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The Cult of Sol Invictus

November 6, 2009

The Cult of Sol Invictus

by D.J. Love, Minister, TSN, SBC

(Upgraded 3-4-2002)

The Roman Empire began their official recognition of sun worship during the time of Aurelian when he instituted the cult of “Sol Invictus“. There is virtually no difference between the cult of Sol Invictus and that of Mithraism or for that matter catholicism.

In the year 307 A.D. Emperor Diocletian, a Sun Worshipper, was involved in the dedication of a temple to Mithra, and was responsible for the burning of Holy Scripture (which made it possible for later emperors to formulate Christianity, and thus began the Roman version of the Universal Christo-pagan Mystery Religion.”) After the rein of Diocletian, the Roman Emperor Constantine, who was an early Christo-pagan (Christian) maintained the title “Pontifus Maximus” the high priest of paganism, and remained a worshipper of Apollo. His coins were inscribed: SOL INVICTO COMITI, which is interpreted as “Committed to the Invincible Sun”. During his reign pagan Sun worship was blended with the worship of the True Creator (syncretism), and officially titled “Christianity” by the (less than holy) Roman Empire and its’ official church the (less than holy) catholic (universal) church.

Cybele, the Phrygian goddess, known to her followers as “the mother of god“, was closely related to the worship of Mithra. Just as Mithraism was a man’s religion, the worship of Cybele was practiced by women. The priests of Mithra were known as “Fathers” and the Priestesses of Cybele as “Mothers”. After baptism into the Mysteries of Mithra, the initiate was marked on the forehead. The sign of the cross formed by the elliptic and the celestial equator was one of the signs of Mithra. Sunday (Deis Solis), the day of the Sun, was considered by Mithraist a sacred day of rest. December 25th (the birthday of Mithra) was celebrated as the birth of the Sun, given birth by the “Queen of Heaven” – “Mother of god.” The Mithraists celebrated a mithraic love feast. This feast consisted of loaves of bread decorated with crosses with wine, over which the priest pronounced a mystic formula. Mithra was considered mediator between god and man (does this sound like Jesus?).

Note: In 46 BC, when the Roman “Julian Calendar” was adopted, December 24th was the shortest day of the year. Therefore, December 25th was the first annual day that daylight began to increase. Thus, the origin of the REBIRTH or Annual Birthday of the Invincible SUN.

In accordance with the Roman “Julian calendar,” the “Saturnalia” festival appears to have taken place on or about December 17th; it was preceded by the “Consualia” near December 15th, and followed by the “Opalia” on December 19th. These pagan celebrations typically lasted for at least a week, ending just before the late Roman Imperial Festival for “Sol Invictus” (Invincible Sun) on December 25th.

In 1582 AD. Roman Catholic Pope Gregory the XIII caused the current “Gregorian Calendar” to be adopted, in order to eliminate the solar time shift error introduced by the “Julian Calendar.

By December 1582 AD the shortest day of the year had shifted 12 days on the Roman “Julian Calendar” to Wednesday, December 12, 1582.

However, the Original December 25th ‘Birth Date’ was retained for all pagan Sun gods by the Roman “Saturnalia” and “Sol Invictus” traditions; which were now called the “Twelve Days Christ Mass.

On the new Roman Catholic Gregorian calendar the shortest annual day was numerically shifted back 10 days to the 22nd of December, where it remains to this day; while the original order of the days of the week remained unchanged.

Therefore, Wednesday, December 12th, 1582 AD, became Wednesday, December 22nd, 1582 AD, and the True Sabbath Day remained unchanged.

Yahweh, the Only True Yahweh, would never have allowed The True Messiah to be born on or near the December 25th birthday period of the pagan Sun gods; during the time in which virgins were sacrificed, murder was commonplace, and orgies the norm. This would be an entirely unacceptable association.

Mithraists, also, believed in eternal life in heaven, and in the torture of the wicked after death. Many of these beliefs and rituals were exclusive to Mithraism and up until the fourth century were not an official part of the Christo-pagan faith. In the 4th century, through confusion and deliberate manipulation by the Roman Empire and its’ official universal (catholic) church, rituals of “Sun Worship” were legitimized, under the guise of the “Authority of the Church” (Yahweh Never Granted Any Such Authority) to be “Christian” in nature. There is no Biblical support for the inclusion of Mithraic rituals (pagan Worship) into the worship of the Yahweh of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator of heaven and earth, and the Only Duty of the True Church is one of Obedience To The Authority of Yahweh. It is a Satanic scheme of deception to disguise the transgression of Yahweh’s laws under the title of “Christianity(Christo-pagan syncretism). This same system, characterized by the shrouding of truth in secrecy and the manipulation of the truth in order to achieve its ends, has been working for two millennia to perfect the Christo-pagan religion of Christianity. The mystery of iniquity is at work and it only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole lump. The next step is the actual forced taking of the “Mark of the Beast,” however, millions have already taken the “Mark of the Beast” voluntarily.

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US free speech lawyer defends satire of Glenn Beck

November 5, 2009

US free speech lawyer defends satire of Glenn Beck

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Massachusetts-based First Amendment rights lawyer Marc Randazza is defending a controversial parody website which satirizes American political commentator Glenn Beck. The website was created in September by a man from Florida named Isaac Eiland-Hall, and it asserts Beck uses questionable tactics “to spread lies and misinformation”.

Glenn Beck in 2009
Image: Mark87.

The website created by Eiland-Hall is located at the domain name “www.GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com”. Its premise is derived from a joke statement made by Gilbert Gottfried about fellow comedian Bob Saget. The joke was first applied to Beck on the Internet discussion community Fark. It then became popular on Internet social media sites including Reddit and Digg, and was the subject of a Google bomb, a technique where individuals link phrases in order to artificially change Google search results.

Eiland-Hall saw the discussion on Fark, and created a website about it. The website asserts it does not believe the rumors to be true, and states: “But we think Glenn Beck definitely uses tactics like this to spread lies and misinformation.” In an interview with Ars Technica, he said the website was “using Beck’s tactics against him”. The website was created on September 1, and by September 3 attorneys for Beck’s company Mercury Radio Arts took action. Beck’s lawyers sent letters to the domain name registrar where they referred to the domain name itself as “defamatory”, but they failed to get the site removed.

Cquote1.png Even an imbecile would look at this Web site and know that it’s a parody. Cquote2.png
—Marc Randazza, attorney for the website

Beck filed a formal complaint with the Switzerland-based agency of the United Nations, the World Intellectual Property Organization. Beck alleged that the website’s usage is libelous, bad faith, and could befuddle potential consumers. Beck’s complaint was filed under the process called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. The policy allows trademark owners to begin an administrative action by complaining that a certain domain registration is in “bad faith”. A lawyer for Beck declined to provide a comment to the Boston Herald, however a source told the newspaper that Beck’s complaint with the site is primarily a “trademark issue”.

Randazza established an attorney-client relationship with Eiland-Hall after his client received threatening letters from attorneys representing Beck. He then sent an email to Beck’s attorneys, and pointed out inconsistencies between their client’s recent actions and his prior public statements in support of the First Amendment. Randazza wrote a reply to the World Intellectual Property Organization, and contends that the website is “protected political speech”, because it is “satirical political humor”. Randazza stated that “Even an imbecile would look at this Web site and know that it’s a parody.” In his legal brief, Randazza compared the website to other Internet memes, such as “All your base are belong to us” and video parodies of the German film Downfall.

Cquote1.svg It’s not often that I would recommend reading a World Intellectual Property Organization legal brief for its entertainment value, but today is going to be an exception. Cquote2.svg
—Andy Carvin, National Public Radio

“We are here because Mr. Beck wants Respondent’s website shut down. He wants it shut down because Respondent’s website makes a poignant and accurate satirical critique of Mr. Beck by parodying Beck’s very rhetorical style,” wrote Randazza in the brief. The brief also commented on Beck’s style of reporting, and pointed out a controversial statement made by Beck when he interviewed a Muslim member of the United States Congress. Beck said to Representative Keith Ellison: “I like Muslims, I’ve been to mosques. … And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview because what I feel like saying is, sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” According to the Citizen Media Law Project, the website’s joke premise takes advantage of “a perceived similarity between Beck’s rhetorical style and the Gottfried routine”.

Public interest attorney Paul Levy told Ars Technica that if a statement in a website’s domain name were both false and “stated with actual malice”, it is possible it could be considered defamatory. The First Post reported that Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Corynne McSherry gave an analysis asserting that though the domain name of the website is “pretty dramatic”, it constituted “pure political criticism and there’s nothing wrong with that”. McSherry and Levy both agreed that the action of Beck to take the matter to the World Intellectual Property Organization was probably a tactic to determine the identity of the website’s owner.

Andy Carvin of National Public Radio wrote that Randazza’s legal brief was amusing, commenting: “It’s not often that I would recommend reading a World Intellectual Property Organization legal brief for its entertainment value, but today is going to be an exception.” Nate Anderson of Ars Technica commented “In any event, the WIPO battle promises to be entertaining, and there’s even a bit of serious purpose mixed in with the frivolity. Just how far can WIPO go in using its domain dispute system to address Internet spats?”. Domain Name Wire wrote that “…when someone who has created a bitingly satirical web site works with his lawyer to put pen to the paper, the end result can be quite amusing.”

Writing for Adweek, Eriq Gardner pointed out the comparison made by Randazza’s legal brief between the website’s parody nature itself and the statement made by Beck to Congressman Ellison, noting: “this case also makes a political point”. Jack Bremer wrote in The First Post that the attempts by Beck’s lawyers to argue that the website’s domain name is itself defamatory “looks like a first in cyber law”. Rick Sawyer of Bostonist characterized Randazza’s legal brief as “Hillarious!”, and called the attorney “among the North Shore’s most hilarious legal writers”.

Cquote1.png [Glenn Beck] did the one thing guaranteed to garner the greatest amount of publicity for the site… Cquote2.png
Politics Daily

The FOX News-critical site FoxNewsBoycott.com likened the legal conflict between Beck and the site to the Streisand effect, a phenomenon where an individual’s attempt to censor material on the Internet in turn proves to make the material itself more public. “Glenn Beck is experiencing the Streisand Effect first hand,” wrote FoxNewsBoycott.com. John Cook of Gawker.com also compared Beck’s actions to the Streisand effect: “Now Glenn Beck’s trying to shut down their web site, ensuring that people will write about it.” Jeffrey Weiss of Politics Daily wrote that by taking legal action, Beck “did the one thing guaranteed to garner the greatest amount of publicity for the site”. Techdirt described Beck’s legal action as “not particularly smart”, and noted: “Beck would have been better off just ignoring it. Instead, in legitimizing it by trying to take it down, many more people become aware of the meme — and may start calling attention to situations where Beck (and others) make use of such tactics.” The blog Hot Air noted the issue could gain attention if it becomes a test case for the First Amendment: “If this becomes a First Amendment test case, the smear’s going to be covered far and wide…”

What I like about a long war in Afghanistan, or why America desperately needs a quaqmire

October 28, 2009

What I like about a long war in Afghanistan, or why America desperately needs a quaqmire

October 28, 2009, 12:14PM

 

Never fail Friedman

Possibly the world’s most valuable political analyst?

We simply do not have the Afghan partners, the NATO allies, the domestic support, the financial resources or the national interests to justify an enlarged and prolonged nation-building effort in Afghanistan.(…) The locals sense they have us over a barrel, so they exploit our naïve goodwill and presence to loot their countries and to defeat their internal foes. Thomas L. Friedman – NY Times

My dad once told me about an interesting fellow he worked with in a large rug company. When the CEO was choosing new rug lines this guy’s input was vital because… he was always wrong:  not sometimes, always.

If this man saw some new prototype just in from the design department and showed any enthusiasm for it, experience had taught the top management that nobody anywhere would ever buy it and conversely if he thought the proposed product was a dog, they would go into  night shifts to flood the market with the rug.

My father considered his colleague to be a veritable phenomenon of nature and one of the most valuable men in his organization.

My father assured me that to be always wrong is as rare and wonderful as to be always right. His wise words have stayed with me.

Among political analysts, Thomas L. Friedman is that man.

Just to refresh my reader’s memory, lets have a little peek at his record on Iraq:

During the lead up to the war he said,

“The way you get that compliance out of a thug like Saddam is not by tripling the inspectors, but by tripling the threat that if he does not comply he will be faced with a U.N.-approved war.”

After no WMD were found he said,

“The stated reason for the war was that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction that posed a long-term threat to America. I never bought this argument… The WMD argument was hyped by George Bush and Tony Blair to try to turn a war of choice into a war of necessity.”

AND

“The right reason for this war, as I argued before it started, was to oust Saddam’s regime and partner with the Iraqi people to try to implement the Arab Human Development report’s prescriptions in the heart of the Arab world. That report said the Arab world is falling off the globe because of a lack of freedom, women’s empowerment, and modern education. The right reason for this war was to partner with Arab moderates in a long-term strategy of dehumiliation and redignification.”

Finally in August of 2006 he wrote,

“Whether for Bush reasons or Arab reasons, democracy is not emerging in Iraq, and we can’t throw more good lives after good lives”

His scrambling to maintain some reputation as an analyst and pundit led him to a series of statements that have come to be known as the “Friedman Unit”, a period of six months, where if his suggestions were followed, everything would turn out fine. Here is a sample of Friedman units ripped from Wikipedia:

“The next six months in Iraq… are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time” November 30, 2003.

“What we’re gonna find out… in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated a country or uncorked a civil war.” October 3, 2004.

“I think we’re in the end game now…. I think we’re in a six-month window here where it’s going to become very clear” September 25, 2005.

“I think the next six months really are going to determine whether this country is going to collapse” December 18, 2005.

“I think that we’re going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding” January 23, 2006

“I think we are in the end game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we can produce a decent outcome in Iraq.” March 2, 2006

“we’re going to find out… in the next year to six months – probably sooner – whether a decent outcome is possible” May 11, 2006.

Today his message is:

Let’s finish Iraq, because a decent outcome there really could positively impact the whole Arab-Muslim world, and limit our exposure elsewhere. Iraq matters.

His reason seems to be because:

My last guiding principle: We are the world. A strong, healthy and self-confident America is what holds the world together and on a decent path. A weak America would be a disaster for us and the world.

So now from

“democracy is not emerging in Iraq, and we can’t throw more good lives after good lives”·

We arrive at “we can’t throw more good lives after good lives in Afghanistan” because…

“Iraq matters”.

In my opinion this is all shorthand for, “if the US armed forces are tied down in Afghanistan, we wont be able to use them anywhere else”.

Where might that “anywhere” be?

My bet would be against Iran.

A lot of perspicacious analysts have always thought that in invading Iraq the real object was Iran. That is why Afghanistan was considered such a boring distraction. You probably remember how all the neocons  in those euphoric days were talking up, “real men go to Tehran”.

All the neocons have ever really cared about is Iran because it is Israel’s bête noire and Thomas L. Friedman is the smiling face of neoconnerie.

With the United States armed forces enmeshed  and maxed out in  Afghanistan, a full scale war with Iran? … fuggedaboutit.

The Russians know it, the Chinese know it, the Iranians know it,  and  most of all the Israelis know it.

So the bright side of the war in Afghanistan  is that a war with Iran would be a total disaster with hundreds of thousands of dead and might cause a worldwide depression as oil prices skyrocket and would only serve Israel’s and a few corrupt sheik’s interests, certainly not America’s. And as Friedman says,

“We simply don’t have the surplus we had when we started the war on terrorism”

So, if a low intensity endless quagmire-nightmare is the only thing standing between the USA and the abyss of war with Iran, the only excuse we can hand AIPAC for not going to war with Iran, then the president is right, Afghanistan is the “good” war.

Thomas Friedman, like my dad’s colleague, is  the most reliable bellwether that America is on the right track in Afghanistan.

So Mr. President, send the troops, the more the merrier: Afghanistan is the best excuse we’ll ever have for blowing off the Israelis and hey, we are still fighting terrorism, aren’t we?

Ordering executive pay cuts: It’s about time!

October 22, 2009

Ordering executive pay cuts: It’s about time!

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October 22 2009

The Treasury Department’s expected plan to cut executive pay by up to 90 percent – at the seven companies that received the most in bailout money – is not only good news. It’s great news!

It’s about time! The corporate elite, the rich of the rich, have been feeding at the public trough for far too long. For them to expect tens of millions in executive pay less than a year after being bailed out – with our tax dollars – is like rubbing salt in a fresh wound.

Not only did they cause of the current economic meltdown, in some cases they benefited from it. While they got golden parachutes, lavish perks, bonuses and stock options, the average working- class American got pink slips, foreclosure notices and the humiliation of having to ask a family member, relative, friend or charity for a little help during tough times.

It’s ironic how the lords of industry and the captains of finance cry foul when we ask them to sacrifice a little, maybe have a little modesty and think about ordinary folks.

They destroy families. They lay off 10,000 here, 20,000 there. They force draconian wage and health care cuts down our throats. They do it all with the stroke of a pen.

And then they cry foul!

For example, the Wall Street Journal is calling the proposed executive pay cuts “a seismic shift.” Not only will executives get paid less at AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, GM and the other bailed out companies, but the broader impact will be on corporate governance generally, they fear.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Charles Elson, head of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware: The proposed changes “dramatically injects the government into pay practices at private companies … It diminishes the authority of the board and the other investors…”

Additionally, Elson who sits on the board of HealthSouth Corp., says, “… the approach is atrocious because of the meddling.”

The Journal continues: Mr. Espen Eckbo, the director of Center for Corporate Governance at Dartmouth College, “anticipates increased shareholder pressure on companies without federal bailouts to create board risk committees and split the roles of chairman and CEO. There likely will be more non-binding stockholder resolutions next year calling for such changes.”

The Journal quotes a management attorney: “It seems very unprecedented for the government to be so dramatically realigning corporate structure on pay and governance.” Additionally, they fear that government intervention will “run a risk of driving out an important tier of management…”

Ominously, J.W. Verret, a corporate law expert at George Mason University School of Law, said, “There’s definitely never been anything like this where a government sets pay for a company that’s publicly traded.”

Oh, well pardon me if I don’t shed crocodile tears for the corporate elite.

It’s unmistakable though. They seem a little worried. Could it be that their days of riding rough-shod, smoking pistol in one hand and a big bag of cash in the other, are numbered. Could it be that the federal government might play a pro-active role and reign in corporate abuse. Could it be that the top executives will actually have to think about workers and their communities. Could it be that they may be held accountable for the piss-poor job they’ve done so far. Could it be?

If we do, in fact, begin to see a “seismic shift” – a dramatic injection of government regulation and a realigning of corporate structure on pay and governance –  then we may have turned a corner. We may have joined the rest of the modern world in capping executive pay.

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Death of the Category Killers

October 16, 2009

Death of the Category Killers

By Stacey Mitchell

Borders Books is on “death watch,” according to one industry observer.  Virgin shut down its last US record store this month. Office Depot and Staples are struggling. Circuit City is gone. Best Buy has launched a desperate ad campaign.

The specialty chains that grew so aggressively in the 1990s and early 2000s — the so-called “category killers” that bankrupted thousands of independent businesses — are now themselves rapidly losing ground to a handful of giant mass merchandisers, namely Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target, and Costco.

While the decline of independent businesses has leveled off and many are finding ways to survive and even thrive by building local business alliances and emphasizing their community roots, the rest of the retail sector is undergoing dramatic consolidation as a small number of massive companies become ever more dominant. This is an ominous trend for manufacturers and consumers, and it exposes serious flaws in US antitrust policy.

Books as Loss Leaders

“For much of 2008, the industry focused its attention on the viability of the struggling Borders, but Barnes & Noble faces many of the very same issues,” wrote Peter Olson, the former CEO of Random House, earlier this year in Publishers Weekly. Olson predicts that the two chains will continue to lose ground, struggle to finance their inventories, and be forced to close outlets.

Big-box mass merchandisers, like Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, have taken over 30% of the book market. These chains are now selling as many books as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Mass merchandisers, especially Wal-Mart, can turn a book into a best-seller just by adding it to their shelves — a power that publishers have found irresistible. Many now devote considerable resources to supporting the big boxes.

But Michael Norris, senior analyst at Simba Information and editor of the Book Publishing Report, believes publishers are making a deal with the devil. “Publishers don’t realize it, but they are backing themselves into a corner if more bookstores continue to close,” he contends. “If the balance of power shifts to a couple of big retailers … publishers are going to find they have no relevance or power.”

The big boxes stock only a small number of titles. They treat books as loss leaders (i.e., they sell them below cost) to draw people into their stores. This undercuts bookstores and sharply narrows the range of books produced and sold. While a customer picking up Oprah’s latest pick at a bookstore will have an opportunity to browse publishers’ back-lists and check out books by new writers, at Wal-Mart or Costco, shoppers see only a small number of titles. Rather than another book, their impulse purchases are far more likely to be socks or steaks.

So, while the big boxes can sell truckloads of a particular book, their growing dominance in the industry is actually shrinking the overall book market. “These are not encouraging developments for an industry that has had an admirable track record to date in discovering new talent and fostering a diversity of expression,” notes Olson.

What’s more, mass merchandisers are the least profitable retail channel for publishers, because they systematically over-buy and often end up returning over 40% of their inventory. (That compares to a return-rate of about 10% at independent bookstores.)

Most dangerous of all, the big boxes may suddenly decide to reduce or even eliminate the space they devote to books. “Big-box stores like Wal-Mart wouldn’t hesitate to rid their stores of books if it meant replacing them with higher margin items,” said Norris. “They have no stake in the future of print titles. In a bookstore, the future of the store depends on books. In a non-bookstore, the future of the book depends on the store.”

The other company taking market share from chain bookstores is, of course, Amazon, which now captures about 15% of book sales.  No one knows exactly what Amazon is up to these days, but its recent acquisitions and the fact that it lists publishers as competitors in its SEC filings is making many nervous. Boris Kachka, who covers the book industry for New York Magazine, explains, “Editors and retailers alike fear that it’s bent on building a vertical publishing business — from acquisition to your doorstep — with not a single middleman in sight. No HarperCollins, no Borders, no printing press.”

Wal-Mart Refashions Toys, Music and Electronics

Similar dynamics are playing out in category after category as mass merchandisers undercut specialty chains to become the dominant sellers, gaining unprecedented power over manufacturers and the ability to refashion entire product categories to suit their own needs, not those of producers or customers.

In 2003, Wal-Mart set its sights on the toy market.  It sold toys at a loss for an entire holiday season, sending Toys R Us, KB Toys, and FAO Schwartz into a tail spin. Wal-Mart emerged as the nation’s top toy seller, capturing more than 25% of the market. The needs and interests of Wal-Mart’s buyers soon became the primary consideration in the design and production of toys.

Last month, as part of a nationwide remodeling project, Wal-Mart began cutting the shelf space devoted to toys in its supercenters by half.  The loss of some 400 feet of aisles could crush a number of manufacturers that depend on Wal-Mart for a sizable share of their business and now have fewer competing retailers to turn to.

Much the same has happened with music. Although the decline of record stores is often blamed entirely on online downloading, even in 2009 CDs still account for more than 75% of album sales. The downfall of record stores really began with big-box retailers.

Starting in the 1990s, Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy sold popular CDs below cost in order to bring people into their stores and sell more refrigerators and toasters. It was a strategy that many specialty music stores, chain and independent, were unable to counter, despite their vastly larger selections.

Mass merchandisers soon grew from minor players in the music business to major gatekeepers, controlling more than two-thirds of the market, dictating terms to record companies, and blacklisting albums they found objectionable.

Today, the big music chains, Tower Records and Virgin Megastores, are gone and so too are thousands of independent record stores.  Meanwhile, big-box retailers — who calculate their interest in music the same way they do toothpaste, in dollars per square foot — have shifted strategy and are slashing the amount of space devoted to CDs. Next on the agenda are office supplies and electronics. Sales at Office Depot, Office Max, and Staples have plummeted, as Wal-Mart and Costco have expanded their line-up and dropped prices.

In electronics, Best Buy was initially viewed as the likely beneficiary of Circuit City’s demise, but many analysts now expect Wal-Mart, which recently redesigned and enlarged its selection of televisions and computers, and Amazon, which is also expanding its electronics offerings, to split much of the market share up for grabs. Meanwhile, Best Buy has launched a new ad campaign that makes a direct appeal to shoppers not to defect to Wal-Mart.

Restoring Competition

Selling goods below cost in order to drive competitors out of business — a strategy Wal-Mart first employed against small-town drugstores in the Midwest in the 1980s and now uses for nationwide assaults on entire product categories — is technically illegal. But US antitrust enforcers have taken a very lax attitude toward predatory pricing and other antitrust violations ever since the Reagan administration.

The consequence is an economy where power is so concentrated that it undermines the free market itself and threatens our individual liberty within it. Bullied and financially squeezed by mega-retailers, manufacturers have little choice but to focus on producing a narrow range of products that suit these companies’ needs, while cutting support for competing retailers and eliminating investment in new products, writers, and artists.

The wave of chain store consolidation now underway adds new urgency to calls for a reinvigorated antitrust policy and a return to the idea that a competitive economy is one made up of lots of competitors, many of them small and independent.

It also adds new significance to the growing grassroots movement to revive and expand independent businesses. Local business alliances have formed in more than 120 cities and now include about 30,000 independent businesses.

There are signs that these initiatives are making a difference.  Market research, surveys, and anecdotal reports from small business owners suggest that “buy local” has become a priority for more people.  In many sectors, the market share of independent retailers has been holding steady for the last few years. Most encouraging, there are more new independent businesses opening, including, most notably, neighborhood greengrocers and food co-ops, hardware stores, and some 350 new bookstores over the last four years.

Another sign that a genuine shift might be underway came on Saturday, April 18, when music fans mobbed more than 1,000 independent record stores in the US and abroad as part of Record Store Day. “It was the best sales day we’ve ever had in our 18-year history,” said Eric Levin, owner of Criminal Records in Atlanta and one of the organizers of the event.

Now in its second year, Record Store Day is an annual celebration of independent music stores. This year’s event was huge and included more than 600 in-store performances and over 80 exclusive releases produced specifically for Record Store Day. Neilson SoundScan reported a 16% upswing in album sales. The event made the top 5 news stories on Google and was the 35th most searched item on the web.

Among the top sellers were vinyl releases put out by Green Day, Radiohead, and other bands. Sales of vinyl records, many of which include a code that buyers can use to also download the album online, have surged in the last year, up 89%. “It’s a back-to-real movement akin to the farm-to-table movement,” explains Levin, whose store hosted 14 concerts on Record Store Day, including a performance by Manchester Orchestra that drew a crowd of 650.

“The hurdles of corporate power have been almost insurmountable,” Levin observed. “Fortunately, we’ve been surmounting them.”

Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the New Rules Project (newrules.org/retail), where this appeared and a free monthly email newsletter is available. She is author of Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses.

us code laws

October 15, 2009

08_jeisa-chiminazzo_04http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/

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Murphy’s military police laws

October 15, 2009

artillary

  • Your brassard and your badge won’t stop bullets.
  • If it’s stupid but works, it isn’t stupid.
  • Don’t look conspicuous – it antagonizes officers.
  • When in doubt, empty your shotgun.
  • Never share a patrol car with anyone braver than you.
  • Not wearing body armor attracts bullets and knives.
  • If your response goes well, you’re at the wrong barracks.
  • Your Patrol Supervisor will show up when you’re doing something really stupid.
  • The time it takes to respond to an emergency is inversely proportional to the importance of the call.
  • The warrant you don’t read is the one you’ll serve at the wrong quarters.
  • No matter how you write it, the Desk Sergeant will want it changed.
  • If you charge in all alone, you’ll be shot by your own officers.
  • The diversion you’re ignoring is the actual crime.
  • The important things are always simple.
  • The simple things are always hard.
  • The easy ways are always blocked.
  • The short cuts are always under construction by the post engineers.
  • Anything you do can get you in trouble – including doing nothing.
  • When you’ve secured a crime scene, don’t forget to tell the brass.
  • Using the siren and light to clear traffic – attracts traffic.
  • It only becomes a riot right after you show up.
  • If you take out the newest patrol car, you’ll have an accident.
  • No street-wise unit ever passed inspection.
  • No inspection-ready unit ever makes it on the streets.
  • The thing you really need, will be left back at the MP Station.
  • Radios will fail as soon as you need back-up desperately.
  • Flashlight batteries always die out, just when you really need light.
  • Military working dogs attack anything that moves – including you.
  • The helicopter will always be low on fuel, as soon as you need it.
  • You’ll find the suspect you want, when you’re off-duty and unarmed.
  • If you respond to more than your fair share of calls, you’ll have more than your fair share of calls to respond to.
  • The suspect will escape, just before you set up a good perimeter.
  • The dependent who screams loudly when you don’t show up quickly, also screams loudly when you do.
  • The weight of the dead body you’ll have to carry is proportional to the amount of stairs you’ll have to climb.
  • Fatalities always occur at the end of shift – or when it rains and snows.
  • Your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
  • Contrary to popular belief – general officers don’t get tickets.
  • You won’t get called to a court martial – unless it’s your day off.
  • Take off your hat and the MP Duty Officer shows up.
  • Empty guns – aren’t.
  • Your two minute “back-up” is always actually ten minutes away.
  • The alley you sprint down, is the wrong alley.
  • Tasting suspected drugs works – but only on TV or in the movies.
  • Suspects always hide in the last place you look.
  • Better to be judged by twelve, than carried by six.
  • Professional criminals are predictable, but the world is full of amateurs.
  • Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof – then blame a Private.
  • Don’t stand, if you can sit – don’t sit, if you can lay down – if you can lay down, you might as well take a nap.

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High School 1957 vs 2009

October 3, 2009

High School 1957 vs 2009

by Dan Nickerson on 08/29/2009

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When I posted this chain email I received in August..  I had no idea that it would generate this level of attention.

Posting non-original content is not something I teach or normally do.  At the time I thought it was interesting, my list might appreciate it and it would make a good tweet.

I didn’t expect it to generate 100’s of comments and initiate debates on race, religion, sex and drugs… but it has…

I’ll keep this post up for now, but if it really digresses I’ll probably remove it..

The original author of this article created 8 extreme scenarios to highlight some differences between 1957 and 2009.

Obviously there are 1000’s of scenarios that could be created to highlight the good and bad of both generations, but this particular post was written to favor 1957.

I guess the real question is… Would you rather grow up in 1957 or 2009 and why?

Scenario 1:

Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck’s gun rack.

1957 – Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2009 – School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1957 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins.. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2009 – Police called and SWAT team arrives — they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged them with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:

Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1957 – Jeffrey sent to the Principal’s office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2009 – Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The school gets extra money from the state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt..

1957 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.

2009 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 – Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.

2009 – The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6:

Pedro fails high school English.

1957 – Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.

2009 – Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7:

Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.

1957 – Ants die.

2009 – ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents — and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny’s dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:

Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1957 – In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2009 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison… Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

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‘Political Slush Funds’: The Last Loophole

September 28, 2009

‘Political Slush Funds’: The Last Loophole

Leadership PACs Let Politicians Spend Money Freely on Leisure Outings

By MARCUS STERN and JENNIFER LAFLEUR of ProPublica, BRIAN ROSS, AVNI PATEL and ASA ESLOCKER of ABC News
Sept. 25, 2009

For people who love golf, the chance to play at the five-star Greenbrier resort in West Virginia is a dream come true. Especially if someone else pays for it.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner’s PAC spent $550,000 on travel and entertainment expenses around the country, more than any other lawmaker, according to a ABC News/ProPublica analysis of disclosure data. In the past three years, Boehner has travelled to Palm Springs, CA; Boca Raton, FL; and Scottsdale, AZ to raise money for his PAC.

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That was the case this summer for two powerful members of Congress, House Republican Minority leader John Boehner of Ohio and Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

Accompanied by top corporate lobbyists , the two golf-loving Republicans spent a luxurious weekend at the Greenbrier, the kinds of cozy gatherings new ethics reform laws were supposed to curb.

“You’re seeing the quintessential Washington insider pay-to-play game,” said Meredith McGehee, Policy Director at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.

Many people assumed these types of outings were ended when Congress passed reforms in 2007. But those reforms didn’t mention what has come to be an important source of funding for politicians: leadership political action committees, or PACs, whose money can be spent for almost any purpose, including golf.

Members of Congress are supposed to use their leadership PAC funds to support other politicians. But in the 2008 election cycle, Chambliss spent more money from his PAC on golf outings, $225,000, than on donations to other political campaigns, $204,000. On Capitol Hill, his leadership PAC is known to some as a golf PAC.

Chambliss declined to be interviewed for this story, but in a statement he said he holds the golf outings only to raise money. Top of Form

A spokesman for Boehner’s PAC, The Freedom Project, also defended the spending as legitimate and said that through his PAC, he contributed “more than any other Republican in the House.”

McGehee and others call leadership PACs modern-day slush funds. Some members of Congress use them for pretty much whatever they want, including subsidizing their lifestyles and hobbies.

In a joint report with the investigative journalism group ProPublica, ABC News found that members of Congress used leadership PAC money to pay for visits to ski resorts, casinos, Disney World and the Super Bowl. Senate Majority Harry Reid of Nevada used leadership PAC money to throw a $39,000 inaugural party. New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel ordered a $64,000 oil portrait of himself.

Reid spent 53 percent of his PAC money on campaigns he was supporting. That’s $1.1 million.

Federal Election Laws even allow members of the Congress to spend the money on themselves or their friends and families. Senate rules do not even mention leadership PACs, although hundreds of millions of dollars pour into these funds every election cycle.

Lobbyist Jim Ervin might bristle at McGehee’s use of the phrase slush fund, but he seems to agree in spirit.

“I think that it’s more than appropriate for Senator Chambliss to do whatever he wants with the leadership PAC money. Certainly I think golf is completely acceptable,” he said. Ervin and two of his clients – defense contractors Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics — put $30,000 into Chambliss’ leadership PAC in the last election cycle. Top of Form

Leadership PACs give incumbents an unfair advantage because challengers typically can’t raise the maximum amount of money allowed for their campaign committees, much less for a leadership PAC, said former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith.”For the most part it’s really kind of an incumbent racket,” he said.

The FEC disclosure forms that leadership PACs file are so cursory that lawmakers don’t have to disclose who participated or contributed at a PAC fund-raiser, the day the event was held or how much money was raised.

When Chambliss’ leadership PAC ran up a $50,394 bill at the Ritz-Carlton Naples on Jan. 25, 2008, the only stated purpose was, “PAC EVENT/LODGING/BANQUET/GOLF.”

Chambliss’ love of golf is so legendary in Washington political circles that he has been teased for letting golf interfere with his political and legislative business.

In 2003, then-President Bush told a crowd at a golf fund-raiser for Chambliss that the senator had intercepted him on his way to the dais and said, “If you keep it short, we might be able to get a round of golf in.”

Chambliss also took heat for skipping a sensitive closed-door Iraq war intelligence briefing in 2005 to golf with Tiger Woods.

Lawmakers who leave Congress sometimes keep their PACs — or they hand them down like valuable heirlooms to their successors, with the same tight circle of lobbyists and fund-raising professionals often continuing as the core of the organization.

Chambliss’ Republican Majority Fund has been around for decades. Former Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee controlled the PAC when he was the Senate Republican leader until 1985. He handed it off to then-Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma. When Nickles retired from the Senate in 2005, he handed it off to Chambliss.

Laura Rizzo, who ran the leadership PAC for Nickles, now runs it for Chambliss. More than one-third of the PAC’s expenditures during the 2008 campaign cycle — $237,536 – was paid to Rizzo for “PAC FUNDRAISING CONSULTING.”

Nickles, whose passion for golf is as legendary as Chambliss’, now has a successful lobbying practice. Nickles Group and its clients contributed $37,500 to Chambliss’ Republican Majority Fund during the 2008 campaign cycle.

Neither Nickles nor Rizzo returned calls seeking comments about their long associations with the Republican Majority Fund.

In March, the FEC’s six commissioners, three Democrats and three Republicans, sent Congress a list of legislative recommendations, including one to prohibit personal use of leadership PAC funds. Their letter went to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as president of the Senate. It also was sent to members of the House and Senate committees that oversee the FEC.

So far, the FEC has gotten no response. ProPublica left messages at the offices of the speaker, majority leader and chairmen of the two committees seeking comment, but got no replies.

This was a joint investigation by ABC News and ProPublica – an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. ProPublica Director of Research Lisa Schwartz and Justin Grant, ABC News, contributed to this report.

The GOP’s Misplaced Rage

September 27, 2009

The GOP’s Misplaced Rage

by Bruce Bartlett

Bruce BartlettBruce Bartlett helped develop supply-side economics while on the staff of Rep. Jack Kemp in the 1980s. In 2006 he was fire

d by a conservative think tank for writing a book critical of George W. Bush from a conservative point of view, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. His new book, The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward, will be published in October.

Barack Obama, George Bush AP Photo; Getty Images

Leading conservative economist Bruce Bartlett writes that the Obama-hating town-hall mobs have it wrong—the person they should be angry with left the White House seven months ago.

Where is the evidence that everything would be better if Republicans were in charge? Does anyone believe the economy would be growing faster or that unemployment would be lower today if John McCain had won the election? I know of no economist who holds that view. The economy is like an ocean liner that turns only very slowly. The gross domestic product and the level of employment would be pretty much the same today under any conceivable set of policies enacted since Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect.

In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected a deficit this year of $1.2 trillion before Obama took office, with no estimate for actions he might take. To a large extent, the CBO’s estimate simply represented the $482 billion deficit projected by the Bush administration in last summer’s budget review, plus the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which George W. Bush rammed through Congress in September over strenuous conservative objections. Thus the vast bulk of this year’s currently estimated $1.8 trillion deficit was determined by Bush’s policies, not Obama’s.

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush. This is not to say Obama hasn’t made mistakes himself, but even they can be blamed on Bush insofar as Bush’s incompetence led to the election of a Democrat. If he had done half as good a job as most Republicans have talked themselves into believing he did, McCain would have won easily.

Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.

Indeed, Bush’s responsibility for the recession is implicit in every conservative analysis of its origins. The most thorough has been done by John Taylor, a respected economist from Stanford University who served during most of the Bush administration as the No. 3 official at the Treasury Department. In his book, Getting Off Track, he puts most of the blame on the Federal Reserve for holding interest rates down too low for too long.

While the Fed does bear much responsibility for sowing the seeds of recession, it’s commonly treated as an institution independent of politics and even the government itself. But the Federal Reserve Board consists of governors appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Because the president appoints the board, he has primary influence over its policies. This is especially the case for chairmen of the Fed appointed by Republicans because they often have ties to Republican administrations. Chairman Ben Bernanke was originally appointed as a member of the Fed in 2002, serving until 2005, when he became chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the White House, a position that made him Bush’s chief economic adviser.

As early as 2002, a majority of the seven-member Federal Reserve Board was Bush appointees, and by 2006 every member was a Bush appointee. While many critical decisions about monetary policy are made by the Federal Open Market Committee, the board’s position always prevails.

The Treasury secretary also has had breakfast with the Fed chairman on a weekly basis for decades. Consequently, most economists generally believe that every administration ultimately gets the Fed policy it wants. Therefore, one must conclude that if there were errors in Fed policy that caused the current downturn, it must be because the Fed was doing what the Bush administration wanted it to do.

To the extent that there were mistakes in housing policy that contributed to the recession, those were necessarily committed by Bush political appointees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other agencies. To the extent that banks and other financial institutions made mistakes or engaged in fraudulent activity, it was either overlooked or sanctioned by Bush appointees at the Securities & Exchange Commission, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and elsewhere.

But in a larger sense, the extremely poor economic performance of the Bush years really set the stage for the current recession. This is apparent when we compare Bush’s two terms to Bill Clinton’s eight years. Since both took office close to a business cycle trough and left office close to a cyclical peak, this is a reasonable comparison.

Throughout the Bush years, many conservative economists, including CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, extravagantly extolled Bush’s economic policies. As late as December 21, 2007, after the recession already began, he wrote in National Review: “the Goldilocks economy is outperforming all expectations.” In a column on May 2, 2008, almost six months into the recession, Kudlow praised Bush for having prevented a recession.

But the truth was always that the economy performed very, very badly under Bush, and the best efforts of his cheerleaders cannot change that fact because the data don’t lie. Consider these comparisons between Bush and Clinton:

• Between the fourth quarter of 1992 and the fourth quarter of 2000, real GDP grew 34.7 percent. Between the fourth quarter of 2000 and the fourth quarter of 2008, it grew 15.9 percent, less than half as much.

• Between the fourth quarter of 1992 and the fourth quarter of 2000, real gross private domestic investment almost doubled. By the fourth quarter of 2008, real investment was 6.5 percent lower than it was when Bush was elected.

• Between December 1992 and December 2000, payroll employment increased by more than 23 million jobs, an increase of 21.1 percent. Between December 2000 and December 2008, it rose by a little more than 2.5 million, an increase of 1.9 percent. In short, about 10 percent as many jobs were created on Bush’s watch as were created on Clinton’s.

• During the Bush years, conservative economists often dismissed the dismal performance of the economy by pointing to a rising stock market. But the stock market was lackluster during the Bush years, especially compared to the previous eight. Between December 1992 and December 2000, the S&P 500 Index more than doubled. Between December 2000 and December 2008, it fell 34 percent. People would have been better off putting all their investments into cash under a mattress the day Bush took office.

• Finally, conservatives have an absurdly unjustified view that Republicans have a better record on federal finances. It is well-known that Clinton left office with a budget surplus and Bush left with the largest deficit in history. Less well-known is Clinton’s cutting of spending on his watch, reducing federal outlays from 22.1 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent of GDP. Bush, by contrast, increased spending to 20.9 percent of GDP. Clinton abolished a federal entitlement program, Welfare, for the first time in American history, while Bush established a new one for prescription drugs.

Conservatives delude themselves that the Bush tax cuts worked and that the best medicine for America’s economic woes is more tax cuts; at a minimum, any tax increase would be economic poison. They forget that Ronald Reagan worked hard to pass one of the largest tax increases in American history in September 1982, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, even though the nation was still in a recession that didn’t end until November of that year. Indeed, one could easily argue that the enactment of that legislation was a critical prerequisite to recovery because it led to a decline in interest rates. The same could be said of Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, which many conservatives predicted would cause a recession but led to one of the biggest economic booms in history.

According to the CBO, federal taxes will amount to just 15.5 percent of GDP this year. That’s 2.2 percent of GDP less than last year, 3.3 percent less than in 2007, and 1.8 percent less than the lowest percentage recorded during the Reagan years. If conservatives really believe their own rhetoric, they should be congratulating Obama for being one of the greatest tax cutters in history.

Conservatives will respond that some tax cuts are good while others are not. Determining which is which is based on something called supply-side economics. Because I was among those who developed it, I think I can speak authoritatively on the subject. According to the supply-side view, temporary tax cuts and tax credits are economically valueless. Only permanent cuts in marginal tax rates will significantly raise growth.

On this basis, we see that Bush’s tax cuts were pretty much the opposite of what supply-side economics would recommend. The vast bulk of his tax cuts involved tax rebates—which failed in 2001 and again in 2008, because the vast bulk of the money was saved—or tax credits that had no incentive effects. While marginal rates were cut slightly—the top rate fell from 39.6 percent to 35 percent—it was phased in slowly and never made permanent. Neither were Bush’s cuts in capital gains and dividend taxes.

I could go on to discuss other Bush mistakes that had negative economic consequences, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which imposed a massive regulatory burden on corporations without doing anything to prevent corporate misconduct, and starting unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will burden the economy for decades to come in the form of veterans’ benefits.

But there is yet another dimension to Bush’s failures—the things he didn’t do. In this category I would put a health-care overhaul. Budget experts have known for years that Medicare was on an unsustainable financial path. It is impossible to pay all the benefits that have been promised because spending has been rising faster than GDP.

In 2003, the Bush administration repeatedly lied about the cost of the drug benefit to get it passed, and Bush himself heavily pressured reluctant conservatives to vote for the program.

Because reforming Medicare is an important part of getting health costs under control generally, Bush could have used the opportunity to develop a comprehensive health-reform plan. By not doing so, he left his party with nothing to offer as an alternative to the Obama plan. Instead, Republicans have opposed Obama’s initiative while proposing nothing themselves.

In my opinion, conservative activists, who seem to believe that the louder they shout the more correct their beliefs must be, are less angry about Obama’s policies than they are about having lost the White House in 2008. They are primarily Republican Party hacks trying to overturn the election results, not representatives of a true grassroots revolt against liberal policies. If that were the case they would have been out demonstrating against the Medicare drug benefit, the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, and all the pork-barrel spending that Bush refused to veto.

Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting.

Bruce Bartlett was one of the original supply-siders, helping draft the Kemp-Roth tax bill in the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was a leading Republican economist. He now considers himself to be a political independent. He is the author of Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action and Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy . His latest book, The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in October.

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GODS & GODDESSES OF LOVE & SEXUALITY

September 26, 2009


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Name Origin Attribute
Achtland Celtic goddess of Wanton love
Aedos Roman goddess of Modesty
Aeval Celtic goddess of Sexual relations/Small size
Aidin Celtic goddess of Love/Sexuality
Aine Irish goddess of Fertility/Love
Aisha Qandisha Morocco goddess of Sexual activity
AIZEN MYO-O Japanese God of Love and Lust
Ala Nigerian goddess of Fertility/Morality
Alalahe Polynesian goddess of Love
ALBINA Etruscan goddess of dawn and protector of ill-fated lovers
Al-Lat Arabic goddess of Fertility/Procreation
AlpanAlpan Etruscan goddess of Love
Ame-No-Uzume Japanese goddess of Fertility
Amon Egyptian god of Fertility
Amor Roman god of Love
Anahita Persian goddess of Fertility/Semen
Anath Canaanite goddess of Love
Angus Og Irish god of Love
Annallja Tu Bari Sudanese goddess of Sexuality
Anna Perenna Etruscan goddess of Reproduction/Wanton/Love
Anteros Greek god of Love/Passion
Antheia Greek goddess of Love, Flowers
Aphrodite Greek goddess of Fertility/Sexual love/Beauty
Apis Egyptian god of Fertility
Arianrhod Welsh goddess of Fertility/Wanton love
Artemis Greek goddess of Chastity/Virginity/Fertility
Asase Yaa Ashanti goddess of Fertility
Asherali Canaanite goddess of Fertility
Ashtoreth Phoenician goddess of Fertility
Ashur Assyrian god of Fertility
Astarte Phoenician goddess of Fertility/Love/Sacred sexuality/Sex
Astlik Armenian goddess of Love, Fertility
Astraea Greek goddess of Modesty
Astrild Norse god of Erotic Love
Athtart Canaanite goddess of Fertility
Auseklis Latvian goddess of Love
Baal Syrian/Canaanite god of Fertility
Backlum Chaam Mayan god of Male sexuality/Sex
Bangan Philippine goddess of Love
Bastet Egyptian goddess of Fertility/Love/Sex
Bau Sumerian goddess of Fertility
BEBHIONN Irish goddess of Love/Pleasure; Queen of the Underworld
Benten Japanese goddess of Love
Bes Egyptian god of Love/Marriage
Bidhgoe Celtic goddess of Love/Sexuality
Bintang Borneo goddess of Love
Boann Irish goddess of Fertility
Brag-srin-mo Tibetan goddess of Fertility
Brangwaine Welsh goddess of Love
Branwen Irish goddess of Love
Brigit Irish goddess of Fertility
Ca-the-na Mohave goddess of Love
Ceres Roman goddess of Fertility
Cernunnos Celtic god of Fertility
Cerridwen Celtic goddess of Fertility
Chac Mayan god of Fertility
Chalchiuhtlicue Aztec goddess of Love/Beauty
Chicomecoatl Aztec goddess of Fertility
Chou Wang Chinese god of Sodomy
Cinteotl Aztec god of Fertility
CLIODHNA Irish goddess of Love and Beauty; queen of the Munster fairies
Conchenn Celtic goddess of Love
Cotys Thracian goddess of Fertility
Cupid Roman god of Erotic Love
Cythera Greek/Cyprian goddess of Love
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Demeter Greek goddess of Fertility
Diana Roman goddess of Chastity/Virginity/Fertility
Dumuzi Babylonian god of Fertility
DWYN/DWUMWEN Welsh god of Love
Dzydzilelya Polish goddess of Love
El Canaanite god of Fertility
Enki Sumerian god of Fertility
Eros Greek god of Erotic love/Passion/Sex
Erzulie Voodoo goddess of Fertility/Love/Virginity/Beauty/Sex
Eueucoyotl Aztec god of Fertility/Sex
Ezili Fon goddess of Beauty/Love
Faumea Polynesian goddess of Fertility
Faunus Roman god of Fertility
Finncaev Irish goddess of Fair love
Flora Roman goddess of Love/Prostitution
Frey Scandinavian god of Fertility
Freya Norse goddess of Fertility/Love/Beauty/Sex/War
Freyr Norse god of Phallic Fertility
Frigg Germanic goddess of Fertility/Marriage
Gefjon Germanic goddess of of Fertility
Gekka-O Japanese god of Marriage
Ghede Voodoo god of Fertility/Love
Hathor Egyptian goddess of Fertility/Love/Marriage/Beauty
Haumea Hawaiian goddess of Fertility
Havea lolo fonua Polynesian goddess of Intercourse
Hebe Greek goddess of Beauty
Hecate Greek goddess of Fertility
Hera Greek goddess of Marriage/Motherhood
Hestia Greek goddess of Marriage
HIMERUS Greek God of Love/Sexual Desire
Hina Hawaiian goddess of Fertility
Hora Roman goddess of Beauty
Hsi Shih Chinese goddess of Face cream
HUEHUECOYOTL Aztec god of Music/Dance/Song
Hymen Greek/Roman god of Marriage/First love
HYMENAIOS Greek god Marriage Ceremonies/Inspiring Feasts/Songs
Ichpuchtli Aztec goddess of Lust/Pleasure
Inanna Mesopotamian goddess of Fertility/Love
Indra Vedic god of Fertility
Inemes Micronesian goddess of Love/Sexuality
Ishkhara Babylonian goddess of Love, Priestess of Ishtar
Ishtar Assyrian goddess of Fertility/Love/Sex
Isis Egyptian goddess of Fertility/Marital/Devotion/Motherhood
Ix Chel Mayan goddess of Sexual relations
Juno Roman goddess of Marriage/Motherhood
Kama Hindu god of Love
KAMADIVA Hindu god of Love
Kane Hawaiian god of Fertility
Kanikanihia Hawaiian goddess of Love
Kapo Hawaiian goddess of Abortions/Fertility
Ken Egyptian goddess of Love
Khem Egyptian god of Fertility
Kilya Inca goddess of Marriage
Kishi-Mojin Japanese goddess of Motherhood
Kokopell’Mana Hopi goddess of Fertility
Korawini?i Paiute goddess of Intercourse
Kupalo Slavic goddess of Fertility/Sex
Kurukulla Tibetan goddess of Love, Wealth
Lada Slavic goddess of Love
Lakshmi Hindu goddess of Love/Beauty
Lempo Finnish god of Frenzied Love
Liber Italian god of Fertility
Lofn Scandinavian goddess of Love
Luamerava African goddess of Sexual desire
Lulong Borneo goddess of Love
Lutinus Roman god of Fertility
Macha Irish goddess of Fertility
Maia Roman goddess of Fertility
MAMI WATA African goddess of Fortune/Healing/Sex/Water
Manannan Celtic god of Fertility
Mariana Brazilian goddess of Love
Matronit Spanish goddess of Chastity/Promiscuity/Motherhood
Medb Celtic goddess of Sexuality/Intoxication
Mens Roman goddess of Menstruation
Mhaya Tanzania goddess of Deserted lovers
MILDA Lithuanian goddess of Love
Min Egyptian god of Potency/Fertility
Morongo Zimbabwe goddess of Love/Sexuality
Mot Canaanite god of Fertility
Mut Egyptian goddess of Fertility
Mylitta Babylonian goddess of Fertility
Naamah Canaanite goddess of Fertility/Sex
Nambi Masai goddess of Love/Sexuality
Ndauthina Fijian god of Adultery
Nehalennia Germanic goddess of Fertility
Ninhursaga Sumerian goddess of Fertility
Njord Norse god of Fertility
Nu Wa Chinese goddess of Marriage Arranger
Oba Yoruba goddess of Protector of prostitutes
Odudua Yoruba goddess of Fertility/Love
Oenghus Irish god of Love
Ops Roman goddess of Fertility
Oshun Ana Yoruba goddess of Love
Osiris Egyptian god of Fertility
Pachamama Incan goddess of Fertility
Pacha Mama Aztec goddess of Fertility
PAN Greek god of Male Virility and Sexuality
P’an Chin-lien Chinese goddess of Brothels/Lasciviousness/Prostitution/Sex
Pantang Mayang Borneo goddess of Love
PEITHO Greek goddess of Persuasion/Seduction
Peko Estonian god of Fertility
Prende Slavic goddess of Love
Priapus Greek god of Fertility
Pudicitia Roman goddess of Modesty
Qadesh Syrian goddess of Sacred Love, Pleasure
Qadshu Syrian goddess of Fertility
Qetesh Egyptian goddess of Sex
Quan Yin Chinese goddess of Fertility
Quetzalcoatl Aztec god of Fertility
Rangda Balinese goddess of Fertility/Sexuality/Lust
Rati Hindu/Balinese goddess of Fertility/Love/Passion/Sex
Ratu-Mai-Mbula Fijian god of Fertility
Rhea Greek goddess of Fertility
Rod Slavic god of Fertility
Satis Egyptian goddess of Fertility
Selket Egyptian goddess of Fertility
Sessrumnir Germanic goddess of Fertility
Shiva Hindu god of Fertility
Sif Norse goddess of Fertility
Sjofn Norse goddess of Love/Passion
Suadela Roman goddess of Persuasion in Love/Romance/Seduction
Sukkamielli Finnish goddess of Frenzied love
Tagabayan Philippine goddess of Adultery/Incest
Taka rita Polynesian goddess of Adultery
Tammuz Mesopotamian god of Fertility
Tane Polynesian god of Fertility
Taueret Egyptian goddess of Fertility
Tellus Roman goddess of Fertility
Tenye Te’en Nigerian goddess of Marital fidelity
Thalia Greek goddess of Burlesque
Thunor Germanic god of Fertility
Tlazolteotl Aztec goddess of Love/Licentiousness/Sex
Tsilah Wedo Haitian goddess of Beauty
Turan Etruscan goddess of Love/Vitality
Ueuecoyotl Aztec god of Fertility
Ursule Haitian goddess of Love
Ururupuin Micronesian goddess of Flirting
Urvasi Hindu goddess of Success in Love Affairs
Var Norse goddess of Marriage Vows
Venus Roman goddess of Love
Vesta Roman goddess of Marriage
Voluptas Roman goddess of Sensual Pleasure
Xipe Totec Aztec goddess of Fertility
XOCHIPILLI Aztec god of Love/Games/Beauty/Dance/Flowers/Maize/Song
Xochiquetzal Aztec goddess of Fertility/Love/Sensual Pleasure/Sex
Xtabay Mayan goddesses of Seduction
Yarilo Slavic god of Fertility
Zizilia Polish goddess of Love
Zoria Slavic goddess of Beauty

September 26, 2009

Oregon: A Paradise for the Mentally Incompetent

by Eric Englund
by Eric Englund

//

Did you know that it is against the law to pump your own gas in Oregon? For those who live in the Peoples Republic of Oregon, we have to suffer the indignity of being treated like absolute mental incompetents every time we need to fuel up our automobiles. This “no-self-serve” law was passed in 1951 and should have been repealed long ago.

Although there are many lame excuses as to why this law is still in force, anyone with half-a-brain understands that it is a make-work law forcing gas station owners to hire the barely-employable or those who are just breaking into the work force. And these pump-jockeys, as far as Oregon’s lawmakers are concerned, keep us idiot-citizens from harming ourselves, others, and mother nature herself. Indeed, you may detect a bit of an edge to this essay and I’ll explain why soon. However, my primary objective is to propose dozens of new laws – which are currently in force within various locales in the United States – that will transform the State of Oregon into a paradise for Boobus Americanus. For Oregonians, as reflected in this state’s left-wing voting pattern, yearn for assistance, guidance, and prodding from our beloved nanny-state.

In 1951, when the Oregon legislature made it illegal to pump gasoline into one’s own automobile, it was believed that foolish individuals would mishandle gasoline and cause severe accidents – at least that’s the story Oregon legislators fed to the public back then. Over the years, it has become clear that this fear was misplaced as people the world over have managed to fuel up their own automobiles without incinerating themselves or their cars – to be sure, a one-in-a-billion accident occurs now and then, but nothing in life is absolutely safe. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Oregon’s state officials continue to back the self-serve ban for baseless reasons (shown below) that reveal the intellectual horsepower of these do-gooder fascists:

  • Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality supports the ban on self-service gasoline due to inexperienced pumpers being a significant source of groundwater and air pollution.
  • Oregon’s state fire marshall supports the ban on self-service gasoline due to the possibility of having one incinerate himself, his car, and/or others.
  • Law enforcement officials support the law as it prevents gasoline thefts called “drive-offs.”
  • In states besides Oregon and New Jersey (which also has a no-self-serve law), many gas station owners ignore the requirements outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they do not provide a full-service option for disabled drivers, nor provide those services at self-service rates. Hence, disabled drivers in Oregon benefit from the self-serve ban.

It is a wonder that airplane travel hasn’t been banned in Oregon. Just think of it, worldwide more people are killed each year in airplane crashes than in self-service gas station mishaps. When a plane crashes, a forest fire may ensue – thereby killing hundreds of innocent trees. To make things worse, a plane that crashes may leak fuel and pollute the ground water…and don’t get me started on airplane exhaust emissions with all that flying around and spreading of greenhouse gases. Additionally, when was the last time you saw a pilot in a wheelchair or with a white cane? Airplane cockpits, obviously, haven’t yet been made ADA compliant. Yes, the time has come to ban airplane travel in Oregon for it is much too dangerous and unfair to the differently-abled.

You may ask what got me started on this rant. During one of my recent trips to a gas station, the pump-jockey was a bit overwhelmed by the fact that six cars arrived at nearly the same time seeking to purchase fuel. This well-tattooed, pierced, pasty-skinned, and emaciated attendant (all the hallmarks of a meth addict) was hustling around attempting to service each car as rapidly as possible. In this man’s haste, he failed to securely close my SUV’s gas cap once my gas tank had been filled. This may not sound like a big deal, but it was.

After a few days of regular commuting, something happened that caused my heart to race, my palms to sweat, and my head to swim. As I was driving home from work, the SERVICE ENGINE SOON malfunction-indicator light flashed on and stayed on. The first thought that came to mind was to pull over and look under the hood. However, the word SOON comforted me enough to finish my commute home – where I would immediately seek information in my SUV’s owner’s manual. All the while, I am worried that a huge auto repair bill is looming in the near future. To say the least, I was not in a happy state of mind.

As I read about the aforementioned malfunction indicator, I was pleased to read the following passage: “Although your vehicle will usually be drivable and not need towing, have the system checked as soon as possible.” Thus, I drove home safely. As I continued reading, unfortunately, my concern grew deeper. Then I reached the last paragraph and made a surprising discovery – this is the exact verbiage from the owner’s manual:

If the fuel tank filler tube cap is not securely closed, the light may come on. Make sure you tighten this cap every time you add fuel. (Turn the fuel tank filler tube cap clockwise until you hear clicking sounds.)

After reading this passage, I hustled over to my car and checked the gas cap. It was not securely closed! That meth-head, pump-jockey failed to complete this simple task. Without delay, I turned the gas cap until I heard clicking sounds and was confident that I had discovered and solved the problem. Indeed, after a couple days of commuting to and from work, this indicator light turned off and has stayed off ever since. Problem, brought about by an imbecilic Oregon law, solved.

Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on Oregon’s lawmakers and state officials. For if I had been wearing a blindfold while driving, I would have never seen the warning indicator that brought me so much stress…and what if there really was a serious problem? Or worse yet, what if a moose had been pushed out of an airplane and landed in front of my SUV while I was driving blindfolded? My reckless use of blindfolds might have caused me to hit a skydiving moose with my SUV. Ah, but now I would have roadkill that could be taken home to eat for dinner. Uh oh, suddenly I am hit with nagging questions as to the legality of driving blindfolded and eating roadkill. Even more importantly, what if my blindfold happened to be red? Would this make the matter more serious for me? Thankfully, we have laws (throughout the U.S.) which Oregon’s legislators can adopt in order to bring better clarity, order, and security to me and all of my fellow Oregonians. Therefore, I move that the Oregon State Legislature immediately adopt every one of the following laws – and I’m not making these up:

  • Alabama – it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle.
  • Alaska – it is considered an offense to push a live moose out of a moving airplane.
  • Arizona – any misdemeanor committed while wearing a red mask is considered a felony.
  • Arizona – when being attacked by a criminal or burglar, you may only protect yourself with the same weapon that the other person possesses.
  • Augusta, Maine – to stroll down the street playing a violin is against the law.
  • Baltimore, Maryland – it is illegal to take a lion to the movies.
  • Baltimore, Maryland – it is a violation of city code to sell chicks or ducklings to a minor within one week of the Easter holiday.
  • Barber, North Carolina – fights between cats and dogs are prohibited.
  • Bexley, Ohio – the installation and usage of slot machines in outhouses is prohibited.
  • Boise, Idaho – residents may not fish from a giraffe’s back.
  • Chicago, Illinois – it is forbidden to eat in a place that is on fire.
  • Chico, California – detonating a nuclear device within the city limits results in a $500 fine.
  • Everett, Washington – it is illegal to display a hypnotized or allegedly hypnotized person in a store window.
  • Fargo, North Dakota – one may be jailed for wearing a hat while dancing, or even for wearing a hat to a function where dancing is taking place.
  • Georgia – it is illegal to use profanity in front of a dead body which lies in a funeral home or in a coroner’s office.
  • Klamath Falls, Oregon – it is illegal to walk down a sidewalk and knock a snakes head off with your cane.
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin – you may not worry a squirrel.
  • Memphis, Tennessee – it is illegal to give any pie to fellow diners. It is also illegal to take unfinished pie home. All pie must be eaten on the premises.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin – it is against the law to play a flute and drums on the streets to attract attention.
  • Minnesota – a person may not cross state lines with a duck atop his head.
  • Montana – it is illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone.
  • Nebraska – it is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.
  • New Hampshire – you cannot sell the clothes you are wearing to pay off a gambling debt.
  • Oklahoma – it is illegal to have the hind legs of farm animals in your boots.
  • Pennsylvania – ministers are forbidden from performing marriages when either the bride or groom is drunk.
  • Rhode Island – any marriage where either of the parties is an idiot or lunatic is null and void.
  • San Francisco, California – it is illegal to pile horse manure more than six feet high on a street corner.
  • Seattle, Washington – you may not carry a concealed weapon that is over six feet in length.
  • Tennessee – driving is not to be done while asleep.
  • Trout Creek, Utah – pharmacists may not sell gunpowder to cure headaches.
  • Vermont – women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.
  • Washington – it is mandatory for a motorist with criminal intentions to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police as he is entering the town.
  • West Virginia – roadkill may be taken home for supper.
  • Wilbur, Washington – you may not ride an ugly horse.

Upon Oregon’s adoption of the Rhode Island law in which “any marriage where either of the parties is an idiot or lunatic is null and void” then every Oregon legislator’s marriage will be summarily nullified. If we do, via referendum, make it illegal for a legislator to live in sin (with the penalty of deportation), we’ll soon be rid of these busybody-buffoons. Now we’re talking paradise…

kate bosworth08_yasmin-brunet_20

9 NOBLE VIRTUES OF ASATRU

September 26, 2009

9 NOBLE VIRTUES
OF ASATRU

(33)

COURAGE
By facing Life’s struggles with courage, we constantly extend our capabilities. Without courage, nothing else can be done!

TRUTH
Blind faith has no place in Asatru. No pie-in-the-sky; we must act in this world as we see it and as it really is rather than calmly wait for the next

HONOR
We must be true to what we are, and we insist on acting with nobility rather than baseness. Our standards must be banners held high in our hearts.

FIDELITY
We stand true to our faith and our values. Loyalty is the basis for all enduring human activity, and we hold it in the highest esteem.

HOSPITALITY
The isolation and loneliness of modern life is not necessary. The willingness to share what one has with ones’ fellows, especially travelers, is a vital part of our way of life.

DISCIPLINE
We hold to the discipline necessary to fulfill our purpose. We stand willing to exercise the self-control and steadfastness necessary in these difficult times.

INDUSTRIOUSNESS
Let us dare to be all that we can be! Let us take risks and taste the richness of life. Passivity is for sheep. We refuse to be mere spectators in life.

SELF-RELIANCE
We depend on our own strength and character to achieve our goals. We seek only the freedom necessary to our quest, whatever it may be.

PERSEVERANCE
We hold to our path until its completion and are not ashamed to be strong. The cult of the anti-hero will find no support in us, and the gods we follow are not for the weak.

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The Last Time Right-Wing Hatred Ran Wild Like This a President Was Killed

September 20, 2009

The Last Time Right-Wing Hatred Ran Wild Like This a President Was Killed

Posted by Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America at 8:47 AM on September 18, 2009.


beckrally5

That being John F. Kennedy, who was gunned down in Dallas, of course.

I’ve been thinking a lot of Kennedy and Dallas as I’ve watched the increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on Obama be unfurled. As Americans yank their kids of class in order to save them from being exposed to the President of the United States who only wanted to urge them to excel in the classroom. And as unvarnished hate and name-calling passed for health care ‘debate’ this summer.

The radical right, aided by a GOP Noise Machine that positively dwarfs what existed in 1963, has turned demonizing Obama–making him into a vile object of disgust–into a crusade. It’s a demented national jihad, the likes of which this country has not seen in modern times.

But I’ve been thinking about Dallas in 1963 because I’ve been recalling the history and how that city stood as an outpost for the radical right, which never tried to hide its contempt for the New England Democrat.

Now, in this this month’s Vanity Fair, Sam Kashner offers up in rich detail the hatred that ran wild in Dallas in 1963. To me, the similarity between Dallas in 1963 and today’s unhinged Obama hate is downright chilling.

Kashner’s fascinating cover story actually chronicles the professional struggles of writer William Manchester who was tapped by the Kennedy family, after the president’s assassination, to write the definitive book about the shooting. The Vanity Fair articles details the power struggles, and epic lawsuits, that ensued prior to Manchester’s publication.

But this unnerving passage from VF caught my eye. In it, Kashner retraces Manchester’s step as he researched his book. It’s unsettling because if you insert “Obama” for every “Kennedy” reference, it reads like 2009:

Manchester also discovered that Dallas “had become the Mecca for medicine-show evangelists … the Minutemen, the John Birch and Patrick Henry Societies, and the headquarters of [ultra-conservative oil billionaire] H. L. Hunt and his activities.”

“In that third year of the Kennedy presidency,” Manchester wrote, “a kind of fever lay over Dallas country. Mad things happened. Huge billboards screamed, ‘Impeach Earl Warren.’ Jewish stores were smeared with crude swastikas.…Radical Right polemics were distributed in public schools; Kennedy’s name was booed in classrooms; corporate junior executives were required to attend radical seminars.”

A retired major general ran the American flag upside down, deriding it as “the Democrat flag.” A wanted poster with J.F.K.’s face on it was circulated, announcing “this man is Wanted” for—among other things—“turning the sovereignty of the US over to the Communist controlled United Nations” and appointing “anti-Christians … aliens and known Communists” to federal offices.

And a full-page advertisement had appeared the day of the assassination in The Dallas Morning News accusing Kennedy of making a secret deal with the Communist Party; when it was shown to the president, he was appalled. He turned to Jacqueline, who was visibly upset, and said, “Oh, you know, we’re heading into nut country today.”

Manchester discovered that in a wealthy Dallas suburb, when told that President Kennedy had been murdered in their city, the students in a fourth-grade class burst into applause.

Today, conservatives are expressing outrage that Rep. Nancy Pelosi had the nerve to raise concerns about the onrush of violent political rhetoric. The Noise Machine claims it has no idea what Pelosi’s talking about. But the truth is, America’s most famous bouts of political violence (i.e. JFK, Oklahoma City, etc.) have always been accompanied by waves of radical, right-wing rhetoric. Given that history, the GOP’s insistence that the hate now filling the streets couldn’t possibly inspire violence seems woefully naive.

Tagged as: obama, right-wing, tea-bagger

“death panels”

September 19, 2009

We already have “death panels” — they’re called health insurance companies

By probabilityZero | August 18, 2009

So, the new talking point from the far-right is that Obama’s health care plan is a secret plot to kill your grandma (as seen on Fox News and Sarah Palin’s Facebook page). They claim that the bill will create “death panels” to decide whether elderly people are worthy of care or not.

There’s no truth to this conspiracy, of course. The provision they point to is one for voluntary end-of-life counseling, which was actually proposed by a Republican and is overall a pretty good idea.

However, there already is an entity that will sit in judgment of you when you get sick, deciding whether you are worthy of treatment. It is official policy among the private health care providers in the US to look for ways to deny care to sick people.

They are perfectly happy taking your money when you aren’t sick, but once you try to make a claim they will scour through your record looking for any reason to deny your claim. A small error on your application form, even an insignificant one or one that you could not have known about or fixed, becomes justification for revoking your coverage and handing you the hefty bill for your treatment. For many patients unable to pay for the treatment, this is a death sentence.

Forget a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor; this is a profit-driven corporation standing between you and your doctor.

Why does the right worry about their fake, hypothetical “death panels” when a more serious and sinister problem already exists, and is already killing innocent people?

04b

Living will

September 19, 2009

This may be the best Living Will I've Seenpj5LR

Dangerous hatred in the US?

September 19, 2009
Dangerous hatred in the US?
By Rob Reynolds, senior Washington correspondent
Obama’s healthcare reform proposals have been met with such vitriol that some fringe groups have compared him to Hitler and the Antichrist [GALLO/GETTY]

Michelle Bachmann, the US Republican Representative for Minnesota, tells a radio interviewer she believes Barack Obama, the US president, plans to set up mandatory “re-education camps” to indoctrinate young Americans.

Glenn Beck, a television personality working at the Fox news network, says on the air that Obama is a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people”.

Comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler, an Iowa man named Tom Eisenhower speaks up at a town hall meeting held by Republican Senator Charles Grassley, and says “The president of the United States, that’s who you should be concerned about.”

“I’d take a gun to Washington if enough of you would go with me.”

Retired FBI agent Ted Gunderson, a prolific writer and speaker about conspiracy theories involving devilish sex cults and the Illuminati, tells a gathering of right-wing “Patriots” in Florida that the federal government has set up 10,000 internment camps across the country and is storing thousands of guillotines for mass executions.

Mel Sanger, a self-described “political researcher”, offers visitors to his website a $24.97-report full of “cutting edge evidence” that Obama is the biblical Antichrist.

Tens of thousands of right-wing demonstrators march on the US Capitol waving signs reading “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy” and calling Obama a “bloodsucking Muslim alien”.

Steven Anderson, the pastor of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, preached a sermon last month entitled “Why I hate Barack Obama”, in which he declared, “I’m going to pray he dies and goes to hell”.

Old-fashioned racism

On August 22, I posted an article on this website (Fear, racism at town hall meetings) about the element of old-fashioned retrograde racism running through the outpouring of venom and hatred for Obama in town hall style meetings, ostensibly over his healthcare reform plans.

I received a lot of feedback from you, the readers – the overwhelming majority of which was positive, with a few obscenity-laced screeds thrown in.

The mainstream media in the US have been slow to catch up on the story of white racial hatred for Obama. But now the debate over the racist roots of the anti-Obama upwelling is out in the open, discussed on television networks and in newspapers.

“Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it,” writes The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

“There’s something loose in the land, an ugliness and hatred directed toward Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, that takes the breath away,” offered Colbert King in the Washington Post.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, an essential US institution that researches and exposes hate groups, notes “… unmistakable signs of a revival of what in the 1990’s was called the militia movement,” adding that “… the fact that the president is an African-American has injected a strong racial element” into the radical right.

The rage from the right has nothing to do with healthcare reform or any other factual policy issue. It is a concerted effort to de-legitimise Obama as president. Former President Jimmy Carter summed it up concisely in an interview with NBC News:

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said.

“I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that share the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans.

“And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

Fearful times

Some believe the healthcare debate has re-ignited the racial debate [AFP]

Abominable – and dangerous. The simmering potential for political violence underlies the ugly jeers and insults.

They are a motley group: white supremacists, Patriots, Sovereign Citizens, anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers, Neo-Confederates, Skinheads, Teabaggers, end-times prophecy adherents, birthers, Minutemen, New World Order conspiracists, Oath Keepers – the list is long and depressing.

Thousands of videos posted to YouTube show white militia members playing soldier – with real guns.

What they have in common – besides hatred for non-whites – is their worship of firearms and their intense paranoia about the government. They are continually encouraged in their outrage by right wing media and radio talk show hosts.

In several recent instances, right wing rage has exploded in bloodshed.  In April, Richard Poplawski, who frequented anti-government and white supremacist websites and feared Obama would take away his guns, allegedly ambushed three Pittsburgh police officers, killing them with a hail of bullets from his rifle, pistol and AK-47.

The same month, Joshua Cartwright of Okaloosa County, Florida, got fired from his job, beat up his wife and headed down to the local gun club. When two sheriff’s deputies arrived to arrest him for assault, he pulled out a gun and shot both men dead.

Cartwright’s wife said he feared the government was out to get him and was “severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected president.”

Last July, Jim David Adkisson of Knoxville, Tennessee wrote a vitriolic suicide note denouncing liberals, democrats, blacks, and Obama, then allegedly marched into a Unitarian church and opened fire, killing two churchgoers and seriously wounding six.

Here in Washington in June, an elderly neo-Nazi named James von Brunn allegedly opened fire with a rifle at the US Holocaust Museum, killing an African American security guard. Police found a note in his car. “You want my guns, this is how you’ll get them,” von Brunn wrote.

“The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews.”

America, the sorry truth

Obama, centre front, was heckled during a speech to a joint session of congress [EPA]

While Republican spokespeople and elected officials scoff at the notion that racism is behind their protests, the spectacle of a white, Republican Congressman from the Deep South state of South Carolina shouting “You lie!” at the president from the floor of the House of Representatives blatantly revealed the sorry truth that this country has not entered a “post-racial” period, as some liberals like to believe.

We would like to believe that the racist right-wingers are just the leftover dregs of hate in a society steadily becoming more enlightened.

After all, Obama won the election last November by nine million votes. That means an awful lot of white people voted for him.

But while their numbers may be relatively small, the right-wing radicals – and the media bomb-throwers who fire them up – can do a lot of damage.

A few armed lunatics can alter the course of history. Think of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.

Think of James Earl Ray, who murdered Martin Luther King. Or think of John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Those last two examples were not chosen at random.

The War on Terror Goes On

September 19, 2009

The War on Terror Goes On

Setbacks for al Qaeda, victories for U.S. intelligence.

It’s been a good few weeks in what used to be called the war on terror. The main credit here goes to the folks in the intelligence community that our friends on the left love to hate.

Credit goes as well to Barack Obama, who as President has abandoned much of his previous opposition to proven antiterror measures like warrantless wiretaps, and who has only stepped up the campaign of targeted hits on terrorist ringleaders. He’s fortunate the Bush Administration left him with a potent intelligence team and the precedent of taking the fight, pre-emptively, to the terrorists on their home turf.

Associated Press

Pakistani army troops fix their long-range gun in Taliban’s stronghold of Piochar in the Swat Valley.

On Monday, U.S. special forces operating in Somalia killed top al Qaeda operative Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, believed to have been a planner in the November 2002 bombing of a hotel in Kenya in which 15 were killed. Also killed in recent days was senior al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri—via a U.S. drone attack in western Pakistan—and Indonesian terrorist mastermind Noordin Muhammad Top, suspected in the July bombing of two Jakarta hotels.

Last week, too, a British court convicted three men for an August 2006 plot to blow up several airliners over the Atlantic. The convictions were obtained largely on the strength of communications intercepts—possibly warrantless—gathered by the U.S. National Security Agency, according to a report by Britain’s Channel 4.

All this follows important gains for the Pakistani army in the area of the Swat valley, which fell briefly to the Taliban in the spring. Key among those gains was the August killing—again by a U.S. drone—of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, suspected in the assassination of former Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto. Two of Mehsud’s senior deputies were also killed in drone attacks in recent months, while at least eight key al Qaeda commanders have been killed in the last 12 months alone.

For those who were the victims or near-victims of the attacks perpetrated by these men, this is justice. For the rest of us, it is an additional measure of safety. Despite conventional wisdom that killing terrorists only breeds more terrorists and fuels the proverbial “cycle of violence,” there is a reason that the U.S. has not been attacked in the eight years since September 11, and that major terrorist plots in Europe have been foiled.

Last week, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that it had seen interrogation documents showing that European Muslim volunteers “faced a chaotic reception, a low level of training, poor conditions and eventual disillusionment after arriving in Waziristan [Pakistan] last year.” It added that there is “evidence that al Qaeda’s alliance with the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan is fraying, boosting the prospect of acquiring intelligence that will lead to Bin Laden’s capture or death.” This from a paper not exactly known as a cheerleader for the use of military force.

The logic of these attacks is simple, even if too many people are reluctant to accept it. Terrorist groups tend to coalesce around charismatic leaders, such as Abimael Guzmán of Peru’s Shining Path, Abdullah Ocalan of the Kurdish PKK, or Abu Musab al Zarqawi of al Qaeda in Iraq. Not only are these men difficult to replace, but their death or capture often leads to infighting, disarray and disillusion within the group. As terrorist leaders are forced to spend more time trying to save their own lives, they also have less time to devote to plans for killing others.

None of this means that the war on terror (or whatever you’d like to call it) is anywhere near over. It may never be. But in a struggle in which a day when nothing happens is a victory, it’s worth recalling that nothing doesn’t happen by accident.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A14

An American Girl in Canada

September 19, 2009

An American Girl in Canada

900012193_4de6e8d2d4 I got pregnant four months after I moved to Canada.

Somehow, through all the rigamarole of applying for permanent residency and applying for a work permit and tearful phone calls from relatives who were convinced I’d lost my mind and gone to the North Pole (Students in the United States are NOT taught as much geography as Canadian children are – the entirety of Canada is left as ‘our friendly neighbor to the north’ ) and trying to fit into an area with a much smaller-town feel, the stars aligned and the heavens sang (or, come to think of it, could have been all that newlywed sex) and I started feeling….off.

I held off going to the doctor until I was convinced I was dying. We were fumbling with bills and finding our way as a new couple – why would I put the added stress of co-pays and office fees onto our plate? Surely this would go away. Conditioned from years of having to drop thirty dollars every time I even set foot into a doctor’s office, I was panicked by the idea of having a chronic illness far from home. The tests that would have to be run would bury us. And what would happen if whatever-this-was was classified as an existing condition?  I knew my husband loved me – but what if this was something ….big?

And how in hell were we going to pay for this? It was enough to make an American girl heave.

When I finally confessed that I was scared out of my mind that I was going to bankrupt us and force us to live in the streets, Jamie was less than comforting. He was completely uncomprehending.

You see, in Canada, that doesn’t happen. People don’t lose their houses trying to pay for their health care or take out second mortgages for unexpected illnesses. People don’t get turned away from emergency rooms because they don’t have insurance. There are no horror stories of people with ruptured disks (a horrible, debilitating injury) being sent home without getting help. That doesn’t happen here.

Canada’s health care system is based upon a single-payer system. (This differs from the ‘socialist medicine’ label often slapped on it.) The government doesn’t decide what treatment you’re getting or have any say in what tests or medications you need – your doctor does. The provincial government pays for it .

That’s their only role in your health care. They don’t choose who gets what, they don’t say yay or nay.  Your doctor (or hospital) bills one single payer, so there isn’t any waiting to find out if you have insurance approval, no waiting for reimbursement. There just isn’t. This means that the Canadian health system costs much less than the States model – running one company to pay out is much more cost-effective than dozens of companies, all with their own checks, balances, and wait times for reimbursement.(And executive salaries, but that’s another post…)

I’m not saying Canada’s health care system is perfect. It’s not. But it’s a damn sight better than worrying that having an illness or injury – or bringing a baby into the world, which is what I did, a few months later –  is going to bankrupt your family or mean years of bills and worry.

Some very good articles: Denver Post Diemer.ca Campaign For America’s Future


Jessica moved from the United States in 2000. She blogs at daysgoby and is grateful every day to live in Canada, where she can get medical treatment whenever she needs it without having to choose between having food in the house and seeing a doctor.

Looniest Of All 911 Conspiracy Theories

September 19, 2009
rense.comLooniest Of All 911 Conspiracy Theories By Gerard Holmgren 1-31-6

Astute observers of history are aware that for every notable event there will usually be at least one, often several wild conspiracy theories which spring up around it. ‘The CIA killed Hendrix’, ‘The Pope had John Lennon murdered’, ‘Hitler was half Werewolf’, ‘Space aliens replaced Nixon with a clone’ etc, etc. The bigger the event, the more ridiculous and more numerous are the fanciful rantings which circulate in relation to it.
So its hardly surprising that the events of September 11th, 2001 have spawned their fair share of these ludicrous fairy tales. And as always, there is – sadly – a small but gullible percentage of the population eager to lap up these tall tales, regardless of facts or rational analysis.
One of the wilder stories circulating about September 11th – and one that has attracted something of a cult following amongst conspiracy buffs – is that it was carried out by nineteen fanatical Arab hijackers, masterminded by an evil genius named Osama bin Laden, with no apparent motivation other than that they ‘hate our freedoms.’
Never a group of people to be bothered by facts, the perpetrators of this cartoon fantasy have constructed an elaborately woven web of delusions and unsubstantiated hearsay in order to promote this garbage across the internet and the media to the extent that a number of otherwise rational people have actually fallen under its spell.
Normally I don’t even bother debunking this kind of junk, but the effect that this paranoid myth is beginning to have requires a little rational analysis, in order to consign it to the same rubbish bin as all such silly conspiracy theories.
These crackpots even contend that the extremist Bush regime was caught unawares by the attacks, had no hand in organising them, and actually would have stopped them if it had been able. Blindly ignoring the stand down of the US air-force, the insider trading on airline stocks – linked to the CIA – the complicit behavior of Bush on the morning of the attacks, the controlled demolition of the WTC, the firing of a missile into the Pentagon and a host of other documented proofs that the Bush regime was behind the attacks, the conspiracy theorists stick doggedly to a silly story about nineteen Arab hijackers somehow managing to commandeer four planes simultaneously and fly them around US airspace for nearly two hours, crashing them into important buildings, without the US intelligence services having any idea that it was coming, and without the Air Force knowing what to do.
The huge difficulties with such a stupid story force them to invent even more preposturous stories to distract from its core silliness, and thus the tale has escalated into a mythic fantasy of truly gargantuan proportions.
It’s difficult to apply rational analysis to such unmitigated stupidity, but that is the task which I take on in this article. However, it should be noted that one of the curious characteristics of conspiracy theorists is that they effortlessly change their so called evidence in response to each aspect which is debunked. As soon as one delusion is unmasked, they simply invent another to replace it, and deny that the first ever existed. Eventually, when they have turned full circle through this endlessly changing fantasy fog, they then re-invent the original delusion and deny that you ever debunked it, thus beginning the circle once more. This technique is known as ‘the fruit loop’ and saves the conspiracy theorist from ever having to see any of their ideas through to their (il)ogical conclusions.
According to the practitioners of the fruit loop, nineteen Arabs took over four planes by subduing the passengers and crew through the use of guns, knives, box cutters and gas, and then used electronic guidance systems which they had smuggled on board to fly the planes to their targets.
The suspension of disbelief required for this outrageous concoction is only for the hard core conspiracy theorist. For a start, they conveniently skip over the awkward fact that there weren’t any Arabs on the planes. If there were, one must speculate that they somehow got on board without being filmed by any of the security cameras and without being registered on the passenger lists. But the curly question of how they are supposed to have got on board is all too mundane for the exciting world of the conspiracy theorist. With vague mumblings that they must have been using false ID – but never specifying which IDs they are alleged to have used, or how these were traced to their real identities – they quickly bypass this problem, to relate exciting and sinister tales about how some of the fictitious fiends were actually searched before boarding because they looked suspicious. However, as inevitably happens with any web of lies, this simply paints them into an even more difficult corner. How are they supposed to have got on board with all that stuff if they were searched ? And if they used gas in a confined space, they would have been affected themselves unless they also had masks in their luggage.
“Excuse me sir, why do you have a boxcutter, a gun, a container of gas, a gas mask and an electronic guidance unit in your luggage?”
“A present for your grandmother? Very well sir, on you get.”
“Very strange”, thinks the security officer, “that’s the fourth Arabic man without an Arabic name who just got on board with a knife, gun or boxcutter and gas mask…and why does that security camera keep flicking off every time one these characters shows up? Must be one of those days I guess…”
Asking any of these basic questions to a conspiracy theorist is likely to cause a sudden leap to the claim that we know that they were on board because they left a credit card trail for the tickets they had purchased and cars they had rented. So if they used credit cards that identified them, how does that reconcile with the claim that they used false IDs to get on to the plane? But by this time , the fruit loop is in full swing, as the conspiracy theorist tries to stay one jump ahead of this annoying and awkward rational analysis. They will allege that the hijackers’ passports were found at the crash scenes. “So there!” they exalt triumphantly, their fanatical faces lighting up with that deranged look of one who has just a revelation of questionable sanity.
Hmm? So they got on board with false IDs but took their real passports with them? However, by this time the fruit loop has been completely circumnavigated,and the conspiracy theorist exclaims impatiently, “who said anything about false IDs? We know what seats they were sitting in! Their presence is well documented!” And so the whole loop starts again. “Well, why aren’t they on the passenger lists?” “You numbskull! They assumed the identities of other passengers!” And so on…
Finally, out of sheer fascination with this circular method of creative delusion, the rational sceptic will allow them to get away with this loop, in order to move on to the next question, and see what further delights await us in the unraveling of this marvelously stupid story.
“Uh, how come their passports survived fiery crashes that completely incinerated the planes and all the passengers? “The answer of course is that its just one of those strange coincidences, those little quirks of fate that do happen from time to time. You know, like the same person winning the lottery four weeks in a row. The odds are astronomical, but these things do happen.
This is another favourite deductive method of the conspiracy theorist. The ‘improbability drive’, in which they decide upon a conclusion without any evidence whatsoever to support it, and then continually speculate a series of wildly improbable events and unbelievable co-incidences to support it, shrugging off the implausibility of each event with the vague assertion that sometimes the impossible happens – just about all the time in their world. There is a principle called ‘Occam’s razor’ which suggests that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the simplest explanation is most likely to be correct. Conspiracy theorists hate Occam’s razor.
Having for the sake of amusement, allowed them to get away with with the silly story of the nineteen invisible Arabs, we move on to the question of how they are supposed to have taken over the planes.
Hijacking a plane is not an easy thing to do. Hijacking it without the pilot being able to alert ground control is near impossible. The pilot has only to punch in a four digit code to alert ground control to a hijacking. Unconcerned with the awkward question of plausibility, the conspiracy buffs maintain that on that September 11th, the invisible hijackers took over the plane by the rather crude method of threatening people with boxcutters and knives, and spraying gas – after they had attached their masks, obviously – but somehow took control of the plane without the crew first getting a chance to punch in the hijacking code. Not just on one plane, but on all four. At this point in the tale, the conspiracy theorist is again forced to call upon the services of the improbability drive.
So now that our incredibly lucky hijackers have taken control of the planes, all four pilots fly them with breath taking skill and certainty to their fiery end, all four pilots unflinching in their steely resolve for a swift meeting with Allah. Apart from their psychotic hatred of ‘our freedoms’, it was their fanatical devotion to Islam which enabled them to summon up the iron will to do this. Which is strange, because according to another piece of hearsay peddled by the conspiracy buffs, these guys actually went out drinking and womanizing the night before their great martyrdom, even leaving their Korans in the bar – really impeccable Islamic behavior – and then got up at 5 o’clock the next morning to pull off the greatest covert operation in history. This also requires us to believe that they were even clear headed enough to learn how to fly the huge planes by reading flight manuals in Arabic in the car on the way to the airport. We know this because they supposedly left the flight manuals there for us to find.
It gets better. Their practical training had allegedly been limited to Cessnas and flight simulators, but this was no barrier to the unflinching certainty with which they took over the planes and skillfully guided them to their doom. If they are supposed to have done their flight training with these tools, which would be available just about anywhere in the world, its not clear why they would have decided to risk blowing their cover to US intelligence services by doing the training in Florida, rather than somewhere in the Middle East, but such reasoning is foreign to the foggy world of the conspiracy theorist, too trapped in the constant rotation of the mental fruit loop to make their unsubstantiated fabrications seem even semi-believable.
Having triumphantly established a circular delusion in support of the mythical Arabs, the conspiracy theorist now confronts the difficult question of why there’s nothing left of the planes. Anybody who has seen the endlessly replayed footage of the second plane going into the WTC will realize that the plane was packed with explosives. Planes do not and cannot blow up into nothing in that manner when they crash.
Did the mythical Arabs also haul a huge heap of explosives on board, and mange to deploy them in such a manner that they went off in the exact instant of the crash, completely vapourizing the plane? This is a little difficult even for the conspiracy theorist, who at this point decides that its easier to invent new laws of physics in order to keep the delusion rolling along.
There weren’t any explosives. It wasn’t an inside job. The plane blew up into nothing from its exploding fuel load! Remarkable, quite remarkable. Sluggishly combustible jet fuel which is basically Kerosene, and which burns at a maximum temperature of around 800 degrees Celcius has suddenly taken on the qualities of a ferociously explosive demolition agent, vapourising sixty-five tons of aircraft into a puff of smoke. Never mind that a plane of that size contains around fifteen tons of steel and titanium, of which even the melting points are about double that of the maximum combustion temperature of Kerosene – let alone the boiling point – which is what would be required to vapourise a plane. And then there’s about fifty tons of aluminium to be accounted for. In excess of 15lbs of metal for each gallon of Kerosene.
For the conspiracy theorist, such inconvenient facts are vaguely dismissed as ‘mumbo jumbo’. This convenient little phrase is their answer to just about anything factual or logical. Like a conjurer pulling a rabbit out of a hat, they suddenly become fanatically insistent about the devastating explosive qualities of Kerosene, something hitherto completely unknown to science, but just discovered by them, this very minute. Blissfully ignoring the fact that never before or since in aviation history has a plane vapourised into nothing from an exploding fuel load, the conspiracy theorist relies upon Hollywood images, where the effects are are always larger than life, and certainly larger than the intellects of these cretins.
“Its a well known fact that planes blow up into nothing on impact”, they state with pompous certainty, “watch any Bruce Willis movie.”
“Care to provide any documented examples? If it’s a well known fact, then presumably this well known fact springs from some kind of documentation – other than Bruce Willis movies?”
At this point the mad but cunning eyes of the conspiracy theorist will narrow as they sense the corner that they have backed themselves into, and plan their escape by means of another stunning backflip.
“Ah, but planes have never crashed into buildings before, so there’s no way of telling.” they counter with a sly grin. Well, actually planes have crashed into buildings before and since, and not vapourised into nothing. “But not big planes, with that much fuel”, they shriek in hysterical denial. Or that much metal to vapourise.
“Yes but not hijacked planes!” “Are you suggesting that whether the crash is deliberate or accidental affects the combustion qualities of the fuel?” “Now you’re just being silly”.
Although collisions with buildings are rare, planes frequently crash into mountains, streets, other aircraft, nosedive into the ground, or have bombs planted aboard them, and don’t vapourise into nothing. What’s so special about a tower that’s mostly glass? But by now, the conspiracy theorist has once again sailed happily around the fruit loop. “It’s a well documented fact that planes explode into nothing on impact.”
Effortlessly weaving back and forth between the position that its a “well known fact” and that “its never happened before, so we have nothing to compare it to”, the conspiracy theorist has now convinced themselves – if not too many other people – that the WTC plane was not loaded with explosives, and that the instant vapourisation of the plane in a massive fireball was the same as any other plane crash you might care to mention. Round and round the fruit loop.
But the hurdles which confront the conspiracy theorist are many, and they are now forced to implement even more creative uses for the newly discovered shockingly destructive qualities of Kerosene. They have to explain how the Arabs also engineered the elegant veritcal collapse of both the WTC towers, and for this awkward fact the easiest counter is to simply deny that it was a controlled demolition, and claim that the buildings collapsed from fire caused by the burning Kerosene.
For this, its necessary to sweep aside the second law of thermodynamics and propose Kerosene which is not only impossibly destructive, but also recycles itself for a second burning in violation of the law of degradation of energy. You see, it not only consumed itself in a sudden catastrophic fireball , vapourising a sixty-five ton plane into nothing, but then came back for a second go, burning at 2000 degrees centigrade for another hour at the impact point, melting the skyscraper’s steel like butter. And while it was doing all this it also poured down the elevator shafts, starting fires all through the building. When I was at school there was a little thing called the entropy law which suggests that a given portion of fuel can only burn once, something which is readily observable in the real world, even for those who didn’t make it to junior high school science. But this is no problem for the conspiracy theorist. Gleefully, they claim that a few thousand gallons of Kerosene is enough to:
– Completely vapourise a sixty-five ton aircraft
– Have enough left over to burn ferociously enough for over an hour at the impact point to melt steel – melting point about double the maximum combustion temperature of the fuel
– Still have enough left over to pour down the elevator shafts and start similarly destructive fires all through the building
This Kerosene really is remarkable stuff! How chilling to realize that those Kerosene heaters we had in the house when I was a kid were deadly bombs, just waiting to go off. One false move and the entire street might have been vapourised. And never again will I take Kerosene lamps out camping. One moment you’re there innocently holding the lamp – the next – kapow! Vapourised into nothing along with with the rest of the camp site, and still leaving enough of the deadly stuff to start a massive forest fire.
These whackos are actually claiming that the raging inferno allegedly created by the miraculously recycling, and impossibly hot burning Kerosene melted or at least softened the steel supports of the skyscraper. Oblivious to the fact that the black smoke coming from the WTC indicates an oxygen starved fire – therefore not particularly hot – they trumpet an alleged temperature in the building of 2000 degrees centigrade, without a shred of evidence to support this curious suspension of the laws of physics.
Not content with this ludicrous garbage, they then contend that as the steel frames softened, they came straight down instead of buckling and twisting and falling sideways.
Since they’re already re-engineered the combustion qualities of jet fuel, violated the second law of thermodynamics, and redefined the structural properties of steel, why let a little thing like the laws of gravity get in the way?
The tower fell in a time almost identical to that of a free falling object, dropped from that height, meaning that its physically impossible for it to have collapsed by the method of the top floors smashing through the lower floors. But according to the conspiracy theorists, the laws of gravity were temporarily suspended on the morning of September 11th. It appears that the evil psychic power of those dreadful Arabs knew no bounds. Even after they were dead, they were able, by the power of their evil spirits, to force down the tower at a speed physically impossible under the laws of gravity, had it been meeting any resistance from fireproofed steel structures originally designed to resist many tons of hurricane force wind as well as the impact of a Boeing passenger jet straying off course.
Clearly, these conspiracy nuts never did their science homework at school, but did become extremely adept at inventing tall tales for why. “Muslim terrorists stole my notes,Sir.” “No Miss, the Kerosene heater blew up and vapourised everything in the street, except for my passport.” “You see Sir, the schoolbus was hijacked by Arabs who destroyed my homework because they hate our freedoms.”
Or perhaps they misunderstood the term ‘creative science’ and mistakenly thought that coming up with such rubbish was in fact, their science homework.
The ferocious heat generated by this ghastly Kerosene was, according to the conspiracy theorists, the reason why so many of the WTC victims can’t be identified. DNA is destroyed by heat – although 2000 degrees centigrade isn’t really required, 100 degrees centigrade will generally do the job. This is quite remarkable, because according to the conspiracy theorist, the nature of DNA suddenly changes if you go to a different city.
That’s right, if you are killed by an Arab terrorist in New York, your DNA will be destroyed by such temperatures. But if you are killed by an Arab terrorist in Washington, your DNA will be so robust that it can survive temperatures which completely vapourise a sixty-five ton aircraft.
You see, these loonies have somehow concocted the idea that the missile which hit the pentagon was not a missile at all, but one of the hijacked planes. And to prove this unlikely premise, they point to a propaganda statement from the Bush regime, which rather stupidly claims that all but one of the people aboard the plane were identified from the site by DNA testing, even though nothing remains of the plane. The plane was vapourised by the fuel tank explosion, maintain these space loonies, but the people inside it were all but one identified by DNA testing.
So there we have it. The qualities of DNA are different, depending upon which city you’re in, or perhaps depending upon which fairy story you’re trying to sell at any particular time.
This concoction about one of the hijacked planes hitting the Pentagon really is a howler. For those not familiar with the layout of the Pentagon, it consists of 5 rings of building, each with a space inbetween. Each ring of building is about 30-35 feet deep, with a similar amount of open space between it and the next ring. The object which penetrated the Pentagon went in at about a 45 degree angle, punching a neat circular hole of about a 12 foot diameter through three rings – six walls. A little later a section of wall about 65 foot wide collapsed in the outer ring. Since the plane which the conspiracy theorists claim to be responsible for the impact had a wing span of 125 feet and a length of 155 feet, and there was no wreckage of the plane, either inside or outside the building, and the lawns outside were still smooth and green enough to play golf on, this crazy delusion is clearly physically impossible.
But hey, we’ve already disregarded the combustion qualities of jet fuel, the normal properties of common building materials, the properties of DNA, the laws of gravity and the second law of thermodynamics, so what the hell – why not throw in a little spatial impossibility as well? I would have thought that the observation that a solid object cannot pass through another solid object without leaving a hole at least as big as itself is reasonably sound science. But to the conspiracy theorist, this is ‘mumbo jumbo’. It conflicts with the delusion that they’re hooked on, so it ‘must be wrong’ although trying to get them to explain exactly how it could be wrong is a futile endeavour.
Conspiracy theorists fly into a curious panic whenever the Pentagon missile is mentioned. They nervously maintain that the plane was vapourised by it’s exploding fuel load, and point to the WTC crash as evidence of this behavior. That’s a wonderful fruit loop. Like an insect which has just been sprayed, running back and forth in its last mad death throes, they first argue that the reason the hole is so small is that the plane never entered the wall, having blown up outside, and then suddenly backflip to explain the 250 foot deep missile hole by saying that the plane disappeared all the way into the building, and then blew up inside the building – even though the building shows no sign of such damage. As for what happened to the wings – here’s where they get really creative. The wings snapped off and folded into the fuselage which then carried them into the building, which then closed up behind the plane like a piece of meat.
When it suits them, they’ll also claim that the plane slid in on its belly – ignoring the undamaged lawn – while at the same time citing alleged witnesses to the plane diving steeply into the building from an ‘irrecoverable angle.’ How they reconcile these two scenarios as being compatible is truly a study in stupidity.
Once they get desperate enough, you can be sure that the UFO conspiracy stuff will make an appearance. The Arabs are in league with the Martians. Space aliens snatched the remains of the Pentagon plane and fixed most of the hole in the wall, just to confuse people. They gave the Arabs invisibility pills to help get them onto the planes. Little green men were seen talking to Bin Laden a few weeks prior to the attacks.
As America gears up to impeach the traitor Bush, and stop his perpetual oil war, it’s not helpful to have these idiots distracting from the process by spreading silly conspiracy theories about mythical Arabs, stories which do nothing but play into the hands of the extremist Bush regime.
At a less serious time, we might tolerate such crackpots with amused detachment, but they need to understand that the treachery that was perpetrated on September 11th, and the subsequent war crimes committed in ‘retaliation’ are far too serious for us to allow such frivolous self indulgence to go unchallenged.
Those who are truly addicted to conspiracy delusions should find a more appropriate outlet for their paranoia.
Its time to stop loony conspiracy theories about September 11th

22 Misspelled Political Signs

September 16, 2009
{ September 13, 2009 }
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22 Misspelled Political Signs
Posted by Miss Cellania

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You guys know as well as anyone that my spelling is not perfect. However, when I have something spelled wrong, there’s always someone smarter around to call me on it pretty quickly. Then I correct it as soon as possible. Not everyone is as diligent, or else they are surrounded by people who don’t spell any better than they do. Or maybe they just don’t care enough to correct the mistake. I’ve been collecting these misspelled political signs from all over the web for quite some time now, but with the 9/12 march on Washington yesterday, my files are overflowing. I can’t vouch that every one is genuine, but at least the majority of them are real.

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I love it, but I can’t spell it!

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I had my doubts about this one, since the same word is misspelled twice, but it checks out.

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When you have to explain what a word means, it could be because you garbled it.

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Spelled that way, it looks like a foreign word, doesn’t it?

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The classic. This guy will never fade away.

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OK, as long as it’s offical.

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And we don’t speak it too good, either!

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It’s a difficult word. No way you could look it up.

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Take two.

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Take three. Still not gonna look it up! I’m fairly certain this one is a Photoshop job.

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Give me a minute. I’ll figure it out.

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This is English?

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Yes, THAT’S what it’s all about!

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I’m running out of mangled English jokes.

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It’s a special day for our third-party citizens.

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Considering how much we butcher our first language, it’s no wonder most of us can’t begin to tackle a second language.

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Lest you think I am picking on right-wing protesters, I am including the left wing spelling abominations. Yes, this post has every misspelled political sign I have.

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I hate to disagree with your equality theme, but some marriages are spelled better than others. Even if they are performed in a churh.

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No pubic option? That doesn’t sound like any fun at all!

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Fox News: Where you can get infromed.

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You know, you can get arrested for vandaling.

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I am pretty sure this was done on purpose, but of course I couldn’t leave it out!

Remember, you don’t have to be educated, or literate, or competent in order to vote in this democracy. But if you want to vote well, it helps to be infromed.

“Family Values” Politician Caught Describing Sex with Lobbyist

September 10, 2009

“Family Values” Politician Caught Describing Sex with Lobbyist

21238 GOP assemblyman Michael D. Duvall not only sleeps around with female lobbyists, he likes to kiss and tell.  And spank.  He REALLY likes to spank.  We know this because during a recent hearing, the Orange County politician shared his sexual exploits with a nearby Republican colleague.  Duvall was unaware that the dais microphone was turned on as he regaled his conservative friend with details of an ongoing extramarital affair.  Needless to say, he’s a Bible thumper with a wife and kids.  Pass the peas.

From OC Weekly“She wears little eye-patch underwear,” said Duvall, who is married with two children. “So, the other day she came here with her underwear, Thursday. And so, we had made love Wednesday – a lot!  And so she’ll, she’s all, ‘I am going up and down the stairs, and you’re dripping out of me!’ So messy!” … Duvall – who was twice a president of the Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce, served two terms as mayor of Yorba Linda before entering the assembly in
 2006, and is the owner of an insurance agency – continues his tale: “So, I am getting into spanking her. Yeah, I like it.  I like spanking her.  She goes, ‘I know you like spanking me.’ I said, ‘Yeah! Because you’re such a bad girl!‘”

From CaliticsAside from Duvall’s stunning lack of tact, the story reveals possible ethical violations caused by Duvall, who is vice-chair of the Utilities and Commerce committee, apparently sleeping with a lobbyist for Sempra Energy, one of the state’s largest utilities.  Of course Duvall comes from a long, long, LONG line of Republican social conservatives who enjoy using morality to argue for denying people their rights while refusing to practice that morality themselves.  Duvall was an outspoken supporter of Proposition 8… Of course he was.  He spanks his mistress with one hand and prays to Jesus with the other.  But heaven forbid gay and lesbian Americans should be given the same rights that this outstanding Christian enjoys.  After all, that would be sooo wrooong.  (The video from KCAL9 is here.)

UPDATE:  Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh has asked Duvall to resign.  Duvall sits on the assembly rules committee which handles allegations of member wrongdoing.  (Gasp. Snort.)  So far, the politician is refusing to step down.  He’s telling his colleagues that relationships are “private matters.”

UPDATE:  Duvall has resigned – and, he was cheating on his lobbyist mistress with a second mistress.  I’m so confused.

Mark Twain quotes

September 10, 2009

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain,
was an American humorist, novelist, writer, and lecturer.

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In 1909, Twain is quoted as saying:

I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’

His prediction was accurate—Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet’s closest approach to Earth.

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History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

They did not know it was impossible, so they did it!

Never let your schoolin’ interfere with your education.

Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over.

Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time and annoys the pig.

I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.

It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will warily and cautiously protest at first…The great mass of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and indignantly: “It is unjust and dishonorable and there is no need for war.” Then the few will shout even louder…Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the speakers but dare not admit it … Next, statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Truth is more often stranger than fiction.

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.

Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

A classic is something that everybody praises and nobody has read.

Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.

In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can read.

France is miserable because it is filled with Frenchmen, and Frenchmen are miserable because they live in France.

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.

The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail.
The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.

It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.

It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.

I take my only exercise acting as a pallbearer at the funerals of my friends who exercise regularly.

I have found solace in profanity unexcelled even by prayer.

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

Every generalization is false, including this one.

What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.

A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that,
but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

America is built on a tilt and everything loose slides to California.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.

He is a stranger to me, but he is a most remarkable man — and I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge;
he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest. On Kipling.

America is a nation without a distinct criminal class with the possible exception of Congress.

Cauliflower is nothing but Cabbage with a College Education.

I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.

Land of religions, cradle of human race, birthplace of human speech, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition. The land that all men desire to see and having seen once even by a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the globe combined. On India.

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Tomorrow is the yesterday of two days from now.

There is something worse than ignorance, and that’s knowing what ain’t so.

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

I haven’t a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices.

It does look as if Massachusetts were in a fair way to embarrass me with kindnesses this year. In the first place, a Massachusetts judge has just decided in open court that a Boston publisher may sell, not only his own property in a free and unfettered way, but also may as freely sell property which does not belong to him but to me; property which he has not bought and which I have not sold. Under this ruling I am now advertising that
judge’s homestead for sale, and, if I make as good a sum out of it as I expect, I shall go on and sell out the rest of his property.

I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.

Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.

If you would have your fiction live forever, you must neither overtly preach nor overtly teach; but you must *covertly* preach and *covertly* teach.

Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, and over these ideals they
dispute and cannot unite — but they all worship money.

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjectureout of such a trifling investment of fact.

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds,
however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

The citizen who sees his society’s democratic clothes being worn out and does not cry out is not a patriot but a traitor.

Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.

800px-MarkTwainatMarkTwainESHouston

See police officers have a sense of humor too….

September 9, 2009

These 16 police comments were taken off actual police car videos around the country:

#16 “You know, stop lights don’t come any redder that the one you just went through.”

#15 “Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they’re new. They’ll stretch after you wear them a while.”

# 14 “If you take your hands off the car, I’ll make your birth certificate a worthless document.”

#13 “If you run, you’ll only go to jail tired.”

#12 “Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that’s the speed of the bullet that’ll be chasing you.”

#11 “You don’t know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?”

#10 “Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don’t think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I’m the shift supervisor?”

#9 “Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I’m warning you not to do that again or I’ll give you another ticket.”

#8 “The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?”

#7 “Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop.”

#6 “Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven.”

#5 “In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC.”

#4 “How big were those ‘Just two beers’ you say you had?”

#3 “No sir, we don’t have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we’re allowed to write as many tickets as we can.”

#2 “I’m glad to hear that Chief (of Police) Hawker is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail.”

AND THE WINNER IS….

#1 “You didn’t think we give pretty women tickets? You’re right, we don’t.
Sign here.”

SlidellGeorge's profile posted by SlidellGeorge// // on Friday, April 20, 2007

top25

Disloyal Opposition — Just don’t hurt anybody — Friday, July 17, 2009

September 9, 2009

We all agree that civil liberties are good things, right? But we don’t all agree about specific liberties and their defenders. Some people snipe at sexual rights and the ACLU, others at self-defense rights and the NRA … We may believe in liberty, but we don’t seem to agree on what it is. So, what is liberty? The answer, is that it’s anything peaceful, or, put another way, anything done among consenting adults.

Some people will answer: But, you have no right to smoke grass, own guns, have gay sex, travel without showing ID, or open a business without a license if the government says otherwise! The law tells us what our civil liberties are, and the government, elected by a majority of the people, makes the law.

To put it bluntly: Screw the government, screw the law and screw the majority.

If you want to marry somebody of the same sex, toast the festivities with marijuana bought at an unlicensed bar, and celebrate with a machinegun shoot (well … I suggest you reverse the order of the shoot and the toast), it ain’t nobody’s business if you do.

In fact, Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do is the title of a wonderful book written by Peter McWilliams and published in 1996. In the book, the full text of which is now available online, McWilliams wrote, “You should be allowed to do whatever you want with your own person and property, as long as you don’t physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other.”

McWilliams didn’t invent this idea. It’s an old one, perhaps most closely associated with the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who wrote:

[T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right… The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

In the modern context, McWilliams elaborated:

Laws against consensual activities create a society of fear, hatred, bigotry, oppression, and conformity; a culture opposed to personal expression, diversity, freedom, choice, and growth. The prosecution of consensual crimes “trickles down” into ostracizing, humiliating, and scorning people who do things that are not quite against the law but probably should be. “They’re different; therefore, they’re bad” seems to be the motto for a large segment of our society. We are addicted to normalcy; even if it means we must lop off significant portions of ourselves, we must conform.

There’s no need to accept the validity of all these arguments; the validity of any one is sufficient reason to wipe away all the laws against consensual activities.

“A culture opposed to personal expression, diversity, freedom, choice and growth”? Isn’t that a bit strong?

Not really. You see, McWilliams died in 2000. A cancer and AIDS patient himself, he was arrested while helping another writer conduct research for a book on growing marijuana for medical purposes. His mother’s house was held as collateral for the bond that secured his freedom while awaiting sentencing, and the chief prosecutor in the case threatened to seize the home if McWilliams was found with even a trace of the marijuana he used to control the severe nausea caused by his medication.

Unable to control his nausea, McWilliams choked to death on his own vomit.

Some people would make excuses for the prosecutor in the case. He was just doing his job according to the law, after all.

But a law that would deny a man medicine and cause him to choke to death is evil, and so are those who voluntarily help to enforce such laws.

We make a big deal about the democratic nature of our political system, but there’s nothing about 50% plus one that could sanctify laws and actions like those that led to the death of Peter McWilliams. If we recognize that you have the right to do peaceful things — that is to engage in trade, or to love, or to consume — by yourself and with other consenting adults, then it doesn’t matter if the people intruding into your life are lone wolves or a majority of the population. They’re wrong to intrude and they’re doing evil by sticking their noses where those noses aren’t welcome.

Because it ain’t nobody’s business if you do.

Unfortunately, governments and our neighbors have grown accustomed to interfering in what isn’t their business. Occasionally, they give a hat tip to the philosophical tradition represented by Mill and company by arguing that, if you’re allowed to smoke grass or own a gun or operate a storefront without a license, others really are harmed by your subsequent (alleged) lower productivity at work, or the possibility that you’ll go postal, or the vague potential for you defraud customers in a way that could allegedly be prevented by an official piece of paper.

This stretches the idea of “harm to others” so far out of shape as to be unrecognizable — except as a dishonest intellectual dodge. Accepting the argument that what you might do, or what could reduce your utility to society, is any business of the government, leaves absolutely nothing beyond the reach of nosey busybodies with official titles.

It also, incidentally, reduces you to a cog in the machine.

Laws that interfere in your right “to do whatever you want with your own person and property, as long as you don’t physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other” go too far. They should be defied and sabotaged. Governments that insist on passing such laws are illegitimate and should be dumped. And majorities that put such governments in power? Well, they’re just wrong, and should be told to take a hike.

Defending liberty isn’t about playing by the rules. It’s about judging whether the rules, and the people who enforce them, are worth respecting.

posted by J.D. Tuccille at 10:08 AM

06bbbyes

60 Amazing True Facts – I nearly almost believe them

September 9, 2009
60 Amazing True Facts
  1. In the weightlessness of space a frozen pea will explode if it comes in contact with Pepsi.
  2. The increased electricity used by modern appliances is causing a shift in the Earth’s magnetic field. By the year 2327, the North Pole will be located in mid-Kansas, while the South Pole will be just off the coast of East Africa.
  3. The idea for “tribbles” in ” Star Trek” came from gerbils, since some gerbils are actually born pregnant.
  4. Male rhesus monkeys often hang from tree branches by their amazing prehensile penises.
  5. Johnny Plessey batted .331 for the Cleveland Spiders in 1891, even though he spent the entire season batting with a rolled-up, lacquered copy of the Toledo Post-Dispatch.
  6. Smearing a small amount of dog feces on an insect bite will relieve the itching and swelling.
  7. The Boeing 747 is capable of flying upside-down if it weren’t for the fact that the wings would shear off when trying to roll it over.
  8. The trucking company Elvis Presley worked at as a young man was owned by Frank Sinatra.
  9. The only golf course on the island of Tonga has 15 holes, and there’s no penalty if a monkey steals your golf ball.
  10. Legislation passed during WWI making it illegal to say “gesundheit” to a sneezer was never repealed.
  11. Manatees possess vocal chords which give them the ability to speak like humans, but don’t do so because they have no ears with which to hear the sound.
  12. SCUBA divers cannot pass gas at depths of 33 feet or below.
  13. Catfish are the only animals that naturally have an ODD number of whiskers.
  14. Replying more than 100 times to the same piece of spam e-mail will overwhelm the sender’s system and interfere with their ability to send any more spam.
  15. Polar bears can eat as many as 86 penguins in a single sitting.
  16. The first McDonald’s restaurant opened for business in 1952 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and featured the McHaggis sandwich.
  17. The Air Force’s F-117 fighter uses aerodynamics discovered during research into how bumblebees fly.
  18. You can get blood from a stone, but only if contains at least 17 percent bauxite.
  19. Silly Putty was “discovered” as the residue left behind after the first latex condoms were produced. It’s not widely publicized for obvious reasons.
  20. Approximately one-sixth of your life is spent on Wednesdays.
  21. The skin needed for elbow transplants must be taken from the scrotum of a cadaver.
  22. The sport of jai alai originated from a game played by Incan priests who held cats by their tails and swung at leather balls. The cats would instinctively grab at the ball with their claws, thus enabling players to catch them.
  23. A cat’s purr has the same romance-enhancing frequency as the voice of singer Barry White.
  24. The typewriter was invented by Hungarian immigrant Qwert Yuiop, who left his “signature” on the keyboard.
  25. The volume of water that the Giant Sequoia tree consumes in a 24-hour period contains enough suspended minerals to pave 17.3 feet of a 4-lane concrete freeway.
  26. King Henry VIII slept with a gigantic axe.
  27. Because printed materials are being replaced by CD-ROM, microfiche and the Internet, libraries that previously sank into their foundations under the weight of their books are now in danger of collapsing in extremely high winds.
  28. In 1843, a Parisian street mime got stuck in his imaginary box and consequently died of starvation.
  29. Touch-tone telephone keypads were originally planned to have buttons for Police and Fire Departments, but they were replaced with * and # when the project was cancelled in favor of developing the 911 system.
  30. Human saliva has a boiling point three times that of regular water.
  31. Calvin, of the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip, was patterned after President Calvin Coolidge, who had a pet tiger as a boy.
  32. Watching an hour-long soap opera burns more calories than watching a three-hour baseball game.
  33. Until 1978, Camel cigarettes contained minute particles of real camels.
  34. You can actually sharpen the blades on a pencil sharpener by wrapping your pencils in aluminum foil before inserting them.
  35. To human taste buds, Zima is virtually indistinguishable from zebra urine.
  36. Seven out of every ten hockey-playing Canadians will lose a tooth during a game. For Canadians who don’t play hockey, that figure drops to five out of ten.
  37. A dog’s naked behind leaves absolutely no bacteria when pressed against carpet.
  38. A team of University of Virginia researchers released a study promoting the practice of picking one’s nose, claiming that the health benefits of keeping nasal passages free from infectious blockages far outweigh the negative social connotations.
  39. Among items left behind at Osama bin Laden’s headquarters in Afghanistan were 27 issues of Mad Magazine. Al Qaeda members have admitted that bin Laden is reportedly an avid reader.
  40. Urine from male cape water buffaloes is so flammable that some tribes use it for lantern fuel.
  41. At the first World Cup championship in Uruguay, 1930, the soccer balls were actually monkey skulls wrapped in paper and leather.
  42. Every Labrador retriever dreams about bananas.
  43. If you put a bee in a film canister for two hours, it will go blind and leave behind its weight in honey.
  44. Due to the angle at which the optic nerve enters the brain, staring at a blue surface during sex greatly increases the intensity of orgasms.
  45. Never hold your nose and cover your mouth when sneezing, as it can blow out your eyeballs.
  46. Centuries ago, purchasing real estate often required having one or more limbs amputated in order to prevent the purchaser from running away to avoid repayment of the loan. Hence an expensive purchase was said to cost “an arm and a leg.”
  47. When Mahatma Gandhi died, an autopsy revealed five gold Krugerrands in his small intestine.
  48. Aardvarks are allergic to radishes, but only during summer months.
  49. Coca-Cola was the favored drink of Pharaoh Ramses. An inscription found in his tomb, when translated, was found to be almost identical to the recipe used today.
  50. If you part your hair on the right side, you were born to be carnivorous. If you part it on the left, your physical and psychological make-up is that of a vegetarian.
  51. When immersed in liquid, a dead sparrow will make a sound like a crying baby.
  52. In WWII the US military planned to airdrop over France propaganda in the form of Playboy magazine, with coded messages hidden in the models’ turn-ons and turn-offs. The plan was scrapped because of a staple shortage due to rationing of metal.
  53. Although difficult, it’s possible to start a fire by rapidly rubbing together two Cool Ranch Doritos.
  54. Napoleon’s favorite type of wood was knotty chestnut.
  55. The world’s smartest pig, owned by a mathematics teacher in Madison, WI, memorized the multiplication tables up to 12.
  56. Due to the natural “momentum” of the ocean, saltwater fish cannot swim backwards.
  57. In ancient Greece, children of wealthy families were dipped in olive oil at birth to keep them hairless throughout their lives.
  58. It is nearly three miles farther to fly from Amarillo, Texas to Louisville, Kentucky than it is to return from Louisville to Amarillo.
  59. The “nine lives” attributed to cats is probably due to their having nine primary whiskers.
  60. The original inspiration for Barbie dolls comes from dolls developed by German propagandists in the late 1930s to impress young girls with the ideal notions of Aryan features. The proportions for Barbie were actually based on those of Eva Braun.
  61. The Venezuelan brown bat can detect and dodge individual raindrops in mid-flight, arriving safely back at his cave completely dry.

Blue Energy Tornado

When did America become a nation of frightened wimps?

September 9, 2009

When did America become a nation of frightened wimps?

13 Apr

Posted by Steve as Freedom

It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority – Benjamin Franklin

When did America become a nation of frightened wimps? When did we cross the line from courage to cowardice? Was it sometime in the 1990s? After the Oklahoma City bombing? After the Columbine shootings? After 911?

When did we decide to allow the police to smash into private homes without knocking and identifying themselves? Recently, in the suburb I live in, a special police force dressed in black Nazi style uniforms busted into a suburban home without warning and dragged a school teacher out of her house with an automatic weapon at the back of her head. They forced her to the ground, handcuffed her, and hauled her away while her neighbors watched. They did it without a warrant and without consequence. Why? A misunderstanding. That is precisely why we need checks in place, to avoid misunderstandings and abuses. The police chief said, “When we realized it was a mistake, we all had a good laugh.” If a group of unidentified men dragged his wife away at gunpoint, I wonder if he would still think it was funny.

When did we decide it was okay to strip search an old lady at the airport because the pin in her hip set off the metal detector? When did we decide it was too risky to take a cup of coffee on an airplane? When did we decide it was reasonable to make a nursing mother drink her own breast milk to prove she wasn’t a terrorist? When we impose such extreme levels of security, haven’t the terrorists already won? Haven’t we willingly given our freedom to the government and the terrorists in the name of security?

When did we decide it was okay for policemen in combat boots with German Shepherds to patrol High School hallways?

When did we decide to allow routine police roadblocks? Why weren’t we outraged?

When did we decide it was too dangerous for our children to ride their bikes to school?

When did we decide it was okay for the government to seize property without a trial, without due process, at the whim of a government agency?

When did we decide that our government had a right to the fluids inside our own bodies? Or a right to the very breath in our lungs? When did we decide that it was the accused’s responsibility to prove they hadn’t been breaking the law? When did we decide that drug testing High School students was reasonable? Hell, why is it reasonable to drug test anyone – ever? Why would anybody, for any reason, have the right to invade your body without your permission?

When did we decide to give 10 year prison sentences to adolescents for having sex? Was it before or after we decided to put them in jail for smoking cigarettes and drinking beer? If my memory serves me correctly, when I was a teenager, almost everyone I knew either was doing it or wanted to do it. Why did we make what is biological and natural, criminal?

When did we decide it is too risky for 20-year-olds to drink but reasonable for them to kill and die overseas? Does that make sense to anyone?

We’ve justified every one of these injustices by claiming that it was necessary to preserve health and safety. I say bullsh!t. What is the point in being a safe slave?

I think we crossed the line somewhere between 1984 and 1988, around the time we outlawed lawn darts and every mini van in America had a ‘baby-on-board’ sign. While lawn darts and baby on board signs may seem trivial, they were warning signs of a mass shift in American values – a shift away from freedom and liberty as predominant values to health and safety as predominant values. There will be no end to the loss of freedom if we believe being healthy and safe trumps all else.

I believe there was day when most Americans accepted that life was risky. They accepted that bad things can happen to good people. They accepted that risk was an inherent part being free. They didn’t need a new law or government program every time something bad happened.

It is sad to watch our freedom slowly disappear in front of our eyes with so few people taking action.

But I have hope. I sense a shift. Something is blowing in the wind. I can smell it. I can feel it. I can see it in young people. A move away from authoritarianism – like the people that run The Free Talk Live podcast, one of the most popular podcasts in the world. The Free Talk Live podcasters make no apologies and pull no punches in their love of freedom. They tell it like it is.

He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither – Benjamin Franklin

bad dream

September 8, 2009

Kereon Lighthouse in Brittany  France

Ralph came home drunk one night, slid into bed beside his sleeping wife, and fell into a deep slumber.

He awoke before the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter said, ‘You died in your sleep, Ralph..’

Ralph was stunned. ‘I’m dead? No, I can’t be! I’ve got too much to live for. Send me back!’

St. Peter said, ‘I’m sorry, but there’s only one way you can go back, and that is as a chicken.’

Ralph was devastated, but begged St. Peter to send him to a farm near his home. The next thing he knew, he was covered with feathers,
clucking, and pecking the ground.

A rooster strolled past. ‘So, you’re the new hen, huh? How’s your first day here?’

‘Not bad,’ replied Ralph the hen, ‘but I have this strange feeling inside. Like I’m gonna explode!’

‘You’re ovulating,’ explained the rooster.
‘Don’t tell me you’ve never laid an egg before? ‘

‘Never,’ said Ralph.

‘Well, just relax and let it happen,’ says the rooster . ‘It’s no big deal.’

Ralph did, and a few uncomfortable seconds later, out popped an egg!

Ralph was overcome with emotion as he experienced motherhood. He soon laid another egg — his joy was overwhelming.

As he was about to lay his third egg, he felt a smack on the back of his head, and heard his wife yell…..

‘Ralph! Wake up. You son of a bitch you just shit in the bed!’

Dirty Mind 1

lovely

To: U.S. Congress

September 6, 2009

To:  U.S. Congress Just The Facts is an organization that I started to provide a factual insight to the general public on this most controversial subject. I will provide nothing but the facts, so that we the people can make intelligent decisions about a subject the government clouds up with untruthfulness. Please read my petition and even though you might not smoke Cannabis, please observe with an open mind about all the beneficial qualities that have nothing to do with smoking, but are currently still as illegal.

FACT

· Deaths per year resulting from alcohol: 100,000
· Deaths per year resulting from tobacco: 430,000
· Deaths per year resulting from aspirin: 180- 1000
· Deaths per year resulting from legal drugs: 106,000
· Deaths that have ever occurred in direct result of Cannabis: 0 (that’s right zero)

FACT

· Farming 6\% of the continental U.S. acreage with biomass crops (Hemp) would provide all of America’s Energy needs.
· Biomass can be converted into methane, methanol, or gasoline (which could eliminate our ties with the Middle East) at a cost comparable to petroleum and hemp is much better for the environment.
· Hemp fuel burns clean. Petroleum causes acid rain due to sulfur pollution.
· The use of Hemp Fuel does not contribute to global warming

FACT

· Hemp seed can be pressed into nutritious oil, which contains the highest amount of fatty acids in the plant kingdom. Essential oils are responsible for our immune system responses, and can clear the arteries of cholesterol and plaque.
· The byproduct of pressing the oil from hemp seed is a high quality protein seed cake. It can be used to bake into cakes, breads and casseroles. Hemp seed protein is one of mankind’s finest, most complete, and available-to-the body vegetable proteins.
· A Vegan or vegetarian can get all of the days required protein from a handful of hemp seed.

FACT

· Hemp is the oldest cultivated fiber plant in the world.
· Low-THC fiber hemp varieties developed by the French and others have been available for over 20 years. It is impossible to get high from fiber hemp. Over 600,000 acres of hemp is grown worldwide with no misuse problem.
· One acre of hemp can produce as much usable fiber as 4 acres of trees or two acres of cotton.
· Trees cut down take 50-500 years to grow, while hemp can be cultivated in as little as 100 days and can yield 4 times more paper over a 20 year period.
· Until 1883, from 75-90\% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber including that for books, Bibles, maps, paper money, stocks and bonds, newspapers, etc.
· Hemp paper is longer lasting than wood pulp, stronger, acid-free, and chlorine free (Chlorine is estimated to cause up to 10\% of all Cancers).
· Hemp paper can be recycled 7 times, wood pulp 4 times.
· Hemp particleboard may be up to 2 times stronger than wood particleboard and holds nails better.
· Hemp is a softer, warmer, and more water absorbent, than cotton and doesn’t stretch out.
· Half of the U.S. pesticides are used to treat cotton, while hemp has a natural pesticide.

FACT

· Almost any product that can be made from wood, cotton, or petroleum (including plastics) can be made from hemp. There are 25,000 known uses for hemp.
· For thousands of years virtually all good paints and varnishes were made with hemp seed oil and/or linseed oil.
· One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees, making hemp a perfect material to replace trees for pressed board, particle board, and concrete construction molds.
· Heating and compressing plant fibers can create a practical, inexpensive, fire-resistant constructions material with excellent thermal and sound-insulating qualities.
· In 1941 Henry Ford built a plastic car made of fiber from hemp and wheat straw. Hemp is biodegradable, as synthetic plastic is not.

FACT

· Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic.

Thank you for reading my petition; I know we are a majority so lets stand up to make the change. As to date 36 states have shown interest into taking action towards a more relaxed Medicinal Marijuana program. Lets take it to the next step and start reaping these environment saving byproducts as well.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. WE must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” Dr. Martin Luther King.

As seen through the eyes of a child……..

September 5, 2009

As seen through the eyes of a child……..

1) NUDITY
I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, ‘Mom, that lady isn’t wearing a seat belt!’

2) OPINIONS

On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read,
‘The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents.’


3) KETCHUP

A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old daughter
to answer the phone. ‘Mommy can’t come to the phone to talk to you right now. She’s hitting the bottle.’

4) MORE NUDITY

A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women’s locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, ‘What’s the matter, haven’t you ever seen a little boy before?’

5) POLICE # 1
While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, ‘Are you a cop? Yes,’ I answered and continued writing the report. My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?’
‘Yes, that’s right,’ I told her. ‘Well, then,’ she said as she extended her foot toward me, ‘would you please tie my shoe?’


6) POLICE # 2

It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking,
and I saw a little boy staring in at me. ‘Is that a dog you got back there?’ he asked.
‘It sure is,’ I replied. Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, ‘What’d he do?’

7) ELDERLY
While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my 4-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, ‘The tooth fairy will never believe this!’

8) DRESS-UP
A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned,
‘Daddy, you shouldn’t wear that suit.’ ‘And why not, darling?’ ‘You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning.’

9) DEATH
While walking along the sidewalk in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his 5-year-old son and his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box and cotton batting, then dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased. The minister’s son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: ‘Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes.’ (I want this line used at my funeral!)

10) SCHOOL
A little girl had just finished her first week of school. ‘I’m just wasting my time,’ she said to her mother. ‘I can’t read, I can’t write, and they won’t let me talk!’

11) BIBLE
A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible..
He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages.

‘Mama, look what I found, ‘ the boy called out. ‘What have you got there, dear?’
With astonishment in the young boy’s voice, he answered, ‘I think it’s Adam’s underwear!’

The Wizard Of Oz

September 5, 2009
The Wizard Of Oz

(Victor Fleming, 1939)

What’s The Story? Farm girl Dorothy (Judy Garland) is snatched from rural Kansas by a tornado and dumped into a world of witches, wizards, talking scarecrows, human/lion hybrids, flying monkeys, disturbing dwarfish folk and men with upturned funnels on their heads.

What’s It About? It’s a political allegory for late 19th-century America. L Frank Baum, author of the original book
The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, was a political activist, and illustrator WW Denslow had dabbled in caricature.

The Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Yellow Brick Road, silver slippers, cyclone, monkeys, Emerald City, little people, witches and wizards
were all popular images in political cartoons of the 1890s.

Baum and Denslow simply drafted them into a single story, all carried by an everywoman character Dorothy, representing the American people.

According to historian Hugh Rockoff, the Tin Man is the downtrodden industrial worker. The Scarecrow is the farmer.

In the book, the Scarecrow and Tin Man work together to defeat the tyrannical Wicked Witch Of The East
(future president Grover Cleveland, who supported the rich-favouring gold standard currency).

In 1890s Minnesota, the Farmer-Labor Party, a coalition of industrialists and farmers, was big news.

The Lion is 1896 Democrat Presidential candidate William Bryan (described as having “a great roar but no bite”). The Wicked Witch Of The West was Republican William McKinley, who won the Presidency. The Munchkins are the ordinary citizens, the ‘little’ people.

So, Dorothy follows the Yellow Brick Road (the gold-standard currency) to the promised land of prosperity (Emerald City) but finds the whole thing is an illusion constructed by the Wizard Of Oz (Republican chairman Mark Hanna) to dupe the American people (Dorothy).

It isn’t the Yellow Brick Road that gets her home, it’s the ruby slippers (representing the free silver movement – the alternative currency of the people).

So that Christmas childhood fixture is really a barely veiled call for revolution in America.

There’s no place like the home of the brave…

Weird Fact: The now-iconic ‘Over The Rainbow’ signature tune almost didn’t make the film. MGM thought kids wouldn’t get it,
and that it would be degrading for Judy Garland to sing in a barnyard.

Funniest one-liners on the internet!

September 2, 2009


I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather.. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.

Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. “Yes” is the answer.

Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship.

We live in a society where pizza gets to your house before the police.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.

If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.

The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Children: You spend the first 2 years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next 16 years telling them to sit down and shut-up.

My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch.

Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’, and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

If sex is a pain in the ass, then you’re doing it wrong…
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station..

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of payments.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

If God is watching us, the least we can do is be entertaining.

I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted paychecks.

I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian

If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea… does that mean that one enjoys it?

Some people are like Slinkies … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don’t need it.

Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?

Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with “Guess” on it…so I said “Implants?”

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas

Quote of the Day:

September 1, 2009

 “When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty.'” 
 Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th US President

 

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Sarah Palin & Wasilla Assembly of God (spooky stuff)

September 1, 2009
YouTube censors viral video documentary on Palin’s churches
By Bruce Wilson

Sarah Palin was baptized at Wasilla Assembly of God and attended the church for over two and a half decades, and she has been publicly blessed by a number of pastors and religious leaders employed by and associated with that church.Last Sunday our research team released a video, a ten-minute mini-documentary, focusing on the Wasilla Assemblies of God and the video seemed on the verge of a massive “viral” breakthrough when YouTube pulled it down, citing “inappropriate content”.

At the point the video was censored by YouTube it had been viewed by almost 160,000 people. The short of it is that YouTube has censored a video documentary that appeared to be close to having an effect on a hard fought and contentious American presidential election.

Censored video: “Sarah Palin’s Demon Haunted Churches[YouTube-censored ‘viral’ video on Vimeo.com]

For documentation, video sourcing and background articles, see Talk To Action article, Sarah Palin’s Demon Haunted Churches – The Complete EditionContains :

-Documentation on the sources of video footage used in the documentary.

-A written summary of the surrounding story, to contextualize the video.

-Supplemental Documentation on the Third Wave movement.

Two days ago I contacted YouTube asking what in the video was deemed “inappropriate” but I haven’t received a reply. Meanwhile, YouTube has allowed someone else to post our video in full, but it is no longer in our control and so we no longer are able to update information we had included with our original video, including links to our articles which provide sourcing and documentation on our video.

The video was part of a wider effort by our research team, which has written several articles and released two short videos documenting religious beliefs espoused at Sarah Palin’s Alaska churches – especially the Wasilla Assemblies of God, the Juneau Christian Center and the Church On The Rock. Our team has over a decade’s aggregate experience in researching political and theological beliefs of the American Christian conservative right and has been researching for several years the particular religious movement and doctrines these churches promote.

Our video had climbed, the day before YouTube censored it, to the #10 ‘viral video of the day’ spot according to a website that tracks viral videos. Moreover the video, and our attached stories explaining the “Third Wave” theology associated with at least three of four of Palin’s Alaska churches, were being posted on web sites associated with conservative Christians.

Our research has already impacted the current presidential election, as evidenced by the three-minute and forty second “God Sent Hitler” video that was shown around the world and forced John McCain to renounce the political endorsement of pastor John Hagee (according to according to the New York Times and a wide range of other media including the LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, AP, the Dallas Morning News, CNN and MSNBC). The video featured an excerpt, from a late 2005 sermon, broadcast internationally and sold by Hagee’s ministry as a DVD, in which Hagee stated that “God sent a hunter – Hitler was a hunter” and suggested the divinely appointed mission was to drive Europe’s Jews to Palestine because that was, according to Hagee, “God’s top priority”. Hagee’s beliefs have also been targeted more frequently by his fellow conservative Christians than by the Roman Catholic and Jewish communities that he attacks in his sermons.

If Sarah Palin may hold apocalyptic end-time beliefs or believes that she has a divine mandate to initiate an end-time conflict, American voters have the right to know about the doctrines taught in Palin’s Alaska churches. These churches are closely associated with a movement, called the Third Wave or New Apostolic Reformation, which holds views that are highly controversial, particularly among other conservative Christians who are most aware of this fast growing international phenomenon.  The activities of the movement have been condemned as heresy by the General Council of the Assemblies of God, to which two of Palin’s churches currently belong.  Accusations even stronger than `heresy’, decrying the “Third Wave” religious movement, have been launched from Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christian groups.

Our focus on Palin’s churches does not “bash religion” and has been praised by conservative Christians for its academic rigor. We are examining the religious views promoted at Palin’s churches because the Third Wave / New Apostolic Reformation movement rejects pluralism and its followers believe they have been anointed by God to lead a unified superchurch into the final age – both of which have public policy implications.

Sarah Palin has every right to hold whatever religious views she chooses but, by the same token, the American people have every right to know what Palin’s religious beliefs are – especially to the extent that they may include the view that all other religious and philosophical views but her own are under the influence of demonic powers and that believing Christians must conquer the Earth and cleanse it of evil in this final generation.

Our primary focus is not with the hyper-charismatic manifestations, `outpourings’, associated with the “Third Wave” movement in which those ‘slain’, ‘washed’ or ‘soaking’ in the spirit  bark, howl and shriek, shake spasmodically, laugh or sob, crawl about on all fours, bang their heads on walls, and fall into stupors – all which the participants seem to enjoy.  Neither is our main focus on problematic healing sessions, in which demons are expelled, that sometimes involve patients being kicked or head butted. Our focus is on beliefs behind these manifestations – such as the idea that these outpourings indicate that the participants are part of an “army of God” and comprise the final generation before the end times.  Also problematic is that these healings and supernatural works are seen not as “divine intervention” by God but as the result of supernatural gifts imparted to those humans “anointed” to participant in ridding the world of evil.

From a standpoint of public policy it is significant that Third Wave doctrine teaches that their leaders are raising a generation of youth who will be imparted with supernatural powers and form a conquering Christian army.  These youth, often referred to as Joel’s Army and as the generation born after 1973, will purge the earth in preparation for Jesus’ return.  The movement features special gatherings of believers to use “spiritual warfare” to purge “territorial demons” and end “generational curses” in order to transform the cities of America and the world. Social reform thus takes place through the expulsion of demons.

Third Wave doctrine is an example of an extreme religious exceptionalism – not only are all other religious and philosophical belief systems on Earth seen as invalid and under satanic influence, but Third Wave theology sees all competing branches, sects and denominations of Christianity, particularly other conservative Christians who refuse to join “the river” of these outpourings, as an obstacle to God’s divine will. Third Wave adherents believe that other Christian churches must drop their competing doctrines, which prevent them from joining this final end-time army, and group together under the new authority of the Apostles and Prophets of this final age.  In other words, true believers will join together, in one triumphant end time church, to do battle against evil in the final generation.  C. Peter Wagner, a central figure in the organization of the movement, believes that this second Apostolic age began in 2001 and that it is “heralding the most radical change in the way of doing church at least since the Protestant Reformation.” He also claims that this international movement under the direction of his Apostles is the only large sector of Christianity growing faster worldwide than Islam.

Wagner and his Apostles monitor their progress through the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs, attached to the New Life church formerly led by Ted Haggard.  Leading Apostles and Prophets with titles such as “Generals of Intercession” go on spiritual warfare ventures with names like “Operation Ice Castle” – to attack the territorial demons which they believe prevent Muslims and Roman Catholics from embracing the true faith.  In one such venture, one of the participants happily testified that she believed their efforts against the demon, “the Queen of Heaven”, may have resulted in the death of Mother Theresa.

The American public has a right to know that Sarah Palin, Alaska governor and now GOP vice presidential candidate, may hold such views. And YouTube, as an evolving Fourth-Estate media institution, has the responsibility of refraining from censoring efforts at informing the American public about Palin’s likely beliefs.

On June 8, 2008 in the Wasilla Assembly of God, her church of over 25 years, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin declared United States military forces in Iraq to be “out on a task that is from God.” Head Pastor of that church, Ed Kalnins, has also made statements indicating that he views the current conflict in Iraq as part of an apocalyptic end-times struggle. Palin recently stated her enthusiasm, in a widely televised interview, for war with Russia – a country that, along with the United States, possesses vast stockpiles of intercontinental nuclear ballistic missiles.  The American public has a right to know if Palin believes, as does the Third Wave movement in which her churches take part, that she has a divine mandate or “anointing” to do battle to purge those she views as evil from the world.

Most Americans do not want an American jihad to conquer the world in the name of God let alone a global nuclear war. Judging from the churches Palin attends and from her public statements we have to take very seriously the prospect of having a Vice President, a heartbeat away from the United States presidency, who holds such apocalyptic goals.

[below: new video documentary, our second, “Palin’s Churches and The Holy Laughter Anointing]

Palin’s Churches and The Holy Laughter Anointing

For documentation, video sourcing and background articles, see Talk To Action article on Palin’s Churches and The Holy Laughter Anointing

[below – introduction from article]

Rodney Howard Browne is recognized worldwide as the source of Holy Laughter anointing to revivals around the globe.   He has become a central figure in the Third Wave, also known as the New Apostolic Reformation, and is credited with bringing Holy Laughter to the Toronto Airport Blessing and the Lakeland Outpouring.  Howard-Browne is also a long time associate of Mike Rose, senior pastor of Juneau Christian Center, formerly the Bethel Assembly of God. When in residence in Juneau, Sarah Palin has chosen to attend Juneau Christian Center as documented by the church, and by the Alaska Assemblies of God state newsletter, Alaska Update.

Mt. Huashan Hiking Trail.

September 1, 2009

That is part of the Mt. Huashan Hiking Trail. It is in China. The link has more pictures and some stories.

adzqy1http://www.ssqq.com/ARCHIVE/vinlin27d.htm

VERY SCAREY

August 31, 2009

Sarah Palin Would Be a Disaster for Education

We all know Sarah Palin isn’t running on brains, but just for fun I decided to research her academic background:

  • In 1982, she enrolled at Hawaii Pacific College but left after her first semester.
  • Next she transferred to North Idaho community college, where she spent two semesters as a general studies major.
  • Transferred to the University of Idaho for two semesters. During this time Palin won the Miss Wasilla Pageant beauty contest, then finished third in the Miss Alaska pageant, at which she won a college scholarship and the “Miss Congeniality” award.
  • She then left the University of Idaho and attended Matanuska-Susitna community college in Alaska for one term.
  • Returned to the University of Idaho where she spent three semesters completing her Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism, graduating in 1987.

For those of you not keeping score, that’s 4 different schools in 5 years, two of which were community colleges. Her greatest “academic” achievement was 3rd place in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant.

Call me an elitist, but I’d feel safer if the person a John-McCain-stroke away from the presidency had more education than the average waiter at Denny’s.

Next I did some research into the educational policies she hopes to impose on America. This where it gets scary. A few of her favorite educational ideals:

  • Teach creationism alongside evolution in schools. (Aug 2008)
  • Supports teaching intelligent design in public schools. (Aug 2008)
  • Committed to providing strong education, including morals. (Jan 2008)
  • Faith-based materials ok in homeschooling. (Nov 2006)
  • I believe we have a creator; and many theories of evolution. (Oct 2006)
  • Let parents opt out of schoolbooks they find offensive. (Jul 2006)

In summary, Palin believes that Creationsim, a religious ideology, should be given equal weight with a theory based on scientific observation and analysis, that schools should impose their own morals on children, and that parents should be able to censor books that don’t align with their world view.

political-pictures-sarah-palin-role-modelarticle-1063272-02CF10D200000578-251_224x520article-1063272-02CF113600000578-222_224x520miss-wasilla-1984

August 31, 2009

adversity

Kids Are Quick

TEACHER:    Maria, go to the map and find North America .
MARIA:         Here it  is.
TEACHER:   Correct.  Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS:         Maria.

____________________________________  

TEACHER:   John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN:          You told me to do it without using tables.

__________________________________________

TEACHER:  Glenn, how do you spell ‘crocodile?’
GLENN:      K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L’

TEACHER:  No, that’s wrong
GLENN:       Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.  

(I  Love this kid)
____________________________________________ TEACHER:   Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
DONALD:     H I J K L M N O.

TEACHER:   What are you talking about?

DONALD:    Yeste rday you said it’s H to O.  
__________________________________

TEACHER:   Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn’t have ten years ago.
WINNIE:       Me!

__________________________________________  

TEACHER:   Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN:          Well, I’m a lot closer to the ground than you are.  
_______________________________________

TEACHER:     Millie, give me a sentence starting with ‘ I. ‘
MILLIE:         I is..

TEACHER:     No, Millie….. Always say, ‘I  am.’
MILLIE:         All right…  ‘I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.’      
________________________________

TEACHER:    George Washington not only chopped down his father’s cherry tree, but also admitted it.  
                    Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn’ t punish him?
LOUIS:           Because George still had the axe in his hand….    
______________________________________  

TEACHER:    Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON:         No sir, I don’t have to, my Mom is a good cook.  
______________________________

TEACHER:     Clyde , your composition on ‘My Dog’ is exactly the same as your brother’s.. Did you copy his?
CLYDE :         No, sir. It’s the same dog.  
________________________________ ___

TEACHER:    Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD:     A teacher
__________________________________  
education

Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200

August 29, 2009

Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200

A notorious analysis of the House health care bill contains 48 claims. Twenty-six of them are false and the rest mostly misleading. Only four are true.

August 28, 2009

Summary

Our inbox has been overrun with messages asking us to weigh in on a mammoth list of claims about the House health care bill. The chain e-mail purports to give “a few highlights” from the first half of the bill, but the list of 48 assertions is filled with falsehoods, exaggerations and misinterpretations. We examined each of the e-mail’s claims, finding 26 of them to be false and 18 to be misleading, only partly true or half true. Only four are accurate. A few of our “highlights”:

  • The e-mail claims that page 30 of the bill says that “a government committee will decide what treatments … you get,” but that page refers to a “private-public advisory committee” that would “recommend” what minimum benefits would be included in basic, enhanced and premium insurance plans.
  • The e-mail says that “non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services” but points to a provision that prohibits discrimination in health care based on “personal characteristics.” Another provision explicity forbids “federal payment for undocumented aliens.”
  • It says “[g]overnment will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.” This provision isn’t about children with learning disabilities; instead, it pertains to restricted enrollment in “special needs” plans, a category of Medicare Advantage plans. Enrollment is already restricted. The bill extends the ability to do that.
  • It claims that a section about “Community-based Home Medical Services” means “more payoffs for ACORN.” ACORN does not provide medical home services. The e-mail interprets any reference to the word “community” to be some kind of payoff for ACORN. That’s nonsense.

Analysis

This chain e-mail claims to give a run-down of what’s in the House health care bill, H.R. 3200. Instead, it shows evidence of a reading comprehension problem on the part of the author. Some of our more enterprising readers have even taken it upon themselves to debunk a few of the assertions, sending us their notes and encouraging us to write about it. We applaud your fact-checking skills and your skepticism. And skepticism is warranted.

Chain e-mail: Subject: A few highlights from the first 500 pages of the Healthcare bill in congress Contact your Representatives and let them know how you feel about this. We, as a country, cannot afford another 1000 page bill to go through congress without being read. Another 500 pages to go. I have highlighted a few of the items that are down right unconstitutional. ⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full text ⬏

A few readers alerted us to the fact that a state representative in North Carolina, Rep. Curtis Blackwood, published a version of the e-mail in a newsletter to constituents, telling them that while going through e-mail, he came across “some interesting information on the Democrats’ big health care bill, H.R. 3200. … While this is federal legislation and not state, the topic is of enough significance that I thought many of you would be interested in reading it.” We’d refer Rep. Blackwood to our special report on viral messages titled, “That Chain E-mail Your Friend Sent to You Is (Likely) Bogus. Seriously.”

We can trace the origins of this collection of claims to a conservative blogger who issued his instant and mostly mistaken analyses as brief “tweets” sent via Twitter as he was paging through the 1,017-page bill. The claims have been embraced as true and posted on hundreds of Web sites, and forwarded in the form of chain e-mails countless times. But there’s hardly any truth in them. We’ll go through each of the claims in this message:

Claim: Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!

False: This section merely requires a study of “the large group insured and self-insured employer health care markets.” There’s no mention of auditing employers, only of studying “markets.” The purpose of the study is to produce “recommendations” to make sure the new law “does not provide incentives for small and mid-size employers to self-insure.”

Claim: Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!

False: This section says nothing whatsoever about “rationing” or anything of the sort. Actually, it’s favorable to families and individuals, placing an annual cap on what they could pay out of pocket if covered by a basic, “essential benefits package.” The limits would be $5,000 for an individual, $10,000 for a family.

Claim: Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)

False: Actually, the section starting on page 30 sets up a “private-public advisory committee” headed by the U.S. surgeon general and made up of mostly private sector “medical and other experts” selected by the president and the comptroller general. The advisory committee would have only the power “to recommend” what benefits are included in basic, enhanced and premium insurance plans. It would have no power to decide what treatments anybody will get. Its recommendations on benefits might or might not be adopted.

Claim: Page 42: The “Health Choices Commissioner” will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.

False: The new Health Choices Commissioner will oversee a variety of choices to be offered through new insurance exchanges. The bill itself specifies the “minimum services to be covered” in a basic plan, including prescription drugs, mental health services, maternity and well-baby care and certain vaccines and preventive services (pages 27-28). We find nothing in the bill that prevents insurance companies from offering benefits that exceed the minimums. In fact, the legislation allows (page 84) any company that offers an approved basic plan to offer also an “enhanced” plan, a “premium” plan and even a “premium plus” plan that could include vision and dental benefits.

Claim: Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.

False. That’s simply not what the bill says at all. This page includes “SEC. 152. PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION IN HEALTH CARE,” which says that “[e]xcept as otherwise explicitly permitted by this Act and by subsequent regulations consistent with this Act, all health care and related services (including insurance coverage and public health activities) covered by this Act shall be provided without regard to personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services.” However, the bill does explicitly say that illegal immigrants can’t get any government money to pay for health care. Page 143 states: “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.” And as we’ve said before, current law prohibits illegal immigrants from participating in government health care programs.

Claim: Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.

False. There is no mention of any “National ID Healthcard” anywhere in the bill. Page 58 says that government standards for electronic medical transactions “may include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card,” to show eligibility for services. Insurance companies typically issue such cards already, but if such a standard were issued the cards would need to be in a standard form readable by computers. The word “may” is used to permit such a standard, but it does not require one.

Claim: Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.

False. This section aims to simplify electronic payments for health services, the same sort of electronic payments that already are common for such things as utility bills or mortgage payments. The bill calls for the secretary of Health and Human Services to set standards for electronic administrative transactions that would “enable electronic funds transfers, in order to allow automated reconciliation with the related health care payment and remittance advice.” There is no mention of “individual bank accounts” nor of any new government authority over them. Also, the section does not say that electronic payments from consumers is required.

Claim: Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)

Misleading. Page 65 is the start of a section (SEC. 164. REINSURANCE PROGRAM FOR RETIREES) that would set up a new federal reinsurance plan to benefit retirees and spouses covered by any employer plan, not just those run by labor unions or nonprofit groups. Specifically, it covers “retirees and . . . spouses, surviving spouses and dependents of such retirees” who are covered by “employment-based plans” that provide health benefits. It’s open to any “group health benefits plan that . . . is maintained by one or more employers, former employers or employee associations,” as well as voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations (page 66). Furthermore, the aim of the fund is to cut premiums, copays and deductibles for the retirees. Payment “shall not be used to reduce the costs of an employer.”

Claim: Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.

True. This page begins a section setting up a new, national Health Insurance Exchange through which individuals and employers may choose from a variety of private insurance plans, much like the system that now covers millions of federal workers. Any private insurance plans offered through this exchange must meet new federal standards. For example, such plans can’t deny coverage for preexisting medical conditions (page 19).

Claim: Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Health care Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)

Partly true. Nothing like this appears on page 84. No insurance company is required to sell plans through the exchange if it doesn’t want to. Any employer may choose to buy coverage elsewhere. In fact, the vast majority of employers will still be buying private plans through the normal marketplace, because only employers with 10 or fewer employees are even allowed to buy through the exchange in the first year. The limit rises to 20 employees in the second year. However, new plans sold directly to individuals will only be sold through the exchange. Individuals who currently buy their own coverage can keep those plans if they wish, and if the insurance company continues to offer them.

Claim: Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens

Misleading. It’s true that page 91 says that insurance companies selling plans through the new exchange “shall provide for culturally and linguistically appropriate communication and health services.” The author’s “translation,” however, assumes that anyone speaking a foreign language or from another culture is an illegal immigrant, which is false.

Claim: Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.

False: This page is the start of “SEC. 205. OUTREACH AND ENROLLMENT OF EXCHANGE-ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUALS AND EMPLOYERS IN EXCHANGE-PARTICIPATING HEALTH BENEFITS PLAN.” It says a newly established Health Choices Commissioner “shall conduct outreach activities” to get people covered by private or government health insurance plans. The section says on page 97 that the Commissioner “may work with other appropriate entities to facilitate … provision of information.” But there is no authorization anywhere in the entire section for the Commissioner to pay money to any group to engage in outreach.

Claim: Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.

Partly true. Page 102 says certain Medicaid-eligible persons will be “automatically enrolled” in Medicaid (which is the state-federal program to provide insurance to low-income workers and families) IF they are not already covered by private insurance. That would happen only if they had “not elected to enroll” in one of the private plans offered through the new insurance exchanges, however. So on paper at least, they would have a choice. Also, it’s estimated that one in four persons who lacks health insurance is already eligible for Medicaid or its offshoot, the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, but simply haven’t signed up or been enrolled by their parents.

Claim: Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No “judicial review” is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.

Half true. It’s true that page 124 forbids any review by the courts of rates the government would pay to doctors and hospitals under the new “public option” insurance plan. But there’s no mention of “price fixing” in the bill; that’s the e-mail author’s phrase. It also remains to be seen if the “public option” plan would grow to become a “government monopoly,” as the author predicts.

Claim: Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.

Misleading. Nothing in the bill would “set wages” for doctors in general. Page 127 says the government would ask doctors to accept below-market rates set by the government for their patients who are covered by a new “public health insurance option,” just as they now are asked to do so for patients covered by Medicare. Physicians would still be free to charge what they wish for other patients, and free not to accept patients covered by the new program just as they are now free to refuse Medicare patients. That’s not a choice many doctors make, however, so as a practical matter the government would be setting rates (not “wages”) for many patients. On the other hand, the new “public” plan is aimed mainly at covering people who have no insurance now and can afford to pay doctors little if anything.

Claim: Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.

False. It’s true that employers would be required to sign up their workers for coverage automatically, but it doesn’t have to be the “public plan.” It would be the employer-offered plan “with the lowest applicable employee premium” (pages 147- 148). This would only be the “public option” if the employer was eligible to buy coverage through the Health Insurance Exchange (not likely, at least during the first two years when only small businesses would have access), and the “public option” was the cheapest plan (which would be likely). Furthermore, while the employer isn’t given an alternative, the workers are. They may reject auto-enrollment under an opt-out provision (page 148).

Claim: Page 146: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.

Half true. There’s nothing in this section about part-time employees’ families, but this provision does call for employers to contribute toward part-time employees’ health insurance. The bill says that “for an employee who is not a full-time employee … the amount of the minimum employer contribution” will be a proportion of the minimum contribution for full-time employees. This proportion will depend on the average weekly hours of part-time employees compared with the minimum weekly hours required to be a full-time employee, as specified by the Health Choices Commissioner. (For a point of reference: The minimum contribution for individual plans of full-time employees is not less than 72.5 percent of the premium of the cheapest plan the employer offers.)

Claim: Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll Claim: Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll.

Both Partly True. The bill requires employers either to offer private health insurance coverage or pay a percentage of their payroll expenses to help finance a public plan. The 8 percent payment would indeed apply to employers with payrolls over $400,000 in the previous year, and lesser amounts would apply to smaller firms. Those with payrolls of $250,000 or less would pay nothing. But the penalty isn’t incurred if an employer “does not offer the public option,” as the e-mail claims. Rather, it’s a penalty for not offering health insurance to employees.

Claim: Page 167: Any individual who doesn’t have acceptable health care (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.

True. This is the mechanism in the bill to enforce the individual mandate requiring everyone to have insurance. A person who doesn’t have insurance that meets minimum benefit standards (or other acceptable coverage, such as a plan that was grandfathered in) would pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income for the year. The total penalty can’t exceed a national average premium for individual coverage, or family coverage if applicable.

Claim: Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).

False. “Non-resident aliens” are generally those who have spent less than 31 days in the U.S. during the year. The claim that “Americans will pay for them” assumes that such visitors would somehow be getting federal benefits that would cost taxpayers money. In any case, they are not “exempt from individual taxes” at all. Under current law, the Internal Revenue Service says: “If you are a nonresident alien, you must file Form 1040NR (PDF) or Form 1040NR-EZ (PDF) if you are engaged in a trade or business in the United States, or have any other U.S. source income on which the tax was not fully paid by the amount withheld.” All that page 170 says is that non-resident aliens who don’t obtain health coverage don’t have to pay an additional 2.5 percent federal tax that would apply to U.S. workers who fail to get coverage, or to immigrants who are working here legally under green cards and who fail to obtain coverage. The tax is spelled out in subsection (a) starting on page 167.

Claim: Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Health care Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.

False. This section of the bill discusses “Disclosures To Carry Out Health Insurance Exchange Subsidies.” It says that government employees of the health insurance exchange will have access to federal tax information for purposes of determining eligibility for affordability credits available for low- and moderate-income Americans. In other words, in order to qualify for a government subsidy to purchase health insurance, the government needs to confirm your income. And, no surprise, the government already has access to your federal tax information. The bill also says nothing about “ALL … financial and personal records.” Instead it says “Such return information shall be limited to—(i) taxpayer identity information with respect to such taxpayer, (ii) the filing status of such taxpayer, (iii) the modified adjusted gross income of such taxpayer (as defined in section 59B(e)(5)), (iv) the number of dependents of the taxpayer, (v) such other information as is prescribed by the Secretary by regulation as might indicate whether the taxpayer is eligible for such affordability credits (and the amount thereof).” The bill goes on to limit use of this information “only for the purposes of, and to the extent necessary in, establishing and verifying the appropriate amount of any affordability credit … and providing for the repayment of any such credit which was in excess of such appropriate amount.”

Claim: Page 203: “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax.” Yes, it really says that.

Misleading. What this actually says is: “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax imposed by this chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under this chapter or for purposes of section 55,” which deals with the Alternative Minimum Tax. It would limit the ripple effects of the new taxes the bill would impose on individuals making over $350,000 a year.

Claim: Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected. Claim: Page 241: Doctors: no matter what specialty you have, you’ll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)

Both False. Both of these claims pertain to Section 1121, which updates the physician fee schedule for 2010 for Medicare. It doesn’t “reduce physician services for Medicaid” (which wouldn’t pertain to seniors anyway); instead it modifies a section of the Social Security Act that defines physicians’ services. The section also doesn’t say that doctors will be paid the same “no matter what specialty you have.” Instead it sets up two categories of physician services with different growth rates for fees under those categories. As the Kaiser Family Foundation says of this section of the bill: “Allows the revised formula to be updated by the gross domestic product (GDP) plus 2% for evaluation and management services and GDP plus 1% for all other services.” The measure will cost $228.5 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation.

Claim: Page 253: Government sets value of doctors’ time, their professional judgment, etc.

Misleading. It’s true that page 253 refers to “relative value units” to be used when determining payment rates for doctor’s services, and that such RVUs would weigh factors “such as time, mental effort and professional judgment, technical skill and physical effort, and stress due to risk.” But this is nothing new; the government already uses RVUs when setting rates it will pay under Medicare. For example, the RVUs assigned to a colonoscopy are currently double the RVUs assigned to an intermediate office visit. In fact, page 253 is part of a section (Sec. 1122) that sets up a process for correcting existing but “potentially misvalued” rates.

Claim: Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.

Misleading. This claim doesn’t even make sense. How can anyone “mandate” that somebody else be productive, or “control” how productive they are? The author has simply misunderstood what this controversial item would do. In fact, page 265 is the start of a section (Sec. 1131) that is among several designed to slow future growth of Medicare payments to help offset the cost of the bill. It would require that “productivity improvements” be taken into account when setting annual “market basket” updates to Medicare rates for hospital-based services. The hospital industry has estimated this would translate into a 1.3 percent cut next year and a total of $150 billion in reduced payments over 10 years, and is opposed to it.

Claim: Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.

Misleading. What page 268 does is to stop Medicare for paying for “mobility scooters,” which have been widely marketed as a Medicare-financed benefit, leading to ballooning costs to the program. They would no longer qualify as a “power-driven wheelchair.” Only a “complex rehabilitative power-driven wheel chair recognized by the Secretary” would be covered. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this will save the government $800 million over 10 years (see page 2).

Claim: Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!

False. This page merely calls for a study of whether a certain class of hospitals incur higher costs than some others for the cancer care they deliver. It also says the secretary of HHS “shall provide for an appropriate adjustment” in payments “to reflect those higher costs.” It’s hardly “rationing” to pay hospitals more to compensate for higher costs.

Claim: Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.

True: This does say that “the Secretary shall reduce the payments” to hospitals with too many “potentially preventable” readmissions of patients that they previously had discharged.

Claim: Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.

False. That section is part of a list of potential physician-centered approaches to reducing excess hospital readmissions. The bill states that the secretary of Health and Human Services will conduct a study on the best ways to enforce readmissions policies with physicians. One of the approaches the secretary must consider is the option to reduce payments to physicians whose treatment results in a hospital readmission. Another is the option to increase payments to physicians who check up on recently released patients. Neither of these approaches is mandated in the bill – what’s mandated is that the secretary consider them, among others.

Claim: Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!

False. It’s already illegal, with certain exceptions, for doctors to refer Medicare patients to hospitals, labs, medical imaging facilities or other such medical businesses in which they hold a financial interest. Page 317 would modify an exception to that “self-referral prohibition” for rural providers, and says doctors can’t increase their stake in an exempt hospital after the bill becomes law.

Claim: Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.

False. Expansion is forbidden only for rural, doctor-owned hospitals that have been given a waiver from the general prohibition on self-referral. It does not apply to hospitals in general. The bill provides for exceptions to even this limited expansion ban (page 321).

Claim: Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on “community” input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.

False. Page 321 says rural, doctor-owned hospitals that are exempt from the Medicaid self-referral prohibition can ask to be allowed to expand under rules that must allow “input” from “persons or entities in the community.” Under that language, anybody in the community could offer their opinion, but nobody – not ACORN or anybody else – would be paid for it.

Claim: Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.

Misleading. This section does deal with establishing quality measures for Medicare. It does not make any recommendations for treatment, or empower anyone to make treatment recommendations based on those measures. The only effect of these outcome-based measures established in the bill would be ranking and potential disqualification of underperforming Medicare Advantage plans – that’s disqualification of the plans, not of any medical procedures.

Claim: Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.

True. The bill allows for the possibility of disqualifying underperforming Medicare Advantage plans, which include Medicare HMOs. Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that provide Medicare benefits. Under the bill, the secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority to disallow plans that are providing low-quality care under the new quality measures (which include evaluations of patient health, mortality, safety and quality of life). If a plan is disqualified, this will not leave seniors without care. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that “virtually all” Medicare beneficiaries have access to at least two Medicare Advantage plans, and most have access to three or more. In 2008, 82 percent of beneficiaries had access to six or more private fee-for-service plans, one type of Medicare Advantage plan (along with HMOs, PPOs and medical spending accounts). Beneficiaries are also always free to return to the regular Medicare fee-for-service program.

Claim: Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.

Misleading. Insurance companies already restrict enrollment in so-called “special needs” plans, a special category of Medicare Advantage plans that were created in 2003. Page 354 merely extends the authority to do that beyond the end of next year, when it was set to expire. Furthermore, what’s being restricted isn’t the number of patients, but the type of patients. Plans can be restricted to accepting only those patients who fall into in one or more special categories. These include those who are institutionalized (think, nursing homes), those who qualify both for Medicare and Medicaid (think, both low-income and over age 65) and those with severe or disabling chronic conditions such as diabetes, emphysema, chronic heart failure or dementia. And of course, this has nothing to do with children with learning problems.

Claim: Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).

Misleading. The advisory committee would not be a “bureaucracy” or have any administrative functions, but instead would bring together experts from the private sector to give advice on how Medicare and Medicaid should treat the practice of medicine via telecommunication, something used in rural hospitals and such places as cruise ships, battlefield settings and even on NASA space missions. Pages 380-381 call for the committee to consist of five “practicing physicians,” two “practicing non-physician health care workers” and two “administrators of telehealth programs.”

Claim: Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia? Claim: Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time. Claim: Page 425: Government provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death Claim: Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends. Claim: Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient’s health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT. Claim: Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.

All False. These six claims are a twisted interpretation of a provision in the bill that says Medicare will cover voluntary counseling sessions between seniors and their doctors to discuss end-of-life care. Medicare doesn’t pay for such sessions now; it would under the bill. End-of-life care discussions include talking about a living will, hospice care, designating a health care proxy and making decisions on what care you want to receive at the end of your life. Doctors do the consulting, not the “government” or a “bureaucracy.” The e-mail author’s assertion that the bill calls for “an ORDER from the GOVERNMENT” for end-of-life plans rests on language about a patient drawing up such an order stipulating their wishes, and having that order signed by a physician. There’s nothing about “an order from the government.” The bill defines an order for life-sustaining treatment as a document that “is signed and dated by a physician …[and] effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment.” See our article “False Euthanasia Claims” for more on such assertions.

Claim: Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.

False. This section defines the term “community-based medical home” as a “nonprofit community-based or State-based organization” that “provides beneficiaries with medical home services.” ACORN does not provide medical home services. The section goes on to say such a medical service is one that “employs community health workers, including nurses or other non-physician practitioners, lay health workers, or other persons as determined appropriate by the Secretary, that assist the primary or principal care physician or nurse practitioner in chronic care management activities.” The only thing ACORN has in common with that description is the word “community.” It’s a community organization that offers services such as free tax preparation help and first-time home buyer counseling for low- and moderate-income people. It also works to register people to vote, and a few of its canvassers have been investigated for registration fraud, a point of concern during the presidential campaign.

Claim: Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.

False. This section is referring to community-based medical homes.

Claim: Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.

Half true. It’s true that pages 489 and 490 make state-licensed “marriage and family therapist” services a covered expense “for the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.” But the therapists wouldn’t be employed by the government, and there’s no requirement for anybody to receive their help. So the claim that this would mean that “government intervenes in your marriage” is false.

Claim: Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

Misleading. The provision amends Section 1861 of the Social Security Act laying out what services Medicare will cover. It expands coverage for mental health services, stipulating that a “mental health counselor” who can perform mental health counseling is someone with a master’s or doctorate degree, a state license, and two years of practice as a counselor. Is this the government “defining” mental health services? Well, it’s certainly the government defining what government programs will cover.

– by Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson and Jess Henig, with D’Angelo Gore

dream properties

August 29, 2009
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Treating, not punishing–Portugal – decriminalisation of drug use and possession

August 28, 2009

Portugal’s drug policy

Treating, not punishing

Aug 27th 2009 | LISBON
From The Economist print edition

The evidence from Portugal since 2001 is that decriminalisation of drug use and possession has benefits and no harmful side-effects

Illustration by Peter Schrank

IN 2001 newspapers around the world carried graphic reports of addicts injecting heroin in the grimy streets of a Lisbon slum. The place was dubbed Europe’s “most shameful neighbourhood” and its “worst drugs ghetto”. The Times helpfully managed to find a young British backpacker sprawled comatose on a corner. This lurid coverage was prompted by a government decision to decriminalise the personal use and possession of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine. The police were told not to arrest anyone found taking any kind of drug.

This “ultraliberal legislation”, said the foreign media, had set alarm bells ringing across Europe. The Portuguese were said to be fearful that holiday resorts would become dumping-grounds for drug tourists. Some conservative politicians denounced the decriminalisation as “pure lunacy”. Plane-loads of foreign students would head for the Algarve to smoke marijuana, predicted Paulo Portas, leader of the People’s Party. Portugal, he said, was offering “sun, beaches and any drug you like.”

Yet after all the furore, the drug law was largely forgotten by the international and Portuguese press—until earlier this year, when the Cato Institute, a libertarian American think-tank, published a study of the new policy by a lawyer, Glenn Greenwald.* In contrast to the dire consequences that critics predicted, he concluded that “none of the nightmare scenarios” initially painted, “from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for ‘drug tourists’, has occurred.”

Mr Greenwald claims that the data show that “decriminalisation has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal”, which “in numerous categories are now among the lowest in the European Union”. This came after some rises in the 1990s, before decriminalisation. The figures reveal little evidence of drug tourism: 95% of those cited for drug misdemeanours since 2001 have been Portuguese. The level of drug trafficking, measured by numbers convicted, has also declined. And the incidence of other drug-related problems, including sexually transmitted diseases and deaths from drug overdoses, has “decreased dramatically”.

There are widespread misconceptions about the Portuguese approach. “It is important not to confuse decriminalisation with depenalisation or legalisation,” comments Brendan Hughes of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which is, coincidentally, based in Lisbon. “Drug use remains illegal in Portugal, and anyone in possession will be stopped by the police, have the drugs confiscated and be sent before a commission.”

Nor is it uncommon in Europe to make drug use an administrative offence rather than a criminal one (putting it in the same category as not wearing a seat belt, say). What is unique, according to Mr Hughes, is that offenders in Portugal are sent to specialist “dissuasion commissions” run by the government, rather than into the judicial system. “In Portugal,” he says, “the health aspect [of the government’s response to drugs] has gone mainstream.”

The aim of the dissuasion commissions, which are made up of panels of two or three psychiatrists, social workers and legal advisers, is to encourage addicts to undergo treatment and to stop recreational users falling into addiction. They have the power to impose community work and even fines, but punishment is not their main aim. The police turn some 7,500 people a year over to the commissions. But nobody carrying anything considered to be less than a ten-day personal supply of drugs can be arrested, sentenced to jail or given a criminal record.

Officials believe that, by lifting fears of prosecution, the policy has encouraged addicts to seek treatment. This bears out their view that criminal sanctions are not the best answer. “Before decriminalisation, addicts were afraid to seek treatment because they feared they would be denounced to the police and arrested,” says Manuel Cardoso, deputy director of the Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Portugal’s main drugs-prevention and drugs-policy agency. “Now they know they will be treated as patients with a problem and not stigmatised as criminals.”

The number of addicts registered in drug-substitution programmes has risen from 6,000 in 1999 to over 24,000 in 2008, reflecting a big rise in treatment (but not in drug use). Between 2001 and 2007 the number of Portuguese who say they have taken heroin at least once in their lives increased from just 1% to 1.1%. For most other drugs, the figures have fallen: Portugal has one of Europe’s lowest lifetime usage rates for cannabis. And most notably, heroin and other drug abuse has decreased among vulnerable younger age-groups, according to Mr Cardoso.

The share of heroin users who inject the drug has also fallen, from 45% before decriminalisation to 17% now, he says, because the new law has facilitated treatment and harm-reduction programmes. Drug addicts now account for only 20% of Portugal’s HIV cases, down from 56% before. “We no longer have to work under the paradox that exists in many countries of providing support and medical care to people the law considers criminals.”

“Proving a causal link between Portugal’s decriminalisation measures and any changes in drug-use patterns is virtually impossible in scientific terms,” concludes Mr Hughes. “But anyone looking at the statistics can see that drug consumption in 2001 was relatively low in European terms, and that it remains so. The apocalypse hasn’t happened.”

*“Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies.” By Glenn Greenwald.

This is Your Nation on White Privilege (September, 14 2008 By Tim Wise)

August 28, 2009

This is Your Nation on White Privilege (September, 14 2008 By Tim Wise)

Tue, October 21, 2008 – 4:05 PM

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

– White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

– White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

– White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

– White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

– White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

– White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

– White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

– White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college–you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

– White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

– White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

– White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

– White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

– White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

– And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me (Soft Skull, 2005, revised 2008), and of Speaking Treason Fluently, publishing this month, also by Soft Skull. For review copies or interview requests, please reply to publicity@softskull.com

Badass of the Week — Zeus

August 28, 2009
3371

Zeus

From Odysseus to Aeneas, Greek Mythology is filled with heroic stories and epic tales of asskicking warriors, gods, and monsters doing all sorts of legendary, ridiculous shit.  Every myth is filled with feats of unrivaled strength and determination, and the entire religion just oozes things that are badass ike a festering wound of awesomeness.  However, among the towering acts of peerless greatness that dominate the entire mythological system, there is one figure that transcends these heroes and stands on a plane of righteous badassitude all by himself – the almighty Zeus, the powerful, petty, pimp-tastic Ruler of Mount Olympus.

It all started back in the days before the gods as we know them came to power.  Zeus’ dad was a dude named Cronus.  Cronus was the king of the Titans and generally just an all-around bastard, but things really got out of hand in his household when one day he heard some random prophecy claiming that one of his own children would overthrow him and take over as the head honcho of all existence.  So Cronus, being the afore-mentioned bastard that he was, came to the rational and logical conclusion that the best course of action to prevent his own violent overthrow was to eat his children as soon as they were born:


NOM NOM NOMZ

(True story:  An old roommate of mine insisted on hanging a print of this painting in the dining room of our old apartment.  When the rest of us objected, he argued that it was the perfect place for such a work of art because “it was a picture about eating”.  Needless to say, this resulted in quite a bit of awkwardness whenever one of us wanted to invite a new girlfriend over for dinner.)

Well, Mrs. Cronus eventually got sick of popping out babies just to have them horked down by some crazy baby-eating dipshit, so when she gave birth to baby Zeus she wrapped a rock in some baby clothes and fed that to Cronus instead.  Apparently King Cronus was so hungry he didn’t even give a crap, because he wolfed that shit down like it was a pan of my wife’s delicious homemade spanakopita and didn’t seem to notice the subtle textural and flavoral difference between a newborn infant and a large inanimate granite boulder.  Zeus’ mom then snuck her son off to the island of Crete, where he was raised to adulthood by a celestial goat in a cave full of mythical bees.  It was… weird.

Cave life among the crazy goat-bees was apparently somewhat fruitful, however, because Zeus grew up with one thought on his mind – vengeance.  Zeus trained himself rigorously, day after day, and when the time was right he ran out and punched his dad so hard in the balls that Cronus barfed up all of the kids he’d eaten.  The kids all got together and revolted against the Titans, and under the able command of Zeus the Olympians kicked the Titans’ asses off the face of Greece forever.  Cronus and his defeated buddies were banished to a place called Tartarus, a horrible vortex of suck that was pretty much like the Ancient Greek equivalent of Satan’s bunghole.  Seriously, if Hell was the original Death Star, Tartarus was like that awful, sewage-filled trash compactor room with the evil swimming penis eyeball thing and the walls that closed in and smashed Wookies into bloody pulps for no reason at all.

Well, even though the Titans lost the war, some folks still had their backs, and there were a couple revolts against Zeus early on in his reign.  For the most part he kicked faces and took names, but the Big Z got quite a test when the horrific monster known as Typhon showed up looking to avenge the fallen King Cronus.  Typhon was pretty much the most insane of all the legendary Greek beasts – this towering hydra/dragon/lizard thing was like Tiamat on steroids mixed with the Tarrasque and the Great Wall of China – and one day this thing showed up and started eating cities and throwing giant boulders around in an effort to eradicate all life on the material plane.  Needless to say, everybody was pretty worried about that whole situation.  Well Zeus didn’t give a shit about this roid-raging beast from some ungodly, narcotics-induced Final Fantasy summon spell.  He nut-shotted Typhon with a couple dozen lightning bolts and then bodyslammed a mountain on top of him before shipping his ass off to Tartarus to enjoy an eternity of ball-sucking agony with his good buddy Cronus.


The landmark court case of Zeus v. Tartarus.

After all the threats to his rule were effectively face-smashed into the seventh circle of the next thing worse than Hell, Zeus took over as the head boss of everything ever.  He sent his bro Poseidon to rule the ocean and his other brother Hades to oversee the underworld, while the Z-man climbed up to the top of Mount Olympus and spent his days enjoying scenic views and having topless nymphs hand-feed him Ambrosia and grapes and methamphetamines.  He just hung out up there ordering around gods and mortals and smashing peoples’ asses with lightning bolts whenever they pissed him off.  As they say, it’s good to be the king.

In addition to being the patron saint of lawgivers, Kings, and oracles, Zeus was also tasked with upholding the morality of the people as well.  This is pretty ironic, because Zeus was a total man-whore who had more adulterous affairs than a Lifetime Original Movie marathon.  I mean, you can’t pick up a book on mythology without reading some story of how the King of the Gods was out there giving golden showers to bored housewives or seducing comely young maidens with his insanely good looks or generally just getting it on with a veritable army of chicks and dudes and anything else that moved.  During his wild escapades across Greece this guy also fathered badass gods like Ares, Apollo, Dionysus, Hermes and Hephaestos, and produced heroes like Perseus, Hercules, Helen of Troy, Orion, and King Minos.  Hell, even Alexander the Great claimed to be descended from this guy, and Zeus was such a divine pimpenstein that nobody really even questioned it.  This guy was so virile that one time he was just sitting around thinking about something awesome and all of a sudden the ridiculously badass warrior-goddess Athena spontaneously busted right out of his head wearing her full battle armor.


The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
This thing was made of gold, silver, and marble and stood about forty feet high.
It eventually fell apart when it imploded from the insane gravitational pull generated by Zeus’ general bitchin’-ness.

As the head of the Greek pantheon, Zeus was also the most widely-worshipped of the Gods, and was the focal point of many crazy religious cults.  Of course, it was a good idea to worship this guy, because he was a totally petty bastard who wasn’t above making your life miserable for no reason at all.  Sure, he gave great rewards to good people – if you were virtuous and cool you could find yourself getting morphed into some sweet animals or receiving Time Extends on your lifespan or something – but if you were a dickhead you could expect some pretty harsh vengeance to be laid down upon your ass with the realness.  Like one time a dude named Salmoneus wanted to show everyone his badass Zeus impression so he went out and started riding around in a bronze chariot yelling “BOOM!” really loud, pretending that he could shoot lightning or something, so Zeus fragged that dumbass straight to Hades with a bolt of electricity so huge it would have made Tesla jizz. Another time, a dude named Prometheus gave the secret of fire to humans so Zeus chained him up to a rock and had rabid, pissed-off eagles disembowel him every day from that point until forever.  Yet another time, a rather ambitious fellow named Ixion tried to seduce Zeus’ wife Hera (a badass goddess who, in my opinion, is probably the most compelling of all the Greek deities), so Zeus responded by strapping the guy to a wheel of fire and having him raked over a bed of hot coals, condemning that poor bastard to an eternity of agonizing, skin-melting pain.  The King of the Gods obviously transcended that whole “eye for an eye” thing.

150px-Hera_Campana_Louvre_Ma2283 Hera

Of course, in the Roman tradition Zeus was known as Jupiter, a name that nowadays makes most people thing of the fifth planet from the Sun.  Well, it’s no coincidence that Jupiter is named what it is – it’s definitely the most badass of the planets in the Solar System.  Not only is this massive beast the system’s biggest planet – 11 times the size of the Earth (and with over 16 times the number of moons) – it also sports an insane permanent storm that rocks the planet like a hurricane all day long.  The Great Red Eye of Jupiter is the size of Earth and constantly maintains insane sustained winds of 225 miles per hour, which is roughly enough velocity to take Dorothy and Toto and blow them out of Kansas, past the Emerald City, and into a wormhole leading to the Delta Quadrant.  Its gravity also kicks the ass of Earth gravity, and is so powerful that the entire planet generates a gravity well that sucks in asteroids and any other space shit stupid enough to get close to the planet’s inescapable atmosphere.  The crazy gravity is so awesome that it compresses Hydrogen into liquids and solids, which kicks ass.

The Mighty Zeus was the God of Lightning and the King of the Gods – kind of like Odin and Thor together with a toga and a year’s supply of weapons-grade Viagra – and one of the craziest and most vengeful deities this side of the Old Testament.  Generally appearing as a totally ripped old guy with a sweet, flowing white beard and a washboard stomach so over-the-top that it could only be described as a 24-pack of MetRx protein shakes, this guy not only appears in an obscene number of completely epic-looking sculptures and paintings and provides the namesake to the craziest planet in our corner of the universe, but he also served as the head honcho for two of the most badass classical civilizations on Earth – the Greeks and the Romans.  He lived rough, partied hard, and didn’t think twice about destroying anyone who stood in his way.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty sweet legacy.


Zeus chills while some babe falls all over him.

Serendipity: 10 accidental inventions

August 27, 2009

Serendipity: 10 accidental inventions

Posted by Dave

As anyone with a knack for clichés knows, necessity is the mother of invention. However, it could also be said that while good inventions are often the product of necessity, great inventions are accidental. To demonstrate the importance of serendipity, we’ve put together a list of 10 examples of unintentional discoveries that too often we find ourselves taking for granted. In no particular order.

Fleming was a fun guy.1. Penicillin
Everybody knows the story – or at least, should – the brilliant yet notoriously absent-minded biologist Sir Alexander Fleming was researching a strain of bacteria called staphylococci. Upon returning from holiday one time in 1928, he noticed that one of the glass culture dishes he had accidentally left out had become contaminated with a fungus, and so threw it away. It wasn’t until later that he noticed that the staphylococcus bacteria seemed unable to grow in the area surrounding the fungal mould.

Fleming didn’t even hold out much hope for his discovery: it wasn’t given much attention when he published his findings the following year, it was difficult to cultivate, and it was slow-acting – it wasn’t until 1945 after further research by several other scientists that penicillin was able to be produced on an industrial scale, changing the way doctors treated bacterial infections forever.

Early microwaves: hot stuff.2. The Microwave
In 1945 Percy Lebaron Spencer, an American engineer and inventor, was busy working on manufacturing magnetrons, the devices used to produce the microwave radio signals that were integral to early radar use. Radar was an incredibly important innovation during the time of war, but microwave cooking was a purely accidental discovery.

While standing by a functioning magnetron, Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. His keen mind soon figured out that it was the microwaves that had caused it, and later experimented with popcorn kernels and eventually, an egg, which (as we all could have told him from mischievous childhood ‘experiments’), exploded.

The first microwave oven weighed about 750lbs and was about the size of a fridge.

Ice ice baby3. Ice Cream Cones
This story is a perfect example of serendipity, and a single chance encounter leading to worldwide repercussions. It’s also rather sweet.

Before 1904, ice cream was served on dishes. It wasn’t until the World’s Fair of that year, held in St Louis, Missouri, that two seemingly unrelated foodstuffs became inexorably linked together.

At this particularly sweltering 1904 World’s Fair, a stall selling ice cream was doing such good business that they were quickly running out of dishes. The neighboring stall wasn’t doing so well, selling Zalabia – a kind of wafer thin waffle from Persia – and the stall owner came up with the idea of rolling them into cone shapes and popping the ice cream on top. Thus the ice cream cone was born – and it doesn’t look like dying out any time soon.

Lovely bubbly!4. Champagne
While many know that Dom Pierre Pérignon is credited for the invention of champagne, it was not the 17th century Benedictine monk’s intention to make a wine with bubbles in it – in fact, he had spent years trying to prevent just that, as bubbly wine was considered a sure sign of poor winemaking.

Pérignon’s original wish was to cater for the French court’s preference for white wine. Since black grapes were easier to grow in the Champagne region, he invented a way of pressing white juice from them. But since Champagne’s climate was relatively cold, the wine had to be fermented over two seasons, spending the second year in the bottle. This produced a wine loaded with bubbles of carbon dioxide, which Pérignon tried but failed to eradicate. Happily, the new wine was a big hit with the aristocratic crowds in both the French and English courts.

To do: invent better glue5. Post-It Notes
The invention of the humble Post-It Note was an accidental collaboration between second-rate science and a frustrated church-goer. In 1970, Spencer Silver, a researcher for the large American corporation 3M, had been trying to formulate a strong adhesive, but ended up only managing to create a very weak glue that could be removed almost effortlessly. He promoted his invention within 3M, but nobody took any notice.

4 years later, Arthur Fry, a 3M colleague and member of his church choir, was irritated by the fact that the slips of paper he placed in his hymnal to mark the pages would usually fall out when the book was opened. One service, he recalled the work of Spencer Silver, leading to an epiphany – the church being a good a place as any to have one, I suppose – and later applied some of Silver’s weak yet non-damaging adhesive to his bookmarks. He found that the little sticky markers worked perfectly, and sold the idea to 3M. Trial marketing began in 1977, and today you’d find it hard to imagine life without them.

Imagine life without these.6. Potato chips/crisps
In 1853, in a restaurant in Saratoga, New York, a particularly fussy diner (railway magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt) repeatedly refused to eat the fries he had been served with his meal, complaining that they were too thick and too soggy. After he had sent back several plates of increasingly thinly-cut fries, the chef George Crum decided to get his own back by frying wafer-thin slices of potato in grease and sending them out.

Vanderbilt initially protested that the chef’s latest efforts were too thin to be picked up with a fork, but upon trying a few, the chips were an instant hit, and soon everybody in the restaurant wanted a serving. This led to the new recipe appearing on the menu as “Saratoga Chips”, before later being sold all over the world.

Everyone loves a slinky!7. The Slinky
What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound? Well, originally it was just a spring falling off a desk. To be more precise, it was the desk belonging to marine engineer Richard James, who sometime in 1940 noticed that when the spring fell, it stumbled and tumbled across the floor for a while before laying to rest. After a few prototypes, the Slinky was ready to be introduced to toy stores in 1948, where it became one of the most popular and iconic toys of all time.

James’ wife Betty was the one who came up with the name “Slinky”, and has been CEO of the company since 1960. Over 250 million Slinkies have been sold worldwide, and they were even used as mobile radio antennae during the Vietnam war.

An invention from the heart8. The Pacemaker
Like penicillin, here is another accidental invention that continues to save lives to this day. American engineer Wilson Greatbatch was working on a gadget that recorded irregular heartbeats, when he inserted the wrong type of resistor into his invention. The circuit pulsed, then was quiet, then pulsed again, prompting Greatbatch to compare this reaction with the human heart and work on the world’s first implantable cardiac pacemaker.

Before the implantable version was used on humans from 1960 onwards, pacemakers had been based on the external model invented by Paul Zoll in 1952. These were about the size of a television and dealt out considerable jolts of electricity into the patient’s body, which often caused the skin to burn. Greatbatch also went on to devise a lithium-iodide battery cell to power his pacemaker.

Now that's what I call a sticky situation.9. Superglue
More sticky stuff, though this one was famous for its high adhesive value, unlike Silver’s Post-It Notes. Superglue came into being in 1942 when Dr Harry Coover was trying to isolate a clear plastic to make precision gun sights for handheld weaponry. For a while he was working with chemicals known as cyanoacrylates, which they soon realized polymerized on contact with moisture, causing all the test materials to bond together. It was obvious that these wouldn’t work, so research moved on.

6 years later, Coover was working in a Tennessee chemical plant and realized the potential of the substance when they were testing the heat resistance of cyanoacrylates, recognizing that the adhesives required neither heat nor pressure to form a strong bond. Thus, after a certain amount of commercial refinement, Superglue (or “Alcohol-Catalyzed Cyanoacrylate Adhesive Composition”, to give it its full name) was born.

It was later used for treating injured soldiers in Vietnam – the adhesive could be sprayed on open wounds, stemming bleeding and allowing easier transportation of soldiers; adding a delicious layer of irony to the story in that a discovery made during an effort to improve the killing potential of guns ended up saving countless lives.

Sweet.10. LSD
The unintentional discovery of d-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate-LSD-25 led to a cultural revolution – nobody today can deny that the hallucinogen uncovered by Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman in 1938 helped shape the hippy movement of the 1960s and sparked worldwide interest, having a massive impact on neuroscience research and treatment.

The actual discovery of LSD as a hallucinogen occurred when Dr Hoffman was involved in pharmaceutical research in Basel, Switzerland, hoping to produce drugs that would help ease the pain of childbirth. Having synthesized what would later become known as LSD; Hoffman catalogued the untested substance and placed it in storage, after finding nothing particularly interesting about it during the initial analysis. It wasn’t until a Friday afternoon in April 1943 when Hoffman discovered the true properties of the compound, inadvertently absorbing a healthy dose of it when handling the chemical at work without wearing gloves. On his bicycle ride back home he observed “an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors”.

Criminalized throughout the USA in 1966 (and most others following suit soon after), further research into LSD was (and still is) constantly hampered by its illegal status. Early researcher Dr Richard Alpert claimed to have administered LSD to 200 test subjects by 1961, and reported that 85% of his test subjects said that the experience was the “most educational” of their lives.

Here are a few other accidental innovations that deserve at least a mention: saccharin (artificial sweetener), Scotchguard (aka Sellotape), Teflon, the band-aid, the frisbee, the sandwich, the popsicle, Silly Putty, x-rays, vulcanized rubber, velcro, and safety glass.

SNN2310B_280_593559a

spelling championship

August 27, 2009

Highway sign for Business Highway 51 in Rothschild, Schofield misspells every word but ‘exit,’ Wisconsin Department of Transportation points to company named Decker

Gannett Wisconsin Media • July 25, 2009

A sign pointing southbound travelers onto Business Highway 51 in Rothschild and Schofield bears an incorrect spelling for every word except “exit.”

photo

A sign along the southbound lane near the Cedar Creek exit features a misspelled sign that is supposed to say Business 51 Rothschild Schofield. (COREY SCHJOTH/WAUSAU DAILY HERALD)

David Vieth, director of the bureau of highway operations for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said the mistake was made by Decker Supply Company of Madison, which printed the sign.

The sign for exit 185 on southbound Highway 51 reads “Buisness 51 Rothschield Schofeild.”

“How do I politely say it shows some incompetence on someone’s part?” said Rothschild Village President Neal Torney.

2009-barettm82a1

DNA Sculpture is “Vile and Offensive” – supreme idiocy

August 27, 2009

NOTE: If you are 1 ) easily offended, 2 ) mentally challenged, 3 ) humor challenged, 4 ) challenged, 5 ) boring, 6 ) righteous, 7 ) myopic, 8 ) gullible, 9 ) boring, or 10 ) an anal-retentive omniscient non-existent being, then please read THIS either now or at minimum after you’ve read the following.

DNA Sculpture exhibit at UC Berkeley playground turning heads, sparking complaints
evilDNA2

PTA president asks school’s parents to file complaints with the county

By Richard Vernon, P.O.E.
State of Protest
July 27, 2009

EAST BERKELEY – Think of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man . . . zoomed in to an ungodly scale.
V-Man
The large, plastic and metallic sculpture parked outside UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, is stoking the angry fires of parents of children who attend nearby Claremont Park Elementary School.

“My daughter suggested that it was funny,” said John Copeland, whose 7-year-old daughter attends summer camp there. “She shouldn’t be talking to me about this. Now I’m forced to explain genetics to her, and why the Bible doesn’t say anything about it.”

The genetically correct structure is part of an ongoing exhibit titled “DNA Sculpture,” created by acclaimed artist Ashe Kutchya, which represents “genetic material from an enzyme,” according to Lawrence Hall of Science’s website.

It depicts a DNA double helix — two congruent helices with the same axis, differing by a translation along the axis. The structure is larger than life, and elongated. Its genetic analogy to human life is subtle.

“It’s a piercing piece, quite abstract,” said Francis Pegro, the groundskeeper in charge of maintaining the sculpture as well as other displays in the playground. “It’s honest and natural.”

Pegro said he’s received some complaints, but also praise.

Although DNA Sculpture has been on display in various public parks and playgrounds, Jenny Garrotte, Claremont Park PTA president, said she found it distasteful and verging on obscene, and e-mailed parents Wednesday morning, asking them to file complaints with Pegro and with Alameda County Code Enforcement.

“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion regarding what art is,” said Garrotte. “If this piece weren’t visible to passersby and available for children to play on, I would not have a problem with it.”

Still, Terence Lythma, a teacher in the school’s summer program, said he has not heard any of the children talking about the piece.

“It’s the parents who have been talking about it,” he said. “The children don’t really make an issue of it.”

Kutchya, the creator of DNA Sculpture, could not be reached for comment despite attempts by phone. But it’s not the first time his sculptures have drawn public scrutiny. In 1996, the Oakland City Council made him modify the depiction of DNA so that it matched a dog’s DNA structure rather than a human’s until public pressure and national attention reversed the city officials’ position. He later reverted the structure to depict human DNA.

In 2006, The Ovum, a sculpture of a human unfertilized egg by Sonoma-area artist Nabry Gussom and installed at the Petaluma Community Center, generated complaints over its super-realistic undulations and dampness.

“It’s awful that people react to art in this manner,” said Amy Boswin, director of the Novato Ignacio Art Gallery near Petaluma. “If they opened a biology textbook, they’d see a lot more risqué stuff than that.”

Meanwhile, Copeland said he hopes the owner of the plaza removes the sculpture before school starts next month.

“There are 1000 kids in the school that are going to be exposed to it,” he said. “It’s vile and offensive, and kids have no business seeing what God thought fit to hide from our eyes.”

No word yet from local government officials, who apparently have their hands full with other depictions of human reality in art.3

The Fast Food Industry’s 7 Most Heinous Concoctions

August 27, 2009

alice-march-hare-mad-hatter

The Fast Food Industry’s 7 Most Heinous Concoctions

By Brad Reed, AlterNet. Posted August 27, 2009.

Some of America’s favorite chains have concocted some thoroughly repellent dishes that make the Double Quarter Pounder look like a celery stick.

Although the organic movement has certainly started to influence how Americans think about their food, it is still no match for the American fast food industry, which continuously finds creative new ways of piling sugar, salt and fat on a plate and charging customers $4.99 for the privilege of eating it.

In recent years, in fact, some of America’s favorite chains have gone above and beyond the call of duty and concocted thoroughly repellent dishes that make the Double Quarter Pounder look like a celery stick. These companies have offered Americans these revolting meals despite the fact that roughly one-third of the country is now obese, a deplorable state of affairs that accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates costs the U.S. health-care system $200 billion a year in wasted spending.

In this article, we’ll name and shame the very worst offenders, whether they’re 1,400-calorie hamburgers or 550-calorie cups of coffee. So let’s get things rolling with …

No. 7 — The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Sundae

Donut

Two years ago, the brain trust at Krispy Kreme decided to answer the age-old question of how to make ice cream sundaes even less healthy. The solution, it turns out, is to remove bananas, strawberries or anything that looks remotely like it might contain nutrients, and replace it with a doughnut.

When the sundae — known affectionately as the Kool Kreme — premiered in Tacoma, Wash., customers had the choice of adding several toppings, including bits of Snickers, Butterfinger, Heath and Junior Mints. They could add some fruit as well, of course, but what’s the point? If you regularly eat a doughnut sundae, no level of Vitamin C will save you.

No. 6 — Starbucks’s Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Blended Coffee With Whipped Cream

frapp

At first glance, the Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Blended Coffee with whipped cream doesn’t seem to belong on this list. After all, its 550 calories and 22 grams of fat pale in comparison to some of the burgers and pizzas we’ll encounter a little bit later. But then you remember that the Frappuccino is supposed to be a breakfast drink. As in, something you drink the first thing in the morning while you eat your cereal. And then you understand that if you’re willing to consume one-fourth of your daily caloric intake before you even arrive to work, there’s nothing to stop you from wolfing down a 1,200-carlorie KFC Double Down (see Item No. 2) for lunch and dinner.

No. 5 — Cheeseburger Fries

cheesefries

These treats were apparently made for people who love eating cheeseburgers and fries but who don’t want to go through the hassle of mashing them together into a fine paste. Cheeseburger fries gained national attention when the New York Times reported that they had become a mini-sensation in the Midwest. The fries, said the Times, were “made of a meat-and-cheese compound” that was “breaded, then deep fried and served with ketchup or barbecue sauce.” The caloric intake for these beasts was 75 calories per fry, meaning that eating 10 of them would account for more than a third of your daily intake.

No. 4 — The KFC Famous Bowl

KFC Bowl

KFC has a long and proud history of making Americans morbidly obese, but the company reached a new high in 2007 when it unleashed its Famous Bowl upon the world. The Bowl is really a variation on a classic American method of cooking that involves taking a bunch of unhealthy goo from different sources and then slopping them all into a bowl. In this particular example, KFC threw together mashed potatoes, corn, fried chicken, gravy and cheese to create a 720-calorie horror that contains 1 1/2 times your daily fat allowance. The thought of joylessly plowing through the Bowl’s starchy potatoes, greasy gravy and processed cheese sounds about as soulless and monotonous as working in a puppy-slaughtering factory.

No. 3 — Hardee’s Monster Thickburger

Thickburger

Simply put, the Monster Thickburger is a fat, sloppy middle finger aimed at nutritionists everywhere. Clocking in at an artery-blowing 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat, the Thickburger premiered in 2004, when McDonald’s and Burger King were starting to sell out and offer their customers salads. In defending his decision to sell such a gaping monstrosity, Hardee’s CEO Andrew Puzder played George W. Bush to McDonald’s and Burger King’s John Kerry, essentially calling them out as wimps who didn’t have the balls to dramatically shorten their customers’ life expectancy with just one meal. Specifically, he said the Thickburger was “not a burger for tree-huggers” but rather “for guys who want a really big, delicious, juicy decadent burger.” Yes, gents, nothing will show the ladies how manly you are quite like a belly made entirely of butter.

No. 2 — The KFC Double Down

double down

Apparently determined to take the Atkins Diet to its most insane and illogical conclusion, KFC has released a new sandwich that succeeds in eliminating carbohydrate-packed bread by replacing it with two slabs of fried chicken. And oh yeah, in between the chicken they lay down heaping gobs of bacon and Swiss and pepper pack cheese. The KFC Double Down is really the ideological heir to the Thickburger, as it was seemingly designed for the sole purpose of pissing off nutrition advocates.

You can imagine future commercials where a rugged Ford-truck-style announcer comes on and says, “The next time some fruity bureaucrat tells you to exercise, look him in the eye and say, ‘Hell no! I’m doublin’ down with the KFC Double Down!’ ” The Double Down is slightly wimpier than the Thickburger as it only contains an estimated 1,200 calories. However, it more than makes up for this because it also contains something called “The Colonel’s Sauce,” which probably contains at the very least 2 percent all-natural radioactive waste.

No. 1 — Domino’s Oreo Cookie Pizza

cookie pizza

Sure, everybody loves pizza. But what do you do when traditional pizza has lost its magic? How do you retain your love for it when all the fatty toppings — pepperoni, buffalo chicken, Alfredo sauce and so forth — just aren’t satisfying you the way they used to? If you’re Domino’s, you take one of the world’s least-healthy cookies and couple it with large doses of frosting to cover an entire pizza crust. Were Dr. Jack Kevorkian still practicing his trade, he’d surely use consumption of the Oreo pizza as his preferred method of assisted suicide. Truly, the only way this sucker could be any worse would be to put it in blender with a bucket of cheeseburger fries and then pour the resulting mixture into a bowl and then cover it with processed cheese.

Which, come to think of it, hasn’t been tried yet. Anyone want to drive me to the patent office?

CheeseburgerHelmetYou Suck.

quotes

August 26, 2009

150px-Isis.svg

Begin at the beginning … and go on till you come to the end: then stop. Lewis Carroll

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.

“When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.”

Now don’t say you can’t swear off drinking; it’s easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.
W.C. Fields

Never use a big word when a little filthy one will do.
Johnny Carson

If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.
Anonymous

What is the definition of “is”?

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. Einsein

itsonlythewind

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years. — (via kari-shma)

I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.
George Carlin

The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.
Henry Kissinger

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.
Niels Bohr

http://edkrebs.com/herb/ had enough religeous bull shit

itsonlythewind

Just be who you are, wait your turn, don’t push. Be beautiful, be graceful. If you’re going to get angry, be angry behind closed doors. Don’t ever let them see you sweat. Just hold your head up no matter what, and don’t ever let anyone stomp you out.

— (via littlemiss)

THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS A WOMAN
He had to feed a crowd, at a moment’s notice, when there was no food.
He kept trying to get the message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it.
Even when he was dead, he had to get up because there was more work to do.

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“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928

Daily Thought: Some people are like slinkies – not really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs .

What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things instead of using people and loving things. — unknown

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Quotes

“It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.” ~ Ernestine Rose

“To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.”~ Isaac Asimov

“Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms: the one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.” ~ Thomas Paine

“Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.” ~ Dan Barker

“Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things – that takes religion.”  ~ Steve Weinberg

“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire

“In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,”  and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.”  ~ Carl Sagan

“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”  ~ Thomas Paine

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” ~ Harvey Fierstein

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in all the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. ” ~ John Steinbeck

“As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice, and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is our responsibility.” ~ Arnold J. Toynbee

“Those who cling to the untrue doctrine that violence never settles anything would be advised to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Nations and peoples who forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein

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Andriana Lima 0003_360h2


Live ur life in such a way that when ur feet hit the floor in the morning Satan shudders and says “Oh shit she’s awake!”

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Bluto quote

—”Dead! Bluto’s right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.

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“I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s.”
– William Blake

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to
adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”
– George Bernard Shaw

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
– C. G. Jung

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
– Albert Einstein

“Now Christianity sounded good at first to the naive convert. Love, peace and charity –
what’s wrong with that? I’ll tell you what’s wrong – a series of unprecedented
horrors perpetrated by so-called Christians: The Inquisition, the Conquistadores,
the American Indian wars, slavery, Hiroshima and the present-day Bible Belt.”
– William S. Burroughs

“Science and magick are frequently different maps for very similar territory. Following the path of least resistance, science ignores magick’s hard-to-travel path. Magick uses myth and science uses ambiguous terminology: semantically, both say the same thing. Each principle is expressed as ‘An unknown something is doing we don’t know what’. Each law is a variation of ‘It did it again'”
– Camden Benares, Zen without Zen Masters.

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.
– Sir Arthur Eddington

“I would rather live in prison in a George Orwellian world, than a pacified society of happy boys and girls. I would rather know my enemy and let you know the same, who’s windows were smashed and who’s tires were slashed. And where to point the fucking blame”
– Propagandhi

“Nothing is given to man on earth except a potential and the material on which to actualize it. The potential is a superlative machine: his consciousness; but it is a machine without a spark plug, a machine of which his own will has to be the spark plug, the self-starter and the driver; he has to discover how to use it and he has to keep it in constant action. The material is the whole of the universe, with no limits set to the knowledge he can acquire and to the enjoyment of life he can achieve. But everything he needs or desires has to be learned, discovered and produced by him – by his own choice, by his own effort, by his own mind.”
– Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on.”
– William Burroughs

“It is a little known fact the the so-called “Law of Gravity” was actually one of Sir Isaac “shecky” Newton’s best practical jokes, and it was such a wonderful knee-slapper that generations of teachers have devoted themselves to keeping the hoax alive. In truth, there is no such thing as “gravity.” Rather, the Great Earth Goddess sucks.”
– Bruce Bethke, Headcrash

“The media of sameness and separation represent the world in its most religious form – the structuring of the social in images.”
– Hakim Bey (Millennium, pg 38)

“So I am public agent and don’t know who I work for, get my instructions from street signs, newspapers and pieces of conversation I snap out of the air the way a vulture will tear entrails from other mouth.”
– William Burroughs( The Soft Machine ,Ch. 3 ,Pg 18)

I ask you to look both ways. For the road to a knowledge of the stars leads through the atom; and important knowledge of the atom has been reached through the stars.
– Sir Arthur Eddington

“Politics offer yesterday’s answers to today’s questions”
M. McLuhan

‘Doubt.
Doubt thyself.
Doubt even if thou Doubtest yourself.
Doubt all.
Doubt even if thou Doubtest all.
It seems sometimes as if beneath all conscious doubt there lay some deepest certainty.
O kill it! Slay the snake!’
– Crowley,(The Book of Lies ,Ch. 51)

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
Oscar Wilde

“The family circle has widened. The worldpool of information fathered by electric media-movies, Telstar, flight-far surpasses any possible influence mom and dad can now bring to bear. Character no longer is shaped by only two earnest, fumbling experts. Now all the world’s a sage”
Marshall Mcluhan (The Medium is the Massage)

“There are very few people today who have heard of Plato and Aristotle. Not one in a thousand, perhaps ten thousand, of those few have ever read either of them, even in translations. But there are also very few people whose thinking, such as it is, is not conditioned by the ideas of those two men.”
– Crowley(The Book of Thoth, pg 33)

”Love, work and knowledge are the wellsprings of our life. They should also govern it.’
– Wilhelm Reich

“Perhaps much of what is taken to be real is mainly determined by thought. Perhaps the appearance of the physical world is magickal because the orderly processes of science fail to take the observer into account. The order of the universe may be the order of our own minds.”
– Fred Alan Wolf (in Taking the Quantum Leap)

“Only through absolute loyalty to each other can the few control the many.”
– Peter J. Carroll (in PsyberMagick)

“There is no law except the law that there is no law”
– John A. Wheeler

“Is Man one of God’s blunders, or is God one of Man’s blunders?”
– Nietzsche

“Any sufficiently advanced form of magick will appear indistinguishable from science.”
– Stokastikos’s Law

“If only one fifth of your spells work you have real power. If only one fifth of your divinations work you have a serious disability.”
– Peter J. Carroll (in PsyberMagick)

“Everything is true-Everything is permissible!”
– Hassan i Sabbah

“…Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders what the part
that isn’t thinking isn’t thinking of…”
– They Might Be Giants

“Magick will not free itself from occultism until we have strangled the last astrologer with the guts of the last spiritual master.”
– Peter J. Carroll (in PsyberMagick)

“I am chaos. I am the substance from which your artists and scientists build rhythms. I am the spirit with which your children and clowns laugh in happy anarchy. I am chaos. I am alive, and I tell you that you are free.”
– Eris (in Principia Discordia)

One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license.” ~ P. J. O’Rourke

One of my favorite quotes is by Judge Judy, “Beauty is temporary … stupid is forever.” It may be a bit blunt but it’s right to the point.

“ “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” ”

— Woody Allen

AMF-YOYO – Adios Mother Fucker, You’re On Your Own

BOHICA – Bend Over, Here It Comes Again

“Charlie Foxtrot” – From the phonetic alphabet letters C and F, meaning Cluster Fuck

DILLIGAS – Do I Look Like I Give A Shit

DILLIGAFF – Do I Look Like I Give A Flying Fuck

FIDO – Fuck It-Drive On

FIGMO – Fuck It, I Got My Orders – Viet Nam 1968

FISHDO – Fuck It, Shit Happens – Drive On

FIFI – Fuck It-Fly It

FUBAB – Fucked Up Beyond All Belief

FUBAR – Fucked Up Beyond All Repair/Recognition/Reason

FUBB – Fucked Up Beyond Belief

FUBIJAR – Fuck You Bitch, I’m Just a Reservist (US Army Reserve)

FUBISO – Fuck You Buddy, I’m Shipping Out

FUJIGMO – Fuck You Jack, I Got My Orders

FUMTU – Fucked Up More Than Usual

JANFU – Joint Army-Navy Fuck Up

KMACYOYO – Kiss My Ass Colonel, You’re On Your Own

SNAFUBAR – Situation Normal: All Fucked Up Beyond All Repair/Recognition/Reason

SOL – Shit Out of Luck

SRDH – Shit Rolls Down Hill

SSDD – Same Shit, Different Day

SUSFU – Situation Unchanged, Still Fucked Up

TARFU – Things Are Really Fucked Up, or Totally and Royally Fucked Up

TAUFU – Totally And Utterly Fucked Up

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They came for the Communists, and I didn’t object For I wasn’t a Communist;
They came for the Socialists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Socialist;
They came for the labor leaders, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a labor leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Jew;
Then they came for me – And there was no one left to object.”

— Martin Niemoller

An amateur practices something until he gets it right.

A professional practices until he can’t get it wrong!

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Crazy Questions at Google Job Interview

August 26, 2009

women_and_nature (8)

Crazy Questions at Google Job Interview

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A friend of mine had an interview a couple weeks ago with Google Inc. He provided me a list of just some of the questions he was asked. I’ve added a few more from others I have talked to who had interviews with the internet giant, Google, as well. See if you can answer them. Many are open ended with several right answers, therefore I did not provide the answers.

1. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?

2. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?

3. How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?

4. How would you find out if a machine’s stack grows up or down in memory?

5. Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.

6. How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?

7. You have to get from point A to point B. You don’t know if you can get there. What would you do?

8. Imagine you have a closet full of shirts. It’s very hard to find a shirt. So what can you do to organize your shirts for easy retrieval?

9. Every man in a village of 100 married couples has cheated on his wife. Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens?

10. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. if they have a girl, they have another child. if they have a boy, they stop. what is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?

11. If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a highway is 0.95, what is the probability of observing a car in 10 minutes (assuming constant default probability)?

12. If you look at a clock and the time is 3:15, what is the angle between the hour and the minute hands? (The answer to this is not zero!)

13. Four people need to cross a rickety rope bridge to get back to their camp at night. Unfortunately, they only have one flashlight and it only has enough light left for seventeen minutes. The bridge is too dangerous to cross without a flashlight, and it�s only strong enough to support two people at any given time. Each of the campers walks at a different speed. One can cross the bridge in 1 minute, another in 2 minutes, the third in 5 minutes, and the slow poke takes 10 minutes to cross. How do the campers make it across in 17 minutes?

14. You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. would you accept the wager?

15. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?

16. You have eight balls all of the same size. 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?

17. You have five pirates, ranked from 5 to 1 in descending order. The top pirate has the right to propose how 100 gold coins should be divided among them. But the others get to vote on his plan, and if fewer than half agree with him, he gets killed. How should he allocate the gold in order to maximize his share but live to enjoy it? (Hint: One pirate ends up with 98 percent of the gold.)

Do you still think you have what it takes to work for Google?

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Breakfast Sausage

August 26, 2009

Breakfast Sausage

What is interesting about the bowl you see above?

It’s chock full of characters, each in possession of his own cartoon weiner.

And that’s because there aren’t any female breakfast cereal mascots.

Pebbles doesn’t even appear on boxes of Pebbles in either her “Adorable Baby” or “I’d-Hit-it Adult” forms.

A small handful of female cereal mascots have existed in the past, but there are almost none now except for maybe the “Princesses” which, in my opinion, is more an example the Disney machine slapping characters on any available surface, than good ol’ fashioned mascotry.

Even when a mascot is an inanimate object like our old pal The Honey Thing, it’s still all dripping, sticky and shaped like a peener.

I suppose I should award some points to Kashi “Good Friends Cinna-Raisin Crunch.” It features these two lovely ladies who I firmly believe are “good friends” (ever since that crazy day they met at the Kashi “Good Friends Cinna-Raisin Crunch” photo shoot.)

Instead of cartoon princesses filling little girls’ heads with unrealistic dreams of growing up to be waited on hand and foot in a palace so they can someday bust their poor husband’s balls the moment he gets back from his shift at the Olive Garden — I suggest new cereals and mascots that focus on strong female role models that have altered the course of history.

Rosa Parks single-handedly took on segregation in 1955 and brought about real change. SHE should be on a box of cereal. All Princess Ariel did was sing with a crab and trade in her voice for some legs.

Miss Parks is no longer with us, but if she were I know she’d say, “When it comes to breakfast, let’s send SEXISM to the back of the bus!”

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Remembering Ted Kennedy’s Prescient 2002 Speech Against The Iraq War

August 26, 2009
Jason Linkins
jason@huffingtonpost.com | HuffPost Reporting First Posted: 08-26-09 01:00 PM   |   Updated: 08-26-09 01:59 PM

Remembering Ted Kennedy’s Prescient 2002 Speech Against The Iraq War

// Iraq War, Kennedy Iraq War Speech, Ted Kennedy, Ted Kennedy Brain Tumor, Ted Kennedy Dead, Ted Kennedy Dies, Ted-Kennedy-Iraq, War On Terror, War On Terrorism, Media News

Obama

As the press labors today to capture the life and legacy of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, it will be interesting to see if anyone makes mention of Kennedy’s response to one of the singular events of recent years — the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. On September 27, 2002, Kennedy gave a speech at Johns Hopkins’ Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. concerning the war.

In the speech, Kennedy evinced many of the same qualities for which he is being lionized today. His oration combined the powerful idealism that powered his opposition to the invasion with the same generosity of spirit that fueled so many across-the-aisle gestures, and, in the speech, revealed itself in a refusal to demonize his political opponents. One other aspect of the speech that might be worth mentioning today? The fact that Kennedy got it right.

Kennedy’s speech is astoundingly prescient, to put it mildly. Key sections include:

In the months that followed September 11, the Bush Administration marshaled an international coalition. Today, 90 countries are enlisted in the effort, from providing troops to providing law enforcement, intelligence, and other critical support.
But I am concerned that using force against Iraq before other means are tried will sorely test both the integrity and effectiveness of the coalition. Just one year into the campaign against Al Qaeda, the Administration is shifting focus, resources, and energy to Iraq. The change in priority is coming before we have fully eliminated the threat from Al Qaeda, before we know whether Osama Bin Laden is dead or alive, and before we can be assured that the fragile post-Taliban government in Afghanistan will consolidate its authority.

With all the talk of war, the Administration has not explicitly acknowledged, let alone explained to the American people, the immense post-war commitment that will be required to create a stable Iraq.

The Bush Administration says America can fight a war in Iraq without undermining our most pressing national security priority — the war against Al Qaeda. But I believe it is inevitable that a war in Iraq without serious international support will weaken our effort to ensure that Al Qaeda terrorists can never, never, never threaten American lives again.

Even with the Taliban out of power, Afghanistan remains fragile. Security remains tenuous. Warlords still dominate many regions. Our reconstruction effort, which is vital to long-term stability and security, is halting and inadequate. Some Al Qaeda operatives – no one knows how many – have faded into the general population. Terrorist attacks are on the rise. President Karzai, who has already survived one assassination attempt, is still struggling to solidify his hold on power. And although neighboring Pakistan has been our ally, its stability is far from certain.

We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction. Our intelligence community is also deeply concerned about the acquisition of such weapons by Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and other nations. But information from the intelligence community over the past six months does not point to Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States or a major proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

War with Iraq before a genuine attempt at inspection and disarmament, or without genuine international support — could swell the ranks of Al Qaeda sympathizers and trigger an escalation in terrorist acts.

That last point, by the way, is an almost universally underappreciated one. Yet it’s very, tragically true.

In May of 2008, Eric Boehlert, reflecting on the news of Kennedy’s brain cancer diagnosis, wrote a piece for Media Matters, quantifying the inattention the media gave to Kennedy’s speech. By his count, the network news dedicated a few brief sentences (32 words on NBC, 31 on ABC, CBS Evening news led all comers with a whopping 40 words) the night of the speech. By Sunday Morning, the speech was forgotten, with no mention of any sort on Meet The Press, Face The Nation, or This Week. And what of the major newspapers? Of them, Boehlert writes:

The Kennedy coverage in the major newspapers wasn’t much better. At The Washington Post, Kennedy’s newsworthy speech, a clarion call against Bush’s pre-emptive war, garnered exactly one sentence — 36 words total in coverage. Keep in mind, during 2002, the Post published more than 1,000 articles and columns about Iraq, nearly 1 million words. But the Post set aside just 36 words for Kennedy’s farsighted war speech.
What was so remarkable was that Kennedy delivered his address at the time when there was already a media narrative unfolding about how Democrats, anxious about the political ramifications of not supporting a then-popular president, were not voicing stiff opposition to the planned invasion.

Two days before Kennedy gave his speech, the Post detailed in an A1 article how “dozens of congressional Democrats are frustrated with their leadership for rushing to embrace President Bush’s Iraqi war resolution and fostering an impression the party overwhelmingly backs a unilateral strike against Saddam Hussein.”

When Kennedy stepped forward and answered the specific issue raised by the Post, what did the newspaper do? It devoted 36 words to Kennedy’s address.

Kennedy’s speech, sadly, came at a time when the press largely considered opposition to the war and seriousness as two mutually exclusive concepts. As a result, very few media organs will be able to pull this moment from their institutional memories today, largely because they couldn’t be bothered to report on it when it happened.

Published on Monday, September 30, 2002 by CommonDreams.org
Eliminating the Threat
The Right Course of Action for Disarming Iraq, Combating Terrorism, Protecting the Homeland, and Stabilizing the Middle East

Text of speech by US Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
Friday, September 27, 2002
Thank you, Dr. Fukuyama for that generous introduction.

I’m honored to be here at the School of Advanced International Studies. Many of the most talented individuals in foreign policy have benefited immensely from your outstanding graduate program, and I welcome the opportunity to meet with you today.

I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted. But I begin with the strongest possible affirmation that good and decent people on all sides of this debate, who may in the end stand on opposing sides of this decision, are equally committed to our national security.

The life and death issue of war and peace is too important to be left to politics. And I disagree with those who suggest that this fateful issue cannot or should not be contested vigorously, publicly, and all across America. When it is the people’s sons and daughters who will risk and even lose their lives, then the people should hear and be heard, speak and be listened to.

But there is a difference between honest public dialogue and partisan appeals. There is a difference between questioning policy and questioning motives. There are Republicans and Democrats who support the immediate use of force – and Republicans and Democrats who have raised doubts and dissented.

In this serious time for America and many American families, no one should poison the public square by attacking the patriotism of opponents, or by assailing proponents as more interested in the cause of politics than in the merits of their cause. I reject this, as should we all.

Let me say it plainly: I not only concede, but I am convinced that President Bush believes genuinely in the course he urges upon us. And let me say with the same plainness: Those who agree with that course have an equal obligation – to resist any temptation to convert patriotism into politics. It is possible to love America while concluding that is not now wise to go to war. The standard that should guide us is especially clear when lives are on the line: We must ask what is right for country and not party.

That is the true spirit of September 11th — not unthinking unanimity, but a clear-minded unity in our determination to defeat terrorism — to defend our values and the value of life itself.

Just a year ago, the American people and the Congress rallied behind the President and our Armed Forces as we went to war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and the Taliban protectors who gave them sanctuary in Afghanistan posed a clear, present and continuing danger. The need to destroy Al Qaeda was urgent and undeniable.

In the months that followed September 11, the Bush Administration marshalled an international coalition. Today, 90 countries are enlisted in the effort, from providing troops to providing law enforcement, intelligence, and other critical support.

But I am concerned that using force against Iraq before other means are tried will sorely test both the integrity and effectiveness of the coalition. Just one year into the campaign against Al Qaeda, the Administration is shifting focus, resources, and energy to Iraq. The change in priority is coming before we have fully eliminated the threat from Al Qaeda, before we know whether Osama Bin Laden is dead or alive, and before we can be assured that the fragile post-Taliban government in Afghanistan will consolidate its authority.

No one disputes that America has lasting and important interests in the Persian Gulf, or that Iraq poses a significant challenge to U.S. interests. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed.

How can we best achieve this objective in a way that minimizes the risks to our country? How can we ignore the danger to our young men and women in uniform, to our ally Israel, to regional stability, the international community, and victory against terrorism?

There is clearly a threat from Iraq, and there is clearly a danger, but the Administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, pre-emptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary.

Nor has the Administration laid out the cost in blood and treasure of this operation.

With all the talk of war, the Administration has not explicitly acknowledged, let alone explained to the American people, the immense post-war commitment that will be required to create a stable Iraq.

The President’s challenge to the United Nations requires a renewed effort to enforce the will of the international community to disarm Saddam. Resorting to war is not America’s only or best course at this juncture. There are realistic alternatives between doing nothing and declaring unilateral or immediate war. War should be a last resort, not the first response. Let us follow that course, and the world will be with us – even if, in the end, we have to move to the ultimate sanction of armed conflict.

The Bush Administration says America can fight a war in Iraq without undermining our most pressing national security priority — the war against Al Qaeda. But I believe it is inevitable that a war in Iraq without serious international support will weaken our effort to ensure that Al Qaeda terrorists can never, never, never threaten American lives again.

Unfortunately, the threat from Al Qaeda is still imminent. The nation’s armed forces and law enforcement are on constant high alert. America may have broken up the Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan and scattered its operatives across many lands. But we have not broken its will to kill Americans.

As I said earlier, we still don’t know the fate, the location, or the operational capacity of Osama bin Laden himself. But we do know that Al Qaeda is still there, and still here in America – and will do all it can to strike at America’s heart and heartland again. But we don’t know when, where, or how this may happen.

On March 12, CIA Director Tenet testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Al Qaeda remains “the most immediate and serious threat” to our country, “despite the progress we have made in Afghanistan and in disrupting the network elsewhere.”

Even with the Taliban out of power, Afghanistan remains fragile. Security remains tenuous. Warlords still dominate many regions. Our reconstruction effort, which is vital to long-term stability and security, is halting and inadequate. Some Al Qaeda operatives – no one knows how many – have faded into the general population. Terrorist attacks are on the rise. President Karzai, who has already survived one assassination attempt, is still struggling to solidify his hold on power. And although neighboring Pakistan has been our ally, its stability is far from certain.

We know all this – and we also know that it is an open secret in Washington that the nation’s uniformed military leadership is skeptical about the wisdom of war with Iraq. They share the concern that it may adversely affect the ongoing war against Al Qaeda and the continuing effort in Afghanistan by draining resources and armed forces already stretched so thin that many Reservists have been called for a second year of duty, and record numbers of service members have been kept on active duty beyond their obligated service.

To succeed in our global war against Al Qaeda and terrorism, the United States depends on military, law enforcement, and intelligence support from many other nations. We depend on Russia and countries in the former Soviet Union that border Afghanistan for military cooperation. We depend on countries from Portugal to Pakistan to the Philippines for information about Al Qaeda’s plans and intentions. Because of these relationships, terrorist plots are being foiled and Al Qaeda operatives are being arrested. It is far from clear that these essential relationships will be able to survive the strain of a war with Iraq that comes before the alternatives are tried – or without the support of an international coalition.

A largely unilateral American war that is widely perceived in the Muslim world as untimely or unjust could worsen not lessen the threat of terrorism. War with Iraq before a genuine attempt at inspection and disarmament, or without genuine international support — could swell the ranks of Al Qaeda sympathizers and trigger an escalation in terrorist acts. As General Clark told the Senate Armed Services Committee, it would “super-charge recruiting for Al Qaeda.”

General Hoar advised the Committee on September 23 that America’s first and primary effort should be to defeat Al Qaeda. In a September 10th article, General Clark wrote: “Unilateral U.S. action today would disrupt the war against Al Qaeda.” We ignore such wisdom and advice from many of the best of our military at our own peril.

We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction. Our intelligence community is also deeply concerned about the acquisition of such weapons by Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and other nations. But information from the intelligence community over the past six months does not point to Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States or a major proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

In public hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, CIA Director George Tenet described Iraq as a threat but not as a proliferator, saying that Saddam Hussein — and I quote — “is determined to thwart U.N. sanctions, press ahead with weapons of mass destruction, and resurrect the military force he had before the Gulf War.” That is unacceptable, but it is also possible that it could be stopped short of war.

In recent weeks, in briefings and in hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have seen no persuasive evidence that Saddam would not be deterred from attacking U.S. interests by America’s overwhelming military superiority.

I have heard no persuasive evidence that Saddam is on the threshold of acquiring the nuclear weapons he has sought for more than 20 years.

And the Administration has offered no persuasive evidence that Saddam would transfer chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. As General Joseph Hoar, the former Commander of Central Command told the members of the Armed Services Committee, a case has not been made to connect Al Qaeda and Iraq.

To the contrary, there is no clear and convincing pattern of Iraqi relations with either Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, testified before the Armed Services Committee on September 23 that Iran has had closer ties to terrorism than Iraq. Iran has a nuclear weapons development program, and it already has a missile that can reach Israel.

Moreover, in August, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft wrote that there is “scant evidence” linking Saddam Hussein to terrorist organizations, and “even less to the September 11 attacks.” He concluded that Saddam would not regard it as in his interest to risk his country or his investment in weapons of mass destruction by transferring them to terrorists who would use them and “leave Baghdad as the return address.”

At the present time, we do face a pressing risk of proliferation — from Russia’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. America spends only $1 billion a year to safeguard those weapons. Yet the Administration is preparing to spend between one and two hundred billion dollars on a war with Iraq.

I do not accept the idea that trying other alternatives is either futile or perilous – that the risks of waiting are greater than the risks of war. Indeed, in launching a war against Iraq now, the United States may precipitate the very threat that we are intent on preventing — weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists. If Saddam’s regime and his very survival are threatened, then his view of his interests may be profoundly altered: He may decide he has nothing to lose by using weapons of mass destruction himself or by sharing them with terrorists.

Some who advocate military action against Iraq, however, assert that air strikes will do the job quickly and decisively, and that the operation will be complete in 72 hours. But there is again no persuasive evidence that air strikes alone over the course of several days will incapacitate Saddam and destroy his weapons of mass destruction. Experts have informed us that we do not have sufficient intelligence about military targets in Iraq. Saddam may well hide his most lethal weapons in mosques, schools and hospitals. If our forces attempt to strike such targets, untold numbers of Iraqi civilians could be killed.

In the Gulf War, many of Saddam’s soldiers quickly retreated because they did not believe the invasion of Kuwait was justified. But when Iraq’s survival is at stake, it is more likely that they will fight to the end. Saddam and his military may well abandon the desert, retreat to Baghdad, and engage in urban, guerilla warfare.

In our September 23 hearing, General Clark told the Committee that we would need a large military force and a plan for urban warfare. General Hoar said that our military would have to be prepared to fight block by block in Baghdad, and that we could lose a battalion of soldiers a day in casualties. Urban fighting would, he said, look like the last brutal 15 minutes of the movie “Saving Private Ryan.”

Before the Gulf War in 1991, Secretary of State James Baker met with the Iraqis and threatened Hussein with “catastrophe” if he employed weapons of mass destruction. In that war, although Saddam launched 39 Scud missiles at Israel, he did not use the chemical or biological weapons he had.

If Saddam’s regime and survival are threatened, he will have nothing to lose, and may use everything at his disposal. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced that instead of its forbearance in the 1991 Gulf War, this time Israel will respond if attacked. If weapons of mass destruction land on Israeli soil, killing innocent civilians, the experts I have consulted believe Israel will retaliate, and possibly with nuclear weapons.

This escalation, spiraling out of control, could draw the Arab world into a regional war in which our Arab allies side with Iraq, against the United States and against Israel. And that would represent a fundamental threat to Israel, to the region, to the world economy and international order.

Nor can we rule out the possibility that Saddam would assault American forces with chemical or biological weapons. Despite advances in protecting our troops, we do not yet have the capability to safeguard all of them.

Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are serving their country with great distinction. Just under 70,000 Reservists and National Guardsmen have been mobilized for the war against terrorism. If we embark upon a premature or unilateral military campaign against Iraq, or a campaign only with Britain, our forces will have to serve in even greater numbers, for longer periods, and with graver risks. Our force strength will be stretched even thinner. And war is the last resort. If in the end we have to take that course, the burden should be shared with allies – and that is less likely if war becomes an immediate response.

Even with the major technological gains demonstrated in Afghanistan, the logistics of such a war would be extraordinarily challenging if we could not marshal a real coalition of regional and international allies.

President Bush made the right decision on September 12 when he expressed America’s willingness to work with the United Nations to prevent Iraq from using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The President’s address to the General Assembly challenging the United Nations to enforce its long list of Security Council Resolutions on Iraq was powerful — and for me, it was persuasive.

But to maintain the credibility he built when he went to the U.N., the President must follow the logic of his own argument.

Before we go to war, we should give the international community the chance to meet the President’s challenge – to renew its resolve to disarm Saddam Hussein completely and effectively. This makes the resumption of inspections more imperative and perhaps more likely than at any time since they ended in 1998.

So this should be the first aim of our policy – to get U.N. inspectors back into Iraq without conditions. I hope the Security Council will approve a new resolution requiring the Government of Iraq to accept unlimited and unconditional inspections and the destruction of any weapons of mass destruction.

The resolution should set a short timetable for the resumption of inspections. I would hope that inspections could resume, at the latest, by the end of October.

The resolution should also require the head of the UN inspection team to report to the Security Council every two weeks. No delaying tactics should be tolerated – and if they occur, Saddam should know that he will lose his last chance to avoid war.

The Security Council Resolution should authorize the use of force, if the inspection process in unsatisfactory. And there should be no doubt in Baghdad that the United States Congress would then be prepared to authorize force as well.

The return of inspectors with unfettered access and the ability to destroy what they find not only could remove any weapons of mass destruction from Saddam’s arsenal. They could also be more effective than an immediate or unilateral war in ensuring that these deadly weapons would not fall into terrorist hands.

The seven years of inspections that took place until 1998 succeeded in virtually eliminating Saddam’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon in Iraq during that period. Even with Iraq’s obstructions, those inspections resulted in the demolition of large quantities of chemical and biological weapons. By the time the inspectors were forced out of the country in 1998, they had accomplished far more disarmament than the Gulf War itself. And before going to war again, we should seek to resume the inspections now – and set a non-negotiable demand of no obstruction, no delay, no more weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

What can be gained here is success – and in the event of failure, greater credibility for an armed response, greater international support, and the prospect of victory with less loss of American life.

So what is to be lost by pursuing this policy before Congress authorizes sending young Americans into another and in this case perhaps unnecessary war?

Even the case against Saddam is, in important respects, a case against immediate or unilateral war. If Prime Minister Blair is correct in saying that Iraq can launch chemical or biological warheads in 45 minutes, what kind of sense does it make to put our soldiers in the path of that danger without exhausting every reasonable means to disarm Iraq through the United Nations?

Clearly we must halt Saddam Hussein’s quest for weapons of mass destruction. Yes, we may reach the point where our only choice is conflict – with like-minded allies at our side, if not in a multilateral action authorized by the Security Council. But we are not there yet.

The evidence does not take us there; events do not compel us there – and both the war against terrorism and our wider interests in the region and the world summon us to a course that is sensible, graduated, and genuinely strong – not because it moves swiftly to battle, but because it moves resolutely to the objective of disarming Iraq – peacefully if possible, and militarily if necessary.

Let me close by recalling the events of an autumn of danger four decades ago. When missiles were discovered in Cuba – missiles more threatening to us than anything Saddam has today – some in the highest councils of government urged an immediate and unilateral strike. Instead the United States took its case to the United Nations, won the endorsement of the Organization of American States, and brought along even our most skeptical allies. We imposed a blockade, demanded inspection, and insisted on the removal of the missiles.

When an earlier President outlined that choice to the American people and the world, he spoke of it in realistic terms – not with a sense that the first step would necessarily be the final step, but with a resolve that it must be tried.

As he said then, “Action is required…and these actions [now] may only be the beginning. We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of…war – but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.”

In 2002, we too can and must be both resolute and measured. In that way, the United States prevailed without war in the greatest confrontation of the Cold War. Now, on Iraq, let us build international support, try the United Nations, and pursue disarmament before we turn to armed conflict.