Monday, November 30, 2009

Most Excellent, Sir...

In a recent thread over at TSM, a commenter named Mastiff left this most excellent post.

A primer in the proper relationship between intellect and emotion, according to Jewish mysticism.

You can imagine the human mind as being made of two components: the rational mind, and the emotional mind.

The rational mind can reason, but cannot impel action. In this model, it takes emotion to do that. A person totally devoid of emotion would starve to death.

If you decide on a course of action with the rational mind, and then lend motive force to your decisions with the emotional mind, then you are doing things the right way. For example, considering the phenomenon of slavery with the rational mind, you conclude that it is a gross offense against humanity. Then, your emotional mind conveys the full force of what that means, driving you with anger and righteous fury to do something about it.

If you decide on a course of action with your emotional mind, and then let your rational mind justify a decision already made (i.e. engage in "rationalization"), you are doing things the wrong way. For example, you want to have sex with a drunk girl. Therefore, you direct your rational mind to justify the decision to have sex ("she knew what could happen, she clearly wants it, she won't remember anyway," etc.), so that your conscience does not interfere with the pleasure of the act. Or less so, anyway.

As we watch President Obama's prime time address tomorrow night regarding his plan for Afghanistan, pay attention to the reaction. Who are the ones that "let their rational minds justify a decision already made?"

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the classic "liberals lead with their feelings, conservatives lead with thinking" meme. I believe it was Last in Line that first uttered that little ditty on here way back in the day. I think I've heard it said...oh...A BAZILLION TIMES....since then by pretty much every conservative I know.

In fact, it was recently repeated at the gym by an airport policeman I have become friendly with of late. He went on to say that's why most women are liberal because they lead more with their feelings. Of course, right after he said this a woman walked up to him and told him she was conservative and he was full of shit which I found amusing.

I then proceeded to ask both of them who they thought kept the country safer...Dick Cheney or Barack Obama? They both chuckled and said "Dick Cheney, of course!!" When I asked them what their basis for this was, they gave me several "thinking" (not "feeling") gems such as "Obama's weak...he talks to our enemies" and "Cheney's not afraid to do what it takes to put the screws to the terrorists." When they asked me who I thought was a better leader, national security wise, I said President Obama. They laughed and wondered why.

I said that, unlike Bush and Cheney, President Obama is actually going to increase the troop levels significantly in Afghanistan. In fact, he'll have done it twice. I told them that it's been over 8 years and we still haven't caught or killed Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al Zawahari...the two men who lead Al Qaeda...who were responsible for the worst attack in our country's attack which occurred on the watch of Dick Cheney. Naturally, they proceeded to blame Bill Clinton and said I was being "mean" to Dick. After reading them Mastiff's 5th paragraph above and perfectly illustrating how they were the living embodiment of it (as is the majority of the GOP base these days), they then became furious and the woman called me a traitor...walking away saying she couldn't talk to me because I "hated America."

Eh, long as they say "I think you are a traitor" instead of "I feel you are a traitor." That makes it all OK.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oh Yeah?

Hey, Dick...I have two words for and your dithering ass...

Fuck (and) Off.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for the Truth

For those of you who want to know what ACTUALLY happened on the first Thanksgiving, check this out.

Origin myths do not come cheaply. To glorify the Pilgrims is dangerous. The genial omissions and false details our texts use to retail the Pilgrim legend promote Anglocentrism, which only handicaps us when dealing with all those whose culture is not Anglo. Surely, in history, "truth should be held sacred, at whatever cost."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simply Beautiful

They had SEVEN YEARS to get Afghanistan right, and now they accuse Obama of "dithering."

---blk in comments.

Remember, they can make believe anything they want:)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Attack! Kill! Now!

Recently, Dick Cheney accused President Obama of "dithering" on Afghanistan. As expected, the right has pounced on this and fallen back into the "Obama is weak, they's a comin', he'll encourage terrorists to attack us" meme. Many have said that the president should listen to Generals MacChyrstal and Patraeus and approve the troop surge immediately.

The only problem with this opinion is that's not what General Patraeus has said. From the Defense Department web site.

n Iraq, getting the right strategy was just as important as the surge in personnel, the general said. “The real key in Iraq was the surge of ideas, not just the surge of troops,” Petraeus said. “Yes, the 30,000 additional troops that ended up being deployed during the surge enabled us to … implement time-honored counterinsurgency concepts more effectively and more rapidly than we could have.”

Multinational forces began living in the communities. They began protecting the people and securing their neighborhoods. “You cannot commute to the fight,” Petraeus said, and the command built 77 stations for coalition forces in Baghdad alone.

As attention shifts to Afghanistan, Petraeus said, people must remember that Afghanistan is not Iraq.

“All counterinsurgencies are local,” he explained. “You have to recognize the need for a truly nuanced and granular appreciation for local circumstances.”

Americans going to the country must understand the local customs and culture and the local power structures. “We are trying to help Afghanistan re-establish traditional ruling structures: the traditional [religious leaders], the traditional tribal leaders, who in many areas have been pushed aside, or killed, or run off by the Taliban or the more extreme leaders,” he said.

Wait, what? General Patraeus has said that it's a good thing to wait and get it right? Hmm, I wonder how long it will take for the base to call him General "Betray Us."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Corporate Abuse

Recently, I was asked in comments

What specific power has a corporation used to abuse you?"

Setting aside the fact that only an ostrich with his head buried quite deeply in the sand couldn't see how corporations of this country abuse and essentially enslave us, I do actually have a specific example.

Take a look at this postcard (left) I received in the mail from Center Point Energy, a private corporation.

If you do not call immediately, Centerpoint Energy will be required to take appropriate legal action to obtain access.

This is not the federal government trying to beat down my door. This is a PRIVATE company.

The only mention of the government in all of this is a federal statue that says that this private company can invade my home any time they want to and if I don't let them, then they can...what exactly? Sue me? Send Blackwater agents into my house to subdue my family and inspect the meter?

What's funny is that it's not even Center Point that does the inspections. It's a sub contractor. I did call and have someone come to my home. This company, RMR services, caught blazing hellfire for this card from Centerpoint customers...which is pretty much anyone with a furnace in my area. In fact, they are the only choice I have for gas in my area. So much for free will. Oh wait. That's right. I can burn a pile of wood in my front room. Great.

Someone care to explain to me how the "gubmint" is running the show here? It seems to me that Centerpoint greased the politicians to essentially have an organized monopoly and uses them if they need a tool to get into my home. Wooo-wee...them Feds have got me a quakin' now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

They's A Comin'

Talking Points Memo has an excellent piece today on the silly arguments about bringing the Gitmo detainees here to the continental US. There are many points made in the article that are quite accurate but my favorite is this one regarding the wetting of the pants by the right by what hirabis might say in court.

I cannot imagine anything KSM or his confederates would say that would diminish America or damage us in any way. Are we really so worried that what we represent is so questionable or our identity so brittle?

Yes, it is. Or, more specifically, their faith is weak. And by "they" you know who I am talking about. In essence, the central and motivating factor for the behavior of the right is that they really aren't very secure in their beliefs. It's why they accuse the left of going more with their "feelings" than their reason...ludicrous because, in addition to being the WORST fucking example of giving in to emotion, we are human beings who (gasp!) do have emotion. It's also ludicrous considering fear is all they really know.

It's why they have to have more people believe as they do otherwise there's a chance they might be wrong because less do. So, it's either you're with us or agin' us. Things have to be simple because complexity leads to doubt. And there can be no doubt. It's why they can't admit fault because their insecurity is so great that to do so would mean the end times.

The fact is that there is nothing the Kalid Sheik Mohammed could say that would change America. We are a country based on freedom and peace. He is a mass murderer who believes in putting the world in chains. The more he rants, the better it is for the world to see how much more integrity we have.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quaking With Fear

I've had a few debates here and more than several over at TSM regarding government power. My friends on the right are convinced that government has more power than ever before. I contend that the real power lies within the private sector and the people that run our government are simply stoolies for the corporations of this country. I have pointed to K street and the massive growth of lobbyists as evidence but conservatives will not budge. The "Gubmint" is threatening me with a gun, they cry. Corporations are not.

Yet, an article in today's New York Times seems to suggest otherwise. Genentech, a bioengineering company, sent several talking points, through emails from lobbyists, to members of both parties. These talking points, in some cases the same language, were used in speeches on the floor of Congress during the debate over the health care bill. Essentially, we have a private company shaping policy and directing communication over a public issue: health care. I suspect that this will not be the only example to come to light.

Wow, folks. I'm quaking with fear at the awesome power of our "gubmint" who can now plainly be seen as nothing but over glorified middle men pretending to serve the public. Let's just dispense with the pretense (and the waste of tax payer money) and have the corporations of this country appoint a CEO of America INC.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to the Bill

If I could pick one complaint about the House version of the health bill, I would say it really does seem to give insurance companies a break. A few of the Democrats that voted against the bill, including Dennis Kucinich, did so because of the mandate that decrees that everyone must have health insurance. If you can't afford it, the federal government would provide subsidies to insurance companies so that you can have insurance.

My question is how is this any different than bailing out AIG?

To me, this part of the new bill is reminiscent of Massachusetts universal care which vastly benefits the private sector. One way or another, the Man is getting his third vacation home with our money.

Of course, I can bitch about this all I want but I don't really see another alternative. Corporations of this country are so powerful that there will NEVER be a system like there is in Canada or Great Britain. And, with at least 30 million people believing that any government run system is going to cause our country to become EXACTLY like the Soviet Union in the year 1955, our plutonomy is going to roll merrily along.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honor Them.

Find a veteran today, touch them on the arm, look in their eyes, and say thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Restroom Urinal at the Train Station

Bill Maher is right. The "public option" does indeed sound like the urinal at the train station. Who would want the public option? It just sounds gross. You can almost smell how disgusting it is.

The Congressional Budget Office, however, seems to think that the public option is no big deal. In fact, in a letter sent to the House, the CBO estimates that the public option portion of the bill will only attract about 6 million enrollees. They estimate that most Americans will stay with their private plans. They also estimate that the bill will reduce the deficit by 104 billion dollars over 10 years.

The CBO goes on to say that the public option would likely charge higher premiums than private insurers. This is due to their estimate that the people who would seek the public option would be higher risk patients and the fact that the public option would “engage in less management of utilization." So, the contention that the public option would drive private insurance out of business is not accurate.

Here is the CBO's breakdown of both the House bill and the Senate Bill.

CBO Score Of House Bill CBO Score Of Baucus Bill
Costs Reduce deficits: $104B/10yrs
Cost: $894B/10yrs
Spends on subsidies: $605B/10yrs
On Medicaid/CHIP: $425B/10yrs
On Small Employer Credit: $25B/10yrs
Reduce deficits: $81B/10yrs
Cost: $829B/10yrs
Spends on subsidies: $461B/10yrs
On Medicaid/CHIP: $345B/10yrs
On Small Employer Credit: $23B/10yrs
Insured Uninsured reduced by: 36M
Uninsured in 2019: 18M
In Exchanges: 30M | Public Plan: 6M
In Medicaid: 15M
Uninsured reduced by: 29M
Uninsured in 2019: 25M
In Exchanges: 23M
In Medicaid: 14M
Revenue Mandate penalty: $33B/10yrs
Pay-Play penalty: $135B/10yrs
New taxes: $572B/10yrs
Mandate penalty: $4B/10yrs
Free rider penalty: $23B/10yrs
New taxes: $196B/10yrs
Total savings: 426B/10yrs
Medicare Advantage: $170B/10yrs
Total savings: 404B/10yrs
Medicare Advantage: $117B/10yrs

Now, the CBO has been touted by those who are against this bill as being sound financially. One would think this would be good news for them. In addition, if only six million people are going to use the program, that isn't exactly a "Soviet style takeover."

Monday, November 09, 2009

So, the bill...

Late Saturday night, the United States House of Representatives passed landmark health care legislation by a vote of 220-215. Over the next few days, we'll be taking a look at what's in the bill and what it means for you. Rather than tackle everything at once, I thought I would focus on one part per day (and perhaps the strands that trail out from that) and discuss it.

Many of you have asked me why I support a bill like this even though there are items in it that I would not find agreeable. For the first couple of days, I'm going to talk why I supported this bill singling out those specific points which I think have merit. The first one is the ejection from the capsule of pre-existing conditions. Thank God.

Under this new bill, a person can't be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Not only do I support this from the point of view of a human being but it also makes sound financial sense. If someone is denied coverage but ends up in the ER or in ICU, the rest of us will still end up paying for it through higher premiums. Without this regulation in place, less and less people will be able to afford health care because insurance companies will simply raise their rates. Has anyone ever seen them go down?

Of course, the argument could be made that we could just let these people die but I think we are a better country than that. Somehow, their care is going to have to be paid for and whether it's through the government or private insurance, we will be the ones to pay. The insurance industry has shown that it has done a poor job regulating itself. Even with their higher premiums, they still needed to be bailed out by Uncle Sam (AIG etc) and then used that money for lavish vacation retreats (see: US plutonomy).

The government certainly isn't the perfect mechanism for this but what is the alternative?

Sunday, November 08, 2009


The House passed its version of the health care bill last night in a vote of 220 to 215. Interestingly, one Republican, Joseph Cao from Louisiana, voted for the bill. "I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents," Cao said. Maybe there is some hope for the Republican Party after all.

I was also interested at the bipartisan press conference after the signing in which both sides claimed victory and said they were happy (??) with the bill. For the Republicans, this was largely due to the Stupak amendment that bans federal money for abortions.

So my initial thoughts are fairly positive. In listening to Michelle Bachmann, it sounded like we were all going to be thrown into a boiling pit of sewage. I also thought the partisanship would turn even more acrimonious. Tomorrow, I'll start putting up some of the finer points of the bill and we can talk about them.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Reaching Out

We've been talking about "reaching out" to the right in comments lately so I thought I would share a recent Facebook status update of a friend of mine whom I call John Smith.

JOHN SMITH is going to grill meat and use lots of coals to emit as much carbon as possible and piss of the global warming nut jobs.

So, my question is do I reach out to John, hmm?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Without Comment

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Yep, pretty much.

Recovering conservative, Frank Schaeffer has had quite a bit to say these days about his former party. Schaeffer, whose father was close to President Reagan, President Bush (41), President Ford and Jack Kemp, has a new book out entitled Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) and has been ripping out some zingers on his tour hawking it. Here are a few choice ones with which I happen to agree.

Combined with the fact that we began to lose parts of the culture war, when it came to other Americans beginning to recognize gay rights, expanding women's rights, abortion rights and such, the Religious Right and the Republican Party infected gun-toting America with a chip on its shoulder about a mile wide. This led to the myth that "they" (fill in the blank, gays, Jews, blacks, liberals --- whatever) are "taking away our country from 'us'"...

This would be the fear of the "other" that I have been talking about lately.

Conservative" means that you believe it's right to legalize torture, but reject health care for all.

Wow. I've never heard it put so succinctly before but yes, that is what it means to be conservative.

These days to be a conservative means that you hate the United States government elected by the people and believe that if millions of citizens are out of work that it's their own fault and that the rest of the community should not help them by spending tax dollars.


To be a conservative means you believe that healthcare reform will lead to "death panels"; that the president of the United States is not a "real American"; that a university education is a dangerous thing; that Americans who live in big cities are less American than those who live in small towns; that brown people, blacks, progressive whites, gays, public school teachers, Hispanics, immigrants, are somehow conspiring to subvert the "real America" with a "gay agenda" or a "Muslim agenda" or at least the browning of "our" white America.


(keep chanting this and maybe someday it will be true)

And now, the coup de grace.

In other words to be a conservative today is to be an anti-American, nihilistic libertarian know-nothing who believes in unregulated consumerism and the theology of dominion. It is in fact what conservatives of the 60s said the hippies were: selfish brats with no sense of responsibility to anyone. It's also a party of armed revolution not so subtly egging on its lunatic fringe to commit violence. It applauds white rubes who show up at public meetings carrying loaded assault weapons "to make a point" and signs reminiscent of Timothy McVeigh and his famous T-shirt; "the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants" and the like are held up by Murdoch/Beck/Fox and company --- those profiteers off the unregulated market --- as paragons of good sense and free enterprise and gun rights.

My question for conservatives who post is he wrong? Virtually everything I have seen over the years on this blog and in discussions with the right adheres to the paragraph above. And it's getting worse every day.

Of course, it's not enough just to rip the psychotics who run the GOP now. What should they actually be?

An actual conservative believes in community and accountability to a moral tradition that puts the greater good of others ahead of oneself. Take a look at the way the very conservative communities of New England's Puritan towns were arranged around the village green known as "the commons."

Shared public spaces were owned by the community, for instance grazing land, and town meetinghouses. People were obliged to show up and participate in the fledgling democracy and vote. Taxes were dispensed by committees for charitable purposes. A duty to government and obligations placed on citizens by other citizens --- when it came to putting the life of the community ahead of the self --- were the norm. The free-market and individual enterprise were strictly curtailed based on not just the needs of the community but, when it came to things like banking and lending, the Old Testament teachings that frowned on "usury" --- in other words banks making more money than they should from ordinary people-- were upheld.

And the line that is sure to explode heads...

President Obama is a conservative. He believes in the brotherhood of all people. He believes in the freedom of the individual to make moral decisions. He believes that sexuality, religion and skin color should not define us but the content of our characters should define us. He believes that we are our brother's keeper. He believes in loyalty to community and country --- in other words patriotism, whether that's the honor of serving in the military or the honor of paying taxes to support not just national defense but how we treat what the Bible calls the least amongst us.

I agree completely. And I think many on the right know this which is why they have become hyper ragers right now. How dare President Obama try to out conservative the conservatives! Let's paint a Hitler moustache on him and scare some people. Yeah, that'll work!

Mr. Schaeffer's right, dudes. What the fuck happened to your party?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Liberal Media Watch

The media is all liberally biased, right?

"GOP hopes rekindled" (headline from MSNBC)

"Blow to Obama" (headline from MSNBC)

"GOP Scores Big on Election Night" (headline from CNN)

"GOP Rules Election Night" (headline from CNN)

"Setback to Obama" (NY Times headline)

"Victories seen as a sharp blow to Democrats and showed the limits of President Obama's political clout." (Comcast News headline)

Hmm...I thought the media were in the tank for President Obama. It couldn't possibly be they just want to SELL matter who their audience is, now could it?

This same "liberal media" has also buried the story of the loss by the Republicans in NY-23. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck all got behind the "real" conservative, Doug Hoffman. It was quite a scene of GOP infighting which resulted in the election of a Democrat, Bill Owens -- the first Democratic congressman from that region since Ulysses S Grant was president. In fact, the "fake" Republican, Dede Scozzafava, that was forced to drop out of the race by the psychotics that are currently running the GOP ended up backing Owens. Huh. Isn't that interesting? Perhaps there aren't as many "real" Republicans out there as Rush, Glenn, and Sara would like to think. How sad...

Anyway, I don't buy into the media's "The GOP Are Back!!!" meme. If they were, NY -23 would be in Hoffman's hands. As it stands, a very conservative state (VA) voted for a Republican (gosh, what a shock) and New Jersey voted out the guy who was up to his eyeballs in Goldman Sachs kickbacks. Whoopity Doo!

Monday, November 02, 2009


I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all should have to our freedom comes from this room, this very room. And what may happen later this week, in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.

It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy to know that the right at least aren't trying to hide it anymore. How many times did she use the word "fear?"

Ah well, as long as they are being rational about it and grounding their assertions in facts and logic while strictly adhering to the scientific method.