Saturday, July 26, 2008

Parents cut down in a hail of gunfire...

Bruce Wayne grew up to be a great philanthropist and one of the world's greatest crime fighters under the dark mantle of Batman.

What will become of this little girl?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Barack Obama's July 24 Speech Berlin

Unbelievable! Yet another bold and audacious speech of incredible scope and vision.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand.

The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand.

The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand.

These now are the walls we must tear down.

July 24 was a big day for John McCain as well! Here he is at the Fudge Haus in Columbus, Ohio, where he is repeatedly in danger of being drowned out by some wind chimes after about the 3:00 minute mark.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Colbert's Greenscreen Challenge

Recently John McCain made the mistake of delivering one of his somnambulisms before an entirely green background. Beyond giving this sickly old geezer a deathly pallor, he set himself up for Stephen Colbert's "Make John McCain More Exciting Greenscreen Challenge". There have already been several hilarious entries, but this one makes me laugh the hardest.

Ok, this one is worth a peek too...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Learning from History!

Raise your right hand and repeat after me:

The economy of the United States of America will implode if we do not abandon our military exploits in the Middle East.

The mighty Soviet Union fell under the expense of trying to conquer Afghanistan. We have undertaken to simultaneously conquer TWO historically unconquerable lands in Afghanistan AND Iraq. In every single case in American history, wars have meant tax increases for the American people. This time we have sold the Chinese and other countries on the order of $1 trillion of U.S. Treasury bonds - essentially printing money out of thin air to the point that the value of the U.S. currency has become so diluted that its value is much less.

With a devalued dollar, the rubber meets the road when we try to buy hard goods and commodities whose prices are set by global trade markets around the world - grain and oil in particular. A barrel of oil was $25 when we invaded Iraq. Last week it peaked at $147. Since oil is used to make and move everything we own and eat, our economy is going to be permanently impacted by this change, as well as any subsequent increased.

The price of oil has also changed the geopolitical balance.

Russia, which has been actively developing Siberian oil fields and iron-shod contracts with neighboring republics, suddenly holds the world's largest energy reserves while forming pacts with Syria, Iran, Libya and Venezuela. They recently made it quite clear that they no longer felt any obligation to pretend to care what the USA thinks. Like it or not, the price of oil has shot Russia back into superpower status.

Likewise, Iran - the world's second largest gas and oil power, suddenly funds itself with the value of its assets increased five-fold thanks to the United States' comprehensive destabilization of the region, which means they now hold a five-fold increase in ability to develop nuclear weapons, fund terrorism and otherwise attack us. It is estimated that our current saber rattling and ongoing covert war of public terrorism in Iran is responsible for $30 to $40 of the current per-barrel price of oil.

Freeing ourselves from dependence on oil is the only way to break free of this death spiral, in which our enemies increasingly hold our lifeline of energy even while the price is driven up the fantastic growth in India and China. China is expected to have matched the United States in number of cars on the road within 10 years. All the oil in ANWR and the Florida cost will not make a difference when global demand reaches that level.

President Bush's legacy could have been wildly reversed in the 2006 State of the Union address if he had taken action with space race intensity after his proclamation "America is addicted to oil." Instead within the week he was holding hands with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah on his Texas ranch. And so here we are two years later and our spiral into the black hole continues.

Now is the time to heed the call made by Al Gore, to set ourselves free within 10 years. For all of human history we have prospered by burning a part of the planet - wood, coal, oil. It is time now to do the hard work necessary to move from the Era of the Flame to the Era of the Sun.

Impossible? Consider that in five years we have spent a trillion dollars in Iraq. If we'd spent that at we could have put solar power systems on 62.5 million rooftops - 49% of the households in the nation delivering 168 gigawatts of power to the electrical grid. How much electricity could we generate by covering the sun baked land of the western deserts into solar and wind farms?

What could we accomplish with the funds that could be liberated if we were to slash our military expenditures to just the levels of China, France, U.K. and Japan combined?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another soldier killed in Iraq

Take a good look at PFC Dwyer, who shattered his soul in Iraq.

During the first week of the war in Iraq in 2003, a Military Times photographer captured the image of Army Pfc. Joseph Patrick Dwyer as he raced through a battle zone clutching a tiny Iraqi boy named Ali.

"Doc" Dwyer's concerned face appeared on the pages of newspapers across the country. Dwyer, 31, died June 28 in Pinehurst, N.C., after years of struggling with mental disorders. During that time, he spiraled into substance abuse and depression, and he found himself in trouble with the law.

Military Times could not reach Dwyer's family, but his wife, Matina, told The (Pinehurst, N.C.) Pilot, "He was a very good and caring person. He was just never the same when he came back because of all the things he saw."

The rest of the article is at USA TODAY.

Believe Me, It's Torture

Many thanks to Booyobot 32JJ-17 for forwarding me this report on British journalist Christopher Hitchens, who recently decided to see for himself whether or not waterboarding is torture.

I recommend you watch the video of his experience.

Then read Believe Me, It's Torture, the article he wrote about his experiences for Vanity Fair.

As far as I'm concerned he hit the nail on the head right here:
Here is the most chilling way I can find of stating the matter. Until recently, “waterboarding” was something that Americans did to other Americans. It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave men and women were introduced to the sorts of barbarism that they might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions. But it was something that Americans were being trained to resist, not to inflict.

It's a damned disgrace, what we have done!

Monday, July 7, 2008

"I Met the Walrus"

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What Climate Change Means to America:


Currently 2,000 firefighters are making a last stand effort to save Big Sur, California - one of 25 major fires in the state that have collectively destroyed some 526,000 acres. All totaled there have been 1,783 fires since June 20, a result of the persistent drought conditions.

A Return to Kennedy, Reagan, Roosevelt and Lincoln

The McCain campaign is struggling to refine their candidate's communication skills, move him away from his standard image - sarcastic old man - while also stressing that he's a straight talking man of the people, not some performance artist. Says the New York Times:

By his own admission, Mr. McCain is not a great orator. He is ill-suited to lecterns, which often dwarf his small stature, and he tends to sound as if he is reading his lines, not speaking them. His shortcomings have been accentuated in a two-man race, particularly because the other man — Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee — can often dazzle on stage.
Apparently the core of their strategy is to make him less like Batman's nemesis, The Penguin, which everyone knows is Cheney's gig!

Mr. McCain is working closely with aides like Brett O’Donnell, a former debate consultant for Mr. Bush, to improve his speech and performance. He is working to limit his verbal tangents and nonverbal tics. He is speaking less out of the sides of his mouth, which can produce a wiseguy twang reminiscent of the Penguin from the Batman stories, and he is relying less on his favorite semantic crutch — the phrase “my friends” — which he used repeatedly in his campaign appearances. He also appears to be trying to exercise restraint, advisers and campaign observers say, when speaking off the cuff, wisecracking in town meetings and criticizing his opponent. In recent weeks, for example, Mr. McCain seems to have reined in the sarcasm he has directed at Mr. Obama.

I can't help but imagine McCain deep in some concrete bunker getting training in how to appear more likable, something along the lines of this famous scene:

Ignoring his privileged upbringing and marriage into the highest circles of wealth, McCain's complete lack of polish is being explained away as a pure proof that he is a regular Joe that understands the needs of the people. How bad is it?

The more careful McCain, said by some to be overly scripted, has received some withering critiques. “His rhetorical style can best be described as ‘tired mayonnaise,’ ” the comedian Stephen Colbert declared on “The Colbert Report” before inviting viewers to enter the “Make McCain Exciting Challenge.”

Peter Spaulding, the chairman of Mr. McCain’s campaign in New Hampshire, said he recently saw a McCain speech on television that was “just atrocious.”

Mr. McCain’s advisers, who bristle at the idea that they are trying to transform the candidate, say that his lack of smoothness merely reinforces his reputation for authenticity.

“Voters are looking for credibility and are wary of polish,” said Mark McKinnon, a former consultant to Mr. McCain’s campaign. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which candidate can more deftly read a teleprompter.”

I think at this point America has had quite enough of the folksy, unpolished, embarrassing-us-all- over-the-world style of Presidential leadership to last for quite some time. When you throw in the Penguin angle you realize that John McCain actually has all of the core attributes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney wrapped up in one leathery skin!

So is that really what America needs right now? Through our toughest times we have been led by men whose great voices offered strength and solace and a promise that the nation would be healed, men like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Let us be led now by a man who speaks so beautifully that his words of unity are set to music.

It is Barack Obama who drives us to once again set aside the differences that distinguish us in favor of the commonalities that bind us. With him we will rise as one nation, indivisible, to meet the challenges that face us all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

5 Reasons McCain Won't Win

5. The Republican party is badly fractured with regards to John McCain. His support among hardcore conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and the old school homo-hating evangelicals ranges between a tepid support driven by the fear that they had better unite if they are going to make a stand against Obama and roaring hatred for the man that will destroy the GOP.

4. For the first time ever the Libertarians have a candidate with national name recognition - former Congressman Bob Barr - the man who led the Clinton impeachment. Disgusted hard core conservatives and some Ron Paul supporters will peel off and join the stalwart Libertarians in voting for Barr.

3. McCain is having a hard time distancing himself from George W, who is currently enjoying all-time-low 23% approval ratings. There's a good reason for that - they are a lot alike in many of the most important matters. (Think you know them apart? Try the Bush-McCain Challenge!) The two are increasingly linked in the eyes of the citizenry, and there is practically no one but oil executives and defense contractors who can say "I'm better off now than I was 8 years ago" - the core gut check for any voter who is about to pull the lever in the voting booth.

2. The tireless and unyielding scrutiny of the campaign is going to draw the real John McCain farther out into the eye of the public. Here's how Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran described him at the time he endorsed Mitt Romney for the nomination:

"The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said about McCain by phone. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

In his book, The Real McCain, reports:

In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

Indeed, is this really the man you want answering the phone at 3 am?

1. Most important of all, he's got no defining message. He's just a straw man fronting a collection of policies that are largely unpopular and ill suited to meet the challenges that America faces right now. This is evidenced by the fact that his campaign is floundering without vision or direction, with the second staff shake up of the year announced today. Now is the time for leadership forward, and McCain is a man whose judgment has been questionable even while looking into the past.