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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri's Gone

May her family find peace and go on with their lives. I hope the resist the temptation to fill the void by becoming pawn in future politcal debates.

I wish her husband, Micahel, peace and protection from the loonies out there.

As I voyage along the liberal blogs today, I see no glee in her death. Please dear God may that canard suffer a quick demise.

The Badness of King George

While our English cousins debate the value of their Royal Family they need not snub our own monarchy. They have hanky panky at the palace and we're royally screwed. There are more similarities than you think as can be seen in God Save the King
If the Brits don’t think the United States is a “real” monarchy, it’s understandable. But look closely and you’ll find that we have a lot more similarities than differences.

For starters, like a great monarch once said, “L’Etat, c’est moi.” This means that the boss does whatever the hell he wants. We’ve already got that down—wasn’t it our King George’s advisers who said that the commander in chief can do what he wants in time of war, including holding prisoners incommunicado, without access to courts or attorneys? That he can authorize the torture of suspected terrorists? They had the Tower of London—we’ve got Guantanamo Bay.

Legislatures are only useful when they do what you want; otherwise, ignore them—that’s what a true monarch does. When our king’s legislature asked for documents regarding those prisoners being hidden away or shipped off to be tortured by our “friends,” he told Congress what kings have told lawmakers for centuries: no.

Kings can hide evidence that points to their hypocrisies—like memos that say Osama bin Laden was at Tora Bora and our military let him get away. After the king has been safely protected from possible usurpers to the throne, it doesn’t matter if the things he said before are shown to be untrue when the documents finally surface—after all, he’s the king, right?

Kings can use public monies to convince the public that programs in their best interest need to be eliminated, just like King George’s road show to convince Americans that Social Security is failing, even if his proposed “plan”—he hasn’t really revealed it yet—will do nothing to fix the crisis he’s telling us about. And kings can keep out taxpayers who have genuine concerns and questions about his so-called plan, even if their money is paying for the road show. It’s sort of like the crown jewels of England—just because they are property of England doesn’t mean that the people actually get to see them. That would be tantamount to lèse-majesté—an insult to the royalty.

If you’re the king, when the government tells you that something you’re doing is wrong and you should stop, you can ignore them. That’s what King George did when the General Accountability Office told the administration that the fake TV news reports it had been putting out were illegal propaganda. The king said, “I don’t see it that way.” So they go on. The king has willed it.

When popular sentiment goes against you and the people start getting restless, your courtesans, like all good royal advisers, recommend that you remind them constantly of the last great threat to the nation. In this case, it would be GOP pollster Frank Luntz, whose message playbook for the Republicans argues that the people should constantly be reminded of Sept. 11 whenever things get hairy.

England’s King Henry VIII had no trouble with his courts—it was his clergy that pained him when he decided that he wanted to do what he wanted. So he simply created a new church, with him in charge. Our king doesn’t have the clergy problem—middle America’s pastors and priests are right there at his side, whispering in his ear. It’s his courts that are paining him, so he and his courtesans are doing whatever they can to bring them around. If it means changing rules that are hundreds of years old, like the Senate’s filibuster, so be it. That Republicans are calling their ruse “the constitutional option” rather than “the nuclear option” only highlights the duplicity.

The story is legendary: Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government he and his fellow Founding Fathers had chosen. “A republic,” he answered. “If you can keep it.”

This reminds me of something Mark Twain once wrote: "all kings is mostly rapscallions."

(Via Smirking Chimp)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Here's a reason to take up fencing

Beacause Catherine loves fencing
Catherine Zeta Jones says she agreed to reprise her role as Elena in The Legend Of Zorro - because she loves fencing.

She said she became interested in the sport while she made The Mask Of Zorro in 1998 - and couldn't wait to pick up a sword again to film the sequel in Mexico last year.

According to The Sun quoting Empire magazine she said: "I forgot how much I enjoyed it. Every time I got the sword in my hand, I'd get a little glint in my eye, 'Come on, bring it on'.

"Even though it is hard to do it in corsets and petticoats."

The Legend Of Zorro should be in theaters soon.

Lucifer Looks in on the Terri Schiavo Spectacle

My Turn by Satan:
Been lots of talk lately about what God wants humans to do regarding end-of-life issues, but not much about what I want. So let me clear that up: the only thing which pleases me more than the prospect of tens of thousands of human vegetables hooked up to machines for decades at a time is the spectacle of politicians grandstanding the issue for political gain. But since I already have that, there's really nothing more I can ask for! So thank you's to the Bush brothers, to Tom DeLay, Bill Frist and the gang. Hope to see you all soon at my place./

-Satan, a former Archangel of the Lord, resigned to spend more time with his family.

Uh Oh, They Got Left Behind

News that the 'Rapture' Has Come and Gone Alarms Many Christians:
When House Majority Leader Tom DeLay delivered a moving speech from the halls of Congress last week, in which he argued that his political enemies are persecuting him because of his religious faith, there was just one problem: he wasn't supposed to be there. Earlier this month, say observers, the 'Rapture,' the much-anticipated event in which God summons his faithful to the heavens, finally happened.

But instead of Mr. DeLay and millions of other believers making the skyward trek, the biblical bash appears to have been an exclusive, invitation-only affair. As of today, fewer than three dozen Christians are confirmed to have been 'raptured,' leaving their rejected brethren to deal with seven years of Tribulation, a turbulent period marked by the return of the anti-Christ.

For those who had hoped to be cashing in on their heavenly rewards, these are days of soul searching and regret. From Capitol Hill to the mega-churches of the south, disappointed travelers are asking the same questions: 'Why not me?' 'What did I do wrong?' and 'Was it something I said?'

They were shocked, I tell you, shocked.
Meanwhile, no one appears to have made the trip upwards from Capitol Hill. Beltway observers had speculated that dozens of high-profile leaders, including President Bush and Representative DeLay, would be raptured, possibly setting off a complex battle over succession within the halls of power.

So certain were these men that their earthly tenure was coming to an end, say sources, that they scheduled a lengthy break over the Easter weekend. While Stewart Roy, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, refused to acknowledge that the House Majority Leader has indeed been left behind, he did confirm that the Texas representative is taking some much-needed time off. "Let's just say that there are some unexpected openings in his schedule. I'm not going to say anything more than that."

Since they put all their eggs in an Easter-egg basket, they will now have to put forward a plan to fixed the deficit.

Olbermann Muses on Michael Schiavo's Innocence

Keith Olbermann weighs in on the accusations that Michael Schiavo is somehow responsible for his wifes condition over at his blog:
Through his attorney, Mr. Schiavo announced that after his wife’s life ends, he will delay the planned cremation of her body, and ask the Chief Medical Examiner of Pinellas County, Florida, to conduct a full autopsy on the cause of her now impending death.

If he, as some blood relatives of his wife now suggest after a decade of suggesting otherwise, somehow abused her, or he led to the heart stoppage that put her in her present state, it is not likely to be missed by the autopsy.

If he, as his in-laws and all of his critics now suggest after nearly a decade of suggesting otherwise, had an ulterior motive in seeking to end her treatment, it is not likely to be missed by the autopsy.

And if the part of her brain that makes her her was not irreparably damaged (in fact, turned to liquid)— as examination after examination and court after court has found— it is certain not to be missed by the autopsy.

In short, Mr. Schiavo has just given his critics three opportunities to prosecute him by authorizing, in fact requesting, the autopsy. If he’s been lying, or the doctors have been wrong, or any of the hysteria stirred up by those operating both in good faith and bad in this case, is true— then he is a complete idiot.

This case should now be considered closed. Obviously it will not be. It will be perpetuated by a few good, sad people who do not want the woman they know as daughter, sister, or friend, to die. It will be perpetuated by others who cannot come to grips with the incongruity of part of her brain still acting automatically, like a stoplight in the middle of a desert. But mostly it will be perpetuated by people who do not and have not given a damn about Terri Schiavo, or her parents, or anyone but themselves and the opportunities to exploit this situation for their own personal or political beliefs.

Michael Schiavo’s insistence on an autopsy will resolve more than just how hopeless his wife’s situation really has been. It will also be an autopsy on the credibility of those who have tried to manipulate her insentient condition. For, unless Michael Schiavo is a battering spouse or murderer, and a complete idiot, his public critics will be revealed as snake-oil salesmen who have not only exploited his wife, but also thousands of Americans who— just like me, and no doubt just like you— would love nothing more than to see Terri Schiavo rise from her bed and go home, happy, healthy, and fully restored.

But for all those who are worked up over this issue, I am sure nothing will change their minds. Not even if the Virgin Mary toasted cheese sandwich started miracously started speaking and told them the facts of the matter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Bay Area Bloggers Meetup

We're planning another night of drinking and discourse. For details go see BARBARians Go Beserkely.

Be there or be square...

Techie Tuesday: Lundgren Monuments

Let the sun shine through. Posted by Hello

So what's the latest innovation in tombstones? Well, first they're no longer made of stone. Glass memorials are the next hotness for dearly departed. If you're lucky enough to get a cemetary plot with good light you will be the envy of all your neighbors as the transluscent monument will react to the ever changing lighting conditions.

Check out the description:
Lundgren Monuments are translucent memorials created with kiln formed glass, four inches thick and mounted into a stainless steel or bronze base. The glass is heated to temperatures over 1500 degrees and requires two weeks to properly cool. Each glass memorial contains a unique array of suspended air bubbles and natural textures. Your personal information and artwork is carved into the placid surface.

Lundgren Monuments are designed to be set onto a granite or concrete foundation for permanency, and are created with the intent of lasting thousands of years and requiring little or no maintenance. Each memorial is entirely unique and luminescent in natural light. Radiant and incredibly tactile, Lundgren Monuments are designed for the individual who defies definition, and in the setting of a memorial park or cemetery they are glowing beacons that stand out amongst the traditional stone memorials. Please review our full line of memorials and see for yourself their beauty and timelessness.

There are a number of styles and special designs can be accomodated. But plan ahead as there is a lead time of 12 weeks.

So if you've called part of the 'Culture of Death' you might as well put some refined culture and a dash of panache in that death.

(Via Boing Boing)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Now I've seen everything

This is really, really... I dunno...Just go see for yourself Terri Schiavo's Blog.

(Via Everlasting Blort)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bred for chocolate Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

No seniors, no Social Security problems!

More unemployment, more soldiers! Posted by Hello

I just added Buck Fush to the blogroll. I really need to take more sites from my bookmarks and put them on the blogroll. Yep, that's what I'm gonna' do.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Social Security and the Lazarus Cure

Reporter David Lazarus talks to Steve Goss, the Social Security Administration's chief actuary, about an Easy fix for Social Security:
I asked Goss what he thought about an appropriate remedy, but, like just about everyone else in Washington, he didn't want to be the first to bite the bullet. Besides, he was quick to emphasize that he and his team are analysts, not policy-makers.

'We do not espouse that there is a better or worse solution to the problems that we face here,' Goss said. 'That's the job of elected officials.'

Well, what if we tried something as simple as doing away with the current cap on taxable earnings? As it stands, workers pay a 6.2 percent tax on everything they make up to $90,000 (their employers pay an equal amount).

The upshot is that someone making $50,000 a year pays the full 6.2 percent into the Social Security system, while someone making $5 million a year pays only about 0.1 percent.

Goss may not espouse a particular solution, but he has run the numbers down his slide rule. And getting rid of the $90,000 cap would have a dramatic effect on Social Security's 75-year, $4 trillion deficit.

'It would eliminate the deficit entirely,' Goss said.

Better still, it would even leave the program with a surplus, at least until 2090 or so.

The first catch is that you couldn't hand out commensurately more in benefits to rich people just because they're paying more into the system. This would only exacerbate the problem we face now of more money leaving the program than coming in.

Some sort of means testing is required. If you're Bill Gates, after all, you're not relying on your Social Security check to get you through the winter. The money can do more good elsewhere.

The second catch is that when you do reach 2090 or so, you'll probably have to tweak the system again to replenish Social Security's coffers.

Yet that's precisely what was envisioned for the program the last time it was tinkered with, in 1983.

At regular intervals, experts decided at the time, taxes and benefits would have to be re-evaluated in light of changing demographic and economic circumstances.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, the Treasury secretary offered a lukewarm response when asked about raising the tax cap.

'The president has never embraced that idea,' he said. 'But it's an idea out there that needs to be looked at.'

So what's the big deal? I asked Goss why axing the cap isn't on everyone's to-do list in Congress.

I already knew the answer, of course. Bidding sayonara to the cap would represent an enormous tax increase for the wealthy (and they've grown accustomed in recent years to seeing their tax burden go down, not up).

Goss didn't have to say this.(emphasis mine)

Reading this I wondered why don't more of the made for TV reporters ask these questions, then I remebered they are not going to risk having money taken out of their pockets as they'd be most likely affected by raising the tax cap.

Fast Food Fickle Finger of Fate Award

If you are heading out to dinner at Wendy's you may want to read my post over at the Barabarian Blog first.

I don't do Friday Cat Blogging

But if I did this one would be a Winner!

Besides I'm more likely do something on Google's first place for the smiling dog who just happens to be hanging out at the house right now.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Chris Allbritton Just Got Back to Iraq

Insted of focusing on Florida it's time to look at the latest happening in Iraq:
The latest outrage to hit Iraq is the revised plan for the weekend. When I left on Feb. 2, Iraqis observed their own weekend: half a day off on Thursday and a full day off on Friday, the Islamic holy day. This was a little inconvenient for us westerners working here, since that meant we started work on a Saturday while our editors were taking these two days off. The only real overlap in the Iraqi workweek and the rest of the world's was Monday through Wednesday and that dratted half-day on Thursday.

Well, three weeks ago, the Iraqi interim government decreed that the weekend would henceforth be two full days: Friday and Saturday. On the surface, this makes a lot of sense. It means government workers won't be making the hazardous trip to and from work quite as often, and it will allow Iraqis to interact with the rest of the world four out of five business days. But college students, many of them belonging to organizations professing loyalty to populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, are outraged. They're demonstrating on university campuses all over Iraq denouncing Saturday-as-holiday as a “Zionist conspiracy.” Why? Because Saturday is the Jewish sabbath, and Jews are, well, the bad guys in Iraq. One of my staff here at the TIME house is furious with the idea of taking Saturday off, saying, “The Jews occupy Iraq and they want to take their day off.” (He also believes the Iranians occupy Iraq because of the Sistani coalition's victory in the Jan. 30 elections. He's Sunni.)

At any rate, it now appears the Allawi government will back down and make Thursday and Friday the “new” weekend, giving the Iraqis only three workdays in common with most of the rest of the world. But hell, that's OK. I'm a freelancer. I'm all in favor of setting your own schedule.

On the surface this is silly. Jordan and the Gulf states take Friday and Saturday off, and Lebanon takes Saturday and Sunday off, so there's no uniformity in the Arab world. And some could point to this as just another example of the paranoid mindset of many young Iraqis. But there's a reason for this mindset: For years, Iraqis have had to eat and breath conspiracy theories because so often there were conspiracies to contend with. (You think totalitarian states operate with transparency?) And the damage of the United Nations sanctions over 12 years hardened Iraqis' attitudes toward the world, causing them to think, not unreasonably, that the world was out to get them. A people who already suspicious of outsiders because of their Bedouin heritage came to hate foreigners because the cause of many of their problems were foreigners meddling in Iraq. The list is long: The Americans who betrayed them in 1991, the Security Council that abandoned them in the years that followed, The Americans in 2003 to the present, and now the widespread belief that Syria and Jordan (among the Shi'ites) and Iran (among the Sunnis) are further meddling behind the scenes to destroy Iraq by supporting either “terrorists” or Persian cats paws.

The sad part is as long as this administration is power we will be meddling in the affairs of Iraqis. Hell, you might even say we're married to them - just we will never be allowed to pull the plug on this one...

Coulter of Death

Here is a response that eviscerates Ann Coulter's latest inanity as can only be done by the masterful and somewhat vulgar Rude Pundit:
Coulter is clearly implying Jeb should amp this up a few dozen notches: The only action that Jeb could take if he says what Jackson says is to send in some troops to enforce his words, to confront the police, who are, in essence, an arm of the judiciary. The money part of this would be if Jeb Bush did order in the National Guard soldiers and then discovered they were all in Iraq. Or maybe they could just send in a bunch of paid Republican operatives with a feeding tube.

So, in brief, in the course of a single column, Coulter puts the powers of governors and presidents on an equal plain; supports the Florida courts (in Gonzalez) before degrading them (in Schiavo); says force is good to uphold the law and force is good to defy the law; says force is bad to uphold the law and force is bad to defy the law; and shits herself with glee at her own power to string together a barely cogent thought. Somewhere, William F. Buckley is rolling over in his grave (yes, the Rude Pundit knows).

It would be ironic if Jeb had to go in with Guard he had and not the Guard he wanted...

Terrible Consequences

I like this thought provoking point made by Tristero:
I'm struck that many on the left blogosphere have focused on the details of the Schiavo case rather than its larger meaning. That meaning is stark and disturbing: The Bush administration demonstrated in public - not in secret, as with the Gonzales torture memos - that they have the will and the means to overturn any law they disagree with. Regardless of what happens now to the Schiavo case, the right wing extremists who control our government have made their point. Openly, they have asserted, and proven, that they are literally above the law of the United States. They are now unequivocably beyond any judicial control. Only a fool would believe that they won't do this again on a different issue. And again. And again.

Too often we bloggers on the left get caught up in refuting the details and arguing minutiae. It's hard to let the little easily disprovable lies and half-truths go unchallenged.

Ein Klein Quote of the Day

Joe Klein, over at Wonkette, has divined the White House's real solution to Social Security issue.
Paying all the Social Security benefits the government owes to old folks over the next 75 years will cost $4 trillion, and with a growing elderly population, payroll taxes won't bring in enough cash to cover it. But the trustees' report also had a hidden silver lining: Medicare will run out of money almost 20 years sooner than Social Security. Which means, we've solved the problem already! No money for Medicare means no health care for seniors. No health care for seniors means... no seniors! And no seniors means no Social Security problem. Shit, that was easy.(Emphasis added)

I wonder if Joe read this post of mine?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Morford is Not Feeling Rapturous

We in the Bay Area have our own rational treasure, Mark Morford, who some on the right want drill a hole in this head. Here is an excerpt from a screed that is bound inflame his fanatic winger fandom - Why Does God Hate Caribou? / Drill for oil and screw Alaska's wildlife? Why, sure, all part of the imminent Rapture!:
A huge chunk of BushCo's voting bloc is evangelical or born-again Christian. Millions of otherwise decent and sincere Americans who actually believe the Bible as literal world-for-word truth, verbatim, no questions asked, not metaphor and not parable and not lovely set of nice, same-as-every-other-religion mythologies by which we set our moral compasses, but a set of actual facts told in cautionary dramedy, like a silly locust-ridden reality-TV show. Extreme Jesus: Apocalypse Edition.

And by many measures, the people who believe this are the same deeply terrified, misguided folk who tipped the electorate scale and put BushCo back in office, along with a great many other newly spawned power players in Washington and across the social strata, from judges to teachers to Cabinet members to congresspersons to the borderline insane Parents Television Council, people so terrified of the human female nipple that it screamed loud enough so that now uttering the word s-- on the radio will cost you $500,000.

So then. The evangelicals are in power, having their bleak and apocalyptic moment in the white-hot sun. And Bush, by all accounts, is their leader, their spokesman, their crusader, smashing those damned gays and repressing them uppity women and attacking those gul-dang Muslims and -- here's the kicker -- doing his God-sanctioned duty to bring about a grand holy war that will hasten the arrival of, you guessed it, Armageddon.

And baby, for any evangelical worth his secret homosexual fantasy, Armageddon is where it's at.

Do you see? This means that the war in Iraq is a good thing, because war brings us closer to the Final Conflict. War is what God wants. And nature, that pathetic and disposable handmaiden to humankind's happy bloodlust, is merely the fuel, the playpen, for that happy eventuality. Earth is but a finite resource given by God to humanity and meant to be all used up as fast as possible and the faster we use it all up the sooner Jesus comes. Just like Santa. Only, you know, not.

Put another way: The environment does not matter because the Earth does not matter because all the sinful nonbelievers do not matter and all that does matter is the imminent return of the bloody Christ, and therefore, so what if BushCo supports the most appalling array of environmentally abusive polices in American history? So what if we permanently scar some silly wildlife refuge in Alaska?

So what if Dubya wants to gut the EPA and the Clean Air Act and clean water and wants to log national forests and relax all major pollution regulations on his buddies in big industry? It's all just a matter of time, anyway, until it's all over (most predictions put the Second Coming somewhere between the next 12 seconds and within 40 years). And in the meantime, while the believers wait, God will provide. Simple!

What's really scary is these people want to hurry up the end of the world and they have the political power to make it happen!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Techie Tuesday: Poseidon Undersea Resorts

I'd like to be under the sea... Posted by Hello

I once snuck inside an underwater habitat that was a former Nasa training module. I didn't get wet because it was parked on land at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Later, I heard that it was sold as surplus for $1 to an outfit that planned to make it into an underwater hotel. I never knew what really happened to it but remember thinking it would be a cool and romantic bed and breakfast.

That why when I win the lottery I will make resevations ($1,500 a night) at for the themed Nautilus Suite at the planned Poseidon Undersea Resort in the Bahamas. It should open later next year.

Just check out the Hotel Amenities:
The Poseidon Undersea Resort will be a true five-star facility offering the finest wine and cuisine and the highest levels of service. The entire experience will be designed to foster an ambiance of comfort and camaraderie among guests. There will be a visiting celebrity program and regular guest lecturers. Diving lessons and expeditions will be available onsite and a swim with the dolphins program may also be implemented. Excursions on a deep diving submarine are also likely.

In summary, the underwater portion of the resort will consist of:
- 20 luxury suites
- 2 service areas
- central corridor assembly
- restaurant, bar/lounge, kitchen
- Grand Poseidon Suite
- Nautilus Suite

Since this is one of the fantasy vacations that I'll probably never afford I can dream, can't I? If you like to dream too, check out the FAQs and take the virtual tour.

(Via Gear Live)

Monday, March 21, 2005

What happened to real Republicans?

Once upon a time in a place far, far away, Republicans were not the odious creatures they are today. Or so L.A. Heberlein would have you believe according to this piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, What happened to real Republicans?
When I was a Teenage Republican, all Republicans knew the 10th Amendment by heart and Republicans resisted the increasing power of the central government. Now Republicans leap over one another to make the federal government ever more powerful. It is Republicans at the federal level who now want to tell states whether they can allow medical marijuana or assisted suicide, or even who can have a driver's license. They want to tell the states who can get married. Imagine a Republican of my youth thinking the federal government should dictate policy to local school boards.

When I was a boy, Republicans cherished personal liberty. Creating secret no-fly lists and spy-on-your-neighbor programs, turning medical records over to police, holding people without trial in hidden military compounds, saying it's legal to torture them -- that's how we thought only Communists would behave.

Above all, the Republicans back in those days were the party of responsibility. They understood a balance sheet. "Yes," they would say, like a patient father with an immature child, "we'd all love that, but we can't afford it. Look right here at the numbers." Fiscal discipline was a value held almost as deeply as family and religion. Republicans knew that nothing works if you can't pay for it, that only ruin and shame can come from laying out more than you take in.

Where have all those Republicans gone? The ones running Washington, D.C., today inherited a $236 billion budget surplus, and like kids on crack with a credit card, turned it into a trillion-dollar deficit almost overnight.

If there was one thing the Republicans of my youth understood the value of, it was the American dollar. Today's Republicans stand around and watch the American dollar fall further every day. With our out-of-control trade deficits and increasingly shaky credit, all it might take is for one central banker from one small country to switch reserves to the Euro, and the dollar could plummet like the Space Shuttle Columbia, leaving a smoking trail of ugly wreckage.

When the issue of long-term planning for the future of Social Security came up, I thought maybe the Republicans I remember had resurfaced. That is exactly the sort of issue a white-haired Republican accountant for the water district would have raised in my youth. "Now, in 40 years," he would patiently explain, "the way these bonds are structured, we're going to have a shortfall, unless we adopt prudent measures right now." So the board would adopt prudent measures. After all, they were responsible people.

But have you followed the Social Security story? Do you know the plan?

The way Social Security works is that the people paying in support the people taking out. The "Republicans" in Washington want to let people stop paying in, so they can put their money in private investment accounts. But if we let people stop paying in, where's the money for people who are drawing out now?

Listen, you'll never believe this. The plan is to borrow it -- to borrow a trillion more dollars

Could any Republican leader before Reagan successfully survive in the radical party that the GOP has become? Nixon would probably be considered a Communist lover and Ford, an enabler of Democratic policies. Hell, Ike would be chased out the party after being tarred and feathered.

(Via the Smirking Chimp)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bloggermann Blasts Back

A while back I noted the Keith Olbermann was getting monkey mail about SpongeBob SquarePants from followers of the Focus on the Family in a post entitled What, No Sex?. Well they're at it again and it is still funny.

Here is first part of his response:
And the arguments of the latecomers divide almost entirely into two fundamental and hilarious assertions.

The first is that just because you dropped out in the 7th Grade and you’re complaining about something that didn’t happen the way you describe it, and which you didn’t see when it aired two months ago, your complaint should immediately force some sort of self-immolation of atonement on the part of the reader.

More on that in a moment - including another priceless selection of quotations from actual e-mailers.

But, first, the second assertion: that stories like mine are why “liberal network television news is dead and people only watch Fox News now.” I cannot count how many times something like this has been the cornerstone of the writer’s complaint - or the consequence predicted in their explicit threat. MSNBC itself is listed as one of the “liberal” transgressors, along with CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Now it is amazing how pervasive this assumption has gotten. Print journalists analyzing tv or politics or both invariably write of the dying days of the networks, and the ascent of FNC - even though the statistics just don’t bear it out.

Three quarters of the country has cable, and another much smaller figure has satellite television, so any cable network necessarily has something of a ratings disadvantage compared to stations carried over-the-air - but nothing like that which is imagined, and nothing which could explain the viewer totals for Monday, March 11th, 2005, between 6:30 PM and 7:00 PM EST:

ABC World News Tonight: 9,630,000
CBS Evening News: 8,110,000
NBC Nightly News: 9,810,000
Fox News (Brit Hume): 1,013,000

Now, remember, despite the many nuances among them, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC are all seen, from the far-right perspective, as left-wing hogwash, or worse. So let’s look at the ratings once again, and throw in the 394,000 who were watching CNN, the 169,000 watching MSNBC, and the 121,000 who were watching CNN Headline News.

Dying Network Newscasts: 28,234,000
Fox News (Brit Hume): 1,013,000

Looks like a 28:1 victory for the dying liberals over the ascendant conservatives.

But there are a couple of caveats here. The network newscast ratings were based on the average for the entire week of March 7th. That was Dan Rather’s final week, so the CBS number may be a little high, perhaps by as much as a million viewers. And, the comparison to Hume’s yawnathon on FNC isn’t entirely fair. The Jennings/Williams/Schieffer match-up versus Hume occurs only in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. In the Mountain zone, the network newscasts compete with the Fox Report, which usually does better than Hume’s newscast, and, on the West Coast, it’s Peter, Brian, and Bob, versus the second half of The Big Giant Head, Bill O’Reilly, who usually does twice as well as Hume, or better. Then again, the CNN, CNNHN, and MSNBC national audiences also grow the later it gets in the east. It would take more sophisticated data than they let somebody like me see to get the precise mix (I was told by my old masters at Fox that the East Coast alone constituted 50% of their audience), but the gist of it is, the 28:1 ratio is probably not precise.

It might be as low as 20:1.

Still, these folks emailing me - and smarter ones, too - manage to adhere to both their simplistic notions of “liberal television news” and their conviction that it’s losing.

To read the best parts you'll have to click through.

The Latest Bush Non-Plan

In what could only be describe as the MBA President's greatest idea, Bush offers retirees option of serving in Iraq
Social Security Participants Given Wide Choice of Iraqi Cities to Patrol

After receiving only muted support for his sweeping proposals to overhaul Social Security, President George W. Bush attempted to sweeten the pot today, offering all retirees the opportunity to serve in Iraq.

With most insiders calling the president’s proposal for individual investment accounts dead on arrival in Congress, the White House hopes that Mr. Bush’s offer of guaranteed military service to all retired Americans will find more favor.

Speaking at a rally in Detroit today, the president told his audience, “In the year 2054, the Social Security trust fund will be bankrupt, but the war in Iraq will be alive and well.”

Under his new plan, the president said, upon reaching the age of 59 every participant in the Social Security program would be offered the opportunity to begin basic training for what Mr. Bush called “the adventure of their lives.”

According to the president, retirees would be “totally free to choose” which Iraqi city they would like to patrol from a list of twenty cities including Baghdad, Tikrit, Fallujah, and oil-rich Kirkuk.

Mr. Bush added that the average retiree serving in Iraq would earn approximately $1500 a month, which would be boosted to $1800 if the retiree should somehow stumble across weapons of mass destruction.

In other news, the Army is raising the enlistment age from less than 35 years of age to less than 40 years of age..

There's Method to their Madness

Reading this morning's NYT Op-Ed onWashington's Fiscal Meltdown, I saw the underlying GOP strategy with dealing with the Boomer generation's impact on Social Security. They want the poor to die earlier and not get their full benefits. And it's not just for African-Americans anymore.

And then there is the 11th-hour tax cut slipped into the Senate proposal. It would repeal an income tax on Social Security benefits that applies to the wealthiest 20 percent or so of beneficiaries and whose revenue is dedicated to the Medicare hospital trust fund. The repeal would accelerate the fund's projected insolvency by four years, to 2015 from 2019. Now there's a plan! Give the best-off elderly a tax break and put all of the elderly who may have to go into the hospital at greater financial risk.

When you step back and look at it, the collective tax-cutting psyche of Mr. Bush and his partisans appears to border dangerously on the grandiose. How else to explain their relentless profligacy in the face of the unprecedented Bush-era swing from budget surplus to deficit, the unmistakable long-term trend of a rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer income distribution, the ballooning costs of war, the weaker dollar, rising oil prices and record deficits in trade and investment - which now require the United States to borrow $2.1 billion a day from abroad? It's time for the people, the ultimate referees in a democracy, to call a timeout.

They can kill two birds with one stone. Get rid of medical assistance for those who chose to be poor and helpless in their latter years and give tax cuts to the investor class who had the foresight to be born into the well-to-do segment of society.

I'm just waiting for some bold Republican congress-critter to propose legislation for debtor's prisons to make the trifecta of conservative compassion.

Enterprising Floridian

I am constantly amazed by the uniquely American propensity to make a buck off the tragedy of others. Case in point, see what is being offered on Ebay - * Remember Terri Schiavo Living Will Maker Program*.

Actually it's not such a bad idea. It's just so, how can you say, tasteless...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

An Arnold Earworm

Here is a new tune to to party down with - governator rap...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Volokh: Now and Then

Let's look at what Eugene Volokh said about Torture last June:
But, third, I just don't like this topic. I find it not just difficult but also sickening. Torture is disgusting. Failing to stop the next terrorist attack that kills thousands is awful. Does the need to save people's lives justify torturing suspects? How many lives? Would it take hundreds of thousands (as in the hidden nuclear bomb scenario)? Thousands? Dozens? A couple? I don't know the answers, and while I have no doubt about the importance of the questions, I don't enjoy thinking about them. The whole topic is sad and horrible, whatever the right answer is.

Let's look at what he said about torture the other day:
I am being perfectly serious, by the way. I like civilization, but some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness. I think it slights the burning injustice of the murders, and the pain of the families, to react in any other way.

Based on the emphases I added, I guess he used his fine legal mind to think about it over the invervening 9 months. It went from something that is horrible to contemplate to suggesting we amend the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause in the Bill of Rights, to get over our supposed humaneness. It is rather a far swing of opinion if you ask me.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A hunk of burning love

Years ago in Venice, Italy, a few twists and turns from the centrale station I found a small impovershed church that had an unusal candle arragement. In lieu of the usual votive candles, they had a bank of electric candle-shape lamps. For the lowly sum of 10 lire one could turn on a light to go along with a prayer. My first thoughts were how frugal, how modern, and how typical of the religious hustle.

That why I found this story rather odd story a bit disturbing,Couple Sells Candles That Smell Like Jesus
Now there's a candle that lets you experience the scent of Jesus, and they've been selling out by the case.

"We see it as a ministry, " says Bob Tosterud, who together with his wife came up with the idea for the candle.

Light up the candle called "His Essence" and its makers say you'll experience the fragrance of Christ.

Bob Tosterud and wife Karen say the formula is all spelled out in Psalm 45.

"It's a Messianic Psalm referring to when Christ returns and his garments will have the scent of myrrh, aloe and cassia," says Karen Tosterud.

Wondering what that must smell like, Karen Tosterud ordered those oils, a combination that produces sort of a flowery, cinnamon aroma. Then she called on a friend who just happened to be a candle-maker.

"And in October, we got our first batch of 768 candles. We had no idea how it would go," Karen Tosterud says.

But once word got out they went through 10,000 candles.

"It's the only one on the market and everyone tells us it's very unique and nothing like it," says Karen Tosterud.

"We wanted people to be able to experience Christ in new ways and to be able to read a bible and have that scent and that candle as a reminder that he is with us all the time."

"You can't see him and you can't touch him," says Bob Tosterud. "This is a situation where you may be able to sense him by smelling. And it provides a really new dimension to one's experience with Jesus."

I guess I missed that part in the Bible that encourages people to profit on the faith of others.

(Via Bifurcated Rivets)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Techie Tuesday: Instant Building

Shelter Skelter Posted by Hello

With all the disasters in the world, medical services and refugee camps are in dire need of quickly built shelters. Well here s an idea whose time has come:
Need a Building? Just Add Water "Soon, there will be such a method. A pair of engineers in London have come up with a 'building in a bag' -- a sack of cement-impregnated fabric. To erect the structure, all you have to do is add water to the bag and inflate it with air. Twelve hours later the Nissen-shaped shelter is dried out and ready for use.

A pair of engineers in London have come up with a 'building in a bag' -- a sack of cement-impregnated fabric. To erect the structure, all you have to do is add water to the bag and inflate it with air. Twelve hours later the Nissen-shaped shelter is dried out and ready for use. This schematic shows how the Concrete Canvas shelter is delivered and constructed, just with the addition of air and water. The sterile structure can be set up by a single person in 40 minutes and be ready for use in 12 hours.

The structure is intended to improve upon two current methods of providing emergency shelter: tents, which provide only poor protection, or prefabricated, portable buildings that are expensive and difficult to transport. Dubbed the Concrete Canvas, the shelter incorporates the best aspects of both forms. It is almost as easy to transport as a tent, but is as durable and secure as a portable building."

(Via Boing Boing)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Two Years Too Much?

Before the blog, I wrote this piece two years ago for DU. I thought I'd bring it out to see how well it stood the test of time.
It's Not About Oil, It's About Fuel
March 14, 2003
By Scaramouche

Bush needs to secure the oil fields in Iraq to feed his war machine. Sure a lot of his cronies that tag along are going benefit enormously, one might be even tempted to say handsomely. If only the whole ruse were not so ugly.

A few weeks ago ABC Nightline had a piece on the cost of the war. There was a segment that broke down the cost: 11 cents per bullet fired, $6,000 for each tank round shot, $1 cool million per cruise missile launched, and $1,200 an hour to keep a fighter jet in the air

However the cost of munitions were minimal compare to the costs of the fuel for machines that measure miles by gallons and the overall expense in getting manpower and material to the military zone. Over 60% of the estimated $100 billion cost of the war in Iraq will go to pay for the petrochemicals that power the delivery and operations of the machines of war. It's like the postage exponentially exceeds the worth of the package.

Caesar and Napoleon both knew that an army marches on its stomach. The Romans engineered marvels and built roads to ensure their supply lines. The French revolutionary forces benefited from the recent discovery of canning food. Both those military machines enjoyed successes that were outstanding for their times, however by the 20th century technology demanded more than aqueducts and canned peas.

During World War II, Hitler set out to secure the oilfields in Romania as one of his first military objectives. He set Rommel loose in North Africa to gain control of the Suez Canal and then gain control of the oil fields in Persia, (read: the region that includes Iraq). On the Russian front the goal was to seize the wells in the Caucasus region near Stalingrad. Later during the Battle of the Bulge the Germans attempted to capture the fuel supplies of the Allies for their use, but Eisenhower ordered them set aflame, once again denying the German war machine its tank full of gas. In the end Hitler's Romanian oilfields were not enough to sustain his war effort.

We are very fortunate that these objectives were denied to Hitler. The lessons learned from that conflagration is your soldiers maybe starving and dying but with out oil they will lose.

Thus in Bushes vision of empire, in an effort to make Americans feel safe, to guarantee his re-election, and to combat terrorism he must first gain control over the means to fight an extensive and prolonged war.

Therefore we must invade Iraq at all costs. Alone even. Once America has its dominance over its own fueling depot then we can clean house in Korea, clock Columbia up side the head, sick our military might on the 60 or so countries known to support terrorists. All this without making Americans sacrifice for the war on mother terra. Probably the early White House planning session went like this, "Hey, how about starting with a country we get to disarm just before we invade? Once we show our true might there will be peace throughout the region; on top of that gas prices will go down and then stabilize. Consider the re-election possibilities!"

Now some would even call that plan bold! Maybe so, if you believe in fantasy....Unfortunately, the soon to be liberated Iraqis will see their country's resources vanishing to pay for war reparations. They will most likely be Enroned in the same manner as California was and left without the ability to rebuild their devastated country.

It is ironic that we are depleting the worlds most non-renewable resource at an accelerated rate over the control of the selfsame resource. Just remember that all war machines have a huge belly and a voracious appetite that must be filled. And this time is no different.

Ok Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Gettin' the Groove Back

I've been feeling poorly of late and had to step back from blogging. I even cut way down on reading blogs this last week. A lot of energy goes in to this place, but it's a labor of love; sometimes that energy needs to be used elsewhere.

So expect spurts of posting until I can get back to a regular schedule.

Anyhow, if you want to hear how our BARBARian Bash went head over and read what's posted on the BARBARIAN Blog.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Where There's Smoke There's Fire

Monday afternoon a fire broke out in the building where I live. Just as the alarms went off I smelt smoke so I knew this wasn't another test of the new alarm system. I went to check out where the smoke came from, when I saw this soot covered young man run into the hall and break the glass on a fire exstinguisher case. I grabbed one too and ran outside where a small van was engulfed in flames.

The van was in a carport under apartment. There was no putting out the fire with our few hand held extinguishers and the fire department was on its way. I went back to my place and grabbed the dog and my brother, hanging onto the cat, made it out too. Even though we live on the other side of the complex, we were evacuated. It was interesting to see what people chose to rescue from their homes. All the pet owners went after their pets. The musicians brought out their guitars or mixing boards. Only a few people decided to save their laptops.

Well, the power and gas were off for hours. So the other tenants and I naturally had a bar-b-que - a controlled burn. All in all, it was quite a bonding experience and all were grateful that no one got hurt.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Is This What Tort Reform is Really About?

That is the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this ad on Craigslist: Christian Physical Injury Attorney needed
Christian PI Attorney needed-

Personal Injury Attorney needed for trial-

Must be Christian with the obvious qualifications:
-Legally sound as well, intelligent, creative thinker, assertive and fair-
-Needs successful trial experience-
-To be available immediately for trial prep- and 4 day trial in about 6 weeks.

Simple case with a few kinks-

I was hit, I was injured, I’d like to be made whole again- I’m not greedy.

May even settle before trial.

Serious inquiries only-

All I can think of is WWJD? Maybe he would get a really good Jewish lawyer, or turn the cheek and settle....

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Another Damn BARBARian Feast

This Thursday, March 10th, 6-9pm, Bay Area Regional/Resident Bloggers And Readers are going to meet up in Oakland at the Pacific Coast Brewing

For more details go here to and check out the latest addition to the Blogus Mundis, or Bloggo Mondo for you Hep Cats!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

What a Crazy Week it's Been...

The blog took second place to real life due to job interviews and joining the Ebay economy (or, I should say, the Craigslist cash hunt). Which will come first, the job offer or the three-day notice? Stay tuned for updates...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Catch is Back

One of my favorite blogs, ,Catch has just returned from sabbatical and is Blogging Hardcore from New York City.

Check out this catch about a GOP tool proposing Laura Bush in '08 for President:
There are a few Republicans who may head the ticket after the President's second term in office ends. The President's brother, Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, is one likely candidate. But who would be a better candidate to run against Hilary Clinton than the wife of our current President, Laura Bush? With her charm, taste, and personality she is the perfect antidote to the poison of radical feminism and Democratic corruption.

Wouldn't that make for interesting politics--two First Ladies battling it out? In four years, Laura Bush can learn everything she needs to know about being President from her husband...(emphasis mine)

It's finds like that which makes you wanna' read that blog. Stop by and welcome them back!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Techie Tuesday: Bumper Dumper

Not for use around town... Posted by Hello

If you are into the latest accoutrements for your SUV then you gotta' have Uncle Booger's Bumper Dumper®
The only hitch mounted portable toilet patented to use any standard full size toilet seat.

It's the most comfortable,stable and sanitary porta potty in the world. Use it in the hitch receiver or as a stand alone unit. You can use a bag or a bucket .

All that for $59.95 - it will keep you out of the bushes and help to avoid the poison oak. So rush out and buy one before the next Burning Man or off-road trip. Toilet paper not included.

(Via Information Junk)