30 May 2008

With friends like this...

And this is our close partner in the Middle East?

LA Times: A barber in Saudi Arabia faces beheading for the crime of using God's name in vain. Sabri Bogday, a Turk who cuts hair in the Saudi port cityof Jidda, is awaiting appeal on his sentence. Press reports say Bogday cursed during an argument with a neighbor, who later complained to police. This nation is ruled by a strict Wahabi brand of justice that doles out lashings and public beheadings for crimes including murder, rape and heresy. Bogday has been in jail for 13 months. Turkish President Abdullah Gul has asked Saudi King Abdullah to spare the barber. But the Arab News daily reported that there could be complications hinging on arcane interpretations of Wahabi religious law by fundamentalist judges.

Our "conservative with a heart" leader seems to be genuinely full of mirth as he sits beside his buddy King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdulaziz while sipping tea last week at the King's Villa in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis bankroll much of the fundamentalist movements throughout the Middle East. It was thus no accident that the 9/11 attack was carried out almost entirely by Saudis. Yet we're currently occupying Iraq and threatening Iran. As Michael Parenti says, Bush's policies have been a spectacular success . . . from a certain perspective. It just depends on which side of the gas pump you're standing on.

1950 massacres in SK

This is a depressing series of pictures: tens of thousands of political prisoners were killed in South Korea right before and after the start of the Korean War. I was aware of similar massacres on Jeju Island but wasn't aware that anything of this scale was happening on the peninsula at this time.

29 May 2008

Jessica Yellin talks of pressure to be "patriotic"

This should never happen. It shows a major problem with the country's media:

CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin said Thursday she was referring to her time spent at MSNBC when she said she felt pressure not to report stories critical of the Bush administration during the time leading up to the Iraq war.

Yellin's initial comments, made during a discussion with Anderson Cooper on CNN Wednesday, shifted attention to the news media's performance following release of a critical assessment of the Bush administration by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. He wrote that Bush's strategy for selling the war was less than candid and honest.


During her CNN appearance, Yellin said the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives to make sure the war was presented "in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings."

28 May 2008

The Man From Earth

Last night, I watched The Man From Earth (2007). I was impressed with the low-budget film which consists entirely of a group of professors sitting around a sparse room as one of their colleagues claims to have been alive since the Stone Age. I've had some time recently and have wanted to go out and see a movie, but the offerings are not enticing. I wish more movies would take the approach that Richard Shenkman did in this movie--making something low budget without expensive actors so that it's possible to take risks and actually tell a good tale.

Among the numerous reviews, all positive, I came across the following by Gerald Martin:

Jerome Bixby's "The Man from Earth" stands proudly among the best science fiction films ever made. However, unlike "2001", "CE3K" and "Blade Runner," this little movie relies not on outstanding set design and mind-blowing visual effects, but rather on ideas; the very foundation of science fiction.I've been a fan of Mr. Bixby's ever since "Star Trek", and I must say this equals if not surpasses "Mirror, "Mirror". I agree that some of the acting was stilted, and the music partially drowned out dialogue in one scene, but my family and I were mesmerized throughout. As to my personal beliefs regarding God and faith; "Man from Earth" in no way offended me, but rather challenged me. Challenged me with historical facts (several of which I've since checked online, and thus far, all of which appear 100% accurate.) This is a chess game of a film, forcing the viewer not only to listen and to think, but to understand.

27 May 2008

A few more holidays for the calendar

It's finally over. I don't get too excited on Memorial Day. In a country that celebrates the military every damn day of the year, all we need is another militant holiday. I know, this isn't very patriotic, but what did you expect? I don't even believe in countries or flags of any sort, after all. From a less idealic and more cynical point of view, what good is the military going to do me? We could fire the entire military tomorrow, close down our missile silos, and just keep a couple nuclear subs running and we'd have the power to destroy any country on the globe (and wipe out the remaining large mammals in the process). Of course, the conservative (and modern "liberals" for that matter) have bought into this idea that the Iraqi commandoes are going to hit our shores any second now with cans of mace and giant scissors set to kill. I guess I need to go rent an old copy of Red Dawn, smoke some of the new super weed, and giggle as I imagine the Soviet troops (who themselves were quite comic) speaking Iraqi accents. If we have to endure Veteran Day parades (with the Veterans for Peace contingent banned), can't we add a few holidays to the calendar, a DU Cancer Day, or a Clusterbomb Victims Days, or Exile Day, or a Frat Antic for War Profiteers Day (with all the hilarity of near drownings as the Halliburton execs get rescussitated).

26 May 2008

McCain math

The Carpetbagger Report searches for the mysterious 100 billion that McCain will instantly save when he becomes president. The problem is--this mysterious savings doesn't exist since nearly all the earmarks are for programs (military expenditures and money to most-favored dictatorships) that McCain has vowed not to cut. With all of these programs off the table, the figure drops down to around 10 billion and it's even highly doubtful that those programs could be cut. Somehow, all this savings is supposed to happen as we lower taxes and expand our pre-emptive wars around the world. McCain needs to stop trying his hand at economics and just stick to waving the flag.

25 May 2008

3 tril

Something to remember on Memorial Day--we've lost thousands of young American lives, have needlessly killed countless Iraqis, and have displaced millions. In the process, we've racked up a 3 trillion IOU. What would you have done with the 3 trillions bucks? Would you hand it to a few buddies and corrupt Iraqi collaborators or would you perhaps do something more noble? This website provides a shopping guide.

23 May 2008

370H-SSV-0773H

Osama decided to send George Bush a letter in his own handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.Bush opened the letter and it contained a single line of coded message:

370H-SSV-0773H

Bush was baffled, so he sent it to Condoleezza Rice. Condi and her aides didn't have a clue either, so they sent it to the FBI.No one could solve it at the FBI so it went to the CIA, and then to MI6.Eventually they asked the Mossad for help. Within a minute the Mossad emailed the White House with this reply:"Tell the President he's holding the message upside down."

Shamelessly stolen from Trailing Edge Blog

Oregon

It looks like Obama's going to sweep Oregon, getting nearly twice the votes as Hillary. As in other states, Obama did well among the under 65 demographic.

22 May 2008

US Skips International Conference to Ban Cluster Bombs

Representatives of more than 100 governments are gathering in Dublin, Ireland for two weeks of talks aimed at finalizing a global treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs. But the United States, historically the world’s largest producer, stockpiler, and user of cluster bombs, won’t be at the negotiations. Other major producers of cluster bombs—Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan—also stayed away from the talks.

Our great leader is skipping talks on banning cluster bombs--responsible for the deaths of so many innocent children--in order to go beg Arab leaders to produce more oil while McCain pushes for tax-cuts to stimulate oil consumption. And these people are in league with the religious right?

19 May 2008

Obama in Oregon

Culture Kitchen has some clips of Obama in Oregon where he's apparently doing very well drawing massive crowds.

16 May 2008

Reeding Levl

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

Only college undergrad? I was expecting something like astro-physicist post-doc fellow.

15 May 2008

Typing Test

This is fun. I may be slow, but I'm faster than Rook over at Rooks Rant. Personally, I don't think they should allow people who type less than 60 words a minute to blog. It's painful to watch, that s-l-o-w h-i-t-t-i-n-g o-f t-h-e k-e-y-s:

62 words

Speedtest

14 May 2008

Someone needs a few strokes

Bush, recently, on pre-war intel:

“Do I think somebody lied to me?” he said. “No, I don't. I think it was just, you know, they analyzed the situation and came up with the wrong conclusion.”

So what should we do now that we know the intel was wrong and that we've tossed away 3 trillion, have killed countless innocents, and have sent millions into exile?

Bush says he'll give up golf.

That should solve everything. I'm sure that the Iraqi refugee begging in the backstreets of Jordan with her child blind from US clusterbombs and the U.S. children who will live amid crumbling bridges, roads, and schools as they pay off the trillions in debt will take great solace from Shrub's giving up golf.

12 May 2008

Bob Barr

It looks like Bob Barr's going to run on the Libertarian ticket. While I disagree with Libertarians, I at least find their positions to be consistent. Barr, to his credit, stands against Shrub's War and the erosion of individual rights. The Libertarians are what the Republican Party might look like if they were ideologically sincere. As it is, they've become the Plutocrat Party--something that won't change in the least with a McCain victory.

11 May 2008

ConneXXions

When McCain's campaign started to take off, honest John evidently hurriedly looked under every rock for the slimiest characters he could find to run things for him. This, along with his pander-to-Joe-five-pack gas tax-cut plan, shows us something about how he'd run the country if elected.

After John McCain nailed down the Republican nomination in March, his campaign began wrestling with a sensitive personnel issue: who would manage this summer's GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.? The campaign recently tapped Doug Goodyear for the job, a veteran operative and Arizonan who was chosen for his "management experience and expertise," according to McCain press secretary Jill Hazelbaker. But some allies worry that Goodyear's selection could fuel perceptions that McCain--who has portrayed himself as a crusader against special interests--is surrounded by lobbyists. Goodyear is CEO of DCI Group, a consulting firm that earned $3 million last year lobbying for ExxonMobil, General Motors and other clients.

Potentially more problematic: the firm was paid $348,000 in 2002 to represent Burma's military junta, which had been strongly condemned by the State Department for its human-rights record and remains in power today. Justice Department lobbying records show DCI pushed to "begin a dialogue of political reconciliation" with the regime. It also led a PR campaign to burnish the junta's image, drafting releases praising Burma's efforts to curb the drug trade and denouncing "falsehoods" by the Bush administration that the regime engaged in rape and other abuses. "It was our only foreign representation, it was for a short tenure, and it was six years ago," Goodyear told NEWSWEEK, adding the junta's record in the current cyclone crisis is "reprehensible."

Hmmm. I wonder if honest John's plan to encourage more gasoline consumption has something to do with his budy Doug. Does this sound familiar? The Republican need to give their party a more accurate moniker--the Oilicrats perhaps? (Or is there a way to morph plutocrat and oil into one word?)

8 May 2008

"We were created for conflict."

McCain's pastor problem (YouTube)

So here are the top 10 Memorable Quotes said by McCain's religious advisers:

1. "Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist." - Pastor John Hagee in his book What Every Man Wants in a Woman (Charisma House, 2005)

2. "The Quran teaches that [all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews]. Yes, it teaches that very clearly." -Pastor John Hagee
Living Liberally :: Top 10 Outrageous Quotes From McCain's Spiritual Advisers

3. "I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans...I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that...There was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades.... The Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment." -Pastor John Hagee

4. "The military will have difficultly recruiting healthy and strong heterosexuals for combat purposes. Why? Fighting in combat with a man in your fox hole that has AIDS or is HIV positive is double jeopardy." - Pastor John Hagee on Don't Ask Don't Tell

5. "[Gay marriage] will open the door to incest, to polygamy, and every conceivable marriage arrangement demented minds can possibly conceive. If God does not then punish America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." - Pastor John Hagee

6. "It is impossible to call yourself a Christian and defend homosexuality. There is no justification or acceptance of homosexuality.... Homosexuality means the death of society because homosexuals can recruit, but they cannot reproduce." - Pastor John Hagee

7. "Only a Spirit-filled woman can submit to her husband's lead. It is the natural desire of a woman to lead through feminine manipulation of the man...Fallen women will try to dominate the marriage. The man has the God-given role to be the loving leader of the home." - Pastor John Hagee in his book What Every Man Wants in a Woman (Charisma House, 2005)

8. "I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore." - Rod Parsley in Silent No More (Charisma House, 2005)

9. "Gay sexuality inevitably involves brutal physical abusiveness and the unnatural imposition of alien substances into internal organs, orally and anally, that inevitably suppress the immune system and heighten susceptibility to disease." - Rod Parsley

10. "Only 1 percent of the homosexual population in America will die of old age. The average life expectancy for a homosexual in the United States of America is 43 years of age. A lesbian can only expect to live to be 45 years of age. Homosexuals represent 2 percent of the population, yet today they're carrying 60 percent of the known cases of syphilis." - Rod Parsley

The media's take on this is interesting. It's a sin to be in any way critical of the US but a virtue to spout hatred for the marginalized both within and outside of the country. By the way, the idea that Middle Easterner Muslims are going to be attacking our shores some time soon as they march to take over the world is so ludicrous that it could be the plot to the next Batman movie (except that it wouldn't even be plausible in that context).

6 May 2008

I've been bounced!

I guess I should just give up. There's a large group of rightwing idiots petrified that someone will bring up uncomfortable facts. The Discerning Texan recently "bounced" me from his comments for being "a misinformed wacko" with the gall to mention the fact that the US wasn't going to drill itself out of its oil shortage.

Boing! That is the sound of a misinformed wacko being bounced from the comments...2 percent of the worlds RESERVES is one hell of a lot of oil, easily enough to drastically lower the price. (and I even question the 2% number when you include both coasts, Florida, Alaska, and the HUGE new field they just found in the Dakotas...)As for daily usage, the Chinese just passed us up as numero uno. But no wacko wants to say anything bad about their brothers in the struggle for world socialism....Statistics are like a*holes: everybody's got one. The oldest trick in the book is to throw out numbers that have absolutely nothing to do with one another, nor the poing being made....

The US has an 11 year supply of oil. If we stopped importing and drilled every inch and crevice of every oil field in the US, our supply would completely run dry in 2019. When placed on a graph, US reserves are so miniscule that the graph has to be stretched vertically for the US amount to be fully visible. The petroleum reserve, if we used every drop of it, gives us a whopping two months of gas.

It's strange. To my recollection, I've never cursed or engaged in ad hominem attacks on rightwing blogs, but I've been bounced or personally attacked numerous times. Swerve Left, on the other hand, has been going since January 2004 and I have yet to ban anyone from commenting. I even keep rightwinged blogs (those few that engage in rational debate) on my blogroll. This just goes to show how frightened some people are of actual debate. Mr. Discerning Texan can now go back to his fellow Fox News nimwits who think that oil prices are solely due to the fact that environmental fascist terrorists won't let Shrub drill in Alaska. The same people who think the earth is 10,000 years old, evolution is a commie plot, that the terrorists are planning to gas their rural Texan trailer, and that George Bush is a cowboy.

5 May 2008

Condoleezza as VP?


Rice is apparently seeking the vice presidency. McCain is definitely in need of someone to raise the mean (double entendre fully intended) IQ of his presidential bid, and Rice comes with the added advantage of her oil company and corporate connections. To make the presidential contest a fair fight in race-conscious America, Obama will now need to go out and find an elderly white female candidate with an 80 IQ who dropped bombs on innocent villagers on the other side of the world and managed to get captured.

4 May 2008

The debtor nation

The Uncapitalist Journal has a good post on America's recent growth -- in debt:

[Excerpt] It only took 25 years for America to move from a society based on production to a nation driven by consumption. It is unsustainable and when it falls like the proverbial house of cards, it will hurt every last American below the top one percent of the population. The Stock Market Crash of 1929 will look like child's play.

I might not have a clue about the world of high finance or the GDP, but I know that the price of everything we need to live in this world is rising while the income of American's has stagnated for years, if not a decade. It's not rocket science to be able to see that we pay more but are making less. The jobs leaving our nation are being replaced with jobs not even remotely comparable in earnings potential. If interest rates continue to fall, Senior Citizens will not be able to survive on the interest from their savings and investments as they have for the last seventy or so years. Our federal government continues to prop up banks and investment companies that played fast and loose, yet refuse to extend unemployment insurance for those hardest hit.

In the end, it's the average American's own fault. We continue to believe the empty promises of any Bush or McCain who comes around, trying to convince us that tax-cuts for the wealthy and trillions spent dropping bomb and importing gas to Iraq is going to somehow make the U.S. prosperous. We've made 1% of the population very prosperous while selling off the country's promise.

2 May 2008

The latest McCain brainstorm

In the wake of his lower-taxes-to-encourage-more-fuel-consumption brainstorm, McCain has sought to connect his domestic brainstorms with his international "expertise":

"My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East," McCain said.

Wow! So we're going to stimulate oil consumption (this, after all, is what we've seen of McCain's energy policy thus far) so that more young patriots and ex-cons don't have to die in future wars?

Maybe I missed something here . . .

The expected GOP nominee sought to clarify his comments later, after his campaign plane landed in Phoenix. He said he didn't mean the U.S. went to war in Iraq five years ago over oil. "No, no, I was talking about that we had fought the Gulf War for several reasons," McCain told reporters.

So many war and so many religious divisions (Shia and Sunni) to keep track of. (And I must confess, that I've also lost track of all of Bush's "reasons" for the war.)

One reason was Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, he said. "But also we didn't want him to have control over the oil, and that part of the world is critical to us because of our dependency on foreign oil, and it's more important than any other part of the world," he said. "If the word `again' was misconstrued, I want us to remove our dependency on foreign oil for national security reasons, and that's all I mean," McCain said.

I am again at a loss to figure out what in the hell McCain is talking about. Even the rather cynical point about fighting over gasoline doesn't make much sense to me. Are the U.S. companies that get access to it going to charge us a cheaper price? (So far, we've spent billions on sending oil to Iraq!) Will we all eventually get a permanent 10% discount at the gas station for going along with the pre-emptive war for oil? Are we really supposed to believe that this war isn't about oil but the previous one was? And this is the guy the Republicans have chosen as the great visionary--the "straight-talker" who is going to lead us into a new era of blooming deserts and a fully-filled SUV in every garage? Me thinks not.