Thursday, July 27, 2006

Colbert vs. the morning shows

I remember a while back when one of the major networks changed their morning show format to be news, not fluff. They made fun of the traditional morning show format (including the one they were switching from) with lines like "Big doings over seas, but first - is your pet psychic? We'll find out". I don't remember which one of ABCBSNBC it was, but the change failed miserably and they switched back to being mostly fluff. Sigh.

A long time ago, wanting news in the morning, I had switched from the network fluff morning shows to NPR, where the news is the news. I'm fortunate to also have a local Air America (and Jones Network) affiliate that I can also listen to, where the satire requires knowing the actual news. Note - this is not the left version of right-wing talk radio where fabrications and opinion are paraded as factual news. Instead most Air America and Jones program indeed present actual fact as fact, then go on to present their opinion and satire as opinion and satire. What a change from the dribble of the Rushes, O'Lielies and Hannities of the world.

Anyhoo, the point of this post is supposed to be Colbert vs. the morning shows. Funny stuff:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No bluff, Bush vetoes potential medical advances

When I posted the addendum to the stem cell research breakthrough, I really hoped dubya was bluffing about ignoring the will of the people and hampering medical research just to "play to his base" of extreme conservatives. Of course, the will of the people has little to do with his decisions.

During his tenure, Bush had never objected to a single thing done by the GOP-controlled Congress. He even went so far as to explain his lack of vetoing by saying "they give me exactly what I ask for". This means that every single pork-barrel project that crossed his desk was not worthy of shooting down. All the extreme corruption that's been going on for 5 years, wreaking havoc with our economy - none of it was vetoed.

However for the first time ever, Bush issued a veto - against stem cell research and the potential for medical advances that this research might hold. Bush would rather have the US fall behind in medical research, be dependent on other countries for such advances, and demand that in-vitro byproducts be thrown in the trash rather than utilized to potentially cure horrible diseases.

Despite sounding like rhetoric, "thrown in the trash" is perfectly accurate. In announcing his veto of scientific research, Bush carefully avoided saying what his decision really means. The truth is that in-vitro fertilization produces many blastulas, because the chance of any one growing into an embryo and hopefully into a human being is very low. Therefore, many eggs are fertilized, and implantation attempts (sometimes several are necessary) are made with many of them at a time. When the procedure is successful and the remaining blastulas are no longer needed, they are disposed of. They are thrown away as medical waste, much like a surgically removed tumor. That is what Bush's "sanctity of life" mandate means.

Research into human embryonic stem cells can utilize these cells as part of their search for cures to the diseases that afflict us. While merely speculation at this point, it is quite possible that this research can find cures for things like cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or diabetes. To know, we have to follow the ways of science, not extremist dogma.

Other than the extreme conservatives that preach that anything involving the word "stem" is evil, what benefits from Bush's stubborn ignorance of science? Other than his political polls with his base, that would be the diseases themselves.

(political cartoon credit to the following: Tom Toles, Tony Auth, Stuart Carlson, Ben Sargent, and Mike Thompson)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Giddy at death

I'm sure we all remember the festive attitude that the Bush administration took when they talked about going to war against the people of Iraq as a response to the 9/11 attacks. I can still picture Rummy smiling and nearly laughing when he described "shock and awe".

Well, now that other wars are being seeded, the bushies have learned not to be so giddy about creating wars in public, but the attitude is still there.

First a quick primer - to the best of our knowledge, Hezbollah kidnapped 2 Israeli soldiers. This is a very bad thing from an organization of bad people. However, this is not condoned or conducted by the government or people of Lebanon. Lebanon needs help to get these bastards out of their country. Israel's response of bombing the infrastructure and military of Lebanon - the very things the Lebanese government needs to combat the bad guys - is fueling a war, not preventing it.

Lebanon has appealed to the US for help in stopping the violence. The official reaction of the US has been clear - we do not want to stop the killing, but would like to use this as an excuse to go to war with Iran, and perhaps Syria too. "Officials such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Ambassador John Bolton have said the United States does not believe the time is right for a cease-fire." Bush's response on how to end the killing of Lebanese civilians was "See, the irony is, what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."

Of course, the region has been destabilized by dubya's war for oil, so seeding new wars is a lot easier now, than fabricating an Iraq-9/11 connection. Since the bushies claim their mideast policy is working, one can only conclude that their policy truly is open warfare. With the massive, massive war profiteering their friends are enjoying at the expense of human lives, societies and the US taxpayers, the motivations are not hard to recognize.

For those that cling to the belief that all this violence is justified, here's a hypothetical question. If a Russian crime organization kidnapped 2 American soldiers, what should the US do? Should they work with the Russians to go after the criminals, or declare open war on Russia and start bombing their power plants?

(political cartoon credit to Tom Toles)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's important to protect?

So, in our post-9/11 world, what has the Bush Administration declared as things that need protecting? Well, the obvious cities are New York City and Washington DC, right? Nope, they are cutting security grants for those cities by 40%. Apparently, nobody can anticipate terrorists targeting those places. Remember, their spokespeople are the ones that typically yell "are you forgetting what happened on September 11th" when faced with a critical question about things like ignoring the law.

OK, but within NYC, there are clear terrorist targets like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge, so those will be identified by the Department of Homeland Security, right? Nope, not in the Bush plan. None of those made the list of potential terrorist targets. Their reasoning? None of those 4 are national icons or monuments.

So, what kind of stuff is on the list? An insect zoo in Florida, a bourbon festival in Illinois, a kangaroo conservation center in Maryland and a bean fest in Indiana. In fact, Indiana was identified as having more high-value terrorist targets than any other state, 50% more than New York. Info reported by the Department of Homeland Security, and reported on Fortunately, the neocon plan of eliminating the free press has not bee fully implemented, so we can still find out about such things.

What are these people thinking?

And before the neocons start calling for CNN to fall under GOP censorship, 107 other links to the same story are available today at Google News. Here's a few from: Boston, MA Sioux City, IA some dude in Buffalo, NY

(political cartoon credit to Stuart Carlson)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Birth tax

Some time ago, neocon leadership started calling the estate tax a "death tax" to hide the real meaning and motivation for having an estate tax. That is, when the mega-rich pass on previously untaxed money to the next generation, the estate tax is the only thing that could possibly have them pay their share, like the rest of us do with every paycheck. It does not effect the mildly rich, farms or family businesses, as some pundits say or imply.

Well, rather than try to deceive, liberals are better at educating. We all know that the national debt and deficit spending are bad things. But what does it really mean? What is the consequence of dubya inheriting a surplus budget that could have been used to eliminate the debt, but instead creating record-setting deficit budgets?

One illustration is the fact that the present deficit is greater than all the deficits combined from the founding of the United States through Ronald Reagan's term.

The catchy, but accurate, answer is that dubyanomics creates a "birth tax". If a child is born in the United States, thanks to massive Republican overspending since 1981, that baby owes a lot of money. The kindest estimates have this number over $25,000. The cumulative real-world effect may be over $100,000. That is money that they will either have to somehow pay, or pass it on to their children. That's the future that dubyanomics is creating for us.

(political cartoon credit to Tom Toles and Ben Sargent)

Dog bites man?

There's an old saying in the news business: dog bites man is not a story, but man bites dog is. One interpretation is that a reporter, not finding news, should find a way to make news.

The budget deficit was totally out of control from 1981 through 1993. Even lifelong Republicans look at the facts of the graph and admit that it's actually the Democratic party that is the party of fiscal responsibility. It was nothing short of an economic miracle that a single presidential administration was not only able to fix the problem, but actually lead this country to make more money than it spent. Of course, that all came crashing down with dubya's appointment to President by the Supreme Court. Government spending has skyrocketed to new heights under his "big government", "big spending" and "welfare for big corporations and the rich" economic policies.

With nothing but bad economic news and an election coming, how can you turn it into good news? Improving the economy, reducing government spending and ending welfare for the rich would be too obvious, dubya needs something sneakier. Once again, this is fact, as screwed up as it sounds.

In February of this year, Bush announced that he would spend so much of our money that he's going to borrow $423 BILLION in our names (yes, we will have to pay back foreign governments for his reckless spending) to fuel his runaway spending. Today he announced that he's merely going to borrow $296 BILLION (again, that we'll have to pay back) this year. The White House is touting this as progress. Really - they just predicted an insanely high number, but in reality still are overspending by massive amounts, and they're declaring victory.

Uh George, saying you're going to screw up to a massive degree, and then actually screwing up to merely an XXXL degree is not a success. Try spending less than you take in. We're tired of mortgaging our children's futures to fuel your runaway, big-government, unchecked, deficit spending.

(political cartoon credit to Tony Auth and Stuart Carlson)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fair and balanced

It's no secret that Fox "news" is a pioneer in the field of infotainment and jumping back and forth between fact and opinion in order to increase entertainment value or push a political agenda. That would be fine if they didn't claim to be real news journalists, but they stick by their claims that they only report facts, and show all sides of a story. While such claims are quite laughable, here's a commentary about one of their chief opinion/infotainment/agenda pushers, and just how far he is willing to go, and how far Fox is willing to go to back him up - all in the name of masquerading hateful opinion as news.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Face the flip-flop

I just watched a bit of John McCain on Face the Nation this morn. There must be an election coming, since talk is changing. Mind you, actual actions of the administration aren't changing, just the rhetoric.

We're all seeing the results of 6 years of breaking off relations with North Korea and wavering between provoking and ignoring them instead of dealing with the problem. The new talking point? China has to step up in their role as a superpower. What? Haven't we been basking in the glow of declaring ourselves as the only superpower and getting lots of political points for that attitude? So now that ignoring a festering problem have become a real potential danger, we're going to look to China to protect us? What's next to come out of this neocon administration?

Well, that would be another great point that McCain was supposed to get across, that now we want to "get tough on Russia". Like the new attitude about China above, I'm really not making this up. In perhaps the biggest political flip-flop I've ever seen, we're pontificating returning Russia to the status of Cold War enemy, instead of helping them become a better ally. Now, I know there's a lot of money to be made by defense contractors should Russia become a true enemy, but call me a loopy liberal - but I'd much rather have them as an ally.

We sooooooo have to get these people out of power.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Local energy

Despite the federal energy policy, Wisconsin has wind farms, is producing ethanol and is researching biofuels. Governor Doyle, who has managed to largely correct the tremendous financial debacle handed to him by the previous administrations, has an ambitious (I'd prefer more ambition) and long-term-beneficial plan.

As part of the concrete plan, the governor is calling for a quarter of Wisconsin's electricity and transportation fuel to come from renewable sources by 2025. He said he wants to boost ethanol production, making several UW campuses self-sustaining and provide grants to businesses working on biofuel technology.

The Republican response echoes the goals of the Cheney-conducted, dubya-approved, oil-company-written energy policy. Most planned wind farm construction in Wisconsin is currently being blocked by the federal govenment stating national security concerns. Really, that's not a fabrication. Also, the Republican candidate for governor (a neocon ditto-head) is steadfastly opposed to the Wisconsin plan, but is unable to answer the question why energy independence is a bad goal. Reminds me of GA Rep Westmoreland attempting to remember the 10 commandments.

Sigh, at least there's consistency in the neocon energy agenda, as opposed to the ever-changing justifications for dubya's war for oil, or whether or not we're actually going after Osama...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How can you help those poor oil companies

OK, we're all doing our part by paying higher gas prices. Remember, gas was around $1.50/gallon when dubya took office, and since then the oil-for-food restrictions on Iraq's oil output has been lifted and the US has siezed the Iraqi oil fields, increasing the available oil. So that price doubling has led to the most profit of any company ever. But what if you feel that you're not doing enough to make the mega-rich even richer?

Why, look to our leadership in Washington, of course. Despite his policies wreaking havoc with the current and long-term health of the US economy, Bush's handlers have found a way to funnel another $5 BILLON worth of tax breaks to the oil companies. This oil company welfare is being funded by cuts to Tuition Deduction, Retirement Savers Tax Credits and Educator Expenses Deduction.

There, don't you feel better? Those poor oil companies just got more of your money, and you didn't even have to think about it. Our leaders took care of it for us, and really, what good did education ever do for this country? Book smarts are for those foreigners we want to outsource US jobs to. Aren't you glad you voted for the guy who had to be wired in order to (quasi) coherently debate?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Jon Stewart on Larry King

Yea, that about sums it up.

King, basically echoing the far right's talking point that anyone not with them necessarily wants the US to suffer: "So, you don't want things to get bad?"
Stewart: "Are you insane?"

You have to stay vigilant

Bush's old plan to privatize Social Security was so obviously a bad idea, that even Congressional Republicans who have been dutifully doing everything they've been told to do by the White House's political wing, could not support the plan. They felt that destroying Social Security, rather than fixing it to remain solvent long into the future, would have too great a backlash.

Well, despite the overwhelming will of the American people against this bad plan to raid our future, dubya and his handlers are stealthily trying to get this passed. Presumably they think that with all the distractions going on, the American public won't notice. Granted, there are a lot of distractions - the disastrous war for oil instead of going after the terrorists that attacked us, the horrible effect dubyanomics has had on employment, the economy and the trade deficit, the abysmal budget deficit causing debt for generations of Americans to come, the inflated cost of gas to support world-record setting profits for his oil buds, oh I could keep going but you know that story already.

Anyway, Bush is getting back to his political roots. When he first ran for Congress in Texas, he advocated the complete abolition of Social Security. Screw the people, just destroy this masterpiece that helped lift America out of the Great Depression.

In his speech to the Manhattan Institute in New York, he vowed to succeed in his assault on Social Security before he leaves office. He vowed to try to pass it this year, and if the public continues to want Social Security to remain, he'll try again the next year. Damn the will of the people. Damn the future of the people. There's a coffer to be raided!

You can't relax around such single-minded agenda-driven "leaders". As a populace, we must remain vigilant against such actions. Once again, we must, in overwhelming numbers, yell out that we do not want Social Security to be raided and privatized. We want it to be there for all Americans when it's needed. Please yell with me...

(political cartoon credit to Tom Toles. IMHO, the best of the best.)