January 13, 2008 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Bush insists Iran biggest terror sponsor

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

16 minutes ago

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – President Bush gently nudged authoritarian Arab allies Sunday to satisfy frustrated desires for democracy in the Mideast and saved his harshest criticism for Iran, branding it “the world’s leading state-sponsor of terror.”

Speaking in this Persian Gulf country, about 150 miles from the shores of Iran, Bush said Tehran threatens nations everywhere and that the United States was “rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late.”

The warning about Iran was much tougher than Bush’s admonition about spreading democracy in the Middle East, which had been billed as the central theme of his speech.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective


Dick Dale and the Del-tones:  Nitro

Books I Will Never Read Again

(1) Books that promise to tell me “why the left is right and the right is wrong.”

I don’t need the help, thanks.  Anyone who does should not be reading this book — as it will surely result in me having to associate with Democrats who are Democrats for all the wrong reasons.  I want shallow conversations, I’ll talk to a Republican.

(2) Books of poetry written by songwriters.

If it wasn’t good enough for your last album, I’m not dropping 20 $ on it.  Keep it on stage, loser.

(3) Books with subtitles that begin with a misuse of the word “How”.

Some examples:

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

by Christopher Hitchens (Author)

Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve by Bernard Goldberg (Hardcover – April 17, 2007)

Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart by Patrick J. Buchanan (Hardcover – Nov 27, 2007)

There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew and Roy Abraham Varghese (Hardcover – Oct 23, 2007)

Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber (Paperback – Mar 10, 2008)

War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back by Lou Dobbs (Paperback – Sep 25, 2007)

The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America by Ronald Brownstein (Hardcover – Nov 1, 2007)

No, sorry, hack.  If you don’t, or rather your agent doesn’t, know the difference between “how” and either “that” or “why” (better yet, just to delete the first word altogether) you’re not getting my money.

(4) Collections of columns by columnists.

You writee book, I buyee book.  You no writee book, I no buyee book.

(5) Books written by stand-up comics.

Unless your name is Steve Martin, I’m not buying your book.  Chapter titles such as “The Battle of the Sexes: Toilet Seat Edition” do not make we want to stay up half the night, howling in laughter.  Keep it on stage, loser.  Better yet, keep it at home.

(6) Any book with an “Oprah’s Book Club” sticker on the cover.

If it looks like a good book, I’ll find a different copy.  The calories I waste tearing off that horrid symbol of Cultural Monotheism would be better spent changing the channel on my TV.

(7) Novelizations of movies.

Though I will consider sonnetizations of architecture or stream-of-consciousness-i-zations of reality TV.

(8) Any book by Nelson DeMille.  Period.

I made the mistake of being a passanger on a road trip with Wildfire playing on audiobook.  I want my soul back, you miserable hack.

(9) Crazy Wacky Romantic Adventures.

He’s a forensic tax accountant.  She’s a former trapeze artist.  Together they find adventure and romance and fun! in the ice caves of Antarctica.

(10) Fantasy Science Fiction.

Elves on Interstellar Frigates.  No.  No, really.  That’s fine.  Thanks.  But no.

Lord of the Blog

Behold Docudharmasvara*

(Click to enlarge)

Quintessential Climate Change: A Call For Action

“Climate” is a word with several definitions. From Answer.com, here’s the dictionary definition:

  1. The meteorological conditions, including temperature, precipitation, and wind, that characteristically prevail in a particular region.
  2. A region of the earth having particular meteorological conditions: lives in a cold climate.
  3. A prevailing condition or set of attitudes in human affairs: a climate of unrest.

For additional clarity (at risk of exceeding “fair use” restrictions), here’s the thesaurus listing:

  1. The totality of surrounding conditions and circumstances affecting growth or development: ambiance, atmosphere, environment, medium, milieu, mise en scène, surroundings, world.
  2. A prevailing quality, as of thought, behavior, or attitude: mood, spirit, temper, tone.

So, to truly address “climate change” in today’s world, should we not address both functional definitions — namely, not just the meteorological but also the social/political?

Is prejudice and discrimination wrong?

I’m going to use one example for this argument. Kids competing to get into college. But first, let me say a few general things.

It seems to me that (and my POV only):

1. Many of us talk about discrimination/prejudice in a way the precludes honest personal feelings filtering into the conversation. We prefer a more clinical and abstract approach, imo.

2. Many of us judge others to be wrong if they do discriminate or are prejudice and refuse to give them credibility for their feelings/behaviors. Some of us think this is about right/wrong but ethics evolve… people don’t own forced thinking/behavior. They need to evolve into it. In the larger sense, humans engage in objectifying others for what I can only imagine as their perception of survival.

3. Many of us think discrimination/prejudice is only one-way and

4. It’s okay for some of us to call human beings rethugs and wingnuts with as much venom as one can spew the word nigger

5. I’m gonna get hammered for this, but I’m tired of talking about this with gloves on. It’s gloves off

War Torn – part 1

The New York Times, Sunday 1-13-08, has an ‘Eye Opening’ Report, Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles with this one only being Part 1 !!

Blog Voices This Week 1/13/08

Anyone who has been closely watching the primaries over the last two weeks probably feels like you’ve been riding a roller-coaster. This time last week everyone was ready to anoint Obama as the next president and the media was full of misogynist platitudes about Clinton. Then came her emotional moment and win in the New Hampshire primary. And now the intersection of race and gender is causing no end of turmoil.

In the middle of all this, I thought it would be interesting to listen to those in our midst who live at that intersection of race and gender every day – women of color. When I visited some of their blogs, I found that a common theme was their reaction to an op-ed in the New York Times last Tuesday by Gloria Steinem titled Women Are Never Front-Runners. In order to set the stage, its probably best to click through and read the whole editorial. But I’ll provide a few of Steinem’s statements that were most commented on by the blogs that I visited. And then we’ll explore some of the reactions.

Is This A Victory?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is saying privately he now won’t attempt to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on the wiretapping of al Qaeda suspects. Instead, he’ll merely support another 18-month extension of the six-month-old Protect America Act. WSJ

Now I saw this news yesterday on Daily Kos and my search skilz are not such in the morning that I care to look it up and the Beltway Bozos are not back in session ’til next week so no big deal says I thinking there plenty of time to muster up some outrage.

What I saw this morning on Atrios linking Open Left made me spew my coffee (which I haven’t even had yet).

If you can’t tell I think this no victory.  The Protect America Act was a horrible capitulation of Congress and a stain and a blot on the Constitution.  Any extension at all is unacceptable.  Six months ago it was a bad idea.  IT STILL IS!

The fact that Harry has found some spine on a clear corporate giveaway after the revelations that unlimited spying on citizens without warrants was willing acceded to by the Telecoms BEFORE 9/11 AND those greedy bastards were willing to sell out our supposed National Security interests because we were late with the bribe check…


Memories, Class Anxiety, and Shuffling Toward Oblivion

I think my own notions of class might be a bit too quaint. I think about my grandparents. Granddad with a grade eight education, worked at a steel mill when things like that actually existed in North America. Grandma worked part time on the weekends at a dry cleaners operating one of those giant presses. They owned a small home. They took modest vacations camping all across Canada and the United States. They believed in “saving for a rainy day”. My grandpa, like most men in his neighborhood could build and fix things. My uncle Floyd was a printing press operator who made a bit of extra money on the side fixing cars in his neighborhood. My mother went to nursing school at age seventeen because girls became teachers, nurses, or secretaries. Although she later went to university as an adult, it never occurred to my grandparents to send her even though she had straight As. There was a rather well off side of the family and the women from that part became teachers. It was considered respectable to do that.

Then I think of my own early childhood. We were probably considered middle class because my mother was in a union and while they did go on strike, she was never laid off. My grandparetns had to consider layoffs in their houshold budget. My parents separated and my mother got a job as a nursing instructor. She made exactly enough money to qualify for a mortgage and borrowed the down payment off my grandparents. Despite the fact that my mother was an is skillful at handling money, it generally ran low at the end of the month and we ate vegetarian. Most of the men on my street worked in factories, I lived in a GM town and working there was a commonly expressed aspiration. When I was eighteen one of my childhood friends got on with GM and we thought she had won the lottery. She did to.

The men on my street generally worked in factories although there was a teacher, a few firemen, and a cop. If you raised to much hell, Art, the cop might talk to your parents. His boys, one of whom was my age, were expected to be nice to the young kids and even the girls and include them in games. They might have resented it but they reluctantly included me street hockey, helped me learn how to skate at the local arena, and beat the shit out of a boy from another neighborhood when my nose got bloodied. When I took power skating, a big guy from out of the neighborhood who knew Art’s boys, took up for me when the guys in my class accidental knocked me over about a hundred times. He skated over and asked what the problem was. Naturally, I said there was none. He was sixteen, I was ten, I had no freaking clue who he was. The next week he was there at the rink, teen aged boys hung out there even when they weren’t playing hockey. He showed me how to tie my skates a different way to compensate for my weak ankles and introduced himself. Nobody knocked me on my ass at power skating although they still told me I couldn’t skate worth shit.

It wasn’t all nostalgic tribalistic bonding. Until other couples got divorced on our street, my mom and I were outsiders. The women considered her a threat, the men thought she was uppity. I routinely got into fights at school because I “did not have a dad” and spent an inordinate amount of time at the principals office. I was small, I lost most of the fights. My clothes weren’t stylish and my mother could not volunteer as a parent chaperon on school field trips. There was a limited amount of social tolerance for anybody who was perceived to be different. If you were different you were expected not to draw attention to yourself and inhale a certain amount of harassment or exclusion at recess. Teachers did not intervene unless blood was spilled. My school went from K to 8, it was big by the standards of those days:700 kids by the time I left. Older kids used drugs there on the weekends and dropped the occasional needle. A chapter of a well known motorcycle gang had a house within walking distance of my street. Everybody knew where it was. Nobody got very nosy. My mother’s best friend was from India. When she and her husband came to visit, people in my neighborhood stood in the driveway and stared.

My mother went to graduate school secretly because you got a 500 dollar bonus at the community college. She was worried she would be seen as too ambitious by her boss and get assigned extra work so she did not tell anybody. She just wanted the money.

The United States was considered rather exotic. They were hip.

World to US – “Don’t elect another idiot, please…”

Well, that isn’t exactly the headline, but it may as well have been.

In a WaPo article from today outlining the increased world opinion about and interest in the Presidential primaries and our upcoming election, the general feeling around those terrorist loving, freedom hating countries in the Middle East, er, Europe, Africa and South America is that hopefully us Americans can elect someone this November that isn’t out of touch with the rest of the world on, well, just about everything, actually.


The next time I see a Repug attack dog on Faux Noise or on the MSM tagging a Democratic candidate as Liberal, Liberal, Liberal, I want to see MY candidate aggressively attack back.

“That’s right I AM A LIBERAL!

  • Conservatives believe it’s perfectly ok for the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer!
  • Conservatives don’t care that the middle class in America is shrinking!
  • Conservatives want to give the Richest 1% Tax Cuts while our military struggles to buy more up armored humvees!
  • Conservatives want to privatize social security instead of raising the withholding cap for people who earn more than 100 Grand a year!
  • Conservatives don’t care that the deficit has doubled under their watch!
  • Conservatives want Paris Hilton not to pay any taxes on the money she earns from her parents death!
  • Conservatives don’t want evolution taught in public schools!
  • Conservatives don’t want stem cell research done on frozen embryos, even if they are going to be thrown out anyway!
  • Conservatives don’t want teenagers to know about or to have access to birth control!
  • Conservatives are offended when they hear a phone message giving them an option for a second language!
  • Conservatives are afraid their kids will become gay if gay marriage becomes legal and accepted!
  • Conservatives believe water boarding isn’t torture as long as they’re not on the receiving end!
  • Conservatives believe we should occupy Iraq indefinitely!
  • Conservatives believe we should ‘stay on offense’ on the so called war on terror, and that we should threaten to invade or nuke any country whose leaders don’t like us!
  • Conservatives believe we can just kill everyone who hates us!
  • Conservatives believe anyone who thinks President Bush is an idiot, hates America!

That’s right, you nailed me!  I AM A LIBERAL!”

It makes me nuts that our candidates are afraid of the L word.  Especially since the Conservatives have been such screw ups.  All we have to do is point out their record.  When they try to duck it and shift blame we need to hit them with “I thought your party was supposed to be the party of personal responsibility, take some!”

I know I’m just fantasizing but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a candidate that would actually fight?  Their candidates are falling all over each other to claim they are more Conservative than the other.  While our candidates and the MSM think being labeled a Liberal is bad?

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