Obama’s Poker Face

I’ve noticed a few folks mentioning how Obama has one heck of a poker face.  After looking at the events of the past few days in hindsight, I find it very hard to disagree.

The best example came last Saturday night, as he sat through this joke by SNL’s Seth Myers…

Note that laughing smile when they pan back to the President…that’s an act.   Completely.   Not only did Obama know exactly where Osama was, but also that there was a kill-squad en route to that very location while the joke was being told.

That, my friends, is a serious poker face.

So I did a quick googling (the poor man’s Lexis-Nexis) and found this tidbit…the guy does play poker…and does it just like he presides.  BTW, this is dated 9/24/2007, so it’s well before things got real.

Obama was a regular at the low-stakes games — sometimes stud poker, sometimes draw — designed to break up the tedium of long legislative sessions. Poker, beer and cigars were staples; Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers and even the lobbyists who Obama sometimes rails against dealt the cards and placed their bets.

The traits Obama displayed around the card table those many nights are ones he brings to his presidential bid and are certain to be evident — and analyzed — if he wins the White House.

By his poker buddies’ accounts, Obama is careful and focused. He’s not easily distracted and doesn’t give away his intentions unless it’s to his advantage. He’s not prone to taking risky chances, preferring to play it safe. But he’s also serious and competitive: When he plays, he plays to win.

“It’s a fun way for people to relax and share stories and give each other a hard time over friendly competition,” Obama said by e-mail. “In Springfield, it was a way to get to know other senators — including Republicans.”

Obama, then a state senator, was a founding member of the group. He became known as a cautious player with a good poker face, someone who paid more attention to the game than to the chatter and laughter that accompanied it.

Obama studied the odds carefully, friends say. If he had strong cards, he’d play. If he didn’t, he would fold rather than bet good money on the chance the right card would show up when he needed it.

That reputation meant that he often succeeded when he decided to bluff.

“When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he’s got a good hand,” said Larry Walsh, a former senator.

More than one lawmaker teased Obama about his careful style of play.

“I always used to kid him that the only fiscally conservative bone in his body I ever saw was at the poker table with his own money,” said state Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican from the central Illinois city of Bloomington. “I said if he would be half as conservative with taxpayer dollars, the state would be a lot better off.”

Nice little dig in there at the end, but what you gonna do, it’s politics.   

And we have a master playing it for us.

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Roger Ailes Exposed as the Whiny Baby He Is (oh, and the Nazi Examples)

I mentioned in this post that after the tragedy in Tucson, certain folks put it on themselves to be the real victims.   A number of people backed up those claims, and all of these victims work for the same guy, Roger Ailes.

This always-the-victim-and-therefore-above-reproach approach that Fox News takes comes directly from the guy who runs it.

The full expose on Roger Ailes is here.  Please make sure his son reads it (and read it to find out why this is so important.)   It’s a really well written piece, take it all the way to the end, makes the same point I did in the title here.

The following anecdote covers pretty much the entire personality of Ailes and the news network he created and controls.

But what if Roger Ailes is a powerful man because he really is different from other powerful men? What if Roger Ailes really does have to win every fight because every fight is a matter of life and death? So listen again to an average American story from an average American childhood, and ask if Roger Ailes is an average American after all:When he was a baby, he fell out of his crib. He split his lip and he bled. A lot of babies do the same thing. But Roger kept on bleeding. Remember, this was seventy years ago. There was hardly anything known about hemophilia back then. And there was certainly not much that could be done about it, except transfusions of whole blood. “Well, you died. That’s what you knew about it. I was told many times I wasn’t going to make it.”

The closest he came to dying was when he was seven or eight. He bit his tongue when he jumped off the roof of the garage. His mouth filled with blood and the blood would not stop, the blood soaked the sheets of his bed, and he heard the doctor tell his father that there was nothing he could do. Roger Ailes was going to bleed out through his tongue. But his father was a fighter; that is, he got into fights, and Roger admired him for it. Now he fought for his son’s life. He picked Roger up, swaddled in bloody bedclothes, and drove him to the Cleveland Clinic with a police escort. At the factory where he worked, the old man tracked down everybody who had type-O-positive blood, and now he called upon all of them to come to Cleveland for his son. They did, and Roger can still remember their names, Dirtyneck Watson and the rest, men filthy from work who lined up one after another to give Roger their blood, arm to arm. ” ‘Well, son, you have a lot of blue-collar blood in you, never forget that,’ my father said after I got through it, and I never have. A lot of what we do at Fox is blue-collar stuff.”

But he was never that kid, not really. He couldn’t be. The disease he had was the Royal Disease, the disease of Queen Victoria’s progeny, a disease considered effete, a mortal taint. He used to have to sit on a pillow at school. He wasn’t able to go out at recess. And so one day he asked his parents to let him walk to school, like the other kids, and they let him. “And some guys beat me up. I went home a little beat up and my dad, I saw tears in his eyes for the first time. I’d never seen it. And he said, ‘That’s never going to happen to you again.’ He taught me how to fight. And he told me to stay away from any fight that I could. ‘But if you have no options, then remember, son, for them it’s a fight. For you, it’s life and death.’ ”

Everybody bleeds. We bleed all the time. We bleed when we move, we bleed when we bump into things. But for many years — there wasn’t much that could be done for hemophilia until the sixties — Roger kept on bleeding. That’s why he has such bad arthritis: because blood collects in the joints and ruins them. And that’s why he labors under the judgment of his bulk and finds it so deeply unfair when people call him fat. Because he can’t move. And that’s why he found a way to fight so many of his life-and-death battles through the television screen: It was his way of fighting the kids he saw playing outside through the window.

The article notes how Ailes, because he is the perennial victim, sees no irony or hypocrisy in holding others to standards that he himself, and his staff, do not.   Pointing out their hypocrisy does nothing, as they feel the hypocrisy is justified (and therefore isn’t hypocrisy).

To see a blatant and recent example of this modus operandi (merely the latest in a long, long line), here’s the summary with links to how it went down….

splice42 6 points 3 hours ago[-]

So, then, the argument goes kind of like this:

Steve Cohen: Republicans use nazi tactics to mislead the populace
Megyn Kelly: O NO U DIDN’T, STOP THAT, U EVIL
Richard Socarides: Fox news commonly uses inflamed rhetoric such as comparing the other side to Nazis.
Megyn Kelly: NO WAI, WE DON’T

Jon Stewart: Are you stupid? Here is a series of clips showing various commentators comparing liberals to nazis. You do use inflammatory rhetoric all the time, and criticizing Cohen for doing that same thing is hypocritical.
O’Reilly: OH YEAH? Well, I was completely justified. Besides, look at that blog comment on the Huffington Post, it didn’t get removed.

What a [fracking] bunch of morons. If the other side does it, it’s evil, if we do it, it’s justified, and besides, random people that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand also have hateful opinions, they aren’t censored, so we’re completely in the right here. So the left is evil and inflammatory when they use this language and they should be muzzled, but the right is completely justified because joe everybody can say something stupid and doesn’t get censored.

SRSLY.

Meanwhile…Fox is still editing the President’s State of the Union, and then criticizing him for the [edited] non-reactions.

Oh, and if you missed it from the Megyn Kelly lie expose link, here’s Ailes doing the same thing his employees do…being a huge douchebag hypocrite.

“A guy who gets fired and humiliated in the press [for being a poor journalist -ed] can lose a lot of confidence,” Ailes says. Calling [Juan] Williams “a pure liberal,” Ailes says he wanted to compensate the pundit for his losses because he was “mad” and “I didn’t want him to have to call his wife and say we lost money.”

Then he turned his sights on NPR executives.

“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”

While Ailes later apologized…to the ADL…which they somehow accepted….he has never apologized to the kids outside he hates so much for having fun while his “stuff” keeps him inside, weak and pitiful….err, I mean he never apologized to the Nazi’s at NPR, yea, that’s what he meant.

The [Annotated] Michele Bachmann State of the Union Response Speech

As prepared for delivery: [mouseover links for the good stuff, click them for the rest]

Good evening, my name is Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from Minnesota’s 6th District.

Two years ago, when Barack Obama became our President, unemployment was 7.8 percent and our national debt stood at what seemed like a staggering $10.6 trillion dollars.

We wondered whether the President would cut spending, reduce the deficit and implement real job-creating policies.

Unfortunately, the President’s strategy for recovery was to spend a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus program, fueled by borrowed money.

The White House promised us that all the spending would keep unemployment under 8 percent.

Not only did that plan fail to deliver, but within three months the national jobless rate spiked to 9.4 percent. And sadly, it hasn’t been lower for 20 straight months. While the government grew, we lost more than 2 million jobs.

Let me show you a chart.

Here are unemployment rates over the past ten years. In October 2001, our national unemployment rate was at 5.3 percent. In 2008 it was at 6.6 percent. But, just eight months after President Obama promised lower unemployment, that rate spiked to a staggering 10.1 percent.

Today, unemployment is at 9.4 percent with about 400,000 new claims every week.

After the $700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus, and the $410 billion spending bill with over 9,000 earmarks, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money we don’t have.

But, instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt, unlike anything we have seen in the history of our country.

Deficits were unacceptably high under President Bush, but they exploded under President Obama’s direction, growing the national debt by an astounding $3.1 trillion-dollars.

What did we buy?

Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which will put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama’s healthcare bill.

ObamaCare mandates and penalties will force many job creators to stop offering health insurance altogether, unless yours is one of the more-than-222 privileged companies or unions that has received a government waiver.

In the end, unless we fully repeal ObamaCare, a nation that currently enjoys the world’s best healthcare may be forced to rely on government-run coverage that will have a devastating impact on our national debt for generations to come.

For two years President Obama made promises just like the ones we heard him make tonight. Yet still we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.

Here are a few suggestions for fixing our economy:

The President could stop the EPA from imposing a job-destroying cap-and-trade system.

The President could support a Balanced Budget Amendment.

The President could agree to an energy policy that increases American energy production and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

The President could also turn back some of the 132 regulations put in place in the last two years, many of which will cost our economy $100 million or more.

And, the President should repeal ObamaCare and support free market solutions like medical malpractice reform and allow all Americans to buy any healthcare policy they like anywhere in the United States.

We need to start making things again in this country, and we can do that by reducing the tax and regulatory burdens on job creators.

America will have the highest corporate tax rate in the worldLook no further to see why jobs are moving overseas.

But, thanks to you, there’s reason to hope that real spending cuts are coming. Last November you went to the polls and voted out big-spending politicians and you put in their place men and women with a commitment to follow the Constitution and cut the size of government.

I believe that we are in the early days of a history-making turn.

Please know how important your calls, visits, and letters are to the maintenance of our liberties. Because of you, Congress responded and we are starting to undo the damage that’s been done.

We believe in lower taxes, a limited view of government and the exceptionalism of America. And I believe America is the indispensible nation.

Just the creation of this nation was a miracle. Who’s to say that we can’t see a miracle again?

The perilous battle that was fought in the pacific, at Iwo Jima, was a battle against all odds, and yet the image of the young G.I.s in the incursion against the Japanese immortalizes their victory. These six young men raising the flag came to symbolize all of America coming together to beat back a totalitarian aggressor.

Our current debt crisis we face today is different, but we still need all of us to pull together. We can do this.

And that’s the hope we hold tonight as Americans. We will push forward to reclaim the greatness of our country and to proclaim the liberty upon which we were founded.

And we will do so because we the people will never give up on this great nation.

God bless you, and God bless America.

UPDATE: This isn’t even close to the dumbest stuff she’s said before.   This woman is a walking, talking, cliche.   Which is to say, she’s the perfect representative for the Republican Tea Party.

BTW, here’s another takedown on her “Founding Fathers hated Slavery” comedy-bit.  At least we hope it’s supposed to be comedy.

Happy Birther Day, Mr. President!

And an oy and a vey directed right at the heart of America…

Forty-two percent of those questioned say they have absolutely no doubts that the president was born in the U.S., while 29-percent say he “probably” was.

“Not surprisingly, there are big partisan differences, although a majority of Republicans thinks Obama was definitely or probably born here,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Eighty-five percent of Democrats say that Obama was definitely or probably born in the U.S., compared to 68 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans say he was probably not born here, and another 14 percent of Republicans say he was definitely not born in the U.S.”

I love how CNN included a copy of his birth certificate and birth announcement in a Hawaii newspaper on the article.  And included this quote…

On Tuesday, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh quipped on his program, “They tell us August 4th is the birthday. We haven’t seen any proof of that!”

Yet there is ample evidence that defies Limbaugh’s statement and the beliefs of the 27-percent of Americans that, according to the poll, doubt the president’s birthplace. CNN and other news organizations have thoroughly debunked the rumors.

Hawaii has released a copy of the president’s birth certificate – officially called a “certificate of live birth.” And in 1961 the hospital where the president was born placed announcements in two Hawaiian newspapers regarding Obama’s birth.

The funny thing is, for birthers and the like, CNN debunking the rumors simply means they are in on the conspiracy (as is the State of Hawaii, the Secret Service, the Passport Office, and presumable the CIA and FBI…and they all have been for over four decades…I know…the crazy, it burns).

Aaah, but at least the Republicans are keeping it classy…

Washington (CNN) – On President Obama’s 49th birthday, the Republican National Committee is out with a new website full of electronic greetings intended to slam the president and national Democrats. The Democratic National Committee is hitting back, referring to the RNC’s move as “tired, childish, political games that do nothing to help anyone.”

The new site, baracksbirthdaycards.com, hosts 11 digital birthday cards from which users can choose. All of the cards are mock greetings from various political or governmental figures to the president.

Keeping it Classy

UPDATE:  Saw this comment on the nets, sums it up nicely…

GAT_00

27% of Americans say he ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ was born in another country.
23% of Americans still approved of Bush when he left office.

Just saying.

Stay Classy, Tea Party

The message of a controversial billboard in Mason City comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin probably got lost in its visuals, a co-founder of the tea party group that paid for the sign said Tuesday.

He said the underlying message remained: The country is headed in the wrong direction.

[full story]

Here’s that message…completely unambiguous…
Stay Classy, Tea Party

The really funny thing (and this is about the whole Tea Party movement) they are completely unaware of irony (and history, but that’s another post).  “Radical leaders who prey on the fearful and naive”?  That’s about as accurate a description of the Tea Party I’ve heard yet.

When one side is leading through hope and change, and the other is trying to tear down by focusing on fear and death, it’s a pretty easy call IMHO, as to which to support.

Speaking of the fearful and naive….

Mark Tlusty, a member of the group and a district chairman of the Floyd County Republican Party, defended the billboard earlier this year while also discussing his fears about health care reform.

“Why would I want someone to take one-sixth of the economy over and just ram it down so many people if they don’t want it to begin with?” Tlusty asked.

This is the sad thing about the TP and HCR, they keep calling it what it isn’t (a government takeover) and then multiply that fear and naivete to unheard of levels.  The punchline is, well, stuff like the sign above.  Which would be, to be honest, funny if they meant it as parody, but they don’t, which makes it sad.

How long till the Boomers are gone again?

BFD, a t-shirt won a contest

They held a contest, this one won.


I voted for a different shirt, too. These people aren’t respecting our opinions or counting our votes! They just forced this “BFD” shirt upon us, and rushed it to print without caring what we think. Action must be taken, and fast!

I’m forming the Tee Party.

-GreenAdder [via fark.com]

The Audacity of a New Hope

The Audacity of a New Hope

The Audacity of  a New Hope
The Audacity of a New Hope

This post is more just a general clearinghouse of some of the more interesting articles I’ve come across lately, and a bit of a call for a ray of hope, somewhere along down the line.

First up is this diatribe by Camille Paglia [bio].  She takes no prisoners on either side.

By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. At this point, Democrats’ main hope for the 2012 presidential election is that Republicans nominate another hopelessly feeble candidate. Given the GOP’s facility for shooting itself in the foot, that may well happen.

I would mention one quick point of fact that Pelosi was just pointing out some of the more absurd rhetoric that many townhall and tea-bag protesters have adopted (parodied to wonderful effect by Tom the Dancing Bug here). Indeed, it was an illustration of Godwin’s Law and the sad fact that pointing out what others are doing in a ham-fisted way can often make it seem like one is doing it themselves.

I also disagree with her 2012 predictions, at least for the moment.  I wouldn’t mind being wrong on this.

Having said all that about the failures of my own party, I am not about to let Republicans off the hook. What a backbiting mess the GOP is! It lacks even one credible voice of traditional moral values on the national stage and is addicted to sonorous pieties of pharisaical emptiness. Republican politicians sermonize about the sanctity of marriage while racking up divorces and sexual escapades by the truckload. They assail government overreach and yet support interference in women’s control of their own bodies. Advanced whack-a-mole is clearly needed for that yammering smarty-pants Newt Gingrich, who is always so very, very pleased with himself but has yet to produce a single enduring thought. The still inexplicably revered George W. Bush ballooned our national deficits like a drunken sailor and clumsily exacerbated the illegal immigration debate. And bizarrely, the hallucinatory Dick Cheney, a fake-testosterone addict who spooked Bush into a pointless war, continues to be lauded as presidential material.

Which to me really sets up the point: the Democrats might be a bit reluctant to push forward their own agenda, but at least that agenda is rational.   As I mentioned a while back, even if the Democrat do try and compromise on the health care legislation, the Republicans are so worked up into a fervor by their fringe, now their Beck-led core, they can’t support anything the Obaminator supports without facing the wrath of the Fauxrage.

This problem is pinpointed in Tom Friedman’s horribly titled op-ed, “Our One-Party Democracy“.

The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.Look at the climate/energy bill that came out of the House. Its sponsors had to work twice as hard to produce this breakthrough cap-and-trade legislation. Why? Because with basically no G.O.P. representatives willing to vote for any price on carbon that would stimulate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, the sponsors had to rely entirely on Democrats — and that meant paying off coal-state and agriculture Democrats with pork.

Indeed, when we look at the general response of the Beck-led nutjob Republican core, we see the same old mantra being brayed at high volume.

GLENN: Let me tell you something. For those of you who think climate change is real and manmade, you should know this, that — I mean, you don’t have to be a socialist, I guess, to believe in global warming. It’s just that almost everyone who does believe in global warming is a socialist. I mean, believes in manmade global warming that now can be fixed and reversed or whatever. And we’ve got the tools to fix it. Almost everybody who says, “I’ve got a plan to fix it” is a socialist.

So that’s about where we stand now.  A lot of serious, deep, and long term problems to solve.  One party that actually can see them but is afraid to do anything serious about them, and one party that seems to only see a black dude in the Oval Office and can’t come to terms with it.  Oh yeah, I, like Jimmy Carter, went there.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter said. “I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans”

Continued Carter, who is famously from Georgia: “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

Just to be clear here, I don’t think all Republicans are racist, nor do I think anybody who disagrees with Obama or the Democratic policies are racist.  Nor do I think people who don’t understand science, or history are racist [1].

I do think, however, that the level of vitriol, disrespect, and suspicion aimed at the President has a serious racist element.  Gone is the notion of respectful disagreement.  It has been replaced with outright hatred.  Gone is the notion of “we know you think this is best, but believe you are wrong.”  It has been replaced with “He’s not even an American and we need to take our country back!

Gone is the notion that the Office of the President should be respected, in any way form or fashion.

It took George W. Bush nearly four years, and one terribly misguided war to reach this level of opposition.  It took Obama eight months of doing what he campaigned on to reach the same level of opposition.  There is obviously something else at work here.

Such was the audacity of Barack Obama, and those who voted for him.  Thinking that somehow, some way, those that lost the election would accept their defeat and work to re-invent a party that had lost its way in the support of torture and war and an absurd approach to health care.

Instead we got the Party of No.   A party led by those that want to see our country fail.  A party that sees fear around every corner, and steadfastly refuses to acknowledge their own failure, and complicity, in the problems we now face.

A party that, indeed, refuses to accept we even face these problems, and just keeps shouting “Liar!!” at those who painstakingly point them out.   And just keep shouting “No!!” at any and all proposed solutions simply because of who they are proposed by.

I hate to break to to you folks, but its not going to work.   It’s going to continually marginalize you, which is just going to make you angrier, which is just going to marginalize you further.

We need a sane and rational opposition party for our system of government to work.   We need someone to propose *better* ideas, and work to get those ideas implemented.  We need the sane Republicans to take back over their party.

And we need it soon.  *That*, my friends, is an audacious new hope.  And I hold it dear.

—-

[Pic source Our Nerd President brandishes a lightsaber after a fencing demonstration on the White House lawn today during a photo op to promote Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.]

[1] That first link is for the climate change deniers.  The second link is for the “OMG!! Obama is hiring commie czars” people.

Charles Darwin biopic having trouble finding American distributor

Charles Darwin biopic having trouble finding American distributor

Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin in Creation
Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin in Creation

The next round of the war on culture is coming soon (or not) to a theatre near you.

From the Telegraph:

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

I read this news with a rather heavy sigh.  When I read those numbers (and recall recent attacks on science in my homeland) I feel nothing but sadness and shame for my state.  After a weekend when the U.S. lost one of its great scientists, I can’t help by be bothered by the irony at work here [1].

On the one had, we have a scientist using the understanding brought to the world by Darwin on the functioning of living species.  Indeed, some of Darwin’s direct work was on the changes brought about in species of plants and animals that had been domesticated by our own.

This hand includes work that saved an estimated 245,000,000,000 lives by improving crop yields to such a degree that predictions of global collapse brought about by our species’ proclivity for reproduction [2].

For his insights into the nature of nature, Darwin is castigated as the embodiment of evil by some.

Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as “a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying”.

This sad and hateful bias against science and explanatory theories, even as it saves millions of lives and averts global disaster, is a big part of why I have such issues with the conservative movement in the U.S.

People often lament about the lack of agreement is political circles about how to go forward given the deep problems we are currently facing.  In the case of politics, there is often a deeper and more rational reason for that divide, being that each of has has different life experiences which guide and inform our politics and therefore differ on how to properly deal with reality.

When it comes to science, however, the purpose of the scientific method t is to remove thae bias of personal experience and propose theories that *anyone* would find to be true if they collected their own data.  Sadly, however, the politics still come into it, as we will soon see when the next legislative battle regarding how to deal with global warming, and our responsibility to deal with *another* looming apocalypse comes to the political fore [previously foreshadowed here].

Perhaps there will be another Borlaug, using the insights of Darwin, to turn Gore into another Malthus.

One can only hope.

[1 source]

Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009)[1] was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate, and has been called the father of the Green Revolution.[2] Borlaug was one of only five people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.[3] He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor.

During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations.[6] These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation.[7] He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

[2 source]

A Malthusian catastrophe (also called a Malthusian check, crisis, disaster, or nightmare) was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. Later formulations consider economic growth limits as well. The term is also commonly used in discussions of oil depletion.

Based on the work of political economist Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), theories of Malthusian catastrophe are very similar to the subsistence theory of wages. The main difference is that the Malthusian theories predict over several generations or centuries, whereas the subsistence theory of wages predicts over years and decades.

McCarthyism ’09 Claims Its First Victim

McCarthyism ’09 Claims Its First Victim

Sen. McArthy with the Red Glare
Sen. Joe McCarthy

Over the weekend and under the cover of darkness, we had the first casualty of the new Red Scare.

Van Jones, Obama’s pick to help build the U.S.’s green job economy, resigned after the constant attacks by the right wing media.

For those that don’t know who Jones is, here’s a couple of bios about the guy.

When you look at his actual accomplishments, and his dedication, he seems to be the perfect guy for that job.  But oh how looks can be deceiving when one puts on the red sunglasses and sees Commie demons around every corner.

Jones submitted his resignation after the constant attacks from an alcoholic (who, according to rumors on the Internet, raped and killed a woman during a blacked out stupor in 1990) talk show host with the innocuous name of Glenn Beck.

You can see the type of attacks leveled at Jones here (warning: rumors and innuendo abound here).  Just as with McCarthy (read a bit here), Beck’s love of the drink and scarediness of dark skinned men dancing fueled his paranoia.

Actually McCarthy was probably no more racist than your average Republican politician of the 1950’s, which is, well, pretty damned racist.  OF COURSE, racism has absolutely nothing to do with current nutjob attacks on the President.  After all, racism no longer exists in this country.  People how just, you know, don’t trust the guy, have plenty of others reasons to site (cue: socialist/marxist/communist whargarrrbl).

The sad thing is, when one gives in to people like Beck and McCarthy, it only makes them stronger.   There is now blood in the water, and the sharks are just getting warmed up.

In the socialist propaganda news, Barrack Obama delivered a completely innocuous speech to many of the nation’s children today.

[general note: hey, spreading rumors is fun and profitable, why not get in on the action?]

It’s Time to Turn, Turn, Turn and Look at Rick Perry’s Hair

So I heard from the Byrds (via the Bible) that things turn, turn, turn.

Here’s the Byrds…

And here’s the Bible…

16 ¶ And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

That’s some pretty good Bible, eh?  It’s the next verse after the Byrds sing.

This is the situation we are facing now, as a culture.  I mentioned it previously.

One of the big problems facing our country now is the internal division in the choice of directions to go.   This causes a problem, as in times of crisis NOT ACTING is an act, and it is an act that can cause many more problems than acting (even if that act turns out to be foolish).   And BTW, we are face more than just an economic crisis.  That’s a big one, but there’s a few more coming along in the next little bit that we still need to deal with (social security and the retiring boomers, the global climate change that simply refuses to act like isn’t solid science, a global war on cave-dwellers wondering why they keep getting bombed (and the few people who run the show who know), and some others, that’s just off the of the head.)

So there’s a bunch of stuff, big stuff, going on.  Quite frankly, it would take a “Messiah” to see us through this thing.  I think we are pretty lucky to have the team at the top we do, but I have no illusions about super-powers in human beings.  Obama is mortal, and will make mistakes.  He already has, and has owned up to them.  This is a useful trait for a leader, IMHO.  Particularly one faced with as much, as quickly, as Barry.

So anyway, I voted for the guy, so I’m going with it.  The problem with the opposition here is that there is no sense, yet, that we need to act, and soon.  There is some soul-searching that is headed right back to the same place we spent 20 of the last 28 years.  We are seeing more generally empty rhetoric about “fiscal conservatism” which, after 20 years of watching it, seems to be cutting taxes, and increasing spending.   The only question is about which spending to increase.

No sooner had I posted my last post than I ran across this story.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional Republicans, having vowed to return to the conservative ideals of limited government, denounced President Barack Obama’s $3.55 trillion budget on Thursday as excessive and misdirected.

“I have serious concerns with this budget, which demands hard-working American families and job creators turn over more of their hard-earned money to the government to pay for unprecedented spending increases,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Umm, I’m sorry, but the only people getting a tax increase are the rich.  And it’s not even a tax increase, it’s letting Bush’s tax cuts (the ones he made to pay for the war…wait…what?) lapse.   Only in the rhetorical realm does a temporary decrease expiring equal “OMG, HE’S RAISING THE TAXES ON THE RICH?!  Honey, do we clear a quarter million a year?”   [From the other room comes laughter.  Loud, continuous laughter].

“Hard-working” and “hard-earned” money, no doubt.  However, I have yet to see anyone who makes that money simply by standing there and working hard.  Most people who clear that kind of dough on a regular basis worked on Wall Street.  Ya’ll remember them, right?  Hard-working, no doubt…but working hard at what?

My building is currently being torn apart and rebuilt (long story, involving rotting wood and water), and there are 100 or so hard workers out there each day, firing up the powertools the second the clock strikes eight.   They are earning hard money, and they get to keep every bit of it (many of whom quickly send it south, but that’s another story).  Under the tax plan as I am aware of it, it is the workers on main street that get the help, and the folks with deep ties to Wall Street (either through direct action, banking work, or just having assloads of money to give to investment bankers) get to pay for it.

O.k., sorry, got off on a rant there about deregulating the credit industry and how we can try to fix the country.  The whole derugulation kick used to be part of the “fiscal conservative” model, for some reason, but now it’s been dropped…I think.

Regardless, let’s continue with the reaction…

“I think we just ought to admit we’re broke. We can’t continue to pile debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner.

I’m sorry, what?  Where was this attitude when it was Repbulicans spending like mad on a war?  And cutting taxes to pay for it?  I mean, I hate to sound like a broken record here, but we’ve been running huge deficits for a while now, and it was the Republicans pushing it.

“The budget outline shows a half-hearted attempt to reduce the trillion-dollar deficits we face, largely through more tax hikes that will only hurt the economy, when it should take this opportunity to exercise aggressive spending restraint,” said Gregg, the top Republican on the Budget Committee.

Right!  No money for Americans, but we’ll spend like drunken sailors on killing folks.   Unfortunately, “aggressive spending restraint” isn’t what gets an economy moving. The economy is money moving around, people busy, buying, selling, shipping, making things happen.  Not spending slows things down and sometimes they stop.

This is why I brought up the Byrds and the Economic Apocalypse.  We really are that close, folks.    We need to be working together here to get this thing re-started.    Even the “fiscal conservative” Democrats realize that.

A group of 49 fiscally conservative House Democrats, whose commitment to deficit reduction has at times put some of them at odds with Obama’s economic program, hailed Obama’s budget for presenting what they called an honest fiscal picture.

“To begin to set our nation back on the right fiscal track, we must first understand and acknowledge how big of a hole we are in,” said Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a leader of the Democratic “Blue Dog” Coalition.

And we’re in a damn, big, hole.

Reuters nails it on the head with this next statement.

Republicans have long touted themselves as champions of limited government, but surrendered that claim in approving a series of big-deficit budgets during the administration of Obama’s predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.

We got big government left, right, and center with Bush.  And somehow that spending was o.k.  One thing Obama is doing that Bush did not (and part of the reason the Wars are going to cost us so much) is putting the War Budget in the actual budget.  Bush went through a special spending rigamarole that added another $150,000,000,000 or so a year on the ole company credit card.    It’s a big part of our big hole.

The problem with military spending, and it is a problem, is that at the end of the day you end up burning that million dollar missile.   Every loss of life is tragic and I don’t mean to downplay that side, at all, but we train the ever-living shit out of our soldiers.  We have the best trained army in the world, no doubt, and each loss has a human side and an economic one.  Sorry to be cold, and I’m trying not to be, but the cost of war is dramatic and not over when the guns stop shooting.

We’ve had a time for war, and now is a time for peace, and rebuilding.  It’s a time for coming together.   We can argue about it in a few years, if we are still talking, and have not become the Beasts of Ecclesiastes.

And just a quick primer, for those that don’t follow human nature…it’s a beast when things gets rough.  If you can feel it at the top, trust me…they feel it at the bottom, multiplied be each economic ladder you move down.   It’s kind of a primal thing actually.

Luckily, we can vote on things and don’t have to settle them in the schoolyard like they did in the old days.   The votes, BTW, have already been cast.  Trust me, my internet friends…those not on this wondrous network, have been feeling the pangs of the economic downturn since it first happened (generations ago), are about ready to burst.   There’s a lot of them, and they have hope now that change is on the way.

Let’s keep it that way, and keep the beasts at the gate.   Republicans shoud be like canyon water now, giving, fast, and learning.  Going with the flow a bit, but always remembering that during a downpour, it doesn’t pay to be ice.  The time for a change in course will come, but not next week, and not even next year.

There comes a time for everything, and given the economic and political situation, Obama is now a juggernaut.  It’d be best to get out of the way for a bit.  Rick Perry, I’m looking at you and your hair.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama singled out Texas on Friday as a state that could lose out under the newly enacted $797 billion economic stimulus package because Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t totally ruled out rejecting some funds.

[another story]

Rick Perry and His Hair

That’s what they call a pimp slap on K Street.  Obama wields the bully pulpit, and he actually knows where that term came from.  Watch yo’self.

A’hem…

The huge stimulus bill includes a provision that allows legislatures to override governors and accept funding even if a governor objects.

“I haven’t spoken to the governor about it, but I hope that all Texans, regardless of politics, will make sure we maximize the use of federal funds available to the benefit of our taxpayers,” said Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat.

And that, boys and girls, is why the thing is 1,000 pages long.   The long arm of the pimp slap, in legislative reality.

The Economic Apocalypse (retro-look)

This line of thought began with this MetaFilter post linking to this FRONTLINE piece on what happened with the banking/ibanking sector last Fall. [BTW, the best animation explanation of the problems is here.]

The FRONTLINE documentary does a great job at pointing out some of the players in the mix and the personal relationships that helped bring the problem to a head.

Perhaps the most poignant bit was on the relationship between Henry (“Hank”) Paulson (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and Richard Fuld (of the bankrupt Lehman Brothers).  Fuld firmly believed up to the last that Paulson would help him out.  Instead, Paulson decided to make an example of him…and teach him a lesson.  Before we get to the lesson that Paulson learned (yea…he screwed up) we have a quick and funny story about Fuld…

Mr Fuld, who has been testifying on the financial crisis before the US House Oversight Committee, was attacked on a Sunday shortly after it was announced that the banking giant was bankrupt.

Following rumours that the incident had occurred, Vicki Ward, a US journalist, said “two very senior sources – one incredibly senior source” had confirmed it to her. “He went to the gym after … Lehman was announced as going under,” she told CNBC. “He was on a treadmill with a heart monitor on. Someone was in the corner, pumping iron and he walked over and he knocked him out cold.

“And frankly after having watched [Mr Fuld’s testimony to the committee], I’d have done the same too.”

—-

In a robust performance in front of the committee, Mr Fuld said that he would wonder “until they put me in the ground” why the US government had not rescued the 158-year-old firm. He said that regulators were fully aware of its plight well before its collapse.

This bit here, about how Fuld still doesn’t understand why he was let to fall, is a big part of the FRONTLINE piece.  When it became known that, really, none of the investment banks were safe, AND THE GOVERNMENT WASN’T GOING TO HELP, the panic set in and we got something I called the “Seven Minutes of Death“.  That was the point when the entire concept of a “rational market” disappeared along with about $7,000,000,000,000….in seven minutes.

Paulson wanted to make a point with Fuld, and that point was that the government isn’t going to help you.  Sadly, this sticking to some sort of “market morality” is exactly the thing that pushed the whole system to collapse.  The problem was exacerbated by election year politics, as noted in my post “Why the Failout Failed.”

When Lehman was allowed to collapse, it triggered off all the “bombs” (CDS) in the animation linked above, as these were the underlying insurance for the entire scheme.  The fact that people were selling armageddon insurance (essentially) should have been a sign that something wicked was this way coming.

A couple more quick personal anecdotes.  Phil Gramm offered a rambling defense of his bill that allowed this stuff to happen.   I countered that, I think fairly effectively, in this video, which has a more political side to it than the animation.  The simple fact of the matter is that this breakdown was created by GREED at every level.  Without something to regulate that GREED, it ate the system.

The best part of that Phil Gramm piece is this blurb on the bottom.

Mr. Gramm, a former U.S. Senator from Texas, is vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank. UBS. This op-ed is adapted from a recent paper he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute

Hmmm, where have I been reading about UBS lately…oh yea…the U.S. and their pissing match with the Swiss.  General note on International Politics, when you start to piss off the Swiss, it might be time to re-think your awesome plan.

ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) – The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) called on Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country’s biggest bank UBS that threatens prized banking secrecy.

Switzerland should also reconsider its policy of representing the United States in countries where it has no diplomatic presence, the parliamentary SVP said in a statement.

The SVP said gold stored by the Swiss National Bank in the United States should be repatriated and Switzerland should ban the sale of U.S. funds in the country to protect Swiss investors after the failure of U.S. regulators.

The comments came after UBS agreed on Wednesday to pay a fine of $780 million and to disclose about 250 names of U.S. clients it said had committed tax fraud to settle U.S. criminal charges that it had helped rich Americans dodge taxes.

U.S. tax authorities said on Thursday they were still pursuing a civil case against UBS seeking access to thousands more names of U.S. citizens it says are hiding about $14.8 billion in assets in secret Swiss bank accounts.

[full story]

This has been the long run towards the end of the “secret Swiss bank account” legend.  A number of the rich (Howdy, Mr. Gramm) use these methods to avoid paying taxes.  It is this kind of stuff, exactly, that led to the fiction of the Laffer Curve (the idea being that by lowering tax rates, it’s no longer worth it to hide money and thus government revenues increase with lower tax rates).

One of the things the Patriot Act has allowed for is previously unknown levels of intrusion into American’s financial status.  It was exactly this type of intrusion that led to the ouster of Eliot Spitzer.   Sure, Spitzer was never charged with a crime, but was excised from public life because of the way he spent his personal money.  The Feds are watching that closely, and if you are an up-and-comer from The Other Party…watch yo-self, because they are watching too.

So now we have a federal government that is a) strapped for cash and b) has all the tools necessary to find those nest eggs and secret storage places.  Oh, and it has a huge mandate from The People to do something about it all, and do something Obama certainly is.

At this point it’s really hard to tell what is going to happen.  A lot of people really don’t understand how much has changed and how badly we have been hallowed out.  One guy does, and his outlook is a bit less than rosy.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Renowned investor George Soros said on Friday the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.

Soros said the turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union.

He said the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September marked a turning point in the functioning of the market system.

And he’s right.  Because of a few people’s “faith” in a broken market, and not acting quickly enough to shore up the lynchpins of the economy, we crashed a lot harder than we needed to.  The crashing in and of itself adds additional costs to a recovery (think…the looting and burning that goes with mobs mad at The Man…and taking it out on anything and everything within reach…of which The Man owns little).   In this case, the mobs were the Republicans and The Man is Obama  (yes, we are in Bizarro world now).

Playing obstructionist *now* is closing the barn door after the barn has been burned to the ground.

What we want to build in place of the barn is the question now.   It should be noted, however, that we are living in the 21st century now, and rebuilding an 18th Century barn might not be the best idea.

Just some food for thought, from the bottom, where I eat scraps that filter down.

Every Day is a Gift (Even for Republicans)

I put together this little video the other day to try and make a point.   During the video I hold up a particular book that talks about, generally, some of the stuff I am gettting at in the video.  Here’s the vid…

After I had created the video (which I recorded on Valentine’s Day) I was reading a bit about someone who is hated because of her name.  She, too, mentioned the book I held up during the video, which leads to the second half of this post.

The full interview with “The Daugher of the Anti-Christ [sic]” is available here. It is the sad fact that many Republicans actually call someone by that name which illustrates what a sad fact it is.

Alexandra P followed around the McCain/Palin campaign during the election after it became clear that they were going to lose, badly.  I wrote a bit about why that was a while back.

Here’s what AP observed…(the person, not the media organization). Let’s start with the connection to my video (and the random book I spied while making it).  From the narrator…

When Alexandra Pelosi made the Emmy-winning documentary “Journeys With George” in 2000, about her 18 months on the campaign trail with soon-to-be-President George W. Bush, her mother, Nancy, was not yet speaker of the House, and the name “Pelosi” was not yet an epithet on the lips of Republicans.

Eight years later, Pelosi went back out on the GOP campaign trail and into the lion’s den, in the waning days of John McCain’s failed bid for the White House. In her latest film, “Right America: Feeling Wronged,” which debuts on HBO Monday night, Pelosi attends McCain and Sarah Palin rallies in 28 states and puts her microphone in the faces of some very passionate conservatives. As defeat looms, she watches the Republican base go through a very public grieving process, with most of the stages that psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described — denial, depression and a whole lot of anger — but not very much acceptance. Salon spoke to Pelosi by phone.

And then we get on to the question and answer portion of the article….

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