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31 January 2010

Doctor, My Eyes!

by: Foiled Goil

Roger Ailes told Barbara Walters, who filled in Sunday as anchor on ABC's This Week, that he would pose nude for less money than what Scott Brown was paid by Cosmo.

I kid you not.

Round, This Week


Eww.

Jabba, jabba, ewww.


Seriously. Ewwww.

Pass the brain bleach!




·
30 January 2010

Republicans Retreat, Baltimore

by: Foiled Goil

Friday certainly turned out to be a most interesting political day. President Obama visited the annual Republican retreat in Baltimore, and what ensued was quite an amazing thing to watch:

C-Span archives: Presidential Remarks at House Republican Conference
Jan 29, 2010

President Obama spoke to House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore. In his remarks he said he welcomed disagreement and debate, but called for genuine bipartisanship and asked for constructive ideas in confronting the nation's problems. Following his remarks he openly and frankly answered pointed questions from the Republican legislators. Topics ranged from health care, to energy policy, to taxes and the economy.

1 hour, 26 minutes

Here are some reactions:

Steve Benen:
I'm reasonably certain I've never seen anything like it. GOP House members were fairly respectful of the president, but pressed him on a variety of policy matters. The president didn't just respond effectively, he delivered a rather powerful, masterful performance.

It was like watching a town-hall forum where all of the questions were confrontational, but Obama nevertheless just ran circles around these guys. I can only assume caucus members, by the end of the Q&A, asked themselves, "Whose bright idea was it to invite the president and let him embarrass us on national television?"

Note, however, that this wasn't just about political theater -- it was an important back-and-forth between the president and his most forceful political detractors. They were bringing up routine far-right talking points that, most of the time, simply get repeated in the media unanswered. But in Baltimore, the president didn't just respond to the nonsense, he effectively debunked it.

Republicans thought they were throwing their toughest pitches, and Obama -- with no notes, no teleprompter, and no foreknowledge -- just kept knocking 'em out of the park.

Ezra Klein:
Remember the old joke, "I was at a fight and a hockey game broke out?" Well, earlier this afternoon, I was at a photo opportunity and a policy debate broke out.

Obama's Q&A session with the House Republicans was transfixing. What should have been a banal exchange of talking points was actually a riveting reminder of how rarely you hear actual debate -- which is separate from disagreement -- between political players. [snip]

Republicans are already spreading the word that they made a mistake allowing cameras into the event. Apparently, transparency sounds better in press releases than it does in practice.

But if this is to be the last of these we see for a while, make sure to take the time and watch it, or read the transcript. It's some of the best political television I've seen in memory.

BooMan:
Obama performed as well as any British prime minister during Question Time. The same cannot be said for the Republicans who, by and large, tried to use dishonest arguments and demonstrably inaccurate statistics only to have Obama tell them to get serious and stop trying to score cheap political points. I can honestly say that if as many Americans watched today's Q & A with the Republicans as watched the State of the Union, our political problems would be over. If we had Question Time, we'd have a much easier time winning over public opinion and sustaining support for progressive policies.

The Republicans certainly will not want to repeat this extremely painful beat-down.

Luke Russert:
Tom Cole — former head of the NRCC, congressman from Oklahoma — said, “He scored many points. He did really well.” Barack Obama, for an hour and a half, was able to refute every single Republican talking point used against him on the major issues of the day. In essence, it was almost like a debate where he was front and center for the majority of it. … One Republican said to me, off the record, behind closed doors: “It was a mistake that we allowed the cameras to roll like that. We should not have done that.”

John Cole:
For some reason, the GOP allowed the cameras to roll at their retreat during a question time session with President Obama, and he spent the next hour and a half depantsing them. Pretty funny stuff...

If you missed this event, here are some other resources:

Daily Kos: Jed Lewison - Full [MSNBC] Video & Transcript

MSNBC: Q & A video

C-Span, on YouTube:

President Obama's speech [ 20:28 ] — President Obama's full Q&A [ 1:07:34 ]

White House.gov: Transcript and Video

Speech exerpts:
And I'm not a pundit. I'm just a President, so take it for what it's worth. But I don't believe that the American people want us to focus on our job security. They want us to focus on their job security. I don't think they want more gridlock. I don't think they want more partisanship. I don't think they want more obstruction. They didn't send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel-cage match to see who comes out alive. That's not what they want. They sent us to Washington to work together, to get things done, and to solve the problems that they're grappling with every single day. [snip]

Now, here's the point. These are serious times, and what's required by all of us -- Democrats and Republicans -- is to do what's right for our country, even if it's not always what's best for our politics. I know it may be heresy to say this, but there are things more important than good poll numbers. And on this no one can accuse me of not living by my principles. A middle class that's back on its feet, an economy that lifts everybody up, an America that's ascendant in the world -- that's more important than winning an election. Our future shouldn't be shaped by what's best for our politics; our politics should be shaped by what's best for our future. [snip]

Bipartisanship -- not for its own sake but to solve problems -- that's what our constituents, the American people, need from us right now. All of us then have a choice to make. We have to choose whether we're going to be politicians first or partners for progress; whether we're going to put success at the polls ahead of the lasting success we can achieve together for America. Just think about it for a while. We don't have to put it up for a vote today.

~President Barack Obama
Republican Retreat, Baltimore
January 29, 2010

Andy Borowitz (satire):
"On the whole, we felt that it was a worthwhile exercise," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). "But clearly, each of us left with twice as many assholes as we went in with."

Congressional observers had doubted that it was possible for there to be more assholes in the Republican caucus than there already were, "but the President proved them wrong," Rep. Boehner said.



29 January 2010

And The Rock Cried Out

by: Debra

I've never hidden the fact that Babylon 5 was my favorite science fiction show.  Actually it's my favorite show. Period. I've been a Trekker since I saw The Man Trap on Armed Forces Radio and Television.  Or Afarts as we called it.

Star Trek provided me with a vision of the future that told me I could be anyone I wanted to, that eventually everyone would be equal.  And from my point of view that meant men and women could both be captains or they could be navigators or they could whatever they wanted.  I had to take this on faith because female captains were pretty rare on TOS.  I believe that the first one was Klingon, the rest were women Kirk tried, and many times succeeded, in bedding.  It wasn't until TNG that we learned there had been a female captain of the Enterprise, who dies trying to right a blip in time and her helmsman ends up saving the timeline.  But still, I just knew there would be a time when men and women were equal, unfortunately it isn't likely to be in my lifetime.

Enough about Trek, on to a more realistic version of the future:  Babylon 5.  Way back in the mid-nineties another vision of space appeared on television and Battlestar Galactica should thank its luck stars.  B5 had aliens who didn't always get along with one another and women were considered the exact equal of men and could protect themselves. The special effects were fantastic when you remember that this was a television show that saved them for when they were needed, not as plot filler. B5 had politics galore and most importantly, it showed how easy it was to turn a liberal civilization into a totalitarian society.  For two years the hints were simple and sprinkled on the wind before coming to fruition. B5 was the last, best hope for victory.

While Gene Roddenberry created and produced a great show (thank you Lucille Ball), most of the episodes were pretty much fluff except for The Famous Kiss and The City on the Edge of Forever.  The stories tended towards being lighthearted and playful while touching on a few important themes.  J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5 was nothing like that.  Most of the episodes were completely serious interjected with moments (and people thought he would always be Flounder) of humor.  The story arc from first episode to the last was incredibly consistent and from today's perspective, way too prescient.  Take out the space ships and the aliens and you pretty much have the present we live in and the future we're headed for.

At the end of the first season, the President of Earth was killed under what the viewers knew were suspicious circumstance, but looked like a tragic accident to others.  A Narn outpost had been destroyed and the Centauri were solidifying their alliance with the Shadows.  Then things got worse.

The Earth Alliance under President Cheney Clark rounded up people who didn't agree with his decisions, bombed civilians deliberately to get their leaders to surrender, forced television stations off the air until he could get his own mouthpieces to recite the company line while he declared war on former colonies of Earth and B5. In the end Clark was willing to destroy the Earth as his last act before killing himself instead of being captured.

B5 didn't portray humans as the best of the universe, other cultures and characters always had something to offer (such as the (one moment of perfect beauty) and embracing the differences made all of the characters stronger for it,  Even if it took acts of evil to realize their redemption.  Or, as in the video below, revenge. And how sweet it was.






Marva Hicks can certainly belt one out, can't she?  The episode was about different faiths coming aboard the station to have a conference and the music was perfect for the scene and for the moral of the story.  Here is a version of just the lyrics and music.





Unlike most shows, B5 credits were always worthy of watching, you never knew what you were going to hear.





For those who say that those who participated at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and black sites we don't know about were just doing their jobs and also believe that waterboarding and other forms of torture are okay, there will come a day (hopefully) where somebody, somewhere will stand up and fight for what is right instead of blindly following orders, especially the ones they have qualms about.





Otherwise, it really is too late for the pebbles to vote. 

That is all.

Debsweb
28 January 2010

While I was away...

by: Peter of Lone Tree

...they awarded the Nobel Prize to a genocidal, kill-crazy maniac.
Easy to explain though. He's afraid of his own military.

He awarded hundreds of billions of dollars to banks and Wall Street.
Easy to explain though. He's afraid of bankers.

Easy to explain though. The last guy who wasn't afraid of the bankers or the military was JFK.


___________________________________________________________________________________________


Is there anything less awe-inspiring about a baby than about a galaxy, excluding, of course, the difference in size? Perhaps, if size were to be a consideration, the baby would be the most awe-inspiring because so much of my Light has been contained in such a compact bundle. -- Ruby Nelson

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. -- Rabindranath Tagore

Bernanke Reconfirmed

by: Foiled Goil

In a 70-30 vote, Ben S. Bernanke was confirmed to another four year term as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Ben Bernanke Wins Second Term As Federal Reserve Chief
Bernanke's critics have claimed that the Fed chief did not do enough to prevent the nation's financial meltdown in the fall of 2008. While even some of his supporters shared that view, Bernanke eventually won the backing of lawmakers who argued that the central bank boss may have helped avert a second Great Depression.



·

The Stupid, It Burns

by: Debra

I actually started writing this post a few days ago and then several personal issues came up.  My disgust with politics, what passes for news (it used to be called gossip), the lack of intelligence and the stunning erosion of critical thinking of the average American has prevented me from caring as much as I used to about the future of America.

And then, sure enough, another act of stupidity wasted no time raising my blood pressure to the boiling point.  Banning the Merriam Webster Collegiate dictionary from the Menifee Union School District because a student found the definition of oral sex in a dictionary. Menifee may be located in California, but it is definitely behind the Orange Curtain.
The Golden State's Menifee Union School District has yanked all copies of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary from its shelves and is investigating the classic American text for containing "age-inappropriate" words.
snip
Menifee, which is composed of 9,000 students between kindergarten and 8th grade, is forming a committee of principals, teachers and parents to pore over the book and determine whether it's fit for young eyes. It could take a while: the unabridged edition available online contains over 470,000 entries.
Cheese and rice, these people are just plain stupid, there is no other way to put it.  In the mid nineties "oral sex" was all over the news, now it can't be in a dictionary because kids might find the correct definition instead of what they hear on the playground.

Up until this morning my, and most other liberals, definition of "f*cking retarded" was when you screw over 88 percent of the people who approve of most of what you're doing AND WHO GOT YOU ELECTED in the first place in order to please the same 22 percent who still thinks Bush and Cheney walk on water that isn't frozen and who wouldn't approve of anything the Obama did if God himself came down from on high and anointed Obama as his son by a different mother.  Now it seems to encompass everything in politics.

Of course there is going to be political pain on the democratic side, what did they expect?  Flowers thrown in the street for not doing the job that the American people elected them to do?  For saving Wall Street instead of Main Street and then letting Wall Street enjoy bonuses completely out of proportion to the crappy job they performed?  After suffering through eight years of the the Bush maladministration, the last thing that the democratic base wanted was to be ground under the jackbooted heel of the same people who caused the country to head into the crapper in the first place.  Sure, you can blame it on the economy, and you would be right.  It's too bad that what passes for leadership these days only cares about the economy of the working people when it's time for them to get reelected.

Living in an unequal society creates shorter lifespans.  That would be for the poor and the middle class, the rich have all their needs met.  Even when they contribute nothing to society except to increase the inequality.  Welcome to America, land of the free, home of the brave.  If you have lots of money .

Over 200 studies since the early 1980s have now documented that people living in societies where wealth has concentrated at the top of the economic ladder live significantly shorter, less healthy lives than people who live in societies that spread their wealth more evenly.

And we’re not talking just poor folks here. All people in unequal societies do worse. Middle-income people in the United States, the world’s most unequal developed nation, have shorter lifespans than middle-income people in Japan, Sweden and a host of other more equal nations.

So, my newest iWant is called iPad?  What the hell was Apple thinking?  Aren't there any females in their advertising department?  It reminds of some comedian in the nineties who made fun of sanitary pads.  As he said, why not call them what they are instead of some gussied up name that has no relation to its purpose.    He used the example of Always and thought a better name would be cranky hanky.  I realize that the iPod saved Apple's bacon, but there were a slew of better names than iPad.  Duh!

Debsweb


· ·
27 January 2010

Mope, Cope Or Hope

by: Foiled Goil

President Barack Obama's SOTU

Video [ 71:53 ]

Transcript excerpts:

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't, or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems.

They're tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it, not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope -- what they deserve -- is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences, to overcome the numbing weight of our politics, for while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same, the aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills, a chance to get ahead, most of all, the ability to give their children a better life. [snip]

Despite -- despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength. [snip]

I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they've been taking place for over 200 years. They're the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side, a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can.

The confirmation of...

I'm speaking of both parties now. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants shouldn't be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators.

Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But it's precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet -- worse yet, it's sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in our government.

So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week, it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills.

And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, a supermajority, then the responsibility to govern is now yours, as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.

So let's show the American people that we can do it together.



·
26 January 2010

Gotcha Back

by: Foiled Goil

What the heck were these clowns thinking?

Duh! They weren't. Obviously:

ACORN 'gotcha' man arrested in attempt to tamper with Mary Landrieu's office phones
Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. All four men were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street on Monday about 11 a.m., dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu's 10th-floor office, O'Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

4 charged in U.S. Senate office infiltration in New Orleans
A conservative activist who made undercover videos of the liberal community-organizing group ACORN was one of four men charged Tuesday with attempting to illegally access and manipulate the phone system in a district office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

Joseph Basel, 24; Robert Flanagan, 24; James O'Keefe, 25; and Stan Dai, 24, were charged with entering Landrieu's New Orleans office under "false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony," according to a news release from the local U.S. attorney's office. The office is federal property.

The four posted a $10,000 unsecured bond and were released, said Kathy English of the Department of Justice. According to CNN affiliate WWL, the next court date in the case is set for February 12.

O'Keefe is the same activist who dressed up as a pimp last summer and visited ACORN offices to solicit advice on setting up a brothel, among other scenarios, law enforcement officials confirmed. He secretly recorded the visits on videotapes that were posted on the Internet, leading to a media firestorm.

Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, his office said.

Articles on conservative Web sites connect O'Keefe to a man named Joe Basel, describing them as conservative student activists and filmmakers. [snip]

If convicted, the four men would each face a possible maximum penalty of a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison, according to the news release. [snip]

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

~Forrest Gump


·
25 January 2010

It took so long to bake it...

by: Father Tyme

As a former supporter of change I thought I could believe in, I was asked if I would be watching television January 27 around 9-ish. Well, the Honeymooners isn't on, neither is Ernie Kovacs. So...

Thinking about it for a few, I decided there may be other options instead of viewing. No, not the fools on Fox who probably would rebroadcast 2004 and 2008 Republican primary debates, rather, things that might just be more pertinent. Down to what's left of a full gallon of high expectations from last SOTU this last ounce of frozen hope is melting in the dark.

So I found a few things that appeal more to me than watching or listening to cliches, anecdotes, fluff, good - and bad intentions, embellishments, exaggerations, empty promises, placations, duplicity. More than watching or listening to veiled or overt threats, disaster stories, excuses, blame, posturing, intimidation, pleas or outright lies.

All of that made my decision for me. I plan on clipping an irritating toenail; watching that last bit of snow in my front yard melt; finishing "War and Peace" (are there many chapters after number 5?).

The love affair is over, MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark, and I don't think that I can take it...anymore.

With more than a little poetic license...



In case that's too exciting...




Besides, I can always catch the reruns on the History Channel in 2013...watching while standing in front of a window before I return to my spacious container in what's becoming a crowded alley.







24 January 2010

Time Traveler

by: Foiled Goil

Methinks I see the wanton hours flee,
And as they pass, turn back and laugh at me.

~George Villiers

Time machine.  Honest.

Let not the sands of time get in your lunch.

~Tony Hendra, Deteriorata



23 January 2010

Too Fat to F*ck

by: Lisa Ranger


Angel Boligan (Mexico)


Discovery Channel

Tuesday - Survival of the Half-Ton Teen - Half Ton Teen: Confronting Addiction

Wednesday - Extreme Obesity: A Big Medicine Special - Confessions of a Reality Show Loser

Sunday - Help, I'm a Hoarder - Hoarders: Buried Alive

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best
--Nobody Does it Better, Carly Simon
______________


File this under: America behaving badly.

A network health program is soon to feature couples who are too heavy to, um, mate ("Too Fat for Sex"). The good news is, the Centers for Disease Control recently reported that American obesity rates may have plateaued at 34% (however, the number of obese + "overweight" Americans stands at nearly 70%.) While the optimists say we've halted the progression of the obesity epidemic, others like David Ludwig said the plateau merely suggests"'we’ve reached a biological limit' to how obese people could get."

A trailer for the Discovery Channel's "Half-Ton Teen" touts, "Once the world's heaviest teenager, Billy Robbins' weight loss efforts have recently stalled and now, he is falling back on old habits. In the third installment, doctors make a desperate attempt to save Billy from self-destruction." Who has the time to watch this -- aren't there nacho platters to be prepared?

There seems to be a larger problem here (no pun intended). In "The Death of Decorum," Gavin McInnes notes the slovenliness of American dress. Not that we don't export our blase look via our Hollywood mavens, but pee jays worn in public seem a new low. "They are the one great unifier that brings all lazy, self-indulgent Americans together, regardless of race or background." (Not that the British shav look of 70's polyester track suits is that fetching, but at least they were made to be worn outside.)

It was also reported last week that young people spend more time on computers and other technologies than adults do at work -- between 10 to 11 hours per day, factoring in multi-tasking (More Screen Time for Youths than Adults on the Job.) The New York Times head said, "If You're Kids are Awake, They're Probably Online." It doesn't seem healthy.

A recent Times Magazine feature on "The Americanization of Mental Illness" stated the U.S. is "homogenizing the way the world goes mad." By exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” the U.S. is altering the expression of mental illness in other cultures.

P.T.S.D and anorexia "now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases. These symptom clusters are becoming the lingua franca of human suffering, replacing indigenous forms of mental illness."

Ethan Watters, author of, “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche," says "the expectations and beliefs of the sufferer shape their suffering," and the DSM is now "the field guide to the world’s psyche."

Interestingly, Watters asserts that our medical model of psychiatric illness may predispose us to remain ill and suffer marginalization, as we are intractably identified with our illness, and others reinforce that identity. In other cultures where "the illness was seen as the work of outside forces, it was understood as an affliction for the sufferer but not as an identity."

Watters' essay concludes that our latching onto labels and the psychopathologizing of our country is a result of our becoming "an increasingly insecure and fearful people." We are searching for security in an increasingly unknowable world in our labeling and prescriptions.

Maybe that's why we hoard and overeat, and disappear into the ethernet. Because we have become alienated and fearful. The solution would seem to be in doing the opposite of what got us here.


Cross-posted from Ranger Against War


· ·
22 January 2010

The Bell Tolls For Thee

by: Anna Van Z

"Slavery is the Legal Fiction that a Person is Property; Corporate Personhood is the Legal Fiction that Property is a Person." -Poclad.Org

They're not even hiding it anymore, are they? It's right out there, in our faces. And why not? The PTB believe that the populace is too lethargic, too slow on the uptake to see it, or care. So every branch of government continues its dogged quest to transfer even more unregulated power and/or public wealth to corporations. Only these days it's far more out in the open, even if it is often couched in economic mumbo-jumbo. It wasn't enough to offer a trillion + taxpayer dollars to CorpWorld, thus socializing the cost of their financial shell games while keeping the profits private.

No, that wasn't nearly enough. Now we have the majority of a festering SCROTUM - er, make that SCOTUS - that has chosen to align itself with the interest of corporate money over the interests of the citizenry of these United States.

In a decision that's being called radical and destructive, five activist judges from the extreme right have decided that corporations should be able to use unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections. Including corporations that are essentially foreign. Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy described it as "a revolution in the law." It's difficult to grasp at the moment all the disastrous outcomes that this decision will undoubtedly spawn, but what's painfully clear is the fact that it's extremely bad news for anyone who favors an actual democracy.

Check out the following from Alternet:
Supreme Court's 'Radical and Destructive' Decision Hands Over Democracy to the Corporations
By Liliana Segura

"The Supreme Court has just predicted the winners of the next November election," Sen. Chuck Schumer announced this morning. "It won't be Republicans. It won't be Democrats. It will be Corporate America."
Indeed, in a momentous 5 to 4 decision the New York Times called a "doctrinal earthquake," the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an unprecedented ruling today that gives new significance to the phrase "corporate personhood." In it, the Roberts court overturned the federal ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns, ruling that forbidding corporations from spending money to support or undermine political candidates amounts to censorship. Corporations, the court ruled, should enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Supreme Court rejects "the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not 'natural persons.'"
In other words, as Stephen Colbert put it last year, "Corporations are people too."
On a conference call with reporters following the decision, critics could not overemphasize the enormity of the ruling, whose implications will be visible as early as the upcoming midterm elections. Bob Edgar, head of the watchdog group Common Cause, called it "the Superbowl of really bad decisions." Nick Nyhart of Public Campaign called it an "immoral decision" that will make an already untenable mix of money and politics even worse.
"This is the most radical and destructive campaign finance decision in the history of the Supreme Court," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. "With a stroke of the pen, five justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy."
Writing about the ruling, Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy described it as "a revolution in the law," one that has been in the works for years thanks to conservative activism.
"Today's decision is a huge gift to corporations from a Supreme Court that has been radicalized by right-wing ideology, whose political agenda was made obvious in the Bush v. Gore case and whose very political decision today only makes things worse."
Of course, corporate cash has long had a corrupting influence on our politics, but never before has it been seen as some sort of fundamental freedom.
"This court has said it's the constitutional right of a corporation to spend as much money as it wants to influence an election," said Wertheimer. Read the rest.
21 January 2010

Couldn't Keep Quiet Forever

by: Debra

Waah, waah, waah.  So Obama has broken every single promise he ever made to the people who worked and got him elected and now everyone is surprised that the people are revolting?  What drugs are you people on?  Obama got what he wanted and then reverted to the same person I met when he was a young man at Occidental College.  Just like every other president we've had since 1980 he speaks out both sides of his...mouth.  The really sad part is, voting for the other guy out of anger is only going to make things worse.  Such is our lovely political system, a two party affair that the rich control and the poor serve.  And any idea that the individual citizen mattered was removed by the Supreme Court this morning.  Our individual political contributions are going to mean nothing.  Actually, less than nothing.

To lose the Kennedy seat to a GOP representative that stands against everything that the Kennedy brothers stood for, isn't just mindboggling, it was inevitable.  My thoughts are best expressed by Jon Stewart.





The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mass Backwards
www.thedailyshow.com

Democrats have balls? I admit I'm surprised, I didn't even know they had gonads.

Thank God the Kennedys who gave so much are gone, they might have been tempted to kill themselves to see how far the America that two out of three of them died for has turned into "it's not my problem, it's everyone else's and they must be trying to take what little I have even if it isn't as worth as much as it was last week and I just won't stand for it!"

When did we become a nation of taking the good stuff for ourselves and punishing or restricting those who want the same things?  Oh, that's right.  Ever since we started slaughtering Indians because they lived on land we wanted and then used slaves to turn that land into crops that not only sustained a family but enabled that same family to "lord" it over those who owned shops instead of land.  Just like every other period throughout human history.

What my father neglected to tell me all the times he swore that America was a few steps away from a police state was that one of the first steps was for the people to become sheeple.  Like the Germans, Russians, North Koreans, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis and Afghans before us, sheeple believe that someone else will save them.  And if takes a loss of opportunities, liberties, freedom of movement, then so be it.  And so it will be.

Thanks to an education system that rewards standardization and punishes individual thinking.

Debsweb




· ·
20 January 2010

Massachusetts Revisited

by: Konagod

I've spent the bulk of a day (when I wasn't working) dwelling on the Massachusetts election which resulted in Scott Brown being elected to the Senate to replace Ted Kennedy.

And I have a few bullet points I'd like to share:

Massachusetts, in its infinite wisdom, knows it is a liberal state.

They also know they are electing a Senator to finish out a TWO YEAR term.

They know they can discharge him after his term is up.

They know he can make a complete ass of himself in the interim, which I'm sure he will.

They also know that Obama isn't listening to the left-wing, and what better way to send a message than voting for Brown. Way more effective than emails and phone calls, and unsubscribing to Obama's emails.

Maybe they aren't so dumb after all. Not too smart when considering how the rest of the nation is going to interpret their decision. Not too smart when considering how the Deep South and the Tea Baggers from coast to coast are going to interpret it.

But, the message has been delivered. Post haste.

And frankly, I'm back to my old school no political party affiliation which I have relished since Reagan's 2nd term ended. I only voted for Obama because I liked the message. Now is the time for him to show up and grow up.

He needs to dismiss his staff and start anew. This won't happen but it needs to.

The only other word that comes to mind is Kucinich.

He was my first choice before I was for Edwards, Clinton, and Obama.

Meanwhile, I'll bide my time and wait for the Democrats to get their fucking shit together. Probably not going to happen. After all, I've been waiting for that since 1984.

Pump Up The Volume

by: Debra

Will I pay to read the NY Times online?  Of course not.  I've been boycotting the Washington Post for a year and to tell the truth, I haven't missed much.  Do the reporters deserve to get paid?  Of course, especially when they do their job.  And let's face it, for the past twenty years they haven't.  They've been going after ratings, not reporting the news. Or, as the saying goes "if it bleeds, it leads".

For some reason the Fourth Estate sold its soul for access.  Not to report the news, but to make the news and they, along with the "candidates" they've chose to "represent" us, have pretty much destroyed everything this country was founded upon and held as a shining beacon of freedom to the world.

Not that I enjoy sounding old, but when I was a kid the remote control was whoever Dad asked to change the channel.  Usually between NBC and CBS until that upstart ABC started to become popular, and if the picture was too snowy you fiddled with the rabbit ears until there was a relatively clear picture.  And if it got snowy when you moved away, you got sent right back to hold it into position until the show was over.  You got to put your arm down during the commercials or if the picture mysteriously got better.  All for the price of the television.

When I was twelve we moved to Lompoc, which received one station and that was from Santa Maria.  Fortunately there was this thing called cable and for about six bucks a month we got much clearer stations and some of them were from Los Angeles which was a couple of hundred miles away.  And they showed most of their stuff in color.  With less roller derby.

Then Showtime came along.  Dad loved it.  He said it released us from the puritanical beliefs of the few who thought that fun was illegal. I think it was because he enjoyed watching those girls(1:48 is when the guys watching start hyperventilating) do the exercises.

Now it costs me thirty dollars just to get the basics on television.  Due to technology and the old television dying, I pay extra for HD because HD televisions look better that way and now that everything is digital they get me for the SyFy channel.  What a racket.

After I left home and joined the Army I lived without television for many years and didn't miss it.  I watch more of it now because it isn't safe to walk at night in most neighborhoods, movies are ten dollars at the theatre and most local libraries have either closed or cut back their hours and their varieties of books.  Which leaves the internet.

I've been using the internet regularly since I got my first computer back in 1996, an IBM Aptiva.  I originally had a 28.8K modem, followed by a 56.6 that I installed later.  I (as in me) upgraded the RAM twice as well as increasing the 75 Pentium processor to a little more than 200.  I was one of the first in San Diego to get cable and couldn't understand why it wasn't available to everyone.  I still remember watching Princess Diana's funeral on cable and marveling that it was only a few seconds behind the broadcast networks.  Then I got the bill.

I now pay $57.99 for internet access and I refuse to pay for Showtime or HBO on television (thank you Netflix!) because I already pay more than enough for the less than ten channels I actually watch, why would I pay more for content that other countries enjoy for much less?

Once I discovered the internet, my interest in books took a back seat.  For years nobody had ever seen me without a book and all of a sudden books were history.  Television news, which was rapidly becoming infotainment was watched rarely, if ever.  The internet had everything and it was much faster with a greater variety than newspapers which left my hands dirty. No more dead tree editions for me.

Online I read Canadian, British, German, French, Israeli and Chinese newspapers, foreign newspapers do have English versions. Even al-Jazeera had been known to print true journalism, unlike some of what passes for newspapers here in the states.  The United States press long ago ceased to be über alles, but the citizens don't know it because news is as censored as if the sixties editors of Pravda were running today's news organizations.

So why would I want to pay to read the NY Times?  Or any other paper online?  I don't, and I won't.  The last time NY went behind a paywall, that experiment didn't last long and cost some of their best writers their readership.  Newspapers are once again getting the stupid idea that if they hide their content behind a paywall that bloggers will disappear and people will start reading the papers again.  I would love to have had some of the drugs they were passing out at those meetings.

Citizen journalism isn't going to disappear, it will be enhanced by people who are actually interested in getting the unfiltered news to a starving public and don't need millions of dollars to do it.  It won't be long before someone starts a channel devoted to news around the world, not what Fox and CNN think are the important news around the world delivered by bobbleheads that can't speak for themselves without a wire attached to their ear.

Will the NY Times miss my money?  Probably not for a while, but just like the Titanic, hubris goes before a fall.  Or obsolescence as the case may be.  Then they'll try to shut down the internet, which I doubt the young people will put up with for longer than a day or two.  Has anybody paid attention to the furor when Twitter goes offline?  Imagine if the the whole internet crashed and it wasn't the result of a war or natural disaster.  Kids may not think that protesting the war, torture, or elimination of the Bill of Rights are important, internet and cell phone access is a whole different kettle of fish.

And to show that this isn't really such a radical idea, Christian Slater long before he was forgotten.







Debsweb



· ·
19 January 2010

Avoidance And More Avoidance

by: Debra

One would think that rocking out and John Denver would be mutually exclusive, but one would be wrong.  Sunshine On My Shoulders may make me happy, but it doesn't induce the urge to play music so loud that my neighbors would call the cops.  And if it was Thank God I'm A Country Boy, maybe he should have been playing Take Me Home, Country Roads on his 8-track as he traveled back to his Rocky Mountain High because Leaving On a Jet Plane (I much prefer Peter, Paul and Mary's version) left Mr. Denver a tad disjointed

I've been totally ignoring the NBC late night fiasco for several reasons.  One, I watch Letterman if I haven't turned off the television or I'm caught up with Stewart and Colbert and two, I never liked the Tonight Show after Carson left.  It was a shadow of its former self and Arsenio Hall was much funnier.  Leno can whine all he wants, but his ten o'clock show went a long way to ruin television for those of us who don't require child approved fare before the news.  Whether Conan's ratings weren't as high as people wanted given all the competition he faced that Leno didn't have to, is besides the point.  Conan and his crew moved from New York to California for a job that no longer exists.  And not because Conan failed, but because NBC screwed up and Leno can't let go.  They were warned it wouldn't work before the season started and they snowballed ahead anyway.  Conan, his crew and his fans (whoever they are) are just the damage picked up before the snowball flies over the cliff into oblivion

I took a creative writing class when I was in high school and everyone was going on about this book called Love Story.  Being a die hard science fiction fanatic, I told people I wasn't interested in reading some romance crap that didn't exist in real life.  Our teacher, whose name escapes me at the moment, asked if anyone in the class had a copy.  Somebody did.  It wasn't bad, a simple but entertaining read.  I finished it by lunchtime.  I propped it up behind my assigned reading and read it in class and returned it to the person who loaned it to me.  I was pissed when Patton won Best Picture instead of Love Story.  Only one of the many disappointments the entertainment world had in store for me.  I learned early on that if I thought it was interesting, it would be canceled.  Thank goodness for cable.  Rest in peace Erich Segal.  Thank you for your work.  I have two versions of Love Story's theme on my iPod, Arthur Fiedler's and Henry Mancini's.  It seems funny to think of Tommy Lee Jones as the inspiration for Ryan O'Neal's character.

For as many times as car dealerships have screwed their customers, this one should admit it made a mistake and move on.  Not try and get an additional $7,000 two weeks later because of a "clerical error".

Oh yeah!  Oh yeah!  Oh yeah!!!!   Unfortunately, it's going to be on Fox.  You know, the people who canceled Firefly and Dollhouse because they didn't get "it".  And John Barrowman might reprise his role as Capt. Jack Harkness.  Yippee!  It's a shame about Ianto, I had already decided to name my next dog Ianto. Yanto, easy to say, difficult to spell.

Can anyone tell that I'm completely fed up with politics?

Debsweb




·
18 January 2010

The Future of Air Travel

by: Anna Van Z

The Wrong Kind of U-Turn

by: Konagod

I've had this nagging political anxiety brewing inside me for several weeks and it's getting worse by the day. I can hardly believe a year ago I was in an ethereal state as I watched Barack Obama take the reins. It was a moment of awe as well as one of hope and the excitement to come as we turned our backs on eight years of W.

In my subconscious I already knew trouble was brewing. It was apparent in the vote count back in November 2008 in places like Arkansas which bucked the trend and went even more heavily Republican in many counties -- including counties which in normal circumstances might have been toss ups. But this was not a normal circumstance.

For months I watched in dismay as the ultra-right went apeshit with their hats adorned with tea bags, their worship of Sarah Palin, their overtly racist commentary, and their emails spewing hate and ignorance. Unfortunately, this has not passed; it has been a steady constant.

Obama has only been in office a year. Granted, I am not at all satisfied with the changes thus far, or lack thereof. But there is still time. Obama has 3 years left in his first term. However, time seems to be all he has. I am not full of hope and dreams as I was a year ago. The Health Care Reform process left me feeling withered. And just as I was thinking we might be on the verge of getting something enacted, imperfect as it is, here comes the first of what will probably be a number of monkey wrenches this year.
President Obama came to Massachusetts on Sunday in hopes of rescuing the flailing candidacy of Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate in an election on Tuesday that will determine whether the party preserves a 60-vote majority in the Senate needed to keep alive health care legislation and the rest of the president’s agenda.

“Understand what’s at stake here, Massachusetts,” Mr. Obama said, imploring those who supported him to take heed of the magnitude of the race to fill the seat of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. “It’s whether we’re going forwards or backwards.”

I could literally be sick to my stomach trying to absorb the enormity of Obama's statement. After 8 years of Bush, we get a one year breathing spell before possibly doing a big U-turn and heading in the general direction of Crawford, Texas. Even more utterly astounding is the fact that it could be at the hands of voters in Massachusetts of all places, and voting to fill the seat held by Edward M. Kennedy, of all people!

Now, if you aren't already emotionally shredded by those facts, there's more.
Democratic leaders in Congress and at the White House were bracing for what they said was a real possibility that Ms. Coakley could lose the race. The most alarming fact in polls and internal research, several party advisers said, was that Ms. Coakley was still falling behind Mr. Brown among voters who had a favorable view of the president.

I have a simple question for those voters who have a favorable view of Obama, and still plan to vote in a manner which could make him a lame-duck effective Wednesday morning. What are you thinking? (I'm trying to be nice here, but I'd prefer to be asking, "What the fuck's your problem?")

Coakley clearly isn't the best candidate the Democrats could have fielded. She has made a few blunders. She's not on her game as well as Scott Brown. But must we vote for the best messenger while completely disregarding the message? Are we so shallow that we put image over substance? That seems to be what is happening in Massachusetts.
While most national Republicans have publicly steered clear of the race to avoid interfering with Mr. Brown’s image as a pickup-driving fellow next door, the efforts behind the scenes intensified Sunday. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and Mr. Obama’s rival in the 2008 election, was among those who asked his supporters to make calls on Mr. Brown’s behalf.

The "pickup-driving fellow next door." Haven't we been down that road rather recently with disastrous results?

I have a hunch my political anxiety isn't going anywhere soon, and certainly not my disgust. Massachusetts, the "liberal" state who gave themselves Governor Mitt Romney, is on the verge of catastrophic mistake which will fuel additional negativity at a time when we need it the least. We'll know for sure in about 48 hours.

Regarding U-turns, they are fine if you use them to go back a few miles, say early 2009, to get on the road we should have been on all along, not a U-turn back to 2002.
17 January 2010

Remembering Martin

by: Foiled Goil

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.
( 1929 - 1968 )



16 January 2010

The Power To Help Them

by: Foiled Goil

Ed Schultz: We have the power to make it right

Jan. 16, 2010 - [ :48 ]


If you haven't got charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
~Bob Hope



15 January 2010

Texting And Telethon For Haiti Relief

by: Foiled Goil

The list of donation information from Rachel Maddow's link at MSNBC has been updated:

Haiti earthquake: How to help
Donating via text message:

* Text HAITI to 90999 American Red Cross
Donates $10

* Text HAITI to 25383 International Rescue Committee
Donates $5

* Text HAITI to 52000 Salvation Army
Donates $10

* Text YELE to 501501 Yéle [Wyclef Jean's grassroots org]
Donates $5

* Text HAITI to 864833 The United Way
Donates $5

* Text CERF to 90999 The United Nations Foundation
Donates $5

* Text DISASTER to 90999 Compassion International

* Text HAITI to 20222 The Clinton Foundation
Donates $10


ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN To Broadcast 'Hope for Haiti' Telethon Next Friday
MTV Networks is presenting "Hope for Haiti," a global telethon to air commercial-free across ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1 and CMT next Friday at 8pm ET/PT. "Hope for Haiti" will be led CNN's Anderson Cooper in Haiti, George Clooney in Los Angeles, and Wyclef Jean in New York City.

Beware of bogus online ‘help’ for Haiti

If you want to donate money, consider known and reliable charities



14 January 2010

Humor From Dummies

by: Debra

I love ventriloquists and have since I was a little girl.  Paul Winchell got me started, Wayland Flowers was brilliant without needing to be seen (Madame was risque in a way that she couldn't be today) and Jay Johnson (remember when Jodie hid Bob and Chuck was so desperate that he used a grapefruit to talk instead?) sealed the deal.  Jeff Dunham is talented with an unfortunate tendency to be racist, but Achmed the Dead Terroristdoes crack me up.

So, last night I'm searching through the Netflix watch instantly offerings and I stumble across Terry Fator.  I don't watch reality shows that don't involve cooking so I missed him on something called America's Got Talent.  I don't know who he was up against, but Terry definitely deserved to win.  From Michael Jackson to Patsy Cline the man definitely has talent.





As a commenter so aptly pointed out, most of can't even sing with our mouths open.

It occurs to me that I am finally getting the most out of Netflix.  Mom goes to bed early and I slip on the headphones and can watch some of the stuff that I like but mom doesn't.  Isn't technology wonderful?

Debsweb



Words Fail

by: Foiled Goil

Neither Pat Robertson nor Rush Limbaugh have humane souls. Somebody, please grab the big butterfly nets and lock up these crazy men. They make big money spewing this kind of insanity and they are disgusting beyond words. I would not have responded as well as Keith Olbermann or Eugene Robinson did.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

Media figures draw wrong conclusions about Haiti

[ 5:02 ]

Jan. 13: The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson talks about the attempt by some members of the right-wing media to politicize the tragedy in Haiti.


Robertson blames Haitians for earthquake

[ 1:37 ]

Jan. 13: Quick comment: Countdown’s Keith Olbermann responds to Pat Robertson’s accusation that the Haiti earthquake was the result of a “deal with the devil” the country made in the 19th century to gain freedom from France.




13 January 2010

Help Haiti

by: Foiled Goil

These poor people didn't have much before this disaster hit, now they've got a lot less. Please, give a little from your heart.

Haitian capital largely destroyed in quake

Casualties severe and widespread throughout Port-au-Prince
The Haitian capital was largely destroyed in the most powerful earthquake to hit the country in more than 200 years. Journalists from The Associated Press described severe and widespread casualties after a tour of streets where blood and bodies could be seen.

The damage was described as staggering even in a country accustomed to tragedy and disaster. AP reporters said the National Palace was a crumbled ruin and tens of thousands of people were homeless. [snip]

The quake had a magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed by numerous aftershocks, one with magnitude 5.9, the USGS reported. [snip]

Numerous other public buildings were destroyed, including the parliament building, the Finance Ministry, the Public Works Ministry, the Palace of Justice and Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Port-au-Prince, the national cathedral, Haiti TV reported.

The main United Nations building in Port-au-Prince collapsed and a number of personnel were unaccounted for, said U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy. He said other U.N. installations also were seriously damaged. [snip]

The earthquake also destroyed much of the Port-au-Prince air traffic control tower, and flights were being rerouted by other Haitian air traffic facilities.

USGS geophysicist Kristin Marano called it the strongest earthquake since 1770 in what is now Haiti. In 1946, a magnitude-8.1 quake struck the Dominican Republic and also shook Haiti, producing a tsunami that killed 1,790 people.

The temblor appeared to have occurred along a strike-slip fault, where one side of a vertical fault slips horizontally past the other, said earthquake expert Tom Jordan at the University of Southern California. The earthquake's size and proximity to populated Port-au-Prince likely caused widespread casualties and structural damage, he said.

"It's going to be a real killer," he said.

The shaking was felt more than 300 miles away in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republican, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A tsunami alert was issued but later canceled. [snip]

Haiti earthquake: How to help

A list of charitable organizations active in the nation

* Action Against Hunger
* American Red Cross
*
American Jewish World Service
* AmeriCares
* Beyond Borders
* CARE
* Catholic Relief Services
* Childcare Worldwide
* Direct Relief International
* Doctors Without Borders
* Feed My Starving Children
* Friends of WFP
* Haitian Health Foundation
* Hope for Haiti
* International Medical Corps
* International Relief Teams
* Medical Teams International
* Meds and Food for Kids
* Mercy Corps
* Operation USA
* Oxfam
* Partners in Health
* Samaritan's Purse
* Save the Children
* UNICEF
* World Concern
* World Vision
* Yele Haiti
   Wyclef Jean's grassroots org
   Text Yele to 501 501 to donate $5 via your cellphone

The United States State Department Operations Center on Tuesday opened a number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti. Due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording. "Our embassy is still in the early stages of contacting American citizens through our Warden Network," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "Communications are very difficult within Haiti at this time."

The number for Americans who are looking for information about family members in Haiti is 1-888-407-4747.

For those interesting in helping immediately, simply text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill. (More information)




12 January 2010

Lotta Yottabytes

by: Foiled Goil

Seriously, please go and read the entire article linked below, and then ask yourself if this data mining of our trivial, irrelevant and useless information is worth the risk of another attack because the present domestic spying system is so overwhelmed with data, and just where the blame lies for not "connecting the dots" in the communication and sharing of important intelligence data.

How Republicans Ruined the Intelligence Community

by Steven D., Booman Tribune:

Karen De Young of the Washington Post points the finger at informs us that the reforms to America's intelligence community initiated by Ruler of the Galactic Empire, Darth Cheney President Bush and his the Republicans lapdogs in Congress in 2004, the legislation which created the National Counterterrorism Center, were the primary factor in the failure of the Intelligence Community to identify and deter the "underwear bomber."

That can't be true, can it? After all, everyone knows (or at least Republicans do) that it was Obama who made us less safe by de-prioritizing the "War on Terror."

Still, Ms. De Young does cite some damning evidence that suggests the all consuming desire to collect any and all intelligence on everyone may have made it extremely difficult to, in the jargon of the counterterrorism experts, "connect the dots" to legitimate threats to our security:
The failure of U.S. authorities to detect a plot to bomb a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day has reignited long-simmering concerns that intelligence reforms implemented five years ago remain inadequate to prevent terrorist attacks. [...]

The most intense scrutiny has been directed toward the centerpiece of the 2004 intelligence reorganization: the National Counterterrorism Center. [...]

As the central repository for "all-source" intelligence on international terrorism, the NCTC is tasked with connecting the dots and advising the government on threats. [...]

Several officials and experts said the failure to uncover the plot confirmed fears that the massive amounts of terrorism-related information being gathered since the 2001 attacks might outgrow the capacity to manage it. The CIA, the FBI, the military, and numerous Cabinet departments and independent agencies are flooded every day with new data from the field that is available to the NCTC.ndent agencies are flooded every day with new data from the field that is available to the NCTC.

How much data is collected?

To give you an example, the entire Library of Congress has collected 100 terabytes of data for its digital archive of Internet websites.

I'm just guessing here, but I bet the number of terabytes of data the NSA, CIA, DIA, ad nauseam, have collected far more than 100 terabytes of information. Indeed, according to this article, the NSA alone is constructing a facility in Nevade to store Yottabytes of surveillance information!

The NSA is constructing a datacenter in the Utah desert that they project will be storing yottabytes of surveillance data. And what is a yottabyte? I’m glad you asked.

There are a thousand gigabytes in a terabyte, a thousand terabytes in a petabyte, a thousand petabytes in an exabyte, a thousand exabytes in a zettabyte, and a thousand zettabytes in a yottabyte. In other words, a yottabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000GB. Are you paranoid yet?


Really, do go read the entire article. For now, I'll just cut to the bottom line:

When your own experts are telling you that 70% of everything you collect is never going to be processed, read, understood, or examined, doesn't that suggest to you that our vast intelligence community is engaged in the greatest exercise in the theater of the absurd humankind has ever attempted?

So, in other words we (i.e., our Government) collect so much information that there is no way to discern what reliable, important data on terrorist threats is and what is merely random noise or garbage. To put it in blunter, less polite, terms, it’s hard to find a few valuable pearls when you spend all your time looking for them in a pile mountain ocean of bullshit.

This is the system that Dick Cheney and his fellow Republican paranoids put in place. I don't think it takes a genius to realize that not only were these immense stores of often unconstitutionally information a dangerous violation of American civil liberties, but, in addition, they have made it more difficult to protect our nation from terrorist threats. So, the truth of the matter is that it isn't President Obama who is to blame for the failure of our intelligence community to identify one crazed jihadi recruit who attempted to down a plane by using a concoction of chemical explosives concealed in his pants. No, the fault lies with the very same Republican critics (most prominently Dick Cheney himself) who have been so quick to point the finger at a Democratic President rather than accept any responsibility for their own mad cap schemes to collect more and more data at the expense of taking advantage of the greatest resource we have available to quickly detect real threats to our national security: a human mind trained to know what is relevant information and what is not.

You can collect all the information you want these days thanks to technological advances in computer and telecommunications, but all that information is useless unless you have a process in place where trained individuals can have the means to both control what data gets collected (so that we don't simply amass a huge store of information that is primarily irrelevant) and the analytical skills necessary to effectively "connect the dots" in a timely manner to prevent terrorist threats. It's about time someone in the media pointed that fact out.



11 January 2010

Unzipping DNA And Privacy

by: Foiled Goil

Is this another scam to help produce even more patients for the medical industrial complex?

Oops: Backscatter x-ray machines "tear apart DNA"
Oct 30, 2009

The latest airport security trend is the backscatter x-ray machine, touted as a powerful way to virtually frisk a traveler for contraband without the embarassment of a strip search.

Though touted as completely safe because the level of radiation is so low, travelers have been nervous about the devices -- and not just because it shows off a nice outline of their privates to the people manning the machines -- but because they remain scared of the health problems they might propose.

Looks like a little healthy paranoia might have been a good thing. While the conventional wisdom has held that so-called "terahertz radiation," upon which backscatter x-ray machines are based, is harmless because it doesn't carry enough energy to do cellular or genetic damage, new research suggests that may be completely wrong.

Specifically, researchers have found that terahertz radiation may interfere directly with DNA. Although the force generated is small, the waves have been found to "unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication."

I'm not a doctor, but that just doesn't sound good.

It doesn't sound at all good, and it isn't. Here's more.

Airport Scanners Not Fully Tested for Health Hazards; Might Damage DNA

While the use of body scanners at airports are clearly a violation of civil liberties, that may be only part of the story - because we only have it on the word of the notoriously unreliable Homeland Security and its contractors that the use of these scanners are safe. While the scientific facts are sketchy at this point, this fact alone makes the use of the scanners dangerous.
January 11, 2010

Natural News - Millimeter wave machines represent one of two primary technologies currently being used for the "digital strip searches" being conducted at airports around the world. "The Transportation Security Administration utilizes two technologies to capture naked images of air travelers - backscatter x-ray technology and millimeter wave technology," reports the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a non-profit currently suing the U.S. government to stop these electronic strip searches.

In order to generate the nude image of the human body, these machines emit terahertz photons -- high-frequency energy "particles" that can pass through clothing and body tissue.

The manufacturers of such machines claim they are perfectly safe and present no health risks, but a study conducted by Boian S. Alexandrov and colleagues at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico showed that these terahertz waves could "unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication."

In layman's terms, any time you're talking about interfering with "gene expression" and "DNA replication," you're essentially talking about something that could be a risk to human health.

"At first glance, it's easy to dismiss any notion that they can be damaging," reports Technology Review. "But a new generation of cameras are set to appear that not only record terahertz waves but also bombard us with them. And if our exposure is set to increase, the question that urgently needs answering is what level of terahertz exposure is safe."

And yet no such long-term safety testing has ever been conducted by a third party. There have been no clinical trials indicating that multiple exposures to such terahertz waves, accumulated over a long period of time, are safe for humans. The FDA, in particular, has never granted its approval for any such devices even though these devices clearly qualify as "medical devices."

(If you try to sell an X-ray imaging device yourself, without FDA approval, you'll be arrested. So why do these TSA suppliers get away with selling human body imaging equipment that has never been adequately safety tested or approved by the FDA?)

Study authors conclude: "Based on our results we argue that a specific terahertz radiation exposure may significantly affect the natural dynamics of DNA, and thereby influence intricate molecular processes involved in gene expression and DNA replication."

In other words, millimeter wave scanning devices may damage your DNA.

Deliberately continuing to deceive the public isn't good, either.

Report: TSA Deceived Public About Scanner Privacy
January 11, 2010

CNN - A privacy group says the Transportation Security Administration is misleading the public with claims that full-body scanners at airports cannot store or send their graphic images.

The TSA specified in 2008 documents that the machines must have image storage and sending abilities, the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center said.

In the documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in "test mode."

That requirement leaves open the possibility the machines -- which can see beneath people's clothing -- can be abused by TSA insiders and hacked by outsiders, said EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg.

EPIC, a public-interest group focused on privacy and civil rights, obtained the technical specifications and vendor contracts through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The written requirements also appear to contradict numerous assurances the TSA has given the public about the machines' privacy protections.

Who profits?

Ex-Homeland Security Chief Chertoff Pushes Body Scanners, Abuses Public Trust
Friday, January 1, 2010

Since the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has given dozens of media interviews touting the need for the federal government to buy more full-body scanners for airports.

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. The relationship drew attention after Chertoff disclosed it on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

An airport passengers' rights group on Thursday criticized Chertoff, who left office less than a year ago, for using his former government credentials to advocate for a product that benefits his clients.

"Mr. Chertoff should not be allowed to abuse the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners under the pretense that the scanners would have detected this particular type of explosive," said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, which opposes the use of the scanners.

Chertoff's advocacy for the technology dates back to his time in the Bush administration. In 2005, Homeland Security ordered the government's first batch of the scanners -- five from California-based Rapiscan Systems.

Are you surprised?


Inanity Insanity Channel

by: Foiled Goil

I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em is the new "logic" of the woman who complains so much about the news media. Not that F-word Noise is actually real news media.

Sarah Palin to Contribute to Fox News
Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has signed on as a contributor to the Fox News Channel.

The network confirmed that Ms. Palin would appear on the network’s programming on a regular basis as part of a multiyear deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ms. Palin will not have her own regular program, one person with knowledge of the deal said, though she will host a series that will run on the network from time to time.



10 January 2010

Hey, Rudy...

by: Foiled Goil

Rudy Giuliani, you flat out lied when you said, “We had no domestic attacks under Bush.” You're not going get away with that.

Here is a list of domestic terror attacks under Bush, in case you have any problems with facts in the future:
* July 27, 2008 - Jim David Adkisson shoots two persons in a Unitarian Church

* May 5, 2008 - Pipe Bomb detonated outside Federal Courthouse in San Diego

* March 7th, 2008 - Bomb detonated at Times Square Recruiting center in NY.

* December 6, 2007: Chad Altman and Sergio Baca were arrested for the arson of Dr. Curtis Boyd's clinic in Albuquerque.

* May 9, 2007: Unidentified person deliberately set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

* April 25, 2007: A package left at a women's health clinic in Austin, Texas contained an explosive device capable of inflicting serious injury or death.

* April 16, 2007 - Terrorism? Virginia Tech Shootings.

* September 13, 2006 David McMenemy crashed his car into the Edgerton Women's Care Center in Davenport, Iowa. He then doused the lobby in gasoline and then started a fire. McMenemy committed these acts in the belief that the center was performing abortions, however Edgerton is not an abortion clinc.

* March 2006 - Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, an Iranian-born graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, drives an SUV onto a crowded part of campus, injuring nine.

* December 12, 2005: Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe threw a Molotov cocktail at a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana.

* July 4, 2005: A clinic Palm Beach, Florida was the target of an arson.

* October 1, 2005 - Joel Henry Hinrichs III detonated a bomb near the packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma killing himself in the process.

* October 2002 - John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo conduct the Beltway Sniper Attacks

* July 4, 2002 - An Egyptian gunman opens fire at an El Al ticket counter in Los Angeles International Airport, killing two Israelis before being killed himself.

* May 2002: Luke Helder injures 6 by placing pipebombs in mailboxes in the Midwest.

* January 5, 2002 - 15yo Charles Bishop, expressing sympathy for bin Laden, crashes his Cessna into a Tampa Florida Skyscraper

* June 11, 2001: Tacoma, Washington bombing destroys a Clinic Wall

* December 12, 2001 - Jewish Defense League plot by Chairman Irv Rubin and follower Earl Krugel to blow up the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California, and the office of Lebanese-American Rep. Darrell Issa, foiled.

* December 22, 2001 - Richard Reid attempts to bomb flight 63

* November 2001 - Clayton Waagner mails powder-laden envelopes to 550+ Clinics, is convicted on 51 counts in 2003.

* September 2001 - 5 People Killed, 17 Infected by Anthrax laden letters, $250 million spent cleaning up postal facilities.

* September 11, 2001 - Hijacked jets crash into 2 World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, killing 2,973 persons, at a cost of billions of dollars, providing the justification for revocation of the civil rights of American citizens (the Patriot Act) and the prosecution of two wars abroad.

h/t to: out of left field


09 January 2010

Saturday Morning Snickers

by: Debra

The economy is so bad that:

I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

I ordered a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asked "Can you afford fries with that?"

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.

Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh Great!! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!

And, finally...

I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Lifeline. I got a call center in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

Thanks L.

Debsweb


·
08 January 2010

A Noun, A Verb, A Culture Of Lies

by: Foiled Goil

Echoing the same kind of lying, alternate reality and revisionist neo-con history previously expressed by the likes of Mary Matalin and Dana Perino, on Good Morning America today Rudy (noun-verb-9/11) Giuliani continued the rewriting of history and catapulting of BS propaganda:

Mr. 9/11 Gets Amnesia: 'We Had No Domestic Attacks Under Bush; We've Had One Under Obama'



"No major domestic attacks," after September 11? Say what?

Later, dancing Rudy tried to explain what he meant to say, but didn't:

"I usually say, 'We had no major domestic attacks under President Bush since September 11,'" he told Wolf Blitzer.

Oh. Really?

Let's check in with Laurence O'Donnell, hosting on Countdown:
GOP spreads terror lies [ 9:17 ]

Jan. 8: One day after President Barack Obama calls for unity in the fight against al-Qaida, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani exhibits a greater willingness to parrot talking points from the Republican Party. The Nation’s Chris Hayes discusses.



Ah, ya. Thought so. And, why do the media keep allowing them to get away with lies?
Media asleep at the wheel [ 5:02 ]

Jan. 8: Eric Burns, president of Media Matters for America, talks about why ABC failed to correct Rudy Giuliani's false statements and the broader pattern of media complicity with a false right wing narrative about George W. Bush's record on terrorism.



Ah yes, "irresponsibility" and "no culture of accountability in the media." Knew that, too. Also.

So, now what? The MSM is going to become more responsible and accountable. Right? Riiiight.


· ·
07 January 2010

All that is gold does not glitter...

by: Father Tyme

Our sources here at the BBB Sports have an exclusive on the final standings of the 2010 Health Care Olympics held in Washington D.C. in one of the closest contests ever.



"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." - Pierre de Coubertin


Medicus curat, res iuguolo!


06 January 2010

It's Always About Them

by: Debra

Conservative pundits are complaining about liberal bias in Avatar.  A corporation gets its butt kicked and the hero does marry a girl of color while enjoying the beauty of a land not marred by smokestacks and skyscrapers, is that what they mean?  They should have thought about that last month, before it earned a billion dollars at the box office.  It's a movie and a fluff one at that.  Heaven forbid that people can enjoy a movie as a chance to get away from life's trials and tribulations for a few hours.  Not everyone wants to see a movie where people get laid off to increase a company's bottom line.

The level of paranoia on the right must be rising because Jonah Goldberg goes so far as to bring up Star Wars as an example of movies taking potshots at Bush.
"There are dozens of movies that have taken shots at Bush, starting with 'Star Wars' movies," Goldberg told ABC News. "What's offensive about this is not that it's carrying an ideological agenda. It's that it's so lame. The guy is not even president anymore. ... It's bravery at the cheapest for Cameron to think, if he thinks that, this took courage on his part to make."
Four of those movies were made before Bush was on anyone's radar.  Plus, I don't recall any of the characters being that stupid, unless he thinks Jar Jar Binks was patterned after Bush.  Cheney has dibs on Darth Vader and Obi Wan is not an option.  Yoda liked to speak in short sentences also, but not to prop up his ego so why even bring up Star Wars unless simplistic movies about good triumphing over evil make conservatives think that they are being personally attacked?

The reason it took courage for Cameron to make Avatar is because he invested his own money, invented new equipment and held to true to his vision despite people telling him that it couldn't be done.  You would think that conservatives would be touting him as a successful example of their beliefs instead of getting all worked up because the message is one they don't like.  They can't all be The Birth of a Nation.

Debsweb



· ·
05 January 2010

Intelligence Fail

by: Foiled Goil

The President is really ticked, as we all should be. This kind of screw-up is NOT acceptable.

"The Urgency of Getting This Right"

Jesse Lee, The White House Blog:

This afternoon the President met with relevant agency heads to discuss the ongoing reviews of the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day and move forward on rectifying the problems that were exhibited that day. Afterwards he spoke to the press and the American people about what he and his Administration is doing to keep America safe:
(Excerpt)

The bottom line is this: The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack. But our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the "no fly" list.

In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had. The information was there. Agencies and analysts who needed it had access to it. And our professionals were trained to look for it and to bring it all together.

Now, I will accept that intelligence, by its nature, is imperfect, but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged. That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it.

Video and full transcript are available at the White House link, above.


04 January 2010

Political Health Care provided by Teabaggers

by: Father Tyme

If you’re a Republican politician and/or family of one holding or who has held National or State Office and you or your family had the need for hospital, health or emergency care during your term, you can thank a teabagger.
Yep! The very people who are against getting themselves better health care are spending their own money to see that the people who would deny them and their families decent health care are paying for these parasites. The same people who claim government is too big, too expensive and doesn’t listen to the common American will gladly, even to the point of religious support, pay for all medical and elective procedures for those who would deny you the same.

Dick Cheney’s numerous heart problems and pacemakers (they ain’t cheap) were paid for by all you teabaggers. Didn’t hear one complaint. How many of you teabaggers had to pay for a parent’s pacemaker, even in part? Or how many of you teabaggers couldn’t get one for a parent because your health insurance wouldn’t pay for it? Don’t worry about Cheney’s daughter footing the bill. She won’t. You will…gladly!
George Bush’s pretzel choking incident (hmmm! Like father, like son!)…covered as an emergency visit. And we all know how expensive those are. So what’s few, thirty or forty thousand to soothe his (their) aching throat? And if you choke on a pretzel or a pig-parts chili hot dog at one of your NASCAR events, you don’t mind paying the exorbitant deductible for mediocre care at some strange hospital. Don’t even worry about the cost for transporting you to the facility, they will!

Harry Whittington gets shot in the face by Dick Cheney and guess who foots the bill? You betcha! The teabaggers. Bust your kid’s head playing baseball with him at home and your insurance goes up. Don’t worry about Harry. You paid for his plastic surgery, too. Can’t be that expensive, right?

John Boehner’s tanning episodes are compensated by teabaggers. Guess all of you teabaggers don’t mind paying for his arrogance but still have to fork over $25 an hour so can darken your skin enough to detract from your missing front teeth.

Let’s not forget the rehabilitation and consultation for all of the Republicans who got caught cheating on their wives; had homosexual relations; a few who needed alcohol treatment; a couple who had mental problems (most teabagger’s health insurance won’t cover going nuts! But you paid for a few who lost it all!); the list goes on. I’m sure you can add more.

Let’s not forget all the politicians Nation, Statewide and even many Local who got the H1N1 vaccine long before you teabagers got yours. Remember, those wealthy 50, 60 and 70 year olds are far more important than you or your kids. Plus all the Wall Street employees and their families who are more important than you…they got theirs before you, too…even after all the bonuses you gave them.

And most poiticians families, wives usually but sometimes sons and/or daughters continue to get free coverage even after the retire or in many instances…die. The spouse is covered for the rest of their life! I’m sure you teabagger’s spouses will get free treatment after you die.

And they’re doing this all for you! Because you think they are more important than you or your family, you accept shitty care for yourself and family while praying that nothing happens to those you voted for. Whose family is more important, Mitch McConnell’s or yours? If a hospital could treat only one family and yours and Newt Gingrich’s was the choice, would you let your wife, your son or daughter die so Newt’s could live instead? That’s what you’re doing by supporting them. I’m sure they’d thank you for your sacrifice as they lie on a beach in the Bahamas.

And thanks should also go to a couple of those radicals you listen to on Fox and Clear Channel and Right Wing Hate Radio; the ones who tell you that health reform isn’t needed. Rush Limbaugh for his teabagger-paid-for hospitalization in Hawaii. And his rehab stint in Florida after Island Sex outside America and because he abused OxyContin at his own choice. You paid for that.
Then there’s Glenn beck’s asshole. No, not a particular teabagger, just all of them gladly giving Beck a hand to make sure his ass is functioning as well as his mouth. You must really love the guy to pay for elective surgery so he can sit on his ass all day and complain about the government spending too much money on health care.

Yes sir! All you teabaggers are sure philanthropic about paying for your hero’s medical problems while they deny yours. Sounds fair and balanced to me.
Aren’t you glad you’re not paying for some poor family that health care could mean the difference between life and death? I mean, c’mon! Can’t they pay for it themselves…instead of you paying a few cents more each year? You’re doing it for the politicians but piss on those who can’t afford it or are out of work! You are not only willing to, but will actually stand in line at one of those Republican/Health Company sponsored parties to fight for the right to pay your money to take care of political people and their families who will not do the same for you while you foot the bill for the best coverage your money can buy them. You willingly pay for healthcare for those who tell you it’s socialism to cover all Americans but you support selective socialism for those who can already afford it!

Next time you need to pay for medical care for yourself or your family, remember Glenn Beck’s asshole or Dick Cheney’s pacemakers. Then remember that you paid for them.

God! I love this country!





· ·

Thank You Netflix Streaming

by: Debra

The chin.  Those lips.  The eyes.  The smile.  OMG, I'm in love with Captain Jack.  That would be Harkness, not Sparrow.  Whenever he's on screen I spend most of my time thinking about how good looking he is, how he resembles Mark Harmon in some interesting ways and what I'd like him to do to me.  Whether it's the seductive looks he gives Gwen that his body can't cash, the passionate kisses with Ianto and Captain John Hart (James Marsters from Buffy), or slow dancing with the man who inspired his name, Jack has stolen my heart.

I know it is a passion that will never be returned since he is committed to a civil partnership, but John Barrowman has replaced Nathan Fillion as the sexiest (vote for John as the gay man of the decade. Yes, I know the decade isn't over yet and Neil Patrick Harris is a good guy, but not nearly as good looking) science fiction captain.  Besides, Torchwood has more episodes than Firefly to drool over.  And I'm definitely drooling.  Whoever thinks that the British are uptight, hasn't been watching BBC television.  They have more sex than an R rated movie, it's tastefully done and treated as a fact of life.  That some American viewers are disturbed by the allusions to homosexual sex while heterosexual sex is shown, only demonstrates how far the stick is up our ass about sex.  Everybody does it, otherwise the human race would have died out long ago.  And a lot of people do it just for fun, which goes a long way to explaining why more babies are born in July, August and September.  There's not much else to do when one is snowed in.

Torchwood's first season was a little slow, but still fascinating.  The second season rounds out the characters with well placed humor and hints of independence.  Ianto has blossomed from an uptight fixer to a dry and witty character in his own right.  Plus, he gets to kiss Captain Jack.  Often.  Gwen, Owen and Toshiko make an interesting crew and the storylines are different than the normal crap shown here in the US.  Why in the world did I read the Torchwood Wiki? Now I know what happens to the characters.  I do hope there is a Season 4.

Oh well, at least I have a few more episodes left to indulge my fantasies.

Debsweb





· ·
03 January 2010

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

by: Dark Wraith

Publisher's Note: This post is part of a larger article published January 2, 2010, at The Dark Wraith Forums. As republished here at Big Brass Blog, content has been removed and graphics have been resized.

Although I can usually remember all the details of how I make something, given that I had not made a red velvet cake in years, I had to go to one of my old recipe magazines to jog my memory. I have a nice little collection of recipe publications, mostly the ones you see on the shelves near checkout lines at grocery stores. I don't buy them there, though, because they used to show up all the time at flea markets, used bookstores, and places like that. They're not worth much to anyone else, but my collection is an invaluable resource, even though I have few opportunities to cook ambitiously.

This red velvet cake recipe, modified as I recalled from my version, comes from the November 30, 2004, magazine, Southern Living: Our Best Recipes (Birmingham, Alabama: Oxmoor House Special Editions). While the magazine version might take a little more than half-an-hour, rest assured that, unless you are a very efficient cook, the total preparation time will be more like an hour. In my case, the time is somewhat longer than that because I clean pans, dishes, and utensils as I go along so there's no big mess to clean up at the end of the food preparation phase of the project.

Here's what you'll need for this recipe.
Cake:

• 1 stick (½ cup) of softened butter
• 1½ cups of sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 2½ cups of cake flour
• 1 teaspoon of baking soda
• ½ of salt
• 2 tablespoons of cocoa
• 1 cup of buttermilk
• 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar
• 1 ounce of red food coloring
• 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
• 2 greased, 9-inch round baking dishes

Frosting:

• 1 cup of milk
• 1/3 cup of regular flour
• 1 cup of softened butter
• 1 cup of sugar
• 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

For those of you who are not familiar with ingredients for making food from scratch, let me tell you a couple of things about the ingredients, above. First, cake flour is not the same as what is commonly called "all-purpose flour." In the first part of the recipe, notice that you'll be using cake flour; in the second part, for the frosting, you'll be using all-purpose flour. Your cake will be a little sorry if you use all-purpose flour in that part of the recipe.

Second, when I write "softened butter," that means you should take the butter out of the refrigerator and let it set for about an hour so it warms up and mixes well with the other ingredients. No, leaving butter out of the refrigerator for that long will not endanger your health as long as the butter was good when you put it in the fridge. When I was growing up, butter was left out for much longer, and I don't recall any of my people dying from gastrointestinal upset.

Third, you might have noticed the two greased, round baking dishes in the ingredients. Yes, you can grease the dishes with that spray-on stuff if you like, but I won't do it like that. For one thing, I like to use butter; for another, I have this thing against inhaling aerosolized, fake grease into my lungs, where it will form a nice seal against efficient transport of oxygen to my bloodstream. (But that's just me.) The way I do it is to take a stick of butter and run the end side of it back and forth all over the inside of the baking dish. I do this until I see the dish become somewhat opaque from the layer of butter laid down. Later, not only will the cake come out of the dish intact, but the surface of the cake will be smoother and easier to frost.

Fourth, when I tell you to use "pure vanilla extract," I mean don't go using imitation vanilla. Just don't, okay? You're making good food; avoid using phony chemicals unless you must.

Fifth, when you buy sugar, buy cane sugar. Make sure it says that on the package; otherwise, you might be buying beet sugar. That's right, sugar can come from beets, but that doesn't mean you have to abide the nonsense.

Sixth, "baking soda" is not the same as "baking powder." Baking soda comes in those yellow Arm & Hammer boxes that people used to put in the backs of their refrigerators to absorb bad smells. It's used in recipes, too, like the one here. Baking powder is used in recipes, as well, but not the one here. You will be most disappointed if you use baking powder when a recipe calls for baking soda.

Finally, a word about using salt in recipes. I have to avoid salt as much as possible, and I would love to encourage you to do the same. I cannot eat even small amounts of fast food anymore because the salt content is so high that I will become incapacitated from swilling water starting about an hour after I've eaten the fare at McDonald's, Wendy's, Arby's, Burger King, and any other fast food restaurant. Sometime in the past couple of years, some grocery stores started selling their "fresh meats" laced with salt. The salt is ostensibly being put in as a "natural" preservative, but it has the effect, at least on me, of making the meats inedible unless I soak out the salt before cooking the food. Again, my aversion to salt is far greater than most people's, but you might be surprised at how good food tastes once you've stopped using salt to burn microscopic fissures into your taste buds to cut through the desensitization caused by all the previous salt you've run through your mouth. Try it sometime.

This recipe calls for some salt, and that's not unusual in cakes and pastries. I use it quite sparingly. Although I don't think it's necessary, salt added to batters is old, old tradition, and I'm not the kind of person who dispenses with an ingredient when I don't understand exactly why the tradition of using it first came about and then endured so tenaciously. Hence, in this recipe, I add half-a-teaspoon of salt. Why? Obviously, it's because that's how it's always been done, alright? (That's why I shall never be a liberal, even though most of my readers are, and I love you all more than I care for just about any conservative. But me? a liberal? Never. Progressive? Sure. Liberal? No. Life is too random as it is. Mostly, I blame quantum mechanics.)

Where was I? Oh, yes: making a cake.

The Cake Batter

Cake Batter Step 0
Preheat the oven to 350°

Cake Batter Step 1
Once the stick of butter is nice and soft, combine it with that half-cup of sugar and beat at medium speed. When those two ingredients are blended together, add one of the three eggs and keep beating until that egg is blended in nicely. Add the second egg and beat until you again have a smooth mixture. Add the third egg and beat until what's in the bowl has a nice, creamy look to it. This whole process shouldn't take more than five minutes. Once this step is finished, set the mixture off to the side while you get Step 2 finished. You might as well leave this in the mixing bowl with the mixer because you'll be running it again in just a few minutes.

Cake Batter Step 1


Cake Batter Step 2
Take the two-and-a-half cups of cake flour, the baking soda, salt, and cocoa, and stir these dry ingredients together in a bowl. Use a big spoon to do this; it works well to lift and gather the separate ingredients.

Cake Batter Step 2


Cake Batter Step 3
In another bowl or pan, pour in that cup of buttermilk, along with the tablespoon of distilled white vinegar, the red food coloring, and the two teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Cake Batter Step 3


Cake Batter Step 4
This is where we bring everything together. You'll start with that mixture in the mixing bowl from Step 1. Put in a portion (maybe a third or a fourth) of the dry ingredients from Step 2, then run the mixer at low speed just long enough to get the dry ingredients cut in. Stop the mixer, put in maybe a third of the wet ingredients from Step 3, and run the mixer again just long enough to cut these ingredients through. Stop the mixer, put in some more of the dry ingredients, and run the mixer again (always on low speed) just long enough to get what you've just put in cut through. Stop the mixer and put in some more of the wet ingredients and then run the mixer just long enough to get it blended through. You should do this alternating addition and blending until everything from Steps 1 and 2 has gone into the mixing bowl. Make sure you begin and end with the dry ingredients from Step 2. Four additions with the dry and three with the wet is plenty. You will notice with each addition that what's in the mixing bowl gets redder and redder, but the resulting mixture looks more and more like an actual cake batter. By the time you've gotten everything mixed together, the batter will be quite red and fairly thick.

Cake Batter Step 4


Cake Batter Step 5
Pour the batter into the two greased baking dishes, making every effort possible to get equal amounts in each because you're about to put them in the oven, and the baking time will be dependent upon the volume of batter in the dish, and you want the two, separate dishes to be done at the same time.

Cake Batter Step 5


Cake Batter Step 6
Put the batter-filled baking dishes in the oven. Give them 18 minutes before you start checking to see if they're done. Put a toothpick in each, and when it comes out clean (it can look greasy, but no batter and no sticky cake should be on it), take the dishes out. My experience is that they'll need about 23 minutes, but this is highly dependent upon the oven and somewhat dependent upon the type of baking dishes (clear or colored) that you're using. Overcooking will be as bad for your results as under-cooking, so be diligent in this step.

Cake Batter Step 6


Cake Batter Step 7
Once out of the oven, put each dish on a cooling rack for ten to fifteen minutes. At that time, take a butter knife and run it around the inside edge of each dish several times, pushing slightly in at the bottom to detach the cake at the edges of the underside. Once you've done that, put each rack on top of its dish and flip the contraption over. Pat the cake until it lets go onto the rack. Allow the cakes to finish cooling bare on the racks like that.

Cake Batter Step 7


The Frosting

Frosting Step 1
In a smallish sauce pan, put the one cup of milk and the third of a cup of all-purpose flour. Using a whisk, stir the flour thoroughly into the milk. With the pan on a stove burner set to medium, keep whisking the mixture until it gets quite thick. It will get to the consistency of mashed potatoes as it approaches boiling. Take it off the burner before it actually boils and put it in the refrigerator to cool. It should take maybe 45 minutes for it to get properly chilly. You don't want it cold, just chilled.

Frosting Step 1


Frosting Step 2
When the mixture from Frosting Step 1, above, is getting to just about the right temperature, put the two sticks of softened butter into the mixing bowl with the cup of sugar and the teaspoon of vanilla extract, and run the mixer on high until the ingredients have a nice, creamy consistency. Stop the mixer and put in that cooled mixture from Frosting Step 1. Run the mixer on high, but only long enough to get the ingredients well mixed. Avoid over-beating.

Frosting Step 2


Put the Cake All Together

Put one of the cake layers, both of which should now be cooled to room temperature, onto your cake dish. This layer should be flat side up (in other words, the side that was at the bottom of its baking dish should be up). Spread the top and sides of this layer with frosting from the mixing bowl.

Now, put the other layer, flat side down on top of the layer you've just frosted. Spread the top and sides of this layer with the rest of your frosting, making sure to generously cover the seam between the layers with frosting.

Last Step


You have now finished your cake, and it is ready to serve.

Frosting Step 2


Be sure to cover and refrigerate whatever is left over of this cake from the first helpings. You can warm it up to eat some later, but be aware that this cake won't keep very well, so you should eat it all within 48 hours or so of preparation.

Red Velvet Cake


Enjoy your cake, good readers, and eat some, too.


· ·
02 January 2010

Dark Voices Radio for January 2, 2010

by: Dark Wraith

Go to the Dark Voices Radio showpage


Dark Voices Radio will air tonight, Saturday, at 10 p.m. Click on the link graphic above to go to the showpage. Tune in, listen in, call in.

This is Internet talk radio at its best.

Why?

The Dark Wraith is the host, that's why.


· · · ·
01 January 2010

After the party was over.

by: Foiled Goil

Wasn't that a party?!


Was it good for you, too?