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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday Night Music Thread

It's time this blog gets back in touch with it's musical beginnings, so here's the music thread reboot featuring:

Karen Overton

Big, Bad, & Heavy - Leviticus ( Logistics Remix )

Johnette Napolitano & Danny Lohner - The Scientist

The Hundred In The Hands - Young Aren't Young

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Happened To That "Victory" In Iraq?

I mean, conservatives were shouting that that is what happened - remember......

You'll notice the comments section has been emptied at the Fox"Nation" website. I don't want to go "Full Beck" on this, but one has to wonder if it has anything to do with this:

The war in Iraq has mainly been an exercise in partisanship, at least since the presidential election campaign of 2004. Since Barack Obama took office, however, the issue has mainly faded to the background as Republicans and Democrats alike tacitly agreed to support the administration’s decision to abide by the status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) negotiated by George Bush and Nouri al-Maliki in 2008 that will see the bulk of US forces withdraw by the end of next year. However, that schedule has generated further bipartisan agreement that the White House needs to do more in the wake of al-Qaeda attacks on Christians in Iraq to get the Iraqi government to defend the right to freedom of worship

The problem Congress sees is that of waning US influence in direct proportion to the withdrawal of troops. The White House has a rapidly-closing window in which to use its leverage to assist the Iraqi Christians; after next year, the US may have less influence than any time since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait to shape the direction of Iraq. Since the attacks, the House passed a resolution condemning the “bloodbath,” and sent letters to Hillary Clinton and the GAO to review funding and protection policies for the “indigenous religious communities” in Iraq, apparently to little avail.

Is this about to become - or has it always been - a "Holy War".

Is this America's "jihad"?

It's Just A Flesh Wound

Yeah, Joe "Noun, Verb, Unconstitutional" Miller is still trying to win in Alaska.

Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller announced late Sunday that he would continue his challenge in federal court of the write-in election of rival Sen. Lisa Murkowski, but added he would not oppose certification of Murkowski's victory by state election officials.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline, who is hearing Miller's federal challenge, had already said he would probably lift his order staying certification, allowing Murkowski to assume office Jan. 5 without losing seniority or leaving the state short a U.S. Senator. In a prepared statement e-mailed to the media about 10:20 p.m., Miller said he planned to go ahead with his federal lawsuit "for the sake of the integrity of the election."


Miller's modern interpretation of the "Black Knight" from Monty Python isn't really helping him within the modern conservative movement - unless we are talking about people that think that anytime a conservative loses an election that it must mean that The Black Panthers, ACORN, Jeremiah Wright, and William Ayers met in a secret bunker in China to ensure that only the "socialist" would win.

Here's your visual aid for the day......

Gaming Failure?

I had this theory hit me some time ago when conservatives started shouting about how Sarah Palin should run for president.

At that point, I told myself that there wouldn't be nearly enough Republicans ignorant enough to give her the nomination - but then the voices on the Right got louder. Were they really ready to slit their own throats and bleed out just to prove a point? Had the modern conservative movement become the new "Jones Cult", with Sarah as the one telling them when to take the first sip?

It seemed so.

But then some of them started to turn on her when it appeared too much of the constituency was ready to ask for a second cup.

Now, there's a host of Republicans hinting at a run in 2012.

Mitch Daniels

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) told the AP that he will look at other potential 2012 presidential candidates' stance on the federal before deciding whether or not to run himself.

Said Daniels: "We don't know who the field is. We don't know exactly what they'll emphasize and what their depth of conviction and specificity of prescription will be about the problems that are bothering me, specifically the debt iceberg the nation's heading for."

He previously said he will wait until the legislative session is over in April before deciding and told the Indianapolis Star that he's already turning down debate invitations.

Charles Krauthammer tries to play presidential oracle with Bill O'Reilly.

Chris Christie also has a special place in the hearts of the modern conservative movement when it comes to a Presidential run.

Huckabee could fall prey to his own hubris.

Then there's Newt......

.....and the list goes on.

So here's the question - are conservatives diluting the Republican field so much that they are all but assuring that Obama will get a second term?

Considering the fact that they are investing so much time in trying to convince their audience that he is the worst president ever, it appears that they aren't taking into consideration that those they are lauding as better candidates are the ones they should be more concerned about.

Narrative Reboot

Yep, it's back:

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.

While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.

Look for Sarah Palin's ghost-writer for her Facebook status updates to claim some form of ham-fisted vindication within the coming hours.

The only problem is that one of the modern conservative movements top bloggers - and Palin cheerleader - actually agrees with this idea.

There is nothing wrong with patients planning for contingencies through advance directives. There is also nothing wrong with doctors discussing those options with patients ahead of those decisions. As the spouse of a patient who has faced life-threatening circumstances on more than one occasion, I certainly understand why these conversations need to take place before the pressures of acute circumstances come into play. This new regulatory effort at least puts the conversation where it belongs, in routine wellness visits, rather than as a five-year set conversation. It also appears to make this a voluntary conversation (at least for now), one the patient can decline without any repercussions.

While Ed Morrissey does refer back to his talking points memo and express "concern" over the fact that there will be "incentives" to doctors to encourage end-of-life counselling sessions, one has to wonder why doctors wouldn't immediately do this on their own without dangling a metaphorical carrot in front of their nose.

I can clearly recall the moment when my uncle was told that he would not survive the cancer that had taken over his entire digestive system. Up until then, there had been limited conversations regarding what could happen, what treatments were available, and what the consequences were. That was left out of the "doctor patient conversation" until it was ultimately too late.


Have we entered a time and place where the part of the Hippocratic Oath to "first do no harm" has a payment prerequisite? It would seem so.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The 30 Day Music Meme All In One Go

Rather than draw this out over a whole month, here's my answers all at once:

Day 01 - Your favorite song

Asking me for my favorite song is a lot like asking me for my favorite movie, favorite food, or favorite anything. I'm not entirely partial to one particular track versus another, but in the spirit of the meme I would have to choose "In My Time Of Dying" by Zeppelin.

Granted, this is a cover of a Bob Dylan track, but Zeppelin made it something wholly original and thought provoking. It's blues layered with solid grooves and a passionate vocal turn from Robert Plant that proves why Zep still remains the greatest band of all time.

Day 02 - Your least favorite song

Again, there are far too many choices for this one as well. Virtually everything from the modern country genre as well as any and every Zydeco track ever recorded. But, if I have to be pressed on this one I would have to say it's a three way tie between "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Deon, whatever Kanye West single is being played on Top 40 Radio at the moment, and that Brian Adams song from Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood" that all the preppy girls in my high school were intent on singing at the top of their lungs.

Day 03 - A song that makes you happy

Here's where we get into territory that I consider "the guilty pleasure". My first choice would have to be "The Boys Are Back In Town" by Thin Lizzy, as it reminds me of trips to comic conventions in Chattanooga when I was younger. But then there's "Swing Swing" by The All American Rejects - the guilty pleasure. It's a really catchy track that just demands that the radio be turned up to capacity.

Day 04 - A song that makes you sad

Not sure what it is about Sigur Ros' track "The Nothing Song (Njosnavelin)" that is so depressing, but it certainly strikes a chord with me that is both pleasurable and painful all at once. I saw them perform this live at Bonnaroo a few years ago and I left the show with a sense of emptiness and cleanliness that I hadn't felt in quite some time. I think the fact that I all too often struggle with finding ways to make myself happy when I should just let the music do it's proper job causes me to feel this way.

Day 05 - A song that reminds you of someone

"Shrine" by The Dambuilders will always remind me of my first tragic romance when I was in college. It's actually quite a pleasing memory now that I have the benefit of hindsight and proper perspective on the whole messy debacle.

Day 06 - A song that reminds of you of somewhere

"Toxygene" by The Orb will always remind me of working at Gadzooks in the Greenwood Mall in Bowling Green when I was in college. Each month, the store would get VHS compilations of music that the corporate office thought typified who our customer base was. This was around the time that "rave culture" had taken somewhat of a center stage spot in American culture, and not from the perspective of the music so much as the stereotypical portrait of what a "raver" was. Naturally, Gadzooks - and retail outlets like Hot Topic - had to take advantage of the "movement of the moment" and try and market it into the mainstream.

Day 07 - A song that reminds you of a certain event

First off, I have to consider what is meant by "event". While some will think about tragic events in relation to our country, I all too often think about the unpredictable and haphazard moments in my personal life. With the later in mind, the song that immediately springs to mind is "Skylined" by Prodigy from their "Music For the Jilted Generation" LP. Rather than go into the gory details, let's just say that it was early 1998 and I was attending my first 'warehouse party' and the night was taking a very interesting turn.

Day 08 - A song that you know all the words to

Considering the fact that I grew up in a family that listened to everything from pop, country, metal, gospel, and soul, I had a very unique musical foundation to build off of. Couple that with living in a very rural area of Kentucky and having few friends other than the music that I discovered, I learned a lot of lyrics. Upon leaving home and finding new forms of music and new lyrics to fill my brain with, it became almost reflexive nature to learn all the words to everything I heard. I can't possibly name just one without wanting to name a thousand.

Day 09 - A song that you can dance to

You can dance to just about any song, it all depends on your mood at that particular moment. But when I think of dancing, considering that I have been a DJ in one form or another since 1995, I would have to opt for something from the electronic genre. A few choices right off the bat would be "Pearl's Girl" by Underworld, "Circles" by Adam F, or "Atlantic State" by Dieselboy and Tech Itch.

Day 10 - A song that makes you fall asleep

In addition to provoke a visceral emotional response, just about anything by Sigur Ros is good music to help one travel into REM sleep. I don't often get there right away myself, but it certainly provides good atmospherics that helps one relax.

Day 11 - A song from your favorite band

We'll stick with Zeppelin for this one too, so my choice would have to be "The Wanton Song".

Day 12 - A song from a band you hate

I can't say that I completely hate Oasis, but their attempts at mimicking the Beatles and their overtly pretentious posturing certainly didn't make me laud them as ahead of their time or groundbreaking in any sense. While most would immediately think of "Wonderwall", I think of "So Sally Can Wait", as the piano riff is a blatant and unvarnished rip off of "Imagine" by John Lennon.

Day 13 - A song that is a guilty pleasure

Already let this one slip earlier.

Day 14 - A song that no one would expect you to love

Wouldn't this be the same thing as a guilty pleasure? Not entirely. The way that I read this is that people have preconceived notions about what people do and don't like. But moreover, I think this could be a way for some people to pretend to be more "cultured" in music in order to one-up the person next to them. While I have been accused of the later more than a few times, I rarely - if ever - let my taste in music color my perceptions of another person, unless that person is an unapologetic cockstain that operates under the assumption that they have the answers to all of life's mysteries. But rather than blather on in a seemingly endless preamble, I would have to say that my affinity for Tori Amos has thrown people for a loop more than a handful of times.

Day 15 - A song that describes you

I don't there has been one written yet. And oh how I did hate those moments at house parties where the "girls who's had one too many" loudly proclaims "this song is about me" just before she passes out on your couch spilling her strawberry daiquiri all over your carpet.

Day 16 - A song that you used to love but now hate

This is actually a rather tough one. I can't say that there is one, though there are enough that I have grown quite weary of as the years have passed. If I have enough passion for a track to say that I love it, it generally isn't going to fall too far off my person chart into the category of "hated musical nonsense".

Day 17 - A song that you hear often on the radio

I do my best not to listen to the radio unless it's NPR or the off occasion that I tune into "Bob and Tom" if I'm out early enough in the morning. But when I car-pooled with some friends I worked with a few years ago, it seemed that no less than 5 times a day I would hear that wretched track by Gwen Stephani where she thought it would be clever to chant out the spelling of "bananas" during the hook. But, such is the nature of modern Top 40 radio.

Day 18 - A song that you wish you heard on the radio

Why would I wish to hear something on the radio when I can easily find it online and play in my car CD player or MP3 hook-up?

Day 19 - A song from your favorite album

And we go back to Zeppelin again and "In The Light" from their "Physical Graffitti" double LP.

Day 20 - A song that you listen to when you’re angry

I don't often find myself angry long enough to warrant listening to something that would ultimately make me amplify that anger or assuage it to any reasonable extent. If I get to that point, I generally try to channel it through some form of artistic expression.

Day 21 - A song that you listen to when you’re happy

There's really a lot of these that end up resulting in hundreds of song titles running through my head and me being either unable to name one or having to just throw one out just so I can move onto the next number.

Day 22 - A song that you listen to when you’re sad

I have often wondered by people will listen to music that further pushes them into a sour mood when they are already deep into one. Perhaps it's just a form of punishment that we feel we have to engage in - kind of like aural flagellation. I have to admit that I have taken part in this practice for the better part of my life. I think the song that most typifies this practice, as well as being one that further amplifies a sullen mood, is "That Song" by Big Wreck.

Day 23 - A song that you want to play at your wedding

My wife and I had Billie Holiday and The Cure played at our wedding.

Day 24 - A song that you want to play at your funeral

There was a point in time where I wanted to have "Amazing Grace" played on bagpipes at my funeral. Upon further reflection, I don't want any music at my funeral, as I don't want a typical funeral in the least. There will, however, be lots of drinking I hope.

Day 25 - A song that makes you laugh

As odd as it may sound to some I would have to say, without fear of retracting my answer, "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" by Meatloaf is probably the only non-comedic song that can make me laugh.

Day 26 - A song that you can play on an instrument

I'm not the most adept person on guitar, as I have fallen out of practice over the course of the last 10 years, but I can still crank out more than a few Metallica tracks, some Van Halen, and even "Roundabout" by Yes. Of course there are more, but I'm getting to the point where this meme is wearing me thin.

Day 27 - A song that you wish you could play

Always wanted to be able to play anything on piano. Sure, I can plunk out a slow melody now and again, but nothing that can be considered a legitimate composition.

Day 28 - A song that makes you feel guilty

I don't think there's a song in existence that makes me feel guilty about anything. That's a rather odd query actually. Would be interesting to see another person's reaction to this one.

Day 29 - A song from your childhood

I can clearly recall my mom listening to Queen when I was a kid. She had a "greatest hits" album that was constantly on the turntable Sunday afternoons. Either that, or it would be country radio playing in the background while she cleaned the kitchen. Nothing that stands out immediately really.

Day 30 - Your favorite song at this time last year

Can't recall if there was anything new out this time last year that caught my fancy or not.

Notes From A Family Christmas Gathering

Went to visit some family in Tennessee on Christmas Eve and the conversation quickly turned to complaints regarding Democrats in Congress and Barack Obama.

To put it bluntly, I have more than a handful of people in my family that know just enough about the political process to be dangerous in a conversation. By that, I mean that they are more than willing to be spoon fed talking points from Fox"News" and take here say as fact.

My father-in-law instigated the bitch-fest by proclaiming that I was "an Obama fan" and then proceeded to launch into some odd anecdote about the Black Eyed Peas having a video on their website that made Obama out to be Jesus, or something. He's a rather peculiar individual - who happens to be a "birther" - but when it comes to the family, his heart is generally in the right place.

From there, it was like the spirit of Glenn Beck descended on the living room, as my brother-in-law began lobbing specious generalities about how there was "this guy" that proclaimed Obama was God and that his taxes had been raised to pay for all Obama's "stuff".

I sat quietly on the couch and attempted to entertain the children while their parents and grandparents ignored them in favor of doing the "good work" that Boss Limbaugh would have them do. But all the while, I was paying close attention to what they were claiming.

Here's some of the highlights:

- There will be no Child Tax Credit available when you file next year
- Congress ( read: Democrats ) voted themselves a pay increase for 2011
- Obama gets a pay raise
- You won't be able to deduct interest payments on your mortgage

Needless to say, all of these are patently false.

What was stunning was the ease with which the specious, the vague, and the general lack of context or fact threaded itself through the roughly 30 minute tirade. These 5 adults had absolutely no problem with giving in completely and unblushingly to propaganda and apparently felt more educated as they made their way to the dinner table. It was a "focus group" moment that Frank Luntz would have creamed his pants over.

I wasn't chastised, to my face anyway, for my socio-political ideology but also didn't feel like wading into the ever murky swamp of a modern conservative complaint session. Honestly, I've done my best to not discuss politics this Christmas season in favor of making sure that everyone in the family had a good time with one another. There is a small part of me that wonders how those 5 that were so eagerly lapping up falsehoods, misstatements, and hyperbolic rhetoric would have reacted had I simply asked for "proof" of their claims. I think I already know the answer though.

The Attention Whores Have A Plan

In what is obviously nothing more than a stunt designed to show that they are somehow more "morally adjusted" and "patriotic" than their Democratic counterparts, the new GOP majority in the 112th Congress with read the Constitution once John Boehner takes over as Speaker.

The Constitution frequently gets lip service in Congress, but House Republicans next year will make sure it gets a lot more than that – the new rules the incoming majority party proposed this week call for a full reading of the country’s founding document on the floor of the House on Jan. 6.

The goal, backers said, is to underscore the limited-government rules the Founders imposed on Congress – and to try to bring some of those principles back into everyday legislating.

“It stems from the debate that we’ve had for the last two years about things like the exercise of authority in a whole host of different areas by the EPA, we’ve had this debate in relation to the health care bill, the cap-and-trade legislation,” said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, who proposed the reading. “This Congress has been very aggressive in expanding the power of the federal government, and there’s been a big backlash to that.”

This is akin to contestants in the Miss USA pageant telling the judges that they want world peace, to end hunger, and to save little kitties from trees. It's political posturing at it's most pathetic.

Certainly, this will go further to gin up the Republican base and provide more material for Fox"News". Likely the talking point of the moment will be "why didn't Democrats open each session with a reading of the Constitution"? To that, I would ask why the Republican majority didn't do it prior to the 11th Congress? Oh, that's right, we still had Bush in office. Silly me.

Make no mistake about it, Congressional Republicans aren't going to change course even though they have a majority in the House of Representatives. It's going to be the same "party of no" antics we've come to expect over the last two years. It's just that they are going to have to be the ones doing the explaining when the economy doesn't instantly rebound after Boehner bangs the gavel for the first time next month.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

While Glenn Beck is expecting us to believe that he is giving ramen noodles and bottled water to his extended family for Christmas and Bill O'Reilly talk about Christ and unemployment, there are those of us that know that the bulk of the modern conservative movement aren't concerned with anything but their own edification and how well their turkey or ham is going to be received by their ever spiteful aunt who complains about virtually everything during Christmas dinner.

As I am typing this out, my house is filled with in-laws from Tennessee, two new pups, and kids far too excited to even consider going to sleep later on. There are plenty of cakes, cookies, candies, and pies that will surely add more than a few unwanted pounds before the new year begins.

I hope that all that have taken the time to read my offerings on politics and culture over the past year haven't been to terribly disappointed, as I have enjoyed the comments and challenges that I have been brought here. The next year promises to see this blog expand and become more than it has been of late.

May each of you have a great Christmas day, regardless of your ideological bent.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Beverage Action

Some unique holiday beverages that you might want to try this year:


Ingredients: 3 parts eggnog 1 part Goldschlager® cinnamon schnapps ground nutmeg

Preparation: Add the egg nog and Goldschlager together in a bowl. Add nutmeg if desired.


Ingredients: 3 parts eggnog 1 part Jagermeister® herbal liqueur

Preparation: Mix in a punchbowl or make individual drinks.

And here's another variant on Egg Nog that sounds tempting.

12 eggs 1 cup sugar 1 cup milk 2 cups Bailey's Irish Creme 6 cups heavy cream freshly grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, beat eggs until very thick and creamy. Gradually bet in sugar. Blend in milk and Baileys.

Whip cream in another bowl until it holds soft peaks. Stir whipped cream into egg mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, stire again and ladle into punch cups. Top each serving with a dusting of nutmeg.

Holiday Music

Here's some unique Christmas music for your listening pleasure

The Flaming Lips - Christmas At The Zoo

Dar Williams - The Christians And The Pagans

Bob And Doug McKenzie's 12 Days Of Christmas

RUN DMC - Christmas In Hollis, Queens

The Christmas Schedule

Been rather busy since Thursday morning with Christmas shopping, working extra hours to help out with costs, and ferrying in family from out of state.

And for any of you conservatives who happen to be reading this, liberals/progressives do celebrate Christmas. I even have a really nice tree in my living room and there are lots of cool decorations around the house. You're shocked, I'm sure.

Regardless, posting will be light from now until after Christmas night - when the chaos will finally have died down enough.

However, there are a couple of posts that will be up after work tonight and some musical goodies to help usher in the special day.

See you all soon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some Brief Thoughts For Thursday Afternoon

- Scott Brown continues to disappoint the Tea Baggers that heralded his coming as the opening salvo of a grand revolution. Too bad for him that his stance on DADT is that it should be repealed.

- I'm almost certain that conservatives know the difference between "rationing" and opting not to offer a specific drug for a specific form of late term cancer because, to put it bluntly, simply does not work.

- Conservatives love to pretend to "follow" the teaching of Jesus. To that end, it's no surprise that someone like Bill O'Reilly would invoke Christ in a poorly constructed piece designed to further the narrative that poor people are poor simply because they want to be.

- Perhaps it's just me, but I am of the belief that elected representatives are - in part - sent to Washington to ensure that proper funding is directed to legit projects in their states/districts. Certainly, there is the chance of abuse - and it has occurred before - but if you're going to be "anti-earmark", you might want to be sure that your name isn't attached to any.

- The new "open internet" proposal - a watered down version of the initial Net Neutrality proposal - is naturally being met with a stern warning from Senate GOP members. I'm still of the opinion that the original language remain and that people that don't understand the very basic concept of Net Neutrality should sit this one out, as they are simply making themselves look even dumber than normal.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Persons In Time

I was actually expecting Jullian Assange to win Time's annual "Person Of The Year", as he seems to have actually earned it, but that would have lead to the Right to engage in a collective reenactment of that scene from Scanners because surely that would have meant Time was aiding and abetting a "terrorist", or something.

Naturally, conservatives are more than willing to complain about things they are left out of, regardless if their arguments have merit or not.

...color me underwhelmed by their choice this year of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Is there more to this story? Well … no. Their in-depth profile of Zuckerberg shows that he has a “weird calm,” and their in-depth interviews with people who depend on Zuckerberg for a paycheck finds that they “really like him.” What a shock! Truly, this is the most potent force of the year.

Apparently, Time didn’t know that Facebook launched in February 2004, and had achieved the status of most trafficked social network by the end of 2008. If the issue was impact, it seems as though Time is two years too late in awarding this.

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange cleaned up in the online voting but even far left TIME Magazine couldn’t quite give him the award.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg won the Person of the Year award instead.

The Tea Party Nation did not make the list even though they were able to stop the onslaught of socialism dead in its tracks this year with the historic wave election in November.

What Ed Morrissey and Gateway Pundit - whom the quotes above belong to respectively - don't seem to understand that they could easily say that Sarah Palin is clearly the one responsible for Zuckerberg's win. Why didn't they opt for that avenue I can only speculate, but that's precisely how transparently laughable their sort of rationalizations are when they want to feel intellectually and morally superior to others.

The real reason that Zuckerberg won is likely two-fold:

1 - Time didn't want to give the "honor" to Assange simply because they didn't want to have to deal with what would quite literally be wall to wall coverage and smearing of them from conservative talk radio and Fox"News". For that, I would call them cowards and hardly a "far left rag", like they are so often called. If they were even fractionally as "liberally biased" as conservatives claim they are, they would have given it to George Soros, Keith Olbermann, or Stewart/Colbert.

2 - It is possible that Time was hoping that Sarah Palin and her mouth agape followers would latch onto this story and show how they helped elevate internet sites like Facebook to such prestigious status and allow someone as young and Zuckerberg to finally achieve that all to often unattainable "American Dream". Then again, that option is predicated on the fact that Palin and her media masters would have in all likelihood say something "nice" about Time. Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Regardless of whom on the Right says that this is a poor choice, it does make small amount of sense, seeing as how Facebook is now one of the "go to" social networking sites for socio-political action. Congrats to Mark on his win.

Now, let's sit back and wait to see what Palin's ghostwriter has to say about this.

The Unhinged

It's just this sort of incident that allows conservatives to continually cast themselves in the role of "victim", question the integrity of media outlets that aren't Fox"News", and provide specious claims that it's actually The Left that is to blame for moments like this:

A look at Duke's Facebook page - which has been taken down, naturally - reveals this about the man.

Duke's "Favorite Quotes" section contains a number of links to political websites—mostly pretty out-there 9/11-truther-here-comes-the-new-world-order stuff, but also the mainstream liberal Media Matters and, of course, a Wikileaks mirror. (Expect these sites to be the ball in the exciting "Clay Duke Was a Dangerous Liberal" vs. "Clay Duke Was a Nutcase Conservative" game we'll all get to watch over the next few days.) His "Religious Views" are "Humanism" and his "Political Views" are "Freedom Fighter."

And Glenn Beck is already launched into this game, albeit with a half-hearted caveat that Media Matters really wasn't responsible for the shooting.

Considering that Duke's Facebook page is gone, we really don't know what he had to say about Media Matters, but Beck certainly continues to paint a dark and venomous picture of who runs MM. Look for Beck's writers to fold this story into a new chalkboard meme in the coming days.

Other conservatives are even framing this from the angle that Media Matters and liberals/progressives aren't even going to be remotely curious as to why Duke read, watched, and listened to the information sources he listed on his page. Naturally, the "truther" aspects of Duke's digital footprint get no mention from conservatives. Typical.

But looking at Duke's "suicide note", you get a clear picture that this man was pretty screwed up, and is more on par with an Alex Jones fan than a liberal or progressive.

My Testament: Some people (the government sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V)… no… I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95% of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats… same-same… rich… they take turns fleecing us… our few dollars… pyramiding the wealth for themselves. The 95%… the us, in US of A, are the neo slaves of the Global South. Our Masters, the Wealthy, do, as they like to us…

As far as the "V" symbol, this will likely become part of the Beckian analysis of this story, though it just appears to be yet another example of how plain-old batshit crazy this guy was.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your Thumb Hit By The Hammer Of The God

Let's just say that at first blush, I'm not too terribly disappointed with the appearance of the cast, save what could possibly be the woman who will obviously the love interest. Not that Natalie Portman isn't a semi-decent actress, it's just that.............

..............just watch.

All the key players are there: Thor, Odin, Loki, Volstagg.

My only issue with this was that Kenneth Branagh was seated comfortably in the director's chair on this one. He pretty much turned Frankenstein into an overly stylized version of the most juicy bits of Mary Shelly's magnum opus, so I'm sure that with the advent of special effects in the modern Hollywood realm he's done the same here. Hell, just look at the trailer.

Then again, trailers are normally farmed out to production houses that do nothing but take the best bits of existing material to make a film look far cooler than it actually is. I thought that Bad Company just might be a genre busting film. After all, Anthony Hopkins AND Chris Rock - what could go wrong.

Oh, wait, this movie has Tony in it too. Fuck.

And while some critics, both professional and non, will claim that Marvel is scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point, I have to maintain that I have loved Thor since I was in grade school. Of course, his storyline became much grittier and hard edged during the last 12 years, but I'm not expecting to see that from Branagh's "vision" of the film.

When it comes to comic adaptations, one has to look more at the writer(s) than the director. At this point, we need to be worried.

The writing team's resume includes such cinematic masterpieces as:

Agent Cody Banks and Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer.

There's really no saving grace to the writing or initial story process of this film, even though one of the guys did work on Babylon 5.

Unfortunately, this will more than likely be a film to wait to get at your local Redbox machine or stream live from Netflix.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Christmas Meme

1. Favorite Tradition

I'm not a "traditional" person by any means, unless we're talking about what goes on my plate during Thanksgiving dinner. To that end, I would say that I have no traditions that I follow during the Christmas season, save one - I have to buy Holiday Custard the very moment it comes out.

My Grandmama used to call it "boiled custard" and it's the one Christmas/Holiday drink that I have enjoyed since I was a child. I can't stand Egg Nog or Apple Cider, as both equally nasty, regardless of how much bourbon you add to them.

2. Favorite Elf

Unless we're talking about Lord Of The Rings, I've got nothing. And don't bother trying to make me watch that horrible Will Ferrell film. He's funny within a specific frame, but that movie is beyond pointless and horrible.

3. Santa or Mrs. Claus

Did I believe either one existed, I would have to say Mrs. Claus. I chose her only because I have this image of the "hot woman" marrying the "fat man" - a la far too many sit-coms over the last 10 years.

4: Favorite Reindeer

Honestly never had one - not even as a child. I never really went crazy over the whole "Rudolf" thing, save the fact that we used to be able to get these "beanie baby" type things at Hallmark during Christmas when I was a kid. The "Rudolf" one was kind of interesting, but the magic of it wore off pretty fast.

5. Favorite Holiday Snack

I really love taking pieces of "white meat" turkey and thick slices of refrigerated dressing and putting them on two pieces of toasted bread and then covering them in what's left of the giblet gravy and popping it in the microwave. Very tasty.

6. Favorite Decoration

My Darth Vader ornament. It's probably the greatest piece for a Christmas tree ever. Movable light-saber, 5 quote audio track and all.

7. Favorite Christmas Movie

The first would have to be "A Christmas Story".

Sure, it could be considered the "safe" answer amongst people of my generation - though there would likely be those that would cite "It's A Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street" more to sound like intellectual movie buffs rather than being honest about what they would prefer to see during Christmas - but I've always identified with the various quirks of Ralphie's family, as this very story could have been my life, had it been set in the early to mid 80s.

But there are other films centered around Christmas that I think would qualify for my list:

- Bad Santa
- Die Hard
- Scrooged
- Serendipity

8. Favorite Christmas Song

I cannot stand traditional Christmas music.

I can recall having to tolerate my mother playing Perry Como records during the Holidays when I was a child and realizing that these songs were not only annoying, but poorly produced and executed.

But here's some Christmas music I can really get into

- Bob and Doug - 12 Days of Christmas

- And as much as I can't stand traditional Christmas tunes, it's never officially Christmas until I hear "The Boss'" version of Santa Clause is Coming to Town on the radio.......and those years are becoming few and far between

- This was always such a fun track to hear during Christmas, and one of the signifiers that RUN DMC could bridge the gap between forward thinking hip-hop and broadly accepted pop without selling their souls. There's not a Christmas like one in Hollis Queens.

9. Favorite Christmas TV Special

- A Charlie Brown Christmas

10. Favorite Thing To Wear

- So long as I have my Echo hoodie and reversable jackets when it's cold then I don't care one bit. You'll never find me in a Cosby sweater, that's for sure.

11. Favorite Christmas Book

I recall reading C.S. Lewis' Chronicle of Narnia when I was in middle school but that's about as close to a "holiday book" that I ever read - although I did read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" after seeing it on TV when I was a kid. To that end, I have no favorite as I don't feel one exists.

12. Favorite Gift You Ever Got

There have been many gifts I have gotten over my life, but the one Christmas that will always stay with me is the year that I got these two gifts - yeah, I know it says just one: A Muppets drumset and the Millinium Falcon.

It was 1979 - I think - and we lived with my grandmother while our house was being built. I can still recall walking into the living room and seeing the drum set and the Star Wars toys already set up.

The downfall of this was that the "drum skins" were paper and didn't last but a week, considering the fact that I wanted to do my best Animal impersonation.

13. How Early Do You Get Up on December 25th

Considering the fact that I have kids of my own now, we are up before the sun comes up.

14. How Late Do You Stay Up on December 24th

In full reference to the above question, as long as it takes to put toys together - provided there is anything that needs assembly.

15. Favorite Christmas Picture

The cover to Spectacular Spiderman #112 - always has been.

16. Anticipation or the Day

Playing with the kids and their toys and lots of turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce coupled with the dry wit and stories of my cousin Joey - should he actually make it up from Texas each year.

17. Do You Believe In Santa

I've never really considered Santa to be real, regardless of how much I dug wondering what I would get each year, as my family life and discovery of far too many things early on made considering whether or not Santa was real or not a lesser concern.

18. Are You Sad?

Only that I can't spend Christmas with my Dad anymore.

19. Favorite Part of the Season?

When it's over.

Sure, that's likely the Scrooge in my coming out, but the overt commercialism, the stress of dealing with most of your family, the preperations, and all the other work that goes into Christmas isn't missed once you've taken the tree and all the decorations down, put all the presents away, and cleaned up from the various meals.

Zappadan Again

I missed the annual "Zappadan blogswarm" last year.

Since then, I have - from time to time - took some serious consideration as to what my favorite Zappa moment was. This year, I opted for a non-musical moment in Zappa's history - but one that is none the less powerful.

Here is his testimony before Tipper Gore's unconstitutional PMRC committee discussion what would ultimately become a form of censorship to the music community - the dreaded "parental warning" labels on music that we purchase.

This was one of my earliest memories of Zappa - hearing him discuss the dangers of legislation against the music industry, quite possibly the only industry that the Houses of Congress have no stake in.

I was in 4th grade when this happened.

This was long before the Al Gore that we all know, a past which I'm sure had long since faded during his Presidential bid. None the less, it is all too real and something that I recall even to this day.

But back to Frank.

From my perspective, Zappa was one of the pioneers in the push to make America realize that musicians weren't all doped up hippies that were more concerned with making noise and banging groupies. He was intelligent, thought provoking, and honest - some would say all too honest for his time. I would have to disagree with the later.

There is a lineage of musicians that continue Zappa's legacy of melding intellectual thought and thought provoking expressionism into music. Unfortunately, these aren't the songs that we hear from radio and MTV today. The music realm doesn't really embrace people that take the same path as Zappa these days. And while there are artists that hold true to what Zappa - and all like him during his day - showed us, it's up to the individual to find them. And I think that's what Frank Zappa would have wanted. He wouldn't want us to be lazy and be fed pablum by the pint.

We are to be adventurous in our endevours, to push the boundaries of musical and lyrical expressionism each day - just like Zappa did.

The Dumbing Down Of American Culture

I often wonder what people from other nations think of America in terms of what we have to offer within the landscape of "culture". What do they think of our music, our literature, our art, or even fashion and entertainment. The conclusion I often find myself arriving at is that America, by and large, are a nation populated by "consumers", meaning that we desire things to be prepacked in pretty little containers that come with clever slogans that can be easily memorized, repeated, and processed by those we encounter.

It was this story that reaffirmed my beliefs. Not only is modern American culture being poisoned with laziness and ignorance dressed up to be "sexy", we seem to have lost the ability to recognize greatness in the words from our own people.

Christine O'Donnell's TV ad declaration "I'm not a witch" during her U.S. Senate campaign topped this year's best quotes, according to a Yale University librarian.

O'Donnell's quote is cited by Fred Shapiro, associate librarian at Yale Law School, who released his fifth annual list of the most notable quotations of the year. In the ad, O'Donnell was responding to reports of her revelations that she had dabbled in witchcraft years ago.

Where have all the great minds of America gone? According to Yale, they apparently don't exist any longer. As preposterous as that is - as we all know that there have been more prophetic and intelligent words spoken in America over the last calendar year - here are the list of "notable" quotes.

1. (TIE) "I'm not a witch." Christine O'Donnell, television advertisement, Oct. 4.

1. (TIE) "I'd like my life back." Tony Hayward, comment to reporters, May 30.

3. "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." airline passenger John Tyner, remark to Transportation Security Administration worker at San Diego airport, Nov. 13, 2010

4. "Don't retreat. Instead – reload!" Sarah Palin, Tweet, March 23.

5. "Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Los mineros de Chile!" Chant at Chilean mine rescue, Oct. 13.

6. "I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They're saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?" Sharron Angle, radio interview in January.

7. "We have to pass the (health care) bill so you can find out what is in it." Nancy Pelosi, speech to National Association of Counties, March 9.

8. "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach." LeBron James, television broadcast, July 8.

9. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?" Christine O'Donnell, Delaware senatorial debate, Oct. 19. (The Associated Press reported the quote: "So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase `separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?")

10. "They should never have put me with that woman. ... She was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour." Gordon Brown, comments about a voter he met while campaigning for British general election, Apr. 28.

While two of these are from Britans and one from the site where the Chilean miners were rescued, are we to actually accept the fact that the quotes from Americans are representative of where we are now as a culture?

From my point of view, I think this shows that our ideas of what America is and what is important is far too often colored by where we get our information and how we utilize it. To an extent, this poll shows America's ridiculous obsession with the Tea Baggers, and the media that either propped them up as the true and accurate voice of Constitutional integrity or were too afraid to take them to task on their rhetoric.

Taxation Without Representative Debate

Over the past week, I've been doing some serious thinking about the current tax "deal" that isn't having such a successful time moving through Congress. On the one hand, there is the perception that it's a true compromise with Republicans - as it extends unemployment benefits 13 weeks and amends the payroll tax - but the larger picture is that this "deal" would continue to give breaks to "the producers" in this country that can't seem to "produce" much the last 10 years as well as will add no less than $1 trillion to the deficit over the planned extension.

Here's a few questions I have regarding this:

- Why are the alleged deficit hawks in the GOP - particularly the modern conservatives unblushed by this deal, as it completely goes against some of their key tenets: deficit reduction and protecting the middle class in America. Well, even though those are what they allege are pillars of their movement, we really haven't seen anything of the sort from them.

- Why is Obama so willing to let the GOP frame the narrative around this "deal"? They have been quite forceful with the economic lies they have been distributing to the American people. The foundation for this had already been in place, considering Republicans have not once admitted that legislation they had passed or spending they signed off on increase our debt. It's an all too common talking-point from conservatives that tax cuts don't add to the deficit. This, for lack of a more apropos term, is a complete and steaming pile of horse shit.

- Is Obama attempting a calculated chess move with this or has he been suckered in to play checkers with Boehner and McConnell? I'm guessing it's a fair amount of the later while attempting to create the perception of the former. And bringing in Clinton for a presser really isn't going to get him any friends from the GOP, precisely because his administration was - and still remains in many regards - the catalyst for much of the hyperbole coming from the modern conservative movement.

- Has Obama just assured that he will be primaried in the next presidential election? This is the question that many pundits and bloggers are simmering over at this point. Without question, the GOP are using this tax "deal" to show that it's the Democrats that are tearing each other apart. To an extent, they are right, in as much as many of us within the liberal/progressive wings of the party feel that our voices are being drowned out by this failed idea of "bi-partisanship". Many of us are willing to find some form of common ground, but not if it means continuing a program that has clearly failed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

For My Consideration

Really been rethinking this blog of late.

With my internet access being sporadic at best this past week and trying to figure out how I can make this a truly unique place, I feel it's time for a complete overhaul of subject matter and how it's presented.

I've actually left behind a lot of topics that this place was founded on. And for that, I only have myself to blame.

Get ready for the reboot.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shaping Perceptions

It's this sort of reporting that makes anyone that has never had to take unemployment benefits think that those that have are lazy and honestly don't care about getting a new job.

Again, here's a topic discussed by two people that have likely never had to deal with the realities of being unemployed and having to find a way to make ends meet with what you get through unemployment insurance - something that we all pay into every pay period through state taxes.

Not only am I seriously doubting Kelly's claim that she knows someone that is refusing to take work because they make more in unemployment compensation, but William's statement that unemployment insurance creates a culture of laziness and unwillingness is completely unfounded and wildly inaccurate.

One can't but laugh at Kelly's statement regarding her "acquaintance", considering the fact that I don't know many people that would pass up an entry level position at Barnes and Noble that paid - presumably after taxes - $400 per week. Then again, I'm going with the notion that Kelly doesn't associate with many people below her own pay grade. And I'm fairly secure in the notion that Fox pays their more inflammatory employees more than others.

It's amazing, to many, that Fox and their easily lead automatons are more than willing to call those that have to rely on unemployment assistance lazy, unmotivated, and irresponsible. Having had to rely on these benefits myself recently, I can assure you that they are in no way an incentive to stay unemployed. Depending on the job that you lost, your bi-weekly benefit check would likely not cover anything more than the basics: rent, at least half your bills - dependent on where you live and what you have, and might allow you a modest allowance for groceries. Anything outside that is pretty much out of the question.

I'd like to see Megyn Kelly and Juan Williams spend 6 months on unemployment just to see how they fare. Of course, this would only require them to lower themselves just slightly, as they belong to a station of people that are paid far too much for their very limited skills. But, such is life in conservative America in 2010.

Origins Of Speciousness

Fox"News" has been all about trying to show that the Bush Era Tax Cuts not only didn't add to the deficit, but the economy they were designed to save in the first place - which they didn't - is going to be thrown into further turmoil if they aren't extended.

Here's Dana Perino still thinking she's Bush's Press Secretary putting forth the clearly false narrative that it's the Democrats fault that the Bush Tax Cuts had an expiration date.

Considering that Republicans held majorities - albeit slim ones - in both Houses of Congress at the time this legislation was put forth, Perino's assertion essentially falls flat. And even though there would be required a certain amount of Democratic votes, the timeline of the cuts was already in the initial legislation.

The reason for this was twofold:

First, their needed to be a sunset provision in order to prevent the deficit from exploding to such an extent that the Republican could clearly be blamed for it. Not that that would matter, seeing as how upward of 86% of our debt was created by Republicans anyway.

Secondly, it was to create the alleged "trap", as Republicans are at least smart enough to know that they and their policies can't stay in power and intact forever. It was a near perfect tool to use during a Democratically controlled Washington - be it the White House or one or both Houses of Congress. Ultimately, the blame cannot and shall not fall at the feet of those that created the issue to begin with.

Redefining The Enemy

While most of us are looking at the WikiLeaks document dumps as nothing more than affirmations of what we already thought, conservatives are using them to create a new definition of who our enemy is.

Enter Newt.

It's a rather difficult situation to deal with, on a variety of levels. While Newt, and many like him, think that the Obama administration should easily be able to shut down WikiLeaks, they showcase their complete ignorance of not only the internet - something that they have been doing a great deal of - but of how Americans can legally go after people that distribute leaked information in favor of going after those that actually leaked the information.

So if conservative swallow whole this new narrative that Assange is an "enemy combatant" ( read: terrorist ) then does that mean that Sweden is now a haven for terrorists, as PRQ - an internet company based there - is the current host of the website? What of the others within WikiLeaks ranks? After all, Assange is simply a spokesperson. Are conservative more concerned with making an example of a single person or are they truly wanting to shut WikiLeaks down for good? But that begs the question, is there something they fear will come to light that will hurt their image?

Hunting For A Fight : Updated With Self-Sufficient Irony

Palin's TLC show is truly nothing more than one extended campaign ad expressly designed to make her look good to conservatives that are more concerned with image than substance.

The latest episode takes on hunting. Not because Palin thinks it's a good way for American's to enjoy what nature provides - even though it can be - and not because she enjoys hunting - which she apparently does - but because the image of Palin with a gun is likely to be more effective with conservative men than the Cialis prescription they picked up form CVS on Saturday afternoon.

In tonight's episode of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the former governor showcases the Alaska tundra while caribou hunting with her father. Beyond proving she's a great shot, the episode is giving Palin an opportunity to "proudly" take aim at "anti-hunting hypocrisy."

"Tonight's hunting episode of Sarah Palin's Alaska ‘controversial'? Really? Unless you've never worn leather shoes, sat upon a leather couch or eaten a piece of meat, save your condemnation of tonight's episode. I remain proudly intolerant of anti-hunting hypocrisy. :)" Palin posted on Facebook and Twitter today.

Palin's pro-hunting posts began on Friday when she urged fans to tune in to "see how we fill our freezers and feed our families with home-grown tundra-roaming Alaskan wild game. We'll show you how Alaskans hunt. As my friend Sue says, ‘the tundra is the type of landscape that will make a man out of anybody.' And, PETA..." she wrote on Facebook.

"Does it kick?"

"Should I take him now?"

Yeah, she sure sounds like an experienced hunter, doesn't she.

And I don't think it should be characterized as diving headlong into the shallow end of the pool to claim that this segment is heavily edited to favor Palin - as I know for a fact that it likely was, as I have been in direct contact with persons who worked in the editing process of the program - but I'm incredibly skeptical on two counts: that the Caribou actually stuck around within shooting range of Palin and her father, and that it was Palin that shot the animal.

That aside, I can at least agree that hunting can and does provide an opportunity to have food, I would wager that most families that have hunters in them make more trips to the meat section at Wal-Mart than the wild to kill an animal. After all, it's a sure thing that you're going to get a 20lb turkey at your grocery store if you've go the money for it. With that in mind, think of the costs of hunting gear and accoutrements versus the cost of the gas and food price if you opt for the grocery store. And I'm pretty sure that anyone that owns a pair of RedWing boots and has leather interior in their car should be thanking a corporation rather than an individual hunter for the availability of those things they enjoy.

I grew up in a family of hunters. My dad took me squirrel hunting as a child - not a meat I would suggest eating by the way - and my brother and I have hunted deer more than a few times. The later is more prominent in my area of the US, and hunters often utilize the bulk of the slaughtered animal for sources of food, though there is more than a handful of those that opt for the trophy over the bounty of the animal. In the end, I don't have a problem with hunting, especially if it results in foods. However, over-hunting simply to have a dead animal's head on your living room wall is certainly an issue not to be ignored.

So what did Palin do with "her kill"?


About that whole "self-sufficient need to fill your freezer" crap - seems that Mama Grizzly isn't so fiscally conservative when it comes to the stage setting around her homespun Alaskan traditions: researched the logistics and cost of Palin’s hunting trip which resulted in a bagged caribou, and discovered that it was a mighty expensive way to feed the Palin family, at $42,400 for the trip.

The grand total to charter a Dehavilland Dash plane from Era Alaska to travel round trip from Wasilla’s Palmer airport to Deadhorse, Alaska was $37,600. In Deadhorse, the Palins switched to a 6 seat Cessna C207 Skywagon which they flew into the Kavik River Camp, at $1200 for the round trip, according to Lori Goodman, director of sales and marketing of Era Alaska, the company which chartered the planes for the Palins.

Once in Kavik, the Palins spent two nights at the Kavik River Camp at $250 a person per night, for a $750 total.

Finally, the Deltana Outfitters flew them individually on a Piper Supercub airplane from Kavik into their hunting spot at a cost of $350 per hour for three hours each way, for a total of $2100, according to Deltana.

The grand Palin total to bag a caribou and get it back to the Palin homestead added up to $42,400, or $141.33 per lb. of caribou meat. Sarah shot and killed a female cow which may have weighed up to 300 lbs.

Just to put this is perspective, the Palins could have filled their freezer with ribeye steak at $10.99 a lb.

If this is the way that Palin approaches hunting, I'm guessing there are plenty of conservative brainstorming sessions going on right now talking about how Palin was helping out small businesses by utilizing private Alaskan air travel and lodging for her trip. Nah, they'll probably just ignore the cost - much like they do every time a fellow conservative overspends on anything.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Tongue Talking Point

Because Gene Simmons is who we should be looking to for guidance?

Is this really the person that conservatives think represents the left? Apparently so.

This works well within the modern conservative realm, as they are more than willing to follow the advice and actions of people that are more concerned with fame and making waves than actually acting in a way that would benefit all those around them. Anyone that has even marginally followed KISS since the early 70s should know that Gene Simmons is more concerned with who is paying attention to him than the world around them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Predictable: Bristol Vs. Keith

In which Sarah Palin's drunk stalker - John Zeigler - has Bristol Palin on his show to take predictable and sophomoric jabs at Keith Olbermann after Bristol made the top of his WPITW segment.

Bristol's response began within the warm confines of conservative talk radio.

But Bristol's ghostwriter - the same one who does Mama Palin's posts perhaps? - took to Facebook to try and turn hypocrisy into conservative gold:

Accusing me of hypocrisy is by now, an old canard. What Mr. Olbermann lacks in originality he makes up for with insincere incredulity. Mr. Olbermann fails to understand that in order to have credibility as a spokesperson, it sometimes takes a person who has made mistakes. Parents warn their children about the mistakes they made so they are not repeated. Former gang members travel to schools to educate teenagers about the risks of gang life. Recovered addicts lecture to others about the risks of alcohol and drug abuse. And yes, a teen mother talks about the benefits of preventing teen pregnancy.

I have never claimed to be perfect. If that makes me the "worst person in the world" to Mr. Olbermann, then I must apologize for not being absolutely faultless like he undoubtedly must be.

To Mr. Olbermann let me say this: you can attack me all you want. But you will not stop me from getting my message out about teen pregnancy prevention. And one day, if you ever have a daughter, you may change your mind about me.

I seriously doubt that Bristol would use the word "canard" in her everyday conversational walk, but that's another point for another day.

While Zeigler and his co-host attempt to deflect from Bristol's very real and unblushing hypocrisy by claiming that Olbermann is the real hypocrite because of his private donations prior to the 2010 Midterm elections, they ultimately relied on the "people do this all the time" meme.

Here's where they are, and continue to be, on the wrong side of the issue.

Every time I see some half-cooked PSA about how you shouldn't do "insert problematic issue of the moment" from someone who has been partaking in that "issue" for years, it is nothing more than a "so as I say, not as I do" set of talking points. Personally, I think that last thing that Bristol should be doing is talking about how you shouldn't have sex before marriage - just as I still think that last thing that "recovering alcoholics" - like Glenn Beck for example - should do is talk about how no one should drink. This is hypocrisy in it's purest form. Period.

But Bristol and her ever drooling fans are going to lap up everything she says and does. And to think that people like her and her mother are actually shaping corners of American culture in their image is truly a frightening thing indeed.

Exit observation: I don't really agree with Olbermann's use of the "Bush kept us safe from 9/11" comparison, as it really doesn't do anything but provide ammunition for people like Zeigler, Palin and her ghostwriting staff, and conservatives that like to think they are just like her. Was Keith using it in an absurdist way? One can only assume, but that still doesn't make it any more palatable.

A Tale Of Two Drugs - or - Rationing Your Rhetoric

While conservatives have been framing virtually every medical story this year as proof that recently passed healthcare reform is already resulting in "rationing" -

Now, Hot Air takes on the latest story - does The Pill cause cancer?

Does the Pill increase the risk of certain cancers in women? Even this question gets fraught with politics, as a search of news sites will quickly prove. However, the National Cancer Institute (part of HHS) does concur that use of the Pill increases risks of breast cancer with longer-term use, especially by younger women, cervical cancer, and liver cancer. It also reduces risk of endometrial cancer, and may or may not have impact in either direction on ovarian cancer, although most studies show a slight decrease in risk among Pill users.

Given those risks, women should be informed before taking the Pill in order to make an intelligent and responsible decision. Most who take the pill would probably still take it, as a balance against the risks of sexual activity and pregnancy. However, since more than half of all women who take or have taken the Pill begin at age 18 or younger, they seem particularly at risk for breast cancer, and yet only 19% of those who are taking or have taken the Pill had been warned of that particular risk. Less than half were warned about weight gain, and that is the one risk most discussed according to the survey. Just over a third had been warned about the increased risks of depression, and that risk can easily be moderated by dosage adjustments — but only if the patient is aware enough to link the depression to the Pill.

It's precisely that sort of information that should be given to patients that was ultimately spun completely sideways by that same Ed Morrissey who would like women to be informed about The Pill.

Avastin got approved through a fast-track process demanded by Congress several years ago when complaints about the length of getting new treatments approved reached a fever pitch. Subsequent testing has called into question some of the assumptions made about Avastin, particularly about the effectiveness in delaying advanced tumor generation in breast cancer. However, others note that the drug works for a large number of women, even if it doesn’t necessarily work for them all.

That "fast-track" process helped create the illusion that Avastin was a superior drug that should be given blanket approval because of it's high percentage of success in combating cancer. The only problem is that Avastins works better in theory rather than in practice.

Even with proper information given to patients, conservatives have still been sounding the alarm that the Obama administration is going to prevent specific cross-sections of American from getting needed treatments. So why the sudden change of heart from Morrissey and Hot Air?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Set Of Beliefs Pt II: The Declaration Of Independence

Here is part two to my series about what I believe. And it's something that I think really strikes at the heart of what the modern conservative movement pretends to be concerned about and what the Tea Baggers like to pretend they understand.

The key portion of the Declaration of Independence is this section:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It's the most quoted section of the Declaration, and also the most misunderstood amongst the broader cross-section of the Right in America.

- We are created EQUAL:

There is a verse in the Bible - you know, that book that religious conservatives claim to hold dear - that speaks of being "my brother's keeper". To this, both liberals and progressives in the modern era would claim an emphatic "yes". We are charged with ensuring that one another is cared for - even those with whom we may disagree with on a variety of ideological grounds.

Conservatives call that "socialism", while we see it as ensuring the safety and well-being of our community.

But more to the point of "equality" is that liberals/progressives don't feel that a person should be immediately identified based on their station and status in America, as we are all born with the same thing - nothing. And while some of us have to struggle and fight to survive in modern day America - something that conservatives seem to have forgotten - others are gifted everything at their every whim. Those people, although born with the same empty slate as the rest of us, are far too often brought up to see that those who don't have such luxuries at their fingertips are somehow less of a person, un-equal. We see this played out day in and day out. We see class-warfare propagated by the Right, all the while claiming that it is the opposition that does so.

- We are endowed by our "creator" with unalienable rights:

Here's where virtually all religious conservatives get the poorly conceived notion that the Founders were "Christian", that they believed in Jesus the way modern religious conservatives do. In point of fact, the Founders were made up of a broader coalition of religious perspectives that would likely not be smiled upon in modern times, should these same men be charged to govern our country. To put it another way, the religious practices of the Founders likely does not mirror the religious practices of most of Americans today.

That being said, the word "creator" could mean anything really. Is it the modern equivalent of "God", or Gaia, or perhaps some other deity? The answer is likely none of these, as the use of the word "creator" implies that we all have an individual belief in where we came from, why we are here, and who placed us here. We aren't a Christian nation, but a nation of various beliefs and faiths.

- We have a right to "Life":

The Right utilizes those last three words in order to claim that all people have a "right" to be born. The ultimate irony of this is that once you are born, those some people would, could, and can malign you simply because you don't conform to their short-sighted ideals. They think that once you are born, you should become not an individual, not a person who thinks freely, openly, and passionately, but a person that is part of the conservative collective - a faceless automaton that adheres to the script.

Why does this "right" suddenly disappear in their view once you are born? That is the question that has troubled me for many years. Why does the right to a healthy life not exist outside the womb? For myself, and many others, this is at the crux of the healthcare debate - that we all have the "right" to it.

Presented to anyone outside the liberal/progressive realm, this is a preposterous notion, that all American born citizens do not have the right to see that their sickness is cured, their broken bones mended, their wellness maintained. Certainly, a fair portion of this is the responsibility of the person in question, as we should all see that we eat healthy and not be lazy when it comes to the basics of our physical nature. But of those things outside our control, are we to leave those to the whim of insurance corporations that are more concerned with profit over the prosperous nature of the average American? Is one man or woman's cancer, arthritis, nerve disorder, or heart defect more important than another's? Sadly, in today's world, it is that way.

- We have the right to Liberty:

In essence, this means that we have a right to behave in accordance with our personal responsibility as our own free will dictates. To put it simply - we should be able to behave as we want.

This is something that conservatives - the Tea Bagger set in specific - seems to think has been eroded of late. To that, I would ask how it is they have been able to stumble around on public property all over the nation with signs, banners, bullhorns, and pamphlets all announcing with great bluster - and little intellectual integrity I might add - that there liberties are being usurped and their rights are being trampled on by a man that could very well be something that he's not. Again, conservatives complain about losing something that they have been completely free to express.

Yes, I believe if you want to action in a completely reflexive and intellectually devoid way, you have that liberty - it hasn't disappeared. But what has happened is the questioning of and degrading of the liberties of liberals and progressives. This isn't to say that we don't have them, it's just that our liberties take a back seat to those whom identify with the fringe conservative ideology that has taken center stage of late within the Republican party.

- We have the right to The Pursuit of Happiness

This final right enumerated in the Declaration is one that conservatives in America think is quite subjective; is based solely on who you are, where you are from, if you worship their God, or behave in any manner that does or does not reflect their particular bent.

In other words, if you fall into the following categories, your "happiness" is subject to the amending of laws, criminal and civil suits, and general and specific attacks from a whole host of conservative groups:

- minorities
- non-Christians
- non-conservatives
- gays
- lesbians

These are, from studying the landscape of modern America, are those whom are most vilified and whom are targeted for having the most basic rights of "happiness" removed.

We have seen the highest levels of government under Republican control try to amend the Constitution to prevent gays/lesbians from marrying. We have seen Republicans implement the most vile and fact-free attacks against non-conservatives. We have seen minorities ridiculed, blamed, violently assaulted, and maligned in all forms of conservative media. And we have seen the use of religion to rewrite our nations history and seen non-Christians attacked as if they were not even human.

To Republicans - particularly conservative ones - we are no longer a nation of many, a melting pot, a place where the poor, the tired, or the huddled masses yearning to breathe free are welcome. They see a nation where life, liberty, and happiness - even the pursuit thereof - is predicated on a set of rules and regulations dictated by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin. To them, you are not allowed to be an individual, to be independent. You must be part of the collective.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Theatre Of The Absurd

Got the chance to catch GWAR over the summer at Bonnaroo. Truly a wonderful experience, if you have the stomach and eardrum stamina for it.

One of their latest stage gimmicks is............well, let's just say that Palin fans aren't happy.

Take a look:

What these reactionary conservatives don't get is that GWAR are equal opportunity offenders - they've done this precise type of act with Bill and Hillary, Monica Lewinsky, Osama bin Laden, and Barack Obama.

I'm sure that once these conservatives see the Obama decapitation piece that they are going to say that GWAR were much more violent in their "assault" towards Palin. Anything to elevate her victimhood status just another notch, you know.

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