Sunday, September 27, 2009

Be very afraid


The Durham Fair prevented me from posting this earlier, but apparently at yesterday's UConn football game, fans were advised to
Allow for a little more time if you're going to Rentschler Field for the Rhode Island-UConn game ...

There will be increased security because of heightened national security concerns ...

Everybody will be subject to search and a pat-down before entering the stadium.
Stuff like this drives me absolutely insane (a pat down!?!) and demonstrates just how much the paranoid boomers have taken over our society.

That is, someone tries to build a bomb in Colorado, and, all of a sudden, East Hartford, CT thinks it's vulnerable.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Second chances


To be sure, kids sometimes screw up, but sometimes they learn their lesson and earn a second chance. Arkansas' prep footballer Thamail Morgan may be one such kid. At any rate, he demonstrated a kind of sportsmanship that his school can be proud of. May he stay on the straight and narrow.

On the other hand, I don't feel quite as good about a recent somewhat comparable local episode.

UPDATE - Jim Bransfield of the Middletown Press has a very late coda to the East Haven story.

Quote of the day


I'm ordinarily not a big fan of Andrew Sullivan, but he nails the ethical problem of torture in this month's Atlantic:
In long wars of ideas, moral integrity is essential to winning, and framing the moral contrast between the West and its enemies as starkly as possible is indispensable to victory, as it was in the Second World War and the Cold War. But because of the way [Bush] chose to treat prisoners in American custody in wartime—a policy that degraded human beings with techniques typically deployed by brutal dictatorships—we lost this moral distinction early, and we have yet to regain it.
I've never seen this argument made quite so succinctly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What was the name of that corporation again?


Linda McMahon, the Constitution State's latest Republican senatorial candidate, has hit the radio airwaves with a one-minute spot that emphasizes her fiscal conservatism and her business background. Funny thing is that she makes a very big deal of mentioning that she was the CEO of a Connecticut publicly-traded industry, but never actually mentions the name of the company! She couldn't actually be ashamed of the steroid-condoning company, now could she?

Or maybe it's skeletons in her closet like the one below that make her a little gun shy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Keep your plutocratic paws off my ...


Just once before I die I'd like to see something that stays the way it was intended to be. Having seen red, white and blue bases used for All-Star games, Super Bowls that go late into the night, etc., etc., I'd like the plutocrats to be denied just once in the market economy called the US of A.

So it is with the notion of "net neutrality," where commercial titans like Comcast would like to make it more difficult for subscribers to access any of a number of web sites. It's good to see that today, perhaps, that notion hit a wall.

The Mideast quagmire


The news isn't real good from the region the Bushies forgot. Viz.,
The senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army General Stanley McChrystal, says in a confidential assessment of the war that without additional forces and a new strategy, the mission "will likely result in failure".
Now if someone could just figure out what, exactly, the mission is in the poppy capital of the world, this story might make some sense.

And, lest we forget,
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is again highlighting his denial of the Holocaust, saying the anger his comments provoke is a source of pride.
In other words, he's proud of his idiocy.

I'm not sure the progression toward democracy is working out too well on the other side of the world.

Liquid diet


DarLucky sends the following along:
A sweeping [California] study released [Thursday] points to soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages as one of the main reasons why we are fat.

"For the first time, we have strong scientific evidence that soda is one of the—if not the largest—contributors to the obesity epidemic," Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, said Wednesday.
I suppose this isn't too surprising if one considers that a supersize Coke at McDonald's contains 410 calories, but it's still noteworthy since people drink soda like (or instead of) water in some instances.

Actually, I'd go even further than that and lay a certain amount of blame on diet sodas in the obesity epidemic. Viz., I know many people who drink a lot (a lot) of diet soda and feel they have to have a snack with it. In fact, I know two women who've given up diet sodas for exactly that reason. (And, one of these days, I, too, will cut back on the quarts of Diet Mountain Dew I ingest daily for exactly that reason.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's a poor workman who blames his tools


To make a long and somewhat sad story short, the computer I'm currently using from 0700 to 1500 on weekdays is pretty crappy and painfully slow. At any rate, it's made posting a bit more tedious than I'd like it.

Add to that the fact that the "news" these days is so repetitive (and ludicrous) as to be deadly (Take a look here for an example of what I mean.), and it's just been a bit difficult to crank up the old Blogger.

DarLucky sent me something the other day that I want to comment on, and I will. But, in the meantime, one could do worse than taking a look at Jason Linkins to see what's going on in the world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More laughs from the Constitution State


Who is this woman and why is she in the news today?

For the answer, take a look here.

The state is determined to prove Mencken's belief that "democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hot Club of Cowtown


Apropos of nothing, I saw this group in concert last night, and they were outstanding. One of the songs they did was the old standard, "Little Liza Jane."

Walking the walk, cont'd


Every so often BO gives a speech that seems nothing short of sensational and inspirational (as Clyde Frazier might say), and such appeared to be the case Wednesday night when he speechified about health care in the US. Nevertheless, both Frank Rich and Colin McEnroe weren't particularly impressed.

Mr. Rich opines in his Times column today that BO's summer was nothing less than squandered and that it'll take more than a nice 30-minute oration to salvage it.

Colin McEnroe is even more strident:
[I]t's no surprise that President Barack Obama responded to ... Joe Wilson's insolence by … accepting Wilson's apology. This is a problem with Obama. Sometimes you want to send him a boxed set of "Godfather" movies or something. "You lie!" is at least worth having the guy wake up with a horse's head in his bed, although in this day and age you would have to find a horse who died of natural causes and not as the result of an equine death panel.
Let's face it. This is the problem that too many progressives have with BO: He just can't seem to follow through on his inspiring ideas, and this is especially bothersome when his predecessor was pretty much able to ram through any dim-witted legislation he tried.

Now that the "political capital" is on this president's side, he doesn't seem to know what to do with it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Quote of the Day


Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing one to be deflected by the facts.
—Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly, 1985
I've just begun reading this somewhat dated book (Its narrative ends with the Vietnam War.), but it sure does make me think of the idiotic decisions that were made in the early part of the decade.

Plus ça change ...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Norman Podhoretz and "dual loyalty"


Glenn Greenwald, himself a Jew, discusses Norman Podhoretz's new book (For another review, see here.) wherein Mr. P argues that
American Jews do—and should—base their political beliefs not on what is best for their own country, but on what is best for a foreign country (Israel). According to him, even though Obama shares most of their views on political matters ("on abortion, gay rights, school prayer, gun control and assisted suicide, the survey data show that Jews are by far the most liberal of any group in America"), American Jews should have nonetheless voted for McCain because of McCain's alleged "long history of sympathy with Israel."
Moreover, Greenwald asserts that
This [dual loyalty] has been permitted for a long time now. Neocons arrogate unto themselves the right to make appeals to what they believe is the "dual loyalty" of American Jews—most of whom, in fact, reject their radical ideology—when trying to coerce support for their agenda. Podhoretz's Commentary Magazine convened a "symposium" of some of the nation's most typical war-loving neocons to discuss his new book, and virtually everyone of them argued that American Jews should shift their political loyalties to the Right because the Right is "better for Israel"—as though considerations of what's best for a foreign country is how most American Jews (rather than just neocons) decide how they vote in American elections. Neocons have long gotten away with this manipulative game: simultaneously demanding that American Jews support the Right on the ground that the Right is allegedly better for Israel (i.e., a "dual loyalty" appeal) while branding as "bigots" and "anti-Semites" anyone and everyone who points out that neocons think this way.
As one who's been uncomfortable pointing "out that neocons think this way" (I'm thinking of accusations I've made against a certain northeastern former Democratic US senator.), I'm glad to see Greenwald make the argument that there are certain politicians who base their political beliefs not on what is best for their own country, but on what is best for Israel.

In other words, voters should vote for someone who'll serve them in Washington and not in Jerusalem.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Walking the walk


It's impossible to say with certainty whether President Obama's speech on health care reform last night will have the intended impact. Will intra-party differences between Democrats be resolved? Will public attitudes shift back in the White House's direction? Did the speech help reframe the debate? We don't yet know.

We do know, however, that the president did exactly what he needed to do, and delivered what was probably the best speech of his presidency [no matter what Joe Wilson thought].
Steve Benen elucidates.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

There's a time for joy


Only 33 percent of the freshmen who enter the University of Massachusetts, Boston, graduate within six years. Less than 41 percent graduate from the University of Montana, and 44 percent from the University of New Mexico. The economist Mark Schneider refers to colleges with such dropout rates as "failure factories," and they are the norm.

The United States does a good job enrolling teenagers in college, but only half of students who enroll end up with a bachelor’s degree. Among rich countries, only Italy is worse. That’s a big reason inequality has soared, and productivity growth has slowed. Economic growth in this decade was on pace to be slower than in any decade since World War II—even before the financial crisis started.
I'm really kind of astounded that the figures are so abysmal. Of course, I'm cognizant only of my own experiences, where those males who didn't stay in college ran the risk of spending the related time in a Southeast Asia jungle.

Now, of course, it's markedly different. There's no comparable incentive to stay in school, and the job market certainly isn't consoling. I hope that these data can change, but it'll take serious societal change for that to occur.

To be sure, college is a nice place to hang out, but it'd be nice if it were used for more profound purposes.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Uh, Governor Clubwoman?


Gov. M. Jodi Rell nearly exceeded her authority when she tried to kill off $8 million in "pork" from the two-year, $37.6-billion budget passed by majority Democrats.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal told Hearst's Connecticut Newspapers on Tuesday that the state Constitution requires the governor to first sign the legislation, if she wants to use her line-item veto authority.
How to know your state's Constitution, ya moron.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Is it because he's black?


When kids all across the country return to school Tuesday, some will see a welcoming message from President Barack Obama and some won't.

Obama's planned address to students has touched off yet another confrontation with Republican critics, who have battered the White House over health care and now accuse the president of foisting a political agenda on children ...

Schools don't have to show it. But districts across the country have been inundated with phone calls from parents and are struggling to address the controversy that broke out after Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to principals urging schools to tune in.
I'm sorry that the Courant doesn't have a local spin on this (The paper's plagiarism woes are due to its skeleton reporting crew.), because I know for a fact that dittoheads have called admninistrators in at least two Connecticut school districts.

Apparently, BO's aim in the talk is to emphasize responsibility; thus, it's no wonder that Republicans are against it.



The Courant owns up.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Governor Gutless


Well, the Constitution State finally has a budget, no thanks to Madame Macandcheese.

During the "summerlong soap opera at the Capitol," Governor Clubwoman consistently showed how little she understands the legislative process and, worse, demonstrated just how callous she is toward social programs and how chummy she is with the state's affluent.

(I have to admit that Governor Mom hasn't been the only one who's been less than earnest about the budget fiasco.)

He's alive!!


A hoax video purportedly showing Michael Jackson emerging from a coroner's van was an experiment aimed at showing how quickly misinformation and conspiracy theories can race across the Internet, German broadcaster RTL said Tuesday.

The video was posted by RTL on YouTube for a single day a week ago and received 880,000 hits. The broadcaster has since removed the video from YouTube, but it has been picked up by other Web sites around the world.
Golly. And here I thought if something was on the Internet it was, ipso facto, true.