News Roundup for 3/31/09

Drunk passed out on floor
Not handling the economy well

-Headline of the day-
"Website offers emotional rescue from economy."

A government website has been launched to help you figure out if you or a loved one are being driven goofy by the economy. The Dept. of Health and Human Service's Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration has put together "A Guide to Getting Through Tough Economic Times" which, despite the name, isn't so much a guide to getting through tough economic times as it is a guide to dealing with mental illness that might accompany tough economic times.

"By helping people remain resilient, we can help promote the overall recovery of our nation," SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said in a statement. Signs that you're not being resilient include:

-Persistent sadness/crying

-Excessive anxiety

-Lack of sleep/constant fatigue

-Excessive irritability/anger

-Increased drinking

-Illicit drug use, including misuse of medications

So, if you or a loved one are crying all the time, while playing the horses and shooting heroin, someone just might being having a little trouble. It's really good to know what to look for. Steps you can take if you find yourself going mental include:

-Trying to keep things in perspective -- recognize the good aspects of life and retain hope for the future.

-Strengthening connections with family and friends who can provide important emotional support.

-Engaging in activities such as physical exercise, sports or hobbies that can relieve stress and anxiety.

-Developing new employment skills that can provide a practical and highly effective means of coping and directly address financial difficulties.

Taking up alcoholism or kleptomania are generally considered counterproductive. Want proof that this is a new administration? The only mention of religion is a "Spiritual leader" in a list of people you might look to for help or support. If this were still the Bush administration, the only words on the entire site would be "LOVE JESUS!"

Pray if you must, but the only difference between prayer and sitting on your ass doing nothing is intent. You might as well go back to drinking and crying. (Reuters)

-Today's dumbass question brought to you by...-
...FOX News. Who else?

The FOX Forum asks -- apparently in all seriousness -- "Is Obama Too Bright To Be President?" I guess when you consider George W. Bush to have been a good president, you're a little suspicious of any president who isn't a complete moron. In the piece, John Tantillo (who's listed as "Marketing Expert/Founder and President, Marketing Department of America" -- whatever the hell that is) argues that Obama has a branding problem. And that branding problem is that Barack Obama's a big smartypants.

"I can hear the peanut gallery objecting: 'But President Obama isn’t oozing Carter-sque doom and gloom.' Fair enough. But he’s oozing something worse: he’s oozing too much intelligence," writes Mr. Marketing Expert. "Yes, too much intelligence. Intelligence is not a bad thing, but a president should never put too much of it on display."

Yeah, that'd be bad, because it would do crazy-assed stuff like inspire confidence and project competence. Who needs that?

I'm not wondering anymore why I've never heard of the Marketing Department of America -- the founder's kind of an idiot. (FOX News, via reddit)

-It sounds like either a bad porn scenario or an awesome porn scenario-
Depends on what you're into, I guess. Call it "Beauty Pageant Girls in Gitmo!" Miss Universe, Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza, and Miss America Crystal Stewart were given a tour of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility earlier this month. Mendoza, whose duties apparently include updating the Miss Universe blog, wrote about the experience, calling it "a loooot of fun!"

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience...All the guys from the Army were amazing with us. We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting. We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.

The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago. It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

Sounds great, if all the torture doesn't bother you. Next up, Chinese prisons and N. Korean re-education camps.

That sounds soooo nice! (Huffington Post)

A Case of Political Camouflage

Dawn JohnsenAccording to the St. Petersburg Times' Politifact site, Dawn Johnsen -- Barack Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel -- joined the faculty of the University of Indiana in 1998, "following a distinguished career in Washington, D.C." She served at Justice under Bill Clinton, "including as Acting Assistant Attorney General heading the Office of Legal Counsel where she provided constitutional and other legal advice to the Attorney General, the Counsel to the President, and the general counsels of the various executive branch agencies."

Before that, she was the Legal Director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America) and worked with the American Civil Liberties Union. "Johnsen serves on the national board of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and as co-chair of the ACS Issue Group on Separation of Powers and Federalism," we're told. "Her research interests include issues of separation of powers (especially presidential power) and civil liberties (especially reproductive rights). She has testified before Congress and appeared on many national television and radio news programs as an expert on these issues."

You see the problem. Dawn Johnsen is one of those crazy people who think that using the law to force women to remain pregnant against their will is a bad thing. This is the right's cue to completely freak out. And, freaking out being his stock and trade, Iowa Rep. Steve King does just that. In a press release, King list some quotes of Johnsen's that he seems to think make a slam dunk case against her confirmation:

-"Statutes that curtail her abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state's asserted interest." – Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services

-"The woman is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not wholly her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends. Thus, abortion restrictions, 'reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.'" –Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services

-"The argument that women who become pregnant have in some sense consented to the pregnancy belies reality... and others who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more 'consent' to pregnancy than pedestrians 'consent' to being struck by drunk drivers."- Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services

This proves two things; Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, is dumber than a sack of hammers and that there's no pro-choice argument anyone could ever make that the religious fanatics wouldn't find offensive. I didn't even cherrypick those -- those really are King's first three examples. You've got three logical arguments (that King doesn't bother to rebut) for legal abortion. If, as I've pointed out, abortion restrictions keep women pregnant against their will, it's hard to find a flaw in these arguments. Unlike King, most of the anti-Johnsen propaganda takes these comments completely out of context.

"Her bizarre characterizations of pregnancy as 'slavery' and mothers as 'losers in the contraceptive lottery' expose an unacceptable disdain for commonsense abortion restrictions and motherhood in general," says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, in a press release. For the right, honesty is a handicap in the fight against evil.

But the opposition to Johnsen comes from just more than the religious right. It's become an institutional stand of the entire Republican party. It's pretty clear to me that the party -- as an organization, at least -- doesn't really give a damn about abortion. They talk about it around election time, then turn their attention to tax cuts and privatizing everything under the sun once they get elected. As a result, the Republican party has made very little headway in eliminating abortion. And why should they? Those anti-abortion chumps vote Republican every time -- what happens to the one-issue voter when that issue is resolved? Republicans, despite all their rhetoric, have a vested interest in keeping abortion legal. They don't have to be activists about it, they just have to ignore the issue 90% of the time.

Still, Johnsen has had a fairly rocky road to confirmation. Her nomination left the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single Republican vote. She was to be brought to the Senate floor twice, but Republicans held her confirmation hearing back. They really don't want her to join Team Obama. If Johnsen isn't especially outside the mainstream on the issue of choice -- an issue that Republicans ignore regularly anyway -- what's all the obstructionism about?

For the answer, we turn to law professor and writer for Harper's magazine Scott Horton. In a piece for The Daily Beast, he lays it all out.

The real reason for their vehement opposition is that Johnsen is committed to overturning the Bush administration’s policies on torture and warrantless surveillance, which would clip the wings of the imperial presidency. Even more menacingly (from their perspective), she is committed to shining a light on some of the darkest skeletons of the Bush years. Already, publication of OLC memoranda authorizing torture, approving warrantless surveillance, and pronouncing the First and Fourth Amendments a dead letter in connection with domestic military operations has rocked the public. More memos, potentially even more disturbing, I have learned, are about to be made public soon. Yet these are difficult issues on which to attack Johnsen, other than through vague suggestions that she is "weak on national security." Hence the steady stream of accusations linked to her largely irrelevant views about abortion rights.

Will the Republicans attempt to filibuster the Johnsen nomination? The threat is sufficiently serious to have provoked the editors of the New York Times to editorialize in support of Johnsen on Thursday. Calling the operation of OLC in the Bush era "lawless," the editors wrote, "Ms. Johnsen is superbly qualified and has fought for just the sort of change the office needs."

That's right, in addition to the radical notion that women shouldn't be forced to stay pregnant, Dawn Johnsen also believes that torture is a bad thing -- a crime, in fact. And as a result of that position, she believes that the details of these crimes should be made public.

"In the coming two weeks, their push for transparency will result in the publication of more Bush-era OLC memos, including the specific approvals granted for waterboarding, extended isolation, and other torture techniques -- memos that the Bush administration has sought to keep secret," Horton tells us. "Former CIA Director Michael Hayden and Obama adviser John Brennan are said to have 'gone to the mat' to keep the opinions secret, but Obama sided with his designated OLC team and upheld the decision to declassify and publish them."

The Republican party is rallying the nutjob base with distortions about her beliefs and statements. They're doing this to provide cover for the Bush administration and -- by extension -- themselves. There's no shortage of clips of GOP bigwigs defending Bush's "harsh interrogation techniques" on talking head shows. The more people find out about Bush's torture policies, the more likely it is that these defenders will find one of those clips used in a campaign ad in their next election. For a party already suffering from a connection to George W. Bush, the last thing they need is to have new revelations constantly coming out and constantly keeping the Bush administration topical. They need voters to forget that any of it ever happened.

But they can't come out and say that. They can't fight Johnsen's nomination on her opposition to torture and her commitment to government transparency, because that too keeps the Bush administration topical. So they use the nuts. They convince them that she's Hitler reincarnate; a hater of babies and motherhood, a crazy woman committed to the destruction of as many fetuses as is possible. It's not hard. It's been decades since Republicans started doing this and a lot of the chumps still haven't wised up. They'll freak out and call their Senators because that and voting are their only usefulness to the party.

That's all this abortion stuff is when it comes to the Johnsen nomination -- political cover. And the religious right, as they always have been, are more than happy to be used.


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France police arrest drunk cyclists: That’s as stupid as the War on Drugs


(The true axles of evil…?)

Now, here’s something really stupid. A bit like invading one country, when you have a bone to pick with a fugitive explosive backpacker from a totally different one.

Something, in short, that’s not just foolhardy but that has quite deadly but perfectly foreseeable, unintended consequences:

“10 cyclists were arrested in Bordeaux for drunkenness as part of a nationwide crackdown denounced by diners as an insult to the country’s gastronomic tradition. Police claim that the action is in response to a spate of accidents involving road-users on two wheels, but it has increased an already heated debate over official attitudes toward alcohol consumption. French food lovers, who say it is impossible to savour the country’s cuisine without its best-known beverage, are calling for tolerance when they cycle home afterwards.”

Of course, in Holland we have the same kind of alcohol laws as they have in France. In our country it is against the law to be drunk whenever you are out on the road, whether you do that as a car or motor driver, as a cyclist, a pedestrian or someone riding his or her pony, donkey, Dobermann pinscher or a privately owned & cloned Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The alcohol laws don’t care about your travelling arrangements, as long as you move or loiter in a sober fashion.

Unlike their French counterparts though, the Dutch police don’t go about breathalizing cyclists and pedestrians (unless they are arrested for breaking any other laws than being drunk, that is.) These Dutch police officers won’t come out and say so, of course, but they choose not to harass cyclists and pedestrians in this fashion because our men and women in blue know better than most that, at times, the law is an ass.

You don’t need to be a statistician to realize that, no matter how hard they try, pedestrians and cyclists will never be able to wreak as much havoc or kill as many other road users as motorists do. A suicidally reckless pedestrian or Hannibal Lecter type cyclist will never be a match for a mildly demented old lady or a distracted Church of England vicar driving the humblest of Peugeots or Ford Escorts.

Yes, it has happened that a drunk pedestrian or cyclist caused an accident in which other people were hurt or even died but it just doesn’t happen very often – and it certainly doesn’t happen often enough to resort to the kind of policies and tactics that the French police have decided to adopt.

In other words, drunk drivers are a real danger and police and other government agencies should do all they can to inform people of the dangers of drunk driving, encourage them to find other means of transport when drunk and have strict laws with real teeth for those who do drink and drive.

What you really don’t want to do is to go after drunk cyclists and pedestrians, of whom quite a large number also own cars. The moment you pursue people like the latter (who for one reason or the other chose not to drive their cars that day) these folks may well decide to drive their cars the next time they are going somewhere where they will drink alcohol, reasoning that they may as well be hanged for one offence as the other.

They might even argue that they have a better chance avoiding getting caught when driving their car than by going home drunk by other, much slower means – and each person deciding to do so would risk their own and other people’s lives to a much greater and much more real extent than a hundred drunk pedestrians or cyclists would ever manage to do.

Like the War on Drugs, or the War on Terror, the War on Drunk Pedestrians and Cyclists is the truly dumb thing to do.

(John McCain: Singing at the French Policemen’s Ball…?)


News Roundup for 3/30/09

Man yelling at laptop
Typical liberal comments on a blog

-Headline of the day-
"Dear blog commenters: Why do you hate America?"

In an op-ed for the Washington Times, conservative pundit and former Drudge Report editor Andrew Breitbart reveals the greatest single threat to American democracy today -- liberals who comment on conservative blog posts.

"A digital war has broken out, and the conservative movement is losing. Read the comment sections of right-leaning blogs, news sites and social forums, and the evidence is there in ugly abundance. Internet hooligans are spewing their talking points to thwart the dissent of the newly-out-of-power," Andy writes. "We must not let that go unanswered."

"Uninvited Democratic activists are on a mission to demoralize" conservatives, he says. Turns out that liberals "want to ensure that President Obama is not subject to the same coordinated, facts-be-damned, multimedia takedown they employed over eight long years to destroy the presidency - and the humanity - of George W. Bush."

Yeah, it goes on like that -- hysterical, hyperbolic, and goofy. Who's behind all this internet hooliganism? Barack Obama himself. "Much of Mr. Obama's vaunted online strategy involved utilizing "'internet trolls' to invade enemy lines under false names and trying to derail discussion," he writes.

But it gets really fun when Breitbart explains that conservatives don't leave nasty comments on blogs they don't like -- because they're too nice and too religious.


"The right, for the most part, embraces basic Judeo-Christian ideals and would not promote nor defend the propaganda techniques that were perfected in godless communist and socialist regimes," he writes. As someone who's been called a communist, an America-hater, a terrorist-lover, and a follower of the Antichrist, I can vouch for the nastiness of your average conservative commenter. There aren't any commenters of any political persuasion who mix anger, ignorance, and plain stupidity quite so well as the average right wing nutjob. They really are talented at making asses of themselves.

You know what's really funny? Andy probably really believes his own bullshit. (Salon's War Room)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, the economy got you down? Try leveraging!

Leverage Me Tender
Click for animation

Remember, as long as it's someone else's money, you can't go wrong! (MarkFiore.com)

-A word from the failure expert-
In the New Yorker, journalist Seymour Hersh writes that then president-elect Obama worked hard at ending the conflict in Gaza before he was even sworn in. Denizens of the White House at the time who happened to be named "Dick Cheney" didn't like that much. So Dick worked against Obama, warning Israeli officials that the new president was a "pro-Palestinian" shill who wouldn't represent their interests well.

Cheney, according to Hersh, "disparaged Obama, referring to him at one point as someone who would 'never make it in the major leagues.'"

Like Dick "made it in the major leagues." He's one of the most unpopular figures from the Bush administration, both at home and abroad. If he were young enough to entertain a continuing future in politics, he'd find himself completely unelectable and unemployable. Dick Cheney is, quite simply, a washed up old failure of a vice president. Getting criticism from him is like getting parenting advice from Britney Spears' mom -- you can ignore it without a whole lot of consequence. (New Yorker)

The Death of Real News?

Final headline from the Rocky Mountain News

Remember not-gay former Senator Larry Craig? You know, the toe-tapping men's room sex enthusiast who was busted for cruising for toe-tapping men's room sex. That story was broken by a newspaper -- the capital hill paper The Hill. Less recently, Nixon's crimes -- which led to his eventual resignation -- were originally reported by the Washington Post. Meanwhile, the only stories I can think of that cable news has broken are ones along the "this network projects _____ has won the election" lines.

Network news does apply investigative journalism to stories, but the vast majority of these are "murders of the week" or sting operations on pedaphiles. Given that they're not running out of murders or pedaphiles, it's hard to argue that their reporting is having an impact. Then again, sensationalism isn't meant to solve a problem, it's meant to capitalize on it.

Hands down, the best journalism going is printed in newspapers. And the news on that front isn't good. Associated Press lists some of the newspapers "that have reduced publication days since last year" and finds drastic changes. Among them:

Arizona's Daily Dispatch has become the Douglas Dispatch, since it's no longer daily. Only three editions will be printed per week. Cutting back the number of editions printed weekly is becoming a common practice.

Wisconsin's The Capital Times quit printing a daily edition and now publishes two weekly tabloids delivered with its sister paper, Wisconsin State Journal. The paper exists mainly as an online entity.

Massachusetts' Christian Science Monitor only publishes weekly, with daily updates online.

Washington's Seattle Post-Intelligencer quit print altogether and only exists as an online enterprise.

The newspaper, which took its first blow from nightly TV news broadcasts, now competes with cable news and the internet. It's a competition the print newspaper is losing badly.

Last week, Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland proposed what was widely -- and largely incorrectly -- reported as a "newspaper bailout." It wasn't so much a bailout, which suggests a taxpayer handout, as it was a restructuring of the entire industry.

[Agence France-Presse:]

"It is in the interest of our nation and good governance that we ensure they survive," Cardin said in a statement on Tuesday.

The senator cited the recent closures of two newspapers, Denver's Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in introducing the bill and noted that many other publications were threatened.

Cardin said the act would grant newspapers tax-free status as non-profits, an arrangement similar to that enjoyed by public broadcasting outlets, which survive on tax-deductible contributions from listeners.

"Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements, but would be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns," he said.

"Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax deductible," he said.

Of course, the problem here is that newspapers are capitalist. From the perspective of the owners, going this route would be almost identical to going out of business. Shut down the presses -- no profit. Go with Cardin's plan -- no profit. Still, Cardin's plan could conceivably allow non-profits to buy failed papers. There'd be an incentive for workers -- who would otherwise be laid off -- to organize and do this. Still, whether or not this proposal goes anywhere is an open question. The fact that media outlets that would benefit from the death of the newspaper are reporting this as a "bailout" suggests pressure not to pass it.

Still, hope for investigative journalism is not lost. We don't have to look forward to a future of Dateline, 20/20, and To Catch a Predator. We already have non-profit investigative journalism. The best to date, in my opinion, comes from the relatively new ProPublica.com.

"It is true that the number and variety of publishing platforms is exploding in the Internet age," reads a statement on their site. "But very few of these entities are engaged in original reporting. In short, we face a situation in which sources of opinion are proliferating, but sources of facts on which those opinions are based are shrinking. The former phenomenon is almost certainly, on balance, a societal good; the latter is surely a problem."

That's the problem in a nutshell -- too much opinion, not enough fact. While many are getting their news from online sources, few see the connection between newspapers and real news. A recent poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press found that only 33% would miss the local daily newspaper "a lot" if it stopped printing. Among those 18-39, that number is only 23%. You assume a lot of those 18-39 year-olds are getting news online, but don't realize how many hard news stories are generated by newspaper reporting. All of these blog posts -- mine included -- rely on original reporting from other sources. The same is true for the vast, vast majority of cable news hours -- information there comes mostly from interviews, not investigation.

What the actual future of real news is depends on a lot of factors and is pretty much impossible to predict. Until we know, buy a damned paper. It's the simplest solution.


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The Great Peacemaker's Thunder Message

This Just In...  WoW - what a color lightening...Image by mdprovost via Flickr

....The air is foul, the waters poisoned, the trees dying, the animals are disappearing. We think even the systems of weather are changing. Our ancient teaching warned us that if Man interfered with the Natural Laws, these things would come to be. When the last of the Natural Way of Life is gone, all hope for human survival will be gone with it. And our Way of Life is fast disappearing, a victim of the destructive processes....

...The people who are living on this planet need to break with the narrow concept of human liberation, and begin to see liberation as something which needs to be extended to the whole of the Natural World. What is needed is the liberation of all the things that support Life -- the air, the waters, the trees -- all the things which support the sacred web of Life....

From "A Basic Call to Consciousness" The Hau de no sau nee Address to the Western World, Geneva Switzerland 1977

By Grant Lawrence

Around the 15th century in the land of great lakes and rivers in North America there lived a Great Peacemaker named
Dekanawida ('two river-currents flowing together.'—Hewitt). He was said to to be born of virgin birth from a Huron mother. The Great Peacemaker, along with Hiawatha, would later go on to unite the Iroquois tribes in a confederation that lasts to this day. That confederation was used as a model by Benjamin Franklin and many of the American founding fathers when considering how to establish a government in the United States.

The Great Peacemaker taught a powerful spiritual message which can be summed up as peace, unity, and the power of a good mind. To the Iroquois, peace is more than just an absence of war. "In the Iroquoian mind, peace is a state of mind. Power, which can easily be thought of as military strength, but more appropriately, it means that one heart, one mind, one head, and one body allowed the Confederacy to remain united in the face of many enemies," according to Shelley Brant of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario, Canada.

Dekanawida has passed on but his spirit remains in this great land. We are now living in troubled times and the message of the Great Peacemaker is more important than ever.

In the Thunder realm the Great Peacemaker resides with the Holy Ones. His personality is no longer Dekanawida but his love for all of humanity is great. Once this beautiful and holy man had spent his life in loving service. Dekanawida had graced his people with his peaceful and inspiring presence in a beautiful land. Now the Great Peacemaker has a Thunder message from his Thunder family and it is time for us to listen.

In honor of the Great Peacemaker, I write these words.

"Brothers and Sisters of the human family. Your minds are sick and the earth is sickened from your sick mind. I have been chosen to once again deliver a message from the Thunder Beings that love and care for all of you.

It is time for you to consider your sickness and seek healing medicine.

Most of the human family is crazed with wanting and having. That has made your hearts very cold and has confused your minds. There is now very little feeling for life or understanding of the spirit that lives in all. You can no longer see the beauty of the spirit and the truth of Love. It has been blocked by a craziness from a sick mind that clouds your seeing and deadens your feeling.

So it is that the world's sickness arises from a sickness of the mind. Unfortunately, it is likely that a great storm must cleanse the earth. After which life will prosper, but not all life. Humanity doesn't see the connection between the mind and the spirits of the world. How your minds can heal or cause so much suffering. Humanity doesn't see this because you are dead to a great part of your life. That is why you worship so much death and destruction. It allows you to feel something even though you are mostly dead to the spirit. Being dead to the spirit makes beings want more and more because they are afraid to feel their own empty dead selves.

That is the sickness of this age. A people that worships the power of death and destruction. A people that has lost touch with the spirits.

To the people of this age all seems dead and all seems without spirit. Things have become just bits of other things to be manipulated and used. There is no reverence for the beauty and the spirits in all things. People too have become just things to the leaders of this earth, to be used and manipulated. The powers of the earth have lost touch with the spirit of their people and they have no love for them. The leaders of this world are motivated only by fear and power and thus they think that is the only thing that can motivate all of humanity. They create disunity and disharmony and they believe that this is what will give them the power to continue to rule. They have become disciples of death and by them the thunder power will be brought to this earth to cleanse it.

But know this. You can choose on what path to walk this very day. Do you choose to walk in Love and Reasoning or do you choose to walk in hatred and fear? If you choose Love and Reason then you will honor yourself and the people of the world. If you choose anger and fear then you will continue to feed a disease that must be cleansed. You also will continue to be manipulated and used as followers of fear and death.

Humanity is presently very sick but you don't have to be sick. Once you have chosen to live in Love and to use your mind then you have chosen to be well. Healing can spread just as easily as disease. It is your path to choose.

Know this too. That the path you choose effects all of life in some way. The path of healing medicine will arise from choosing that which unites and brings peace. The spirit of the earth and all of the spirits of life feel a kinship with those that choose the great healing medicine that comes from a healthy mind.

A healthy mind will do much to help you and the world. There is no mental sickness in Love and Reasoning. That is the healing medicine that will unite and help do so much good in life.

The Thunder family hopes that all will listen to wise elders of the past and walk in a healthy heart and mind. We will work with those that choose to live in Love and use their Reason. We will be there for them on the other side of their consciousness to encourage them and to help protect them. There are also other numerous great spiritual "tribes" of Loving beings that will assist humanity in a move toward healing. We will all help you to do wonderful things for yourselves and others if you will open to healing medicine and choose to walk the path of a Good Mind and a Good Heart."

And So it is written in Honor of the Great Peacemaker and our Thunder Family.

Why men love salads more than steak and never look at a woman’s tits


(Paul Cézanne: The first tabloid artist…?)

It’s as the prophet said:

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

Nothing new then under the sun? Well, probably not – not until, perhaps, they do manage to prove that cold fusion works.

One thing is for sure though and that is that tabloids like the Sun, the Daily Telegraph and other insults to various rainforests don’t bother much with trying to prove the old prophet wrong.

Mind you, I am quite partial to the odd lurid headline – especially when these ‘newspapers’ are trying to sell yet another (t)issue of lies as science but then I do demand that these stories are, at least, modestly entertaining.

As it is though, most of these articles are as repetitious as Cézanne and his bloody mountain - without the old impressionist’s artistry, that is. The average tabloid science story is more like a four year old’s drawing of a cartoon sun, repeated & held up to be admired ad nauseam.

Like this following story on the Telegraph’s science page:

“Looking into someone’s eyes is the key to remembering their face, a new study suggests. Scientists believe that our brains take the information they need to identify a person primarily from their eyes. After processing this information the mind then moves onto the mouth and the nose, rather than attempting to gauge a person’s face as a whole. Previous studies have shown that when humans analyse others they tend to focus only on one part of the face at a time.”

Right, now there’s a surprise…

… so, you can actually remember people’s faces better if you’ve looked them in the eyes, instead of, for instance, having looked at their shoes the whole damn evening? Thank God that we have scientists – or tabloid journalists - to sort these things out for us.

Obviously, this only works for men if the person we look at is another man – since it is a truth universally acknowledged by these same tabloids that men only stare at a woman’s tits.

Okay, one more science article from the Daily Telegraph before a tired, old sun will set on yet another day’s non-revolutionary column:

“Psychologists proved what car-dealers have boasted for generations the car one drives is key when it comes to turning a woman’s head. The university team showed women pictures of the same man sitting in two cars - a £70,000 silver Bentley Continental and a battered Ford Fiesta. The women, who were aged between 21 to 40, picked the man sitting in the Bentley ahead of the same man in the Ford.”

Right, that’s all the evidence we need that women are shallow creatures that only love shiny things.

Of course, if you did a similar test for men you could arrive at equally earth shattering conclusions.

Although, if you’d first show pictures of Angelina Jolie buried in a steaming pile of dead cows and then one of her wearing a few cole slaw leaves, I’m not really sure that the resulting headline, “Men prefer salads to steak!!!” would convince all that many people.

(Oh yes, ANY old excuse to play this record will do for me…)


The ghost at the pajama party: The haunting of Michael Jackson


(Chalk dust! Everyone can see that there was chalk dust…)

There’s an old Marvin Gaye song, ‘Wherever I lay my hat is my home’.

Paul Young did an awful, very Eighties version of the song – but, to be honest, it really wasn’t one of Marvin Gaye’s finest, to begin with.

Still, whatever you say about the song, at least I don’t think Michael Jackson ever performed it.

Mind you, if he did, he’d better change the title a bit. ‘Wherever I lay my hat is my haunt’ would serve him better.

As the following tabloid story tries to show:

“Michael Jackson is to rent a house near haunted caves during his concerts in London The eccentric singer is reported to have paid £1 million to rent a large country house near the edge of an ancient 22-mile maze of haunted passageways.

The undisclosed home is thought to be close to the Chislehurst Caves in Bromley, in the south-east suburbs of London. Ghost sightings have been reported at the caves, which were dug in chalk by the Saxons, Druids and Romans”.

Old Ross Perot (the man who paved Clinton’s way to the White House) had a favourite saying: “The Devil is in the details” - and what’s true enough for Ross, the Rubik cube and needlepoint, remains so for most of the rest of our lives.

So, I dearly love that bit in the story about those Saxon, Druid & Roman caves, which were ‘dug in chalk’.

Truly, could there be a more fitting description for the man himself? Apart from the fact that he would be the ghost at anyone’s pajama party, can you think of anything better for the exiled king of pop’s headstone than this riff on John Keats’ last resting place:

“Here lies One Who was dug in Chalk”

(Paul Young, eat your heart out…!)


First thing they do is cut up your dick: It is such fun to be Obama


(Oops, I did it again…?)

It must be such fun to be Obama, right now - a bit like being Jesus really, sent down to the Jewish tribes by His Daddy, to sort out some old prophesy stuff, only to find out the place is crawling with murderous Romans.

Same with Obama: The great post black, post white hope. The new Messiah, if you like – and no Roman hammer and nails to stop him.

(Though a world wide economic melt down is a quite impressive cross to bear, of course…)

Ah well, enough already – but here’s to my favourite tribe and its latest honorary member:

First thing they do

First thing they do
is cut up your dick.

Then they tell you:
Don’t eat this and that.

They take you to a desert,
you had no wish to visit in the first place.

The Promised Land, they say,
of bombs and snipers.

And everybody hates you
(and you can’t stop bickering

about the cost of living
and the price of milk and honey.)

The Chosen, yes, no doubt -
but one thing you know for sure:

Next time you see a burning bush,
you’ll piss it out.

(Obama: So not the Messiah…?)

News Roundup for 3/27/09

Man hiding behind desk
Stephen Pidgeon

-Headline of the day-
"Eligibility lawyer says Homeland Security shadowing him."

Crazypants conspiracy theorist meets gullible wingnut media outlet at noted homosexual Joseph Farah's WorldNetDaily. In what they bill as a WND exclusive, attorney Stephen Pidgeon tells a terrifying tale of being followed by federal and local officials in his pursuit of the truth.

What truth might that be? That so-called "President" Barack Obama is a secret illegal alien Muslim terr'ist sent by Osama Bin Laden to destroy America with socialism. Or something like that, anyway.

Pidgeon -- who's not at all a paranoid nutjob -- says that since filing in Washington state to have Obama sent to Gitmo or whatever the hell it is these people want, he's been followed by "officers with the federal Department of Homeland Security, the Snohomish County sheriff's office and the Everitt city police department."

"My only protection is to contact the people I know," says Pidgeon. Unfortunately, it seems the people he knows are from WorldNetDaily and they're just too damned insane to be any good to anyone. (WorldNetDaily)

-"Live free or spend life in prison without parole!"-
That may be New Hampshire's new state ultimatum if the state legislature has their way. The old ultimatum, "live free or die," will lose a little of its power without a death penalty in the state. According to the report, "The [state House of Representatives] voted 193-174 to send the repeal bill to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, said he would veto the bill if it reached his desk."

So don't hold your breath. A similar bill failed in 2000. "No matter how many times you kill, that doesn't bring anybody back," said Democrat Renny Cushing, whose father was shot to death in 1988. He led the fight to abolish capital punishment, urging the chamber to end the practice "in the name of my father."

Here in Wisconsin, we've managed to do without capital punishment since 1853. Oddly, the state hasn't become a crime-ridden hellhole that attracts murderous lunatics eager to avoid the ultimate punishment.

No, it's become freakin' Wisconsin -- home of the fried cheese curd.

Go ahead, New Hampshire. The worst that could happen would be that you'd have to make up some new weird bar food. (Associated Press)

-Telling it like it is-
MoJo Blog gives us a great quote from the blog Kung Fu Monkey:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

A-freakin'-men, buddy... (Kung Fu Monkey)

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GOP Budget Theater

Here's a fun game. Guess what the hell this is supposed to be:

Nonsense 'chart'

Believe it or not, that's supposed to be a health care proposal. It's kind of like a flowchart, except there's no beginning or end to it. The New Republic's Ezra Klein calls it a "budget molecule." It's really just a collection of bullet points. But I'm guessing that when you laid them out as a list on the page, it looked pretty sparse. So it was sent off to some design genius to fluff it up and make it look like it was actually... well, something.

When House Republicans released their "alternative budget" yesterday, it was immediately met with disbelief. Were they actually serious? A 19-page pamphlet [PDF], the "Republican Road to Recovery" is basically a list of half-baked notions and stale talking points masquerading as a legislative proposal.

It became self-parody as soon as it was announced, as Ryan Grim of Huffington Post shows here:

"Today we're introducing a detailed road-to-recovery plan," [House Republican leader John Boehner] told the reporters...

Reporters -- mainstream, liberal and conservative -- greeted the Republican document with a collective scoff.

"Are you going to have any further details on this today?" the first asked.

"On what?" asked Boehner.

"There's no detail in here," noted the reporter.

Answered Boehner: "This is a blueprint for where we're going. Are you asking about some other document?"

A second reporter followed up: "What about some numbers? What about the out-year deficit? What about balancing the budget? How are you going to do it?"

"We'll have the alternative budget details next week," promised Boehner...

So it's a "detailed road-to-recovery plan," only without any details. Boehner tried to BS reporters about what those same reporters were looking at. In what world populated by complete idiots would that ever work?

"It's reads like what would happen if The Onion put together a budget," wrote Ezra Klein. "'Area Man Releases Proposal for 2010 Federal Spending Priorities.'" To make matters worse, the GOP is now saying they'll have the details Wednesday -- April Fools Day (expect that to change).

That chart's about as good as it gets. This is a "budget proposal" without any mention of costs. Associated Press called it a "glossy pamphlet" that offers "little beyond campaign-style talking points."

"I will note that there are -- there's one more picture of a windmill than there is of a chart of numbers," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "There's -- just for your knowledge, there's exactly one picture of a windmill."

Not that it's entirely without numbers; just not real ones. Two numbers within this supposed budget are conceptual -- 35% and 25%. Those numbers represent a tax cut for the wealthy. The top tax rate would be cut down to 25% -- mostly because Republicans don't seem to know a damned thing about economics. "The President’s budget will hurt the economy and destroy jobs," Boehner said in a press release. "By contrast, our Road to Recovery plan will strengthen the economy, create jobs, and restore fiscal sanity in Washington."

Republicans believe that employers create jobs -- and that this becomes more true as the income of said employer increases. If you give the rich a big fat 10% tax break, they'll run right out and hire a whole bunch of people.

But employers don't create jobs, consumers do. Anyone who hires a bunch of people to do a job no one needs done is wasting their money. Consumers are largely workers, so the truth is that workers create jobs with consumer demand. Republicans are just recycling the same "trickle-down" economic sorcery that has failed so spectacularly for decades.

This whole thing is a waste of everyones time. But it's a pretty safe time-waster for Republicans. They don't need to offer a real alternative, because their proposal isn't going to go anywhere anyway. Why knock themselves out? There are a lot of people out there who still believe all this trickle-down crap, so the GOP will pretend to fight for them to throw them a bone. When the details finally come out, I doubt this plan will be much more fleshed out than it is now. In any case, it's a sure bet that it won't make any more sense than this collection of propaganda gibberish.

All they need to be able to do is say they offered an alternative and it was rejected. If Obama's budget turns out to work great, they can always claim that theirs would've worked better. And if Obama's budget turns out to be a disaster? Hey, that's what they're all hoping for anyway.

At this point, all that's really required of a Republican alternative is that it exists. It doesn't have to make any sense, it doesn't have to be reality-based, it doesn't have to be wise.

It just has to be.


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News Roundup for 3/26/09

Michael Phelps with a bong
Michael Phelps shown saving the economy

-Headline of the day-
"Pot-related questions deluge W.H."

When the White House launched their online Open for Questions service, they were probably expecting to get swamped with questions about the economy. And they were -- kind of.

According to the report, "In this moment of national economic crisis, the top four questions under the heading of 'Financial security' concerned marijuana; on the budget, people voted up questions about marijuana to positions 1-4; marijuana was in the first and third positions under 'jobs'; people boosted a plug for legalizing marijuana to No. 2 under 'health care reform.' And questions about decriminalizing pot occupied spots 1 and 2 under 'green jobs and energy.'"

It does seem a little out of whack -- and that's coming from someone who's for decriminalization. "I don't know what that says about the online audience," President Obama said. "The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy." I'm not sure I agree with that -- new markets and industries are new markets and industries. It's hard to see how it wouldn't be good for the economy.

"The more than 92,000 people who responded either have Cheech and Chong senses of humor or there is a deep concern in America... about the decriminalization of marijuana," writes Politico's John Ward Anderson. I think it's probably the latter. Especially with a big ol' flaming drug war south of the border. You don't see brewery execs taking shots at police and the army, do you?

Yeah, there's a reason for that.

Besides, look at it this way; stoner buys pot. He does this from a business and an employee. He pays a tax on it. He buys a bong. He does this from a business and an employee. He pays a tax on it. He smokes the pot in his new bong and gets wasted, tearing into a big bag of Cool Ranch Doritos he bought from a business and an employee and paid a tax on. Stoner becomes cog in capitalist machine.

Dude, it's like wheels inside wheels. Wheels inside wheels, man.

Whoa... (Politico)

-On a related note...-
...what the hell has Michele Bachmann been smoking? America's favorite batshit-crazy Minnesotan has introduced a bill to "bar the dollar from being replaced by any foreign currency." Not that anyone's proposing we do that, mind you. I guess it's just in case.

I guess the wingnut "global currency" question at Obama's press conference has Michele all freaked out. But would a global currency actually be a foreign currency? I think logic would say no. They eat cheese in Europe, we eat cheese here, does this make cheese a "foreign" food?

Anyway, it doesn't matter much. The whole thing's a bunch of crap and Shelly's saving us from a made-up currency that probably wouldn't be anymore problematic than traveler's checks anyway.

Next up, a ban on hunting unicorns. (Yglesias)

-Bonus HotD-
"Rep. Barton: Climate change is 'natural,' humans should just 'get shade.'"

You'd think that global warming denial would make you about as wrong as it's possible to be, but Texas Republican "Smokey Joe" Barton proves it's possible to take idiocy even further.

"I believe that Earth’s climate is changing, but I think it’s changing for natural variation reasons," Barton said recently. "And I think man-kind has been adopting, or adapting, to climate as long as man has walked the Earth. When it rains we find shelter. When it’s hot, we get shade. When it’s cold, we find a warm place to stay. Adaptation is the practical, affordable, utterly natural reflex response to nature when the planet is heating or cooling, as it always is."

And when it's a natural disaster, we die. Lots of things are "natural," Joe. You got yer volcanoes and your tsunamis and your hurricanes and your tornadoes. We kind of do things to deal with those, don't we? "Natural" is not synonymous with "harmless." Even if it were natural, the stupidest thing you could possibly do would be to pretend it's not a problem.

But then again, Smokey Joe Barton is a Republican. Lately, that's become defined as "one who always chooses the stupidest thing you could possibly do." (Think Progress)

Blue Dog Fools

Compare and contrast. Example #1., former President Bush videotapes one of "two touching tributes to the military men and women serving in the Middle East" for -- and I'm not making this up -- WWE Monday Night Raw, a professional wrestling event. A Kansas City journalist, Peter Rugg, blogs about the experience (thanks to Think Progress for the link).

The mere sight of Bush elicited thunderous boos -- even more jeering than the maniacal [WWE Wrestler] Randy Orton, who dropped Triple H's wife, Stephanie, on her head and kissed her while a handcuffed Triple H could only watch. Then Orton hit him with a sledgehammer. I’m going to repeat that again, just to be clear: To wrestling fans, George W. Bush is worse than a sledgehammer molester.

I'm not going to pretend that professional wrestling fans are a demographic I know a lot about, but you'd imagine the "hit him with a chair!" crowd aren't especially liberal. It's anectdotal, sure, but clearly indicative of something. Maybe something like this:

Bush approval graph

That's George W. Bush's career approval ratings, according to Gallup. That big bump was 9/11, then a fairly steady decline to the point where he gets booed at WWE events. A couple two-three smaller bumps along the way (including the 2004 election), but otherwise it's smooth sailing straight to the bottom. Bush got booed because everyone knows Bush sucked.

Meanwhile, President Obama's ratings are doing pretty well. His own career is still young, making a career average almost meaningless, but it's hard to believe that Obama's average -- currently 64% -- will ever match the depths of Bush's 49%. It's even harder to believe that he'll reach the 25% that Bush reached three times in his two terms.

While last week's big polling story was that Obama's numbers were down, this week they're up. And the truth is that he's been holding steady at an extremely respectable 62-64% since the middle of February.

Still, some aren't getting the message. It's a given that Republicans would miss the lesson here -- driven entirely by a disproven and unpopular ideology, their political philosophy is basically a matter of religious faith. True believers rarely wise up.

But there are Democrats who are missing the message. So-called "centrist" Democrats who don't seem to realize that the current political center is Obama.


House Minority Leader John A. Boehner snarled at moderate Democrats Wednesday, but the real bite came from liberal groups frustrated by centrist opposition to Barack Obama's budget priorities.

As Boehner accused Blue Dog Democrats of being "lap dogs" for Obama, MoveOn.org and Americans United for Change, the labor-backed organization that serves as the White House's chief third-party operation, began airing ads Wednesday urging moderate Democrats in both the House and the Senate to get on board with the president’s budget.

Among the targets of Americans United for Change is Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who declared the ads "not very helpful."

"The liberal groups need to understand that we are not elected to represent the president," Pryor said. "We’re elected to represent our states, and we are trying to reflect the attitudes and values of the people who sent us to Washington." The Blue Dogs oppose both the middle class tax cuts and health care reform in Obama's budget.

While being a thoughtful moderate has some value, having an impulse toward it has no value at all. I don't care what Pryor believes, no one in Arkansas voted for him so he could go to Washington and avoid fights; one, that's not the purpose of government and, two, people tend to vote against things, not for things. They're voting for congressional candidates who'll protect them from bad ideas, not candidates who'll take stupid ideas and negotiate them into being a halfway stupid ideas. People who call themselves "moderate" are rarely actual moderates, they're usually people who are afraid of controversy and want to be all things to all people.

Opposing these budget measures is a great example of taking a stupid idea and making it a halfway stupid idea. The stupid idea is to complain about spending and burn the budget to the ground, then build it up again as a perfect GOP economic disaster in the making. The halfway stupid idea is to complain about spending and oppose two measures that would free up money for the vast majority of consumers. Like Republicans, the Blue Dogs seem to believe that the problem with the economy is that government spends too much. It makes no goddam sense at all, but that's the basic idea of the conservative argument.

What Blue Dogs need to do is look around them. A lot of them were elected simply because they weren't Republican. Does it really make sense to move toward Washington's political center, when it means moving away from the national center? And how helpful will it be to face voters and tell them they took their tax cuts and health care reform -- both popular measures -- away to appease the crazy people most Americans voted against? This is a plan that's going to work out great in the end? Really?

Look at Bush's numbers and look at the reaction he got from the WWE crowd. That's the direction that this "moderation" is leading. The liberals are much closer to the mainstream than the conservatives Bush represents. Blue Dogs need to ask themselves whether they want to get votes or boos.

Don't count on them to make the right choice.


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Bring me the head of Boy George (on a £20 note) Or: Which celeb would YOU put on your money?


(Follow those stamps…!)

Crime doesn’t pay, they say. Well, tell that to the ghost (or heirs) of Dame Agatha Christie or those who work for the ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ franchise.

Of course, a large number of resentful people also claim that all criminals go to Hell.

Well, I’m afraid that crime can pay quite well. What’s more, it can be funny as Hell too:

“Fraudsters have used a picture of jailed pop singer Boy George to replace the Queen on forged bank notes. Staff at a stationary shop discovered a fake £20 note with a picture of the former Culture Club singer on its watermark instead of the monarch. Ryman’s in Gravesend, Kent, took the forgery on Saturday afternoon, but it was not until they tried to cash the note on Monday that they realised it was a forgery.”

Bloody brilliant – and it made me think as well.

I mean, why not do this kind of thing on a regular & official basis? They already do it with stamps. Take the ones that will hit the market next summer, drawn by graphic novel artist Dave McKean

They could do that with money as well, surely?

So, why stop at putting Boy George in bed with Prince Philip, so to speak, when you could, for instance, have Madonna and her Jesus frolicking on a Fiver?

Gordon Brown would look lovely on a £10 note – to commemorate both his ongoing occupation of 10 Downing Street and the number of political lives he will need to win the next election.

What’s more, whenever an English football team would finally manage to qualify for another big tournament, you could have pictures of the team members on special issue £11 notes, which would become the official ‘coin of the realm’ if the team managed to win it (or, more realistically, be pulped, straight after the quarter finals.)

So many glorious options, really. From the triumph that was the Millennium Dome, to the defunct body parts of Paul McCartney’s ex-wives. From famous villains, like Jack the Ripper and Ashley Cole, to the pictures of English saints, like princess Diana and Jade Goody.

Or, perhaps my personal favourite, a new half pound note which would carry the simple message ‘Fuck off!’, that you could give to all Jehovah’s Witness type missionaries and their more secular chugger counterparts, who badger you at home or in the street.

Anyway, my question to all of you who have read this post (or skipped) to this last alinea: What would be the face that would launch & float your thousand or so boats? In other words: Who would you put good money on to be put on (what’s left of) your money?

(Boy George: The original Counterfeit Chameleon…)


How Much Does it Take to be Happy?

Adopt a Pet, Live Longer!Image by sayheypatrick via Flickr

By Grant Lawrence

How much does it take to be happy?

Well here in the United States we have been programmed to think it takes quite a lot. We see on television and in advertisements people happy only when they get exactly what they want. According to the Madison Avenue mind manipulators, people will only find happiness when they purchase this or that product or own this or that thing.

Everyone buys into the belief that happiness can only come with more and more. Even the wealthiest of the planet never seem satisfied. They have numerous mansions, many motor vehicles, and all of the finest of everything. These wealthy people, with everything, are the heroes of the common people. Nearly everyone in our country aspires to be like the super rich and to have it all.

But I am going to shock a lot of Americans.

The truth is that you can be happy with less.

I realize telling people that they can be happy with less will likely get me cursed or something worse here in this wonderful capitalist utopia of consumerism known as America. But I risk being ridiculed and condemned as Anti-American for letting people know that they can be happy without the large houses, the newest clothes, the finest cars, boats, and recreational vehicles, and the fine dining.

In fact, there is something called the Happy Planet Index (HPI) which was designed to show that happiness can be achieved with greater efficiency so that people can live long and happy lives without excessive consumption of the earth's resources.

As you can probably guess, Americans require a lot to be happy and yet they are not that happy. But other countries and regions don't require a lot and are as happy or happier. For instance, Germany and the United States roughly have about the same life expectancy and are about as satisfied but Germans do this using half as much of the world's resources as Americans. So Germany is "twice as efficient as Americans in generating long and happy lives based on the resources they consume," according to the Happy Planet Index.

I know that a lot of people here in America, especially fundamentalist Christians, believe that since they can't have everything they want then the world has to somehow come to an end. They wait for "end times" or an "apocalypse" to come and destroy everything because they think people can't live in balance with the life of the earth. They believe that because they are a part of so much greed and imbalance then that must be the way it has to be for the world to function.

But the good news is that we can live long and satisfied lives without destroying the planet. Other countries are living happier on much less.

We don't have to destroy the planet out of greed and stupidity. This may be bad news to some Christian fundamentalists and others who look forward to enjoying their "end times" destruction.

I have faith that God loves us or that we should at least love ourselves, so I suggest we all opt for trying to live in harmony with mother earth and to do our best to live simply and in serenity. Or we can just give up and say that humanity is not good enough to survive. But as the Happy Planet Index indicates, we have examples of people living in greater health and in a happier mind while using a lot less of the earth's resources.

Living happier lives on less can be done but we do have to open our minds to the possibility of living a life that cares for the earth and its beings. Then we won't have to worry about God, or even ourselves, destroying this beautiful planet.

News Roundup for 3/25/09

Dick Cheney with gun
Surprisingly, not terrifying

-Headline of the day-
"Nation editor: Republicans are no longer 'terrified' of Cheney."

Yeah, that's only because they know they can outrun him. Chris Hayes, editor of the lefty mag The Nation, told MSNBC's Keith Olberman that Dick's "toxic" and that GOPers "don't have anything to fear" from him anymore. Toxic sounds pretty scary to me.

"You'd have to be a total moron not to understand the politics of Dick Cheney," Hayes said. "He's a toxic figure politically... He left office as probably one of the least popular figures, the most distrusted figures in American life."

Proving Hayes right, The Hill ran a piece Monday quoting half a dozen Republicans who say Cheney should "go back to his undisclosed location and leave them alone to rebuild the Republican Party without his input."

I don't know. Sounds like they're afraid to me. It's one thing to be closely linked to Rush Limbaugh, it's another to be linked to Dick Cheney.

They can run, but they can't hide. (Raw Story)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, why send tourists to Mexico when we can send guns? It's "Gringo Guns!"

Gringo Guns
Click for animation

Remember, guns don't kill people. People in Mexican drug gangs kill people -- with guns. (MarkFiore.com)

-Ask a stupid question...-
...and you must be NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd. At last night's prime time presidential press conference, Todd asked Obama, "Why, given this new era of responsibility that you're asking for, why haven't you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?"

Because, you see, no one's sacrificing anything right now. We're all just spending money and living high on the hog, irresponsibly ignoring the fact that the economy is in the crapper. If we'd all just stop spending all this crazy money and sacrifice, the economy would recover. Something like that, anyway. Economics doesn't seem to be any TV news guy's strong suit.

"With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right," Obama answered. "You've got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You've got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day -- and entire day's worth of pay -- so that their fellow coworkers aren't laid off. I think that across the board people are making adjustments, large and small, to accommodate the fact that we're in very difficult times right now."

Pfffft! You call that sacrifice? (CBS News)

Torn between porn and nostalgia: The sad decline of the English cock


(Just another cock and John Bull story…?)

First, this:

“And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There’ll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.”

Philip Larkin wrote those lines, in 1972, in a poem called ‘Going, going’.

Now, it may be said that Larkin was a bit of a moaner and never happier than when complaining about the sad state of civilisation, while badmouthing his parents,”They fuck you up, your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do,” (or when adding to his impressive porn collection.)

Still, the poet had a point. To paraphrase Prince Charles, you can blame the Nazi bombers for destroying a fair amount of English buildings but not for the kind of soulless crap modern architects have been littering the landscape with, after the war.

Also, there now must be more McDonald’s, CFK, IKEA, Pizza Hut and Starbucks outlets spread around like a deadly flue virus than there are squashed hedgehogs livening up our ever filling roads.


(World War One’s big member drive)

So, like Larkin, we can’t do much more than sigh & hide in nostalgic strophes or one-handed porn-inspired strokes and moan about things in a frantic if impotent manner.

Talking of which – about impotence, that is and not of rueful rhymes or the power of porn: Here’s another sad example of the decline and fall of the British empire that once stood so proud and tall:

“A comparison of the 2008 population — using data from a variety of sources — with the first census in 1881 shows that the number of Cocks has shrunk by 75 per cent.

Cock, Daft, Death, Smellie, not to mention Gotobed, Shufflebottom and Jelly: they are all surnames that would have caused their owners considerable embarrassment over the years. A new analysis of British surnames reveals how names with rude overtones have seen the sharpest decline over the past 120 years as their owners have changed them to something more innocuous.”


Meet Pandora: The horse that has it worse than a porn star with a condom allergy


(Pandora: The horse with a Tom Jones allergy…)

So, you have female spiders who eat their mates after sex. There are wasps that lay their eggs in the bodies of caterpillars and small critters in tropical rivers that follow the stream back to the source when you take a piss in their habitat.

Plus, of course, a few billion humans who make life a living Hell for most of the other species on space ship Earth.

In other words, there are enough hard luck stories going around to satisfy the most misanthropic Country & Western singer ever to have his heart, guitar strings and dear old mother’s dentures broken in Nashville.

Still, some stories will always stand out.

Who wouldn’t feel for a politician who’d be allergic to lying, a celebrity who’d get unseemly flushes from flashing cameras, a careful sex addict with a rubber allergy?

Or, more to the point, who wouldn’t sympathize with Pandora, a poor horse with a very special problem indeed?

Read and weep a few hay feverish tears:

“A horse stabled in Flackwell Heath suffers from an almost unheard of allergy to grass. Pandora, a five-year-old thoroughbred, is now only allowed out when she is covered from head to hoof in high-tech fibres to protect her, as one blade touching her will trigger a reaction.”

Sad, isn’t it: a horse that can’t roll in the sweet smelling grass?

That’s almost as bad as a doctor telling Paris Hilton she has to stop waxing and start to wear long underwear if she wants to get rid of that rash. Or some specialist telling Oprah she has to stop talking if she wants to avoid throat cancer. Or a Roman Catholic priest who’s been told by his cardiologist that he can’t mess about with little boys anymore.

Truly, of all God’s creatures, the horse should be the last one to develop an allergy for grass…

… okay, apart from cows and deer and sheep…

…and lawnmowers…

…and hippies, I suppose.

Anyway, poor Pandora.


Military Industrial "War" Consciousness Responsible for Economic and Social Collapse

President Dwight D.Image via Wikipedia Eisenhower Warned of the Military Industrial Complex

By Grant Lawrence

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama called Afghanistan ''the war we must win.'' He was absolutely right. Now it is time to win it...
Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman calling for an expanded war in Afghanistan

"How true it is that war can destroy everything of value."

Pope Benedict XVI decrying the suffering of Africa

Where troops have been quartered, brambles and thorns spring up. In the track of great armies there must follow lean years.
Lao Tzu on War

As Americans we are raised on the utility of war to conquer every problem. We have a drug problem so we wage war on it. We have a cancer problem so we wage war on it. We have a crime problem so we wage war on it. Poverty cannot be dealt with but it has to be warred against. Terror is another problem that must be warred against.

In the United States, solutions can only be found in terms of wars.

In a society that functions to support a massive military industrial war machine and empire, it is important that the terms promoted support the conditioning of its citizens. We are conditioned to see war as the solution to major social ills and major political disagreements. That way when we see so much of our resources devoted to war then we don't question the utility of it.

The term "war" excites mind and body and creates a fear mentality that looks at life in terms of attack. In war, there has to be an attack and a must win attitude to carry us to victory.

But is this war mentality working for us?

In an age when nearly half of our tax money goes to support the war machine and a good deal of the rest is going to support the elite that control the war machine, we can see that our present war mentality is not working.

Our values have been so perverted by our war mentality that we see sex as sinful but killing as entertainment.

Our society is dripping violence. The violence is fed by poverty, social injustice, the break down of family and community that also arises from economic injustice, and by the managed media.
The cycle of violence that exists in our society exists because it is useful to those that control society.

It is easier to sell the war machine when your population is conditioned to violence. Our military industrial consciousness may not be working for nearly all of the life of the planet but it does work for the very few that are the master manipulators of our values and our consciousness.

Rupert Murdoch, the media monopoly man that runs the "Fair and Balanced" Fox Network, Sky Television, and News Corp just to name a few, had all of his 175 newspapers editorialize in favor of the Iraq war. Murdoch snickers when he says "we tried" to manipulate public opinion." The Iraq war was a good war to Murdoch because, "The death toll, certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any previous war are quite minute."

But, to the media manipulators, the phony politicos, the military industrial elite, a million dead Iraqis are not to be considered. War is big business and it is supported by a war consciousness that allows it to prosper. That is why more war in Afghanistan, the war on Palestinians, and the other wars around the planet in which the military industrial complex builds massive wealth and power will continue.

The military industrial war mentality is not only killing, maiming, and destroying but it is also contributing to the present social and economic collapse. As mentioned previously, the massive wealth transfer that occurs when the American people give half of their money to support death and destruction is money that could have gone to support a just society.

It is no accident that after years of war and preparing for war, our society is crumbling. Science and technological resources along with economic and natural resources have been squandered in the never ending pursuit of enemies. All of that energy could have been utilized for the good of humanity, instead of maintaining the power positions of the very few super wealthy.

So the suffering that we give is ultimately the suffering we get. Humans want to believe that they can escape the consciousness that they live in. But that consciousness determines what we experience and how we live. As long as we choose to live in "War" in our minds then we will continue to get "War" in our lives.

When humanity chooses to wage peace on the world then there will be a flowering of life. But until then we will be forced to live the life our present war consciousness is creating.