29 February 2008

The next great idea

All of you in the field of corporate management, take your pens out and get ready to write because I've come across a new idea to squeeze even more efficiency from your workforce. Some South Korean firms have evidently hit upon the idea of keeping minute-by-minute logs of workers pee breaks. Ah, the great joys and efficiency of unconstrained capitalism.

27 February 2008

Flapdoodle

I tripped across this illustrious piece of historical revisionism at Rachel Marsden. Some excerpts in her critique of Obama:

Obama: Speaks a lot of hope, but the Iraqi people frankly wouldn't have much of it if he was in charge - because they'd still be living under Saddam Hussein.

Yes. And if the U.S. CIA had not put Saddam in power in the first place (Morris, Roger, "Remember: Saddam was our man", New York Times, March 14, 2003 ), sold him weapons, and participated in his first war of aggression (on HIS side), Saddam would now be an Iraqi exile driving a taxi in Egypt. Not to worry, I'm sure that Bush and his evil stepson McCain will busy themselves putting in power the next generation of Saddams.

Obama brags about having voted against that mission of "hope" - despite the added bonus of Iraq having been one of more than 60 countries in which al-Qaeda was established.

Maybe we should have bombed America since this was also a country in which "al-Qaeda was established." Or we could have gone after Britain (the planes don't have to fly so far that way).

In fact, he's so turned off by the idea of defending democracy and freedom that one of the only real legislative efforts he's put forth is the "Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007". Because, you know, it's not like pulling out of Afghanistan right after the late 80s combat operations against the Soviets led to the much bigger problem we have now.

This is an interesting twist! It was precisely the U.S. and close ally Saudi Arabia's involvement that got this whole mess rolling. The U.S. was bankrolling the Taliban and the same groups that later took on the moniker al-Qaeda. I guess only the past 10 years were covered in Rachel's Cliff Notes on World History.

McCain: Has said that he's willing to stay in the Mideast for as long as it takes to drain the al-Qaeda swamp. He has a problem with terrorists being subjected to frat antics . . .

Rachel. You really need to join a different fraternity. At your fraternity, people evidently shove a running hose down your throat and then have a doctor revive you, shove a baseball bat up your ass, sic dogs on you, strip you and take photos, keep you up for days, and occasionally end up killing you (even though your "crime" may only be attending a protest in the wrong section of town). At my fraternity, we never played such frat antics.

Something tells me he'd [McCain] probably have some idea what he's doing as Commander in Chief of US Forces.

The US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined; with the fall of the British and then the Soviet empires, the U.S. has probably never been so secure in its entire history; and the economy is imploding as we spend a couple trillion in Iraq. Yet the chief consideration should be that we need a good general? Even if this were the case, why in the world would we hire McCain to do the job? This is someone who graduated at the bottom of his class and whose sole qualification is that he was captured in war. You ridicule Obama for being so forward looking, but it's you who are out of step with the times . . . and the place. You'd be quite at hope in the center of Europe half a century back with your fellow Christian soldiers marching off to war.

We must kill and torture all who lack hope!

Bush, after much arm-twisting, admits that Iraq wasn't really responsible for 9/11 but says that they kind of were because they "lacked hope." Hmmm. An interesting policy . . . Bomb and destroy the infrastructure of countries that lack hope so that terrorist organizations can move in and give the people some hope (while those of us in the U.S. lose all hope of maintaining our own infrastructure and economy.)

At least the no-bid warprofiteers will have some hope if McCain gets in. McCain, if we're to believe his past actions, hates the idea of setting up democracies abroad, but some advisor who's a few IQ points ahead of him has evidently whispered into his ear that there be oil in them there hills so the US tax-payer now gets the privilege of paying for the policing operations for the oil companies that extract Iraqi oil.

24 February 2008

Is Obama too charismatic?

Alicia, over at Last Left Turn Before Hooterville, has an insightful post on the Republican vilification of Obama's charisma:

[Excerpt] Reagan was, indeed, the triumph of 'style over substance', and it was the force of his personality that earned him the label "The Great Communicator". But he has been ensconced in conservative minds as the greatest president ever, while ostensibly 'running the country' in the throes of Alzheimer's. Barack Obama is far more qualified to be President than Reagan ever was. Like Schwarzenegger after him, Reagan was an actor who had been recruited by big money interests to lend their on-screen persona to the agenda of the big businesses who, for obvious reasons, could not be elected on their own recognizance. Obama has the drive and the charisma, but he also has the goods. He's his own man, for whatever that's worth.

I complete agree on this. Like Alicia, I didn't pick Obama as my first choice, but he is saying the right things; he did have the correct view on Shrub's War; he does express concern about the right problems; and if he follows through on half of the things he talks about, he'll fundamentally change the country in many positive ways.

21 February 2008

19%

According according to a recent survey from the American Research Group:

Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

What I want to know is who these 19% are. I imagine some abused 18 year old kids who have been tied up and forced to watch Fox News in their basements for the last 5 years.

20 February 2008

gLoX nEwS

My previous post was a nice segue for this, eh?

18 February 2008

Planets more common than thought

A recent Wired article says that from about 20% to 60% of stars have planets--a fact that brings up Fermi's paradox while suggesting that human beings might someday be able to get off this piece of rock and head for other green pastures.

17 February 2008

Keeping Tabs on the Fascist Propaganda Machine

Fox News does it again with inflammatory propaganda that would make Joseph Goebbels proud. In a recent story, we're told:

The tab for just overtime pay for Berkeley cops to keep the peace at Tuesday's Marine protest outside City Hall was reported to be $93,000.

Hmmm. I could think of a few headlines of my own:

The tab for just overtime pay for DC cops to maintain watch over the offices of war profiteers is reported to be over $500,000.

Or how about this one:

The tab for just direct cost for the US military to protect oil corporations and war profiteers' stake in Iraq are between 1.5 and 2 trillion dollars and rising. Virtually all of these corporations will never pay a single dollar in U.S. taxes and the oil they help sell back to the U.S. consumer will not be discounted by a single cent.

The wording of the original statement is also brilliant: the cops need to "keep the peace" and "work overtime" because of these awful unpatriotic citizens who dare to criticize the sacred government. Yes. Joseph would be very proud of his ideological descendents.

15 February 2008

The newest in torture methods, coming to a police station near you!

As if there were any doubt, we learn the real reason for Bush administration's push to recognize torture: They want to use torture against Americans.

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD CALLS ON JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA TO RECUSE HIMSELF FROM INTERROGATION- RELATED CASES

New York. The National Lawyers Guild calls on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to recuse himself from any case coming before the Supreme Court involving the constitutionality of torture as an interrogation technique. In a BBC interview that aired on Tuesday, Scalia defended the use of torture to extract information from persons in custody by law enforcement officials in some cases. Although no case involving the use of torture is currently before the Court, recent events suggest that such a case may be forthcoming.

Guild President Marjorie Cohn said: the Guild is appalled that a sitting Justice of the United States Supreme Court has ventured in a public forum his belief that it is justifiable to attempt to extract information from persons in custody by the use of torture. A justice of the highest court in the land, sworn to uphold the Constitution, whose views so undermine the fundamental right of security of the person guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, is unfit to sit on that Court.

The thrust of Scalia's recent remarks is that he does not believe it is clear that the government is precluded from using coercive interrogation to prevent an imminent terrorist attack. He says that the Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, but if torture is not meant as punishment, it may not be unconstitutional.

Let me get this straight, if you torture someone, but your heart's in the right place, it's all ok? We need to get an expert to help us interpret all of this Newspeak.

Surely Justice Scalia knows that torture is unlawful under the U.S. Torture Statute (18 USC 2340) and the U.S. War Crimes Act (18 USC 2441).

Two years ago, five retired U.S. military officers who had entered a case before the Supreme Court for Salim Ahmed Hamdan sought Scalia's recusal after he publicly voiced skepticism abut the rights of Guantanamo detainees. Scalia declined to recuse himself.

Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of the Guild said: Justice Scalia's remarks inevitably pre-judge the issues in every case in which the Constitution might dictate suppression of evidence because of illegal police interrogation techniques, or the right to compensation of a person subjected to a violation of civil rights. We therefore call upon Justice Scalia to recuse himself from any case which comes before the Court in which such issues are at stake.

Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

13 February 2008

Like hope

McCain 2008: Like Hope, But Different

The Texas Primary

My DD has some interesting analysis on the upcoming Texas primary that claims that Hillary, even in a best-case scenario, will only pick up a few more delegates than Obama. The Democratic Convention this year could be one for history with all sorts of interesting possibilities. There's even the possibility that Edwards will encourage his delagates to go en masse to one of the candidates (Obama?).

8 February 2008

Less Jobs More Wars

Less Jobs More Wars has some clever film clips highlighting McCain's failure to understand that Americans are fed up with paying for Shrub's War and other MacWars TM.

5 February 2008

Super Tuesday

What are your predictions for the primary today? On the Democratic side, it'd be interesting if the outcome comes down to the wire and the votes of the final states (Washington, Oregon, and so on) actually matter. These voters normally go to the polls after everything has been decided for them.

1 February 2008

1.5 Trillion

(to the tune of 16 tons, by Karlo Travis)
I woke up one morning feeling all fine
Headed out the door to the recruitin’ line
Don’t want dem ‘raqis attackin’ our home now, do ya
So I set up my tent in the town of Falluja

(Chorus:)
You pay 1.5 tril, whadaya get?
A couple years older and deeper in debt
Mr. Limbaugh don't you call me cause as you should know
I’m deep in dept till 3004.

This is a fine fine place full of sun & games
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised on rightwing radio and Fox News rants
When I hear Rush talk I feel a rise in my pants

(Repeat Chorus)

See us a comin' better step aside
A lot of kids didn't and a lot of them will die
We got DU shells and cluster bombs that kill
If the weapons don’t kill ‘em then the civil war will

(Repeat Chorus)

I woke up one morning feeling all fine
Today it be the day I leave Baghdad behind
Headed back to my country where I’ll make my stand
Just a one-legged man in a blinded land

Claude Piron

We mourn the passing of Claude Piron on January 22nd, the famous Esperanto writer and intellectual. The Wikipedia article on Piron has the following exerpt on his works:

His most famous works are Gerda malaperis! and La Bona Lingvo (The Good Language). Gerda malaperis! is a novella which uses basic grammar and vocabulary in the first chapter and builds up to expert Esperanto by the end, including word lists so beginners can easily follow along. In La Bona Lingvo, Piron captures the basic linguistic and social aspects of Esperanto. He argues strongly for imaginative use of the basic Esperanto morpheme inventory and word formation techniques, and against unnecessary importation of neologisms from European languages. He also presents the idea that once one has learned enough vocabulary to express oneself, it is easier to think clearly in Esperanto than in many other languages.

The book (available online) has recently been made into a movie.