Friday, June 05, 2009

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) The march of the penguins apparently includes rest area breaks.

2) Twitter is for twits, Episode 4,359

3) Finally, he snatched the pebble from sensei's hand.

4) SLB has a small readership, but it's a very well-informed one. So someone remind me, when was the last time a white man was mistaken for a criminal and killed?

5) No disrespect intended to police officers anywhere, I should start with, but this has to stop. Oh, but I forgot! There's no racism anymore!

6) Really! No one hates anyone anymore! The right wing is perfectly comfortable with a black centrist president!

7) One can only hope that these series of incidents revolving around race...the Sweeten case, this assassination threat, and the Edwards killing...will cause some of our more rational brethren on the right to finally....FINALLLY...denounce the hate the way they insisted moderate Muslims stand up to extremism.

8) It seems there's a condition that strikes white male-- FUCK ME, MOTHERFUCKING COCKSUCKER!!!! --ales more than any other demographic.

9) It never rains in California, but girl, don't they warn you, it pours, man it pours!


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama's Defining Moment

While you should read the entire text for yourselves, I believe history will judge this paragraph as the time when America truly rejoined the world community as a leader and a beacon:
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

Leading up to this paragraph, President Obama spoke of how the continual Muslim violence towards not only westerners but fellow Muslims, has bred a suspicion and, indeed, terror among the partisan right wing of the western world.

After this paragraph, he acknowledges civilization's debt to the Muslim world and to Islam in particular: math, sciences, philosophy, commerce, art, even history...all these were advanced by Muslims when the rest of the world suffered the Dark Ages.

And then he challenged the Muslim world to change with the times. He invited them to view America differently, and if anyone could do that, if anyone could truthfully say those words and mean them in Egypt, it is Barack Obama: America's first African-American President. Indeed, the quintessence of change resides within him.

The intriguing bit came when he began to talk about Palestine. I expect he will get a large helping of grief over this part, where he seems to hint at a division of territory between Israel and the Palestinians (the "two state" solution he has talked about before).

But there's a surprise hinted at in the speech as well when he speaks about Al Qaeda:
And that's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths but, more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam.

The Holy Quran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as -- it is as it if has killed all mankind.

And the Holy Quran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.

The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism; it is an important part of promoting peace.

I interpret this to mean he's offering the Muslim world a chance for a show of good faith: turn over Al Qaeda and other violent Islamist groups, turn over Osama bin Laden. Show us that you mean business.

Wow. I mean, wow. He invokes among the most holy of passages written in the Koran and challenges the Muslim world to live up to it.

Think about that for a moment: the President of the Great Satan has asked Muslims to turn their back on what amounts to the Religious Right of the Muslim world, the Jerry Falwells of Fatwas, and asked the entire Muslim world to join us in the 21st Century, to shun those who would take the world back to the Dark Ages.

And you know what? He's got a good chance of succeeding.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sloppy Seconds

A huge outcry (link not safe for sane people) was raised among the more extreme rightists in this country (i.e. any Republican) about Sonia Sotomayor's perceived dismissal of the "private ownership of guns

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been called an "anti-gun radical" by some gun rights activists for joining an opinion this year that said the Second Amendment does not prevent state and local governments from restricting arms ownership.

But yesterday a panel of conservative luminaries on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reached the same conclusion. The unanimous ruling rejecting a challenge to Chicago's tough handgun law could complicate efforts to portray Sotomayor as a judicial activist trying to undermine the Supreme Court's landmark decision last year holding that the amendment protects the right to own a gun for self-defense.

The sticking point came on a case involving nunchuks in New York City. You may remember nunchuks as the weapon of choice for Bruce Lee: two sticks chained end to end that are very versatile for self-defense...or clocking the ever-living crap out of someone.

In that case, the defendant claimed that the SCOTUS decision in Heller v. District of Columbia, which was a minor landmark decision in that it affirmed, or more to the point, created (so much for lack of judicial activism) the absolute right of an individual to own firearms, implied that states and localities were forbidden from overriding the Second Amendment.

The Appeals Court (Second Circuit) on which Sotomayor sat decided, um, no. States and localities can override it at their pleasure, as many other precedents of the court had dictated. The distinction in Heller is that the District of Columbia is quasi-federal to begin with.

As you can imagine, the NRAites went ballistic...sorry...over this revelation! It was decided in committee that this was absolute proof that Obama was trying to take away their guns.

After the tin foil hats were cleaned and blocked...

Much ado about nothing, as it turns out. The case they cite that Sotomayor sat on, Maloney v. Cuomo, was specifically cited by the conservative Seventh Circuit Appeals Court yesterday in its decision.

As usual, conservatives cried their eyes out and went through boxes of tissues decrying the oppression of the white man.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Hypocrisy Clown Car

I do have to love right wing media. They are so consistently inconsistent:
Taxpayers footed the bill for the big night on the town, which included a total of at least $24,000 for the three aircraft used to ferry the Obamas, aides and reporters to New York and back. Dinner costs and orchestra seat tickets -- at $96.50 apiece -- were paid by the Obamas.

Obama's jet, a Gulfstream 500, served as a more modest Air Force One for the day in place of the customary presidential Boeing 747.

The White House declined to say how much the trip was costing taxpayers.

Do you think The Post ever bothered to ask George Bush what his vacations were costing the taxpayers? Let's see...
*crickets chirping*

Now several in the media, both mainstream and Blogtopia (© Skippy the Bush Kangaroo) have pointed out that Obama is as entitled to a night out as any President, that Bush took the full-scale Air Force One to his ranch (the flight alone cost the taxpayers more than $24,000), and that Bush spent something on the order of forty percent of his administration on vacation (that's 3.2 years out of eight).

All valid points.

I focused on something else. The Presidency has long been a...I don't know how to put this...role model factory? When JFK and Jackie O were in the White House, sales of Chanel suits skyrocketed. When they hosted artists and poets at dinners, sales of books about poetry jumped, and attendance at museums spiked.

And now that Obama has eaten at a restaurant in Greenwcih Village and seen the new August Wilson play, both of those are reporting record reservations and mobs outside.

So it's interesting that a man takes his wife on a date, modeling absolutely spot-on behavior for a married man (nevermind that he promised her this date) to be romantic, and the right wing, pro-family-- OK, Drudge is gay, but you get my point-- point people get their knickers in a twist over it!

You'd think maybe these guys might take a hint? I'm betting at least one wingnutcase has been forced to hear from his wife, "Honey, how come you never take me anywhere?" this week.

And maybe that's the point.

Monday, June 01, 2009

To Your Health

The broad outlines of the Obama healthcare package are coming to light. I'm not sure I like them much:
It's hard to believe that only three months ago, health care advocates worried that President Barack Obama would drop the health reform issue from his first-year agenda. Now, with an August deadline to pass a bill, a compromise that once seemed unimaginable is considered quite possible, both sides say.

Congress this week begins a two-month sprint to pass legislation overhauling the health care system — an aspiration that has eluded generations of American politicians. The task is exceedingly complex and faces the legislative equivalent of an Ironman triathlon, tested at every stage by monied interests, political alliances and an estimated 13-figure price tag.

My beef with it?

It's too complex and in politics, complex means it's too easy to hide the loopholes in.

Think about the laws we pass in this nation for a moment. Take speeding laws: if you exceed the speed limit, in the judgement of the officer who is issuing the ticket, you've broken the law. A traffic court may overturn this, but it's unlikely that anyone is going to get away scott free with every ticket issued.

The rule is simple: There's a defined limit. You exceed it. You pay a price.

Now, take a look at the tax code, one of the most complex systems known to mankind.

Does everyone pay their fair share? No, not even nominally, much less in practice.

Here, we're talking about people's lives. Here, we're talking about creating a bureacratic nightmare the likes of which we can't even begin to fathom.

Government does some things better than the private sector. Take mail delivery. If FedEx or UPS had the same mandate as the USPS (deliver mail to whomever in the United States mail is addressed to) we'd all be paying enormous sums of money to fund the rural delivery system. Government can make it cost effective enough that it costs 44 cents...and that's AFTER FedEx and UPS have skimmed off the most profitable portions of the delivery system: overnight mail and commercial parcel deliveries!

Government is the only organization sufficiently scaled to handle insuring 300 million people. Period.

This entire bill should be scrapped. We should have a single-payer health insurance where everyone knows what they will pay when they visit a doctor (nothing), doctors can still afford million dollar homes (they do in England) and you don't have to argue with an insurance bureaucrat with regards to being treated. If the doctor finds a test medically necessary, there won't be some beancounter sitting over his shoulder, timing the procedure.

Maybe this is a first step in that direction. And maybe it's unnecessary.