Saturday, January 30, 2010

An Evil Birthday

Today is the birthday of Dick "the dick" Cheney, perhaps the most evil person to ever hold a position of power in American government. From the Nixon era up to his latest bloviating on FAUX, he's truly been the embodiment of "the worst person in the world".
So, what should we give him for his birthday? I'd like to give him an indictment for war crimes. And it might even happen:

International arrest warrants have been requested for George W. Bush, Richard (Dick) Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzales at the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands.

Professor of Law Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champain, United States of America, has issued a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court against the above-mentioned for their practice of “extraordinary rendition” (forced disappearance of persons and subsequent torture) in Iraq and for criminal policy which constitutes Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute which set up the ICC.

As such, the Accused (mentioned above) are deemed responsible for the commission of crimes within the territories of many States signatories of the Rome Statute, in violation of Rome Statute Articles 5 (1)(b), 7 (1)(a), 7 (1)(e), 7 (1)(g), 7(1)(h), 7(1)8i) and 7(1)(k). Despite the fact that the USA is not a signatory State, the ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute under Article 12 (2)(a) of the Rome Statute.

This Article stipulates that the Court may exercise its jurisdiction if one or more States in which the conduct in question occurred has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. Furthermore, the forced disappearance of persons and torture in deemed by the Rome Statute as a Crime against Humanity, one which is still ongoing.

(h/t to Fixer at the alternate brain for the link)

OK, I doubt that much will actually come of this, but it's nice to see someone trying to hold "the dick" accountable. Wouldn't it be nice to see his snarling visage doing the Milosivic at the Hague?

So, what would you give Mr. Cheney for his birthday?

Slightly Odd Conversations

Yesterday, I'm having a "happy hour" beer at my favorite pub, with my usual friends; nothing unusual about that. One of my dearest lady friends was talking about what was going on in her life (she likes to share, often at a 'TMI' level), and was telling us about her upcoming date with a man who she met through an online dating service. A service that, as she proudly told us, caters to people like her who are "polyamorous." Zymurgian (who never seems to post here anymore) was unfamiliar with the term, so the woman, Sweaterman, and myself gave a lengthy explanation of what "polyamorous" meant and that there really is a community of people who consider themselves such. The look on the bartenders face as he overheard the conversation was just about priceless; a group of middle aged folks discussing the merits of a polyamorous lifestyle was probably too much for his twenty-something mind to grasp. Not that it applied to the rest of us: Sweaterman is fairly newly wed, my sexual lifestyle is better described as "mostly celibate", and I have no idea what Zymurgian is in to (although I'm sure it involves beer). But it was a more interesting than our usual political conversations.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Most Voters are "Un-Informed"

This doesn't come as a surprise, but if you read political blogs, you're far more informed than the typical person. This Pew research study shows that the majority of voters don't really know much about the actual operation of the government:

The public has consistently expressed strong interest in the health care debate, but relatively few Americans can correctly answer two key questions related to the Senate's consideration of health care legislation.

In the latest installment of the Pew Research Center's News IQ Quiz, just 32% know that the Senate passed its version of the legislation without a single Republican vote. And, in what proved to be the most difficult question on the quiz, only about a quarter (26%) knows that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate and force a vote on a bill.

It's well worth reading the whole thing, but I want to focus on how this relates to the Supreme Court's decision allowing corporations to buy and run political ads, and why our elections are about to get worse.
I'll try to be polite. I don't want to say that most voters are "stupid", so I'll say that they're "low-information" and not inclined to learn a lot about politics or government. They tend to know what they've seen and heard on TV. And American mega-corporations are masters of television manipulation. Just look at the shlock they're already selling us. The corporations don't have to lie to manipulate people's opinions, only engage in some slick marketing. Even if they did lie, it's doubtful that anyone would be able to effectively counter it. So all the corporations will need to do is to sell the public their chosen candidates, and let those elected legislate to their benefit. And the public will not notice...
because the public is "un-informed."

The State of the Boobie

I would say that the State of the Boobie is "firm", but I'm open to hearing your assessment.

Corporation for Congress

The Supreme Court decision to allow corporate money to flood into elections will allow them to buy congress members more directly than they currently do. Now, in Maryland, a corporation has decided to cut out the middle man:
The progressive PR firm Murray Hill Inc. has announced that it plans to satirically run for Congress in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th congressional district to protest the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision. A press release on its website says that the company wants to “eliminate the middle man” and run for Congress directly, rather than influencing it with corporate dollars:

“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

“The strength of America,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “is in the boardrooms, country clubs and Lear jets of America’s great corporations. We’re saying to Wal-Mart, AIG and Pfizer, if not you, who? If not now, when?” [...]

Campaign Manager William Klein promises an aggressive, historic campaign that “puts people second” or even third. “The business of America is business, as we all know,” Klein says. “But now, it’s the business of democracy too.” Klein plans to use automated robo-calls, “Astroturf” lobbying and computer-generated avatars to get out the vote.

Murray Hill Inc. plans on spending “top dollar” to protect its investment. “It’s our democracy,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “We bought it, we paid for it, and we’re going to keep it.”

Murray Hill Inc. released its first campaign video Monday. A narrator in the video explains, “The way we see it, corporate America has been the driving force behind Congress for years. But now it’s time we got behind the wheel ourselves.”

Murray Hill inc. for congress! Honest govrnment at a reasonable price!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book Piracy

This one's for Sweaterman:
Offline Book "Lending" Costs U.S. Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion
Yes, the publishing industry is being robbed, robbed I tell you!

Boston, where a mass meeting of alleged book traffickers is to take place. Over 10,000 are expected at the "ALA Midwinter" event. Even at the Amtrak station in New York City this morning, at the very the heart of the US publishing industry, book trafficking culture was evident, with many travelers brazenly displaying the totebags used to transport printed contraband.

As soon as I got off the train, I was surrounded by even more of this crowd. Calling themselves "Librarians", they talk about promoting literacy, education, culture and economic development, which are, of course, code words for the use and dispersal of intellectual property. They readily admit to their activities, and rationalize them because they're perfectly legal in the US, at least for now.

Trafficking in literary property without paying royalties to publishers, in broad daylight. Pure socialism in action, Sweaterman.

SOTU Reaction

If you blog about politics, you're legally, contractually obligated to react to the annual "State of the Union" speech, so here's mine:

OK, maybe I'll elaborate a little further:
"The State of the Union: still fucked."

A perfectly mediocre speech that won't change the political equation. Talking points made, constituencies pandered to, sweeping rhetoric expressed, as was expected.

And Tweety Matthews is weird.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Snow

It's getting kinda old.
So here's a Very funny. blog post explaining blog posts.

SOTU Survival Kit

Damn! I had hoped that I would no longer need the "State of the Union Survival Kit" after the shrub administration was gone. But I'm now going through the checklist, just to make sure that I'm properly prepared:

* Strong Beer: check.
* Whiskey: check (for when beer isn't enough).
* Pain Killers: check.
* Tranquilizers: check.
* Anti-Depressants: check (although they've never worked in the past).
* Snacks: check (but it's hard to eat them while screaming).

The sad fact is that I'm a political junkie; I know that watching the SOTU is bad for me, but I can't stop myself. I'll watch it, even though I know it will only leave me angry and depressed. Being a liberal is a form of political masochism, sometimes.

Kids Today

Aw, come on: who among us hadn't tried to wiretap a senator's office as a youthful indiscretion like This?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lowering Already Low Expectations

It's hard to disappoint someone who's as politically cynical as I am. I had fairly low expectations for Obama, really. "Hope" that he'd be reasonably competent and "change" from the horrible disaster of shrub/cheney. Not a whole lot more. But I did kinda expect him to be more politically savvy. He showed a gift for rhetoric during the campaign, and an ability to make a 'sales pitch' that was just short of Billy Mayes.
So I'm scratching my head at his latest move, a "spending freeze" that appears completely pointless. It's not a real freeze, or even a good idea, and it certainly isn't going to sell to the "deficit hawks". It's certainly unpopular with "the left" (whoever the hell we/they are), and won't rally any support toward the November elections. The only folks who might react positively are beltway pundits like Broder, and I doubt that even they'll like it.
Seems like a totally wasted effort that won't gain Obama any political capital. I never expected all that much from Obama, but I do wish he'd be a little shrewder about how he uses his gift for oratory toward a somewhat meaningful agenda.
Barack, buddy, you're really not doing very well when you manage to disappoint someone as cynical as I am.

Yet Another Really Bad Idea

We're truly screwed: US to lift 21-year ban on haggis. Spreading a known bio-hazard amongst the populace is never a good idea.
Next thing you know, they'll legalize bagpipes.
(My ancestry is 3/4 Scottish, so I know how dangerous these things are)

Sunday, January 24, 2010


75 years of canned beers:

Be sure to crack open a cold one on Jan. 24, the day canned beer celebrates its 75th birthday.

New Jersey's Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company churned out the world's first beer can in 1935, stocking select shelves in Richmond, Va., as a market test. The experiment took off and American drinkers haven't looked back since, nowadays choosing cans over bottles for the majority of the 22 gallons of beer they each drink per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

While most American canned beers are tasteless yellow fizzwater (or worse), more and more craft beers are now available in cans (which is a great boon to us river runners). A few of my favorites include Ska Brewery's "Modus Hoperandi", Oskar Blue's "Gordon", and the local Mogollon "Wapiti Amber". Life is too short to drink cheap beer.

Where's Doc When We Need Him?

As I've been reading an assortment of opinions on the latest SCOTUS outrage, I find myself wishing to hear the missing voice of Hunter S. Thompson. Doc was the absolute master of writing the angered observance of political criminals in action, his pen was a rapier thrust into the heart of an issue. Sadly, the disaster of the shrub administration saw the last of Thompson's evisceration:

The cure for White House Disease is not so simple. It is like a combination of Blueballs & malaria, an interminable Fever that is always Incurable & often Fatal. The symptoms are blindness, freezing, sweating, weeping & delusions of suffering beyond Death.

Let's face it: The only true Blood-Sport in this country is high-end Politics. You can dabble in Sports or the Stock Markets, but when you start lusting after the White House, The Joke is Over. These are the real Gamblers, & there is nothing they won't do to win.

The Presidency of the United States is the richest & most powerful prize in the history of the World. The difference between winning the Super Bowl & winning the White House is the difference between a Goldfish & a vault full of Gold bars.

The Bush family has already Corrupted the Presidency & the U.S. Supreme Court. Millions of Americans will never again be Confident that their vote will be counted in any election

The man had a keen eye for spotting corrupt, evil bastards, and he was fearless in exposing them. How I wish his voice were still howling today.

Added: This piece by Mark Kleiman is well worth reading; not that it's at all like what Doc would write, but he makes a great point. See, also, The Editors.