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Thursday, December 28, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
After a fifteen minute set at the SXSW festival, "Outsider" musician Daniel Johnston graciously received his standing ovation and met his father backstage. While on the flight back, his father is a pilot and owns a small plane, Daniel abruptly took control of the aircraft and forced it into a tailspin. He had been reading a Casper comic book at the time and started to believe he was the friendly ghost who, on the cover, had been fitted with a parachute. Plagued with a history of severe mental problems, the doctors required Daniel to take medication so he wouldn't experience any more psychotic episodes, however, he had stopped a couple of weeks before his appearance at the festival, feeling the pills inhibited his performance. Daniel's father lay helpless as he and his son spiraled to Earth, by now clipping the tops of tree. At the last moment his father regained control and crashed the plane, luckily both passengers survived but the plane met a different fate.
This event is retold in the extraordinary documentary "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" by Daniel's teary-eyed father. It's uncomfortable to watch, a moment too private for the world to witness. That kind of emotional starkness is indicative of Johnston's entire catalogue, something Jeff Feuerzeig's film encapsulates. His long-suffering themes of love lost, Captain America, Casper, battles against Satan and the Beatles are delivered with pluck and humor with a delicious underpinning of melancholy. Not exactly fodder for your typical 2-minute pop ditty.
For the fans of the music, as I was going into "Devil", the movie illuminates Daniel Johnston's life which proves to be as interesting as the songs themselves. His bipolarity was/is extreme, leading him to chastize his audiences over his inept guitar strumming for not believing in Satan or not taking him seriously enough. While in a mental ward Johnston recorded his ramblings into a tape recorder including his belief that the Beatles should reunite and become his back-up band or how the demons in his room are guzzling mountain dew.
Because his recordings are so rough, especially his self-made audio cassettes from the '80s, the songs had to have some extra ingredient, a quality which excites something inside people. At times it may be embarrassing and at times it may be hilarious (both intentionally and unintentionally), but everything Johnston set to tape was unfiltered. Perhaps that's why Kurt Cobain took such a shine to him, both felt aesthetic purity equalled painful honesty coupled with a statement even if that statement was simply "Hey look at me, I'm making art."
Johnston's music isn't accessible...well, that's not entirely true. His songs are stellar, brimming with surprises, it's just the execution that isn't crafted for a general audience. How can you tell if you're a Daniel Johnston fan? If you're earnestly awaiting the next DMX flick then you're definitely not a Daniel Johnston fan.
But you should be. It's all right there begging to catch your attention and if you still don't "get" it after one listen or two listens or thirty listens then you should be ashamed of yourself. This is timeless music, music that could enrich your life and if you don't love it then you're not trying hard enough.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Thanks to the likes of Foley, Haggard and the gay marriage ban on ballots during the midterm elections Gays and Same-Sex Unions are hot again. One of the primary stumbling blocks in the road toward Gay and Lesbian equality is the religious right. But who could have guessed the most devout and literal of all Christian sects, the Quakers, would publish this letter as a response to the Gay Marriage controversy.
On November’s ballot, Wisconsin will vote on a constitutional ban on same-gender marriages. We of Religious Society of Friends believe the movement to isolate and scapegoat homosexuals, to promote hatred against them, and to impose in law one group’s religious beliefs on us all, is blatantly immoral and contrary to Jesus’ teachings.
With half of marriages ending in divorce, unquestionably the right thing to do is to strengthen marriages. But diverting the question to whether two people of the same sex can have legal rights together completely loses track of the problem of frail marriages.
The proposed constitutional amendment really has nothing to do with marriage; it is a thinly veiled attack on gays and lesbians, part of a pattern of discrimination and institutionalized hatred. It is a strategy of power practiced by would-be tyrants throughout history.
Some have portrayed persecution and hatred of gays as a Christian thing to do. We can find nowhere that Jesus said anything about homosexuality. Nor did Jesus ever suggest encoding Christian teachings into a Sharia-like law to force religious beliefs on society.
We believe that God loves us all equally, and that we are called to treat each other with the same love in which God created us. We have no need to hate, or to discriminate against, any group for any reason. It is simply not Christian to do so.
To determine where you stand on this issue you must answer one core question: Is homosexuality a choice or is it genetic? If you believe it is the conscious decision of the participant then granting marriage rights to a sexual fetish would be daft. However, if you contend it is an uncontrollable feature of one's development then it is cruel to deny them the same benefits you and I are capable of taking advantage of.
There is one point I'd like to take to task in the Gay rights camp. Their struggle is often compared to the African-American struggle of the 1960s, this is completely incongruous. Gay and Lesbians did not migrate from the Motherland to America, homosexuality is a pan-cultural characteristic and is more akin to Women's Suffrage and Feminism than the Civil Rights movement. They would do their cause a great service if they were to correct this flawed connection and give the public a clearer idea of the true nature of their fight.
It has been a few days since the Democrats snatched control of the House and Senate, and, although this is far from a surprise, the Republicans are still spitting and sputtering. The one Republican I really feel sorry for is our own John Gard who lost against "Dr. Millionaire," Democrat Steve Kagen. Now, I'm not the kind of guy who'd rub such a crushing defeat in the face of the venerable Mr. Gard, and I'm not the kind of guy who'd remind him that I wrote a letter explicitly stating he couldn't go the distance if he didn't inject some semblance of humanity into his politickin'.
In fact I'd like to offer some advice, don't think of it as though you're losing the chance at a comfy House position, Former Republican Congressional Candidate John Gard, think of it as a chance to spend more time with your family, read the classics (like "A Walk to Remember" by Nicholas Sparks) or hunt on that land in Lena you're so fond of. I'd even like to take this opportunity to thank you.
Thank you, John Gard, for coordinating such an intellectually insulting campaign. Thank you for restoring my faith in the Democratic system. Thank you for never - not even once - deviating from the pre-approved script and staying true to your Republican grooming. Most of all I'd like to thank you for losing, so you can stay at home and hold your unenlightened opinions about stem cell research, the Iraq War and gay marriage in private without writing them into law. But I shouldn't be the one thanking you, you should be thanking Steve Kagen for winning, because if at the end of the day he wasn't victorious you'd probably be seeing him again in court for all of the slanderous remarks you waged against him. Just think of it, you're a lucky man after all.
So, I must bid you goodnight. Lay your head on that pillow and dream of the fall of The New York Times or of the abolition of environmental restrictions or of Pat "Mr. Universe" Robertson setting the headquarters of the ACLU ablaze. Because for the rest of us the nightmare has ended and the dream has just begun.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
It's a real shame too because Vogeler's message needs to be adequately weighed in the marketplace of ideas. In Kohl we get a Democrat in name only (DINO). He is a millionaire many times over and owns the Milwaukee Bucks, he's voted to make it easier for Credit Card companies to declare backruptcy, he voted to give oil companies billions of dollars and has never shown any anger toward the Iraq War or how it's been conducted. With Democrats like these who needs Republicans?
First off, one could probably guess from her party affiliation how she feels about oil companies. But with the state of the environment and according to this latest report, unless somebody aggressively fights the country's fossil fuel addiction not only will the planet undergo irreversible climate change the effects on the economy will be devastating. On Iraq, Vogeler has stated what everybody knows, but a handful of candidates are saying, that our occupation of the region inflames radicalism consequentally endangering our troops, our homeland, our way of life and is basically the most counterproductive activity our country could be engaged in if we're serious about national security.
What's most intriguing about Vogeler is her socio-economic status. She's a mother of two and resides squarely in the middle class, unfortunately this will prove to be her fatal flaw. In order to rise to any position of political power in America you need to have millions of dollars and spend hours with your handlers so they can sanitize your image. Vogeler doesn't appear to want any of it. She's all about the quality of her ideas and not the bulk of her billfold.
To learn more about Rae Vogeler visit her site: http://www.voterae.com/
Friday, November 03, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Here's something I found, it's a piece that needs to be passed around. Glad I can do my part.
“A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN”
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly- man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation costs because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or an unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the country would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state-funded university.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax- payer funded roads.
He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.
The house didn’t have electricity until some big- government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberals made sure Dad could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have.”
Friday, October 20, 2006
The RNC is taking an interesting approach. Unlike the jelly-spined Democrats, God's Own Party is making a controversial stand against letting America blow up. They're dusting off the yellowing pages of the script used for the (in)famous "Daisy" ad L.B.J ran against his opponent, Goldwater, in the 1964 Presidential Election. Republicans debuted the latest, and most antagonistic, attack ad on their site this month, then, due to popular demand, it went nation-wide. Entitled "The Stakes," it features quotes from such esteemed Democrats as Al-Zawahiri and bin Laden (who, if you watch Fox News, is the DNC Chairman) threatening to blow America six ways to Sunday.
The Foley scandal denuded the Republicans of their moral high ground and, thanks to Olbermann's three-part expose, David Kuo's book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, turned some heads. Now, all that is left is that old chestnut - fear. Remember: Watch the ad. Piss yourself. Vote Republican. See you at the polls.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
In 1936 Dr. Thornwell Jacobs set out to solve a problem. He wanted to ensure that in 6,000 years historians would be guaranteed an accurate snapshot of life in the 20th century. His solution: the biggest time capsule ever assembled. He collected phonographs, microfilm containing the Bible, the Koran, the Illiad and Dante's Inferno among other significant literary works, a sewing machine and one of the first televisions. He even dropped in a couple of mannikins - male and female - for good measure. Everything he collected was then placed in airtight containers which were in turn placed into an olympic-sized swimming pool he had converted into a crypt.
Along with everything else, Dr. Jacobs included a hand-crank machine consisting of only 1,500 words known as "Basic English," a subset of standard English. His hope was for the people of the future to use the machine to teach themselves English much like the Rosetta stone.
For more information on the project check out this Damn Interesting article. And the complete contents of the crypt are listed here.
A few items I'd include in my cultural snapshot:
- "Darkside of the Moon" by Pink Floyd
- "The 400 Blows" directed by Francais Truffaut
- A case of twinkies
- The first four Ramones albums
- KY warming gel
- An Ipod
- The entire series of "Seinfeld"
- The complete works of Mozart
- "Young Frankenstein" directed by Mel Brooks
- a used laptop
- Dylan's non-Christian albums
- "Snakes on a Plane"
- Picasso's "Guernica"
- A box of Mac & Cheese
- Assorted anime (it's all the same)
- A booklet of Sudoku puzzles
- The early recordings of Louis Armstrong
Monday, October 09, 2006
1. VOICELESS TOLL (Elvis Costello)
2. CITE JOHN MILL (Joni Mitchell)
3. DINKY FLOP (Pink Floyd)
4. A SNEER MOTH (The Ramones)
5. BIAS BE THE TOYS (The Beastie Boys)
6. ATOM WITS (Tom Waits)
7. NEOLITHIC LIRE (Lionel Ritchie)
8. A CLONED HERON (Leonard Cohen)
9. INLAID DEMON (Neil Diamond)
10. PET MY TOT (Tom Petty)
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Everybody knows Axl Rose is an anagram for oral sex and Mr. Mojo Risin' is really the Lizard King, Jim Morrison. But how many of these famous rockers can you unscramble from the anagrams below? Trust me, it's harder than it looks.
1. VOICELESS TOLL (Hint: Bespectacled songsmith)
2. CITE JOHN MILL (Hint: Horse-faced hippie chick)
3. DINKY FLOP (Hint: The first band on the moon)
4. A SNEER MOTH (Hint: They're not brothers even though they share the same name)
5. BIAS BE THE TOYS (Hint: Snotty rap trio)
6. ATOM WITS (Hint: This rain dog walks spanish down the hall)
7. NEOLITHIC LIRE (Hint: His daughter lived the simple life)
8. A CLONED HERON (Hint: Both Buckley and Rufus covered one of his songs)
9. INLAID DEMON (Hint: The single greatest performer of his or any other generation)
10. PET MY TOT (Hint: This madhatter is always ready to roll another joint)
The answers will be posted tomorrow.
Friday, October 06, 2006
To celebrate my one hundredth post here's a hundred cool links, pictures and videos for your immediate perusal.
The Seventh Sense
Chomsky On NPR's On Point
Know your Rights....as a man and/or woman
The Phantom Time Hypothesis
Everybody to the limit!
On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction by Karl Iagnemma
200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s according to Pitchforkmedia
The Best of Candlelite Records Vol. 1
Cute Rocker Chick
The Dark Side of Folk: Songs about Sex
The Dark Side of Folk: Songs about Drugs
The Dark Side of Folk: Songs about Murder
The Light Side of Folk: Songs about Heaven
Sound intelligent, powerful, polished, articulate, and confident
The Complete Works of George Orwell
NPR's 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century
The Best Albums Ever...Honest
"my mind is" and other poems by e.e. cummings
Watch and Learn Photoshop
Fox News is finally taken behind the shed
Top 10 Pot Studies Government Wished It Never Funded
Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
Jaws in 30 seconds (and re-enacted by bunnies)
Why You Shouldn't Post Your Picture Online
Smoke Shot Trick
Carl Sagan: The Edge of Forever
Gandhi Photo Gallery
The Dalai Lama
Archive of 20th Century Heroes
Archive of 20th Century Killers
Deep Thought: 20 Reasons The World Despises Norton Anti-Virus
Pearls of Wisdom Index
Top 15 Movie Mistakes
What Celebrity Do You Most Look Like?
Dylan and Lennon Stoned in a Taxi
10 Most Impressive Satellite Photos
On the Road to Self-Empowerment: 12 Steps to Leading an Inspired Life
Crimes of War
A Better Mousetrap
Salavdor Dali's Disney Film "Destino"
Sudan Divestment Task Force
This American Life
The Ren and Stimpy Show
Real Conspiracy Theories
Shawn of the Dead
75% of Americans Believe Everything They Read
Gray Watson's Qucky Brain Teasers and Riddles
Intergalactic academic says Martians and aboriginal earthlings mated to create Asian race
US History Fact-O-Rama
Terry Gross' Interview with Bill O'Reilly
Terry Gross' Interview with Gene Simmons
The Wizard of Floyd
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The next generation of attack ads are now flooding the airwaves and - surprise, surprise - Gard has shifted debate onto Illegal Immigration. In it his claws come out as he berates Kagen for his position calling it Amnesty. How original. Apparently, anyone who doesn't share Gard's extreme views supports Amnesty by default. The truth is, Kagen recognizes that 10 million illegals are in the country, like it or not, therefore it's now our responsibility to integrate them into society. This does not, in Kagen's words, mean "cutting in line" ahead of those who are here legally, it does mean he would implement the most practical option available to us.
Gard, on the other hand, clings to the party line. His position, as stated on his website, calls for the immediate deployment of 10,000-15,000 troops and the erection of a barrier along our southern border. For those who are curious the cost of the fence alone would be $2.2 Billion, however, this estimate is still on the low side.
He also opposes Amnesty in any form. The logical question which then arises is: if you resist the assimilation of Illegals through a controlled Amnesty program what, then, do you propose we do with those already in the US? Of course, this is assuming his idea of a heavily guarded southern border prevents illegal immigrants from crossing over.
First, Gard could offer legislation which would elevate illegal aliens to the status of felons and imprison them one and all; with the over-crowding in our prison system it's hard to see any law added to the books which would make this actionable. Second, initiate a mass deportation effort. Again, the sheer scope of this event would cost everyone much more than allowing the illegals to stay. The estimated cost of mass deportation of all undocumented aliens over five years would amount to $206 billion (approximately $41.2 billion per year). As is, the cost to the government is $10 billion, even if that number tripled it would still be cheaper than deporting all of them.
As much as Republicans don't want to admit it we have little choice but to back Kagen's method. Everything else would cost too much and there are rarely discussed benefits of keeping illegals. From what I can tell this is a conversation all multi-cultural societies inevitably have, Australia is waging a similar debate. The trick is to maintain our national identity while absorbing the many personalities which determine the patchwork of our culture.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
"It's the traditionalists who really want to keep the country pretty much the way it is. Against the secular progressives who want drastic change. … They control the media."In Bill's reality America is pretty much peachy keen. The only thing wrong with America are people who say there's something wrong with America. However, Bill's is not the reality you and I occupy and as Stephen Colbert once said "reality has a well-known liberal bias."
Here's a short list of improvements America needs to make as compared to the rest of the world:
USA Ranking on Life Expectancy: #29
(#1 Japan and #2 Hong Kong)- UN Human Development Report 2005
USA Ranking on Journalistic Press Freedom Index: #32
(#1 Finland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands tied)- Reporters Without Borders 2005
USA Ranking on Political Corruption Index: #17
(#1 Iceland and #2 Finland)- Transparency International 2005
USA Ranking on Environmental Sustainability Index: #45
(#1 Finland and #2 Norway)- Yale University ESI 2005
USA Ranking on Healthcare Quality Index: #37
(#1 France and #2 Italy)- World Health Organization 2003
Interesting, Bill. France demolishes the US in Healthcare Quality. If that's not proof universal healthcare doesn't work than nothing is.
Check out the Top 5 Myths about America. You'll be glad you did.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Ever since the end of the primary, Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District has received the very dubious honor of being one of the most hotly contested and rhetorically vicious in the nation. Gard's people wasted no time in lauching their attack entitled "Dr. Millionaire." It accuses Dr. Steve Kagen, a well-respected allergist who has treated hundreds of thousands of patients, of suing 80 of them. This is, however, more of a compliment than anything else - only 80 patients in his entire career? My hat's off to Dr. Kagen.
Kagen countered with an ad trying to demonstrate Gard's close relationship with oil companies, yet these examples were taken from a few votes that are decades old.
When the acrid smell of desperation comingled with the stench of Republican bullshit Gard let loose a follow-up ad. Here, he focuses on a single case where a mother's child dies and Kagen allegedly pursues legal action against her. What this commercial neglects to tell you is the mother in question collected and pocketed her insurance money and still refused to pay. This Gard ad, in my opinion the most shameful of this election, falls just shy of claiming Kagen kicks puppies and wants to eat your baby Jonathan Swift-style.
One ad from Kagen which I felt was particularly effective was a general assault on many neoconservative postures. In it he pointedly proclaims "I'm too conservative to be a Republican." He then goes on to list his traditionally conservative stands on stemming profligate governmental spending, spearheading health care reform and establishing a blueprint for real national security. All things Republicans have heretofore been unable to accomplish.
By the looks of the Mellman Group's most recent poll both sides seem to be failing, or succeeding, depending upon the way you view it. Failing in the sense that they're unable to definitively pull ahead of the other and succeeding insofar as they're not out of the race. It's anybody's guess who'll take over Mark Green's seat. Anyone who knows the climate of American politics will tell you to examine one facet of any candidate's campaign to determine who'll be the winner in November. That facet is, of course, the money.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
In the least surprising, albeit inexplicably villainous, news of the day, Halliburton has been selling nuclear technology to Iran, including components for a nuclear reactor, as early as 1995, when Dick Cheney was chief executive, and as recent as last year. This runs counter to US-imposed sanctions on this third leg of the Axis of Evil in accordance with Clinton's signing of such restrictions in March of '95 and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
Skirting this legal stumbling block is easy, simply generate a "shell" company based off of American soil and maintain your dealings through it. That's exactly what Halliburton did, they placed a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, funneled millions of dollars from an Iranian company, Oriental Oil Kish (the vice chairman of which works as a developer on the Iranian nuclear program), through the Islands and into Dallas.
The analysis has been the Bush administration and Halliburton are working in tandum to enhance Iran's nuclear capabilities in order to initiate yet another war. This sounds plausible and not completely outside the realm of possibilities given recent approval of military operations inside Iran, but remember this relationship has been in place for a decade. Look at the effect governmental deregulation has had on the environment and now national security. This is just another example of corporation uber-alles. Profits trump honor. Profits trump ethics. Profits trump human life. This is the strongest proof yet that the biggest threat to our way of life is greed.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
"Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged."
The above quotation has been credited to Abraham Lincoln by a countless number of conservatives who were attempting to fashion a historical argument for the silencing or, in some extreme cases, the trying and execution of vocal opponents of our floundering military actions in the mid-east. As factcheck.org recently noted this statement was made by right-wing scholar, J. Michael Waller.
Do a google search of this faux Lincoln quote. Most bloggers who invoked this saying as the lynchpin for their flimsy misdirection also shoehorned John Kerry and John Murtha's names as Congressmen who should be first in line to be made examples of.
Oh, the irony.
The one side of the political spectrum who shamelessly boast of their unqualified support of the troops will in the next breath malign such patriots as Kerry, Murtha, Max Cleland and the generals who called for Rumsfeld's resignation. How dare they call into question the Americanism of these fine men. To disagree with their politics is one thing, but to actively vilify their good name is depravity in its ugliest form.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Five years after 9/11 36% of Americans believe the government was complicit in carrying out the attacks. It may be chic to buy into these conspiracy theories, but I'm not quite ready to grab my tinfoil hat just yet. There's just no evidence contradicting the "official story". I've seen Loose Change and I've read and watched plenty of Alex Jones documentaries. In my mind, embracing this theory gives our government more credit than it deserves.
For those of you who are not yet privy to their version of those events, in a nutshell, corrupt governmental forces, an arm of shadowy global puppeteers known as the Illuminati, launched massive attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with explosives stashed inside the former and an unmanned fighter jet punching a hole in the latter. This created an excuse to strip the nation of her civil liberties and initiate an attack on Iraq and Afghanistan. Makes for an excellent Tom Clancy novel, but serious political analysis it is not.
Why did the authors of this charade decide to include hijackers who originated from Saudi Arabia and not Iraq or Afghanistan? Is this really the most advantageous means of obtaining their ends?
Of course hardcore adherents of the "9/11 Truth Movement" rear away from the facts. I suggest you pore over as much literature disproving the events of 9/11 then visit 911myths.com. This is an exhaustive debunking of many of their claims through official government reports, mainstream news articles and peer-reviewed scientific studies.
P.J O'Rourke said it best during his appearance on Realtime with Bill Maher when he said not even guys with PhDs have figured this stuff out how can we? The reason we take comfort in conspiracy theories is because we can say "I get it!" The real truth of the situation is that world events and international affairs depend upon class, culture, foreign policy, economics, religion, psychology and race. Besides, do you really think the administration that installed nuclear detection devices in our airports which couldn't tell the difference between nuclear material and kitty litter devised and executed these types of intricate attacks? Me neither.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest. - Mark Twain
Many saw Rush Limbaugh's tirade on CBS's "Free Speech" segment which was basically his daily radio show trimmed down to sixty seconds. This is the same draconian blowhard who said America fetishizes science above religion and "liberal government and food stamps" were responsible for America's obesity epidemic.
In typical fashion Limbaugh understates America's role in creating these indestructible savages, imagine the multitude of moderate muslims who have joined the ranks of radicals due to American bombs decimating their homes or American bullets killing their family members or both. In a staggering display of audacity Limbaugh brandishes his interpretation of patriotism amounting to no less than the complete forfeiture of our civil liberties. I'd like to substitute Limbaugh's definition with Twain's and by that measure Rush is the country's pre-eminent patriot.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
After an outrageous statement like this I'm now convinced Pat Robertson's favorite snack is his own foot. What he said was violence is the rule and not the exception for Muslims worldwide and "Islam is not a religion of peace". Interesting sentiment, Pat, seeing how the Bible seems to say the following:
Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Micah 5:6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
Obadiah 1:8-9 Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
And that's just for starters.
Let me take this one step further with this verse:
Ezekiel 5:10 Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.Should we say that Christianity is the religion of cannibalism? Of course not, that's absurd. Islam, one must bare in mind, is a relatively young religion struggling to come to grips with its reactionary minority. But it hasn't always been like that. Not many people remember how everyone, including Jews, practiced their faith freely under Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula, most historians credit this era as the Jewish "Golden Age". Let's not even mentioned what happened to the Jews at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition.
While Christianity once interpreted the above passages literally it underwent a reformation and emerged with a shiny coat of civility. It is my feeling that Islam is experiencing just such a transformation, it's the unavoidable direction of human progress. Something Pat Robertson conveniently omitted.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Dear Mr. Gard,
I am writing in regards to your appearance on WBAY-TV's four o'clock newscast on Wednesday August 30. You may remember me as your floor director. It was my professional responsibility to instruct you on which cameras you would appear and aid you in projecting yourself favorably on camera. Much to my dismay I was shocked by your impersonal conduct and your inability to even make an attempt at eye contact. Not only that, but you didn't bother to thank a single member of the floor crew before exiting.
Now, I understand some people have good days and bad, however, when running for office, an office that is amongst the highest in the land, this conduct is unacceptable. If this is a common quality of you and your campaign may I suggest public service is not an endeavor you should pursue further.
In the last presidential election nearly every member of my family and all of my friends voted Republican, and until your interview they were going to enthusiastically support the Grand Old Party during the midterm elections. From what I can tell the biggest liability to your campaign seems to be you. A day prior to your visit your opponent, Dr. Steve Kagen, made an appearance. His manner was nothing less than courtly and professional. I can confidently tell you that you not only lost my vote but the votes of all of my relatives as well. In closing, I would like to express how certain I am that you will lose your seat on September 12, a defeat you will be unable to blame on anybody but yourself.
Disclaimer: All opinions or unflattering truths contained in the above letter are held by me alone and do not reflect the feelings of WBAY, their employees or their sponsors.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
This week is Wisconsin Congressional Race week at the news station so what we're doing is inviting all five candidates for three minutes of free air time. We lob the softballs and it's up to the candidates to hit them out of the park.
Our first guest on Monday was Republican candidate Terri McCormick. She entered the studio in a huff, unloading her bag and campaign pamphlets onto her doting assistant. Now, I'm not a political strategist but I seriously doubt if "creepy" wins elections because when her time started she did the Ross Perot thing and answered each question by looking directly into the camera, not only that but she looked into the wrong camera. After her free three-minute-long campaign commercial ended she hopped out of her seat, gathered her belongings and did everything short of running for the exit without thanking a single person.
Next, on Tuesday, we had Democratic candidate Dr. Steve Kagen. Talk about a 180 degree turnaround. When he stepped up to bat he took the time to greet both news anchors and shook the hand of the head meteorologist. On air he came across fabulously, outlining the failures in Iraq, the federal government's clumsiness under the Bush regime and how accountability so desperately needs to be restored in government. Not only that but his manner was less rigid, opting for eye contact with the interviewer instead of awkwardly staring into the camera for a thirty-second answer. The effect was one of genuine warmth as though we, the audience, were watching a budding friendship between he and the interviewer. Afterward he took the time to shake everybody's hand, not treating the floorcrew as though we were a displaced lepar colony. He recognized and treated us like what we were- his base.
Today, we were graced with the presence of Republican congressional hopeful John Gard who was still basking in the glow of Bush's annointing. For the most part he parroted McCormick's neologisms perfectly but with one notable exception. When asked what he would do to protect the country against the threat of terrorism he said we need to do whatever it takes to win which means not taking plays from the ACLU's playbook. You read that right, the ACLU is sinking its fangs deeper and deeper into the neck of lady liberty herself. You might even remember those latte-sipping, hemp-growing, hacky-sacking lefties defended rightwing hatchetman, Rush Limbaugh in West Palm Beach Florida. Screamin' liberal commies each and every one.
It's interesting to compare candidates and see that one is clueless (McCormick), one knows how to play the game (Kagen) and another knows how to play it better (Gard). I'm crossing my fingers hoping Dr. Kagen's concern for the voters will overtake Gard's forced charm. Vote Kagen, it's about time we get a doctor in the house.
Monday, August 28, 2006
It's time to celebrate. Today Dylan releases his first album since 2001 (incidentally this is also my mom's birthday...happy b-day, Mommy!). Like so many people before me, as well as all those people yet to come, his music carried me through my formative years, seducing me with the rollicking organ on "Like a Rolling Stone" and captivating my imagination with his kaleidoscopic narratives in songs like "Mr. Tambourine Man". If Zimmy were just a one trick pony capable of nothing more than "finger-pointing" songs, as he called them, then he would have been a curious, if somewhat stirring, aside in the story of the Sixites. Luckily, he's so much more, expressing humor, introspection, longing and, my personal favorite, biting irony.
With a catalog this expansive and with themes this varied it's truly an impossible task to ask a fan to narrow down his or her five favorite songs. So, these are my favorites for today. Ask me tomorrow or next week or in a month and this list'll be utterly different. Feel free to add your favorite Dylan songs of the day, and don't forget to wish my Mom a happy birthday.
With God on Our Side
Girl From the North Country
If Not For You
Dont think twice, It's alright
Visions of Johanna
Sunday, August 27, 2006
If the world were a high school France would be the posh prom queen who never gave you the time of day, Canada would be the ineffectual - but well-intentioned - hall monitor and America would, of course, be the flabby, bellicose fratboy who only speaks in Al Pacino lines from the movie Scarface. But what of the Swedes? I contend they'd be the bookish kid in the back of class who quietly succeeds on every pop quiz and final, both studious and forgettable.
Those students usually grow up to achieve greatness. Take for instance the announcement Sweden made to shed their dependence on oil by the year 2020 without building a single nuclear power plant. The gas crisis of the 1970s looms large in Sweden's memory. It damaged their economy and with petroleum costs steadily climbing they want to prevent history from repeating itself. A country learning from their mistakes? A novel concept indeed. By supplanting fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy Sweden intends on avoiding a recession at the hands of exhorbitant gas prices - the black devil herself. Tax insentives, discounts on environmentally friendly vehicles and investments in research and development comprise their three-pronged attack. If the strategy prevails it could become a working model for other countries to follow.
My advice: we should stop heckling the prom queen and flicking the hall monitor's ear, and start paying closer attention to the bookworm in the last row, he might even help us with our homework.
Friday, August 25, 2006
What's becoming known as Lebanon's worst environment disaster ever is going largely unreported in the American media. During the Israel/Hezbollah conflict Israelis bombed a coastal power plant spilling 110,000 barrels of fuel into the Mediterranean Sea.
"Some of it became denser than sea water and sank to the bottom. It's like a big thick blanket that smothers living organisms," said Professor Rick Steiner who teaches at the University of Alaska.
When compared to the Exxon Valdez catastrophe this in many ways is worse. As the Valdez was three times larger consisting of crude oil this is fuel oil which was ready to be burned by the power plant. With fuel oil the problem takes a new shape, the substance is highly viscous, much more so than crude. Fuel oil adheres to rocks, vegatation, fish and other lifeforms inflicting widespread ecological devastation. Current estimates show that it will take nearly a year and $64 million to clean up the damage. Finland is helping foot the bill with a contribution of $800,000 toward the effort with potential support from other EU countries on the way.
For additional information visit:
Lebanon's Month-Old Oil Slick Sinks
The War's Other Victim: The Environment
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
From the looks of this we are all in trouble, the government is forming a coalition of the have-tos. Taken from the Library of Congress this bill, Universal National Service Act of 2006, requires anybody living in the United States between the ages of 18-42, including women, to serve a minimum of 2 years in the military. During the person's service the President reserves the privilege to extend their time of duty. Yet, with every cloud there is a silver lining, the bill contains a "Conscientious Objection" clause exempting anybody who claims they disagree with violence on ethical or moral grounds - but notice the paranthetical interjection: they will "be assigned to noncombatant service (as defined by the President)". Email Representative Rangel and tell him he'll lose his seat unless this piece of legislative overreach is killed immediately.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
When I was younger my family would take week-long road trips around the country. The first was to Florida at the age of 6 or 7, I remember the oranges dangling from the trees and visiting the gator park with an entrance shaped like a giant crock's mouth. During our second trip to Florida when I was 13 we swung through New Orleans to take in the sights, sounds and, of course, the smells of the French Quarter. It's a one-two punch; the mystical aura of the architecture, the people, and the music disarms you as the city's authenticity possesses you, the complete antithesis of the shrine we patroned on the final leg of the journey - Graceland. On our family's final road trip we visited Mesa, San Diego and Tijuana. California was beautiful. Each morning a thick, gray mist rolled off the ocean, as quiet as a ghost, filling our swimming pool before receding back into the Pacific.
In Bertand Russels' superb essay, In Praise of Idleness, he examines the dark, often unspoken flipside of wealth. Here he treats leisure as a commodity that should be distributed equitably amongst all classes. For instance, imagine a factory which makes widgets. The price of the widgets are as low as they'll ever be and the labor force manufactures them in perfect keeping with demand at 8 hours a day. All of a sudden a new technology emerges allowing for widgets to be made twice as fast and twice as cheap. Instead of firing half the labor force, cut everyone's hours in half but keep the same wage.
This approach has obvious benefits for society. The starving artist can create, the backyard astronomer can explore, the inventors can invent and the musicians can perform. With a surplus of leisure time on everyone's hands we would all be permitted to step back and take a breath. Even those who command no special talent can relax, go rock climbing, take harpooning lessons, enter Buffalo Wing eating contests. Whatever your indulgence might be you'd actually have time and money to pursue it. No longer should leisure be a status symbol guarded by the factory owners but a good shared by all.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Even with the brouhaha swirling around the deterred terror attack in the UK by the MI5, Bush with echo chamber in hand could not pump up his overall approval rating which has plateaued at a feeble 36%. That places Bush well below Clinton's highest disapproval rating of 54% and above the lowest approval rating in Gallups' history, 23%, during Harry Truman's presidency.
- War in Iraq - 28%
- Terrorism - 17%
- Economy & Jobs - 11%
- Price of Gas - 7%
- Immigration - 4%
Hu's on First?
By James Sherman
(We take you now to the Oval Office.)
George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?
Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.
George: Great. Lay it on me.
Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.
George: That's what I want to know.
Condi: That's what I'm telling you.
George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
George: I mean the fellow's name.
George: The guy in China.
George: The new leader of China.
George: The Chinaman!
Condi: Hu is leading China.
George: Now whaddya' asking me for?
Condi: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.
George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?
Condi: That's the man's name.
George: That's who's name?
George: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the
Condi: That's correct.
George: Then who is in China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir is in China?
Condi: No, sir.
George: Then who is?
Condi: Yes, sir.
Condi: No, sir.
George: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.
George: No, thanks.
Condi: You want Kofi?
Condi: You don't want Kofi.
George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
George: Milk! Will you please make the call?
Condi: And call who?
George: Who is the guy at the U.N?
Condi: Hu is the guy in China.
George: Will you stay out of China?!
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.
George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.
(Condi picks up the phone.)
Condi: Rice, here.
George: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we
should send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you
get Chinese food in the Middle East?
Sunday, August 13, 2006
"[W]hen I see them hanging from lampposts, with their guts hanging out, then I'll believe that there's a difference between radical Islam and the rest of Islam over there. But if I don't see that -- if I don't see the massive uprising against them, I can only assume that they're the shock troops of all of Islam in the Middle East." -- Michael "Savage" Weiner
"Let's go to the real source of the problem here. You cannot live with these radical Muslims. They don't want to coexist. They want to wipe you out or transfer you into being a radical Muslim." -- Bo Dietl
Admittedly, the above quotes are not gleaned from the most articulate voices of the neocon movement, however, it is important to note the Dietl statement aired in primetime on Neil Cavuto's broadcast without qualification and the aptly named Michael "Savage" Weiner disseminates similar vitriol three hours a day on his radio show. With the surpression of moderate, intelligent Muslim voices in the media an increasing number of Americans find Islam frightening and Muslims intrusive. Paranoia has heightened to such an extent that 4 out of 10 Americans would advocate issuing American Muslims I.D. cards while prejudice diminishes among those who know and are friends with practitioners of the faith.
Here's a few truisms that appear to be in dispute in the media at large: the Koran is not Mein Kampf, all of Islam is not tantamount to Nazism and you'll probably die of an environmental catastrophe before an act of terrorism. I was always under the impression that it was the job of the media to respond to polemic crowing with concise, reasoned responses. Yet, there is another side to that coin - it is our duty to listen to their response, or even better, generate one of our own.
Friday, August 11, 2006
*"Army World" not open to gays
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
AOL does it again. Everybody remembers that rude, 45-minute customer service call, well, this is way worse. AOL posted 20 million keyword searches to a website - "hundreds" of which contained sensitive information - for a research firm. The posted data included social security numbers, credit card numbers and customer names. In response an AOL representative issued the corporate equivalent to an "Our bad" stating they are sorry about their "screw-up" but at least none of the queries posted were linked to customer accounts. The 439-megabyte list of searches have since been taken down.
Monday, August 07, 2006
This article blew me away, I read it and had one of those "A-ha!" moments. If I may be permitted to briefly reiterate some things we already know about Iraq, just so everybody's on the same page. To say the situation there is beyond hope would be a stark understatement: an escalation in the frequency of insurgent attacks, a wobbly central government, purely symbolic elections for local Islamic radicals, a spike in Sectarian clashes and a grossly under-funded, under trained internal police force point toward the clumsiness of our occupation.
Now turn your eyes to the west toward Lebanon, not the upended Lebanon of today but the Lebanon before Israel's military action. Even though the country had had more than it's share of conflicts in the past (civil war, Israeli and Syrian occupations, etc.) many times it remained stable enough to welcome refugees as diverse as Jordanians, Druze, Palestinians and Iraqis - a virtual Middle Eastern melting pot. Not only that, but Lebanon sustained a vibrant nightlife. In Beirut one could readliy see scantily clad beauties walking the streets alongside veiled Muslim women. And with the demonstrations in the streets last year effectively pushing the Syrian government out of the country the fortitude of these people should not be forgotten. It stands to reason that with American support Lebanon's willingness to promote democratic ideals could have been smoothed into the world's first functioning Arab democracy. But instead we're mired in the money pit that has become Iraq and the toppled buildings and bruised landscape of Lebanon no longer resembles what was one of the world's most significant missed opportunites.