Thursday, April 30, 2009

sigh. Palin caves, will accept stimulus money...

(originally linked at

Like other conservative Republican governors with national ambitions, Alaska's Sarah Palin initially made a very big deal out of her plan to reject almost half of the federal dollars directed to her state in the stimulus package. Now, however, she's singing a different tune, and will accept roughly $900 million of the $930 million available.

Palin's main objection to the money she said she'd reject was that it came with too many strings attached, and would create unsustainable burdens on the state government once the federal money ran out. But, the Associated Press reports, that's not how the state legislature -- which has been at odds with the governor -- saw things:

Alaska's Legislature conducted more than 20 public hearings on the federal stimulus package, and legislative leaders said they couldn't find any of the strings attached to the funds that Palin had warned about.

The only money Palin will turn away, an aide told the AP, is $29 million for a State Energy Program -- again, the governor says the funding's coming with unacceptable strings attached.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specter's Shocker!

From MSNBC's "Frist Read," one of the better political/analytical morning automatic emails out there. jc

Arlen Specter's defection yesterday to the Democratic Party was big news for several reasons. First, it gave Democrats a possibility at a filibuster-proof majority (even though Specter said he wouldn't be an automatic 60th vote for Dems, he'll be more reliable than Ben Nelson). It also gave Specter a MUCH greater chance at winning re-election (he admitted that was the reason for the switch, rare frankness from a politician). But perhaps the biggest news from the switch -- at least in the short term -- was that it served to kick a GOP that's already down. As Specter said in his statement yesterday, "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans." Translation: There's no longer room in the GOP for someone like Specter, even though he resides in a state Obama carried by TEN percentage points last November. While plenty of Republicans are bidding good riddance to Specter, we have this question: Can the Republican Party regain control of Congress without moderates like Specter? Don't forget this truism in American politics: Winning races often comes down to winning the middle (see: Obama, Barack).

...also, remember, most folks don't "know" Specter that well outside of Pennsylvania and Washington. And all it looks like to the average citizen in Denver or in Raleigh or in Orlando is that a Republican decided that Obama's Democratic Party was a good home for him.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

and now for something completely different!

Richard Branson cavorting around his private island 'Necker' with a naked supermodel.

Branson was posing for photographer Stephane Gautronneau when he asked Branson if model Denni Parkinson, Gautronneau's girlfriend who was present at the time, could get in some pictures.

She clung to the billionaire's back while he kite surfed and also lolled around on the sand as Branson stood on the shore in a white linen shirt.

Branson told the Mail on Sunday 'What can you say if you are asked to pose with a naked lady? I only wish I had eyes in the back of my head.'

The paper added Branson's wife and two grown children watched the shoot from the shore.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Miss USA and the "B" Word

by Emma Ruby-Sachs - Huffington Post

In the Miss USA contest, Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger extraordinaire, asked Miss California what she thought about gay marriage. Her answer, supporting "opposite marriage," earned her both cheers and boos from the crowd and likely cost her the Miss USA crown.

It also spurred a video response from Hilton calling Miss California a dumb b****.

Hilton apologized for using the b-word, then retracted his apology and now even the BBC is covering the newest tensions surrounding gay marriage in America.

But no one is talking about the b-word that should be used to describe Miss California: bigot.

A bigot is one who is (according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary) "obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance."

To take a state institution like marriage and quarantine it from same-sex couples despite the complete lack of evidence that such a restriction is rational or in the best interests of the citizens of the state is intolerance.

The basis for the marriage restriction that many put forward (although Miss America didn't even have the wherewithal to go this far) is that gay marriage constitutes a threat to religious freedom. However, no equal rights initiative has contemplated ordering religious institutions to recognize same-sex couples.

Unfortunately, Miss America is not the only bigot in America's public life.

We could list a large number of Republicans, Rudy Giuliani for one, and a number of Democrats.

Even President Obama holds the intolerant and bigoted view that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. Sure, he couches it with talk of equal rights under the law, but has, so far stood behind civil unions as an alternative to marriage - a plan that would create the same kind of separate but equal legal scheme rejected by Brown v. Board of Education.

Miss California, like many who share her take on the marriage issue, was careful to talk about her "opinion" and "beliefs" and the way she was raised as if this excused her intolerance. Barack Obama talks about tradition and belief as well in defense of his own position.

But the fight for equality is not just an exercise in name-calling. And it is not a polite exchange between friends about what to eat for dinner. There is no room for preference or belief when it comes to legally enforceable discrimination that is imposed on the entire population

The unequal treatment of LGBT Americans creates real casualties and ongoing disastrous effects for many citizens. We don't want to re-insert Perez Hilton's chosen b-word back into accepted public discourse, but we must begin to call the opposition to equality what it is: bigotry.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Are you THREATENING me!?"

1 out of 4 people in Texas want to secede from the United States. What are y'all waiting for? If you and the mainstream media (FOX News, Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh) put the same passion to work on becoming your own country, as you did for your tea parties (however small that output actually was), you might actually have a chance! Just make sure you and the mainstream media don't veer from your tried and true success strategies of outright lying to the masses about what Obama is truly trying to do as President: plenty of folks who are less educated and mentally-crippled will join your cause in no time! I will personally donate $100 to the first, legitimate, organzied movement for this secession action - and I will spread the word on this blog daily. Good luck!

Originally posted on Huffington Post

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Glenn Beck is anti-American, and Anti-Earth!

It's too bad the chainsaw that Glenn Beck had in his studio today (to cut down trees with), wasn't mishandled and severed him completely in half. Can you imagine how much better off America would be without Glenn Beck, thoroughly un-informing his less-educated, backwoods, mentally-deficient listeners with his drivel? Does he even know that we get oxygen from trees? Has he not seen the irrefutbale research, that driving with a bit more air in your tires actually saves gas consumption? He recylces, right? Christ, this guy really doesn't care about this country! And how about the caller who was running all his lawn equipment at the same time? Friggin genius. Below is Glenn's email to listeners today - sj

April 22, 2009
Earth Day!
On Today's Program:

Glenn takes some callers eager to celebrate Earth Day by cutting down trees live on the air. There's nothing better than the sound of a good chainsaw blazing away on Earth day. Check out this call from Tim in Cleveland, who is cutting down trees in Ohio!
Mike in Tulsa celebrates Earth Day by running all of his lawn equipment at the same time!

Miss California Is Just Like Our Prez Except for the Huge Dangling Things

I've been wondering the same exact thing that Ron Kuby (see his take, below) and many others have, since I first heard Obama's belief that gays should not be able to marry, way back when. Then during the primary season, I figured it was just lip service, to win over the "undecideds" and "moderates" (what a fickle and annoying sub-sect they are, their hugely important votes in national elections notwithstanding), and to not upset the republicans/conservatives out there, who didn't want to vote republican, but live with the concern/fear, that if they voted for a pro-gay marriage candidate, they wouldn't get into heaven. Alas, it appears Obama truly is against gays marrying and feels the same way that Miss California and tens of millions of republicans/conservatives throughout America feel. Needless to say, I hope he changes him mind. And I hope that the states, one-by-one, will continue to move in the direction they are, legally recognizing marriage as a right for gays and lesbians everywhere. There is no reason not to. - sj

By Ron Kuby
In case our audience wasn't paying attention to the Miss USA contest (I only watch because it is my duty to do show preparation), Miss California was a shoo-in to take the crown until she drew Perez Hilton as her questioner in the section of the contest that determines the candidate's thoughtfulness on the issues facing our world.

Usually it is a question about AIDS (bad), world peace (good), or what you can do to make people happy (having sex with many, many people, while true, is not a winning answer. Usually they go with education). Hilton, however, asked her whether other states should follow the lead of the four that permit gay marriage, why or why not?

Miss California (aka Carrie Prejean) stated that she believed marriage to be between a man and a woman, that is how she was raised.

She also managed to say that we live in a country where people of the same sex are free to marry (except in 46 states), and, in a subsequent interview, inadvertently outed her sister, who is in the U.S. Air Force.

Howls of protests greeted her answer. Perez Hilton referred to her as a "bitch." Classy. The head of the Miss California contest expressed his sadness. And Miss North Carolina, who was clearly in second place, jumped ahead with her thoughtful exposition on corporate bailouts (spoiler alert--she opposes them).

I would love to berate this blonde with the big, uh, earrings (huge dangling things). But support for marriage equality is not a qualification for entry into the Miss USA pageant. It seems somewhat unfair to ask a question regarding a person's opinion, when there is only one right answer.

More to the point, President Barack Obama has said precisely the same thing, using almost exactly the same words and exactly the same justification. Why are we so pissed that a beauty queen does not accept same sex marriage, when our president doesn't either?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

While we're at it: Fuck You Too, Glenn Beck!

sometimes it just feels good to say, doesn't it?! Glenn Beck's take on Earth Day is sad; it's the same way republican leadership, as well as MOST republicans and conservatives in our country view it as well, this planet we live on. His statement (below) was sent via email to his listeners today, and is a good representation of just how little those lunatics care about Mother Earth OR anyone who lives here in the future. sj

Glenn Beck: "Earth Day is tomorrow! Celebrate by cutting down a tree with a chainsaw or leaving your lights on while you are gone or anything else that would hack off an environmentalist --- and tune in to Glenn on radio tomorrow to celebrate the most useless day of the year."

Fuck You Cheney!

Hey Cheney: are you aware that you made the concious decision to orchestrate the release of a CIA Agent's name to the entire world, or are you too senile to remember that?

Your passionate but hollow defense of our national defense and homeland security as of late (along with your oh-so-faux patriotism), is now, and has ALWAYS been laughable. YOU GAVE NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETS AWAY TO THE ENEMY, when you released Valerie Plame's name! YOU compromised America's national security you insufferable ingrate!

Nobody with a brain believes you anymore with serious matters such as war, homeland securtity, terror, gitmo, et all (if they ever did); Please! Answer this, half-wit:

Are we still in the "last throes?"

Are we "greeted as liberators" yet?

Just where are those pesky WMD's?

How's the whole "spreading democracy throughout the middle east" thang going?

You are a fucking disgrace to America, Dick, and I wish you had the balls to debate me in public about your ideals, actions and miserable life, which has set this country back many years. You are no friend of veterans, no friend of federal agencies, and you've brought no good to America whatsoever, in your entire life above ground. Bill Maher was right on when he said "more people in the world will live" when you die. Rest assured, the day that happens, most Americans will celebrate.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nadine Alert...

Nevermind the women. Rather, "THE" woman. Nadine Velazquez will be co-hosting Miss USA tonight at 7:00PM.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Just 28 of the reasons I'm a liberal democrat....

this speaks for itself. I found this 6 years ago. enjoy. sj

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance; and now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry. In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax payer-funded roads. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by the Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans - and aforementioned sub-species, Conservatives - have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. And Joe agrees: “We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have!”

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lee'z Steez blog: check it out!

Gotta check out this blog. It's one I follow (also on the left sidebar here), but I wanted to hi-lite it here because it's original and it cracks me the hell up. Isn't that a good enough reason to check out anything these days? It's what blogging is all about as well: loggin' - and keepin' it real. on the web. (click title of this story to go to it).

Here's an excerpt from the most recent post: "My plan was to post each night of my "home alone" stint, accompanying each of my pieces with a report card-style analysis of my performance. I even had nifty grading fields like "transitions" and "meals/nutrition" ready to roll. After two nights I now see how ridiculous this would've been. You can't grade parenting. Good thing, 'cause I'd be running about a 1.85 right about now if you could."

The Yankees' Field Of Screams

Now THIS... "will make you think" (and scream and hurt). This is an impressive piece of investigative reporting. This is what good journalism can be.-sj

April 16, 2009 at 10:51 PM
Thomas B. Edsall
Huffington Post

"Wall Street bankers supposedly back the Yankees; Smith College girls approve of them. God, Brooks Brothers, and United States Steel are believed to be solidly in the Yankees' corner... but, as they say, who can fall in love with U.S. Steel?"
- Gay Talese in "There Are Fans... And Yankee Fans"

On Thursday afternoon, some 48,271 New York Yankees fans took a break from the drumbeat of lost jobs and looming tax hikes to take in the season opener, forking over anywhere from $95 to $2,625 for a seat with a view.

As these good folks tried to get relief from endangered paychecks and rising property assessments, at least a few suffered envy and anger as they thought about the millions, perhaps even $1 billion-plus, in public subsidies that went into building the brand-new stadium.

The beneficiary of all that cash is one of the most lucrative sports operations in the country, Yankee Global Enterprises LLC, the franchise George Steinbrenner bought for $8.7 million in 1973 and turned into an empire with a value pegged, last year, at $1.2 billion.

Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg did not blink at this transfer of money to the deserving rich - George Steinbrenner and his two sons, Hal and Hugh.

Not everyone shares the Giuliani-Bloomberg view of how to spend taxpayer dollars.

Westchester County Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, the Don Quixote of sports politics, has been conducting a one-man assault on the financing of Yankee Stadium, but, so far, has little or nothing beyond few headlines to show for it.

In a series of lengthy, detailed and footnoted reports, Brodsky has tried to prove that the construction of the new stadium is, as he told the Huffington Post in characteristically moderate New York language, "the most outrageous and dishonest a deal as has ever existed," engineered by Yankee executives who are nothing more than "bullies and thugs."

Brodsky, chair of the NY Assembly Committee on Corporations, Commissions and Authorities, found that "inappropriate and secretive lobbying by highly paid and politically connected procurement lobbyists, inappropriate hiring of politically connected former government officials, disposition of public property for less than its true value, [and] interference with investigations of such behavior" produced a deal with a "total cost to taxpayers and savings to the Yankees [of] between $585 million and $826 million."

The Mayor's office, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the NY City Industrial Agency (IDA) dispute Brodsky's calculations, and, using different accounting methods - method some challenge -- argue that the city emerges from the deal a net $59.7 million ahead.

In fact, as the baseball season starts in earnest and the basketball and hockey seasons wind down, New York got what might be described as one of the "least bad" deals in negotiating who will pick up how much of the tab for new facilities -- in the face of team owners armed with a single trump card: the threat to leave town.

Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, a critic of most public spending on stadiums and other sports facilities, wrote a January 22, 2006, New York Times op-ed in which he declared, "the crucial public policy question here is whether there will be a net benefit for residents of the Bronx and the other boroughs. The answer is yes."

Neil deMause, author of "Field of Schemes," a book which weighs in against sport arena financing, strongly opposes the Yankee Stadium plan. On his Website, deMause calculates that the new stadium will cost the city $691 million, NY state $115 million, the NY Metropolitan Transit Authority $53 million, and the federal government $327 million -- for a combined taxpayer bill of $1.19 billion, nearly double the $671 million cost to the team.

"The Yankees deal actually manages to be both the largest team expense on a stadium in history, and the largest public expense on a stadium in history, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion," deMause told the Huffington Post. "The city gets no part of the new revenues the Yankees will reap from the stadium; the jobs created are virtually all part-time, and largely cannibalized from other stores and restaurants in the surrounding area; Bronx residents lost their only large neighborhood park [until the old Yankee stadium is demolished and replaced by a park], for at least five years; and fans got more expensive seats with a lousier view of the field. All this, so that the Yankees wouldn't move out of New York - something that was never going to happen anyway, since the entire value of the Yankees franchise is wrapped up in where they play. I'd call that a pretty lousy deal."

The New York Times, in turn, has become increasingly skeptical of the deal: "Seats for $1,500 a game? Suites fit for the royal family? A scoreboard fit for the Big Board? A fabulous steakhouse and granite ramps (no ordinary cement for this crowd)? This $1 billion-plus pavilion and park financed with a lot of taxpayer help is beginning to sound like something fit for the Wizard of Oz," the paper editorialized on January 14 .

"Mayor Bloomberg has - rightly - had to cut city budgets and increase property taxes and explain to residents how times are bad and how we all will have to share the pain. It is time for Mr. Bloomberg to make that same pitch to the Yankees. If the Yankees can sign megamillion-dollar contracts (C. C. Sabathia just landed one for $161 million over seven years), they should be flush enough to contribute more toward their new stadium and to the parks for people living nearby."

The political facts of life, however, dictate that the stadium is a done deal. Property taxes are going up, jobs are down the chute, and the Yankees will play in their new palace. If the team wants to retain support in brutal economic times, their performance Thursday afternoon is not going to help.

The Cleveland Indians crushed the richest team in baseball 10-2.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lee'z Steez blog: take ten minutes....!!!

Gotta check out this blog. It's one I follow (also on the left sidebar here), but I wanted to hi-lite it here because it's original, it cracks me the hell up, and really, it's what blogging is all about: loggin' - keeping a log. and keepin' it real. on the web. (click title of this story to go to it).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Glenn Beck = Asshat

Aside from being a full-on batshit crazy asshat, Glenn Beck has NO knowledge of history, particularly as (mis)applied to the American cause:
"...Texas says go to hell, Washington, which by the way has been said before. I believe it was Davey’s about time that somebody says that again."

Errr...Glenn? Texas was breaking away from Mexico. MEXICO, YOU F**KING D**CHEBAG!
MEX - I - CO !

(cough) Sorry.

I feel better now.

edit: oh, and, by the way, it's "Davy" Crockett. (no e...and he preferred his given name: David)'s all over but the celebrating: Judges rule Franken winner! (sigh: Moleman to appeal)

Three judges soundly rejected Norm Coleman's attempt to reverse Al Franken's lead in the U.S. Senate election late Monday, sweeping away the Republican's claims in a blunt ruling Coleman promised to appeal.

After a trial spanning nearly three months, the judicial panel dismissed Coleman's central argument that the election and its aftermath were fraught with systemic errors that made the results invalid.

"The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the Nov. 4, 2008, election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately," the panel said in its unanimous decision.

The panel concluded that Franken, a DFLer, "received the highest number of votes legally cast" in the election. Franken emerged from the trial with a 312-vote lead, the court ruled, and "is therefore entitled to receive the certificate of election."

Speaking to reporters outside his downtown Minneapolis condominium, Franken, flanked by his wife, Franni, said he had "no control" over what Coleman does next but said he would urge his opponent not to appeal, which would delay his certification. "I am honored and humbled by this close victory," he said. "And it's long past time we got to work."

In an interview earlier in the day, Coleman said he believes "thousands" of rejected votes should have been counted.

Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg said the ruling denies many valid votes by applying a stricter standard to determining eligible ballots than local officials applied during the recount.

"This order ignores the reality of what happened in the counties and cities on Election Day in terms of counting the votes," Ginsberg said, asserting that Coleman must appeal to assure that valid votes are counted. Coleman's lawyers have 10 days to file an appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court.

But experts who read the panel's 68-page ruling say it effectively attacks some of the very arguments that Coleman would use on appeal.

"It is the kind of opinion that is unlikely to be disturbed on appeal by either the Minnesota Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court," said Richard Hasen, an expert on election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "The opinion considers the major arguments made by Coleman and rejects them in a detailed and measured way."

click here for rest of story...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pope, extra ribbed

Mark Morford does it again. sj

Pope, extra ribbed
Benedict says condoms make AIDS worse. God recoils in shame...

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, April 3, 2009

What sort of wretched deity is this? What sort of tormented, clenched God must you believe in to cause you to openly promote ignorance and death for the sake of power and ideology and fear -- always, always a deep fear -- of love and sex and basic human connection?

Let me try to be a little more specific: Is it not some form of strange self-torture, a kind of brutal spiritual immolation, to believe that God is this gloomy, obsessive micromanager, so petty and vindictive regarding what you do with your body that you/he will let people die for the sake of it? Do you have any sort of answer?

Shall we ask the pope?

"The 81-year-old Benedict doesn't mingle with reporters individually but stands before them in the rear section of the plane flanked by aides, and responds drily to the questions."

What a touching image. It's just one of the takeaway lines I took away from the recent story about Pope Benedict and his first, "troubled" trip to Africa, about how he generally handles -- or rather, mishandles -- questions about the grand scheme of worldly things like the soul, war, the role of God in everyday life and whether or not he might be some sort of dangerous underworld automaton sent from the Netherrealms of Ignorance to inflict guilt and desolation upon the world.

It must be true. It's a question I'd want to pose, anyway, were I standing at the back of that papal aircraft staring down this dour and ideologically archaic man who seems very intent on not merely cementing slippery human divinity in the hard concrete of 1500, but also shoving it off a bridge to watch it sink to the bottom, just for good measure.

Perhaps you think I'm out of line. Perhaps you think I'm being too hard on the ultraconservative, disengaged 81-year-old pontiff.

Perhaps you did not read about how Benedict once again condemned condom usage in AIDS-ravaged Africa, apparently one of the last continents still deeply susceptible to the Vatican's insidious, pre-historic sexual ideology, and apparently the one major region that's singlehandedly keeping the church in the news these days because, dear God, are the rest of us not just about done with this sort of myopic sexual hysteria and dangerous misinformation? It would be nice to think so.

But wait, there's more. The pope did not merely say, as the church has yawned for a thousand years, that any form of contraception is wrong. Would that he were so quaint and easily dismissed.

Benedict actually took it a shocking, deadly step further and announced to sick, poor, dying Africans -- 22.5 million cases of HIV and counting fast -- that condoms could actually make AIDS worse, and that everyone should, instead, do what he and his sour band of unhappies have done for the past 2,000 very repressed years and simply not have sex, unless you are married and unsoiled and maybe not even then, because if there's one thing his very cruel God will not tolerate, it's humans doing things with their bodies in any way other than what some vindictive bishop scribbled into an insufferable rulebook about a thousand years ago.

Still out of line? Are you thinking, come on, the pope might not be all that hip to the basic health issues of this lifetime, but so what? He's largely irrelevant to the lives of everyday Catholics. He's just a surreal figurehead, a sad spectacle parading through the streets of foreign cities in his gold-dipped shoes and a scepter made of tears. Who cares about his harmful lies, really?

Perhaps you're right. Perhaps we shouldn't really give a damn for places where people are dying of diseases that could, at least in part, be easily prevented by simple sexual information and education, but which are instead being made worse by the appalling lies of someone who claims to have the Almighty on speed dial. What does it matter? Don't we have larger issues to worry about? Have you seen the housing market?

Perhaps you wish to point out all the good the church does in the world, the various charities and outreach programs and shelters for the poor and so on. And you know what? You are absolutely right. There are some lovely people at play in the fields of the lord, even if that lord is a bit of a domineering, patriarchal megalomaniac who's never really satisfied.

There is other good news: Some bishops already operate in open defiance of the Vatican's ignorance and publicly disagree with the pope's silly pronouncements. What's more, plenty of Catholic charities already freely distribute condoms to those living with AIDS (though of course, not to schools or to healthy sinners).

Very well then. Perhaps we should look at it differently, and use Benedict as our grand reminder that the general Rule of Divinity still holds true: the more you claim to be some sort of inviolable authority on things sacred and holy, the less you are to be trusted and the more we should all hope and pray for your urgent obsoletion. Simple enough?

(Cross reference the pope with, say, the Dalai Lama, widely considered to be one of the most divinely luminous beings on the planet, a man who claims, well, absolutely no divine authority whatsoever. His only claim? A deep humility shot through with astonishing kindness and love, a man who is always learning, always open to new ideas, the fluid and illusive nature of this life. What a contrast).

But don't just take my word for it. Listen to the foreign press -- American media being generally too timid and nervous to dare criticize the church too aggressively -- where response to the pope's condom stance was one of open-throated disgust and outrage.

"When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record," The Lancet, one of the world's most respected medical journals, said in an editorial.

Or maybe you agree more with former French prime minister Alain Juppe, who said that "this pope is starting to be a real problem" because he lives in "a situation of total autism." Or maybe German Green European deputy, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who seethed, "We've had enough of this pope," and described his condom comments as "close to premeditated murder."

There you go. Not even Obama would have the balls to say something like that.

So, what can you do about it all? Can you support Spain as it announces, one day after Benedict's deadly edict, that it will donate one million condoms to Africa? Shall you join the multitude of international Facebook protests? Shall you merely sigh and shake your head at the ongoing small-mindedness of major organized religion, and wonder when we might finally evolve past it? Absolutely.

Meantime, maybe we can simply hope, when this pope's bitter, conservative reign is over and white smoke next rises from the Sistine Chapel, it will in celebration of someone who, if not exactly progressive and open-minded and full of joy at the deep pleasures of this life, will at least be, at bare minimum, not someone who so cruelly demeans it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Will the BS Never End?

I can't pass this up. In light of Glenn Beck, et. al's., paranoid delusions....I give you an excerpt of Hunter's (as usual) excellent post from Daily Kos:
We've had a president who decided that he could revoke the citizenship of Americans based on his own say-so -- and no conservatives were worried about their loss of rights. We've had a government assert that it could spy on any communications, without warrant or cause -- and no conservatives took to the streets, alarmed at the threat to their Constitutional protections. We found out we went to war over a weapons program that didn't exist -- oops. We found out that we subjected innocent, though brown, people to imprisonment without recourse, and others to torture so cruel that it rendered them mentally incompetent. We buried the nation in a mountain of debt -- well, them's the breaks. We forked over billions of dollars in giveaways to oil companies that were already making larger profits than any other companies in the history of the world -- hell, gotta keep John Galt in caviar. None of it raised a peep from any of you, you were all fine with it. The government could do no wrong -- except not going far enough.

Beck (and those like him) is a moron. A well-to-do moron, but a moron nonetheless. Give the guy credit, he's making his money...even as a spokesman for GM, cashing his own stimulus check from Uncle Sam.
And of course, Faux News is FAUX News. As the paranoid militia-wannabe-patriot brigades snatch up guns-n-ammo at record pace, the idiotocracy that is the "Axis of Weasel " (Rush, the drug-addled gasbag, Sean Insanity, Glenn "the hemorrhoid with eyes" Beck, etc., including Michelle "harpy" Malkin) fan the flames of, um...patriotism...wagging tea bags in protest, um...I'm not quite sure:
Friends, some former Ron Paul supporters are now being courted by "radicals" stressing a new revolution of working class Americans against Obama and his big business supporters. is one of their biggest voices. In truth, our heroic gun totin' woodsmen are actually following Washington DC public relations firm Shirley & Bannister public affairs, a front group for the Bush family and the insurance industry.

The "tough guys" being organized into Milita units to march on Washington DC are being led by a front group funded by Westinghouse Corporation, Prudential Insurance, AETNA Insurance, the DuPont family, the Forbes family, McDonald Douglas, nuclear power plant builders and about a hundred groups made up of Washington lawyers and lobbyists.

So, you, like, mean that the "populist outrage" over Obama's agenda

Why should mainstream media's (FOX, Rush, Inshannity, et all) abuse of the less-educated in America go unpunished?

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"They're coming to take our guns away!"

truly great piece by Gary Kamiya, originally posted on sj

They're coming to take our guns away.
Cop killer Richard Poplawski is an extremist. But amid the deafening din of the right wing's anti-government rhetoric, how extreme is he?
By Gary Kamiya

Apr. 07, 2009

It would be convenient to pretend that Richard Poplawski, who killed three Pittsburgh policemen on Saturday with an AK-47, was just a right-wing nutcase. A devotee of the white supremacist Web site Stormfront, Poplawski believed that the United States was controlled by a secret Jewish cabal that had a master plan to abrogate freedom of speech and use the U.S. military to police Americans.

It would be easy for us to cordon Poplawski off, pretend that his ugly and paranoid worldview had nothing to do with the Obama hatred spouted by the American right. But the truth is that Poplawski's hateful views cannot be separated from the increasingly extreme ideology and rhetoric that characterize the contemporary American conservative movement. As his friend, Edward Perkovic, told the Associated Press, Poplawski feared "the Obama gun ban that's on the way" and "didn't like our rights being infringed upon."

Such obsessions don't come out of a vacuum. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the GOP have been whipping up hatred and fear of Obama and "liberal Democrats" for years. Joined by the National Rifle Association, which has run false and irresponsible ads claiming that Obama is planning to take away Americans' guns, they have encouraged and helped to create a pathological right-wing subculture in which free-floating hatred of "the government" mixes with a maniacal fetish for guns. Poplawski is the diseased fruit of that ugly tree.

click here for rest of spot-on analysis

Friday, April 3, 2009

Play ball!

Speaking of's time for that summer tradition to renew itself yet again. Opening Day is upon us.

There is no better pastime of summer than a ballgame.

Basketball is fun (especially in Cleveland this season). Football is frenetic. Hockey is insanely entertaining. Soccer is most riveting in Europe. Auto racing is nothing unless it's Formula One. Baseball is most like life. We speak its language every day in metaphor, measure our lives in innings and hope to hit a home run sometimes. It is so deeply ingrained, even the most casual fan gets the allusions. It is part of our national psyche.

And to prove it, many of us who have the delusions of grandeur participate in that most pointless of activities: fantasy baseball.

Like all things American, pretend management of a professional baseball team has actually become a million-dollar business. People actually buy baseball statistics (which are available for free) from websites, magazine publishers, etc., in order to "get the edge" over their fantasy baseball rivals. It is ludicrous and enthralling at the same time.

And I am one of them.

I did spend money to "prepare" for my draft of baseball players, all of whom are real, though I stand as much chance of actually managing them on a team as George W. Bush does of getting a Nobel Prize.

It's become commonplace to play a fantasy league at work, with 12 teams managed by colleagues (the easier to waste time by discussing stats during planning periods), and a draft day on the weekend of Opening Day (so all our injury reports from Spring Training are up to date).

Today was that day. Draft Day. Time to test one's mettle over a few cold barley-pops, all the while trying to outmaneuver the guy or gal picking before you (will he go with the masher or the speedster this round? Is my staff's WHIP better than hers?).

So here it is: My team, now known as Comrade Lenin's Red Stars (history teacher humor there)...

Catcher: Victor Martinez (CLE) a sentimental favorite
1st Base: Derrek Lee ( CHC) on the downside of a career
2nd Base: Orlando Hudson (LAD) seriously?
3rd Base: Evan Longoria (TB) a stud
Short: Stephen Drew (AZ) feh. better than most
Outfield: Ryan Braun (MIL) the uber-stud of the lineup (just stay healthy)
Outfield: Magglio Ordonez (DET) also on the downslope
Outfield: Torii Hunter (ANA) will break in injure himself
DH: Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) potential potential potential
or Chris B Young (AZ) strikeout king, but some power
or Jeff Francoeur (ATL) shoulda' coulda' woulda'
Pitching: Jake Peavey (SD) ace
Yovani Gallardo (MIL) maybe ace
Carlos Zambrano (CHC) headcase former flamethrower
Ted Lilly (CHC) solid
Manny Parra (MIL) maybe
Huston Street (COL) a closer in Colorado? Humidor, please.
Jose Valverde (AZ) solid
and the bench: Ben Francisco (OF-CLE), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C-TEX), Zach Duke (SP-PIT), Koji Uehara (SP-BAL), Matt LaPorta (AAA-CLE)

Needless to say, the draft did not go well. The investment in time, money, effort and loss of opportunity to be in the scant sunshine of a northeast Ohio spring went for naught by round 2 as the best-laid plans were thwarted--THWARTED, I TELL YOU-- by those who picked my players, MY PLAYERS! Athletes in whom I had invested countless minutes of my precious time, wondering if this was the breakout year for a 27 year-old, or if this was the magical 3rd year for a pitcher.

All for naught.

I will be lucky to win a category, though I may compete in a few.


I love baseball.

"That Chick Sports Show" debuts THIS Saturday!

"That Chick Sports Show: Chicks in Sports and Chicks on Sports...and the Men Who Love to Watch."

My new, hilarious, and super-cool friend, Erica Vanstone debuts her own radio show, this saturday, April 4th, at 3:00PM eastern time! The show is called "That Chick Sports Show," and if you live in South Jersey or near Philadelphia, you can tune into 1360AM WNJC on your radio and check it out! If you can't get it on the radio, you can go here and click on 'listen now,' and get it streaming to your computer, via internet!

Here is a summary from the TCSS facebook page: "Contrary to popular belief, lots of women really dig sports—we’ve even been known to participate in them from time to time. Crazy, but true!

We do, however, think about sports differently than men. For us, it's a commitment. Not just a cheap thrill. So it’s time we had a show that explores sports the way women like to think about them: Nice 'n' slow, with some humor and sass on the side.

We’ll cover the serious and the not-so-serious side of all levels of sports. And ask the kinds of the questions men would never dare to ask...out loud!

Each week we'll check in with sports news, both locally and beyond. And we'll chat with our Dude du Jour--one of a rotating cast of local sports fans and friends who'll stop by to add his voice to the mix. (Because nothing makes a chick happier than a healthy debate with a male colleague...right?)

Whether you appreciate the subtle bouquet of sports and its subcultures, or you prefer sports trivia broken down into easily digestible chunks, "That Chick Sports Show” has a little something for every palette."

There is a lot more information on the TCSS facebook page as well, including scheduled guests for the next 4 shows! Please listen, please join the facebook fan page, and PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD! Erica is awesome and the show is gonna rock! I'm totally stoked for her!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

42 years down, 42 to go!

So yesterday was my 42nd Birthday. Thanks Mom & Dad! If I'm lucky enough to live another 42 years that will be quite enough. 84 sounds like a good age to say good-bye; I'm gonna be tired. What, you wanna live forever?

Look who else was born on March 31st: King Henry II of France (1519), Gordie Howe (1928), Barney Frank (1940), Christopher Walken (1943), Gabe Kaplan (1945), Al Gore (1948), Rhea Perlman (1948), and Angus Young (1955)!

And look who died on March 31st: Sir Isaac Newton (1727), Anne Frank (1945), Jesse Owens (1980), Brandon Lee (1993), Selena (1995), Frank Perdue (2005), and MERCIFULLY, Terri Schiavo (2005).

A few things that happened on March 31st: Daylight saving time goes into effect in the United States for the first time (1918). The first election is held in Greece after World War II (1946). The first Wrestlemania, the biggest wrestling event from the WWE, takes place in Madison Square Garden in New York (1985).

Nancy Reagan grateful for President Obama's view on stem cells

in case anyone missed it, below is Nancy Reagan's official statement, soon after Obama overturned Bush's ill-informed, and ill-advised ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. sj

“I’m very grateful that President Obama has lifted the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. These new rules will now make it possible for scientists to move forward. I urge researchers to make use of the opportunities that are available to them and to do all they can to fulfill the promise that stem cell research offers. Countless people, suffering from many different diseases, stand to benefit from the answers stem cell research can provide. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to do everything in our power to find cures for these diseases — and soon. As I’ve said before, time is short, and life is precious."