Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Best of Thomas Friedman

A wise and observant friend said recently that if Thomas Friedman were prohibited from using the pronoun "I" he would be rendered mute. My own view has been that Friedman needs to get over himself.

But and so, Read this column.

A quick scan found no pronoun "I"'s. More than that his message is straightforward and true.
He remains one of the best pundits at telling it like it is.

This piece is one of his best.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Already It Starts. Insurers Working on Loopholes

"Insurers" is a misnomer. Their game plan is all about not insuring people.


Oh, This is Good

This is really good. Tom Toles does funny cartoons, and it seems he writes funny too.

There are two topics on this link; Obama and Bibbi cartoon as "strained bedfellows", and Toles written piece which follows about Catholic Church scandals called "Don't Even Think About It".


Hedges and the Not So Obvious

Chris Hedges continues his voice crying in the wilderness in this piece at today.

He alerts us to what is not so obvious to most folks, that the two political parties are equally controlled by corporate interests, what he called "Reverse Totalitarianism" in a previous essay, a form of fascism in which politics is subservient to economics.

In this view he appears to agree with the position Ralph Nader has preached for more than a decade.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Frank Rich Gets It Right

Here's Frank Rich's column in today's NY Times about the rising anger on the right. He correctly observes that the HCR thing was only an excuse for behaving badly.

It's the fact that a black man is president and a woman is Speaker, and a gay man holds a powerful chairman position that's got their goat. Black Congressmen are spit upon, and an openly gay Congressman was called a faggot.

They just can't deal with the reality of today's America. Prejudice lives and it's as dangerous as ever. As Eugene Robinson, writing in WaPo says, they have to stop it before someone gets hurt.
What is needed is for GOPher leaders to openly and quickly call out these mostly white Tea Party types and condemn them for what they are doing and saying. Start with Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, as perpetrators. Their needed accusers should be McConnell, Boehner and Lindsay Graham for starters. That's not likely to happen because they are afraid themselves, and as Rich points out, if these guys are afraid, so should we all be afraid.



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good Grief and Oy Vey

I give up. Read it and weep.


Give It Up For Grandma

Cartoon: Grannie strikes back.


Multiple Voices, One Message

Here are several pieces by Glenn Greenwald, Juan Cole and others on how Israel is shooting itself in the foot.

These important voices are saying what needs to be said.

It seems that right wing extremists of all stripes, including America's own GOPhers and Tea Partiers, are becoming more and more unhinged. It's time that sensible people in positions of power call them out and do what it takes to implement some serious consequences for their actions. For Israel, stop our $3 Billion a year welfare check, or at least cut it in half.

Of course that's not gonna happen so long as Congress lives in fear of groups like AIPAC. Had did that happen? As usual, follow the money.

We're told time and again that we're the richest nation on earth. How does that square with our huge and obscene deficit, and our relying on China and other not so certain friends to keep us afloat? And how is it that we can send $3B to Israeli annually when we're in that kind of terrible financial shape? Sometimes unwelcome and inconvenient questions need to be asked and the cold, unvarnished truth must be told.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Liberalism VS Progressivism?

Here's a piece on Truthdig which addresses an interesting topic; the distinction, if there is one, between Liberalism and Progressivism. Is this a distinction without a difference or is there a basic difference in principle as the author claims?

Based on his definition I identify more with Progressivism, than Liberalism, kind of like shopping at a whole foods store rather than a candy store.

Though I got an "A" in macro economics I've forgotten much of what I memorized for the final.

Any economists out there who can help out here? Use the 'Comments' option at the end of the post.


Mental Health Break; Courtesy Of The Vatican

Check out this cartoon.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Who Would Have Thought?

Who would have thought a couple of years ago that we'd ever see a photo like this.

Japan, North Vietnam, Germany and Italy are allies and trading partners.

We shouldn't be so surprised.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Israel: Nothing to Lose

Here's a straight forward, rational, and unvarnished evaluation of Israel's behavior toward the U.S.

They are quite sure that they have nothing to lose by talking about peace with the Palestinians while maintaining the status quo, which is usurping more and more Palestinian land with new settlements.

They are quite right. As long as we keep sending them $3 Billion a year, why should they worry?
Money talks.

This is another of the insightful essays found on No, I don't get royalties or finders' fees for saying good things about this site. It's just a great place to read the unvarnished truth about American foreign policy.


The Wisdom of Helen

Just in case you aren't aware of the blog, Margaret and Helen, here is Helen's message to Bart Stupak. It's a typical Helenism. Trust me. I mean it. Really.


The Last Supper; An Updated Review

Here's an updated review of the Last Supper for those who like to keep abreast of the goings on of the poor and famous.

It seems that in the group picture, as made by subsequent artists, portion control on the part of the caterer got out of hand.

That was the gathering at which the Host and all His guests were seated on one side of the table so as to be recognizable in their group picture.


Netanyahu: "Jerusalem is not a Settlement"

Here's a piece about what Netanyahu and HRC said to AIPAC yesterday. Netanyahu said, to raucus applause, "Jerusalem is not a settlement".

Reminds me of an old joke: Two guys are up in a hot air balloon which has been blown off course. They holler to a guy on the ground out in a field, "Where are we?" "You're in a balloon", says the guy on the ground.

One guy in the balloon says to the other guy in the balloon, "Must be an accountant". "How's that", says the other guy. First guy says, "Perfectly accurate information, but totally useless".

Netanyahu made an accurate statement, within his own belief system, but useless in the cause of US/Israeli relations. It did, though, serve his purpose, which is to keep the tail wagging the dog. It brought down the house, which was filled with right wing, hard line, Jewish Americans.

It's important to know that this group does not represent anything like a unified view of all Jewish Americans. J Street, which calls for a two state solution, represents the much more constructive view of Jewish Americans. I recommend visiting the Israel Policy Forum web site for a more balanced view.


What is Truth? Read This

Here's Bob Herbert speaking the truth. It needs no elaboration from me, except to say that he's yearning for mankind's perfection, a state of being which can't and won't happen.


David Brooks,: Not Wrong, Definitely Misleading

Here's David Brooks' column on what he calls the Democrats' idealism. He's not wrong when he worries about the cost of health care reform and other government programs. But he is misleading. He calls what the Dems have created "welfare" and "entitlements", words which convey the connotation of getting something for nothing. What the Dems have done is to create "safety nets" designed to save people from bankruptcy when fate over takes them, though they have done all they could to take care of themselves.

The opposite of safety nets is the mentality espoused by the most cynical of GOPhers that people should rely on themselves, and if they fail, that's just the way it is.

Ironically the far right fringe of these same hard hearted folks, fundamentalist Christianists, eschew evolution in which survival of the fittest is nature's way, and then turn around and tell those who are losing the battle to survive, that that's just the way it is.

To understand that irony requires thinking which the GOPhers hope people won't do. Consequently, and tragically, their base has come to be comprised mostly of folks who don't or can't think; for example the idiocy of the tea party people.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

David Remnick Making Sense in The New Yorker

David Remnick, writing in The New Yorker, makes the case for Netanyahu and his right wing Likud buddies to abandon their wish to retain the status quo in the Israeli/Palestinian standoff.

He ridicules the idea that Obama is cool toward Israel, citing examples of Obama's past and current relationships with American Jews of many stripes. He makes the case for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, with a contiguous land mass approximating the size of the West Bank and Gaza, allowing for land swaps to offset the Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. He also makes the case that the capital of that state should be East Jerusalem.

It will be interesting to see how Netanyahu conducts himself during his upcoming visit to this country, specifically what he says to AIPAC when he addresses them, and what HRC will say to that right wing Jewish lobby.


Michael Moore Exposes Bart Stupak

I really love a guy who's outrageous enough to blow the cover of hypocrites. Here Michael Moore does just that on Bart Stupak, his Congressman, who's been holding the Health Care Reform bill hostage for reasons of his faith, reasons which Moore points out are lacking in any Biblical basis.


Pat Lang on Israel; My Sentiments Exactly

I agree with Pat Lang of Sic Semper Tyrannis on the latest US/Israel flap, or the slap heard round the world.

Why is George Mitchell humiliating himself, and, by extension, the Obama administration, by continually trying to appeal to hard right Netanyahu and his cohorts to halt settlement advances? It's a kind of behavior much like Obama's continual bipartisan magical thinking. Ain't gonna happen.

As my father used to say, when people offended him, "Haul off and leave 'em alone". It's time to put Netanyahu in short pants. That's also magical thinking, at least until J Street becomes as powerful as AIPAC.


Medical Insurance Companies and Christian Scientists

Here's a heartbreaking story by Nicholas Kristof about friends of his who have been betrayed by their insurance company. How is that kind of behavior fundamentally different from that of Christian Science parents who let their own child die rather than treat them for their illness?

Parents behaving this way have been prosecuted. Why not CEO's of insurance companies accused of doing essentially the same thing? The answer: Follow the money and its golden rule; The one with the gold rules


Chris Hedges, The Classic Voice Crying in the Wilderness

Here is what might be called a eulogy for civilization. It's at least disturbing, as well as eye opening.

I should be surprised that Hedges lumps Obama in with all that he abhors. But I'm not. Hedges is truly a Voice Crying in the Wilderness, one who professes to know that our road to doom is paved by the way we are buying into magical thinking.

Talking about war he conjures up the trenchant image of releasing our monsters against theirs.

On a personal note I was thrilled to see that he quotes Benjamin DeMott in his piece, citing DeMott's label "junk politics". I had the good fortune to have been befriended by Ben, a giant among giants of English literature professors, as my mentor while an English major undergraduate at Amherst College, class of 1959.


Truthout Speaks Out

Truthout editors speak out. This is the best I've seen on the real costs of the Iraq War.

Please read it and recommend it to those in your sphere of influence.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

What If---

What if McCain and chosen Lieberman as his running mate in the 2008 election and they had won?

Here's a piece by Glenn Greenwald on a bill being introduced by these two dangerous men which could take us down the road of a military dictatorship, even further than the so-called John Yoo legal opinions offered Bush and Cheney.

There's always a need to be ever vigilant when people like this are in positions of power and influence.

Glenn Greenwald writes for which is a worthwhile website for frequent visits.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

William Astore; Another Voice Crying, And Publicly

Here's a terrific essay by a retired Air Force officer on what I call the fifth branch of our government, separate and seemingly immune to criticism and or budget restraint, the Pentagon. James Carroll calls it "The House of War".

It's also another example of the power and value of It should be on your list of blogs to read frequently, if not daily. It's all about ending American imperialism.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Straight Talk About Israeli Settlements

Here's Roger Cohen's opinion about Israel's latest affront to America. It seems to be a honest and straightforward criticism. I hope that his stature as a knowledgeable and credible journalist, publishing in the world renowned New York Times, and as a Jew, will have a strong impact on Israel's politicians.

Update: Here's Richard Cohen's opinion on the subject in his Washington Post column. He seems to agree that the settlements are a real problem, but also has a need to blame the Palestinians for revering their terrorists. He has a point of course, but he's also using the grammar school yard style of arguing; 'You started it, no you started it'.

Leviticus started it.

The ultra orthodox Jews who are usurping more and more Palestinian land are continuing it, claiming God told them to. How can rational people argue with that? They can't. This kind of behavior scores points for people like Sam Harris who wrote, "The End of Faith" and Richard Dawkins who wrote "The God Delusion".

Update II:

Here's the WaPo editorial board's contribution to the debate. When did AIPAC gain control over the Washington Post? Need I say more?


Monday, March 15, 2010

Col. Lang on AIPAC Blaming the US for the Snub

When Col.(Ret.) Pat Lang takes a strong stance I am inclined to pay attention. His military background, including Intelligence work in the Middle East and his familiarity with the IDF and Israeli politics, makes him a credible source on matters of US/Israel matters.

Here is his comment on what AIPAC just published on the topic of the so-called snub of VP Biden in Israel recently.

The pro-Israeli lobbies, which apparently now also include the Washington Post editorial board, don't miss any opportunity to portray the US as a pimp for Israel. Shameful.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Christopher Hitchens' Ten Commandments

Here's today's must watch and listen offering. Christopher Hitchens takes apart Moses' Ten and substitutes his own as being relevant to today's world.

This is a wonderful Mental Health break .


"WaPo Neocon Watch"

Here's a piece by Andrew Sullivan on the Washington Post looking more and more like the print version of Fox News. Jackson Diehl goes after Biden for condemning Netanyahu for the announcement of more encroaching settlements during Biden's Can't We All Just Get Along visit.

Compare to Thomas Friedman's take in today's New York Times.


Agnostics Get Some Well Deserved Recognition

Here's a short piece from Andrew Sullivan's 'The Daily Dish' with a positive take on agnostics. How counter cultural. As a religious agnostic I am most pleased to know that our pluralistic approach is recognized.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Here's a side of Joe Biden I hadn't heard about. Pat Lang's story of witnessing first hand how Biden lost it when the subject of Israel/Palestinians came up in a meeting sounds plausible; and troubling.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Something to Cry About

Here's an essay by Chris Hedges on America's future. He's the Voice Crying in the Wilderness on this one. Let's hope he's over reacting, but I suspect he's telling the truth. At least he's calling it the way he sees it.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Obscenity Redefined

This level of extravagance rivals that of outrageous compensation in some sectors of the market on the obscenity meter.

In today's economic climate especially, the gap between the haves and the have nots is clearly approaching a nineteenth century Versailles revolutionary model. The flaunting arrogance is reminiscent of "Let them eat cake". Disgusting.

Aux barricades!!!



Perhaps we need another Noah flood or Chicxulub asteroid to clean house.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Here's a link to this Wednesday's column by Olivia Judson in the Times. She is an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College, London. She writes about the influence of science and biology on modern culture.

The Voice recommends checking it out on Wednesdays. This week's edition is on the evolution of grass and its role in the evolution of vast numbers of species and our own human culture.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Can Elelphants Hear Our Prayers?"

I hang out with some interesting characters. Here's a post from one of them, writing as Thomas, on his blog,

This is the kind of stuff we kick around in our Tuesday Lunchmen group. It helps keep our minds sharp, while the bodies we count on to haul them around are diminishing.

Pat Lang's Useful Summary/Warning

Here's Pat Lang's piece on the Tea Partiers, an interesting essay from a traditional Conservative.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Who Are They?

Who are the people with the guts to stop this shameful practice?

Here's a link to another government insider, this time from the Treasury no less, leaving his government job to work for a lobbying firm which advises financial institutions about what's going on in the Treasury Department, information which they can use to cash in.

Timothy Geithner has lost all credibility as an impartial and objective regulator. While he has not left, yet, he is far too cozy with those he is supposed to regulate, to protect the public. As this guys boss, who must have been influential in his hiring, Geithner should take responsibility for nonsense like this.

Congress, if there's any honesty left in that once august body, should pass legislation that prohibits people like this guy from lobbying Congress. There are prohibitions against lobbying the administration for a time, but Congress is the place that needs to rid itself of people being owned by the banks.

"Rid itself"; aye there's the rub. Congress won't do it. SCOTUS won't do it. The administration can't do it. Only the voters can.

When will they?

Aux barricades!!!


Me Big Chief Red-In-The-Face

I figured out why I couldn't provide the executable link. I was typing in Edit Html mode, whatever the hell that is. When I switched back to Compose mode it worked fine. So it wasn't the fault of Senior citizen English majors just don't understand the Geek Language. (That's not a misspelling.)


Aux Barricades

What Mark Shields exposes in his piece on Friday, Feb. 26 simply makes me furious. It's about people making millions and paying no income tax.
Shades of Versailles.

It's title is Lightening the Burden of the Super-Rich.

Again, I am unable, for some reason as yet unknown to me, to provide an executable link to the piece. What prints out is a complete link, http://etc.., not highlighted. If you have a clue please tell me. It just happened today. The geek gods are pissed I guess.


Now Here's a Theological Claim to Think About

For some reason is preventing me from providing an executable link to James Carroll's column in today's Boston Globe. You can find it at

He writes about Haiti and God.

Toward the end he makes a rather startling claim that Christianity began without God. Check it out. He makes a reasoned claim for it.