Firebaggin’ It

Did an Obama polical hack just give the left an identity?

August 19th 2011

Some guy named Ray Sandoval managed to do Obama more damage the other day then the efforts of the entire GOP over the previous three weeks.

An Obama campaign outrigger posted to New Mexico, Sandoval decided that now was a good time to attack the left for not supporting Obama in the manner to which Sandoval felt Obama was entitled.

He sent an email out defending Obama’s surrender on the debt deal, and condemning what he called the “Firebagger Lefty blogosphere.”

I’m pretty sure ‘firebagger’ isn’t a urban dictionary entry for any pornography terms (although the Internet being what it is, I’m sure we’ll have one in a week). Where the teabaggers screwed up was that none of the people at Faux News who were creating the astroturf movement knew that the term already existed, and had a rather unsavory connotation. It’s on Urban Dictionary if you don’t already know it.

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The New Stillson

A Stephen King nasty stalks the land

August 16th 2011

 Stephen King (the writer, and neither of the two demented right wing politicians of the same name) invented a character in the late 70s called Greg Stillson, in “The Dead Zone”. King already excelled at creating pleasant monsters, and Stillson was one of the most memorable. A fast-rising politician, our introduction to Stillson occurs when he deliberately and coldly kicks a dog to death. The dog, defeated and broken, lifts his head up to lick Stillson’s hand, a gesture of submission. Stillson laughs and resumes kicking. He then drives away, feeling mild guilt and sexual arousal.

The central character/narrator, and by extension the reader, immediately pick up on a sense of wrongness about Stillson, a sense that behind the blow-dried hair and the charming grin lives something truly vile.

He was played, somewhat ironically, by Martin Sheen, who went on to become America’s most beneficent and most-loved pseudo-politician, President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet. In the David Cronenberg movie of the same name Sheen played the personable creep, and was pretty damned scary.

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Everywhere there’s signs…”

 August 8th 2011

 About 25 years ago, I was at an airport on the west coast and overheard two travelers, apparently from Germany, being greeted by their host, a local resident and presumably an American. They had been voyaging around the US for a couple of weeks, their first visit here, and their host asked them what they thought of America.

Since I had nothing better to do than wait for luggage, and no morals to speak of, I eavesdropped shamelessly. The two Germans, speaking accented English, were effusive in their praise of how friendly Americans were and the rich variety of items to be bought anywhere. This was early in the Reagan presidency, when America still indisputably had the highest standard of living in the world and the middle class, unaware that they had passed their peak, were living high.

Then one of the Germans said something that brought me up short and forced me to stifle a laugh. “Oh, but there are so many signs! Every where you look, there is a sign for everything.”

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Ready for economic collapse?

How the GOP just screwed us all

August 5th 2011

 You may have heard about the discussions they had in Congress over the past few weeks about the credit-limit negotiations so the US wouldn’t default, and thus would avoid the hideous expense and chaos that would come from having the credit rating of the country reduced. Everyone agreed that this was of paramount importance, even though the debate never needed to happen in the first place.

The fascists of the GOP wanted to bludgeon the country into ceding a lot of the gains made since about 1870, and extorting concessions, using the credit rating as a Lindbergh baby, seemed to fit the bill. So Obama gave up the store, and saved the country from default, and credit downgrading.

Well, funny thing.

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The Cave

Heigh ho, into the darkness we go!

 August 2nd 2011

Right up until the end, I thought Obama was gaming the Republicans. I figured that he was just letting them climb further and further out on a limb with their unreasonable and extortionate demands, and then would suddenly shake their branch, announcing that negotiations were canceled, and to either extend the limit or wreck the economy, and they could put the rest of their demands up to a separate vote.

It turns out that, at best, he was being gamed, and at worst, he was gaming us. He’s either weak, or a liar, or perhaps both. With his capitulation on the debt-limit increase agreement, he has assured himself of being a failed one-term President.

I’ve been comparing him to Neville Chamberlain. That’s a little unfair to Chamberlain, who faced a more horrific and vicious foe, stood to lose more if the negotiations didn’t work out, and didn’t have to sacrifice his own political base in order to do so. Indeed, he returned from the Munich Conference with his bumbershoot, grandly announcing there would be peace in our time, to wildly cheering crowds. He had much more reason to capitulate, but is seen as an class example of weakness and lack of resolve 70 years later.

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Utopian Dystopia

The best of all possible worlds will still have mosquitoes

© Bryan Zepp Jamieson
July 23rd 2011

If you’re like me, and you did a lot of reading as a kid and through your teenage years, then you know the situation: there’s an absolutely unforgettable story you read that left you gasping with laughter, or wonder, or made you look at the world in an entirely different way.
Only one day, you think it might be fun to look that story up and re-read it, and it hits you: you can’t remember the title or the author.  If you’re lucky, it’s a fairly well known story, and you can remember the central character’s name, or there’s some other specific item that comes to mind, and you can Google it.  Once a friend of mine and I were discussing Mount Shasta and science fiction, and I mentioned that Heinlein once wrote a story about the locale.  Couldn’t remember the title to save my life, but a Google search turned it up: Lost Legacy, 1943.
Usually you’re just plain out of luck, and it becomes one of your personal life’s mysteries, along with the name of the girl you kissed in sixth grade, or the name of the TV show with the sarcastic duck and the lumberjack.

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Four stories

A grim day in the news

July 23rd 2011

Scanning the top four stories of the day, I found that one left me utterly mystified, another was so inevitable that it hardly even seemed to qualify as news, and one that manged to seem inevitable and utterly unexpected all at the same time. The last one sort of provides a framework for the social milieu in which the first three reside.

I keep trying, and failing, to make sense of the shooting in Norway. There have been so many mass shootings here in America, if not on that scale, that it scarcely seems worth asking “why?” The main question to me is “how?” How did one, or possibly two men build a bomb on that scale, and how did they get it next to the Prime Minister’s office building. How was one man able to get a police uniform, and what was he carrying that enabled him to kill 60 teenagers who crowded around him trustingly in just the first few minutes of his rampage? How did he manage that?

American right wing response was predictable, if in the usual demented fashion. As the story broke, of just the bombing, a loud howl arose about how important it was to do something about the Moslems, and that the bombing was doubtlessly Islamic revenge for those cartoons of the prophet Mohammad. Fox harpy Laura Ingraham tried to link it in some way to Park 51, the “ground-zero mosque.”

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The heat is on

By August 2nd we’ll all be sweating

July 15th 2011

I have kin in a small town in Oklahoma, unlikely as that sounds, which is why I know something about the weather in that small town. The forecast for tomorrow is humid and 107. That actually represents a cooling trend; it was 108 today. But they should be used to it—this is the 43rd straight day they’ve had triple digit highs. And I thought Fresno was bad.

There’s no end in sight: the next 10 days all forecast 107 or 108. However, Oklahoma, parched, barren, dessicated Oklahoma, is getting ready to share the wealth.

At NOAA, meteorologists are frantically warning the upper midwest to expect the heat wave to expand over their region, sending heat indices to over 110 over much of Minnesota.

And then it will expand east, reaching Washington just in time for deadlines on the credit limit crisis to begin falling.

Only in America could the weather become politicized. The heat wave and drought in Oklahoma and Texas is the worst those states have ever recorded, far worse than the one that caused the dust bowl of the 1930s. Conservatives are furious when you mention that. Even the weather sites are susceptible: a stat today showed that 72% of Texas is now in extreme drought, and some sites couldn’t resist noting that only 10% of the state was in extreme drought when Governor Goodhair had his day of prayer for rain.

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US, Murdoch near limits

Tie me Kangarupe down, sport

July 10th 2011

  I can’t help but think that over the next month, things will be coming to a crux.  It’s not a sentiment I express often, especially since a friend of mine, one given to apocalyptic conspiracy theories, used words such as “crux”, “crisis” and “crucial” a lot, and I would tease him about the crucifixion imagery that suffused his writing.  It didn’t alter his writing style, but it made me more conscious when I use it.
Nevertheless, we seem to be heading for a convergence of paths that will prove to be a decisive time that will determine our lives for much of our future.  Yes, this is a crucial moment.

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The Anthony Trial

Not guilty? So what?

July 5th 2011

 I’ve been watching the public response to the Casey Anthony trial with a certain amount of befuddlement and apprehension.

Understand, I haven’t followed the trial at all. I was only dimly aware of the proceedings, and that it was one of those annoying background whinges that passes for news on the cable networks. Just the fact that the reptilian Nancy Gracie was front and center on the coverage would be enough to assure that I would have no interest in the proceedings. Except I didn’t even know that until yesterday. I barely knew about the trial, and I didn’t care.

So I have no opinion, informed or otherwise, as to whether the jury reached a just verdict or not. Given that it was a murder trial—one of thousands the US has every year—in a state 3,000 miles away, the trial was of no particular importance to me. Yes, even if she was guilty. Not important.

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