Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bull to Run China Shop?

Change.  Hope.  

Ehud Olmert Conducts a Bewildering Interview

Some of the most difficult truths, as witnessed and/or believed by the outgoing Prime Minister of Israel are evidenced in this extraordinary interview. I quote one such truth below as a link to the rest at the New York Review of Books:

Ehud Olmert: Yes, also with the Syrians. What we need first and foremost is to make a decision. I'd like to know if there's a serious person in the State of Israel who believes that we can make peace with the Syrians without, in the end, giving up the Golan Heights.

Two Cents vs. Sense

There has been a common story within the media this week of the ongoing infighting within the Republican Party for the tenor and voice the party should take on to succeed in the future. Should the party look to moderate itself and its platform in an attempt to better appeal to the groups it has performed poorly amongst (women, Hispanics, the well-educated)? Or, should the party repel such moderation and make a harder turn to the right, taking harder line stances on immigration, reproductive choice, LGBT rights and the like? There have been some fascinating editorials written on the topic. A few of them are quoted and linked to below:

Jonathan Freedland, an opinion writer at The Guardian, wrote a guest piece for the New York Times:

What might panicked Republicans learn from the Tory experience? That apparently the first response to electoral disaster is denial. In the immediate aftermath of 1997, a few brave Tory souls dared venture that the party would have to undergo radical change, that it had to inch toward the center and demonstrate that it was not as out of touch as the critics alleged.

Christine Todd Whitman in today's Washington Post editorial:

In the wake of the Democrats' landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that John McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn't support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don't find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.

Former House Majority Leader, Dick Army, is convinced he knows the path to Conservative enlightenment at the WSJ (this is the WSJ and it may be blocked to non-subscribers, but give it a shot):

Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 because voters no longer saw Republicans as the party of limited government. They have since rejected virtually every opportunity to recapture this identity. But their failure to do so must not be misconstrued as a rejection of principles of individual liberty by the American people. The evidence suggests we are still a nation of pocketbook conservatives most happy when government has enough respect to leave us alone and to mind its own business. The worrisome question is whether either political party understands this.

Over at Politico, Greg Meuller, a Republican strategist, appears to have been sleeping in the calm seas of denial on Nov. 4th:

“It is very unpopular to be a Republican right now, but it is very popular to be a conservative. The conservative brand is the most popular brand in the country, but we didn’t run as conservatives.”

Regardless of political affiliation, I'm interested to know what the readers here think would be the wiser course, and why, as there does not appear to be a sensible way of doing "both."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Greatest Photo of All Time?

I think so.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Extrasolar planets imaged!


Every Vote Counts

Remember, in high school, when everyone kind of chuckled at the idea that 'every vote counts.' Well, it does. Check this out:

Stories of the Campaign Trail

Calling 85 year old Florence:

Me: Hello, this is jumco from the Indiana offices of Sen. Obama for President.


Me (as Florence is slamming the phone down): I'm calling you!

Calling 88 year old William who lives at the VA:

Me: Hello, this is jumco from the Indiana offices of Sen. Obama for President. Have you had a chance to vote for Sen. Obama yet?

William (in elderly, weak-voiced, Mid-Western drawl): Well, I don't get around much. I live here at the VA with a collapsed lung and only one leg, you see.

Me: I understand. Did you know you can vote at the VA today until 4PM?

William: I can?

Me: Yes sir, you can simply head down stairs, ask a nurse to help you, and you can vote today for Senator Barack Obama!

William: The colored fellar?

Me: Yes sir. You can head down today to the first floor of the VA and cast your ballot today for Senator Barack Obama.

William: You don't say. I'll go down there with my buddy, Donald. He lives in the next bed over.

Me: That's great, go with your buddy, Donald, and vote.

William (with enthusiasm): OKAY!!! I'm gonna go vote for the colored fellar with my buddy Donald. He's going to come with me and vote for him too!

Me: That's great news!

I called back an hour later to make sure he made his way down, and his floor's nurse in charge confirmed that he and Donald were downstairs voting as we spoke. I think this may be my single-most heart-warming and charming story of the campaign.

Calling Margaret:

Me: Hello, this is jumco from the Indiana offices of Sen. Obama for President. Have you had a chance to vote for Sen. Obama yet?

Margaret (emphatically): I don't vote, I pray! It does a lot more good anyway!

Note that Margaret is a registered voter and cast a ballot in 2004.

More to come, but I wanted to get these in to get things started.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A World Where Even Love Needs Defense

I apologize for this rant, but I am posting it nonetheless because I am angry and disgusted. Please excuse my use of profanity on this blog which seeks something better:

Proposition 8 passed. A moment of disgust and disgrace. I heard with my own ears in Indiana preachers, reverends or other religious leaders actively and treasonously discouraging their congregations from the polls. "Pray, don't vote, it will do a lot more good anyway," they'd say. In California, the divine message was different. Millions of dollars were spent to ensure hatred and discrimination were enacted by the god-fearing crowd.

I'm not exactly sure at what moment organized religion included hate as a theological platform. I'm not sure when religious institutions transitioned from hate between one religious group and another to hatred of society itself. I'm not sure when religion transitioned into a platform for actively removing existing rights from free citizens of a secular nation.

Alas, what I am sure of is that the Church of Latter Day Saints is a hate group mongering hate speech and that its members actively fund campaigns to remove existing rights from free citizens of a secular nation. Few things are more despicable. They have no defense.

They are not alone. The very day after hosting the kummbayah, let's all hold hands and seek redemption presidential 'debate,' Orange County's Saddleback Church, led by Rick Warren (the 'happy preacher') began actively organizing and funding a rights removal campaign. Fuck them! If church's and other religious groups want to maintain their coveted tax-free status, then they should stay the hell out of political organizing.

This concept was simple enough for the hesitant deists of the 18th century who founded this nation to understand and codify. If you want to believe in hocus-pocus, so be it. The government of this nation is a secular one built upon carefully constructed concepts of the Enlightment towards pragmatic governance designed to maximize the delicate balance between liberty and tyranny towards liberty and will not establish any official religion. Read that? Pragmatic! Liberty! Hocus-pocus is not pragmatic. Religion may be many things, but it is most certainly not pragmatic. Hocus-pocus has never been about liberty. Hocus-pocus has been at odds with liberty from its creation. If you don't believe me, read Leviticus.

So, we come to this message for the purveyors and customers of hocus-pocus: Get the fuck out of our government and keep your filthy child-raping, bigoted, hate-spewing hands off of everyone else's lives.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Change, in perspective

When the Shynes lived in Dayton, Ohio on Harriet St. circa 1964, a rather elderly white lady came through my Grandparents' neighborhood, door-to-door selling what I presumed to be her hand-made aprons. She wasn't a mean old hag or anything like that, and Momdear, my grandmother, was courteous and open as always, but before the "Apron Lady" left their house, she asked Momdear something to the effect, "Is the lady next door a nigger-woman?" Or "nigga-oman" - in her accent. Of course Momdear had the patience of Job, and replied, "Yes, she's a Colored Lady." My grandmother in effect corrected the old white woman gently, while at the same time, declined to buy her wares. Sweet, huh? My father and his siblings were children, and my uncle tells me how even at that age they still marveled at how Momdear handled this.

Now, having said all that, juxtapose this with our curernt Barack beating McCain scenario, and I am reminded of the Neil Young song below: it still carries a powerful symbolic meaning for "right-now" times.

Southern Man
by Neil Young

Southern man better keep your head
Dont forget what your Good Book said
Southern change gonna come at last
Now your crosses are burning fast
Southern man

I saw cotton and I saw black
Tall white mansions and little shacks.
Southern man when will you pay them back?
I heard screamin and bullwhips cracking
How long? how long?

Lily belle, your hair is golden brown
Ive seen your black man comin round
Swear by God Im gonna cut him down!
I heard screamin and bullwhips cracking
How long? how long?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A confession

I had a blog, once before. I've been searching for it for weeks, on and off, and finally I remembered that my daughter set it up for me, as, then as now, I barely know what I'm doing. After wasting a lot of time recently, I managed to get into it and add a new post.

I think I will use that blog when I am not participating in discussions here --it's more like a diary or a private commentary on news items I find strange, irritating, or generally worth sounding off about.

But if anyone wants to look at it I don't object; I hesitated over this, as it seems pretty egotistical of me; but I guess I am old enough not to care about that.

The blog won't have pictures or, probably, those blue links. Just my thoughts.

Two guys with Biblical First Names

I'm of the opinion that it is a very good thing to have leaders with a sense of humor.