Friday, November 6, 2009

Who said it?

"The national government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality.... We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press-in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during recent years."

Who said it?

A. Sarah Palin.
B. Glenn Beck.
C. Michelle Bachman.
D. Rush Limbaugh.
E. None of the above.


E. None of the above. It is from a radio address that aired on July 22,1933. The speaker was Adolf Hitler.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Former CIGNA exec: Michael Moore was right

Wendell Potter is former head of communications for CIGNA, one of Amrica's biggest health insurance companies. On tonight's Bill Moyers Journal (PBS), Potter says Michael Moore's health-insurance documentary Sicko "hit the nail on the head" and contains "a great truth" "that we shouldn't fear government involvement in our health care system, that there is an appropriate role for government, and that it's been proven in the countries that were in that movie."

Moyers reveals the secret industry plan which successfully blunted the film's message by "radicaliz[ing]" Moore and threatening Democrats with political retaliation if they embraced him or his film. Here's a clip:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night...

The 2009 winners in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, the annual competition to write the worst opening line for a novel, have been announced.

I won't spoil the surprise and give you the winner, but here are some of my favorites from among the runners-up and dishonorable mentions:

It could have been no more than midnight's icy incipit when Clifford, stumbling in hitherto sanguine emprise through the tombstone teeth of the raven lit Kirk-yard like some well-performed but lichen-hushed human bullet-catch, heard the manifest bactrian vociferation which betrayed with desperate flourish the inexplicably wretched fact that his camel was out there, out on the ice - and she was in mortal peril. (Mr. S. J. Crawford, Redlynch, QLD, Australia)

On a lovely day during one of the finest Indian summers anyone could remember--a season the Germans call "old wives' summer," obviously never having had Native Americans to name things after, but plenty of old wives, and "Indian summer" in German would refer to the natives of India in any case, which would make even less sense than the current naming system--on such a day, however named, John Baxter fell in the creek and drowned. (Deanna Stewart, Heidelberg, Germany)

If she wasn't the poster girl for the word voluptuous, with her not exactly "bedroom," but definitely "walking-down-that-hallway" eyes, her hair a palomino mane rather than platinum blond, lips reminding me of Marilyn Monroe not Angelina Jolie, and that slow hip-swaying walk that sweet-talks a man's thoughts into dim, smoky rooms where R & B is played, she should've been. (Sandra Trentz, Yakima, WA)

Read the rest, and see the best - er, worst - here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

To the slaughter

"They are hauled in crowded trailers as far as 1,000 miles from auctions and feedlots to abattoirs across the border. Many end up in unregulated slaughterhouses, where they are sometimes paralyzed with knife stabs in their backs, leaving them conscious as their throats are slit."

They are horses, and upwards of 72,000 were slaughtered in Canada and Mexico last year. Many of those came from the U. S. Washed-up racehorses, unwanted foals, horses and ponies whose owners can no longer afford to keep them - sold for a few hundred dollars or less, to be shipped across the border and slaughtered in "unspeakable" conditions.

Coleman concedes!

Welcome, Senator-elect Al Franken.

Note to Harry Reid: you've got 60 votes now. Get off your butt.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I reckon not

Texas governor Rick Perry recently told the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce that Texans will keep driving pickup trucks no matter how high the cost of gasoline goes, because "You can't put a bale of hay in the back of a Prius. It don't work."

Over at, Austin American-Statesman columnist John Kelso relates how he decided to test Perry's statement. Turns out you can't fit a bale of hay in the back of a Prius: you can fit five.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


A network is given "unprecedented" access to the White House. Is this a good or bad thing?

I guess the answer depends on which network it is.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quote of the week

Andy Ostroy, writing about the "Freedom Cruise" co-sponsored by Ollie North's Freedom Alliance and the National Rifle Association:
So who exactly is the Freedom Alliance? On its website, it states that its mission "is to advance the American heritage of freedom by honoring and encouraging military service, defending the sovereignty of the United States and promoting a strong national defense." As for the NRA, well, that's just an organization of he-man wannabes with small dicks who like to shoot shit up.
Who says liberals have no sense of humor?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yet anther domestic terrorist attack

The head of a so-called "minuteman" vigilante group is among three suspects arrested for the May 30 murder of a man and his eight-year-old daughter when the suspects allegedly invaded their home in Arizona.

Yet another case where right-wing activists are obviously engaging in terrorism by any definition of the word.

Yet another case where the terrorists are not charged as terrorists. It seems that distinction is reserved for those who protest at political conventions.

Yet another case where talking heads in the media (are you listening, Lou Dobbs? Sean Hannity? Rush Limbaugh? Genn Beck? Beuhler?) incite the wingnuts to commit violence and go scot-free.

I fear for my country's future.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And this is surprising because...?

You mean he's not the Messiah? O Noes!
"The Obama administration is not going to represent an abrupt departure from Bush-era [secretive government] policy," Steven Aftergood, who runs the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, told TPMmuckraker. "If we thought they were, we were mistaken."

He added that it's no longer realistic to think that Obama's administration will take a strong stand in favor of openness on national security issues. "We have to recalibrate our expectations."

Recalibrate our expectations? Only if we had unreasonable expectations to begin with. What we have to do is redouble our efforts. Reform does not come from the top - it bubbles up from below. FDR asked the people to make him do the right thing, and eventually he did it; in the same vein, we have to keep the pressure on Obama and make him be the president we hoped he could be.

I don't know what Aftergood's expectations were. My expectation, campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, was not that Obama would step in and fix everything. My hope was that with Obama in office, we had at least some chance to have our voices heard. But voices can't be heard if they're silent. We have to write Obama. We have to write our legislators. We must demand open government as policy and as law. Then we should write them again on health care reform, and then on corporate influence in government. We have to write them letters and call their offices and demand they do the right thing on every issue. Then we have to tell our friends what we've done and encourage them to speak up too.

I haven't been doing nearly enough along those lines, but I plan - no, I pledge - to start today.

Friday, June 5, 2009

You Bet Your Health!

Here is a pretty good model of how for-profit health insurance works. Pretend it's a game show and see if you can win.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Smiles outlawed in Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles has declared smiling verboten when sitting for your driver's license photo. I am not making this up.
As part of the DMV's effort to develop super-secure driver's licenses and foolproof identification cards, the agency has issued a smile ban, directing customers to adopt a "neutral expression" in their portraits, thereby extinguishing whatever happiness comes with finally hearing one's number called.

And Virginia is not alone, nor first, in forbidding smiles at the DMV. Indiana disallowed smiles - as well as hats, scarves, spectacles, and certain hair styles - last year when it joined about 20 other states that use facial recognition software "to detect fraud in drivers' licenses." It seems Big Brother's machines have trouble distinguishing your smiling face from someone else's, but do a better job if you're deadpan.

Ah, the land of liberty!

The founding fathers held that among the inalienable rights bestowed on us all is the "pursuit of happiness" - but in today's paranoid society, there's no recognition of an inalienable right to show happiness.

Friday, May 8, 2009

30 Reasons to be a vegetarian

How many reasons do you need to stop eating animals?

I also recommend this video, if you can stomach it: Meet Your Meat focuses on the unspeakable animal cruelty that is integral to the factory farming industry. I made the decision to go vegan for purely selfish reasons, but I'm pretty sure if I'm ever tempted to go back to eating meat, all I'll have to do is watch this 12-minute documentary again and I'll lose all appetite for animal flesh.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blackmail in the Senate

How can this be construed as anything but blackmail?

Basically, the message from these Republican senators to the Attorney General is this: So you want to investigate torture in the Bush administration? Step lightly. We know a thing or two about your past.

These senators deserve to be brought up on ethics charges. If it isn't out-and-out blackmail, it is certainly an unmistakable threat.

That said, if there was "extraordinary rendition" by the CIA under the Clinton administration, and Eric Holder approved it, let's by all means get to the bottom of it. And whether it started yesterday or goes back to Warren Gamaliel Harding, the American people - and the nations of world - deserve to know the truth. If America is to be the beacon of justice and democracy we like to pretend it is, there is really no other choice.

It's time to appoint a special prosecutor, and let the chips fall where they may. The people should be demanding as much.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's Nature's Way

It's nature's way of telling you something's wrong
It's nature's way of telling you in a song
It's nature's way of receiving you
It's nature's way of retrieving you
It's nature's way of telling you something's wrong

["Nature's Way", from Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by Spirit]

Kathy Freston writes that the swine flu and the economy might constitute a wake-up call for humanity, a message that we need to change our ways. "What can we do, as individuals," she asks, "to create a sea change, to halt the mutation of deadly viruses, to say no to out-of-control business practices, to stop creating environmental havoc, and to bring our health up to a better level?" Her solution:
A diet high in animal protein bloats us physically by clogging our bodies with saturated fat, growth hormones, and antibiotics; it has been proven conclusively to cause cancer, heart disease, and obesity.

And the meat industry poisons and depletes our clean air, potable water, and fertile topsoil almost more than any other sector of business. As just one example, the meat industry is responsible for about 18 percent of all global warming--that's almost half again as much as all cars, planes, and trucks combined.

And now it's become all too clear that factory farms are breeding grounds for viruses to mutate and become deadly.

Basically, our current food choices (the average American eats about 200 pounds of meat annually) are killing us on a host of different levels. Perhaps now more than ever, it's time to clear out old, tired, uninformed ways of eating and opt instead for food that nourishes us, is easy on the planet, and gives the animals some breathing room.

She also quotes Thomas Friedman: "What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it's telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically...?"

This echoes a theme from a post of mine back in November: global economic collapse might be the thing that saves humanity from itself by forcing us to live small. We can heed the message and live in voluntary simplicity, or we can wait for Mother Nature to smack us down.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blogroll Addition:

My old gas guzzler's odometer just flipped over the sixth digit, and I'm still waiting for an Electric Vehicle that fits three criteria:

1. I can afford it;
2. It will get me to work (~35 miles) and home reliably on a single charge; and
3. It is available for purchase on the east coast.

While I'm waiting, I read everything I can find that passes for EV news. Today I found a link from one of my favorite sites,, to a blog called - and I've added the latter to the blogroll. If you know of any other good electric-car or green-driving sites, leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the road to the new me

Two recent events have led me to make some pretty significant lifestyle changes.

One was the personal story of a friend and musical colleague, a retired geneticist who spent years studying cancer, who read a book called The China Study and immediately stopped consuming animal protein. He convinced another friend and musical colleague, an MD, to read the same book... and the latter went vegan too! Both of them report that they feel better, they're losing weight, and they're never hungry. Well, I'm about halfway through the book now, and I am avoiding animal protein - especially casein (goodbye, beloved cheese!) - as much as possible.

The other event, which came at about the same time, was that my doctor advised me my blood sugar is way too high. It's in the range she said we'll call Impaired Glucose Tolerance or hyperglycemia - "but between you and me," she added, "it's diabetes." So I'm giving up sweets, including sodas and other sweetened beverages; and I've joined a health club.The plan is to do circuit training three times a week, and swim twice a week.

So far I've been on my low-sugar, not-quite-vegan diet for a couple of weeks, and I started working out just 6 days ago. My (very rough) estimate is that I've lost about six or seven pounds so far. I feel great, and while I can't say I'm never hungry, that is primarily due to the paucity of 100% plant-based food options in downtown Richmond. I'm already getting hooked on this workout thing, and enjoying vegetarian foods when I can get them. And I can't wait until my next visit to the doctor, to see what changes I'm wreaking in my cholesterol, triglyceride and blood glucose levels.

I'll post more about all of this as I go, including progress reports. For now, I gotta go. It's time to hit the lap pool.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Audacity has a new name

...and its name is AIG.

While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens.

A.I.G. sued the government last month in a bid to force it to return the payments, which stemmed in large part from its use of aggressive tax deals, some involving entities controlled by the company’s financial products unit in the Cayman Islands, Ireland, the Dutch Antilles and other offshore havens.

A.I.G. is effectively suing its majority owner, the government, which has an 80 percent stake and has poured nearly $200 billion into the insurer in a bid to avert its collapse and avoid troubling the global financial markets. The company is in effect asking for even more money, in the form of tax refunds. The suit also suggests that A.I.G. is spending taxpayer money to pursue its case, something it is legally entitled to do. Its initial claim was denied by the Internal Revenue Service last year.

This, of course, is the same company that infamously gave executives and others seven-figure bonuses after accepting the aforementioned billions of taxpayer dollars. Apparently the company's management does not subscribe to the adage "don't bite the hand that feeds you."

I have one question: why doesn't the new majority shareholder replace the current board of directors with someone more responsive to said shareholder's interests?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Uncaptioned LOLcat

I hate cute cat pictures. But this one made me laugh anyway. (Tip of the hat to George Washington's Blog)

Friday, February 13, 2009

I was listening to NPR's All Things Considered yesterday when a passing comment by movie critic Bob Mondello struck a nerve. What presumably was intended as a review of The International turned into a dismissal of movies that portray corporations behaving amorally in the pursuit of profits.

"In Michael Clayton," he for-exampled, "a lawyer played by Tom Wilkinson despairs, saying he's spent 12 percent of his life 'defending the reputation of a deadly weed killer.'

"Outside the multiplex, though, we tend to think of most of these corporate entities as necessary pillars of society. We need our weed killers, after all; though that doesn't mean we trust the chemical companies that make them."

We need weed killers? Well of course we do. Freedom from dandelions is one of the basic necessities of our modern life. We need weed killers like we need bottled water and disposable razors. Without them we might be reduced to drinking from the tap, sharpening and reusing our straight razors, and even pulling weeds with our own hands!

Therein lies the problem with our modern society. The toxic memes planted in our unsuspecting minds by the subliminal hucksters of Mad Ave (never was there a more appropriate moniker) have driven us to such a constant state of psychological neediness that we can no longer distinguish mere conveniences from real needs. We think it's more important to know which starlet is dating her former gardener than to understand what the chemicals we apply to our own gardens and lawns do to our health and that of our children.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Problem with the GOP's image is that it's dead on

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the GOP is in danger of becoming a regional party if they don't market themselves better.

McConnell called on the GOP to push back against labels that have hurt the party in the past — anti-immigrant, anti-union and anti-environment — and to regain taxpayers’ trust that they support limited government spending.

“Too often we’ve let others define us,” McConnell said. “And the image they’ve painted isn’t very pretty.”

No, Mitch, your actions have defined you. And you need to change more than your sales pitch to become relevant again. You need to change your behavior. You're labeled anti-immigrant, anti-union and anti-environment because you are anti-immigrant, anti-union and anti-environment. To the extent that you have an image problem, it's because the image is accurate. The right wing has pulled the wool over the eyes of too many people for too long; but as famously said the great man on whose coattails your party still tries to ride, you can't fool all the people all the time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Fourth Estate awakens

"Right on cue," writes Eric Boehlert, "the White House press awakens from its Bush slumber."

Having hammered Bill Clinton for eight years over everything from haircuts to blowjobs, the press handled George W. Bush with kid gloves from day one. Pundits at the time noted that it was about time the press gave the new guy a break.

Then, having slept through eight years of outrageous deceit and secrecy, not to mention open contempt of the press, on the part of the Republican regime, the press has suddenly reawakened and decided to play hardball with the Obama administration. ABC News' executive producer says he doesn't think there is a honeymoon, and the Daily Beast exults "Game on!"

Some of the issues that have the press in such an uproar include misspelled names of press staffers and phone lines that weren't properly connected on the first day, and - gasp! - the White House handing out official photos of the Presidential Oath of Office do-over rather than letting the AP photogs in to snap their own pix. This was deemed such a slight that the AP, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse refused to move the images, and CNN's Ed Henry complained to Wolf Blitzer that on the very same day Obama was talking about transparency, "we were not let in."

Politico noted how the Clinton administration had also run into trouble with the press over issues of access. Noticeably absent from the Politico article was any mention of how the Bush administration dramatically limited media access, regularly cordoned off information from the press, and warned reporters that edgy questions posed at the daily sessions were "noted in the building." That's all been tossed down the memory hole. It's only new Democratic presidents who are asked to play nice with the press and get badgered when they do not.

That's the damned liberal media for you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Living history

Two words. President Obama.

Make that three words. President Obama: YES!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reason number 4,731 why I'm glad I have a Mac

At the office, we've had a spate of user complaints about a particular application giving an error message that goes something like this:

"Sorry, we were unable to process your request at this time. If you are unable to continue working, please dismiss this warning and then select View, Refresh from your browser's menu."

Someone associated with the product in question produced the following list of "possible solutions":

- Disable Pop-Up blocker
- Clean up spyware (use application such as Spybot and/or AdAware)
- Add [webapp] server to Internet Explorer's Trusted Sites zone (this may be a good idea for any other intranet servers or via an Active Directory policy)
- Clear out Java Cache by running
C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.5.0_0X\bin\javacpl.exe
---Click “Delete Files” then click “OK”.
---*if there are different versions, do this for each version or uninstall older versions and leave only the newest copy.
- Clear out Windows temp folders.
--- C:\Temp
--- C:\Documents and Settings\USER PROFILE\Local Settings\Temp
--- C:\Documents and Settings\USER PROFILE\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files
--- C:\Winnt\Temp
--- *Clear out the Temp/Temp. Internet Files for each user listed in the Documents and Settings folder.
- Reset IE to default settings.
--- Right Click on the Internet Explorer icon on the desktop or go to Control Panel and open Internet Options.
--- Click on the Programs Tab. Then click the Reset Web Settings button. Uncheck “Also reset my home page” then click “OK”.
- Tools > Internet Options > Advanced > Disable "Use HTTP 1.1" (you may need to enable it because sometimes IE just doesn't like the setting. I have actually seen it start working by enabling this option.)
- Tools > Internet Options > Advanced > Disable "Do not save encrypted pages to disk"
- Download the MSXML 4.0 SP2. This link will get you to the download. I selected the msxml.msi.
- Clear Browser Cache
- Delete [product A] or [product B] class file
- If one is currently installed, upgrade to the latest Sun JVM
- Windows Update (also verify that a recent Windows Update has not broken this!)
- Reboot
- Defrag
- Run a tool such as Symantec/Norton WinDoctor

I was going to rant about it, but this list speaks for itself. I'm glad my Mac just works.