Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The importance of being agnostic

James Cameron must be smiling ear to ear.

Ever since his recent press conference discussing his upcoming Discovery channel documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus where the filmakers claim to have possibly found the tombs of, among others, Jesus, his mother Mary, and (shades of The DaVinci Code), his wife Mary Magdalene, and son Judah, the story has been raging like a tidal wave across the blogosphere as well as the MSM.

My favorite quote so far is an epic of understatement from the Christian Science Monitor:

If the evidence proved convincing, it would represent a challenge to the New Testament and the foundations of Christianity.

Ya think?

And while this tempest in a tomb provides welcome relief from breathless stories about Anna's body and Britney's pate I must wonder whether the upcoming and ongoing firestorm (a Google search of Cameron + Jesus garnered over 2 million responses) should truly matter to people of faith.

My understanding of faith is that it requires one to act without the emollient of objective truth. (And, in fact, it's this requirement that keeps me happily agnostic.)

Therefore, regardless of the scientific arguments on either side of the accuracy of the documentary's claims, shouldn't all those arguments be irrelevent to true believers?

I strongly suspect that many will not see it so.

For those who feel this claim threatens their beliefs I have to ask, does that say more about the documentary, or does it say more about your faith?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Well, after that suicide bomber, he had to find solace somewhere

In newspaper layout, as in real estate, location is everything.

(I have to admit, I also found it amusing to type in "Dick Cheney" and "Sodomy" as this article's tags)

[H/t Americablog]

Iraq war victim: Ahghanistan

Only infrequently cited as a major victim of BushCorp™'s disasterous Iraqi misadventure, our failure to secure Afghanistan is once again attempting to break into the public consciousness.

For resurgent Democrats, decrying Afghanistan as a job undone represents a way to express their willingness to fight a just war, while simultaneously expressing their dismay over the calamity in Iraq, an issue John Kerry tried, unsuccesfully, to focus on in 2004.

But with congressional Democrats feeling their oats after the 2006 elections and with Democratic candidates on the trail stumping daily, the much overlooked locale of what BushCorp™ sees as the jewel of its foreign policy is finally being recognized as the cheap glass bauble it really is.

So one hopes that today's attempt by a suicide bomber to reach visiting veep Darth Cheney at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul might be enough to pierce BushCorp™'s titanium bubble.

Though I suspect it will do little to effect the misallocation of resources that is our occupation of Iraq

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar thoughts

Blogging to you from the greater Los Angeles area, your CaliBlogger is obligated to post his thoughts on the Oscars, so here they are, in no particular order.

Scorsese should have a trunkload of Oscars, and the fact that The Departed is not his best work is beside the point.

And by the way, when he joined the group of Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, and later Nicholson, the entire center of gravity here in LA shifted to the sidestage of the Kodak theater. So many heavyweights in so small a space ran the risk of coalescing under its own gravity like some kind of cinematic black hole.

I love Pilobolus Dance Company and their silhouette images were clever, but every time they did one (after the first) the show, clunky to begin with, came to a grinding halt.

Ditto Ellen DeGeneres' set pieces, though they did show how darned cute and funny she is. Hint for next time, before trying impromptu banter with an actor at the Oscars, be sure to give them a script first, or a least warn them, Mark Wahlberg and Scorsese looked like deer in headlights, though Eastwood and Spielberg were a tiny bit better.

The band playing off Al Gore after his bit with Leo DiCaprio was a nice self-mocking touch (for both Gore and the Academy). Am I the only one wondering, though, just how does one make an awards ceremony "green"?

Least surprising moment: An Inconvenient Truth wins for best feature length documentary.

Most surprising moment: Melissa Etheridge wins best song over the Dreamgirls juggernaut, (though frankly Mrs. CaliBlogger agrees with James Wolcott).

Talk about coattails.

And one final thought, quoting Mr. Wolcott:

The most dispiriting thing about the Oscars so far is how good everybody looks. There's no hope for the rest of us. No one we can point to and say, Hey, he's in worse shape than I am. (Or she.) We might as well cancel our next facial and forget about every follicle of our hair glowing like a Van Gogh wheat field or polished mahagony.

Or, more succinctly, damn but these are good looking people!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bill Richardson: a clear vision on Iran

[x-posted at Daily Kos]

If the United States chose its presidents based on resumé alone, Bill Richardson would be the clear front-runner for 2008.

But Richardson, who is notably lacking in Obama's charisma, Hillary's name recognition and organization, or even Edward's boyish charm, is currently firmly ensconced in the dwindling (farewell Tom Vilsack, we hardly knew ye) second tier of potential Democratic nominees.

But regardless of his poll standings, I have no doubt that the New Mexican Governor, former UN ambassador, and Energy Secretary (see, I told you he has a great resumé) would may an excellent president.

One reason I believe that is his clear vision of America's place in the world and what needs to be done to improve that place.

In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Richardson outlines his vision for dealing with an international crisis that, should it follow the trajectory which BushCorp™ seems to have mapped out for it, would indeed make the debacle in Iraq appear the mere comma W says it is:

The recent tentative agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program illustrates how diplomacy can work even with the most unsavory of regimes. Unfortunately, it took the Bush administration more than six years to commit to diplomacy. During that needless delay North Korea developed and tested nuclear weapons -- weapons its leaders still have not agreed to dismantle. Had we engaged the North Koreans earlier, instead of calling them "evil" and talking about "regime change," we might have prevented them from going nuclear. We could have, and should have, negotiated a better agreement, and sooner.

As the International Atomic Energy Agency just confirmed, Iran has once again defied the international community and is moving forward with its nuclear program, yet the Bush administration seems committed to repeating the mistakes it made with North Korea. Rather than directly engaging the Iranians about their nuclear program, President Bush refuses to talk, except to make threats. He has moved ships to the Persian Gulf region and claims, with scant evidence, that Iran is helping Iraqi insurgents kill Americans. This is not a strategy for peace. It is a strategy for war -- a war that Congress has not authorized. Most of our allies, and most Americans, don't believe this president, who has repeatedly cried wolf.

And while BushCorp™ continues to rely on its belief that diplomacy amounts it the issuance of threats and ultimata, Richardson proposes an approach to the issue that relies more on neurons than testosterone:

A better approach would be for the United States to engage directly with the Iranians and to lead a global diplomatic offensive to prevent them from building nuclear weapons. We need tough, direct negotiations, not just with Iran but also with our allies, especially Russia, to get them to support us in presenting Iran with credible carrots and sticks.

No nation has ever been forced to renounce nuclear weapons, but many have chosen to do so. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than if they don't. This feat will take more than threats and insults. It will take skillful American diplomatic leadership. [Emphasis mine]

The article should be read in whole, but my point is that, whatever is lacking in candidate Richardson (and I'm not endorsing ANYONE at this point), he would none-the-less, be a vast improvement over the current administration, and is certainly worthy of consideration for the Democratic nomination.

As a commenter on the WaPo article puts it:

What a breath of fresh air. Finally, some level-headed, discerning experience talking. Exactly what this country has needed for the past six years. Not the deceit and recklessness of the dangerous boy scouts running the country who are happy to use our kids for their wars. Thanks, Governor. Such sanity shines through the clouds of war of these dark, tragic days.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Clinton/Obama dust-up: donors beware

It's not about Obama.

It's not even really about David Geffen's snarky, though some would say accurate analysis of Clinton's situation.

The key point is, and I've said this before, it's about the money. Specifically the millions of dollars the candidates will have to raise to run. And it's an especially intense subject now because Democrats are to a large extent drawing from the same pool of potential donors.

No Democrat is worried about losing David Geffen's support to, say, Sam Brownback.

And so, like all intra-familial altercations, the infighting can get particularly nasty and mean-spirited.

And in a way the latest beouhaha has almost nothing to do with the Obama campaign. The real message is aimed at potential Democratic donors. The Clinton camp has made it eminently clear that they're not about to cut donors any slack, you're either with HRC or against her.

So beyond all the sniping, the point is this, if you're a Democratic donor who gives to someone besides HRC, be prepared to be attacked.

The real question is: how will Democratic donors react to HRC's strong-arm tactics?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Power of the press

Rarely is the media's power to expose a need and pressure responsible parties to address that need more clearly evident than the Washington Post's recent investigative series examining the deplorable conditions faced by many wounded vets at Walter Reed's now infamous Building 18.

(Links to all related articles here.)

The Post's reports were widely circulated in other national media as well as by many in the blogosphere, including your CaliBlogger.

And while we've yet to see whether the declarations to remedy this deplorable situation will come to fruition, still sincere congratulations are due the Post, as well as lead reporters Anne Hull and Dana Priest who broke the story after a 4 month long investigation.

Truly, great work folks.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why no Iraqi refugees in Iran?

Are you the sort of person who's occasionally driven crazy by nagging questions? And I'm not talking about earth shattering questions like why is there air, but things like, yeah you remember, that guy, you know, the one that was in that movie with the thing? What's his name?

That sort of question.

Me too.

So one of the things I love most about the web is the ability to get immediate answers to almost any questions one can dream up.

And even if you can't find the answer already published, thanks to blogs you can usually find someone who not only knows the answer, but is interested enough in their subject to be happy to respond to your interest.

I've said before, and I'll say again that Juan Cole's Informed Consent website is a must stop on the information superhighway for unfiltered news on the middle east.

So when I had a question about some recent coverage about the Iraqi refugee situation Professor Cole was the first person I thought of.

My email:

I have a question. I've recently read several reports on the increasingly dire Iraqi refugee situation. My question is this, why is Iran never mentioned in these stories? Are there no Iraqi refugees in Iran? Are statistics simply not available? If not (to either question) why not? Are Iraqi Arab Shi'a just not welcomed by their Persian brothers?

It just struck me as odd.

To my delight he was kind enough to respond:

Most of the refugees are from the roiled Sunni Arab areas, and Sunnis don't go to Iran. Arab Shiites prefer Syria, as well, an Arabic speaking country that is now open to them.

There were 400,000 Iraqi Shiites in Iran under Saddam, but they have mostly come back. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

cheers Juan

Thanks Prof. Cole

Dontcha just love the internets?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Lessons ignored: George Bush on George Washington

I realize that I should learn to let such things pass, but I somehow can't stop myself from taking note of W's latest effort to compare himself with one of America's greatest leaders, George Washington. From Bush's Presidents Day speech:

"On the field of battle, Washington's forces were facing a mighty empire, and the odds against them were overwhelming. The ragged Continental Army lost more battles than it won, suffered waves of desertions, and stood on the brink of disaster many times. Yet George Washington's calm hand and determination kept the cause of independence and the principles of our Declaration alive."

In other words Bush is implying that critics should back off and trust W's calm hand and determination.

Not surprisingly W fails to note the irony of the historical comparison to which he has just alluded:

On the field of battle, Washington's forces were facing a mighty empire, and the odds against them were overwhelming. The ragged Continental Army lost more battles than it won, suffered waves of desertions, and stood on the brink of disaster many times.

The British, the greatest military power of its day, lost to what amounted to (in their eyes) a ragtag bunch of farmers wielding hunting rifles, demonstrating the difficulty faced by a military power, however great, when fighting an enemy thousands of miles distant, on the enemies' own turf, where the enemy himself is indistinguishable from the general population.

No doubt King George III believed the American revolt would be over in six months as well.

Of course why I should expect a man who seems incapable of correctly interpreting his morning newspaper (or in W's case his morning PDB), why I should expect such a person to garner any lessons from history is beyond me.

And I realize that politicians the world over habitually compare themselves (favorably) with revered figures from the past.

Still, I find it irritating for George Washington's legacy to be maligned by comparison to that of the Worst. President. Ever.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

GOP donor faces terrorism charges

We interrupt the 24/7 coverage of Anna Nicole Smith (who is still dead) to bring you the following news: apparently crooked businessman and US National Republican Senate Inner Circle Member for Life faces terrorism charges because of a scheme to supply night vision goggles to a terrorist training camp in Aghanistan. From CBS News:

(CBS/AP) Terrorism charges brought Friday against the administrator of a loan investment program claimed that he secretly tried to send $152,000 to the Middle East to buy equipment such as night vision goggles for a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, 53, of Ardsley, N.Y., pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to an indictment accusing him of terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and other charges. The charges carried a potential penalty of 95 years in prison.


CBS News has confirmed that Alishtari is a donor to the Republican Party, as he claims on his curriculum vitae. Alishtari gave $15,500 to the National Republican Campaign Committee between 2002 and 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. That amount includes $13,000 in 2003, a year when he claims to have been named NRCC New York State Businessman of the Year.

Alishtari also claims to be a lifetime member of the National Republican Senate Committee's Inner Circle, which the NRCC describes as "an impressive cross-section of American society – community leaders, business executives, entrepreneurs, retirees, and sports and entertainment celebrities – all of whom hold a deep interest in our nation's prosperity and security." [Emphasis mine-CK]

Now, truly, in the money-grubbing atmosphere of today's electoral campaigns it's hardly surprising that political parties don't look too closely at who is giving them money (at least until they get indicted that is). And so it may be entirely co-incidental that someone with pro-terrorist sympathies chose to give to the GOP.

On the other hand, given that GOPers were at the time supporting BushCorp™'s efforts to divert money, troops, and attention from the GWOT to indulge his testosterone struggle with Saddam, perhaps Mr. Alishtari felt that by supporting the GOP he was helping his terrorist friends.

Certainly al Qaeda couldn't ask for a better recruiting tool than Bush's Iraqi escapade.

I suppose Mr. Alishtari, good GOPer that he is, was getting the most bang for his buck.

[Note: all implications in the above regarding Mr. Alishtari's guilt or innocence should be presumed to be proceeded by the word "alledged" - CK]

Supporting the troops: travesty at Walter Reed

Vermin, bureaucracy, pain, and a haze of brain injuries, drugs and alcohol.

It might sound like something from Hunter S. Thompson's worst ether induced nightmares, but instead is business as usual at Walter Reed, the vaunted army medical facility.

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Washington Post expose, by Dana Priest and Anne Hull, needs to be read in full to appreciate the shameful conditions faced by soldiers wounded in Bush's quagmire of the vanities so I won't quote it extensively here.

But one paragraph struck my eye:

Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, commander at Walter Reed, said in an interview last week that a major reason outpatients stay so long, a change from the days when injured soldiers were discharged as quickly as possible, is that the Army wants to be able to hang on to as many soldiers as it can, "because this is the first time this country has fought a war for so long with an all-volunteer force since the Revolution."

And now the hospital is gearing up to receive even more wounded due to Bush's desparate escalation.

Words fail me.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nothing to talk about?

The Bush administration continues to refuse to talk with regimes like Syria and Iran because they don't want to "reward" them for bad behavior. Until they meet our demands, in Iran's case a cessation of nuclear activity (I'm not quite clear what demands we're making of Syria) then we have nothing to say to them.

This stance is, of course, non-sensical. Talking with your enemies has a long and proud tradition of easing the myriad tensions to which this world is heir. Witness the cold war, and, most recently, the nuclear disarmament agreement with North Korea. During WWII we were allied with Josef frigging Stalin fer cryin' out loud.

And what could we talk about with Iran?

Well, how about this:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Clashes broke out between police and an armed group following a bomb explosion in southeast Iran on Friday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.


Responsibility for that attack was claimed by a shadowy Sunni group, Jundallah (God's soldiers), which Iran has said is linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Tehran has blamed Jundallah for past killings in the area bordering Pakistan. [Emphasis mine-CK]

Golly, Iran is being plagued by a Sunni group linked to al Qaeda, who, you might vaguely remember, was the group actually responsible for the 9/11 attacks?

Sounds like a case for common interest there.

And that is just one example.

The reality, however, is that despite any number of areas where the US and Iran might find common ground (the Iraqi refugee situation and Iran's aging oil infrastructure come immediately to mind) BushCorp™ is instead focused on picking a fight.

And to clear, I'm not proposing that we ignore the dangers inherent from Iran's autocratic theocracy, what I'm saying is that instead of relying exclusively on sabre-rattling, we should at least talk about things were we share common interest.

Eliminating al Qaeda strikes me as something we should talk about, even with Iran.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More positive signs for NK Nuke deal

Is the North Korean Nuclear Disarmament deal a positive step towards world peace and rational US foreign policy?

Your CaliBlogger is pleased to provide you with the best evidence that it is: the neo-cons hate it.

The White House yesterday found itself fending off a conservative revolt over the North Korea nuclear deal, even scrambling to mollify one of its own top officials who expressed sharp disagreement with a provision that could spring Pyongyang from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Surely anything reviled by the folks who gamed us into the disaster in Iraq, and are so urgently trying to do the same with Iran can't be all bad.

But what I find particularly revealing is the nature of their criticism.

John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the agreement -- in which North Korea would freeze its main nuclear facility in exchange for an initial supply of fuel oil -- "a bad deal" that violated principles that were closely held in the beginning of the Bush administration. [Emphasis mine-CK]

Of course I might argue that the agreement is likely a good deal BECAUSE it violates the same Bush admin principles which entangled us in Iraq and are propelling us into violent confrontation with Iran. Like I said, if John (the Walrus) Bolten hates it, it can't be all bad.

And the National Review, a conservative bastion, yesterday slammed the agreement as essentially the same one negotiated by President Bill Clinton in 1994 -- a charge the Bush administration rejects. [Emphasis mine-CK]

I, of course, would point out that those agreements were working reasonably well until BushCorp™ adopted its "closely held" principles of confrontation and swagger in 2001.

Current and former Bush officials said they fear that after six years they are losing control of foreign policy to more pragmatic forces. The shift, they said, has become especially apparent with the departure of Donald H. Rumsfeld, who as defense secretary was often seen as a counterweight to State.

More specifically, conservatives said, they worry that the administration's willingness to bend on North Korea does not bode well for hard-line policies toward Iran, the Palestinians or other issues. Indeed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday called on the United States to demonstrate "the same flexibility, a sensible flexibility" toward Iran's nuclear program. [Emphasis mine-CK]

The neo-cons fear they are losing control of BushCorp™ foreign policy?

Let us pray that the assesment of their own decline is better than any of the predictions they've made about US foreign policy.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the neo-cons were indeed in their last throes?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What would Lincoln do?

As the person who led the US through its most dangerous conflict, perhaps we should heed his insights. Andrew Sullivan cites this letter written by Abraham Lincoln on the wisdom of giving the President authority to wage preventative war:

"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, — 'I see no probability of the British invading us;' but he will say to you, 'Be silent: I see it, if you don't."

That's probably too long a paragraph for Incurious George to read, perhaps some one could give him a summary?

[h/t to Howard Kurtz]

More good news: US NOT worst for child welfare

We're just the second worst.

The U.K. and the U.S. are the worst places for children's quality of life and the Netherlands and Sweden are the best, according to a report on 21 industrialized countries by the United Nations Children's Fund.


The U.S. ranks last in health and safety, with the highest rates of relative child poverty and teenage obesity, according to the report. Only 60 percent of U.S. children live with both parents, compared with 90 percent in Greece, the report said.

Shameful doesn't begin to express how outrageous this is.

And, by the way, if you read some news accounts, you'd never even know where the US ranked.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

North Korea to nix nukes

Good international news? During the Bush administration? Wow.

And even though I fully expect any number of setbacks alongthe way I'm having trouble seeing todays news about today's nuclear disarmament agreement with Noth Korea as anything but a good thing.

BEIJING, Feb. 13 -- In a landmark international accord, North Korea promised Tuesday to close down and seal its main nuclear reactor within 60 days in return for 50,000 tons of fuel oil as a first step in abandoning all nuclear weapons and research programs.

North Korea also reaffirmed a commitment to disable the reactor in an undefined next phase of denuclearization and to discuss with the United States and other nations its plutonium fuel reserves and other nuclear programs that "would be abandoned" as part of the process. In return for taking those further steps, the accord said, North Korea would receive additional "economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil."

The pledges -- in an agreement reached here by North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States -- marked North Korea's first concrete commitment to carry out an agreement in principle, dating from September 2005, to relinquish its entire nuclear program. In the view of U.S. and allied diplomats, they also amounted to a down-payment on establishment of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and a new set of relations among the countries of Northeast Asia.

And while a nuke-free Korea is a good thing in itself, what strikes me as more important is how this agreement was acheived: diplomacy.

North Korea is the only member of the "axis-of-evil" with whom the US has conducted actual negotiations.

North Korea is also the only member of the dread "axis" with whom war, or really any US military intervention was unlikely. In fact the US has actually REDUCED its troop strength along the de-militarized zone on the North/South Korean border.

And I suspect military action was never seriously contemplated, even by Darth Cheney. Not with our rich uncle China (the one who's loaned us all those billions of dollars) just across the border from Pyonyang.

And North Korea is the only one we've had any real success. Co-incidence?

I don't think so.

The real question is whether BushCorp™ is capable of learning from its only success in the last 6 years.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Obama makes it official

I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

So yes, as much as I deny it to myself, my friends, and my family I finally have to face the facts: it's February, 2007, and I'm addicted to writing about elections that won't occur for another 20 months.

I came to this realization as I started to write this post about Sen. Barack Obama's formally announcement of his candidacy when I noticed I'd already written about the 2008 elections seven times.

And that's all while denying that I was interested.

Well so much for that.

And perhaps I'm just bargaining here, but it seems to me that I have a few valid excuses for my inability to be reasonable and forswear all election discussion for at least another six months.

Now I could talk about the historic possiblities of having the nation's first black, or female president, about the fact that the veep (maybe there is a God) isn't running, making the field wide open, or the fact that Republican mis-management has made prospects for an actually progressive Democratic government better than it has been for years.

But really, after entire minutes of introspection, I've realized what is really driving my interest in 2008.

I'm sick to death of George W. Bush, and scared to death of what a further mess Shrub (© Molly Ivins) will make of the country in the next two years.

Will he continue to exacerbate the divide between rich and poor? Will he continue to obfuscate the reality of global warming, and indeed every other important scientific initiative with his unique combination of ideology, ignorance, and incompetence?

Will he engage us in a conflict with Iran that will be so disastrous as to make the current disaster in Iraq look indeed like the "comma" he claims it to be?

And so perhaps I'm engaging in a bit of magical thinking by focusing on 2008, but can you really blame me?

It really can't come too soon.

Oh, yeah.

And by the way Barack Obama officially launched his campaign for President today from the steps of the Old Capitol Building in Springfield Illinois, the site of Abraham Lincoln's famous "house divided" speech.

Seems like a nice place to start.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Marketing terms explained

As a follow up to my post on humor from areas that aren't typically funny, and a nod to my day job I humor (not original, just something I got in my email):

Explanation Of Marketing...

The buzz word in today's business world is MARKETING.
However, people often ask for a simple explanation of
"Marketing." Well, here it is:

1. You're a woman and you see a handsome guy at a party.
You go up to him and say, "I'm fantastic in bed."
That's Direct Marketing

2. You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a
handsome guy. One of your friends goes up to him and,
pointing at you, says, "She's fantastic in bed."
That's Advertising.

3. You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him
and get his telephone number. The next day you call and
say, "Hi, I'm fantastic in bed."
That's Telemarketing.

4. You see a guy at a party; you straighten your dress.
You walk up to him and pour him a drink. You say,
"May I?" and reach up to straighten his tie, brushing
your breast lightly against his arm,and then say,
"By the way, I'm fantastic in bed."
That's Public Relations.

5. You're at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks
up to you and says, "I hear you're fantastic in bed."
That's Brand Recognition.

6. You're at a party and see a handsome guy. He fancies
you, but you talk him into going home with your friend.
That's a Sales Rep.

7. Your friend can't satisfy him so he calls you.
That's Tech Support.

8. You're on your way to a party when you realize that
there could be handsome men in all these houses you're
passing, so you climb onto the roof of one situated
towards the center and shout at the top of your lungs,
"I'm fantastic in bed!"
That's Junk Mail.

And my addition:

9. You've been invited to a party where you know there'll be a handsome man, so you start a rumor that you know he'll hear about that the rest of the women attending the party have a particularly nasty infectious disease.

That's Rovian marketing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

And then we'll all get ponies

This Washington Post headline kinda says it all:

Doubts Run Deep on Reforms Crucial to Bush's Iraq Strategy: Even Plan's Authors Say Political, Economic Changes May Fail

Stop me if you've heard this before.

The Bush administration is embarking on a course of action based on unrealistic and unlikely assumptions, all the while leaving no "plan B" should the plan, for which failure is the most likely outcome, fail.

Oh yeah, that's it, the entire Iraqi debacle.

To review.

  • -Non-existent WMD
  • -Being greeted as liberators
  • -Insurgency in its "last throes"

Not to mention all those countless "turning points".

It's truly remarkable that, despite a non-stop string of failures, the administration still maintains as its main underlying principle an unwavering certainty of its beliefs.

We don't have an administration, we have an administration fantasy league peopled by folks who've bought their way into government but think they're ready for the World Series.

But that's business as usual at BushCorp™.

Here's a thought I found particularly troubling, see if you can spot the problem (from the same story):

The foundation of the strategy is not new -- U.S. policy since the March 2003 invasion has been to use American military might, money and know-how to foster a peaceful Iraq with a unified government and a solid economy.


As they put the plan together, [US] officials held heated internal debates over whether Maliki was the right man to head such an effort. Some argued in favor of engineering a new Iraqi government under Maliki's Shiite coalition partner, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and Hakim's political stalking horse, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi. [Emphasis mine-CK]

Catch that?

The main goal is to set up a credible unified government.

To accomplish that goal the US in considering whether to topple the current democratically elected government.

And even if we don't topple the current government it will only be because Maliki has caved to US interests.

In other words the US is planning on undermining the Iraqi government in order to legitimize it in the eyes of the Iraqi people.

Nope, no problem there.

And after that does everyone get a pony?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Worst. President. Ever.

And in today's edition of Worst. President. Ever. we give warming.

On Wednesday we get confirmation of something we've suspected for a long time, that BushCorp™ manipulates scientific data (by means of political oversight of science organizations) in order to further its nefarious pro-corporate agenda.

More than 120 scientists across seven federal agencies say they have been pressured to remove references to "climate change" and "global warming" from a range of documents, including press releases and communications with Congress. Roughly the same number say appointees altered the meaning of scientific findings on climate contained in communications related to their research.

These findings, part of a new report compiled by two watchdog groups, shed new light on complaints by a scattering of scientists over the past year who have publicly complained that Bush administration appointees have tried to mute or muzzle what researchers have to say about global warming.

And today we get a harrowing view of the potential effects of the global warming BushCorp™ has spent so much effort denying:

By 2100, retired snowbirds will be joined by "sun birds" – who flee north to escape oppressively hot, humid summers not just in Miami, but Milwaukee as well. In the US West, deep mountain snows – currently a key natural reservoir for fresh water – will virtually vanish. And while the growing season will expand by about a month, urban gardeners will spend more time indoors as higher temperatures help boost smog at ground level.

Welcome to a world where the climate is, on average, 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than today.

That projection – more specific than any previous one – is just one element expected to emerge this week as some 500 scientists from around the world gather to put the finishing touches on a major report on the Earth's climate and what the future may hold for it as humans continue to pump heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

It's common wisdom that Bush's Iraqi nightmare will be his lingering historical legacy.

But it's possible that his worse crime won't be the deaths of 100s of thousands of humans (yes, I include Iraqi deaths as worth consideration), but will instead be the willful ignorance and greed that may ultimately lead to the deaths of millions.

And yes, I know, Incurious George has plenty of company in ignorance and denial, but given the magnitude of the potential devastation I can not believe he will be spared.

And the thought occurs to me that perhaps the title of Worst. President. Ever. is insufficient to express W's palce in history.

Compare him, for example, to another famed tyrant.

But while Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Shrub* twiddles his fingers while the world burns.

*RIP Molly Ivins, we sorely miss you.

Linguistic humor alert

From NewMexiKen:

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. “In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

[H/t to Shakespeare's Sister]