Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't Say I Never Warned You about James Dobson

Don't say it.

Liberal media mini-expose.

Is there such a word as "rightist"?

Compassionate Conservatism--Not So Fast My Friend

When Kuo says there's something wrong with "taking Jesus and reducing him to some precinct captain, to some get-out-the-vote guy," he sounds a trumpet that makes you want to follow him into the battle. --E.J. Dionne

Oh my. It looks like there may be confirmation of what we all suspected: everybody in the White House is a pragmatic, cynical tool. Specifically, W and Karl Rove were only manipulating the Evangelical bloc for political purposes the entire time (that is, to stay in Washington and work on Iraq and tax cuts). This information comes not from a sack-happy liberal bully like Kos Blog but David Kuo, "former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives."

Apparently, all the money Bush promised for faith-based initiatives was statistical smoke and mirrors. Did the White House direct new funds for church charitable programs? No. Did they advertise the availability of funds for such progams--funds which had been available for years? Conveniently, yes.

Christian groups have caught on lately, crying out about their apparent invisibility outside of the election season. President Bush played his Consitutional ban on gay marriage to whip up the Evangelicals in 2004, and quickly tabled the issue days afterward. It's a card he only pulls out before the polls, like this summer's primaries. Finally, folks might be getting tired of the one-trick pony show. And Foley might have killed the pony anyway.

Look to the 60 Minutes, the Washington Post, and Keith Olbermann for more on the story. Those same sites also analyze the ramifications of Bush finally getting torture the way he wanted it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Absolutely Terrifying

If you want to see a visual matrix of the news, go here. (*)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Speaking of Republicans and Moral Superiority

Yahoo Sports has the story of Sandy Sullivan, uber-cheesehead-groupie for the Green Bay Packers in the '60's, author of a self-published account of her romantic romps with the offensive backfield, and current Republican candidate for Secretary of State in Wisconsin. She's probably got no chance against the incumbent (his last name's La Follette), although promiscuity on the frozen tundra of Lambeau may actually equate to "moral values" in that state.

I can see the hotty there forty years ago, but I'm still not envious of Paul Hornung. See her with Bart Starr on her website.

New National Energy Policy

The Washington Post offered an insightful editorial on Monday reminding us all that despite the trend of falling prices at the gas pump we're enjoying, our troubles with oil will not decline over time.

Essentially, our dependence on the stuff has strengthened anti-democratic regimes with barrels of cash, like Venezuela and Russia, while our consumption continues to deplete both the natural and man-made environment around us. The key is to curb the thirst, and the answer is taxation (perhaps on BTU's).

Americans will just jump at that idea.

(There's also an implicit attack on the Iraq War in that overthrowing autocratic and oppressive governments and implementing cultural change, here referring to the U.S.S.R., is done more easily and better with a financial advantage, not a military one).

Pink Republicans

The accusation against the Republicans has been that they brandish their Bibles and cater to values-voters during the election season only to return to cronyism economics and upper-crust tax breaks back at the Capitol. It's not a problem for me that they parade themselves as morally superior to their opponents; however, the amount that the electorate buys into it is. Hopefully, this Mark Foley sex scandal will punctuate the point that Abramoff and Delay failed to do: there is no moral superiority in Washington, D.C. Voters now have the responsibility not to accept the Republican spin and deflection.

For example, in paraphrase of the Paul Harvey "show" this morning, the political situation was presented thusly: Did Foley act inappropiately and did the Republican leadership in the House attempt to conceal the transgressions of one of their own, or did the national media and the Democratic Party visciously sit on this information until election time? So the fault, then, lies not with the Republican Congressman IM'ing underage male pages but with the political opposition making public those facts at a strategically opportune time. Right. Notice that second proposition was presented last for rhetorical emphasis.

How will the Republican faith-first base react to the disclosure of the "Velvet Mafia"? And, as Eugene Robinson suggested in yesterday's Washington Post, will the Republicans purge the openly homosexual members from their ranks to save their pious image?

Squidbillies, Season 2

It's back, and we who love the South are grateful. And others are still repulsed.

Josh has sent me a good interview with the creators from Williams St. Unknown Hinson has a sidebar. The writer mistakenly calls New Orleans Reese Witherpoon's hometown. (It's Nashville; she attended The Harpeth Hall, an exclusive girls preparatory school. You have to say it with a lot of heavy H's: prehp-ah-rhatoryh).

Rusty Cuyler's original name was Donny. Good to know.

White House Impromptu Summit on Gun Violence

As Eddie Izzard said, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people. But I think the guns help."

Can you stop the crazies? Not sure. Can you limit their destruction? Absolutely. It's a whole lot harder to kill twenty people with a Bowie knife than with an AR-15. So how can you conduct a serious inquisition into school violence and never discuss the availability of assault weapons?

I'm not coming from the left-wing fringes on this issue. My family has amassed a large armory as testament to their Second Amendment right (for them it's like collecting fine art, or Kinkades if you prefer). But I also watched my brother buy numerous firearms from gun shows before he ever reached high school.

Wednesday, 2 p.m. Equipped for no particular reason.

Perhaps Bush and his cohorts could have followed Izzard's and Chris Rock's lead and discussed a ban on bullets. Or maybe floated the idea of a "preventative ammunition tax." Not so comedic after the past several weeks.

Two Astute Views of the North Korean Dilemma

Slate's analysis of the potential repercussions. Eh, not very good.

&

North Korea needs the U.S. to validate its legitimacy in order to prevent the regime change that China desires. It's not about confronting the U.S. but pitting superpowers against each other and leveraging for protection. Ergo, Pyongyang keeps screaming for Washington to talk to it directly. (I listened today to Bush point out the failures of bilateral talks with North Korea in 1994 as justification for not sitting down again one-on-one. The problem here is a symptom of the broader "intransigence"--to use Bush's wor--plaguing Republican leaders today: a monolithic conception of reality, in which everything is black or white, good or evil, and lessons learned are absolutely timeless. They don't seem to consider that power and desperation fluctuates, that motives and ends are fluid. The carrot didn't work before, but ten years later this donkey might just be hungry and tired enough).

My suggestion for everybody is not to think about total annihilation or the possibility of a Southeast Asian nuclear arms race during the day. It makes everything a whole lot easier. And so what if Kim Jong-il's got nukes? We've got Starbucks and Grey's to take our worries away.

Sites II (mas postmodern)

More fun than you can ever imagine. Buy. Buy. Buy.


And keep returning because Mr. Bird's always coming up with gems like this.

Sites II

Might as well do all of them. Most of these are courtesy of Dan. This one particularly. Follow at your own risk. Decorative mouse taxidermy. There's an inherent comment on our culture here. Duh.

Sites

So I'd rather be doing eco-stuff, but sometimes there are sites on the internet that are too weird or too funny to ignore. Or both.

If you know Stella, you might know Eugene Mirman. Show and Tell. Videos. And of course the Marvelous Crooning Child.

More sites to come...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Transforming the Economics of Rural America

I've been sitting on this for about three months. My bad. From the New York Times, Tuesday, July 4, 2006:

Tapping the Latent Power in That Powerful Barnyard Smell
By Claudia H. Deutsch

Obviously, we're talking about converting organic farm waste (i.e. cow manure) into useable energy, or updating the power grid. Not only should this put more money in farmers' bib-pockets, but also increase the value of farm land and safeguard its endurance.

"According to AgStar, a federal program that promotes the convergence of manure to energy, there are more than 100 anaerobic digesters--devices that create an oxygen-free atmosphere in which bacteria digest manure and release gas--operating in the United States today, with another 80 on the drawing boards."

"Agstar officials say that at least 70000 dairy and swine farms are big enough to support a commercial digester and could collectively provide enough energy to power more than 500000 home, while keeping more than 1.4 million tons of methane out of the atmosphere."

Some names of note: Environmental Power Corporation located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, owner of Micrology, manufacturer of methane (and cooking crease) digesters. Xergi, the Danish company responsible for the technology behind Micrology's digesters. Intrepid Technology and Resources of Idaho Falls, Idaho, another manufacturer of digesters. GHD, a digester marketer in Chilton, Wisconsin. The American Council on Renewable Energy. Renewable Energy Policy Report.

Some things to do:

  • Make sure your state requires energy utitities to "include environmentally aware energy souces in their portfolios." Write your local state officials if it doesn't.
  • Inform stubborn utilities of the monetary benefits of buying into farm waste processing (namely, "carbon credits").
  • Lobby for federal and state subsidies or mandate a price mininum for utilities to pay per kilowatt hour (the MSRP on a new digester system is a wee bit high).

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