Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Friday Pigeon Bloggin




















I meant to post this earlier, but blogger has been acting up for me (along with my computer) which has delayed things by a matter of several days. Apologies.

Cat Blogging is being delayed until I can get some photos taken care of. In the meantime we will be highlighting the various fauna that are taking up residence in our office.

Some of you may remember the saga of Lizzie Borden, the mouse that I captured while she was feasting on the remains of my dinner one night in the office. We adopted her, she gave birth to 5 kids, promptly ate all of them, and so we bought her a house. She seemed happy and content there (at least judging by the large weight gain she incurred as our guest) but then one morning we arrived at work to find the cage empty, a complete mystery until we discovered the tiny whole that she had been creating in a part of the cage. She had completely Shawshanked herself out, down to every last detail except for the Rita Hayworth Poster, nibbling relentlessly at the cage night after night for months until she was at last free.

She still roams in my garbage every night, but we let her be.

In the meantime, in preparation for a hot summer we removed our air conditioner for servicing, only to discover another mom who has adopted us. I’m not certain what the deal is with my company attracting all of these pregnant women. Perhaps it has something to do with the generous health benefits that we offer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Meet the New Billionaire, Same as the Old Billionaire












According to the latest reports, there are 793 billionaires in the world. Now there are 794. After starting with two million dollars several years ago, I managed to parlay my knowledge of Hollywood box office success and failure into a tidy fortune. I haven't really done much for the past year, but I checked the site and discovered that by holding my position unchanged for the past year I managed to boost my assets from 950 million to today's cool billion.

Of course the way everything is going, I'm going to need that billion a few years from now.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Mildcats








To all Good World Readers:

You have been invited to join dbailey72's Private Group in Yahoo! Sports Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick'em.

In order to join the group, just go to the game front page and click on the "Sign Up" button to create a team. After completing registration, or if you already have a team, click the "Create or Join Group" button and follow the path to join an existing private group. Then, when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 93309
Password: orange

The commissioner of this group has sent the following note:
--------------------------------------------------------
Here it is folks!
--------------------------------------------------------

We will send you a confirmation with further details once you have completed the registration process.

-- Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick'em Commissioner
http://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/men


This is the Animation and Images tournament group. 'Mildcats' name is taken. When I googled the name to get a picture I got this, which is a charity for adopting homeless cats on the ASU campus. If you live in Phoenix, check them out.

And of course as we all know gambling is illegal. So no money will be involved in this tournament. However, we will be accepting charitable donations of $20. The charity, Mildcats NYC, will have as it's main purpose grant disbursement to a needy soul who has a gift at picking winners.

All donations are not tax deductable. But anyone who gets a grant from the charity will be responsible for their own tax situation.

Post any questions in the comments section.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Yelling 'Theater' in a crowded Fire












You thought I was kidding, didn’t you.

Now that abortion has reared its head as a topic do jour, I’m going to be weighing in on it over the next week or two. Not to the exclusion of everything else, mind you, ‘cus I’ve got kitties to post about. Not to mention the various other forms of wildlife hanging out in my office lately.

I’ve added FireDogLake to my blogroll to the right – they’re becoming a go-to site for blogging on the abortion question and for keeping up on the latest on a state by state basis. Currently in addition to South Dakota, Mississippi and Missouri are beginning legislation, though I will be focusing on S.D., chiefly because I am more familiar with their new law, and also because other states’ legislation may get bogged down in certain technicalities, as they will have to conform with any ‘trigger’ laws that have already been passed. (Trigger laws, as they are known, are essentially anti-abortion laws already passed that will take effect the instant that the Supreme Court overturns Roe versus Wade. Until then they remain dormant. About a dozen or so states have passed them over the past twenty years.)

Before going into any serious details in future posts, I want to make a couple of observations about the South Dakota law. First of all as we all know it is primarily theatrics, designed to provoke a case before the Supreme Court. I actually don’t have a huge problem with such tactics – to do so would be churlish, as essentially it is a form of civil disobedience commonly done with civil rights and privacy legislation. Many progressive decisions by the Court have been the result of such approaches. States have the right to do that, as well as individuals.

Also kudos to the state for limiting hypocrisy in the legislation. The law (that will take effect in July) provides for no exceptions to banning abortion, except for a very narrow exception in the case of the life of the mother. Rape, incest, and the mother’s health – no exceptions in those cases. And that is honest of them.

Once you define all human life as having equal value at the moment of conception, the standard for the ‘pro-life’ position, you can’t make exceptions for killing innocent babies if they were conceived in the course of a crime. Period. That’s the inherent unpalatability of the ‘Pro-Life’ position: there can be no exceptions. Because any exceptions by definition mean that a blastula is valued differently than a human being. And then the pro-life argument collapses.

That’s why the Right may regret this totalitarian approach, because they can’t give any perceived humanitarian ground in the argument without blowing themselves up logically. And to prove that value wrong one only has to get them to agree to a single outrageous result leading from their logic.

To wit, one of the latest memes developing over this is the thought game of a fire at a fertility clinic. A fireman has to choose to save a Petri dish with five blastula or a two year old boy. Who should he chose? Most published responses lean to the ‘Feh, stupid academic arguments – let’s talk about something real.’ Well, it’s not so academic, as the picture above attests. (Although as an aside, Googling ‘Fire Fertility Clinic’ which resulted in that report, leads to different results if one instead Googles ‘Fire Abortion Clinic.’ In that case one gets tons of links with additional words like ‘guns’ and ‘arson.’)

Valuing a Petri dish of cells as the equivalent of human life leads to all sorts of odd results. Should the Westwood Fire Department have been required to carry portable generators to sustain the Petri dishes, as obviously the cells wouldn’t otherwise survive being carried out of the clinic? Are there legal liability issues involved? It apparently was an electrical fire. Should the building maintenance people receive the death penalty? Or is life imprisonment sufficient? What is the punishment for the negligent homicide of countess numbers of human lives? What if it was a power failure? Do we charge Con-Ed with countless charges of negligent homicide?

Remember, no exceptions.

Should one in three American women be imprisoned or sentenced to death? Gosh, no, only the doctors should be charged, as is the case with the South Dakota law. The penalty in South Dakota for performing an abortion is five years – for having an abortion, the penalty is…there is no penalty for having one.

Oops, they screwed that one up.

You see, that’s no different than charging the hijackers on 9/11 with murder, but letting Osama off scott-free. After all he only asked for it to be done; he didn’t go near a plane or buy a pair of box-cutters and was actually over ten thousand miles away at the time. In no legal or moral code on the planet that I am aware of does the person who authorizes a murder not share equal if not more culpability for the murder than the one who actually pulls the trigger. So going after the doctor while giving the woman (or the man – it takes two to tango, and god forbid we let discussion of abortion descend into misogyny) a pass is hypocritical to a position that blastula are equivalent to fully viable human life. So all those who are pro-life need to grow a pair and stand by their arguments. Warts and all.

So, should a woman who gets an abortion be sentenced to prison or to death? If a woman’s husband or partner knows about it, should he be charged as an accessory? What about a woman’s friend, if they know about it?

And on that note, more later.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging















Wee ones edition.

Oh, aren't they cute 'n sweet. I need to get some fresh photos that are more current - will try for that this weekend. In the meantime, Orestes is recovering from the trauma of slipping and falling into the toilet. He'll survive. Hopefully he might learn something this time, though I doubt it.

Ode to Mike Rounds












We will be wrapping up Port Securty now. I want to write on something that will inspire less emotional controversy, especially with Ian and Mike, so we will start talking about abortion.

But not now. First I want to send a shout out to Mike Rounds, Governor of South Dakota. And who better than one of my favorite singers, Liz Phair:

For a mean baby, well, I like your pants
Born in South Dakota
For a mean baby, well, I like your hips
Born in South Dakota
I was born in South Dakota
Man, I feel lucky tonight
I'm gonna get stoned and run around
Born in South Dakota
Hey, we're going to a rodeo town
I'm gonna get drunk and fuck some cows
Born in South Dakota
I was born in South Dakota
I was born in South Dakota

Hey, all you city fucks, it's a prairieman's world
It's wide open
Hey, all you city fucks, it's a prairieman's world
Masons and lumberchucks, says God as my squirrel
It's wide open
I said it's wide open
Dakota

Man, I feel lucky tonight
I'm gonna get stoned and run around
Born in South Dakota
Hey, we're going to a rodeo town
I'm gonna get drunk and fuck some cows
Born in South Dakota
I was born in South Dakota
I was born in:

Intervening with Barbarians...












Well I admit that it’s tough to keep this going without the scotch and cigars, but I’ll try to wrap all of this up today. Both Ian and Mike wrote comments to my last post, and I’ll try to address as many of their points as I can. First, Ian:

“…1) We will come to cherish any ties we have to foreign nations very soon... because our failures in Iraq, probably soon in Iran and maybe Syria are going to throw this nation into such an isolationist/xenophobic mode that we will not be able to intervene anywhere even if some ‘barbarian’ is eating children on the nightly news!...”

Since George Washington’s farewell address encouraged this country to remain neutral in Europe’s affairs and since the first immigrant came off a boat from a country other than England, this nation has been isolationist and xenophobic. Actually since long before. And yes, thanks to decades of misbegotten foreign policy defined by the witless economic interests of this country, not to mention five years of mindblowing ineptness not exhibited since the Buchanan administration, we have pissed away most of our friends in the Arab world. Of course, I’m not certain we ever had any.

We’re already isolationist and xenophobic, and we have made it our business over the past fifty years to make certain that we have no friends, especially in the Arab world. And our history of intervening in the barbaric events in other countries has blown since the 1950s. We aren’t going to intervene in Sudan, in Uganda, in Angola, in Burma, and god knows we aren’t going to intervene in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan or any –stan for that matter. I wish it were different, but Bosnia and Somalia proved to be political disasters at home.

Today’s killing of the Port’s Deal is not a slap to the people of the U.A.E. It’s a slap to James Baker and the oil oligarchs, and the Emirate of Dubai who is the sole owner of Dubai Ports World. The people in the street aren’t going to suddenly love us if we had approved it, and they won’t hate us any more than they already do for killing it.

“…2) Who has the most to lose if a bomb does get through ‘port security’?… the easy answer is those who are bombed..WRONG …the nation in charge of the security has a fair amount to lose, especially after all the press this has received…”

The nation in charge of Airport security on 9/11 was the United States. And no one even got fired. Not much lost there. And the hijackers? 15 Saudis, 1 Egyptian, 1 Lebanese and 2 from the U.A.E. And nothing happened to those countries. Of course we bombed Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. After all, Osama was living there (not that he was Afghani…). And when we cleaned up and installed a proper democratic government we peopled it with consultants from the pipeline corporations. Actually the first item of business from the new Afghani government was the oil pipeline across the country. Even before a constitution.

“…3) Mike hit it on the head… If Jimmy Carter is OK with it so am I. JC has NEVER backed off from bonking this administration on the noggin…”

I confess that I don’t have much to counter that one. I was somewhat baffled by that one as well, partially because not much of what he said became public more than a soundbite. So I did some Googling…The quote is from a February 20th CNN Situation Room interview with Wolf Blitzer. (Scroll down towards the bottom for the interview question on the ports deal) He talked for quite a while on different topics about the Middle East and addressed the ports deal in only one question:

”…BLITZER: Are you concerned at one of our top stories today about this Dubai-based company taking control of security at six major ports here in the United States?

CARTER: Well, I've been to Dubai, and I've seen the remarkable port facilities they have there, perhaps the best in the world. I'm not knocking the ones in the United States, of course. My presumption is, and my belief is, that the president and his secretary of state and the Defense Department and others have adequately cleared the Dubai government organization to manage these ports. I don't think there's any particular threat to our security.

Obviously, the Homeland Security would have to be involved directly with, and in a partnership with, the Dubai people as they clear folks to work in their ports, particularly in sensitive areas. So the overall threat to the United States and security, I don't think it exists. I'm sure the president's done a good job with his subordinates to make sure this is not a threat…”

Not exactly backing off from the bonking. But he’s referring to his confidence in the administration’s vetting of the deal.

The deal was “adequately cleared” by a committee chaired by the Deputy Treasury Secretary Kimmitt, and whose members included Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff. Of course the day after the ports deal was announced they were all vying for air time with the President to announce that, in fact, none of them had actually even heard of the deal, even though the bylaws of the committee require the Committee Chair to be present at all votes. Oh, and the previous vetting job that Kimmitt did for the Bush family was to vet Dan Quayle for the Vice Presidency. No joke. Oh, and I’m certain Treasury Secretary Snow’s concerns had nothing to do with his previous consulting work for…Dubai Ports World.

As I read the transcript in context, Carter’s response comes across as more boilerplate response to a political question that he didn’t know all that much about. He had detailed answers to other questions, covering situations he was knowledgeable about. But the Port’s deal had just broken, and I don’t think he knew any more than anyone else about it and responded accordingly.

Enough of the damn port’s deal – I’ve posted far too much on it. I know the whole thing’s relatively minor, but if anyone’s still in the mood, Lucian Truscott has an excellent post on Digby covering the money angle behind it. Actually Digby’s been a good source for deeper reporting on the issue. I know, I know, a damn blog. Still, the Democratic proposals for Port Security shot down by the Republicans that I posted about in my previous post were not from a blog, but from the front page of the New York Times. To me the Port’s issue was important, not for the security issues per se, but for the egregious sacrificing of potential National Security concerns on the altar of financial gain.

And yes, I am also outraged by a perceived spinelessness of the Democratic Party and their 19th century ways of playing politics in the 21st Century. It’s pathetic. But it never helps to say that they don’t have any ideas. If you’re pissed off about the lack of media traction that they get, then spread the word yourself. That’s not parroting the actions of Karl Rove. Saying they have no ideas is. That’s why I post more about politics in my wee blog than I ever planned to when I started it. Of course, It doesn’t help that most of my cigar and scotch compadres are out of town. Got to make up for it somehow.

Now Mike, keep up the blog writing. And Ian, stop reading my damn blog and finish those damn papers. Of all three of us, you’re the one in the best position to do something about the withering of Due Process in our once fair land.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Oh, Yeah!!!!




















Well I had hoped that I could begin posting about other issues near and dear to my heart, but while I have limited time to write, everyone keeps dying on me and my brother and I seem to be at loggerheads over the latest steaming political pile of dog links fostered on our unwitting republic by the administration. But rather than keep on blathering about the specifics of an outsourcing proposal whose news cycle is already getting stale in our A.D.D. media mindset (especially as I covered it earlier posts and in comments on Mike’s Blog), I want to address the seductiveness of certain political arguments.

When I first thought of writing this post in response to Mike’s first post I thought of the title ‘Xen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’ I thought that to be a clever pun, but two things came up. First, Mike’s hurling around the xenophobe label, while wrong-headed, was I believe more of an offhand remark. It’s what I like about blogging – it’s sort of halfway between the immediacy of conversation and the reflections of prose. But quick comments can lead to misunderstandings, just as in Mike’s post, and in my (somewhat intemperate) follow-up comment. The second reason, of course, is that I couldn’t figure out a rhetorical way to incorporate motorcycles into my train of thought.

But then Mike did a follow-up post before I could even do a first one, and his writings enraged me even more. My own brother has apparently drunk a whole sickly sweet pitcher of G.O.P. Kool-Aid; fortunately his constitution seems to be rejecting it and the result is repeated retchings and spews of fragmentary Republican Party talking points, more commonly read in the National Review. To wit:

“…But it's killing us. Because as long as we continue to put our energy into tearing Bush down (who at a 34 percent approval rating can STILL get the Patriot Act through Congress), we will never develop what we really need -- an alternative vision, an identity of our own that isn't just an identity in opposition. Because that's what we need. We need the other way. And there is nobody in the party who is coming forward with that right now…”

Ah, that old Chestnut: The Democrats are a party of No Ideas. The G.O.P. has pretty much Trademarked that one by now, it’s so commonly regurgitated throughout the media. It’s a seductive one, and it sounds like advice one would hear from your friendly grandmother while she’s crocheting a pair of baby slippers. ‘Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say.’ ‘Don’t criticize – be supportive and offer constructive suggestions.’

It’s Crap.

This Talking Point is much older and heartier than the Xenophobia one. And it comes from the same basic political idea – Tar your opponents with the brush that should be tarring you. If you are fielding a candidate who sat out the Vietnam War in a drunken bender, and running him against a decorated Veteran, then you use the media to accuse the Veteran of being a coward who cheated to get his medals. It evens the playing field and blunts your opponents’ weapons. (This is Karl Rove’s favorite tactic, the Xenophobia Talking Point being only the latest: as Mike himself pointed out, much of the fear of swarthy brown people in this country has been stoked by this administration.)

So what has the party of ‘No Ideas’ done about Port Security:

‘…--In 2003, House Republicans, on a procedural vote, agreed to kill a Democratic amendment that would have added $250 million for port security grants to a war spending package.

--Two years later, nearly all House Republicans voted against an alternative Homeland Security authorization bill offered by Democrats that called for an additional $400 million for port security.

--Senate Republicans stood together in 2003 to set aside a Democratic amendment that would have provided $120 million more for port cargo screening equipment.

--One year later, all but six Senate Republicans voted to reject a Democratic attempt to add $150 million for port security in a Homeland Security appropriations bill…’

In the same article:

‘…In defense, Republicans say Democrats always want to throw money at untested technology and that the GOP-led Congress has consistently given more money to port security than what the Bush administration has proposed…’

Digby does a great job with that one: from the San Francisco Gate:

‘…For the second time in two months, a test of the national missile defense system has failed, Pentagon officials said Monday.[February 15, 2005]

Military technicians say they believe the failure of the $85 million test was caused by a problem with ground support equipment, not with the interceptor missile itself. A preliminary assessment indicated that the fault had occurred in the concrete underground silo, where a variety of sensors perform safety and environmental monitoring.

The program, by some accounts, has cost $130 billion and is scheduled to require $50 billion more over the next five years. Bush's budget request for the 2006 fiscal year cut about 10 percent from this year's funding of almost $10 billion…’

The problem is not that Democrats have no ideas, it’s that a minority party isn’t going to get the same press that the majority will, especially in a media environment more obsessed with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. And, so, yes, slamming a G.O.P. administration and congress as incompetent is something that we need to do. We actually need to shout it from the rooftops to get anyone to listen.

On a related note, I ran across this on the National Review’s website. Posted today in Ross Douthat’s column - it’s so fresh that you can still smell the keystrokes:

‘…It's similar, I think, to the traditional Christian attitude toward monasticism, poverty, celibacy, and so on — which wasn't that every rich man needed to sell all he had and enter a monastery, but that some did. Christ told the rich young man to give away all his possessions and follow him, but he didn't tell that to everyone he met — it was a specific mission for a specific person, or kind of person…’

That insanity is why I’ll keep shouting from the rooftops.

R.I.P. Redux























Crap:

Ali Farka Toure: 1939-2006:

According to CMJ:

"...The Associated Press reported that in Mali, in response to Tour√©’s death, radio stations suspended regular broadcasts and played his music instead. It was announced on Malian state radio that he will be buried in Niafunk√©, the village where he spent much of his childhood and where he was mayor until his death..."


I had the immense fortune of seeing this man perform live a few years ago. For three hours.

Blew. My. Mind.

One of the greatest guitarists and composers who ever lived. The world would be a far, far better place if everyone chilled out, dropped everything and bought every album he ever recorded.

I really hope that I can stop having to write potted obituaries for the next few weeks at least. This is starting to piss me off...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

R.I.P. Gordon Parks

























The good ones are dropping like flies.

Gordon Parks: 1912-2006

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging



















Electra Edition

From this weeks Onion, in Community Voices: 'Are your cats old enough to learn about Jesus?'

'...Kittens' hearts, at birth, are filled with what theologians call "original mischief." Mischief, if left to grow on its own, can sprout into evil. That's why you must fill their hearts with Jesus instead. If you wait, your cats might find seductive role models among the back-alley strays and rough felines from the wrong side of town. You could also end up with an unwanted pregnancy.

That's why it's so very, very important to tell your cats about the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus as early as possible. The Nicene Creed is a good place to start: Recite it to them when they are about 10 weeks old...'