31 July, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Some intriguing developments today, my darlings. Grab a drink and settle in.

Think Progress has an incredibly disturbing revelation about the lengths to which the Bush regime will go to get the wars they crave:

Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.

In Hersh’s most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats. The “meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. ‘The subject
how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,’” according to one of Hersh’s sources.

During the journalism conference event, I asked Hersh specifically about this meeting and if he could elaborate on what occurred. Hersh explained that, during the meeting in Cheney’s office, an idea was considered to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them. This idea, intended to provoke an Iran war, was ultimately rejected:

HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.

Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.

Infuckingcredible. Two wars aren't enough - they're desperate enough for a third that they'll resort to masquerades with live ammo to start yet another. It doesn't matter that they had an iota of morality left and ultimately decided it would be too risky to kill a few Americans to lie us into another war. The fact that they floated this idea at all is outrageous. They're beyond insane. Why the fuck are these psychopaths still in charge?

And, as Kevin Drum points out, this wasn't the first time. Oh, hell no. There's a place for people like this: it's called prison.

Strangely enough, our judiciary is starting to think that, you know, maybe Bush & Co. aren't exempt from American laws:
White House attorneys are quite capable of coming up with creative legal arguments. The problem, though, is that judges aren’t willing to reward their creativity.

President Bush’s top advisers are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a federal judge ruled Thursday in an unprecedented dispute between the two political branches.

House Democrats called the ruling a ringing endorsement of the principle that nobody is above the law.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said there’s no legal basis for Bush’s argument and that his former legal counsel, Harriet Miers, must appear before Congress. If she wants to refuse to testify, he said, she must do so in person. The committee also has sought to force testimony from White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten.

“Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena,” Bates wrote. He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all non-privileged documents related to the firings.

Because I know this is the first question on the minds of many political observers, I should note that Bates was appointed to the federal bench by none other than George W. Bush. Indeed, Bates has, in general, been a Bush administration ally (he threw out Valerie Plame’s suit against Karl Rove, for example).

But not today. Bates wrote that “the Executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “very good news for anyone who believes in the Constitution of the United States and the separation of powers, and checks and balances.”

It's a start. Subject a few of the underlings to a good legal spanking, and we could get a cascade effect. That is, if Bush hasn't infiltrated absolutely every level of government with his own personal ball-lickers:

Thanks to a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general, we got a better sense this week about the extraordinary — and illegal — efforts to politicize Bush’s Justice Department.

But let’s not forget, the problem of basing employment decisions on politics went well beyond the Justice Department. Charlie Savage picks up on an email that went largely overlooked.

On May 17, 2005, the White House’s political affairs office sent an e-mail message to agencies throughout the executive branch directing them to find jobs for 108 people on a list of “priority candidates” who had “loyally served the president.”

“We simply want to place as many of our Bush loyalists as possible,” the White House emphasized in a follow-up message, according to a little-noticed passage of a Justice Department report released Monday about politicization in the department’s hiring of civil-service prosecutors and immigration officials.

The report, the subject of a Senate oversight hearing Wednesday, provided a window into how the administration sought to install politically like-minded officials in positions of government responsibility, and how the efforts at times crossed customary or legal limits.

To be sure, Bush didn’t invent political patronage, and practically all modern presidents have made at least some efforts to, as Savage put it, “impose greater political control over the federal bureaucracy.”

But none have gone as far as this gang.

This administration has been all about excess: excessive force, excessive law-breaking, excessive belligerance, excessive politicization, excessive stupidity and evil. America has seen some piss-poor administrations, but I don't think, when all is known, that any will quite measure up to the extravagance of this one.

That's why it's all the sweeter when they are, on rare occasion, forced to face up to reality:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has approved a new National Defense Strategy arguing that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should not be allowed to distract from the “implications of fighting a long-term, episodic, multi-front, and multi-dimensional conflict” against terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda. Gates’ new strategy “encourages current and future U.S. leaders to work with other countries to eliminate the conditions that foster extremism.”

The strategy concludes, “the most important military component of the struggle against violent extremists is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we help prepare our partners to defend and govern themselves.”

The Bush administration’s recognition that “even winning the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will not end the ‘Long War’ against violent extremism” is surprising. In 2004, when Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) expressed the same view, Bush smeared Kerry in two ads, posing the question “How can Kerry protect us if he doesn’t even understand the threat?”

Who was it who didn't understand the threat again, Georgie? Oh, right. That would be you.

It's a damned good thing we have term limits. I just hope they're enough. I haven't got time for a revolution, but if necessary, I'll pencil it in. This fuckery has got to stop.

Of Course He's Just Like Batman - In the Bizarro Universe

If I'd had any cookies before reading this Andrew Klavan excerpt, they would've been tossed:
What Bush and Batman Have in Common
July 25, 2008

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That’s not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a “W.”

You need glasses, you delusional fuckwit.
There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war.

You need a new brain, you delusional fuckwit.

Off your medication again, I see. Let's just take a moment to do some kicking with the spiked boots: Batman didn't ignore warnings that terrorists would strike in his city, stubborn stupidity and a habit of posing in flyboy outfits doesn't equal "fortitude" and "moral courage," and Batman fought strictly on the defense. He didn't go around starting wars against the wrong damned people and then proclaim himself a hero for it.

And I really don't think the Nolan brothers had Bush in mind when writing this film, except when they were writing the beating-information-out-of-people bits. I noticed they were a lot more thoughtful about the morality of that, now that Monkey Boy George has shown us exactly why such things as torture are banned by international treaty.

I see your insanity continues to spew forth. What now?

Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

Batman is villified and despised for being a dangerous, unknown quantity outside the law who also really fucks things up for the buggers getting rich off of other people's misery. Bush is villified because he's a raving fucktard who thinks he's entitled to do whatever he wants. Batman struggles with the morality of what he does and makes every attempt to put serious limits on his own actions. Bush uses other people's fear and uncertainty to grab as much power as he can, and you'd have to break his hands to pry it out of them. Batman ensures that the tools he has that could lead to people's rights being violated are used for uber-brief periods of time, in as limited a way as possible, and then immediately ensures their destruction, further adding a layer of security by placing the really noxious tools in the hands of a man guaranteed not to abuse them. Bush recognizes no limits in either time or scope, places the dangerous toys in the hands of completely evil fuckers, and uses every trick possible to permanently expand his toolbox. Is that enough, or should I go on?

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

You just pulled that one out of your ass, buddy. It reeks of fresh bullshit.

Batman limits himself to one thing: making the dangerous people stop hurting the mostly innocent people. He won't kill a criminal. He won't use any more force than absolutely necessary. He hounds them only to the gates of Arkham, even when he knows there's a chance they'll break loose and wreak havoc again. You see, he has morals and a sense of proportion - neither of which your hero Georgie Boy possesses. He operates outside of the law, but he's not lawless. Bushie, on the other hand, uses the excuse of "criminal sects" redefine the law to his liking, to accrue power to himself, and to satiate his own thirst for war.

By the way, just so you're made aware of this, because I know it's not something you and your reality-challenged buddies consider very often, especially not when you're getting all hard over the latest round of torture and mayhem on 24, but: Batman operates in a fictional world. It's not real. Heroes in fiction and heroes in real life sometimes have points in common (although not in this case), but they're not the same. Fictional heroes, in fact, would quite often get their arses thrown in prison in this reality, no matter what kind of good they might be doing.

Things that work in fiction don't work in reality. If Bush and his cronies had understood that, we wouldn't have had government fucking officials citing Jack Bauer when trying to explain why torturing people is the right thing to do. The Jack Bauer Defense doesn't make torture right. Saying that Batman's feared and hated for the good he does doesn't mean that Bush is feared and hated for doing good - he's feared and hated because he's a power-mad little fucktard who's shat all over this country's laws, ideals, economy and identity. He's hated and feared because he deserves to be.

No amount of trying to equate him with Batman is going to change that. Get the fuck over it, Andrew. That big W on Georgie's chest doesn't stand for Wonderman, it stands for Whackjob.

Welcome to reality. Enjoy your brief stay.

There's a Problem With God's Sequencing Here

We're all used to very religious people latching on to a coincidence and claiming the hand of God (or other deity of choice). But this is the clearest example of muddled thinking I've come across in a very long time.

Let's set the scene first:

INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis woman believes a higher power helped her and her two young great-granddaughters survive a shooting this week.

Before stray bullets from a gun battle ripped through her car, Charlotte Thompson didn’t even know what gunfire sounded like.

Common enough situation, o' course: innocent people caught in the crossfire survive and thank God for it. We'll skip ahead a bit here to see why Charlotte Thompson thinks she has better evidence than most for that divine intervention: we discover that the bullet hit a Bible, minced a Sunday school book, and ended up lodging in a watermelon:

“Right in the watermelon. Didn’t come out of the watermelon,” Thompson said. “The word of God and the Lord’s power saved. He sent the bullet into the watermelon.”

All righty, then. Now, let's backtrack a bit, follow the path of the bullet, and discover why Dana choked on her drink:

Her 10-year-old great granddaughter was sitting in the back seat, shot in the stomach. “We heard this pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,” Thompson said. "Then Shyann said, ‘Oh! I’m shot!’”

“I turned around and looked and she raised up her shirt and I could see the bullet,” Thompson said. "I could see where it went in and where it went out."


Police later showed Thompson the path the bullet took through her car. She now believes that path was guided by God.

“Came through the door, hit her, then it went to the Bible,” she said. The Bible was sitting on the seat between the two girls. “It went in here and come out here and it shredded my Sunday School book. The Word of God slowed the bullet so that it didn’t kill anybody."

Did anyone else spot the problem with the sequence? The word of bloody God didn't stop the bullet until after the child got shot in the stomach.

If this is the best God can do with stopping bullets, I think I'm better off an atheist, thanks so much. I'll just line my car with hardcover copies of The Lord of the Rings. That's actually thicker than most Bibles: I doubt I'll even need a supplementary Silmarillion or The Hobbit for added protection. Even then, I won't be claiming the power of Tolkien influenced a screaming chunk of high-velocity lead.

Why is it that belief in gods leads to such horrifically muddled thinking? I mean, do you really have such a tremendous urge to glorify God that it allows you to ignore the fact a ten-year old got shot in the stomach? Is it really okay that your God's this inept?

At least with the laws of physics, you're not left wondering what the kid might have done to piss them off.

I'll Never be the Same

Last night, I dreamt of Baby Jesus butt plugs.

Fuck you very much, Warren.

30 July, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

One step closer to my dream of seeing Rove handcuffed and marched off to jail:

Three weeks ago, Karl Rove blew off a congressional subpoena and refused to testify on the scandal surrounding the politicization of the Justice Department. Today, the House Judiciary Committee recommended contempt charges against Rove for his defiance.

The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines, 20 to 14, to cite Mr. Rove for defying its subpoena to testify in an inquiry into improper political meddling in the department.

“Mr. Rove has left us no option,” said Representative John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the committee. Mr. Conyers expressed regret that the committee had been forced to use its subpoena power.

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) noted in a memo, “Mr. Rove has refused even to appear before the Committee and assert whatever privileges that he believes may apply to his testimony, relying on excessively broad and legally insufficient claims of ‘absolute immunity’ — never recognized by any court — in declining to appear.”

The vote doesn’t literally cite Rove for contempt, but rather, recommends that the full House hold Rove in contempt through a floor vote.

This is delightful. I think we'll have to have an open bar tonight, my darlings. To Rove, and his new roommate Bubba! May he get exactly what he deserves.

In the "this is rich, innit" department, we have Sam Brownback wringing his hands over Chinese spying:

Yesterday, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) expressed fear that “foreign-owned hotels in China face the prospect of ’severe retaliation’ if they refuse to install government software that can spy on Internet use by hotel guests coming to watch the summer Olympic games.” Brownback, who is pushing the Senate to urge China to reverse course, said China’s action is “not right” and “not in the Olympic spirit.”

This morning on CNN, asked by host John Roberts if China’s action amounts to “spying,” Brownback continued his outrage:

BROWNBACK: This is the public security bureau in China requiring the installation of hardware that they can listen to anybody and everybody’s and their communications and their recordings that are sent over the internet in a real-time purpose or over long-term. That’s spying, John. […] Your
internet communications can all be monitored in a real time basis by the public security bureau of the Chinese government. I think they’re clearly intent upon spying. they’re going to be spying.

Uh, Sam? You've got no ground to stand on there, buddy. You've been humping virtually limitless, warrentless wiretapping in America for half of forever how. How's that different, pray tell?

When asked about the difference between the Chinese and American spying practices, Brownback said, “We don’t put the hardware and software on hotels.” He added that the Chinese program can be used on journalists,” “on athletes,” “on their families,” “democracy advocates,” and “human rights advocates ” — seemingly oblivious that all these groups could be spied on here as well. (HT: Atrios)

Riiight. Go on, pull the other one, it's got an NSA agent on.

Right-wing fuckwits seem to have a terrible time with facts. They're totally blind to the fact that facts are still facts even when the facts say things you didn't want to hear:

In 2006, after the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) released a study showing that Democrats got more favorable coverage than Republicans, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly hailed the organization’s president, Dr. Robert Lichter, as “a truth-teller.” On his Fox News show, O’Reilly praised Lichter’s findings as definitive proof “that the media leans left” because “the stats are the stats.” [Fox News, 10/31/06]

But now that the CMPA has released a new study — using the same methodology — that found that ABC, NBC, and CBS have been tougher on Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently, O’Reilly has changed his tune about the validity of Lichter’s research.

See? We've got a dumbshit saying spying's wrong if another country's doing it, but not if America does it. And we've got an extraordinary fucktard saying that the methodology of a study is peachy-keen - unless that study doesn't say what he wants it to say, in which case, the methodology is wrong. You can't have your cake and eat it too, boys.

Someone get these people a ticket to reality, please.

The Right-Wing Death Machine

I've been meaning to do several posts: one on the shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, one on the disturbing rhetoric of violence and death that so obsesses the neocons, and an article in the National Review that spews hate even while it's preaching tolerance.

A post on Dawg's Blawg made me realize these things aren't separate issues at all. They're all tied together into one horrible cult of death. Forget the right-wing noise machine: they're not just noise. They haven't been since they got their bloody hands all over the federal government.

Dr. Dawg puts it in stark terms:

Far too many on the Right (with a few honourable exceptions) are pathologically obsessed with death, with hurting and killing other people. Whether it's capital punishment, endless wars, waterboarding,
easy access to
handguns, knee-jerk defences of police brutality and sadistic, racist southern sheriffs, or shooting abortion doctors, they lap it up and howl for more. And in the US they take it that extra mile: they would literally rather have their opponents tortured and/or killed than discuss the issues.

The leading lights of the liberal movement call for cooperation, toleration, and positive solutions to problems. They reach for science, reason, and diplomacy. The right reaches for weapons.

Listen to the rhetoric of their heroes:

This evening we learn from the Knoxville News that officers entering the home of murder Jim Adkisson "found Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder by radio talk show host Michael Savage, Let Freedom Ring by talk show host Sean Hannity, and The O'Reilly Factor, by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly."

The presence of somebody's books in a mentally disturbed person's home does not make them accessories to a killing. But right-wing rhetoric toward liberals and humanists like those who attended the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has been exceptionally violent for years. Liberal groups are often called "Nazi" or "Nazi-like" by O'Reilly (he even said that about our own Arianna Huffington). Savage says he'd "hang every lawyer" who tried to establish constitutional rights for Guantanamo prisoners, describes Obama as an "Afro-Leninist," and said the folks at Media Matters were "brownshirts." He describes Rep. Wexler as a "Nazi" and calls Nancy Pelosi a "Mussolini."

As for Hannity, he said that "there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of 'em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the speaker (of the House)." Think about it: "worth fighting and dying for."

And that's just a sampler.

Ann Coulter says liberals should be beaten with baseball bats and tried for treason (she's not clear about the order in which these events are to take place.) Dick Morris says they're "traitors" who should be decapitated.

You don't hear that from the left. There may be a few isolated instances, but it's not our heroes, not our talk show hosts and writers and opinion-makers, certainly not our political leaders, who call for the deaths anyone and everyone who has the audacity to hold a contrary opinion. When have you heard of a Democratic presidential candidate singing about bombing Iran? Bet you a dollar you can't name an instance.

It fascinates and horrifies me, this fixation on violence from the very same people who claim the upper hand on morality. They bitch about violence in movies and video games, wring their sweaty hands and try to pass legislation "to protect the children," and yet their political speech is filled with more vivid violence than you'll ever find in Grand Theft Auto. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

They bleat endlessly about the sanctity of human life, then murder abortion doctors, leave unwanted children to languish in abuse, filth, and poverty, and urge the death penalty on the retarded and the young. This tells me that their concern for fetuses has nothing at all to do with human life, and everything to do with controlling women. Everything they do is about control. And if a control freak can't manipulate people with superior arguments and persuasion, well, violence controls too, right?

So they resort to fear. They call for the deaths of their opponents because they can't defeat the living. They want power and authority. There's no greater power and authority than that which comes from holding a person's life in your hands. Just ask any serial killer.

Even when their hearts are superficially in the right place, the disturbing fixation on violence and death is manifestly present. Ed Brayton at Dispatches From The Culture Wars found a right-winger who wants to do away with Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and on the surface it seems like this is a person with his head screwed on straight:

Here's a shock: Deroy Murdock, a contributing editor to the National Review Online, has come out strongly in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. It's quite a powerful essay, in fact. He contrasts the fact that the Pentagon is continually lowering standards and granting exceptions to get people with violent felony convictions on their record into the military while throwing out gay soldiers with impeccable service records and badly needed skills:

Between 2006 and 2007, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently revealed, convicted felons accepted by the Marine Corps rose 68 percent, from 208 to 350. Equivalent Army admissions rocketed 105 percent, from 249 to 511. Between 2003 and 2006, U.C. Santa Barbara's Michael D. Palm Center calculates, "106,768 individuals with serious criminal histories were admitted" to the armed forces.

Last year, the Army gave moral waivers to 106 applicants convicted of burglary, 15 of felonious break-ins, 11 of grand-theft-auto, and eight of arson. It also admitted five rape/sexual-assault convicts, two felony child molesters, two manslaughter convicts, and two felons condemned for "terrorist threats including bomb threats."

"The Army seems to be lowering standards in training to accommodate lower-quality recruits," RAND Corporation researcher Beth Asch observed at a May 12 Heritage Foundation defense-policy seminar in Colorado Springs.

Conversely, expelled military personnel include Arabic linguists and intelligence specialists who help crush America's foes in the War on Terror. "Don't Ask" has ousted at least 58 soldiers who speak Arabic, 50 Korean, 42 Russian, 20 Chinese, nine Farsi, and eight Serbo-Croatian -- all trained at the prestigious Defense Language Institute. Al-Qaeda intercepts need translation, and Uncle Sam may need people who can walk around Tehran with open ears. Yet these dedicated gay citizens now are ex-GIs.

Ye gods, that almost sounds sane, and he's talking about teh gays!!11!!1! Aside from that little "crush America's foes in the War on Terror" screed, we could be talking to an ordinary, rational, reasonable human being.

By now you're asking, "What's the catch?" So glad you asked. It doesn't take long before his true conservative colors seep through like bloodstains:

"Don't Ask" should yield to equality: Sexual orientation should be irrelevant while inappropriate sexual conduct -- gay, straight, or otherwise -- should be punished. Our enemies are Islamofascists who murder Americans, not gay patriots who unravel terrorist plots and introduce jihadists to Allah.

Uh-huh. There it is, the real reason for this call for "equality." He wants teh gays to go after "those murdering Islamofascists" and kill them. As long as they're killing Mooslims and not having sex (you noticed that little "inappropriate sexual conduct" caveat, I trust, and realized that applies to any sort of sex a gay person might engage in), gays are okay by him.

We're right back to the death machine again.

Let's sum up the right-wing philosophy: Anyone who disagrees with their politics is a traitor and should suffer and die. Anyone with an alternative lifestyle is a moral leper and should suffer and die, unless that person happens to be useful to the military, in which case they can live as long as they're killing America's enemies. America shouldn't negotiate with other countries: other countries should do what we say or die. Religious dissenters should suffer and die. People who mistreat a communion wafer should suffer and die. And on and on.

But they won't do the killing and torturing themselves. Oh, no. They have people for that. After all, why get your hands dirty with blood and gore when it's so much cleaner to get others to do it for you?

Fuckwits this obsessed with killing absolutely anyone and everyone they don't like shouldn't be in the mainstream. They shouldn't be a part of our politics, government, or media. They shouldn't be in any position where they can encourage or order others to carry out their fantasies of death and mayhem. They truly should be on the lunatic fringe, not front-and-center. Why the fuck have we tolerated these assholes? Why have we allowed dangerous infants to play with the adults?

It's time we shoved them out of power. Time we isolate and contain them.

But I won't use their rhetoric. I'm old enough and wise enough to know that death is not the answer.

Ridicule is. Shame is. Information is.

Show people how ridiculous these lackwits are.

Show those who admire and respect them realize that they should actually be ashamed.

And never, ever relent on the facts. We can start with the fact that it's not McCain and Bush's policies of belligerence, so enthusiastically cheered by the bloodthirsty right, that work to keep America safe. If they were enough, Bush & Cronies wouldn't be dashing to embrace Obama's policies of direct talks and troop withdrawls.

Let's shut the right-wing death machine down before they get us all killed.

Gracias, Gracias Mil Veces

(Oh, dear lord, I didn't realize the word for "times" looks almost exactly like "feces." Silly español. Don't take that the wrong way.)

I just wanted to give you all a huge thank you, En Tequila Es Verdad style. I expected a few comments from the regulars, not the flood from new, old and lurkers alike, when I asked for your input on this blog's content.

You've given me a plethora of fresh directions. I'm reassured that there's something I'm doing right. And that's going to ensure that this community of cantina commentators continues without going stale. I owe you for that. You all drink for free.

This blog is all about you guys. I know it looks like politics, religion and the occasional bit of science, but underneath it all is you. Never forget that. Keep the suggestions coming, and don't be afraid to make demands in the future. I'll be right here, listening to every word.

Salud, amigos y amigas.

I Love the Smell of Impeachment in the Morning

Democrats.com has a delicious little petition for you to start your day with:

Support Rep. Kucinich's Articles of Impeachment

Rep. Dennis Kucinich performed a heroic service for our Nation by introducing 35 Articles of Impeachment against President George W. Bush.

Rep. Kucinich thoroughly researched and documented every single article. Any one Article would be sufficient grounds for impeaching Bush and removing him from office; taken together, the case for impeachment is overwhelming and urgent.

I thank Rep. Kucinich for his true patriotism and I urge you, my Representative and Senators, to fully support all of his Articles of Impeachment.

Signing things like this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Especially when I get to append my own commentary:

I don't know how this country is going to be able to stand before the world and proclaim support for democracy and the rule of law when we've allowed Bush and cronies to flagrantly violate both. We must impeach: for our country, and for the world. And considering that a President Cheney would be a nightmare, I urge you to impeach Dick Cheney as well - he's certainly done more than enough to justify it.

How I love democracy in the age of the internets. The only thing it can't give me is the pleasure of shaking George W. Bush by the hand, looking him in the eye, and saying, "My signature helped kick your ass out of the White House, you evil lying lackwit."

Hmm. This gives me an idea for when I'm rich and famous - finagling invites from important people I despise so I can explain my opinion of their fuckery up close, personal, and above all publicly. I'll have to bring you all with me. You'd make a hell of an entourage, my darlings.

Well, you can be my virtual entourage for now. Go, sign, envision us as a legion striking terror into the hearts of the powerful and terminally stupid asshats running our government, and let me know if you think of a suitable name for us.

29 July, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Make sure your nitro pills are handy and you have doctors standing by: Bush & McCain are wrong. Shocking, I know:

Back in 2004, Bush told a Florida audience, “[John] Kerry said, and I quote, ‘The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation.’ (Audience boos.) I disagree…. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. With those attacks, the terrorists and supporters declared war on the United States of America — and war is what they got. (Audience applauds.)”

Bush, pleased with himself and the reaction, repeated the attack again and again and again. The point was obvious — paint an image in which Bush battles terrorists with the most powerful military in the world, while Kerry fights al Qaeda with cops and lawyers.

Four years later, McCain is picking up where Bush left off. As it turns out, Bush and McCain are clearly wrong.

The United States can defeat al-Qaida if it relies less on force and more on policing and intelligence to root out the terror group’s leaders, a new study

“Keep in mind that terrorist groups are not eradicated overnight,” said the study by the federally funded Rand research center, an organization that counsels the Pentagon.

Its report said that the use of military force by the United States or other countries should be reserved for quelling large, well-armed and well-organized insurgencies, and that American officials should stop using the term “war on terror” and replace it with “counterterrorism.”

Seth Jones, the lead author of the study and a Rand political scientist, told Reuters, “Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests there is no battlefield solution to terrorism. The United States has the necessary
instruments to defeat al-Qaida, it just needs to shift its strategy.”

Ya don’t say.

Of course, the study doesn't address the habit of Bush & Co. to swat flies with fighter jets, which is where the real problem lies. These fuckers would reach for a military brigade to deal with a hangnail. They've got a pathological fixation on war as the solution to absolutely everything, and their base gorges themselves on the perceived glory. In other words, the whole lot of them are sick, morbid fuckheads.

They've also got an unhealthy fascination with drilling. So much so, in fact, that McCain's happily lying like a rug to sing the gospel that offshore drilling is the answer to all our problems:

For crying out loud — when John McCain isn’t lying about foreign policy, he’s lying about domestic policy.

John McCain again pushed for offshore drilling Monday, and suggested it could provide relief to American consumers “within a matter of months.”

“There are some instances within a matter of months, they could be getting additional oil. In some cases, it would be a matter of a year,” McCain said at a press conference in Bakersfield, California. “In some cases, it could take longer than that depending on the location and whether or not you use existing rigs or you have to install new rigs. But there is abundant resources in the view of the
people who are in the business that could be exploited in a matter of months.”

No serious person could possibly believe this. John McCain couldn’t possibly believe this. It’s pure fantasy. The oil industry doesn’t even have the necessary equipment to start drilling the coasts for new oil, so there’s nothing to “exploit.” As Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recently explained, “It takes at least two years to process the new leases. Industry experts tell us that there’s a three- to five-year waiting list for new drilling ships and other equipment.”

It takes real chutzpah on the part of McCain to lie this blatantly. Indeed, we know McCain is lying in large part because he already inadvertently told us the truth. On June 23, McCain told a town-hall audience that “it may take some years” before the effects of coastal drilling are

This man just doesn't seem to understand that statements are now recorded on something we like to call "video," posted to this place called "YouTube," and can instantly be compared to the current completely contradictory statements to discover he's spouting what we like to call "bullshit." This man is too stupid to be president of a homeowner's association, much less the country. I hope voters aren't too stupid to realize that.

They really should sit up and pay attention when Mr. Foreign Policy Expert, living in fantasyland where ponies abound in Iraq, spouts total bullshit like this:

In late 2002 and early 2003, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was a fixture on cable television, assuring Americans that an invasion of Iraq would be “easy.” “I believe that the success
will be fairly easy,” McCain told CNN in September 2002. “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily,” he told MSNBC the following January.

Over the years, McCain has often claimed that he made never made rosy predictions, saying in 2006 that he “fully understood from the beginning” that Iraq “would be a very, very difficult undertaking.” In January 2007, however, he wasn’t sure what he believed. First, he said that he knew it was “going to be long and hard and tough,” but six days later he claimed, “I said the military operation would be easy. It was easy.”

On Larry King Live last night, when asked about the decision to invade, McCain went back to saying that he predicted America would have “an easy victory” and that “we did":

MCCAIN: I think we did the right thing. I think that it was a colossal intelligence failure on the part of the United States and every other county as to whether he had them or not. But again, I would remind you, I said we would have an easy victory. We did.

Riiiight. If that was such an easy victory, then why the fuck are we still there?

I think the next election is going to be a referendum on reality. I hope to fuck reality wins.

Soliciting Opinions

I feel like I'm getting stuck in a rut. Religion, politics, politics, religion, tiny bit o' science, pinch o' writing, religion, politics, lather, rinse, repeat.

Beating up on right-wing fuckwits is losing its lustre. The more I beat, the longer the queue gets. I'm beginning to think they like it, the sick little masochists.

So I'm opening a thread here. Get your opinions heard. What brings you to this blog? What do you want more of? What topics would you like me to tackle? What candidates do you have for the Smack-o-Matic? Do you want me to hold up more of my navel lint for your inspection, or would you rather I keep personal life bullshit out of it? Does it even matter to you lot what I yammer about, or is my brilliance so astounding that you'd read my grocery list and count it the high point of your life?

(Yes, my tongue was firmly in my cheek at that last. Couldn't you see the bulge?)

Just give me some bloody ideas. Throw me red meat. Send links, if you've got 'em. This blog isn't for me - it's for you. So tell me what you want. Even if all you want is religion-politics-politics-religion etc., that's just fine - there's certainly no shortage of material. I just want to make sure all my darlings are getting what they need.

As long as you don't ask me for porn, we're all good.

When Persuasion Doesn't Work, Try Threats, Eh?

I'm sure most of you have read the story of Rick's pretty pamphlet by now. If you're one of the five non-Pharyngula readers, go ahead and click through - we'll wait.

(Dude - you know what we Pharyngula fans need to do this Christmas? Rewrite all the carols to the theme of squid. Nice, eh?)

You guys back? Excellent. So, I'm sure you noticed a pattern to that church's pamphlet: it started out all warm and fluffy and then bludgeoned you with the "You're gonna rot in HELL if you don't BELIEVE!!1!!1!!!" These things always end in threats, and frequently tears, don't they?

It brought to mind one of my favorite stories from Garrett. His friend Steve Stone, who's a pagan and a Jew (great combo!) got a letter from one of the local churches "inviting" him to join. He announced this to the pagan church he belongs to one outing.

They all crowded 'round. "Steve, what'd it say?"

"Well," Steve said, "it was kinda like this." He put on his best Mafia don voice and paraphrased, "You come to church, you pay your tithe, we don't gotta problem. You don't come to church, you don't pay your tithe, we gots a problem."

Nailed it!

Every single proselytizer I've spoken to has come down to the same thing in the end: threats. The answer to "Why should I believe?" isn't "Because it will enrich your life beyond measure." It's always, "Because if you don't, you'll burn in Hell." Some of them don't state it quite so baldly, but that's always the subtext. They get that fearful look in their eyes. They go pale and clammy and animated and babble about how it's not a good idea to piss of God.

You know something? If God's that much of an asshole, I'd rather end up in Hell anyway, thanks ever so much. At least the people there will be quite a bit more interesting, and from what I've read of Satan, he could hold a lively conversation and likes good music.

If you have to resort to threats to get people to convert, your religion's got some serious issues.

And what the fuck is up with these sunlit-clouds motifs? Every evangelical religious site and pamphlet is infested with kitschy sunlit-cloud photos. It's so vapid. And it's totally at odds with the whole "God loves you unless you don't toe the line - then he's really gonna be pissed" motif. Why not illustrate with something like this:

28 July, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Something tells me some Republicons are awfully embarrassed to be seen in their party's company:

A few months ago, Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican and former chairman of the NRCC, told the WaPo, “The House Republican brand is so bad right now that if it were a dog food, they’d take it off the shelf.”

Has the GOP “brand” improved since? Apparently not.

Nine of 12 targeted Republicans running in the most competitive Senate races this fall are either skipping the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., or have not decided whether to attend.

Among those who will not attend are Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who is not close to presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is a McCain loyalist. Stevens and Collins will use the convention week to focus on their campaigns.

Also sending regrets is former Rep. Bob Schaffer of Colorado, running for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard.

Six others — Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Gordon Smith of Oregon and challengers John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico are still on the fence. Their spokesman offered responses ranging from “there are no plans yet” to “no decisions have been made.”

Now, I can understand these vulnerable Republican incumbents not wanting to be photographed alongside George W. Bush. I can even understand some of them, particularly those in traditionally “blue” states, not wanting to be seen delivering speeches at the Republican

But these guys don’t want to go to their party’s quadrennial gathering at all? Do they think voters might forget which party they belong to if they steer clear of St. Paul altogether?

Apparently they do. Good luck with that.

They have plenty to be embarrassed over. Bush has been an enormous failure who broke every promise he made. Observe:

By one count, the president has publicly vowed to “solve problems, not pass them on to future presidents and future generations” upwards of 400 times.

As the clock starts to run out on Bush’s presidency, we know, of course, that the opposite is true. Global warming, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, a weak economy … not only is Bush passing monumental problems onto his successor, he’s created new ones that didn’t exist when he got there.

This is especially true when it comes to the federal budget. Bush inherited the largest surplus ever recorded ($128 billion), but his fiscal legacy is a painful one.

The White House on Monday predicted a record deficit of $490 billion for the 2009 budget year, a senior government official told CNN.

The deficit would amount to roughly 3.5 percent of the nation’s $14 trillion economy.The official pointed to a faltering economy and the bipartisan $170 billion stimulus package that passed earlier this year for the record deficit.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Bush “will be remembered as the most fiscally irresponsible president in our nation’s history,” adding, “If they gave out Olympic medals for fiscal irresponsibility, President Bush would take the gold, silver and bronze. With his eight years in office, he will have had the five highest deficits ever recorded. And the highest of those deficits is now projected to come in 2009, as he leaves office.”

He's also leaving a legacy of legal nightmares for his successor:

Remember Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and the team of Bushies who blatantly politicized the employment practices at the Justice Department? Including the selection of judges? In case there were any lingering doubts, the Bush gang’s conduct was apparently literally criminal.

Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general’s report released today.

Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said.

Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs, “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?” the report said. One former Justice Department official told investigators she had complained that Goodling was asking interviewees for their views on abortion, according to the report.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. The Justice Department’s inspector general is releasing the results of a lengthy investigation in four parts, and this is the second. The first was released about a month ago, and documented six years of illegal hiring practices relating to the Justice Department recruiting new attorneys (those with “liberal-sounding resumes” were barred from employment). Today’s report documents the allegedly illegal conduct from Goodling and Sampson (among others). Still to come are reports on hiring problems in the civil rights division and the dubious purge of nine U.S. attorneys.

That said, today’s report, which is online (.pdf), is a doozy. The Bush gang wasn’t just involved in blatantly criminal acts, their conduct had consequences for the nation.

And that conduct will continue to have consequences, for many years to come. Cleaning up after Bush is going to be a task akin to cleaning up after a herd of two-year olds on crack.

My sincerest sympathies go out to the next president. Unless, of course, it's McCain, who's proven himself too addled to clean up after himself, much less the two-year old terror that is the Bush regime.

I weep for America.

Pimping Out My Co-Blogger

Cam Lee, aka Chaos Lee, has hired me as his pimp. I accepted the request with alarcrity.

I've been reading his stories and listening to the evolution of his novel for well over a decade now, and it's about bloody time some of his writing goes public.

He's going to kick the collective asses of Warren Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and any other author you care to name whose books leave you gasping, "That was the most fucked-up thing I've ever read in my entire fucking life."

I've spent the majority of my adult life wishing I could be even a fraction of the writer he is. My work seems plodding and pedestrian compared to the constant mindfuck that spills from his pen. He brutalizes words into singing for him. Setting, mood, theme, plot and character all end up twisted like a hangman's noose in a hurricane.

Even a simple description of his day turns into something else again:

Today's been a bit of a paranoid day. When people at work seem to actually know I'm sitting at my desk and not working and looking for ales on whiskey or making voodoo dolls that not-so-coincidentally resemble certain directors at certain corporations. But anyway, I need to find thought suppressants because they've become loud. People are hearing them.

The risk here is that not only will the bastards get forewarning, but they might try and steal my brain. And I like my brain. It sponges up the whiskey my liver rejects.

See what I mean?

The above excerpt comes from Cam Lee's Chaos Hangover, his new MySpace Page, where he's posted the short story "Halo." Go read "Halo." Then go read everything else. And then go demand more.

Because as good as "Halo" is, it's only the barest tip of a fucking enormous iceberg. Trust me when I tell you it gets a lot more bizarre, dark and mindblowing.

I know. I've read. And I've never been the same.

27 July, 2008

Ahoy the Ship!

The third voyage of the HMS Elitist Bastard has just sailed at Pharyngula.

My darlings... we have a long way to go before we can match PZ for elitistism or bastardry. But I have a cunning two-fold plan, "a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel."

Firstly, as we celebrate this sailing, we ensure we buy PZ many drinks for his selfless service. Many strong drinks.

Secondly, we take some lessons in bastardry from Blackadder.

Let the lesson begin...

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Remember, my darlings, it's Obama who's the presumptuous one. Not McCain. McCain's not presumtuous in the least (h/t Digby):

This image is going to give me nightmares tonight, guaranteed.

McCain may be making assumptions based on the fact that the Republicons have gotten very good at stealing elections. Digby has an excellent rundown of some of the major shennanigans, along with a warning so obvious we've missed it:

This voting stuff isn't going away, and if anything it's going to get more intense as Republicans get more desperate. I can't believe that this article didn't get more attention when it came out a few weeks ago. There's no question that this will became an enormous issue literally out of nowhere this fall.

Election officials worry that the state's home foreclosure problem will pose a problem this November for voters still registered at their former address, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Voters in pivotal Ohio with outdated addresses face possible pre-election challenges and trips to multiple polling places. They also are more likely to cast provisional ballots that might not be counted.

"It's a real issue," said Daniel Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor who specializes in elections. He wonders whether foreclosures might explain the increasing percentages of provisional votes cast between 2004 and Ohio's latest election, the presidential primary in March.

Ohio provided President Bush with an 118,000-vote victory in 2004, giving him the electoral votes he needed to win the election.

All of a sudden you're going to hear that these families forced out of their homes and relocated across the country are actually fraudsters trying to steal the election for Obama. The very fact of vacancy at the addresses where these people are registered makes hundreds of thousands of people prime suspects for voter caging. And you can be sure that re-registering isn't paramount on their minds, either. In battleground states like Nevada, one out of every 120 or so homes is in foreclosure right now. This seems like a huge under-the-radar issue that is receiving literally no attention.

Time to shine the bright light of scrutiny on the Republicons. We don't want another election stolen out from under us. I don't know about you, but the idea of McCain's little "President McCain" graphic is something I want to see remain presumptuous, not prophetic. So if you know someone unfortunate enough to have suffered foreclosure or any other uprooting experience, be a dear and make sure they get properly registered. Their votes need to count. After all, it's not likely that McLame and his Incredible Tax Fairy with Magic Budget Dust are going to be able to help people who've lost their homes, jobs and possibly hope due to Bush's insane policies.

In other outrageous news, let's turn to what one of McCain's fundraisers is up to these days. I'm not copying in the entire post - you need to head over to ThinkProgress.org to read it for yourself - but here's the gist: Chevron is battling an $8-16 billion judgement against them for environmental damage in Ecuador's rainforest. One of McCain's top fundraisers is pushing hard to ensure they don't have to pay for their pollution. Outrageous enough, and your blood pressure is sure to rise reading the details.

Here's the icing:

So far, Chevron’s power push has resulted in “a senior Chevron exec” meeting with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte “on the matter.” “One Chevron lobbyist” told Newsweek that the company’s argument to the Bush administration is: “We can’t let little countries
screw around with big companies like this—companies that have made big investments around the world.”


But this is exactly how these people think: the corporate juggernauts and the Republicons in their pockets. Dems end up in corporate pockets, too, but not to this extent. Not to where they can get away with having their major fundraiser lobby on behalf of a corporate polluter. Not to where they think sovereign countries have no right to "screw around" with the corporations.

This is 19th century thinking, people. This is colonialism, imperialism, and a sense of entitlement so huge it should leave you sputtering. They think their money entitles them to own the world.

And McCain believes them. Otherwise, why have so many lobbyists on his staff? Why such idiotic tax policies guaranteed to screw the poor and throw cash at the rich? Why repeat every fucking Bush talking point nearly word-for-word?

Don't be deceived by St. John playing Mr. Common Man on the campaign trail. He's a corporate bitch, and he's a lying, pandering, slandering political hack, and he's going to give us four more years of absolute political decomposition. The White House isn't even rotting at this point: it's gone beyond that, so defiled and polluted that I'm surprised it doesn't explode like a week-old corpse in a humid room:

Last night on PBS, Bill Moyers interviewed investigative journalist Jane Mayer and mentioned that in Mayer’s new book, she notes that FBI agents refused to participate in the CIA’s interrogation of terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay because they determined it to be “borderline torture.” Moyers then asked, “Who were some of the other conservative heroes, as you call them, in your book?”

Mayer remembered one top Justice Department lawyer and “very conservative member of this administration” who said that after participating in White House meetings authorizing torture, he believed that “lunatics had taken over the country.”

Mayer said two other top DOJ lawyers had to develop a system of speaking codes because they feared they were being wiretapped while others described an “atmosphere of intimidation,” mainly from Vice President Dick Cheney:

MAYER: There was such an atmosphere of intimidation. … They felt so endangered in some ways that, at one point, two of the top lawyers from the Justice Department developed this system of talking in codes to each other because they thought they might be being wiretapped…by their own government. They felt like they might be kind of weirdly in physical danger. They were actually scared to stand up to Vice President Cheney.

That's how bad it is. High-level government employees are afraid of being physically harmed by the administration. They're terrified of their own government. This sounds like the USSR, not America. And to retain this power of terror and fear, to stay in control and ride American democracy and prosperity down its death throes, people like Bush, Cheney and the evil fuckers running McCain will lie, cheat, and steal their way to victory.

Don't let them do it.

Sunday Sensational Science

Al Gore issued America a challenge on global warming that left me stunned: A Generational Challenge to Repower America. No other political speech has ever galvanized me like this. We're used to hearing scientists sound the alarm and tell the world it needs to act now to stop the slide into climate chaos. No one else has ever come out with such force to say we can.

We have the science. We have the technology. We have the need. All that we need now is the will, and Gore's speech has the power to give us that. He takes something enormous and makes it seem almost simple.

So I'm handing Sunday Sensational Science over to him. I've excerpted key points from his speech, and I hope you send this to friends, family, coworkers, and politicians. They need to hear that clean energy and freedom from fossil fuels is possible. Not in 50 years, or 30, or 20, but in 10.

Global warming is real. But even if you don't believe that, there are other critical reasons why we should still work together to make clean energy our immediate future.

I don't remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse - much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland's largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.


Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees estabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an "energy tsunami" that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn't it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.


I'm convinced that one reason we've seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately - without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective - they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges - the economic, environmental and national security crises.


But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we're holding the answer to all of them right in our hand. The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels...

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.


Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans - in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen....

To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I've seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home.

Of course there are those who will tell us this can't be done. Some of the voices we hear are the defenders of the status quo - the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current system, no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay. But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise. As one OPEC oil minister observed, "The Stone Age didn't end because of a shortage of stones."

To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world's scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don't act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover
from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down.


When President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many people doubted we could accomplish that goal. But 8 years and 2 months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles. At present, for example, we do not have a unified national grid that is sufficiently advanced to link the areas where the sun shines and the wind blows to the cities in the East and the West that need the electricity. Our national electric grid is critical infrastructure, as vital to the health and security of our economy as our highways and telecommunication networks. Today, our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than $120 billion dollars a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.


Of course the greatest obstacle to meeting the challenge of 100 percent renewable electricity in 10 years may be the deep dysfunction of our politics and our self-governing system as it exists today. In recent years, our politics has tended toward incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests, alternating with occasional baby steps in the right direction. Our democracy has become sclerotic at a time when these crises require boldness.

It is only a truly dysfunctional system that would buy into the perverse logic that the short-term answer to high gasoline prices is drilling for more oil ten years from now.


We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president's term. It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest.

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge - for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It's time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

This is a generational moment. A moment when we decide our own path and our collective fate. I'm asking you - each of you - to join me and build this future. Please join the WE campaign at wecansolveit.org. We need you. And we need you now. We're committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership.


We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history. Our entire civilization depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.

Drink Specials

This is a cantina. Alcohol should be involved (especially considering the subjects we discuss - alcohol is practically a necessity). Therefore, we're going to start publishing some house specialties.

Where else would we start but with a margarita? And not just any margarita, mind you.

Dana's Margarita Magnífico

José Cuervo Tradicional
Triple Sec
100% pure Key lime juice
Brown Sugar (seriously)

In step numero uno, combine your water, brown sugar, and Key lime juice to make lime aide. Sweeten to taste.

In step numero dos, stir in a goodly amount of Tradicional and just a smidgeon of Triple Sec.

Serve over ice. Proceed to oblivion.

You may ask, why brown sugar? I've made the lime aide with regular ol' white sugar, and it's all right. But the brown sugar - oh, honey, you'd be amazed at the difference! People who despise tequila and have never enjoyed margaritas suck these down like candy. I once spent a frantic evening doing nothing but mixing more margaritas because of all the buggers who'd assured me they never drink 'em, but they'd try a little taste... okay, a little more... may I have another pitcher, please?

So that's House Specialty Numero Uno. I'm calling upon all of you to email me your delightful, unique, bizarre, or just plain devastating drink recipes so we can get a full bar going. I especially call upon Chaos Lee to share the secret of his Sambuca Shake. I have many happy memories of that shake, and so should you all.

No Substitutions Allowed

Accept no substitutes!

Some time back, I laid out the series of extremely unlikely events that would convince me God exists, and takes a close interest in the affairs of human beings. One of those events was God personally bringing a hopelessly smitten Christian Bale to my door.

This has not, needless to say, happened.

I've been promoted at work. One of the managers of my new department looks like Christian Bale's brother. The resemblance is uncanny, right down to the way their mouths move when they talk. And yes, I'm thoroughly enjoying this, and no, not stupid enough to try to start anything. Just savoring the eye truffles.

The reason I bring this up is because two of my friends have now asked me, in the snarkiest tones imaginable, if this has brought me any closer to believing in God. Ha ha ha very funny, guys.

And the answer is, no.

I'll only accept originals, thank you so very much. Any god wanting to convince me of his existence is gonna have to do a little better than a man who resembles but is not identical to Christian Bale. Not to mention, there's the small complication of this man being a supervisor. You know what? If this is God's gift to me in order to prove his existence, he's one sadistic-ass motherfucker with a pathetic sense of humor.

There's also the small matter of the other points on the list. You see, it's just possible I could end up with a person who looks like Christian Bale someday. Stranger things have happened. But if everything on that list, point-by-point, happened exactly the way I spelled out, the odds would be astronomical enough I could accept that yes, God exists.

It won't happen. But life is going to throw up a variety of situations that vaguely resemble the points on that list, and my friends are going to spend the rest of our existence poking fun at me over it. My only consolation is that they're enjoying themselves all too thoroughly.

If only I'd known then what I know now....