Saturday, November 29, 2008

‘Buy Nothing Day’ - Absurd, Empty, Symbolic Salve

Surely you've heard of Buy Nothing Day, the consumption protest conceived of by Adbusters, a glossy waste of paper dedicated to making you spend $8.00 an issue to feel really guilty. But like so many American-made protests, 'Buy Nothing Day' is just a symbolic substitute for real attitude change about consumption.

Instead, how about all agree that we consume too much, buy too much, waste too much, and dedicate ourselves to a Buy Smart Year. In a buy smart year we might decide, for example, to put off the purchase of a new MacBook till the second generation comes out—not only saving a chunk-o-change, but extending the life of a existing product and allowing us to avoid the notoriously buggy first generation of Apple-anything.

In a buy smart year, we'll decide to save up a bunch of necessary purchases and buy them all on Black Friday. Why would we do that? Well for one thing, Black Friday is when you get the mad discounts. So get out there and save yourself a bit of cash while at the same time saving gas by doing all your shopping on one trip.

In a buy smart year, we'll buy just one box of Ziploc freezer bags and make it last the whole year. We'll turn 'pizza night' into 'make something from whatever is in the fridge night'. We'll stop worrying so much about gas mileage and buy a used car instead of a new car. We'll commit to walking to every destination that is within a mile of our homes. buying smart for a whole year, we'll permanently change our habits and attitudes about consumption and make an empty gesture like 'Buy Nothing Day' irrelevant.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Bush Legacy

60 More Days of Awkward Moments Like This?
If he wasn't a career criminal and mass murderer, I'd almost feel sorry for him. Even so it feels a little unseemly of CNN to be so openly mocking him. I mean geez, he is still officially the Preznit. (He said as he gleefully piled on himself.)

To be fair, they could all be treating him like that because at dinner when he asked for the pepper all the interpreters misheard and translated it to "I'm a leper." Or he could be avoiding shaking hands because he sprained his wrist and nobody wants to aggravate his injury.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Go Rush Go

I never thought I'd ever say this, but you GO, RUSH LIMBAUGH!!

Good Riddance, GOP Moderates.
(WARNING - this is an actual link to the actual Rush Limbaugh site. Seriously, you don't want to go there.)

Here is an excerpt for those who understandably would never actually visit Rush's site. NOTE: This is the transcript of a program that ran Oct. 24, before the election.
They have just admitted that Republican Party "big tent" philosophy didn't work. It was their philosophy; it was their idea. These are the people, once they steered the party to where it is, they are the ones that abandoned it. We have noticed. Sarah Palin, by the way. Fred Barnes has a column at the next issue of the Weekly Standard about her future. Let me just give you one little pull quote from this. He asks her what her role in the Republican Party's future is going to be. She says, "I don't know what kind of role the Republican Party would want me to play." Well, make her the head of the party, for one thing! That might be a good idea. "In the past I've not been one to be considered for anything by the hierarchy of the party, certainly not in my state. In some sense, I ran against them in my party," and she's doing it again now!

She's running against her own party. Then she said this: "I would love to promote the party ideals if we're going to live out the ideals, and maybe allow other American voters to understand what the principles of the party are. We've gotta be assured we have enough people in the party who will live out those ideals as not just rhetoric, otherwise I'd be wasting my time. There are a lot of things I would and should be doing." So what she's saying is: "I'm not going to be a Republican if they're not going to be Republicans. I'm not going to beat my head against the wall. If we're going to have just a bunch of flourishing rhetoric people, if we're not going to have people in the party who actually live it and believe it, I'm not going to be part of it.

This is Sarah Palin to Fred Barnes; and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the rebuilding of the conservative movement -- even if there is no direct leader in charge of making it happen, it will happen by default because it's going to have to. Even if McCain wins, Colin Powell going to come running back? Is Bill Weld going to come running back? Hell, yes, they will! Hell, yes, they'll come running back. They'll do everything they can to stay in the circle of power. Of course they'll come running back. All these people are out for self-interest. That's what Sarah Palin is saying. She's not in it for self-interest. The party had better be what the party is or I don't have any future in it.

We're going to rebuild it even if McCain wins. We're going to have to. These people, these moderates who wanted the big tent, they have taken the party exactly where they said they wanted it to be -- and when it got there, these little cowards jumped the ship! I have lost all respect for these people. And, folks, when I said at the beginning of this that I wanted to turn around and pat myself on the back, it's because I (and so many like me) knew this exact thing was going to happen and tried to warn people about it during the primaries and so forth. I am not happy it's happened except for one reason. We flushed 'em out. We found out they're not really Republicans and they're by no means conservatives, and now they're gone. Now the trick is to keep 'em out.
IF - you exclude everyone in America that doesn't buy into your far-right cigar-chomping bullshit.

AND IF - you convince enough of the more influential Republicans to join you in your disdain for the center, the center-right, the moderates, the reasonable - IOW most of the public.

THEN - you will doom your party to decades of political obscurity and increasing isolation. Your best hope for survival will be to all move to Utah, then secede from the union.

So by all means GO FOR IT RUSH. I'm sure the results will be very entertaining. Not that Mr. Limbaugh is alone in the opinion that the Republican party has to move even further to the right. More on that here and here. Some, indeed many of these wingnuts would have advised the Titanic's captain to turn around and ram the iceberg again, only harder. After all the ship is unsinkable, right?

And, while we're on the subject of Reight-wing talk radio anyway...

RFK Jr. - "How the US News Media Fails Us"

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pink Floyd University - "On The Turning Away"

Have you ever been beaten senseless, just for being who you are?

I have. It's not a wonderful experience.

This picture is of David Graham, who at the time two years ago in 2006, was 26. He was a favorite to win the Australian version of the TV show "Big Brother" and tearfully outed himself on that program. And yep, he totally paid for it. With the beating of his life.

This is the physical version of the political version of what just happened in California with the passing of Proposition H8. In my opinion, what happened was that thugs jumped into the political process in the form of the Mormons, who mugged gay people of their previous ability and right to marry in that state.

This is the first time I can think of that rights were actually TAKEN AWAY in proposed legislation. The struggle for any groups rights have met defeat to actually gain the right sought, but never taken away to my knowledge. If someone knows of another case where that would be true, please speak up and let me know. I''d truly be interested in trying to compare the situations.

Now, let me get to why this is a Pink Floyd University Post. A snip from the lyrics of "On The Turning Away":

Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away

Which I believe is the point that RFK was really pounding during his run for the presidency. And it's fun for me that someone else has a bent that puts politics and Pink Floyd together:

Just change "negro" to "gay" and "Viet Nam" to Iraq/Afghanistan". Voila, today's realpolitik, plus!

I frankly do not think, as many folks have written on blogs or newspapers, or said on cable and other outlets, that it is the fault of African Americans that Prop H8 passed in California. I agree with Kathryn Kolbert of "People For The American Way," who wrote:

As a mother who has raised two children in a 30-year relationship with another woman, I fully understand the depth of hurt and anger at voters’ rejection of our families’ equality. But responding to that hurt by lashing out at African Americans is deeply wrong and offensive — not to mention destructive to the goal of advancing equality.

Before we give Religious Right leaders more reasons to rejoice by deepening the divisions they have worked so hard to create between African Americans and the broader progressive community, let’s be clear about who is responsible for gay couples in California losing the right to get married, and let’s think strategically about a way forward that broadens and strengthens support for equality.

Others have taken on the challenge of looking at the basic numbers and concluded that it is simply false to suggest that Prop 8 would have been defeated if African Americans had been more supportive. The amendment seems to have passed by more than half a million votes, and the number of black voters, even with turnout boosted by the presidential race, couldn’t have made up that difference. That’s an important fact, but when African American supporters of equality are being called racist epithets at protests about Prop 8, the numbers almost seem beside the point.

Republicans and white churchgoers, among many other groups, voted for Prop. 8 at higher rates than African Americans. There are few African Americans in the inland counties that all voted overwhelmingly to strip marriage equality out of the California constitution. So why single out African Americans? Who’s really to blame? The Religious Right. Let’s start here:

Conservative evangelical leaders who are unremittingly hostile to the rights of gay people and who put Prop. 8 on the ballot and bombarded pastors, churchgoers, and the public with lies about gay people wanting to destroy their religious liberty and come for their children — even suggesting that Christians would be thrown in jail if Prop 8 passed.

Mormon Church leaders who turned Prop. 8 into a national religious crusade against gay couples, badgered Mormons nationwide to give heavily to the campaign, and recruited thousands of footsoldiers for door-to-door canvassing (special kudos to the courageous Mormons who challenged the Church leadership)

Conservative Catholic leaders who betrayed Catholic teaching about human dignity by enthusiastically joining forces with campaign organizers who portrayed supporters of gay equality as evil and satanic. “Yes on Prop 8” leaders whose view of the campaign as a battle between good and evil led to an “ends justifies the means” campaign that included grossly distorted ads, mailings, and robocalls directed at African Americans and falsely portrayed Barack Obama as a Prop 8 supporter.

There will be plenty of post-game analysis of the No on 8 campaign’s choices and strategies, and that’s not the purpose of this memo. But it is clear that the Yes on 8 campaign had a far more aggressive and systematic outreach to African American religious leaders and voters. If we either take black voters for granted because they are “supposed to” be liberal, or we write them out of our campaign strategies because we label them inherently homophobic, we cannot turn around and make them the scapegoat for our failings.

[Emphases and links added]

I really don't think that writing out black voters for any of the reasons Kathryn stated is the way to go. Nor do I think that labeling them homophobic is they way to go either, but having said that, the black men and hispanic men that I have had for friends and lovers in the past have often bemoaned the distance that's been created in their families for their own acceptance, and in my opinion, that gulf has at least been the same, or a little greater for those men I've known. There's plenty enough homophobia to go around, and it doesn't need a particular racial home as far as I'm concerned.

Homophobia just needs to go away.

Really, don't want a gay marriage? Don't have one.

Last reminder from The Wise Pink Ones:
Its a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting its shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that were all alone
In the dream of the proud

If you ask me, The Church Of Pink Floyd [so to say] would really be far more church-y than the Mormons and any other church folk who ran with the "Yes on 8" crowd.

Mary Magdalene was a whore if you believe the book. When I was gay bashed the first time in in 1979 [I was homeless and a easy target frankly], it was a prostitute and a transvestite who scooped me up and took me in and healed me, and then steeled me to the tough road ahead that was going to be in Phoenix at that time. That education was painful, but enduring.

At the end of the day, the day keeps on changing. I'm pretty OK with it that the battles for equality continue, as long as they actually do continue. And battle it is with the Mormons in particular and the Religious Right in general. After all, I have the whores and trans on my side.

I think that me, whores and trans are actually far more respectable at that same end of the day. After all, we're not the ones who are doing the "Turning Away."

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tell the President-Elect: Ban Torture

We believe that torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear; that it degrades everyone involved -- policy- makers, perpetrators, and victims; and that it contradicts our nation's most cherished values. We believe that nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake in our decisions and actions with respect to the use of torture.

- Linda Gustitus, President, and Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
These past eight years we have become a nation ruled by the whims of a spoiled rotten child, playing God with the lives of innocents. With the simple stroke of a pen, President-Elect Obama could right a horrible wrong, moving us back to a nation that respects the rule of law. The National Relgious Campaign Against Torture has called for today, November 12, as a National Day of Witness for a Presidential Ban on Torture.

Please urge newly-elected President Obama to issue an executive order by endorsing the Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order to Ban Torture.

You can read the Declaration here.
And you can endorse the Declaration here.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Rhetorical Device in Need of Repair

All Over the Maps

OK, I'm getting sick of this. So much so that I'm going to exercise my blogger's prerogative to call BULL-shit!

Check out the map to the right, published today as an accompaniment to this article by Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. This is Chris's prediction of the outcome of tomorrow's vote, and YEAH!!, Barack Obama wins. But do you notice anything at all funny about it? Open Chris's article in a new window for a better view, and a chance to check out the map's interactive features.

Now look at this map from Electoral and compare the two. Do you see the bizarre assumption that Chris has made? Never mind the fact that the map above has McCain winning Hawaii despite a 41% lead in Obama's favor (polling is 68 to 27.) We'll chalk that up to a mistake, though I wouldn't go so far as to call it an honest mistake. Especially not in light of the following.

The assumption that Chris Cillizza and every other Lamestream Media 'analyst' I've seen makes is that states will only flip from blue to red on election day. Chris isn't too egregious about this compared to the rest of the yakking class, with only Ohio and North Carolina going to McCain against the flow of polling data, with the following explanation:
Our final map splits the two states that decided the last two presidential elections -- Florida and Ohio -- between Obama and McCain.

In the final analysis we put Florida in Obama's column -- based on the massive voter registration and turnout operation built by the Democrat in the state -- and gave Ohio to McCain due to a belief that Obama's ability to grow the electorate in a state so closely targeted in 2004 is far more limited than in other places.

The truth is that the outcome in both states is almost unknowable as both sides acknowledge how close the contest is. The same goes for Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Nevada -- all states President Bush carried with varying levels of ease in 2004.
The truth is that the latest polls show Obama ahead by 5% in Ohio, and 4% in Florida. His lead in North Carolina is only 2%, so I guess Mr. Cillizza doesn't feel any need to explain the outcome favoring McCain there. But wait a minute - McCain's lead in Missouri and North Dakota is a razor-thin 1%. And he's only leading by 2% in Indiana, and 4% in Montana, Georgia and McCain's home state of Arizona. But you will never hear even a suggestion from the LaMe that any of those states are going to go to Obama.

If you really want to see egregious bias , go to CNN and watch John King play with his high tech interactive election map*. King, who does an even worse job than Wolf Blitzer at concealing his pro-Republican bias, can be seen ten times a day acting out his wildest dreams and changing states like Pennsylvania (where Obama has an 8-point lead) from blue to red with just a touch of the screen. That's not called analysis, John, it's called wishful thinking. From the point of view of a news consumer, your playing with this toy is barely more illuminating than Fred Armisens parody on Saturday Night Live.
(Fred Armisen segment is about 2:00 in)

By the way, does John King remind you more of the buffoonish Ted Baxter character on the old Mary Tyler Moore show, or would you compare him to Murphy Brown's equally buffoonish Miller Redfield? I find the presence of someone like John King on CNN to be a rather sad case of life imitating art. The people deserve better from their 24/7 news outlets. And I for one long for the day when newsmen were chosen for their journalistic integrity rather than their looks.

* (Contrary to blog speculation, King did not call off his wedding to CNN colleague Dana Bash in order to move in with the map. They were wed in May.)
Back on topic, it's time to let the Lamestream Media know that we are well aware of what they're trying to do with this slanted reporting. In showing this race to be much closer than it really is they hope to keep alive the 'horse race' metaphor that pumps up their ratings. Which is not good journalism but is at least a relatively innocuous motive. What is less acceptable is that they are subtly hoping to affect the outcome and give the McCain effort a boost. But what would be TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE would be that they are trying to set things up to make yet another stolen election look like a reasonable and correct result, caused by people (and we'd have to be talking about millions of people) all changing their minds at the last moment. That would in fact be approaching treason.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

An Immodest Proposal

Here's an idea. If Obama wins this election, he should end the practice of subsidizing the red states with taxes collected in blue states. Reverse it even.

(Click for larger image)
Source: democratic action

This would be so appropriate to the ideological beliefs of those voters who have supported the Republicans for decades. Since they don't believe that the less well off should be getting anything from the high income earners, and all.

So take Mississipi, who get $2.02 in federal dollars for every dollar they send to Washington, and switch them with New Jersey, who only get 61¢. Just to get the point across New Mexico, currently getting the most at $2.03, can keep that as a reward for going blue and Nevada can swap their 65¢ for Alaska's $1.84. We'll leave Louisiana alone since they're still dealing with the effects of Katrina, and swap Colorado (81¢) with W. Va. ($1.76.)

I think the Obama government should be really open and upfront about this, so the people of Idaho know that the reason they have big potholes in their highways is that they've signaled with their votes that they don't like the feds spending money on them. How can anybody complain about unfairness when the system has already been unfair under the Repugnicants, only in the other direction? In fact the red states should thank the Democrats for giving them the honor of leading the nation in fiscal responsibility.

The only problems I see are complications in developing a formula for states like Maine that vote Democratic on the presidential ticket, but still send two Repuke senators to Washington. Considerations would also have to be made for who the governor and the state legislature are, but that could all be worked out over a working lunch of pizza and beer.

If you like this idea maybe we could work on my next one - a plan to rescind the tax exempt status of every religious organization in the country. Ooooh, and a special surtax on creationist museums. And a special clause in that law that designates FOX "news" as a creationist museum, that's the ticket!

With any luck you might even get some of the most backwards states to secede. Which might put them even closer to the stone age than they already are, but it would be good for the rest of the country, you betcha.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Going Viral - Partial Transcript

Sarah Palin Gets Punked by "The President of France."
Just listening the second time I can't believe how she just plowed through the conversation no matter how ridiculous 'the President of France' got. This is my favorite part:
'Sarkozy': "You know my wife Carla would love to meet you, even though she was a bit jealous that I was supposed to speak to you today."

Palin: "Well give her a big hug from me."

'Sarkozy': "You know my wife is a popular singer, and a former top model, and she is so hot in bed. She even wrote a song for you"

Palin: "Oh my goodness, I didn't know that."

'Sarkozy': "Yes, in French it's called “Mettre du rouge a levre sur un cochon,” or if you prefer in English, Joe the Plumber (sings)"

Palin: "Maybe she understands some of the unfair criticism, but I betcha she is such a hard worker too, and she realizes you just plow through that criticism."

'Sarkozy': "I just want to be sure I don't quite understand the phenomenon, Joe the Plumber. That's not your husband, right?"

Palin: "That's not my husband, but he's a normal American who just works hard and doesn't want government to take his money."

'Sarkozy': "Yes, yes I understand, we have the equivalent of Joe the Plumber in France - It's called Marcel, the guy with bread under his armpits, Oui."

Palin: "Right. That's what it's all about, it's the middle class and government needing to work for them. You're a very good example for us here."

'Sarkozy': Uh, I seen a bit about NBC, even FOX "news" wasn't an ally as much as usual.

Palin: Yeah, that's what we're up against.

'Sarkozy': I must say Governor Palin, I loved the documentary they made on your life. You know us loves Nailin' Palin.

Palin: Oh, good thank you. Yes.

'Sarkozy': That was really edgy.

Palin: Oh, good.

'Sarkozy': I really loved you. And I must say something else, governor. You've been pranked by The Masked Avengers. We're two comedians from Montreal.
Note: "Mettre du rouge a levre sur un cochon" means 'putting lipstick on a pig' or alternately 'on a slut.'

What more can you say about Palin's epic introduction to the world of foreign affairs?

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Economic Impacts of Socialized Medicine

Hola, Unrulies, from sunny Deer Park, Tejas, where Obama's likely to lose by several percentage points. Fortunately that does not matter to our chances of having a thoughtful, reflective President for the next four to eight years - we currently should have enough electoral votes to give McCain Pennsylvania and still win in 89% of possible scenarios (see for the full analysis). And now on to the great red fear of this election, socialism.

European social democracies have not managed to repeal the laws of economics, regardless of how they try. Some of their greatest failures are due to trying. In the medical field, the United States produces more new drugs (marginally more effective or slightly fewer side effects than their ancestors) because in Europe under socialism (gasp), the doctors don't always prescribe the latest-and-greatest drug. They may try an older drug or a supplement first, so the value of the intellectual property, the patent, is much less than here for new drugs. But let's look at a great Texas myth, that doctors will go broke if we socialize the medical system.

According to Republican mythology, the law of supply and demand will somehow be suspended under a socialized medical system. Consider, a doctor studies for eight years then does two years of grueling internship before being released to finance his first Jaguar and begin paying down all that debt. That means, should new rules of how much a doctor is paid go into effect tomorrow, it will be ten years before the market for doctors (and their fees) can react in a meaningful manner. Here's where the Republicans forget all that free-market bullshit in favor of their talking points.

Insuring everyone would increase the number of medical consumers by about 47,000,000 in the United States. The supply of doctors would not change for some time. So demand increases for medical services, supply does not. Now what, Econ 101 graduates, does that do to the price of medical services? It increases them. Now let's imagine the Government steps in and puts price controls into place. What happens then? Doctors leave the medical profession to go work on oil rigs, to become Blackwater security goons in Iraq or to become ski instructors. The supply of services goes down while demand goes up. Soon the situation becomes untenable, the Government has to increase fees and med schools begin filling up. So in either case, doctors actually end up making more simply because demand for their services has increased. In one case, they have to go through some hard times but in the end, they're making more than today due to simple supply and demand.

Easy to forget that when it doesn't match your faith. Again, as I read somewhere earlier this week, any time a Republican talks about free markets, you should laugh heartily.

p.s. I forgot to mention that doctors already have price controls inflicted upon them but not by the Government. Insurance companies through their "in-network" fee schedules, control the price of services. Don't know about you but I'd far rather have some neutral bureaucrat somewhere controlling prices than some profit-driven insurance company employee.

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