddamned overgrown Sixties weenie liberals who hate the flag, love the bomb-tossing enemies of America and are bent on the twin goals of ending the system of free enterprise and placing every aspect of our lives under government control. McCain pegs Obama as a man who wants to take America "backward," to the failed ideas of the Sixties. "I'm surprised that a young man has bought into so many failed ideas!" he says, to furious applause. Then, spitting out a forced, ugly laugh that he must have practiced many (but not enough) times in the bathroom mirror of the Straight Talk Express, he adds, "That's not change we can believe in!" [...] But the idea that John McCain is kicking off his trek to the White House by fleeing at top-end speed from the faltering Republican brand is the kind of absurdly facile misperception that only the American campaign press could swallow whole. The reality is that the once independent-thinking McCain has by now completely remade himself into a prototypical, dumbed-down Republican Party stooge — one who plans to rely on the same GOP strategy that has been winning elections ever since Pat Buchanan and Dick Nixon cooked up a plan for cleaving the South back in 1968. Rather than serving up the "straight talk" he promises, McCain is enthusiastically jumping aboard with every low-rent, fearmongering, cock-sucking presidential aspirant who's ever traveled the Lee Atwater/William Safire highway.

Plus, there's pop psychology & everything. And Rolling Stone may be pathetically old-fashioned w/ lame-ass bands like R. E. M. & Metallica mentioned on the made-from-murdered-trees cover (What is this Coldplay shit anyway? We haven't consciously heard note one from them, but someone will probably say, "Oh, they're on the ___________ commercial & we'll connect the two, & think/say, "What is up w/ that shit?") but it's no New Yorker; the story's a quick read, unless of course you move your lips when you read, in which case you'll know what Coldplay sounds like.

Psychopathological Liars

The GAO (Just Another Blog™ refuses to call it by it's new & stupid name. "Accountability," our ass!) released a report stating that once again the current administration is (We know it's hard to imagine, let alone to accept as fact.) lying through its teeth. The NYT sez:
While those figures confirm the assessments by American military commanders that many of the security improvements that first became apparent last fall are still holding, a number of the figures that have been used to show broader progress in Iraq are either misleading or simply incorrect, the report says.
And adds:
Still more important, the report asserts, the administration’s plan is not a strategy at all, but more a series of operational prescriptions scattered among various documents reviewed by the accountability office. “A strategic plan should be a plan that takes you not only through the short term,” said Joseph A. Christoff, director of international affairs and trade at the accountability office. “If the New Way Forward only takes you through July 2008, then you don’t have any guidance for achieving an Iraq that can do everything on its own,” including dealing with the threat of terrorism and defending its own borders, Mr. Christoff said. Perhaps the most confounding element in the report is the sharp disagreement between the accountability office and the administration over the value of basic indicators of progress.
Let's not take the word of the "liberal Bible" alone on this. So that we've two points of view, we'll check in w/ the WaPo .
The GAO report contrasted with a Pentagon report, dated June 13 but not released until yesterday. The Defense Department's quarterly assessment to Congress, "Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq," said that "security, political and economic trends in Iraq continue to be positive, although they remain fragile, reversible and uneven." In many respects, the two reports seemed to assess wholly different realities. The 74-page Pentagon document emphasized what it called the "negative role" in Iraqi security that Iran and Syria have played. The 94-page GAO report did not mention Iran and referred to Syria only in the context of Iraqi refugees who had settled there.
As was said (over & over) in the late '60s, "What is reality?" No one, however, expected that concept to make its way into gov't. work, in the form of "Which reality?"

Palate Cleanser

Alright, alright, enough w/ the morbid & depressing reality we're drowning in. Fortunately, this is real too, an intelligent & attractive woman not being destroyed by the agony of existence.
Illeana Douglas (no relation to the Douglas acting family). Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times

After the B&W shot of Sophia Loren topless in the '50s in the referrals to this site is the Bebe Neuwirth shot to commemorate Ms. N's B-day. This is too nice to get many hits, though.

Stabbing Spree Stopped

W/o further comment:
JAPAN Police arrest man in Internet threat Japanese police arrested a 19-year-old man who they said made a threat on the Internet to go on a stabbing spree at Tokyo Disneyland. The June 15 message came a week after a man posted similar warnings before killing seven people in a downtown Tokyo rampage. Since the attack, police have arrested several people who allegedly made Internet threats. Investigators have found no evidence that the suspect, a minor under Japanese law, was preparing to carry out an assault. From Times Wire Reports

More on Mugabe & Money

Below: Power-crazed madman Mugabe.
The situation continues to deteriorate in Zimbabwe. Most telling indication? The L. A. Times stories filed from Harare now carry the byline: "By a Times Staff Writer." We're not going to recite any more grim details, but from that we can assume that no one is safe.

OK, just one "lighter side" bit, if you insist.

HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- Things have changed a lot in the land of the billion-dollar plastic shopping bag in the last couple of months.

Before the March 29 presidential election, the biggest bank note was $50 million. Now, in the wake of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to pull out of the runoff vote scheduled for Friday, there is a $50 billion bank note and one U.S. dollar buys more than 7 billion Zimbabwean dollars.

In supermarkets, customers stuck in long lines joke about the economy while cashiers count out thick wads of notes by hand. There are so many zeros on the end of the receipt that it is difficult to read.
Funny, huh?

Annals of Nat'l. Security

Below: Teeth look authentic, at least. Well, the lower set for sure. But what would you expect from one of the Undead? Photo: Chris Gardner/Getty Images
Looks as if the Republicans aren't taking any chances this election cycle. Their previous attempts at subverting democracy (& Democrats); voter suppression, the stolen election of 2000, a boost in the polls for George W(orst) Bush following the attacks of 11 September, 2001, messages from Bin Laden before the stolen election of 2004, and so on, may not work so well this time. They're keeping their cards close to the vest, except when loudmouth super-lobbyist/McCain chief strategist Charlie Black, talked to FORTUNE magazine for an article entitled "The Evolution of John McCain." ("Evolution" here is code for "how Big John is a-flippin' & a-floppin' like a catfish on a hook.")

FORTUNE says:

We wanted to know what single economic threat he perceives above all others.

McCain at first says nothing. He sits in the corner of a sofa, one black, tasseled loafer propped against a coffee table. We're in the presidential suite on the 41st floor of the New York Hilton. McCain has come here - between a major speech on the economy in Washington, D.C., this morning and a fundraiser tonight at the 21 Club - to talk to us and to let us take his picture. He is wearing a dark suit, as he almost always does, with a blue shirt and a wine-colored tie. He's looking not at us but into the void. His eyes are narrowed. Nine seconds of silence, ten seconds, 11. Finally he says, "Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences."

Not America's dependence on foreign oil? Not climate change? Not the crushing cost of health care? Eventually McCain gets around to mentioning all three of those. But he starts by deftly turning the economy into a national security issue - and why not? On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
Though we're still wondering where Bin Laden is, this new information from the McCain campaign indicates that wherever he is, he's sitting around his cave or tent staring at the satellite 'phone, anxiously awaiting a call from his handler(s) at the CIA, Republican Party HQ, the Office of Special Projects at the Pentagon, or someone in the so-called shadow gov't. of the national security establishment. Keep watching the skies! Or the sewers! Or maybe the oceans!! Or Canada!!

McCain Puts Cart Before Horse

Below: After leaving Fresno, McCain arrives in much cooler Santa Barbara yesterday. Photo: LM Otero/AP
John Sidney McCain III (as you can tell from his "man of the people" name, he's no elitist) proposed yesterday a $300 million "prize" to whomever develops a truly functional electric battery for use in automobiles, allegedly eliminating the need for foreign oil. (Of course, the generation of electricity is often accomplished by burning foreign oil, but we won't dwell on that.) Just one problem: No matter how many perpetual motion machine developers or other All-American tinkerers are hard at work in their basements & garages
"In the battery business, you need to spend $100 million just to get warmed up," said David Vieau, chief executive of battery maker A123 Systems, based in Watertown, Mass.
Yup.
"We are the country of Edison, Fulton and two brothers named Wright," he said at a town hall event at Fresno State University's Satellite Student Union. "Think of all the highest scientific endeavors of our age: the invention of the silicon chip, the creation of the Internet, the mapping of the human genome."
OK. Fulton took the already existent concept of the steam engine & threw one in a boat. The Wright Bros. applied already known principles to a wood & canvas construction, combined w/ the already extant gasoline engine. Not exactly inventing new technologies there. Edison, well, he didn't exactly discover electricity either. "90% perspiration, 10% inspiration," remember? And he tried many different filaments before finding one that worked. Trial & error, really.

Then Big John refers to the big shit of "our age." Silicon chips, the Web of evil, lies & deception (we're proud to be even a tiny part of it, by the way) & human genome mapping. None of those were developed in a bicycle repair shop, let alone by some guy or gal in the garage.

Offering a prize? Really. How about a big tax on oil co. profits to fund serious, high tech research into functional batteries. And let's leave the automobile & oil/"energy" cos. the fuck out of it, because their corporate cultures are so stuck on essentially 19th century technology & attitudes it would be a waste of time & effort. They all have enough money to start any research they want, & their records so far have been dismal. Not that the electric car isn't 19th century technology itself.
Battery-powered electric vehicles are not a new idea. A century ago, at least half a dozen manufacturers made electric cars, and the first car to break the 60-mph barrier was powered by electricity. But with improvements in the gasoline engine, the technology was shelved. Electric cars returned in the mid-1990s as car makers produced them to comply with California laws mandating emission-free vehicles. Those programs were soon abandoned, with General Motors, the most active participant, producing scarcely 2,000 of its EV1 cars. It recalled the last models (which were leased, not sold) and by 2003 had finished destroying them. Now, with gasoline prices soaring, GM, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi have all pledged to bring battery-powered cars to market in the U.S. between 2010 and 2012.
Oh yes, can't fool them for long. Produce a few thousand, then take them back & destroy them. That's why Detroit remains the world leader in car sales, quality, reliability & innovation.

But all it'll take is some good ol' fashioned American ingenuity. And a few billion in venture capital. That $300 mil is quite the incentive.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hitting Us Where We (Don't) Live

A piece in the Fish Wrapper (we can at least give them the dignity of capitalization) gives a progress report on a study of homelessness in L. A. County released 18 months ago, entitled "A Reality-based Approach to Ending Homelessness in Los Angeles." More like a non-progress report. Allow us then, to briefly recap 'sup w/ this stuff for you busy people w/ your houses & cars & families & generally pathetically empty bourgeois lives that will work you all into an early grave:

* There is still not enough affordable housing. * Supportive housing remains scarce. * Emergency and transitional housing and services are in short supply.

* Government health and welfare programs remain inadequate. For more than 25 years, general relief, the county's last-resort program for unemployed and disabled people, has been $221 a month -- $2,652 a year -- for a single adult, far below the federal poverty level of $10,400 for a one-person household.

This is what's keeping our body & soul together. Barely.
* More than half the homeless receive food stamps, the most important federal emergency food program. Typically, however, food stamps, which are distributed once a month, last only 2 1/2 weeks.
Even the spoiled middle & upper classes may have noticed that food prices have been increasing of late.
* Although many homeless people are employed and are employable, their pay is far below what L.A. County defines as a living wage -- $11.84 an hour. Unfortunately, job-training programs cannot offset this market reality.
PLEASE NOTE: Our last two jobs, in expensive sections of Los Angeles County, for major corporate employers Borders & Kinko's, did not pay us as much as $9.00/hr., after about four years in each insufferable hellhole. That's about three dollars/hr. below the living wage. Now ask us why we suffer from depression. And, middle-class pigs, ask yourselves what's going to happen when the anger causing that depression is focused on YOU!!!!
* L.A.'s respect for the civil liberties of homeless people remains disgraceful. In 2006, the city and the Los Angeles Police Department instituted the Safer City Initiative, which combined aggressive policing against drug dealing, prostitution and thievery on skid row with more social services for those in need. The promised services never materialized, but more than 18,000 skid row residents have been cited or arrested since the program began in September 2006, most often for petty offenses such as littering or crosswalk violations.
The City of Santa Monica's no better. This reporter doesn't need a Community Services Officer asking us if we're schizophrenic, & then telling us to "keep taking our medication" after we advised him we suffer from depression. We shouldn't have to answer any questions like that, but of course not responding to the police or standing up for one's rights is the best way to have those "rights" violated. Listen, Mr. Community Services Officer, they may not let you carry a gun, & you may wear khaki instead of pseudo-Gestapo dark navy blue, but that doesn't make you any less of a pin-dicked fascist wanna-be.
* Most municipalities in L.A. County spend less than 1% of their operating budgets on homeless services or housing.
Here's virtually the only positive note found:
* Political leadership to combat homelessness has improved somewhat.
Funny, huh? The "political leadership" is "somewhat improved." Political leadership, our pasty white ass. There's no such thing in This Great Nation of Ours™. Thanks so fucking much for all the help, Southern California, from a would-be spree killer who, day by day, is being pushed closer to acting on his deepest, most murderous desires .

Let's Have a War

How an "adult" covers an item like Bloody Bill Kristol's Fox news Sunday appearance yesterday (First, he or she doesn't refer to the esteemed Mr. Kristol as "Bloody Bill."):
The Mother Of October Surprises? A fascinating little moment on Fox News Sunday today. Bill Kristol airs the idea that if Obama looks as if he will win the election, Bush or Israel may be more likely to attack Iran before next January. Bush could say: Obama made me do it! Kristol also raises the prospect of Saudi Arabia and Egypt going nuclear in response to an Obama presidency. I think we'll see many more of these dire warnings if Obama looks like the next president - and he's increasingly the favorite. But why do I find the hysteria not so effective this time around? Maybe it's because the period in which we could have stopped Iran's nuclear ambition is now behind us. But could it happen? Could Bush bomb Iran before the next election and create a sense of international crisis that could cause voters to swing back to McCain? From everything we know and Bush and Cheney, the answer, surely, is yes. His failed policies have left only one option to prevent Iran's going nuclear: war. And Bush must be chafing to see how his legacy could be dramatically changed if Obama wins. We could be facing the mother of all October surprises.
Saudi Arabia & Egypt going atomic? Huh? Where do we get that? Is the U. S. selling them that sort of thing?

A (Very) Modest Proposal (Modestly UPDATED)

In the world of celebrity "news" personalities, much chit-chat over who ("As if anyone, ever, could.") will be tossing the softballs to Dickwad Cheney & his ilk, now that Tim Russert is w/ Jeezis & Maria in the big Catholic Disneyland in the Sky. Here's our take: Rather* than go w/ yet another solo "news star" (General consensus: No one currently at NBC news has the "gravitas" – yes, they dared use that word – to fill Russert's oversized chair.) why not return to the original concept of the longest running program in telebision history, as embodied in the very title, Meet the Press, & hire someone w/ enough "gravitas" to play traffic cop, while a panel of real (print) reporters, or pundits, or bloggers (Ick!) or any group or groups that are more concerned w/ truth & facts & all that petty stuff, & less w/ their blow-driers, make-up & careers in broadcasting grill the living shit out of the lying scumbags we allow to rule us. Some of you may remember that on occasion MtP shows grainy B&W kinescopes w/ that very set-up. *No, not him, although... UPDATED (23 June 2008 @ 1801): See Xtopher Hitchens' dose of common sense about "miracles" at the Russert funeral, as well as something on the (too) close relationship between Russert & Prince of Darkness Robert Novak (Catholic Mafia, any one? Or is that redundant?).

Al Sleet, The Hippy Dippy Weatherman, Passes at 71

Some of you may have known him as George Carlin.

Below: Mugshot from Mr. Carlin's 1972 "profanity" arrest @ Summerfest in Milwaukee. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Police Dep't.
There is little or nothing we can add to what is already out there & what will follow soon in tribute to Mr. Carlin. The man was a giant; he took what Lenny Bruce started & ran w/ it all the way to the bank, & more power to him. fUSION Anomaly, whence we found the above mugshot, seems to have a good selection of Carlin quotes & audio files.

We will add (It's totally about us, remember?) that we were glad to hear Mr. C. express more than once his disappointment when early casualty estimates (bombings, spree killings, atrocities or plain natural disasters) didn't pan out once all the bloated corpses were counted. We've had that feeling many times. Few have the nihilistic intestinal fortitude to admit it, though. (Remember when the Twin Towers death toll of 11 September 2001 was along the lines of "as many as 50,000 people?" Boy, were we saddened at the less than three thousand total.)

American Dream Over? Not Soon Enough for Some

The right wing blog-o-sphere is having another swooning fit. Get out the fainting couches. You know how they are. Anything implying something other than a rose-colored future is "liberal bias."

Here's what they're swooning over, a report on pesky poll figures from AP reporters Alan Fram & Eileen Putman.
The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.
Here's a Rabid Weasel foaming at the keyboard.
The article in question is a thoroughly slanted and emotional piece of crap by Alan Fram and Eileen Putman, passed off as an objective news report.

Fasten your seat belts. This could very well be the most egregious example of liberal media bias ever.

For starters, even the title and subheading are loaded with subjectivity:

Everything Seemingly Is Spinning out of Control / Out-of-control weather, gas prices, economy chip away at American self-confidence

Are you f'ing kidding me??? First of all, I'm no journalism major, but how can you use a word like "seemingly" in the body, let alone title, of an objective news story?

Well, Mr. Vocal Minority, please note that the article concerns polling results, not the absolutely objective notion that we're coming apart at the seams.

Another idjit checks in @ BizzyBlog. ('Zat like one of those Fisher-Price© Bizzy-Boxes™ for three-yr.-olds?) This is an exercise in paranoia of the first water.

Then the Disheartened Duo get to the real purpose of their piece: to convince us, now that we’re all completely miserable, that the only solution is a change in which party controls the White House (bolds are mine):

American University historian Allan J. Lichtman notes that the U.S. has endured comparable periods and worse, including the economic stagflation (stagnant growth combined with inflation) and Iran hostage crisis of 1980; the dawn of the Cold War, the Korean War and the hysterical hunts for domestic Communists in the late 1940s and early 1950s; and the Depression of the 1930s.

“All those periods were followed by much more optimistic periods in which the American people had their confidence restored,” he said. “Of course, that doesn’t mean it will happen again.”

Each period also was followed by a change in the party controlling the White House.

By the way, those familiar with the Venona Papers and the work of M. Stanton Evans know that there is a better word to describe the “hunts for domestic Communists in the late 1940s and early 1950s.” The word is “necessary.”

Yep, about as "necessary" as invading & occupying Iraq. Oh, excuse us, we forget that was vital to various oil cos. & contractors. And because history indicates that after trying times the party in the White House changes is not the most sweeping endorsement of Sen. Obama. Though Sen. McCain being Junior Bush, jr. is hardly encouraging to anyone hoping for change.

Another note: The reason Congressional Democrats are less popular than lame duck Bush is that the Dems, due to their own sheer cowardice & Republican obstructionism, haven't been able to cut off funding for Bush's elective, etc., war. If they'd been able to accomplish what they were elected for, the popularity polls would be telling an entirely different story.

Just for added fun, here's weenie Don Surber, a favorite of the Sadly, No! staff.
What I cannot understand is why AP sent out this Alan Fram/Eileen Putman analysist[sic]-feature-stream-of-consciousness-editorial called “Everything seemingly is spinning out of control.”
Yes, while analyzing the AP story, & backing up his version of how swell everything is, Don can't spell.

But he has a firm grasp of...the truth, as evidenced here.

90% of Americans have health insurance. (300 million minus 45 million — a third of whom are illegal aliens making the net uninsured around 30 million.)

Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism?

Actually, Iraq is tamping down, but Afghanistan has had war since the Soviet invasion 30 years ago and the jihadist terrorism has been around since the Munich Olympics in 1972. We’re working on ending both.

Better work harder. A lot harder.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Heart of Darkness

We'll leave you for today on a note of "The horror! The horror," lisped in the best Brando we can do.
Mr. Mugabe openly portrays the election in the terminology of warfare, a battle to preserve sovereignty against puppets put up by the British, the nation’s onetime colonial masters who in his view want to reclaim the land for white domination. Either he will win, he insists, or he will keep power by force. [...] Whatever the actual count, hard-liners in the governing party agreed on a “war-like/military style strategy” to recapture votes that had drifted astray and win a second ballot, according to the minutes of one of their meetings obtained from a ZANU-PF official. “This is not going to be an election,” said one senior ZANU-PF official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans are secret. “The election happened in March. This is going to be a war. We are going all out to win this, using all state resources at our disposal.”
Nice. Is this what we'll be seeing here in the United Snakes post-November? Oh look, it worked. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will not participate in next wknd.'s election.
"Conditions as of today do not permit the holding of a credible poll," Tsvangirai said. "Given the totality of these circumstances, we believe a credible election is impossible. We can't ask the people to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote will cost their lives. We will no longer participate in this violent sham of an election."
Still waiting for someone to do something about this.

J. Sidney McCain III, Beer Baron: For or Against Under-Age Drunk Driving?

Put a hat on her head & it goes directly to her brain.
From the very front page of the newspaper that only the finest families in Southern California use to line their cat pans & bird cages comes the tale of Cinderella Stepford Hensley McCain, the beer heiress whose family business may cause some conflict if (Fat chance!) her hubby John were to win the presidency.

A close look at Hensley shows that the company has opposed changes that critics of the beer industry say were intended to help Americans drink responsibly.

[...]

McCain has avoided problems in the Senate by recusing himself on alcohol issues, according to executives at the Distilled Spirits Council, the liquor industry's trade association."Sen. McCain has been very, very fair to this industry," said Frank Coleman, senior vice president for the council. "He stays an arm's length away from issues that benefit the family business."
Already causing problems, if he has to recuse himself from law-making. And may cause problems w/ the "clinging to guns & gawd" base, as well.

For some, abstinence -- and a disdain for the industry -- is religion-based. Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has more than 16 million members, expressed "total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing and consuming of alcoholic beverages" in the church's most recent resolution on the matter."

I am sure for some individual Southern Baptists, [the McCain family's involvement in the beer business] would be a concern," said Roger S. Oldham, vice president of Southern Baptist Convention relations.

Damn, those suckers have some nerve, don't they? After they get prohibition restored, will they put an end to high school dances? (Many Babtiss are opposed to dancing as well. It's horizontal fucking, you know.)

Below: Singing "Gawd Bless America" at the ball game. That John is a shrimp, isn't he?
Cindy McCain holds the title of company chairwoman and controls about 68% of the privately held company stock with her children and the senator's son, according to records at the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control. Cindy and John McCain keep their finances separate, and he has no stake or role in Hensley.
And yet one of his sons by Carol, the wife he dumped for Cinderella, has some company stock, and

Its executives, including John McCain's son Andrew, have written at least 10 letters in recent years to the Treasury Department, have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a beer industry political action committee, and hold a seat on the board of the politically powerful National Beer Wholesalers Assn.
Between Andrew (Couldn't he go into the Navy too? Did he decide to take the easy way out & go into stepmom's business?) & campaign flights on the Hensley & Co. corporate plane, we're not certain that "has no stake...in Hensley" is fully accurate.

The company has opposed such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving in fighting proposed federal rules requiring alcohol content information on every package of beer, wine and liquor.

[...]

Hensley has run afoul of health advocacy groups that have tried to rein in appeals to young drinkers. For example, the company distributes caffeinated alcoholic drinks that public health groups say put young and underage consumers at risk by disguising the effects of intoxication.

[...]

Public interest groups have petitioned the Treasury Department in recent years to require that every container of beer, wine or liquor carry a label disclosing the amount of alcohol in one standard serving.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Marin Institute, the Consumer Federation of America and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, among others, assert that such information would help Americans drink responsibly and avoid drunk driving. The label would also contain nutrition information such as calories.

But the beer industry has argued that such labels would confuse consumers. With backing from Hensley and others, it has persuaded the Treasury Department to withdraw the alcohol content disclosure from any future label requirement.

Certainly wouldn't want to "confuse" the consumers w/ information, would we? On the other hand, the sweeter the something, & so on.

Aside from the labeling issue, Hensley has begun distributing controversial products known as flavored malt beverages, which critics call "alcopops" because of their similarity to soda pop.

The beer industry, including Hensley, tried unsuccessfully to block liquor makers from getting into the market for the drinks.

[...]

Critics say the product is directed mainly at youth and can leave them wide awake without knowing they are intoxicated. Other flavored malt beverages contain sweet fruit flavors that block the taste of alcohol."

These products are starter beverages, intended to introduce consumers to alcohol and alcohol brands," said George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Drink up, kids. Nothing that sweet could hurt you.

Below: Millions in beer bucks & a smile aren't Cinderella's only assets.

If her husband is elected president and she retains her role at Hensley, she will set a precedent for outside corporate activity by a first lady.

The McCain campaign issued a statement Friday about the issue, saying that "any decisions going forward will be made when John McCain wins the election and takes office, and not before." Hensley executives declined to comment.

Political analysts said they were astounded that the presumptive Republican nominee had not already addressed the issue.

"You can't run a beer company out of the White House," said Samuel L. Popkin, a political science professor at UC San Diego. "You can't run any company from the White House. McCain is leaving a live hand grenade on the table, a major embarrassment."

[...]

Charles A. Hurley, chief executive of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said his organization would be watching carefully if a future McCain administration exercised influence on any alcohol issues."

I believe she would have to put that stuff in a blind trust of some kind," Hurley said, "where she would not be involved."

Other experts, however, question whether a blind trust would go far enough to insulate a McCain administration, since the ownership would still benefit the family.

"Blind" trust? Not very "blind" if the McC.s know what's in it. This whole thing is as horrid as Dianne Feinstein's husband, the zillionaire "real estate developer." Gender equality, in a way. Political spouses of both genders & both sides of the aisle are now running things & influencing the politician in the family. What the hell does spineless Speaker Pelosi's other half make money at, by the way?

Annals of Bling

From our favorite/only source of info, the L. A. Times, we are inundated w/ stories about one Cinderella Stepford Hensley McCain, wife of John Sidney McCain III, the presumptive Republican Party presidential candidate. One story says that Cinderella is "going crazy." Withdrawal from painkillers again? No, just jewelry mad.
[A] best seller is the "Liberty Eagle," which Hillary Rodham Clinton famously wore on her lapel in 1998, when she defended her husband's indiscretions on the "Today" show. The $150 gold-plated pin depicts an ornery-looking eagle perched protectively on a pearl. Betty Ford, Barbara Bush and Tipper Gore have all worn the bird, which has come to be known as the "Hillary pin."

In 2000, Cindy McCain sported the "Liberty Eagle" when her husband won the New Hampshire Republican primary and pundits wondered why she chose an accessory associated with a feisty female Democrat. The eagle pin hasn't been spotted since.

Below: The "Liberty Eagle." Defending a pearl?
From the comments:

Doesn't that particular eagle remind you more of Germany than the United States? (It's the position of the wings.) I think there was talk about that a few years ago. Compare and contrast:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Germany
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Seal_of_the_United_States

Enough fluff. Time's inexorable course continues, & we'll have to tell you all about Cinderella & her beer distribution conflicts of interest later, when we can get to our next stop in the never-ending search for web access.

We're Working as Hard as We Can

The issue of bloggers and fairness came to a boil recently when Leitch appeared on a television show with author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger. The discussion quickly degenerated as Bissinger launched into a obscene attack on blogs, accusing them of "cruelty," "journalistic dishonesty" and "the complete dumbing-down of our society." [...] The journalist says he hopes the medium will improve but worries that blogs such as Deadspin traffic in "snarky, obnoxious comments" while others rely on disinformation and sexual innuendo. "I think blogs pose a threat to journalism," he said. "And blogs can pose a threat to society because of the information they put out there."
You mean, a threat to the current power structure by providing accurate information about the nature of our "society"& making "snarky, obnoxious comments?" If only. We're still trying, though.