Sunday, December 28, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Chrysler is shutting down a number of plants and laying of, albeit temporarily, 46,000 workers. Who picks up the bulk of the tab for this? Why, we all do through unemployment benefits! You can pay me now, or you can pay me later!
This will impact 46,000 UAW workers, according to Chrysler. Chrysler says these employees will receive state unemployment benefits as well as supplemental payments from Chrysler during the layoff according to a union negotiated formula.But what about the white collar workers? Do they need to file for unemployment? Hell no!
There will be an unknown number of white collar workers who will not be working as well, but the expectation is that they will continue to receive their regular salaries during this time.Some have said that there is lowered demand for the cars produced by the American auto manufacturers. This may or may not be true, but it seems that the obstacle to new vehicle purchase has less to do with the product and more to do with the financing.
The company says dealers are telling them there are buyers out there, but they can't get financing and as a result, have lost 20 to 25 percent in sales.This would explain the sales slump in the foreign Dixie car manufacturers as well, Toyota, Honda and BMW.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Bernard Madoff ran a hedge fund which ran up $50bn (£33.5bn) of fraudulent losses and which he called "one big lie", prosecutors allege.Sounds like a classic Ponzi scheme to me. But typical of the current crop of Wall Street types. Is it the death of the hedge fund? Perhaps...
Mr Madoff is alleged to have used money from new investors to pay off existing investors in the fund.
Many investors have been pulling money out of hedge funds in an effort to reduce their exposure to risk."This is a major blow to confidence that is already shattered - anyone on the fence will probably try to take their money out," said Doug Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners Management, a hedge fund.
Remember, you gotta keep 'em separated!
The party of Herbert Hoover committed seppuku over the auto bailout last night. They were lead into this act of self-destruction by Mitch McConnel, Senator from the right-to-work state of Kentucky. These bastards voted for a war that's costing this nation $10 billion a month, but they won't lend the flagging auto industry $14 billion to preserve 3 million American jobs. What does that mean? It's a big "Fuck You!" to the American workforce and 20% of the American economy. That's a hefty price to pay in an effort to break-up the UAW. But it will secure your party's place forever as the Hoover party.
A bailout-weary Congress killed a $14 billion package to aid struggling U.S. automakers Thursday night after a partisan dispute over union wage cuts derailed a last-ditch effort to revive the emergency aid before year's end.Some of my friends, usually sensible liberal types like me, broke with the position that that supporting the auto industry was necessary and opposed it. They sided with the party that voted for an unnecessary war, illegal wiretapping and that now seeks to finally kill organized labor in America. They are as ideologically driven to ignore the reality on the ground as the GOP. They are equally culpable for the looming depression in their opposition to this aid for the auto industry. It's shocking when people put ideology (union busting or environmental sustainability) over the lives of real, on-the-ground people. Both shirk their responsibility to their fellow American's in ways that truly upset me.
Republicans, breaking sharply with President George W. Bush as his term draws to a close, refused to back federal aid for Detroit's beleaguered Big Three without a guarantee that the United Auto Workers would agree by the end of next year to wage cuts to bring their pay into line with U.S. plants of Japanese carmakers. The UAW refused to do so before its current contract with the automakers expires in 2011.
Well, now we'll get to see what happens when America bleeds 3,000,000 jobs over the next 18 months. Maybe it won't be that bad. But even if it's half that number, it's going to be a bloodbath. I hope that they are prepared for the rise in welfare rolls, food stamp rolls and soup kitchen lines. The lack of compassion shown by those who oppose this bailout is staggering to me. In this economy, if you're not supporting workers, you don't really understand the real problems we face.
So let's look at a few photographs of what we can expect to see if the Big Three collapse.
While the past never repeats itself, it often rhymes. Well this is a dissonant tune that we're playing and it's a shame that we're going to hear it again. I hope that, when we emerge from this looming depression, the American worker is armed with a new sense of purpose and the unions emerge as a political force to be reckoned with. This sums it up nicely.
In the future I think it will be difficult to explain why this happened, perhaps even more challenging to explain why this key national decision was left in the hands of lame duck senate Republicans.Amen.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I've been told that I met Tom Lehrer once, as a very young child at a cocktail party at Harvard. I must have been totally drunk, because I don't remember a thing about it...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
DailyKos (aka The Orange Menace) has a list of the new marriage rules taken directly from the bible. I expect fundumbmentalists everywhere to adopt these rules immediately or be exposed as the hypocritical haters they really are.
Given that rates of divorce are much higher in the bible belt states where most fundumbmentalists live, the adoption of E.
A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)
C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)
F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Sometimes the hypocrisy is more than I can stand. Take religious fundamentalists, for instance (please!). The ongoing brouhaha over same-sex marriage is predicated, from their side, on the adherence to scripture. Now, it has been pointed out repeatedly that Christian scripture, as defined in the bible, is at significant variance to the way these people live their lives. For instance,
Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists.Polygamy was rampant in ancient Israel. In fact, it was the norm. It still is in Islamic countries who share many of the same cultural foundations with so-called Judeo-Christian culture. But what's more fascinating is what the New Testament has to say about marriage!
The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered.Hardly a ringing endorsement of marriage, is it? For Paul, it was a "last resort." Yet our fundamentalist friends seem to think that the bible is all about the "traditional" definition of marriage.
The argument goes something like this statement, which the Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United Methodist minister, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June: "The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition."TEH FAIL!!!!! How special that this so-called Reverend doesn't even know what his own holy book says or doesn't say. Amazing, isn't it? I think so. So special to use non-existent concepts in your so-called "holy" book to justify your own hatred and bigotry and then to preach that hatred and bigotry from the pulpit.
Go read the rest of the article for the full scoop on what the bible really says.
A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reviewed 21 studies involving more than 150,000 women and found the high-quality studies showed no significant differences in long-term mental health between women who choose to abort a pregnancy and others.150,000 women seems like a good statistical sample to me. And they studied all English language studies from 1989 and 2008 to draw these conclusions.
"The best quality studies indicate no significant differences in long-term mental health between women in the United States who choose to terminate a pregnancy and those who do not," they wrote.Isn't that amazing?
What an asshole. What's worse is that he gets to stand in line with the other "creditors" when the liquidation sale happens so his risk is significantly lower than the risk faced by his employees.
There is a lot of blame to go around, and much of it will be directed at Mr. Zell, the real estate baron whose knack for buying when everyone else is selling earned him a fit sobriquet for the news business these days: The Grave Dancer.
Advertising is in a free fall, and every newspaper is suffering. But Mr. Zell literally mortgaged the future of Tribune’s employees to pursue what one analyst, Jack Newman, at the time called “a childhood fantasy.”Mr. Zell financed much of his deal’s $13 billion of debt by borrowing against part of the future of his employees’ pension plan and taking a huge tax advantage. Tribune employees ended up with equity, and now they will probably be left with very little. (The good news: any pension money put aside before the deal remains for the employees.)
Granted, Mr. Zell, 67, put up some money. He invested $315 million in the form of subordinated debt in exchange for a warrant to buy 40 percent of Tribune in the future for $500 million. It is unclear how much he’ll lose, but one thing is clear: when creditors get in line, he gets to stand ahead of the employees.Like the CEO of GM who whines about being a "sacrificial lamb" because he has to give up his bonus, Zell risked everything up front, but expects others to take the fall on the back end. What a tool.
Monday, December 08, 2008
How special is THAT???
How bad have things gotten for Republicans in Nevada? Pretty soon, they won't have a home in Las Vegas."Hello Dad? Can I run a disreputable political party out of your basement for awhile?"In fact, the GOP's possessions were headed for storage as its headquarters temporarily relocate to Northern Nevada, according to the party's executive director, Zac Moyle.
Over the weekend, volunteers helped pack up the Nevada Republican Party's Southern Nevada offices for what was billed as a "move."
Moyle said he's planning to live at his parents' house in Reno and work out of the party's Carson City office until the legislative session ends in mid-2009.
"Thanks, Dad, you're the BEST!"
In this bit of breaking news, 5 of the men responsible for the September 2007 killing spree in Baghdad have surrendered to Federal authorities in Salt Lake City. They are facing manslaughter charges for the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in that 2007 massacre.
In Washington, the Justice Department planned to make public the manslaughter indictment it obtained last week. And in Utah, the five guards were to surrender and question the legitimacy of the government's case.Justice delivered? Let's hope so.
They will be the first public events in an FBI investigation that has been carried out in secrecy since the September 2007 shooting, which left 17 Iraqis dead and strained U.S. relations with Iraq.
The five guards face charges including manslaughter and using a machine gun in a crime of violence. The latter falls under a law that passed during the height of the crack epidemic. It carries a mandatory 30-year prison term.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
So it appears that Canada has become a Banana Republic overnight. In an unprecedented move, the Canadian Prime Minister, the detestable Stephen Harper, has asked for and received from the Governor General, permission to dissolve Parliament until January 26th thereby preventing a guaranteed No Confidence vote from taking place.
For those who don't follow Canadian politics or the Canadian governmental system, Canada is a constitutional monarchy with the Prime Minister as head of government and the Queen of England as the head of state. The Governor General is the Queen's representative in Canada and does have the power to dissolve Parliament in the Queen's name. But it's never been done before. It's the equivalent of the Queen dissolving the House of Commons in the UK. It never happens. Ever.
Governor General Michaelle Jean -- the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state -- agreed to Harper's request to shut down Parliament until Jan 26. Parliament was reconvened just weeks ago after the October 14 election.
Harper's request for suspension was unprecedented. No prime minister had asked for Parliament to be suspended to avoid a confidence vote in the House of Commons.
Such a vote had been set for Monday and the Conservatives almost certainly would have lost it, and faced the possibility of being replaced by a coalition of opposition parties.
So what happens next?
You can run, but you can't hide. I like the sound of that.
The New Democrats and Bloc maintained their insistence that Harper could not be trusted and must be removed, as did some members of Dion's Liberal caucus.
"You can run but you can't hide," said Bob Rae, who is looking to become Liberal leader when Dion steps down early in May. He predicted the opposition would topple Harper early next year.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
The UN says at least 565 people have died from the cholera outbreak, which began in August, though correspondents say the real death toll could be much higher.
At least 12,545 cases of cholera have been recorded over the same period.
The outbreak comes as Zimbabwe is crippled by economic meltdown and political stalemate.
The hospitals are "non-functional" and lack even clean water to treat patients. There is no medicine available. A protest by doctors and nurses in the capital was broken up by riot police.
Are we going to ignore this situation the way we ignored Darfur because there is no oil? Or because these are black people who are dying?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Now it's the turn of Federal law enforcement personnel who are in the sights of the anti-labor policies of the lamest of ducks.
President Bush issued an executive order on Monday that denies collective bargaining rights to about 8,600 federal employees who work in law enforcement, intelligence and other agencies responsible for national security.Yes, let's piss off the people who work hard to keep us safe. Nice work, Chimpy! I can't wait until the White House door hits you in your fat ass.
Mr. Bush said it would be inconsistent with “national security requirements” to allow those employees to engage in collective bargaining with respect to the conditions of their employment.
Monday, December 01, 2008
State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago.
As amended, Homeland Security's religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.
The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.
"This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky," Riner said. "Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government."
So can I get a provision demanding that Superman be recognized? We can't possibly be safe without Superman. Or what about Batman? Or the Easter Bunny? Or the Tooth Fairy? How about Tinkerbell? Robin Hood? Shrek??? What other fantasy figures do we want to include in our discourse on public safety. Seems the sky's the limit in Kentucky!
Not everyone is pleased with this turn of events.
But state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said Homeland Security should worry about public safety threats instead of preaching religious homilies.
"It's very sad to me that we do this sort of thing," said Stein, a frequent critic of efforts to mix religion and government. "It takes away from the seriousness of the public discussion over security, and it clearly hurts the credibility of this office if it's supposed to be depending on God, first and foremost."
Friday, November 28, 2008
iPhone Linux Demonstration Video from planetbeing on Vimeo.
Rabid "black Friday" shopping craze results in a death and a miscarriage in New York. This whole feeding frenzy of consumerism is totally nauseating. What the fuck is wrong with these people???
A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.The madness to reach the cheap, discounted Chinese imports that fill Wal-Mart was worth more to these people than this man's life. Blind consumerism at it's worst.
The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.
Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
He fell upon her like a savage, wielding his mouth like a machete, and in the pleasure she took from him her body became an extension of her quarterly earnings report—proof of her worthiness as a lover. His hard-on was sanction enough.
"Scream your secret passions, Hank Rearden!"
"Oh, yes! Yes!"
"Collateralized debt obligation."
"YES! YES! YES!"
Americans' Food Stamp Use Nears All-Time High
"We soon will have the most food stamps recipients in the history of our country," said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, a D.C.-based anti-hunger policy organization. "If the economic forecasts come true, we're likely to see the most hunger that we've seen since the 1981 recession and maybe since the 1960s, when these programs were established."Meanwhile, in the halls of corporate America's banking sector, the rich just keep getting richer! Failing back CEOs and Presidents reap windfall benefits as the government bails them out of their own shit.
Let's replace one Clinton in the Senate with another! Let's send Bill Clinton to replace Hillary! Actually, I kind of like this idea.
Doing so would spare the governor the agonizing dilemma of choosing from the 20 or so Democrats already named as contenders for the junior senator's seat. Those mentioned include six sitting members of the House of Representatives (three of each sex), Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Caroline Kennedy and her cousin Robert Kennedy Jr., Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (an African American), and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. (who is Hispanic). In this no-win competition, Paterson has to balance claims of gender, race, ethnicity and geography. He could wind up gaining one grateful ally while alienating not only all the losers but also millions of members of the disparate constituencies that each represents.Once again, Clinton would be the unifying candidate. It would eliminate the back stabbing and mud rolling that usually accompanies any kind of appointment position like this.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
No, I'm not kidding. The title of the piece is:
Exclusive: Why Did Our Founders Want Only Qualified Citizens to Vote?By "qualified" he means property owners. There was a litmus test in the Constitution that extended franchise only to white male landowners.
Above this enticing title is this picture of a white, male hand slipping a paper ballot into a box.
But the best part is the text. Check this out.
Instead, it has been determined that anyone should be able to vote, even though too many voters have no earthly idea what policy or party serves them best. National research demonstrates that more people know who Paula Abdul is than who know the three branches of government. This extension of voting rights to anyone and everyone has led to a huge bloc of people voting on emotion and only for their immediate gratification, as opposed to what best serves the country and even themselves in the long run. These voters are like the farmers who eat the seed corn and are therefore unable to plant in the spring.So when the voters who've been voting for the GOP for all these years suddenly realize that they've been duped and switch to the Democrats, this is a crisis all of a sudden. Uh huh... The remedy?
Some may say [returning to the notion that only landowners can vote] is unfair, that everyone should vote, but is the system as it is set up today fair? Under our everyone-can-vote current system, one group can vote themselves another group’s private property, something certainly unfair and unlikely to occur if only property owners were voting. In the short run, expropriating private property may benefit a few, but in the long run it is ruinous for everyone.Yes, the world should be further divided into haves and have nots. Let's just turn the poor into serfs, since that's all they're good for. This guy is not only stupid, but his ideas are racist and classist and a whole bunch of other things I can't even bring myself to articulate. This is the kind of shoddy misrepresentation of conservative values that is going to put the GOP into a permanent minority or eliminate it alltogether.
Indeed. You don't spend the money on investments when you're busy trying to steal that money for you and your fellow crime lords. The wholesale looting of the national treasury will one day result in a reckoning and that day can't come soon enough for me.
The idea that the nation had all but stopped investing in its infrastructure, and that officials in Washington have ignored the crucial role of job creation as the cornerstone of a thriving economy is beyond mind-boggling. It’s impossible to understand.
Impossible, that is, until you realize that bandits don’t waste time repairing a building that they’re looting.
The question now is whether the nation, in the midst of a full-blown economic emergency, can keep its cool and be smart as it marshals billions of public dollars for a new infrastructure initiative. It won’t be helpful to have sparkling new bridges to nowhere being built from coast to coast.
Monday, November 24, 2008
A former communications intercept operator says U.S. intelligence snooped on the private lives of two of America's most important allies in fighting al Qaeda: British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iraq's first interim president, Ghazi al-Yawer.Tony Blair. Really... Unreal. The crimes of this administration defy belief.
Faulk says his top secret clearance at Ft. Gordon gave him access to an intelligence data base, called "Anchory," where he says he saw the file on then-British prime minister Tony Blair in 2006.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
While I personally support any plan that prevents 2.5 million workers from hitting the bricks, the dickwads that run the Big Three are truly in a classless class of their own. Maybe someone should hit them with bricks instead!
Pitchforks and torches for everyone! Come on, let's go!
"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."
He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
What a world...
[The prosecutor] O'Brien claimed that Drew actively conspired with two others in creating and maintaining a MySpace profile for a nonexistent 16-year-old boy named "Josh Evans" in September 2006. The Evans account was used by multiple people to flirt with, befriend and ultimately reject 13-year-old Megan Meier, who'd had a falling-out with Drew's daughter.
One of the users of the account, Ashley Grills, a then-18-year-old woman employed by Drew and her husband, has admitted to sending a final, cruel message to Meier while posing as Evans: "The world would be a better place without you. Have a shitty rest of your life." Meier then hanged herself in her bedroom.
Grills has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her cooperation with the government, and is scheduled to testify against Drew.
So check out the video.
The portrait of Israelite religion in the Hebrew Bible is the ideal, the ideal in the minds of those few who wrote the Bible—the elites, the Yahwists, the monotheists. But it's not the ideal for most people. And archeology deals with the ordinary, forgotten folk of ancient Israel who have no voice in the Bible. There is a wonderful phrase in Daniel Chapter 12: "For all those who sleep in the dust." Archeology brings them to light and allows them to speak. And most of them were not orthodox believers.Fascinating...
However, we should have guessed already that polytheism was the norm and not monotheism from the biblical denunciations of it. It was real and a threat as far as those who wrote the Bible were concerned. And today archeology has illuminated what we could call "folk religion" in an astonishing manner.
Looks like we've reached the top of the parabolic arc and the economy is starting to contract. Just like a ride on NASA's "vomit comet," when you tip over the top of the arc and enter free fall, you're weightless. That's what's happening to our economy: free fall.
The Consumer Price Index, a key measure of how much Americans spend on groceries, clothing, entertainment and other goods and services, fell by 1 percent in October compared with prices in the previous month, the Labor Department reported Wednesday morning.Wheeeeeeeeee!!!!
It was the steepest single-month drop in the 61-year history of the pricing survey and raised concerns about deflation as the economy contracts and demand for goods and services plunge. Another report released Wednesday indicated that new home construction continued to fall. “This month it’s more than slowing, it’s outright contraction,” said James O’Sullivan, United States economist at UBS. “And yes, if you extrapolate that, it’s deflation.”
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers.Color me not surprised.
There need not be a contest between these two great presidents, both of them remarkable politicians. But the one quality Roosevelt had that Lincoln, at least in his popular portrayal, did not is sheer exuberance. FDR, who called Al Smith a "happy warrior," was himself a happy warrior. It was his jaunty enthusiasm and his willingness to try almost anything to break the back of the Great Depression that mattered most. It had to -- after all, in the end, nothing worked.
The solution is out there . . . somewhere. But it will take time and trial to find it. Obama knows this. It was one of the things he mentioned on "60 Minutes." But what he might not appreciate is that among his many gifts, the one that might matter most is how close he can come to Rooseveltian enthusiasm -- that optimism, that capacity for empathy that made so many ordinary people love this rich man and stick with him. Lincoln, a sometimes melancholy and somber man, belongs, as Edwin M. Stanton said, "to the ages." Roosevelt belongs to ours.
Blogspot, being the limited and simple tool that it is, doesn't have the concept of "pages" a la WordPress so rather than try to hack pages into the style sheets (yeah, right), I just setup a new blog for my more literary postings. It's called, ahem, Accidental Literature. So if you're interested, feel free to head on over and have a laugh at my expense.
Monday, November 17, 2008
"We were actually told they had been riding around in her car for several days, which raised all kinds of integrity questions," said Coleman's attorney, Fritz Knaak.This, of course, turned out to be baseless. Shocking, eh? Republicans lying. Seems to be their core competency. They attempted to block the votes and were shot down by a judge. So they made lemondade from the lemons!
Knaak also said a Minneapolis attorney reassured Coleman's campaign that no one but an elected official had access to the 32 ballots and there was no tampering.So when you call them on their bullshit, they fold like a house of cards. Typical.
But the story doesn't end there. The far-right echo chamber has picked up the rallying cry of voter fraud, despite the complete absence of facts in the case. Shameless, but hardly surprising.
On Fox News' The Beltway Boys, co-host Fred Barnes echoed the discredited rumor that ballots in the Minnesota Senate race were mishandled, stating: "We've seen, under some questionable circumstances, Franken gaining, you know, 32 ballots from the trunk of somebody's car that had been sitting there for a few days. I mean, I find that a bit suspicious." In fact, state officials have refuted rumors that the ballots were handled improperly, and a lawyer for Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign, who initially raised questions about those ballots, reportedly said afterward that he had been assured the ballots were not tampered with.Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them, indeed.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
"I'm gay." Mary barely whispered the words.
"What?" Aimee looked at Kim who was staring at Mary. "Did she just say what I think she said?"
Kim asked Mary, "Did you just say you were... gay?"
Mary nodded. Another moment of truth had arrived.
Kim and Aimee shifted uncomfortably in their seats, not knowing how to respond. Mary continued.
"I fell in love with an Indian girl while I was there. I had to leave her behind."
Aimee and Kim looked at each other and burst out laughing. Mary just watched her friends.
"Wow, Mary, that's the best one yet. You're hilarious! God. You had me going there. Gay. Hah! I almost believed you," said Kim. Aimee was laughing too hard to talk.
Mary just sat there, not saying anything while the laughter subsided. There followed an uncomfortable silence between the three of them as Mary's eyes went back and forth between her friends. He hands were folded in front of her on the table.
Aimee and Kim grew very serious. They exchanged glances with one another and Aimee looked around the food court to see if anyone was nearby. They were alone enough.
"You're not kidding, are you?" Kim asked.
"No, I'm not."
"Holy fucking shit," said Aimee.
"Yeah," said Kim.
"What do we do now," asked Aimee.
"Don't know," said Mary.
Kim had a quizzical look on her face. "How... how do you know?"
Mary smiled. "You know how you feel when you look at a hot guy? I feel that way when I look at a hot girl."
Aimee looked very uncomfortable. She was, by all regard, the prettiest of the four girls and she didn't like where this was heading.
"That's so... gross!" said Aimee.
Mary said nothing.
"What... what does it mean? I mean, what does you being... gay... mean?" Kim was genuinely curious.
"I... I like... girls, not guys."
Aimee shook her head. This could NOT be happening. She pushed her chair away from the table.
Kim put her hand on Aimee's arm.
"Where are you going? You can't leave. Mary needs our help!"
"What help? She's a dyke, a lezzie, a twat-licking freak! I'm not going to sit here and listen to this bitch tell me how she wants to jump me and suck on my tits. Fuck that, I'm outta here."
Mary was calm. She knew this was always a possibility. She and her friends had always had a deep seated fear of homosexuality. It infected their culture, their society, like a cancer. Mary knew that she would never get support from everyone she knew, it was too much to ask some people. Aimee might one day change her mind, and Mary would be there to extend a hand. But until then, she was content to let her go. She knew that Aimee's own prejudice would prevent her from saying anything for fear that it might reflect back on her since she and Mary had been so close for so long. Mary assumed that that was what was driving this reaction now. So she focused her attention on Kim.
"Kim, it's Ok. Let her go."
Kim released Aimee's arm. Aimee turned and stalked away towards the escalator. Mary watched her go.
"Mary, I don't care about Aimee. But I can't say I understand what happened to you, either. Please, help me understand."
The girls sat there for more than an hour while Mary told her story. At the end, Kim was in tears. Mary knew that Kim understood what this all meant for Mary. And she was Ok with it.
"Thanks, Kim. Please tell Aimee that I still want to be her friend if she'll have me."
"I will, Mary. I'll try to calm her down."
"Thanks. See you in school!"
"Senior year, it's going to be great."
Mary hoped so. She really did.
First, thanks to my coworker and buddy Russ for pointing me to the site and for encouraging me to write again. He's been a great inspiration (although I doubt he knows that) to me since this is his third NaNoWriMo. He's still cranking away, and I'm cheering him on.
Of course, thanks to my wonderful wife and partner Amy. She has been great through all this considering I've been ignoring her for several weeks while I bang away at the keyboard (like now).
I also want to thank my new buddy Melissa over at Melissa, Oh? She's been commenting on my novel postings here at AI and I appreciate her feedback. I hope she won't mind reading the whole thing when it's done. She's got a good eye and a strong stomach.
But more to the point. While this slapped-together "novel" is nothing close to complete, it is, in a way, done. I finished it. It's was in me and now it's out there. I did it. It's been a long time since I felt this kind of accomplishment and I want to feel it again. So will I participate in NaNoWriMo again? You bet I will!
For too long, I've ignored my creative side. I've put away the things that mean the most to me. I was focusing on the wrong things. It was a mistake. Poetry, literature, theater, opera were all ignored. No more. The time has come to rebalance, to find a new center that will ensure that the sweet taste of creativity will never again slip away.
I found some haiku I wrote a few years ago. I think I'll try again.
Some of them don't suck. :-)
The arrogance of knowing
Beams from every pore -
I am not wise enough
To write haiku,
The pen fails
Tender autumn journey
A child nestled close;
Mud caked sandals snuggle
on clean wooden steps,
A rain shower!
Buds on a branch
Snowflakes gently fall
Grieving husband bows
No more his wife wants him –
Tearful lotus blossom
I slept peacefully
Beneath old willow tree
Shines on frosted clover –
Morning gently breaks
Scratch, scratch, scratch
The poet’s pen on paper
Makes me poor!
A thousand lanterns float
Gentle breeze moves
Floating blossoms east
Forever is a long time
To feel one way
Noisy mountain brook
Cuts a rocky gap –
Carp make small circles
Cold moonlit field
Winter wheat sprouts –
Nut-brown leaves tumble
into an icy stream,
My face distorted.
Alone in the moonlight
A small dove lands
Snow falls on pines
Along the snowy bank
Cold grey clouds
Stony path decends
To oaken door, barred
Warm fire within
Two boys sled
By the river bank
Mother turns away
Cherry blossoms fall
From the woody branch.
A child runs to hide
Fog hugs the pines
Gentle rain falls
A small boy walks alone
Cherry blossoms fall
To nestle in the soft grass -
Another year to wait.
[The next three were written in the Milwaukee Museum of Art. For 10 points, see if you can guess which artist is described in the 2nd one.]
The gallery beckons
Level upon level of art -
What's THAT supposed to be?
Green, Red, Blue
Panels of color -
A ripe answer to koan's Mu!
Karma is a force
That has no force
Beyond what we feel.
Snow softly blankets
Brown grass and weeds -
As she drifts through my mind
My zazen concentration ends -
A delightful breakdown.
A gentle inspiration
In a shy, quiet smile -
Cloudy, snowy day
The cold grips my heart -
Then I remember her and warm up.
Without realizing it,
She has captured my spirit
In a little rabbit snare!
Threads of karma collide
And weave a new pattern -
Life is quieter now.
The wheel of karma spins
My life goes round and round -
A ragged cat sleeps
In slits of summer sun -
He looks bored.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Mary's home and her boyfriend has thrown her a surprise party at his house. He's invited all of Mary's friends. The scene is set in William's living room. It's the day Mary returned from India, around lunchtime.
Kathy, her best friend, said, “Tell us what it was like, Mary.”More tomorrow!
Mary looked down at her hands in her lap. She studied her palms, her fingers, the finger where Sara had first kissed her. She looked up, at the white cieling, let her eyes scan the textured surface, picking out small imperfections.
“It was...” she struggled for a word, one word, that would capture the vastness of her experiences in India. She hesitated, the room full of girls hung on her words, desperate to know what she would say.
“...enlightening.” She and Sara had spent some of those nights together just talking about life. Talking about India. Talking about religion, philosophy and the need to be true to who you were. Of course, for Sara that had meant being true to what she knew she must be, not what she wanted to be. Mary couldn’t understand that, until that very moment, surrounded by her friends who, in their expressions, wanted to know who she was now. Sara had known all along who she was but she also knew who she had to be. And for Sara, those two states of being were opposites. Yin and Yang. Kali and Shiva. But Mary had a choice. She could decide her own fate. She had choices. She had options. She knew from then on, sitting in that fat, comfortable living room, she must live as herself, as much for herself, as for Sara who was trapped by a world Mary barely knew. She knew that Sara would live her life, as she must, in the way she must, but that in that small, dark, quiet corner of her heart, hidden from the world, that place she had let Mary see and inhabit for a brief instant, Sara would draw strength to endure, as women always had throughout the ages, her suffering.
But to the crowd of girls in the room, the answer hung in the air, anticlimactic, certainly, for them, distinctly unenlightening. Mary had a Mona Lisa smile, she could see through the bullshit into what’s real. For her, enlightenment was hard won and not shared easily. She couldn’t bestow it on the gaggle of girls who surrounded her. Enlightenment was earned. Earned through suffering. It was never given.
The girls in the room all talked at once. To Mary and to each other, all attempting to unravel Mary’s enigmatic answer. Mary remained silent. Mona Lisa smile. She was so tired, so very tired. She saw William standing in the doorway looking at her, not smiling, not frowning. Mona Lisa smile.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Sound familiar? Well Monty Python fans will recognize it as a version of the infamous Dead Parrot sketch.
It concerns a man who complains to his friend that he was sold a slave who dies in his service.
His companion replies: "When he was with me, he never did any such thing!"
The joke was discovered in a collection of 265 jokes called Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, which dates from the fourth century AD.
But this one is my favorite. It's so Henny Youngman / Rodney Dangerfield.
"A man tells a well-known wit: 'I had your wife, without paying a penny'. The husband replies: "It's my duty as a husband to couple with such a monstrosity. What made you do it?"(Insert Laugh-track Here!)
“Well, when I was fourteen, I went to a sleep-away vacation bible camp. It’s a camp with lots of other Christian kids, boys and girls, and it up in the woods in northern Wisconsin. It’s on a lake and there’s lots of outdoor things to do. Canoeing, kayaking, hiking, swimming, archery, that kind of stuff.Please remember, first draft only!!!! No tweaks or anything, so be gentle.
“The boys and girls slept in different cabins, of course. And each cabin had a sleep-in counselor. They were responsible for keeping us on the straight and narrow path. Our counselor was a girl named Julie. She was twenty and a junior at Marquette University.
“Anyway, Julie was a very sound sleeper. My two best friends at the camp, Tam and Kim, short for Kimberly, but she’d hit you if you called her that,” Mary said with a laugh, “we were all in the same cabin together. Now these weren’t friends from home, but they were kids I would see in the summer at this camp. So one night they snuck out of the cabin together, under the guise that they were going to go meet some boys down by the lake. I was fourteen and really hadn’t developed the interest in boys that most of my friends had but I was still curious. What were you supposed to do with boys besides maybe kiss them and stuff. Some of the girls were totally boy crazy at that camp. I decided to follow them to see what the big deal was.
“They headed down to the place where they stacked the canoes, where Tam had said she was going to arrange the meeting. When they got down to the dock, the moon was full and the lake was as beautiful a spot as I’d ever seen. The gentle waves were lapping up on the beach next to the dock, and the racks filled with canoes were shadowed under the overhanging trees.
“I was really nervous. I’d never even kissed a boy at that age. I watched them disappear into the gloom between the canoes and the old willow tree. It was completely dark back there and I wondered how the boys were going to find them back there. They must have arranged this ahead of time. I kept to the shadows on the path and sat down to wait.
“After a few minutes, I heard some rustling coming from over by the big willow tree. Maybe the boys were already there. I was far too curious to sit there and listen to this fooling around and not see it for myself. Maybe if I saw them doing things, it would pique my interest in boys.
“As quietly as I could, I crept along the edge of the canoe rack, keeping low to the ground, practically crawling. When I reached the end, I got down on my tummy and crawled under the bottom canoe. There was enough space to wiggle under and from the darkness, I could see the space out to the big willow.
“It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the dark, but when they did, I saw something totally unexpected. Something that frightened me. Not because of what they were doing, Tam and Kim, but because of how it made me feel."
A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."I'm reminded of a song...
The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Mary lay on the cot, still curled up in a ball and studied Sara’s face while she read her book.
Without thinking, Mary’s hand came out and touched Sara’s face. Sara didn’t move. She continued to read her book. Mary gently stroked Sara’s cheek, feeling like the loathsome dyke she knew she was. The dishonest freak, the one who was going to burn in hell for succumbing to these unnatural feelings. She knew just what her mother would say since she’d heard her talk about the abomination that was homosexuality so many times before.
“They’re sick. Sick, sick, sick. I don’t see why we can’t just round them all up and teach them not to be that way. How can men think about touching other men like that? And the women! Hairy, ugly, butch lesbians make me sick. Those women just to find themselves some good men who’ll straighten them right out. It’s sick what this country is coming to. All these dykes and fags running around WITHOUT SHAME! It’s appalling.”
She’d hear that speech so many times growing up. And she had used it, or some variation of it, with her friends at school. They had talked about who was a fag and who was a dyke at school. They used those terms as the ultimate insults.
“You dyke!” she remembers calling a girl in 9th grade for no particular reason than she could. That girl had been awkward, she had dressed like a boy and wasn’t part of one of the cool groups. So Mary had taken her place among the tormentors, a self-appointed judge of what was normal and what wasn’t. Damn. Just look at her now, lying on a cot in India, stroking another girl’s face with a feeling of love like she’d never felt before.
Was that girl in 9th grade a dyke? Mary never knew. The girl transferred to another school in 11th grade and Mary never saw her again. She felt guilty. She felt guilty for all the kids she and her “cool” friends had taunted over the course of their high-school years.
Mary looked at Sara who continued to read her book, seemingly oblivious to Mary’s soft caress. Mary expanded her exploration of Sara’s body by reaching down to stroke her neck, her long, beautiful neck. She heard Sara take a soft breath, and exhale. As Mary’s fingers softly stroked Sara’s cheek and neck, Sara’s eyes began to fill with tears again.
Mary quickly withdrew her hand.
As if from across a thousand, ten thousand miles of trackless wasteland, she heard the faint echo of Sara’s voice, husky, dark and full of sadness say
“please... please... don’t stop... please...”
Mary’s hand reached out again as Sara slowly turned her face towards her. Mary touched Sara’s full, burgundy lips, gently touching them with her fingertips, stoking gently, softly, with as much love as she could command. Sara’s lips parted, her tounge, soft and wet, caressed Mary’s finger.
They’re eyes met, Sara’s ancient brown eyes and Mary’s new blue eyes and Mary knew. She knew. She knew. Sara’s hand reached up and cupped Mary’s hand pulling it towards her mouth, kissing the palm, the fingers, her wrist.
Mary leaned forward, her eyes open, staring across the chasm of space between her and the girl she loved, her mind empty of thoughts, enlightened to who she was, aware only of the space that divided them, wanting nothing more than to close that space.
Sara came closer, Mary’s hand now holding her cheek. The chasm was mere four inches as they hesitated, seeking trust in one anothers eyes, looking for that affirmation that the other wanted what they wanted, each afraid that at the last minute, the other would turn away. The gap closed, inch by inch. Mary smelled the sandalwood again, the deep, rich scent, stronger now than ever. It overwhelmed her. She felt as if she might pass out. What were they doing? One inch. This was crazy, Mary thought. Crazy. What was she doing? No, this can’t be right.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
GE, my beloved General Electric, snuggles-up to the swollen teat of the Federal Reserve for a big suckle of our tax dollars. Shameful...
General Electric Co. said the U.S. government agreed to insure as much as $139 billion in debt for lending arm GE Capital Corp., the second time in a month it has turned to a federal program designed to help companies during a global credit crunch.
Granting GE Capital, which isn’t a bank, access to a new Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. program may reassure investors and help the unit compete with banks that already have government protection behind their debt, said Russell Wilkerson, a spokesman for the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company. Coverage would be for about $139 billion, or 125 percent of total senior unsecured debt outstanding as of Sept. 30 and maturing by June 30.
As an aide to Richard Nixon back in the day, Roger, you were around for the birth of the Southern strategy -- the policy to move all those disgruntled racist Southern whites into Republican ranks. But the party as Nixon would have recognized it ceased to exist after the Republicans captured Congress in 1994. Since then, the national Republican Party has been dominated by far-right Southern legislative leaders -- Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Trent Lott -- and by George W. Bush. The past two elections, Republicans have grown weaker everywhere but the white rural South -- the region that remains the least educated and least diverse.
And rather than present these voters with a picture of a complex, changing world, you guys at Fox serve chiefly to reinforce their fears, to paint people who hold different viewpoints as alien and threatening.
In that sense, your work remains dangerous and disintegrative to the nation. But it is also, more narrowly, tactically, for now, a great gift to liberals and Democrats. You ensure the ongoing Palinization and marginalization -- electorally, the terms are synonymous -- of the Republican Party.
And to think that you're doing all this not on the Democratic National Committee's dime but on Rupert Murdoch's.
Cheers from your new fan,
Here's a bit of the novel I'm working on for NaNoWriMo.
R.K. dropped them off at the main entrance to the old palace grounds. Mary had an enlightening the ride in. She had a chance to take in the scenery now that she wasn't jet lagged. She was startled to see that there were so many shops, stalls, carts and other commercial enterprises. It reminded her of strip-malls back home. Lots of little stores all packed together.There you go! I hope you like it.
Intermingled with the small shops were the hovels of the poorest of the poor. Many of these homes had numerous small children playing outside. The women, often in brightly colored saris were sitting in groups talking and making one of the many Indian breads Mary had grown to love.
Mary had always had an adventurous pallate, but India had been a revelation to her. Her parents didn't care much for "ethnic" food and the mission had tried to accomodate her "American" tastes. But she was having none of it. When they tried to serve her an Indian version of macaroni and cheese she finally rebelled and insisted that she be served what everyone else was eating. The cook was amused but Reverend Moorching questioned her choice.
"No, Reverend, I'm sure. If I'm going to be here in India, I want to eat what Indians eat. No exception."
So she had been exposed to a few Indian dishes so far. She was looking forward to learning more. But the thing she loved most was the paratha, a whole-wheat flat bread cooked on a skillet. It was delicioius. She ate it at all her meals.
But these women around the cooking fires outside their small shacks weren't making bread for priveledged Americans to eat, but for their families to survive. Mary had to remind herself that most of India was desperately poor. A kind of poor that American's never saw. Poor in America meant you only had one car and two TV sets. Poor in India meant you may or may not eat and your children may or may not live to see their 4th birthdays.
Sara caught Mary looking out the window at one of the poor families. She touched Mary's shoulder and said, "I know, it's hard not to look. But if you do, you must realize that there is nothing you can do for them. They were born poor and they will die poor and all the time in between they will be poor. Their poverty is our concern, but there is nothing we can do to lift them out of it. India is a growing nation, but she is not growing fast enough to bring everyone along yet. One day, this kind of poverty will not exist here. Until that day, though, we must look forward and not down."
The car lurched forward and the poor family vanished behind a bus loaded with people going to work. Mary considered Sara's words. They made her both happy and sad at the sametime. She wondered how the woman in front of the hovel would feel hearing Sara's words. What would she think of the notion that there was nothing that could be done for her. Mary doubted that she would agree with Sara.
As they continued to make their way to the palace, Mary saw hundreds, thousands of equally destitute families. All with the same dead stares, a look that spoke of thousands of years of oppression. Thousands of years of destitution. Thousands of years without hope. All piled on the shoulders of these masses of the poor. She wondered how anyone could survive. Was life so precious to them that they clung to it like shipwreck victims clung to the flotsam and jetsam of their sunken vessel, knowing that rescue was an impossibility, but yet they clung to bits of wood and foam in a bid to stay alive for one more breath, one more beat of the heart, one more moment of life. Is that what these impoverished families felt? Not living paycheck to paycheck, but simply mouthful to mouthful knowing that the tenuous thread of life could be cut at any moment. So precious was life that they endured this wretched existence to simply have one more day of it.
Mary knew that the fortuitousness of her birth would never allow her to sink into such poverty, no matter how hard she tried. The color of her skin, her nationality, her family, none of them would allow her to experience what these people experienced. It made her want to cry.
Sara was lost in her own thoughts as they pulled into the palace parking lot. She saw the endless ranks of hawkers peddling an endless variety of goods to tourists. They crowded around the car as it came to a stop.
Mary looked around the car at the brown faces, brown eyes and brightly colored merchandise that these men and women were peddling. She glanced at Sara who gave her a little smile and said
"Here we go!"
They opened their heavy car doors simultaneously and R.K. opened his a moment later. The hawkers stepped back to make room for the women to get out of the car and then closed in.
"Follow me!" said R.K. and Mary and Sara pushed their way though the crowd of sellers with many a "No, thank you"s and "No, not today"s and fell in behind R.K. as he made is way to the palace entrance.
Mary saw bracelets, necklaces, silk scarves, carved figures of gods and goddesses all on sale along with fruit, water, nuts and other goodies. Mary caught a glimpse of a female figure carved in a rich, dark golden wood. The small figure was of a many-armed goddess. The figure danced in her vision, swaying back and forth as the vendor, an old toothless woman, swayed with the crowd of hawkers. Mary looked at the figure as it moved along with her and noted that it had large breasts and a necklace of what looked like human skulls. Mary shuddered, but could not look away.
The figure was depicted standing on the body of a man, crushing his chest and groin with her feet. Her arms were akimbo and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth obscenely.
"Wait!" she yelled above the din of hawkers. Sara and R.K. stopped and looked back.
"What is that?" Mary asked as she pointed to the horrible figure of the multi-armed woman.
Sara followed Mary's finger to the now stationary figure a few yards away.
"It's evil," said Sara. "Don't look at it."
"I can see it's evil," said Mary, "but what is it?"
Sara sighed. The ragged crowd pressed in.
"It's the Hindu goddess Kali, consort of Shiva. She is the destroyer."
"She's amazing," said Mary.
"She's bad news," replied Sara with a sly smile.
"Come girls, come!" R.K. had returned to hurry them through the crowd and into the palace grounds. Mary looked back at the toothless old woman who was smiling right at her, holding the frightening figure before her, caressing it's front, fondling it lovingly as if she derived immense pleasure merely from the act of touching the small statue.
Mary stumbled as she turned and caught up with Sara and R.K. just as they passed through the gates of the old Mysore palace and into the shade trees beyond.