truth, justice and punk fucking rock

by lestro

Punk rock is the true American art form.

In its purest forms, punk rock is simply a rage of personal freedom and anti-authority that is at the very heart of the American idea. That simple reflex – “fuck you, I don’t have to do what you say” – is what not only founded the nation, but continues to permeate every aspect of American life.

That challenge, that question, that pushback against being told what to do and how to live, it IS the American experience.

Every culture that comes into the melting pot comes here for the same reason: the simple freedom to question.

And no matter what, through even the tightest of home cultures, America – the idea of America – persists and infects.

Read more of this post

a last hurrah for the cowboy mafia

by twit

as if we didn’t see it coming

Who wanted to hear from dismal economists warning that the whole thing was, in effect, a giant Ponzi scheme?

so do we really have to give away $100 billion to the folks sitting at the top of the pyramid?

The federal government theoretically will be repaid what it’s loaned except for $100 billion in losses incurred from buying some assets above market value.

Read more of this post

Hugo Chavez declares war on Alaska

by twit

by again offering donations of oil to rural parts of the state:

With heating oil prices approaching $10 a gallon in rural Alaska and reports of neighbors stealing fuel from neighbors to warm their homes, a Venezuela-owned oil company plans to supply free fuel to villages again this winter.  [...]

Citgo has provided roughly 15,000 Alaska village households 100 gallons of heating oil each for the past two winters. If the company donates the same amount this year, some families will save as much as $1,000 on their fuel bills. It’s part of a program providing assistance to low-income communities in 23 states.

which means war!

The fact that the heating assistance is coming from Chavez led some eligible Alaska communities — such as St. Paul — to reject Citgo’s gift in the past.

It would have been unpatriotic to participate, said Steve Senisch, a local councilman who voted against the gift in 2007.

He predicted the council will vote the same way this time.

well, maybe less war this year…
Read more of this post

these should be everywhere

by twit

thank you, Consumerist.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … grease gun?

by lestro

Last week during a space walk, Captain Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper “dropped” a tool bag worth approximately $100,000.

Dropped isn’t really the right word. It barely slipped away from her glove and floated out of reach, but in space, that was enough to put the bag – about the size of a hiker’s backpack – into orbit.

It’s about 1,000 feet in front of the International Space Station and should eventually burn up in the atmosphere. It is currently about 220 miles up and cruising along at about 17,500 mph.

Even better, the bag is now visible from earth. Read more of this post

“Turkeys die as Governor Palin takes questions from the media”

by twit

MSNBC promises that they have “blurred out the goriest parts,” but do keep an eye on the MSNBC sub-headlines during the video…  via Wonkette:

Read more of this post

The NY Times flunks its own Electoral College editorial

by lestro

Every four years, newspapers around the country roll out editorials condemning the electoral college based on specious reasoning that shows an incredible lack of understanding about the nature of our government, the world of the founding fathers and a contempt for the very structure on which this nation is built.

As a rule, editorial boards make their case by completely ignoring the main reasons for the creation of the electoral college as well as the inadvertently spitting on the Great Compromise that helped create the Constitution.

And the NY Times, one of the greatest newspapers in the world, is no exception. Thursday’s editorial “Flunking the Electoral College” not only trots out the same puns we always hear, but repeats the same bullshit reasons for ditching a system that has served our nation well for 200 years.

Calling for its demise shows an incredible lack of thought about the system as a whole and the consequences of such actions. It also shows a total lack of understanding about the role of the College and who controls it.

In essence, the Times is guilty of exactly what they rail against: Flunking the electoral college and supporting a system that would do exactly what they say they are trying to stop. The only difference is that under their new system, they would be sitting prettier… Read more of this post

Cheney charged with organized criminal activity

by twit

update! From the AP on November 19, 2008:

A Texas judge has set a Friday arraignment for Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others named in indictments accusing them of responsibility for prisoner abuse in a federal detention center.

So says the AP on November 18, 2008:

Cheney is charged with engaging in an organized criminal activity related to the vice president’s investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds financial interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees because of his link to the prison companies.

Gonzalez, too!

The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately-run prisons.

and this is cute:

Regarding the indictments targeting the public officials, [District Attorney] Guerra said, “the grand jury is the one that made those decisions, not me.”

but before we get too excited:

The indictment returned Monday has not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken until that happens.

Read more of this post

Peace Through Music

by twit

with thanks to Weberence:

and Playing For Change.

a definition of an “Eisenstadt”

by twit

Specifically, when you make things up out of thin air, and it turns out to be true… see what you want to see…

For example, the idea that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent:

was a hoax apparently true based in some reality, but smeared with an Eisenstadt.  According to the New York Times on November 13, 2008:

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

What is so funny is that before the rumor was exposed as a hoax, Palin’s campaign staff confirmed that it was true there was a basis for the rumor.  ABC News reports on November 14, 2008:

Longtime Palin staffer Meg Stapleton told ABC News’ Kate Snow that Palin had fumbled over an Africa comment, but that it was a misspeak not worthy of the press coverage it received.

Read more of this post

I have a new proposition: Ban Mormonism

by lestro

It’s been said again and again over the past few weeks, but the passage of Proposition 8 in California was a tremendous blight on the victory of a new, progressive coalition on the national stage.

This year, despite the tremendous Blue Wave that swept the nation, somehow voters in California, traditionally the most liberal state in the Union, passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, as ridiculous as that seems for a state that went to the Dems with a 60.9% – 37.3% margin.

On Saturday, all across the country, protesters gathered in support of gay rights.

“People around the country were watching this very closely,” said Kellan Baker, a Washington, D.C., resident who is organizing today’s protest there. “For Californians to go to the ballot box to strip people of civil rights they had been enjoying is, I guess, the last straw.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “San Francisco city officials, joined by the city of Los Angeles and Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties, have petitioned the [state Supreme] court” to again declare the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.  The LA Times reports that legal challenges include those brought by “groups including the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund” which “brings to four the number of lawsuits asking the court to overturn Proposition 8.”

The California Supreme court has overturned a gay marriage ban once before, earlier this year, setting off an economic boom and a legal recognition that in the government’s eyes, marriage is simply a legal contract between two consenting adults.

And a constitutionally protected right, something the California State Constitution vows to protect right off the top in its Declaration of Rights:

SECTION 1. All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.

That’s Article I, Section 1.

“pursuing happiness and privacy.” That’s nice.  I read on, but nowhere did I find,  “unless you like the cock.”

and don’t think I didn’t look…

But Prop 8 is an amendment to the constitution, codifying the idea that marriage is only legal between a man and a woman. It is the first time I can recall that we have ever voted in this country to remove a right, to eliminate one of the very things we create governments to protect.

Read more of this post

The Kiwi wishes to apply

by The Kiwi

So a park in Utah has a Ten Commandments display, but is refusing a monument to the Seven Aphorisms of the Summum religion (founded 1975).

The Summums are taking it to the Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments today.

The justices will consider whether a public park open to some donations must accept others as well. In cases involving speeches and leaflets, the courts have generally said that public parks are public forums where the government cannot discriminate among speakers on the basis of what they propose to say. The question of how donated objects should be treated is, however, an open one.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a religious issue without hypocrisy and irony (aside from the idea that the Summum believe the Aphorisms were on the first set of tablets the lord gave to Moses, though he destroyed them because the people could not handle the rules of creation…):

The Ten Commandments monument here stands in Pioneer Park, which pays tribute to the city’s frontier heritage, one that is mostly Mormon. The two sides differ about how best to honor that heritage.

Mayor Daniels said the monument broadly reflected local history. Mr. Barnard, the Summum lawyer, said the Ten Commandments did not play a central role in the Mormon faith. “If they wanted to quote from the Book of Mormon,” he said, “that would, at least, relate to the pioneers.”

“Mormons came to Utah because of religious persecution,” Mr. Barnard added. “The pioneer heritage in Utah has to be escape from persecution.

And for the record, the Seven Aphorisms actually make much more sense than the whole Mormon backstory.

The NY Times weighed in again today with a lead editorial:

The federal appeals court reached the right result, but regrettably, it ducked the issue at the heart of the case, which turns on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The real problem is that Pleasant Grove City elevated one religion, traditional Christianity, over another, Summum. The founders regarded this sort of religious preference as so odious that they included a specific provision in the First Amendment prohibiting it. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has a bad record on Establishment Clause cases, which made it easier for all of the parties to treat the case as a simple speech case.

The Kiwi absolutely agrees and would like to start the process of applying to have a Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi monument added to the park as well.  If one religion is allowed the free advertising in a public place, we deserve the opportunity to get our message across as well.

And we will not be undersold.

Palin vs. Wooten: Palin wins another round

by twit

moz-screenshot-34

cue Wicked Witch of the West cackle and music:

The Alaska state trooper who was the subject of harsh allegations by Gov. Sarah Palin was taken off patrols recently for his own safety, after her comments allegedly prompted a series of threatening phone calls, KIMO-TV in Anchorage reported Friday. [...]

Wooten is now working a desk job, KIMO reported. The troopers’ union has expressed concern because the new position means he can no longer earn overtime pay.

Read more of this post

America the purple

by twit

via Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan, “a cartogram, a map in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population.”

Here is what the normal [county-level election returns] map looks like if you [use red, blue, and shades of purple in between to indicate percentages of votes]:

And here’s what the cartogram looks like:

As this map makes clear, large portions of the country are quite evenly divided, appearing in various shades of purple, although a number of strongly Democratic (blue) areas are visible too, mostly in the larger cities. There are also some strongly Republican areas, but most of them have relatively small populations and hence appear quite small on this map.

Read more of this post

The First Priority: Rebranding America

by lestro

The new administration faces a daunting task. President-Elect Obama inherits a country in crisis on almost every front. While the economic crisis dominates, it is a piece of a much larger puzzle, all intertwined and all completely fucked up by the Bush administration.

As talk turns to priorities for the first 100 days, the true scope of the mess we have to clean up really comes into focus. The economy, health care, education, energy, climate, a growing debt and deficit and, oh yeah, two wars.

So what we all want to know is, what will they attempt to take on first? What should they take on first?

Some will say the economy, some will say energy, some will say defense.

But the real first priority for the new administration needs to be a catchy slogan. They need an overriding theme and message to encompass the full shift and shuffle of government that needs to occur.

Like FDR’s New Deal. Or Kennedy’s New Frontier. Or LBJ’s Great Society. Even Bubba’s New Covenant.

All of those were coherent packages ranging over multiple issues and linking them under a single, simple brand name. Each was a collection of legislative proposals encompassing a wide range of agencies and interconnected issues that when taken as a whole represent the full scope of change.

Read more of this post

The Red Dawn Difference

by lestro

For all the talk of the youth vote being the demographic that put Obama over the top, the truth is that while their energy and legwork was unmatched, the real revolution in this election came not in the 20-somethings, but in the 30-somethings.

It is the Red Dawn generation, the forgotten demographic, that made the difference this time around. We are the 30-somethings who in the past eight years have grown into not only the dominant demographic in the media and commercial sectors, but have also started raising families and buying homes – the time when people start to seriously vote.

We are also the first generation to be raised completely under the ideals the Baby Boomer worked so hard to establish. We are done fighting battles of the 60s and don’t see the world the in black and white ways of our parents and we have reached the point in our lives when people become politically active.

The proof is in the exit poll results. This was not a youth movement, but one led by the tail end of Generation X and the Red Dawn Generation, those of us who came of age in the era of Reagan and Thriller and Mutual Assured Destruction.

In 2004, the youth vote made up 17 percent of the electorate. In 2008, they made up 18 percent. In 2004, they went to Kerry 54-45. This year they broke 66-32 for Obama.

The 30-44 demographic, however, where the real Change took place. In 2004 and 2008, they made up 29 percent of the vote, but in ’04 they voted for Bush 53-46. This year, they went 52-46 for Obama.

THAT was the group that won this election for Obama, not the youth vote. Fifty-two percent of 29 is way bigger than 66 percent of 18.

Read more of this post

morning cartoons

by twit

via the Wooster Collective:

This is the first time that Banksy has used animatronics, and the effect is absolutely amazing.

chicken1.jpg

why yes, those are chicken nuggets feeding on dipping sauce…

Read more of this post

Experience alone does not a president make

by lestro

After a day of celebration, relaxation and pride (remember the day after the 2004 election?  What a difference around the world, eh?), it is time to get back to the hard work of political punditry and that, of course, means post mortems on the campaigns.

The big game today seems to be “what went wrong” for John McCain and Newsweek goes right for the jugular, asking if the McCampaign was “the worst ever.”

It is tough to say it was the worst campaign ever, but it certainly ranks among them. According to Newsweek, the reason it is the worst comes down to two words: Sarah Palin.

… Team McCain ran a campaign that ranks on the bottom of this list. This was an aimless and chaotic operation made worse by poor choices at key moments. Their first mistake was picking Gov. Sarah Palin.

Actually, this was NOT their “first mistake.” However, Palin was the Gateway Meme, the first look behind the curtain that allowed the general public to see how everything Johnny Mac said was like a turd in the punchbowl that cannot be denied.

It was clear by September 3, 2008, before Charles GibsonKatie Couric and Tina Fey pulled on the thread that would eventually unravel the campaign, what Newsweek now describes:

By picking Palin, McCain simultaneously eliminated his own best argument against Senator Obama—the limited experience of his opponent—while compounding his own most negative image, that of someone who was erratic and out of control. The pick also fueled the feeling that grew throughout September and October that the Republican candidate was willing to take any step necessary to win the campaign. The Palin pick made every decision that followed seem purely political.

Like Katrina pulled back the curtain on the Bush administration, Sarah Palin revealed McCain as willing to do or say anything to get elected, all with little to no forethought.

And that’s no way to run a campaign, let alone a government. Read more of this post

My Selfish Racism

by the squid

I am not a sentimental person; but Tuesday night I was rocked to the core.

My wife and I are raising three mixed-race children; I am the black, she is the white.  We have a nice life, but sometimes I worried. I worried about how our children were going to identify themselves to others and I wondered how they will feel about me and their mother while growing up.

In our community, I am still a minority; however there is a wide range of people and experiences with which my children interact; but to know going forward, for the next four years, they will see a man of color – one the same hue as their father and uncle – being articulate, being vigorously debated, having state dinners, making decisions that matter for millions of people and who has a wife which reminds them of one of their grandmothers really affected me.

After Obama was elected, my wife and I spoke about race (as it occasionally comes up in our lives) and she said, “He is not African-American, he is half white…”  For the record, she said the same thing years ago when Halle Berry won the Oscar.

My wife’s point asks: What about the mother?  My wife doesn’t consider our children Black, but hers, and she feels the mother’s genes should be considered as well.  So my wife and I came up with a name for my wife’s condition: White woman with Black kids syndrome.

For the first time, Wednesday night, my five year old daughter said she was African-American; but to be accurate, our kids may have to identify themselves as half Black, a quarter Irish and a quarter Italian.

However,  America considers them Black because of me.

Now my children will see someone, who looks like me and who is not an actor, or a sports star or an entertainer, but as a person who has to make important decisions about life and limb much like their father, but only on a smaller scale.

It was a selfish racism which, I felt, would deter America from electing a person of color. There have been times in my life where, as a father, I have held myself back with feelings of inferiority and hoped that my fear would not translate or be seen by my children.

Now I feel I have a little bit of help from Mr. Obama.  He won’t be able to pay my mortgage, but he may be able to alleviate a burden my children would have to bear because of me – and that was a point on which both my wife and I agreed.

“… like this!”

by lestro

(photo via NY Times)

Nancy Pelosi vows that with her new majority in the House, she will crush the balls of the remaining Republicans with her bare fists.

The next chapter of American history

by twit

begins with record-breaking voter turnout…

FTW

image via Wonkette

via Politico on November 5, 2008:

More than 130 million people turned out to vote Tuesday, the most ever to vote in a presidential election.

With ballots still being counted in some precincts into Wednesday morning, an estimated 64 percent of the electorate turned out, making 2008 the highest percentage turnout in generations.

via MSNBC on November 5, 2008:

The percentage of Americans who voted was unmatched in at least a generation and perhaps since 1908, according to election experts. Secretaries of state estimated turnouts approaching 90 percent in Virginia and Colorado and 80 percent or more in big states like Ohio, California, Texas, Virginia, Missouri and Maryland.

via CNN on November 5, 2008:

Obama snared about 63 million votes to McCain’s 55.8 million, according to totals early Wednesday.

via MSNBC on November 5, 2008:

Obama won the popular vote, 52%-46% — the first time a Democrat won more than 51% since LBJ did it in 1964.

Fired Up? Ready To Go!

by twit

via TPM

So how long is this election going to take?

by twit

via MSNBC on November 4, 2008:

… keep an eye on the four states of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. If Obama wins just two out of the four, it becomes nearly impossible for McCain to get to 270 — even if he wins Pennsylvania.

… if Virginia is called early for Obama, that will be a sign of a possible big night for the Democrats.

… probably the earliest that we might see the election called for Obama (i.e., him going crossing the 270 mark) would be at 11:00 pm ET.

via the Associated Press on November 4, 2008:

Long lines and malfunctioning machines greeted voters Tuesday as polls across the country were deluged by people wanting to cast ballots in this historic race between Barack Obama and John McCain.

this could be a loooooong night…  or maybe not:

ABC News Andy Fies reports: In Manassas, VA where the Confederacy won the first major battle of its war to preserve slavery, Barack Obama held the last rally of his campaign to become President of the United States.

… It wasn’t the Civil War battleground itself — better Known in the North as Bull Run — but it had that feel. Ninety thousand Obama supporters poured over a distant ridge onto a field below, leading up to and surrounding the stage.

Read more of this post

Election Day!

by twit

Wake Up, America!

Congratulations to Sarah Palin

by twit

In honor of you winning this round:

These findings differ from those of the Branchflower Report because Independent Counsel has concluded the wrong statute was used as a basis for the conclusions contained in the Branchflower Report, the Branchflower report misconstrued the available evidence and did not consider or obtain all of the material evidence that is required to properly reach findings.

But this twit reserves the right to comment after she reads that deposition

Read more of this post

Win or lose

by twit

Tomorrow is the dawn of a new era.

In the meantime, while we wait for tomorrow to arrive:

Vote by phone and other fun tricks

by twit

via Threat Level on October 31, 2008:

The residents of Broward County, Florida have recently received misleading robocalls telling them that they can vote by phone on Election Day, according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Friday.

um, what?

Another unknown group is distributing flyers (see the flyer after the jump) with official-looking letterhead around the area of Hampton Roads, Virgina that erroneously inform recipients that because of the crowds at the polls, the Virginia State Board of Elections is scheduling Republicans to vote on November 4th, and Democrats on the 5th.

they… really expect that to work?

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that people in the area have been receiving robocalls with the same message. This particular trick is an old one: In 2004, the New York Times reported the same message going out in the Pittsburgh area via flyers.

apparently, yes.

Read more of this post

Prankin’ Palin

by twit

Such is the ignorant life:

Sarah Palin’s campaign issued an amused response to having joined Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy in having been the victim of a prank by a pair of French-Canadian comedians who impersonated Sarkozy on a call with the Alaska governor.

The prankster talked hunting — Palin said she was a better shot than Dick Cheney — made a reference she appeared to miss to a porn movie, and suggested killing baby seals in the conversation, which can be heard here.

He also discussed non-existent Canadian officials, said he could see Belgium from his house, and described the crooner Johny Halliday, as Palin continued the conversation until he explained it was a prank.

“Gov. Palin received a phone call on Saturday from a French Canadian talk show host claiming to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy,” emailed spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. “Gov. Palin was mildly amused to learn that she had joined the ranks of heads of state, including President Sarkozy, and other celebrities in being targeted by these pranksters. C’est la vie.”

Indeed:

In an over-the-top accent, one half of a notorious Quebec comedy duo claims to be the president of France as he describes sex with his famous wife, the joy of killing animals and Hustler magazine’s latest Sarah Palin porno spoof.

At the other end of the line? An oblivious Sarah Palin.

Read more of this post

if John McCain was a broadway show

by twit

he’d look a lot like this:

“My Friends: The Musical” via the Viral Video Chart

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