Wednesday, April 30, 2008

KGO TV News calls Democrats liars

LeeJ and almost choked on our lasagna while we were watching the local news on KGO San Francisco channel 7. The subject was the ads that the DNC has been running about John McCain. Political reporter Mark Matthews called the ads "misleading." The first ad he referred to, the "100 years" ad, he played part of the ad and said it took McCain's words out of context. He then played more of the clip used where McCain compared Iraq to South Korea and Germany, along with the line about staying "as long as no troops are hurt or killed." Everybody here is familiar with the speciousness of those remarks but Matthews said nothing further.

The second ad referred to was the one where McCain listed the reasons why we're better off than we were since Bush took office. Matthews said this was an "old" clip taken from 2006. No mention of the fact that McCain was as wrong then as he is now. He then accused the Democrats of fudging the numbers, specifically the increase in the price of gas, which went down after 9-11 because nobody was driving. He also said that Bush increased jobs over his term without mentioning that the increase has not kept up with the increase in population.

LeeJ is still purple over this and sent a nasty email to them. The media bias against the Democrats is not limited to Fox and CNN. Even the local media will call the Democrats liars on the flimsiest of premises while ignoring the campaign of misinformation the Republicans have unloaded on us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A tale of two pastors

Obama's former minister seems to have OD'd on publicity lately which forced Obama to turn his back on him. Of course the media loves this and has kept it percolating on the front burner for weeks. Now if you ask them about McCain's groveling for John Hagee's endorsement all you'll hear are crickets. This is what we're facing. Obama never asked for Wright's endorsement, and made clear that he didn't agree with a lot of what Wright said. But to our courageous media, that's not enough. What would convince them? Should Obama challenge Wright to a fistfight? Throw a brick through his window?

Hagee said New Orleans deserved Katrina and calls for us to nuke Iran. If Obama is to be shackled with everything Wright says, why isn't that same standard applied to McCain?

You said it, not me

The Republican National Committee is honking and beeping about this ad the Democrats are running in North Carolina. The RNC claims the DNC is spreading false information and misleading the public.

Huh? How can they mislead the public? McCain does all the talking. Republicans keep claiming that McCain never said he wanted to be in Iraq a hundred years. Well, here it is.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I love prog

And anybody who doesn't like it can kiss my ass. We may be in the waning days of the republic, but tonight there's a balmy breeze wafting through the windows, I have a cold beer and I'm rockin' some classic Camel that I inherited from the late Alan Stewart. Say what you will about prog, but it has held up well over time and it has more influence over subsequent music than anybody will admit.

Still think we're free?

Today the Supreme Court reminded us (again) why putting a Democrat in the White House is important. They ruled today that Indiana could require voters to show photo ID to vote. This may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but it has a ripple effect. Several states have been watching this and now they have the green light.

The problem with this is that many voters do not have photo ID and would have difficulty getting it. That includes elderly people who have moved recently, poor people, students and people who have religious objections to have their picture taken. The biggest groups are students and poor people who tend to vote Democrat. Hmm. Sho' nuff, this case is Republican-driven. The Indiana Secretary of State said, "this says to the voter you can have confidence again in elections because we're doing some of the things the guy at the video store does when you go and rent a video." Sure. People shoplift videos all the time. How many votes have been stolen like this?

None. Zilch, zip, zero. Justice Stevens himself admitted, "The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occuring in Indiana at any time in its history." He had to go back 140 years to Boss Tweed in New York to find a case. This is part of the Republican "voter fraud" offensive that Alberto Gonzales put into place. Voter fraud is a myth. It doesn't happen. Voter disenfranchisement will now happen much more often.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Boy am I beat. I spent all weekend and most of my evenings last week digging up part of my backyard. My backyard is mostly shade, but there's a patch of grass that gets a fair amount of sun. With the crappy soil this patch immediately bakes and the sparse grass that's on it turns brown. I don't want to us the amount of water it would take to keep it green so I'm building a vegetable garden. I had grandiose plans for raised beds but I crashed into the fact that I don't want to spend the time on anything involving carpentry right now. Maybe later. Anyway I decided that I would take out six inches of soil in the bed areas and replace that with compost. Well, digging out half a foot of this soil when it has set for the summer is just a rung below breaking asphalt.

In addition, anthough the weather during the week was great for yard work- partly cloudy, lower 60's, it shot up into the mid eighties for the weekend. Took a big bite out of the Pellegrino stash. Right now, everything hurts but the worst is over.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Evolution is faster than you think

Next time a creationist tells you that you can't see evolution happening, tell them about this story. Evolution is change in organisms over time. It doesn't have to take millions of years. The elapsed time in this instance is 36 years. With the climate now undergoing rapid change, it appears that evolution can keep up. Hmm... keep an eye on those pigeons in the park.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We Have A Winner!

For the Worst President Evah! We knew you had it in you, George. USAToday and Gallup found he has the worst disapproval rating in Gallup's 70-year history. He's polled under 40% approval for almost two years.

Bought and Sold

The New York Times reported on Sunday that many of the retired military commanders that the TV networks have used regularly as analysts are themselves paid by and manipulated by the Pentagon. The Pentagon has created a sophisticated strategy for controlling the flow of information about the war. The Times refers to the analysts as a "Trojan horse." These former generals and admirals, called on as experts by the news shows, were given an agenda to push by the Pentagon and the military contractors. These analysts were not only by the carrot of cash and the stick of losing access to the cash, but they are also ideologically in lockstep. And all their buddies were there. And the Pentagon stroked their egos. Read it. It's impossible not to be paranoid.

That's not even the worst part. Think of the uproar if a Democrat was in the White House right now. As it is, the networks have refused to comment and there's not a peep heard outside the blogosphere. We're effectively under a news blackout about the subject. They know they'll just pretend it never happened and the only ones who know are the DFHs that nobody listens to anyway. Think we're still in the Land Of Liberty?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Veronica Jacobi for Supervisor

We live in the third district in Sonoma county, which includes Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park. Of the four candidates running for the seat, Veronica Jacobi, Tim Smith, Sharon Wright and Shirlee Zane, Jacobi is the one I think would be best. An engineer and avid bicyclist, she also has a strong commitment to the environment. She gave a talk last year at our short-lived Drinking Liberally chapter about city incentives to conserve water. She was obviously enthusiastic about the program and that's what we need in government.

Happy Passover

LeeJ and I attended a Passover seder yesterday. I found some interesting contrasts between the seder and rituals in the Christian church. One is that children are encouraged to ask questions and discussion of the story by attendees is part of the ritual. In the Christian rituals I remember, the structure was very top-down with the priest or pastor doing all the discussing and if children had any part to play, it was rote recital only. Another and a big plus in my book, is that wine is drunk. Christian communion replaced wine with grape juice long ago and that was a thimbleful anyway. Another is that the ceremony gets modified over time, which is not unique, but the instructions in the Hagaddah we read from encourage change to keep up with the present and the discussion around the table not be limited to a 4000-year-old story, but subsequent and current events be included too. So, I'm now puzzled. With a tradition that seems to encourage critical thinking and adaptation, how can orthodox Jews be so dogmatic?

Friday, April 18, 2008

You Go, Barney

It won't go anywhere, but the always entertaining Barney Frank has introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Congress and especially this President are nowhere near facing the fact that the War On Drugs has been an expensive waste of money, time and lives, but it's nice to see that it's even brought up. You have to start somewhere and Frank took a step.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Got Yer Maverick Right Here

So much for McCain's freethinking, maverick shtick. AP put out a story showing how misleading that is. He's a doctinaire conservative, Bush III.

Think bin Laden Watched the Debate?

If he did he must have laughed. While Gibson and Stephanupagus were diligintly querying the candidates on lapel pins and whiskey drinking the GAO released a report today. The title says it all: The United States Lacks Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The gist of it is that because we're so busy spinning our wheels in Iraq, bin Laden has gotten fat and happy in the mountains of Pakistan. Furthermore, al-Qaeda has had plenty of time to regroup and plan more attacks. No matter. The real stories are Hillary's cackle and Obama's bowling score.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Halloween is Just Around The Corner

Tonight Leej and I came up with a plan for this year's Halloween Display. I'm going to have to start soon, but it'll scare you out of your shoes!

Our Government Tortures

Last week ABC News broke the story that members of Bush's cabinet, including Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft outlined our country's new torture policy. This is in violation of the UN and the Geneva Convention. Bush approved it. These people belong in a call in the Hague. Crooks & Liars and the ACLU want to send 100,000 letters to congress to demand a special prosecutor. Join in.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yer Librul Media at Work

In case you're wondering what Obama will be up against in the fall, this will give you some idea. With sprinkles, no less. Oh, yeah, and if you thought the Republicans will be able to keep their racism in check, don't bet on it.

Ha Ha

Alberto Gonzales can't find a job. He still belongs in jail.

Well-Funded Stupidity

I don't know if any of you has heard of Ben Stein's moronic new creationist movie, but if you have, or would like to know more, check out Expelled Exposed. A rebuttal by people who actually know what they're talking about.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Like A Rock

That's what the soil is like out here. I love it in California and don't miss much of the Illinois climate, but it did make for some damn good dirt. Soft, black, rich as fudge, you could grow anything in that. Throw in a little mica and it was a sponge. The adobe out here is good for nothing but bricks.

I had to set up my sprinklers already this year and the price of water is going up. I've already got a drip in the back so now I'm going to put raised beds in the patch of grass that gets cooked by the sun every summe no matter how much I water. I can easily run a drip line to it. and grow stuff that we can eat.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

When did "care" become a four-letter word?

We consider ourselves a good people. We consider caring for others the very essence of goodness. This concept is central to all our religions, our definition of a civil society and our proof of humanity. We care about our families, our loved ones, our friends and our communities. Yet over the last couple of decades or so, caring has fallen out of favor as a policy. Indeed, some leaders of government, business and philosophy view caring with open contempt. How did this happen? Is this really what we are?

Our government was built and rebuilt on the concept that everyone is equal. This concept makes no sense if one doen't care about others. Our government once cared enough to right injustices, provide a safety net to the less fortunate among us, to fund research that didn't have an immediate payoff, preserve our nation's natural treasures for their own sake and to help people in war-torn and poverty-sticken countries get on their feet. Now our current Vice President, when asked if he cares, flatly says "no."

Our religious leaders, whose entire reason for existing is to care, do not care about the rights of people who believe differently. They do not care anymore about the poor, unless they can control the giving and skim a little for themselves in the process. They do not care whether they interpret their scriptures the way their God intended them to, only that others cannot tell the difference.

Our business leaders are no longer concerned with making a quality product, providing good jobs and being a pillar of the community. Now they only care about how much profit they can wring out for this quarter and how much gold they can pack in their parachutes before their incompetence is found out.

The press once considered itself the fourth branch of govenment. It was their purpose to make sure the truth was told and eveyone knew what was really going on. Now they just care about being invited to the right parties and whether Britney has OD'ed yet.

Even our sports heroes no longer care about the game, their families or even their own health. Winning is the only thing.

The thing that everyone forgets about caring is that it's not just for bleeding-heart do-gooders, it's practical. We suffer the consequences from our lack of care. We can see it all around us. We stopped caring about our planet, now our crops are wilting, our forests are burning, icecaps are melting and we're all slowly being poisoned. We stopped caring about our children, now they're undereducated, overmedicated and on their way to prison. We stopped caring about a just wage rather than shareholder profit and now our jobs are disappearing.

Are we that bad? I don't think so. You see, we really do care, as much as we ever have. It's just that life is complicated, high-maintenance and requires constant attention. Our immediate needs caused us to lose sight of the big picture. And that's when the people who really don't care made their move.

When I say we care, I mean the vast majority of us. There are those of us who care only about their own immediate personal gain. These sociopaths of the spirit, from the habitual criminal to the corrupt head of state lack the ability and inclination to care about others. The advantage they get from that is that they are single-minded in their pursuit and never give up. While we were too busy they took power. But we outnumber them and we can take it back. We'll have to do the jobs they're supposed to do. We'll have to let our floors get a little dusty and our grass grow long to attend to these issues but we can do it. We all know people who genuinely care and are experts in their fields, and we can remove the socipaths from their positions and install some of our own. We've done it before and we can do it again.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fished Out

If you had a seasonal job and your season was canceled, would you be able to hang on until next year? That's the question a lot of salmon fishermen are asking themselves. Because we use to much water, eat too much of everything, dump all our crap in the oceans, the salmon fishing season is canceled for the first time in history. Think of that. An entire industry, a major food source, gone. Another ominous sign that we have overtaxed the environment. We are discovering the limits of what we thought was limitless. Remember the old margarine commercial? "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature! Ka-boom!" We're in for an unpleasant education.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Summer's Here

It's 9:45 pm and the window are still open. Wednesday morning it was still frosty. Spring lasted 48 hours this year.

The Bottom Line on McCain

He was tortured in Vietnam. He voted to continue torture. He sold out his own principles. It's that simple.

Speier Comes Out Swinging

Talk about hitting the ground running! Her first speech in Congress and the Republicans run for the door. More of this, please.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ze need more of ze punishment I think.

We don't have a monopoly on absurdity in America. Max Mosley, the boss of Formula 1 racing has got himself in a bit of a pickle with the revelation of videos of his Nazi-themed BDSM orgy. This would be bad enough on its own, but the fact that his parents were card-carrying Nazis and even got married at Josef Göbbels summer home makes him a chip off the old block. Makes a wide stance seem a rather vanilla, eh, old chap?

More Republican Math

So Bush magnanimously declared that the troops only have to stay in Iraq for 12 months instead of the 15 that they're currently sweating under. At the same time, Petraeus says that they can't bring anymore troops home from the "surge" because the Iraqi army is still not ready. Let me get this straight. We can shorten the tours but we can't decrease the amount of troops over there? How will this work? We can't get troops from anywhere else because the army is already stretched to the limit.

Oh, wait. This is The Math. You know The Math Karl Rove cited when he guaranteed a Republican win in 2006.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More McCain

From MoveOn.">

Shut Um Down

This is awesome. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is stopping work for eight hours in all west coast ports on May 1, which is International Workers' Day, to protest the Iraq war. The longshoremen have a proud history of protesting unjust wars like this one. You might remember at the start of the war, the longshoremen demonstrated at the Oakland docks, resulting in the police wading in and shooting indiscriminately with rubber bullets, wooden dowels, bean bags and tear gas.

Shiver Me Timbers

We had an earthquake at 5:19 this morning. Only 2.9 on the richter scale, but it was right under us. Nothing fell, but I did get robbed of 40 minutes of sleep.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Keep Ridin' That Bike

Gas prices are set to shoot up again this summer. They're projected to go up to $3.60 nationally, which means more like $3.90 here in Sonoma county. At periods it's expected to reach past $4.30 here. My work commute is about 22 miles there and back and my old pony gets a smidge over 20 miles per gallon, so it's about a gallon a day. I think of it as paying a $4.00 daily ticket for the priviledge of earning a living.

Except I ride my bike. I get in free. I don't ride when it rains, but it doesn't rain very much out here. In the ten years that I've been doing this, I've saved about 8 grand or so and my savings rate is accelerating. Granted, I live close enough and I don't have kids to pick up and I don't have to wear a suit, but still, I think it just doesn't occur to people that they can do this.

That may change. Every time there's a spike in gas prices I see more people in the bike lane. I really don't mind the prices going up, especially in the summer when I can ride every day. More people will ride and we'll use that much less oil. And have thighs of steel.

Monday, April 7, 2008

McCain and...Condi?

This has got to be a hoax.
Can these people really be that far gone? Condoleezza Rice, one of the most ineffectual and clueless Secretaries of State in history? The one who gave us the infamous smoking gun-mushroom cloud line? The one who went shoe shopping while bodies floated in thestreets of New Orleans? Does she think that anyone is going to have anything to do with her once she's out of office?

McCain has already tied himself to the Iraq millstone. Having a member of the administration responsible for it as his running mate won't help. Not to mention that they're going to need every one of the racist/sexist votes this year. They can't afford to blow that.

Still, it's fun to think about. Imagine the snark.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What part of "Health Care" do we not understand?

Elizabeth Edwards sunk a 3-pointer this week when she pointed out that both she and McCain would be rejected by his health plan for having pre-existing conditons. She has breast cancer and McCain was treated for skin cancer. McCain, as is typical for Republicans, wants to keep health care in the private sector. He wants to, (you know the lyrics, people, sing it with me) "let the market decide."

The problem with letting the market decide is that the market is concerned with making a profit, providing "care" is just the means to that end. As long as insurance providers make money by denying care, they will do so, with little or no remorse. The results of this is that we spend more on our health insurance than any other country, yet most of us our still one major illness or accident away from financial ruin. Single payer health insurance is not "socialism," it's compassion and common sense.

Incidentally, one notable policy difference between Hillary and Obama is on this subject, with Hillary's plan closer to the universal coverage we all need. If Obama wins the nomination and hopefully, the White House, Hillary could spearhead a drive towards universal care from the Senate. Her "Hillarycare" was sneered at in the past, but I think the American people, if not the politicians, are ready for it. At least it's about care, not profit and that's whare we need to start.

Skin In The Game

I'm walking on thin ice here, since I was never in the military, but I don't think McCain's storied service record or the fact that he, unlike Bush, has a child serving in Iraq makes him any more credible on the war. It certainly makes his war support more complicated because he, again, unlike Bush, has paid and may continue to pay a high personal price for America's war mistakes. It'll take more analysis to understand what he gets out of it, where with Bush, it's all just a game. Bush has never had any experience or concept of the human price of war and doesn't see the troops or the Iraqis as human, so he can make a complete mess of things with a clear conscience.

McCain, however, is a little harder to figure out. With all his self-proclaimed "experience" why can't he tell the difference between Sunni and Shia? Why does his handler, Joe Lieberman have to whisper a correction in his ear that Iran is an enemy, not a funder of al-Qaeda? It makes me think that there is a driven compartmentation in the man when facts do not match an ideology ha has invested so much in.

That makes him even scarier than the Bush/Cheney regime we're currently suffering under. Bush and Cheney have never been tested, not like McCain, so their swaggering bluster and eagerness to wield our nation's military as their own personal billy club is easy to see as a yearning for heroism, however misplaced. McCain actually did pay heroism's price, and his son is too. McCain's father and grandfather were both admirals. I only have an observer's perspective on this, but maybe McCain simply cannot conceive of solutions that don't involve military power, either threatened or deployed.

"100 years in Iraq" was not meant by McCain to be flippant. That's one campaign promise he intends to keep.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Planting Bug's Bit Me

I still wanted to do more cleanup in the yard before I planted but haven't finished yet. But I couldn't wait anymore. Last week I went to King's nursery and got some petunias for the window boxes, and some perennial shrub-y flower-y things and planted them around the cherry tree. Tomorrow I'm going back to Kings to plant some flowering sages in the front yard along the neighbors fence. The idea is to slowly encroach inward on the lawn. Since we're going to have the climate of L. A. or Baja pretty soon, I
should start planting drought-tolerant stuff now.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Consensus Opinion

I think we've finally come to an agreement. 81% of us agree that this country is on the wrong track. Bush has polled in the low thirties for almost a year.

Dick Cheney said that history will vindicate this administration. Returns are now coming in and they're not good. 61% of historians rate Bush as the Worst President Ever. An amazing 98% rate him a failure.

John McCain wants to continue this war and these policies. How much easier could the choice in November get?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cool Palaeo Stuff

There was an article on ScienceDaily about how scientists found 385 fossils in a piece of opaque amber using magnetic tomography. I didn't even know you could get opaque amber.

Cool Astronomy Stuff

Lots of interesting stories today about little tiny black holes, baby planets and giant binary stars orbiting each other so closely they look like an enormous glowing peanut!


I ground off another couple of microns of tooth enamel today reading about John Yoo's torture memo. The pudgy, smirking sociopath wrote 81 pages of legalese in an attempt to justify the Bush Administration's pursuit of torture in Iraq and Guantanamo. The gist of it was, "we can do this because we say we can, so there."

These people must all be closet sadists. They must get tautly tumescent at the thought of naked prisoners struggling with their heads held under water. There have been volumes written as to why the Bush administration wanted Iraq so bad. Maybe it wasn't about oil or the Rapture or one-upping the old man. Maybe they just wanted some videos to watch by themselves, with some lotion and paper towels.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Keep your eyes on the prize, people!

With all the attention on the Hillary vs. Obama battle a lot of progressive are overheating. They're wasting their energy trashing each other. Let's remember what this battle is really about. There's not that much difference, policy-wise between Hillary and Obama. They're both charismatic and capable. Meanwhile, the Republicans have an angry old man for a candidate. A man who's personally endured the horror of war and wants to inflict that horror on others. We cannot let this happen. Take a deep breath, let the voters in the upcoming primaries have their say and prepare for the real battle in November.