Oct 4 2009

Kindergarden singers terrorize the nation

Kal @ 21:56

Greg sent me an email with a link to Youtube video of a kindergarden class singing, apparently in praise of Obama per the Glen Beck reference, but the sound was not good and you could not really tell exactly what was said. Cute kids though, and no I am not going to link to it. Greg’s comment was:

In case you are wondering why I am getting scared.

I did not give this much thought, but fired back with:  Terrifying aren’t they?  Buy guns guys, the children are out to get you. Maybe some right wing gun nut should just shoot the teacher! Or maybe Glenn Beck set the whole thing up? Come on Greg, get serious.



Category: wingnuttery | Politics | Morals

Oct 3 2009

don’t get sick and if you do die quickly

Kal @ 10:43

From Firedoglake: Alan Grayson Speaks the Language of Morality, Causes Mass Panic

Matt Yglesias wrote yesterday:

Representative Alan Grayson’s statement that the Republican plan for health care amounts to “don’t get sick” and if you do “die quickly” probably doesn’t meet a test of literal accuracy. . . . But so what? The idea of a hubbub about this is absurd.

I think the real issue—and the real import—of Grayson’s statement is that it involved breaking one of the unspoken rules of modern American politics. The rule is that conservatives talk about their causes in stark, moralistic terms and progressives don’t. Instead, progressives talk about our causes in bloodless technocratic terms.



Category: Morals | wingnuttery | Politics

Sep 27 2009

Obviously False Conventional Wisdom

Kal @ 14:37

From Three Types of Crazy

Read the whole article. It makes the point that false beliefs are not limited to “the nutty fringe”.

    (A) We can provide universal health care, like all other advanced industrial nations, and cut costs to 12% of GDP or less, like all other advanced industrial nations, while still allowing insurance companies to skim 30% off the top.

    (B) We can militarily subdue Afghanistan with enough troops and machismo, even though no one in history has ever done this before.

    (C) We can successfully deal with global warming without even trying to reduce atmospheric carbon to 350 ppm, which is what the world's scientists say is required.

    (D) We can fix the financial system without actually fixing the financial system, simply by trusting the folks who helped bring us the meltdown in the first place.

    (E) Money is speech.

    (F) Corporations are people, with all the Constitutional rights that entails.

    (G) Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on weapon systems that don't work, and/or aren't designed to fight enemies that actual exist means you are "strong on defense," even if you did everything human possible to avoid serving in a war zone when your country called. Questioning the wisdom of doing so makes you "weak on defense", even if you are a war hero.

There are literally dozens and dozen of such crazy beliefs that enjoy strong "centrist" support… But does anyone ever thing of them as evidence of some sort of dysfunction?  Yet, that surely is precisely what it is--evidence of a deeply dysfunctional political system.


Category: Politics | Morals | Conventional Economics

Sep 18 2009


Kal @ 09:08

This wingnut email comes from Gwen. Which goes to show that you do not have to be male to pass on nutty stuff (but I think it helps).

This one starts of to say: “Bill Cosby has a great way of  "distilling" things.  Looks like he's done it again!”

It is followed by a broken link to a picture and 12 extremely inflammatory and reactionary points, including encouraging use of the military to shoot immigrants from the south. It is a bit muddled about religion; I wonder if Gwen was really proposing we adopt Sharia Law with the proposal to cut off hands for stealing? Actually, there is very little difference between a theocracy of the Christian or the Muslim kind, so that is not so surprising.

Unfortunately for Gwen, in addition to being particularly nasty, her proposal is based on pure bullshit. I thought it worth looking up in Snopes.com.

Claim: Article reproduces comedian Bill Cosby’s platform as a write-in candidate in the 2008 Presidential Election.


Discussion: Origins: We don’t know who originally authored this reactionary “platform” for a write-in presidential candidate, but we do know it was not entertainer Bill Cosby.

… Just before the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Bill Cosby himself disclaimed involvement with this “write-in candidate” e-mail on his web site:


I am not a write-in candidate for President. The statement purportedly from me stating that I am a candidate is a hoax. The platform attributed to me (and at various times to Robin Williams, Andy Rooney, and George Carlin) does not represent my views and in many respects is abhorrent to me. Apparently those who continue to spread this hoax do not care to do even minimal fact checking.

So there you have it, just another attempt to cloak nasty with the cover of respectability. Or is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing?


Category: Morals | Politics | wingnuttery | hoax

Jul 3 2009

Time to recall some republicans in Sacramento

Kal @ 21:00

A small minority in the California legislature, in cooperation with Arnold Schwarzenegger are trying to dismantle California. The model seems to be Calcutta.

If there is not enough revenue to pay for needed programs, the answer is simple, raise taxes.

I wonder how many we would have to recall to break the impass?


Category: Economics | Morals | Politics | Recession | wingnuttery

Jun 25 2009

Waterboarding vs Beheading

Kal @ 21:51

This is another in my WingNut Email series; this one came in a couple of days ago.

Doesn’t appear to meet the same criteria that qualifies as torture that Terrorists use such as BEHEADING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Total Fear Factor - 

For those who have never really seen how waterboarding is done, this is an incredible video.  A Playboy journalist bet $1.00/sec that he could withstand waterboarding for 15 seconds.

Watch and see if he won his bet. [the torture porn link was deleted for this post]

P.S. Of the three jihadists known to have been waterboarded, the one who lasted longest was well under one minute.  No injuries, no marks, no scars, and incredibly quick and effective.  Makes you wonder why our enemies resort to the barbaric things they do instead, and you can only conclude that it is because they derive real pleasure out of being the vicious animals that they are.

Well yes, beheading is not nice either.

There is no obvious reason to think beheading is practiced as an alternative to waterboarding, rather it is a slightly more gruesome version of the capital punishment that many conservatives find so attractive. The general idea seems to be that it is a deterrent. I am not aware of any research that shows that capital punishment actually deters anyone. Properly done, beheading does not appear to be more barbaric than any other form of capital punishment.

This email seems to imply that torture is fine as long as there are "No injuries, no marks, no scars, and incredibly quick and effective". It entirely misses the point that the reason we do not torture is because we do not choose to be "the vicious animals that they are." It is not about them, it is about us.


Category: Morals | Politics | wingnuttery

Jun 9 2009

Al Gore - Putting his house in order

Kal @ 16:32

This is another in my WingNut Email series, and once again, hat tip to Greg for sending it along. Another came from Murray yesterday, but it was just to bizarre to even try to make sense of so I did not bother to write about it. Something about how the Obama Cairo speech failed to indict all Muslims for the invasion of Europe in 732.

The email lays out in great detail various facts about Al Gore's large house in Tennessee, including that it is large and old and uses a great deal of electricity and natural gas to keep it going. I have not been able to find the date of building. Or of the email either, it is also apparently badly out of date.

The email then points out that the former Bush ranch near Crawford, TX is very energy efficient. What it does not mention is that the Bush ranch was purchased just in time for the presidential election as a stage prop, was never lived in by the Bush family, and was abandoned/sold even before the Obama inauguration. It was used for vacations and photo sets.

The point of this and other attacks on Gore seems to be that 'if Gore is not a saint, then global warming is a hoax', and besides, Al Gore warmed up the planet single handedly, so na, na, na-na, na. Of course global warming is not about Al Gore, or even George Bush, but it is still kind of fun to poke holes in the hypocrisy of pieces like this. 20090609 gore solar panels

This photo is of the solar panels on the roof of Al Gore's house and was found in Tree Hugger dated 6/12/2007. So anyone circulating the current email has had plenty of time to get it right.

The following is from Drew Johnson On Al Gore’s House

The Gores honored Earth Hour by shutting off the lights at their residence. The heating and air conditioning were turned off as well. But more importantly, the Gores live in a Gold LEED certified home, powered by geothermal power. They have undergone renovations to put solar panels on the roof and participate in all of the renewable power programs offered by their local utility. They aren’t perfect, no family is, but they do their best, year-round to try to make a difference at home and across the country to make a difference on the climate crisis.



Category: Climate Change | Morals | Politics | Solar | Sustainability | wingnuttery

Jun 8 2009

Food Not Lawns

Kal @ 12:00

Yesterday as I was driving here in Santa Cruz, there was a large banner on a wall with the slogan, Food Not Lawns.

This is not exactly a new concept, after all, there is now an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn. And thoughtful people everywhere are planting a bit more in their home gardens this summer. But what if the front lawn fell out of fashion? What could be done with all that sunshine, fertilizer, and water?

I found an article in the Orange County Register written by Cindy McNatt: Cities and businesses, how about losing the lawn?

We've been asked as homeowners to cut back on water use, lose the lawn, get greener, reduce green waste and go organic. The California Friendly Garden Contest acknowledges some of these efforts.

I'm not sticking up for front lawns here, but think about this: Many homeowners use their lawns for family fun and entertainment. For possibly half the population of people who keep a lawn, it serves a function —- at least in the backyard where games are played and canines romp.

Compare the family lawn to the acres of grass planted around commercial buildings, public medians and retail stores. No children playing kick ball, no dogs rolling in the sun, no one catching a nap or picnicking under a shady tree.

Nick Mrvos of the Irvine Ranch Water District tells homeowner groups, "If the only feet that make contact with grass are the guys that mow it, it might be time to consider alternatives."

It doesn't matter how large or small the commercial landscape is, you will no doubt find a strip of grass that needs to be mowed each week. Some swaths we saw were so large they might equal 25 or more typical homeowner lawns. Others were so small they didn't even make sense.

I doubt there is a way to measure how many acres of "silly strips" are planted in grass, but if you spend any time in HOA neighborhoods, or the commercial areas of your town, or even drive through the local takeout restaurant and notice the stupid strip of grass in the planter, you wonder how it adds up in resources. 

Greenbelts are not "green" anymore. Tom Larson, adviser to the Metropolitan Water District said these parkways were designed on the East Coast in the 1800s for storing excess snow. Don't you think it's time to move on?

Commercial building owners could save thousands a year in maintenance fees if they lost their lawns. Ditto for homeowner associations where shrubs and ground covers could be maintained once a month instead of weekly. Cities that need to cut back expenses could lose the grass in purposeless places.

Ron Vanderhoff said, "These greenbelts are from a bygone era. Water, chemicals, runoff, excess fertilizer, green waste, herbicides, air pollution, fossil fuels used all add up to a big mistake in today's era of using less resources and protecting the resources that we do have."

So how 'bout it then? Can cities, HOAs, and commercial property owners pitch in?  [emphasis is mine]

Let's use this estimate, half the population of people who keep a lawn, and try to guess how much productive land could be freed up.



Category: Employment | Morals | Recession | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jun 3 2009

Torture US Citizens - The goose and gander question

Kal @ 11:25

From Jack M. Balkin in his blog, Balkinization on June 1, 2009.

The assassin who killed Dr. George Tiller at his church, murdered Tiller in order to keep him from performing therapeutic abortions for women. The murderer is one of a long line of religiously inspired radicals who have tried to shut down abortion providers through bombings and murders. They are not the mainstream of the pro-life movement; they are a fringe sect who are not content to protest abortion or even to engage in non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, they believe that they are justified in bombings and killings to prevent great evils that they regard as contrary to God's fundamental law.

Using violence-- like bombings and murders-- to intimidate people in this way is terrorism. It is so in common language, it is so defined in U.S. law. The terrorist in this case and the terrorists in previous abortion clinic bombings and murders are, as far as I am aware, not foreigners. They do not have Arabic or Islamic names. They are American and they live in the United States. However, just like Islamist terrorism, this terrorism is driven by fanatical religious belief. Many religiously inspired terrorists live in other countries; some, however, (who include both Christians and Muslims among their number) live in the United States and are U.S. citizens or resident aliens.

...In particular, consider the following questions:

(1) Should the United States be able to hold Roeder without trial in order to prevent him from returning to society to kill more abortion providers? If we believe that Roeder and other domestic terrorists will plan further attacks on abortion providers and abortion clinics if we let them free, can we subject them to indefinite detention?

(2) The Obama Administration is currently considering a national security court to make decisions about the detention of suspected terrorists, with the power to order continued preventive detention. Should this court be able to hear cases involving U.S. citizens, whether they are Muslim or Christian?

(3) The U.S. government has argued that at least some terrorists should not be tried through the criminal process with its various Bill of Rights protections but instead can and should be tried through military commissions, where the standards of proof and various procedural protections are lowered. If Roeder is a domestic terrorist, can the U.S. government subject him to trial by a military commission instead of a criminal prosecution? Although the current version of the 2006 Military Commission Act does not bestow jurisdiction to try citizens, could we or should we amend it to include citizens who we believe are likely to commit or have committed terrorist acts?

(4) One of the most important reasons for detaining terrorists (suspected or otherwise) is to obtain information about future terrorist attacks that may save lives and prevent future bombings. To procure this information, can the government dispense with the usual constitutional and legal safeguards against coercive interrogation? Should it be able to subject Roeder to enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding and other methods, to determine whether Roeder knows of any other persons who are likely to commit violence against abortion clinics or against abortion providers in the future? Would your answer change if you believed that an attack on an abortion provider or a bombing of an abortion clinic was imminent?

(5) Terrorists and terrorist organizations need money and resources to operate effectively. Often the only way to stop them is to dry up their sources of financial and logistical support. Can the U.S. government freeze the assets of pro-life organizations and make it illegal to contribute money to a pro-life charity that it believes might funnel money or provide material support to persons like Roeder or to organizations that practice violence against abortion providers? Can the government arrest, detain, and seize the property of anti-abortion activists who helped Roeder in any way in the months leading up to his crime, for example by giving him rides or allowing him to stay in their homes?


Category: Morals | Politics

May 19 2009

The Price of Being Poor

Kal @ 09:55

Think about it.  This is by Ian Welsh.

Washington Post hits on how much it costs to be poor - the way that the poor are forced to pay more, not less, for virtually everything; if not in money, then in time.

A friend of mine put it most simply.  Poor people spend time to save money.  Well off people spend money to save time.  That’s how you know where you are, assuming you aren’t living beyond your means.

The WP article isn’t bad, but it doesn’t really get the full flavor of poverty.  When you look poor, and if you’re poor long enough you will, you just get treated worse by virtually everyone.  They know you don’t have money, know you don’t have power, and thus know they can push you around, disrespect you or just ignore you.

My favorite story along this line is when I was barely making ends meet by doing odd jobs helping people move, doing yard work and painting houses.  One day after painting a garage, I walk into a bank with the check from the day’s work (this is in the eighties).  I’m disheveled, covered in dried paint, and look awful.  The teller wants to hold the check for two weeks.  I can’t wait that long, I need the money for rent.  I walk out of the bank.

I go back to the rooming house I’m living in. I shower, shave and comb my hair.  Then I go find my last set of good clothes - gray flannels, dress shirt, blazer, tie.  I put them all on, and I head back down to the bank.

Unlike a lot of people who are poor, I haven’t always been poor.  I went to one of the most elite private schools in Canada (ranked second at the time, after Upper Canada College).

I wait in line, and irony of ironies, I get the same teller.

She cashes the check.


But I don’t say anything, because I know she could capriciously change her mind.  I just walk out.

A couple years later, during the same extended period of poverty, I get to the point where I can’t even pretend to be middle or upper class.  And on occasion I get rousted because, while I’m clean, I look pasty, my clothes are threadbare and my glasses are literally taped up.  One time a security guard throws me off the property of a hotel I went into to use a pay phone.  In another case, I get tossed off the University of Ottawa campus: I’m beyond the point where I can fake being a student, even though I’m the right age, and was one just a few years before.

In the last ten years, since I ascended back into the middle class, I’ve never had any such situation come up.

Odd that.

The worst thing about being poor is the way you are treated.  There is no rule more iron, in my experience, that the less you get paid, for example, the worse you will be treated at work.  Clerks in stores treat you worse.  Government bureaucrats can often barely conceal their contempt.  And so on.

The upside, I suppose, is that people show you who they are.  The rare person who treats you exactly the same as they do everyone else is revealed as the shining gem they are.  In particular the friends who stick by you even when you’re down and out show themselves to be real friends, as opposed to those who follow the rule given in so many self-help books to cut off less successful friends, and thus reveal their complete moral bankruptcy to the world.

You learn who you can actually trust, who actually cares about you, and who is actually a decent human being who doesn’t enjoy being able to kick down on someone they figure can’t kick back.

It changes how you see people.  Oddly, before I was poor I thought practically everyone was scum (I was a cynical teenager).  Being poor convinced me that there were some truly good people in the world–people who would help you, be kind to you, or just treat you respectfully, even when there was nothing in it for them.

In ugliness and deprivation, beauty and kindness are much much more obvious.  All the more so, because so few meet this test and pass.


Category: Conventional Economics | Economics | Employment | Guaranteed Wage | Morals | Politics | Recession