Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, July 31, 2011

GOP Motivation

Bill Maher Makes GOP Motivational Reel

On Friday night's "Real Time," Bill Maher touched on one of the most ridiculous aspects of the debt ceiling debate: the GOP's use of a scene from "The Town" as a motivational tool.

Like Jon Stewart did earlier this week, Maher suggested a few other scenes from movies that Republicans might want to draw inspiration from when trying to convince Tea Partiers to back their plan.

Domestic Terrorism

Gee, now who might have firebombed a Planned Parenthood clinic in McKinney, Texas this week?  Can you say Christian terrorists?  I know you can.

No doubt some apologists on the right will suggest that it was the "left" firebombing their own clinic to gain sympathy.  The FBI had better be investigating.  We've had too many doctors KILLED because of the violence, ignorance and idiocy spewing from the Bible.  

Planned Parenthood firebombed, right wing silent

A potential incident of domestic terrorism this week got a yawn from most of the press -- and the political right

Someone firebombed a Planned Parenthood clinic in McKinney, Texas, late Tuesday night. Because it was so late, no one was hurt. The clinic doesn't provide abortions, but there had been protesters there earlier that day anyway. You might've read about the news on Twitter or on a liberal blog. Probably not in a newspaper or on a cable new channel. Definitely not at any right-wing blogs. Which is a bit odd, actually, considering how much attention terrorist attacks generally get in this country.

Oh, sorry, how much attention possible Islamic terrorist attacks get.

Planned Parenthood, in case you haven't been paying attention, has been the focus of a flood of political attacks -- both rhetorical and legislative -- since approximately the minute the Republicans who were elected in 2010 took office across the nation. James O'Keefe shopped around one of his trademark shamelessly misleading video "stings." Glenn Beck devoted an hour to falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of various heinous crimes. The major right-wing pundits have stepped up the hysterical anti-reproductive rights rhetoric as multiple states attempted to defund the organization. The right has even moved on to attacking contraception, as if it doesn't even want people to believe that its goal isn't to control women's bodies.

The National Review's the Corner has run multiple posts on some pro-life "study" accusing Planned Parenthood of "systemic, organization-wide fraud and abuse" and even human trafficking "at this federally funded billion-dollar abortion business." One of them said, "Where is the Media," and bemoaned the fact that the mainstream press was supposedly "ignoring" the report, which got a major press conference with multiple members of Congress and coverage in Politico and the Hill.

But, weirdly, this Planned Parenthood news has not been mentioned at the National Review.

It's easy to imagine that if the target of the attack had been associated with the right -- Marcus Bachmann's clinic, maybe? -- this would be a major national story, even if no one was hurt and the attacker's identity was still unknown.

It's even easier to imagine that if anyone had any reason to suspect that a Muslim did this, that it'd be not just a major national story but also the subject of congressional inquiries and maybe eventually an air war. (Even failed Islamic terrorists are treated as if they succeeded by politicians, these days.)

We obviously don't know yet, but this attack seems more likely to be the work of a politically motivated person with conservative beliefs than a random act of vandalism. In other words, domestic terrorism. Someone threw a Molotov cocktail at a women's health clinic. It's insane that only a couple of Internet feminists actually seem to care.
  • Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene More: Alex Pareene

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Juanita's plan

Here’s my plan.

I’m not going to pay my Master Card bill this month. I need to cut back on my spending so I’m going to start by not paying my Master Card bill. That, obviously, will make me spend less as soon as I decide what I need to quit spending on. That’s how I’m going to do it.

Now, I know that not paying my Master Card bill will ruin my credit rating and I might not be able to eat next month but, dammit, I have to start somewhere and not paying my bills seems like a good place to start.

I think I’ll cut back on spending for my medicine and a car to drive to work. I might get sick and lose my job but I just gotta quit spending. I’ll keep my yacht and my vacation to Europe because I deserve those things because I’m …. Well, you know, white and educated.

This is a good plan. John Boehner would agree.

Let’s all quit paying our bills. It’s the Republican way.


Thursday, July 28, 2011


Another item that I am not surprised about....Disgusted, but not surprised. 

No, there are just not enough bullshit issues out there already.  My own U.S. House rep, Republican John Culberson, has to go out and make up some shit to try and make Obama and the Democrats look bad.  Doesn't matter if he is lying his ass off.  He's a Republican, and that's what they do.  You think I'm exaggerating?! 

No, the Obama Administration Didn't Ban the Word 'God'

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) has an overactive imagination. He’s convinced that the Obama Administration somehow managed to ban references to God from military funerals in Houston:

A Texas lawmaker is calling for a Congressional investigation of the Houston National Cemetery after he went undercover and determined that cemetery officials are still preventing Christian prayers at the funerals of military veterans.

“The Obama administration continues to try to prevent the word ‘God’ from being used at the funerals of our heroes,” said. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX). “It’s unacceptable and I’m going to put a stop to it as fast as humanly possible.”

Culberson told Fox News Radio he attended a burial service at the cemetery under cover on July 8 where he said volunteer members of the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars were prohibited from using any references to God.

Culberson’s allegations echo a lawsuit that various veterans groups filed claiming that they were somehow prevented from even saying the word “God” while participating in military funerals. There’s only one problem with these claims — they have no basis in reality.

The allegations claim that a low-level Veterans Affairs official, veterans cemetery director Arleen Ocasio, specifically instructed volunteers employed by the VA not to mention God or otherwise engage in religious speech during a funeral without her approval. In reality, Ocasio said nothing of the sort:

Ocasio has never told anyone that the VFW District 4 honor guards were prohibited from including prayer or religious speech in its ritual unless families submit the prayer or religious speech to her in writing prior to the committal services. [...] Ocasio told the VA Voluntary Services trainees that they needed to ensure that their military funeral honors were reflective of the desires of the families of the Veterans being honored, that there is no “do over” for a committal service, and that no Veteran’s family should ever leave offended or unhappy with the services provided by the Cemetery staff or the registered VA volunteers.

In other words, the administration takes the radical position that military funerals should reflect the wishes of the families of the deceased. If a family wants a religious ceremony, then they should have one. But it is not the job of government workers — even those working on a volunteer basis — to decide for military families how their loved ones should be honored.

Culberson’s attempt to politicize these funerals is nothing sort of disgusting, and doubly so because his allegations lack any basis in fact.

Original.  Thanks, Dave.  Although I didn't need more proof that Culberson is a lying jerk, I had missed this latest example.

Call in the Seals

Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Drought monitor

Gee, according to the image below (which you should click to view in a larger form), Texas Gov. Rick Perry's big "DAY of PRAYER for RAIN" didn't work. It apparently had no effect whatsoever! How not shocking! How not surprising!! Maybe God hates you, Rick!

It is our misfortune to have a stupid asshole like Rick Perry in the Governor's job. As if George W. Bush wasn't stupid enough! Maybe God is punishing us for electing this foolish moron.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Obama NOT caving

He doesn't NEED to cave. He's already one of them. I'm having one of those "D'oh!" moments. This explains a lot.

Obama is NOT "Caving" to Corporate Interests

by Jeff Cohen

In a campaign almost as frenzied as the effort to get Barack Obama into the White House, liberal groups are now mobilizing against the White House and reported deals that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. They accuse President Obama of being weak and willing to “cave” to corporate and conservative forces bent on cutting the social safety net while protecting the wealthy.

Those accusations are wrong.

The accusations imply that Obama is on our side. Or was on our side. And that the right wing is pushing him around.

But the evidence is clear that Obama is an often-willing servant of corporate interests -- not someone reluctantly doing their bidding, or serving their interests only because Republicans forced him to.

Since coming to Washington, Obama has allied himself with Wall Street Democrats who put corporate deregulation and greed ahead of the needs of most Americans:

In 2006, a relatively new Senator Obama was the only senator to speak at
the inaugural gathering of the Alexander Hamilton Project launched by Wall Street Democrats like Robert Rubin and Roger Altman, Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and deputy secretary. Obama praised them as “innovative, thoughtful policymakers.” (It was Rubin’s crusade to deregulate Wall Street in the late ‘90s that led directly to the economic meltdown of 2008 and our current crisis.)

In early 2007, way before he was a presidential frontrunner, candidate Obama was raising more money from Wall Street interests than all other candidates, including
New York presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.

In June 2008, as soon as Hillary ended her campaign, Obama went on CNBC, shunned the “populist” label and announced: “Look: I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.” He packed his economic team with Wall Street friends -- choosing one of Bill Clinton’s Wall Street deregulators, Larry Summers, as his top economic advisor.

A year into his presidency, in a bizarre but revealing interview with Business Week, Obama was asked about huge bonuses just received by two CEOs of Wall Street firms bailed out by taxpayers. He responded that he didn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus to J.P. Mogan’s CEO or the $9 million to Goldman Sachs’ CEO: “I know both those guys, they are very savvy businessmen,” said Obama. “I, like most of the
American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the
free-market system.”
After any review of Obama’s corporatist ties and positions, the kneejerk response is: “Yes, but Obama was a community organizer!”

He WAS a community organizer. . .decades before he became president. Back when Nelson Mandela was in prison and the U.S. government declared him the leader of a “terrorist organization” while our government funded and armed Bin Laden and his allies to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. That’s a long time ago.

It’s worth remembering that decades before Reagan became president, the great communicator was a leftwing Democrat and advocate for the working class and big federal social programs.

The sad truth, as shown by Glenn Greenwald, is that Obama had arrived at the White House looking to make cuts in benefits to the elderly. Two weeks before his inauguration, Obama echoed conservative scares about Social Security and Medicare by talking of “red ink as far as the eye can see.” He opened his doors to Social Security/Medicare cutters -- first trying to get Republican Senator Judd Gregg (“a leading voice for reining in entitlement spending,” wrote Politico) into his cabinet, and later appointing entitlement-foe Alan Simpson to co-chair his “Deficit Commission.” Obama’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, came to the White House publicly telling Time magazine of needed Social Security cuts.

At this late date, informed activists and voters who care about economic justice realize that President Obama is NOT “on our side.”

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- widely seen as “America’s Senator” -- is so disgusted by recent White House actions that he called Friday for a challenge to Obama in Democratic primaries: “I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”

Although Sanders has said clearly that he’s running for reelection to the senate in 2012 – not for president -- his comment led instantly to a Draft Sanders for President website.

Imagine if a credible candidate immediately threatened a primary challenge unless Obama rejects any deal cutting the safety net while maintaining tax breaks for the rich. Team Obama knows that a serious primary challenger would cost the Obama campaign millions of dollars. And it may well be a powerful movement-building opportunity for activists tired of feeling hopeless with Obama.

It’s time for progressives to talk seriously about a challenge to Obama’s corporatism. Polls show most Americans support economic justice issues, and that goes double for Democratic primary voters.

If not Bernie, who? If not now, when?

Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2002, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC (overseen by NBC News). He is the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media - and a cofounder of the online action group,


A few days ago, I found this message on my answering machine at home:

“This is Governor Rick Perry and I'm inviting you to join your fellow Americans in a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our nation. As an elected leader, I am all too aware of government's limitations when it comes to fixin’ things that are spiritual in nature. That's where prayer comes in, and we need it more than ever. With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis and people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need God's help. That's why I'm calling on Americans to pray and fast like Jesus did, and as God called the Israelite to do in the Book of Joel. I sincerely hope you will join me in Houston on August the sixth and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God's forgiveness, his wisdom and provision for our state and nation. To learn more, visit, then makes plans to be part of something even bigger than Texas.”

If we had a normal, well-functioning justice system and Supreme Court, this would be probably be ruled a violation of the separation of church and state.

The cynic in me just knows that Perry knows this is pure bullshit, but he pushes it because it will score him a bunch of Christian fundamentalist votes. I'll bet that most of our elected officials see religion as a total crock of shit, but also see it as a powerful weapon to influence the masses, and so ... we get massacres like in Norway.

Jesus Christ Venn

Debt Toons

Debt Deal

If history is any guide, Obama is going to roll over on his back and bare his neck to the Republicans on the debt deal. It looks like Harry Reid has already signaled that this will be the "strategy."

I can't help but wonder what it would be like to have REAL Democrats in office that actually espouse and work towards Democratic ideals. All we get are Republicans and Republican-lites, and we wonder why the country is going down the tubes?

Obama Holds the Cards, If He Will Play Them Well

by Robert Kuttner

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as the great contrived national debt crisis enters its final week.

First, the Republicans are starting to lose whatever credibility they had with the broad public, as regular people finally start focusing on this story. The economic stakes are very high, President Obama was willing to give them most of the loaf, and they still wouldn't make a deal.

Second, no matter what the White House and Speaker Boehner claim, there is no way to do a big complex budget agreement between now and next week. The details are far too complex. Even the Gang of Six proposal was nothing more than broad outlines.

Third, as this drama goes down to the wire, and financial markets begin to contemplate the possibility that the United States will actually default on its debts, the pressure on the Republicans by their Wall Street allies will only grow.

At some point this week, stock and bond markets will begin to start swooning, and the usual wise guys will begin making high-risk bets at the expense of financial stability as a whole. Credit rating agencies, which should be accorded zero credibility after their role in causing the financial collapse by blessing junk sub-prime securities as Triple-A, could start downgrading the debt of the United States.

And then things will get really interesting. The President of the United States will be revealed to be holding more of the cards -- if he has the nerve to start playing his hand well (for a change).

At that point, there are only two basic choices. Either the Republicans and the White House agree to some kind of short- or medium-term increase in the debt ceiling, in exchange for some kind of deal with details to be supplied later. Or the president invokes the 14th Amendment and declares that the debts of the United States will be paid.

Under the first option, the deal could include a target figure for budget cuts, perhaps with relative tax increases and spending cuts spelled out -- perhaps not. It could also include some kind of "fast track" process for Congress to give the budget deal an up or down vote after the details are filled in.

One of the gimmicks being discussed is for a "super-Congress" that would come back with a long-term deal for the actual Congress to vote up or down -- a kind of mutant hybrid of the Bowles-Simpson Commission and the Gang of Six, on steroids.

I don't trust that end-game, because it gives too much power to all the forces of austerity that have been too dominant in this debate all year. And it creates too much risk of Democrats being stampeded to give up too much on Social Security and Medicare and get too little in the way of tax hikes on the rich in return.

The New York Times had a very instructive chart today, by the indispensable Teresa Tritch, showing that most of the budget shortfall going into the financial crisis was the result of the Bush tax cuts and wars -- and that most of the rest of it since 2008 was the consequence of lost revenues from the recession itself. It had very little to do with public spending. This is the kind of detail that gets lost in the contrived hysteria.

My guess is that the Republicans are so intoxicated with their own negativity that they will not be able to get to yes, even though Obama keeps trying to give away the store. The House Republican Caucus, in thrall to the Tea Party, is just too locked in to the premise of no new revenues under any circumstances.

So then we are left with the president's powers under the 14th Amendment, an approach that Obama seemed to rule out last week, but may need to come back to.

The fact is, the ritual of Congress periodically voting to approve an increase in the national debt only dates to the World War I era. Before that, government incurred debt and rolled it over as necessary. Congress, of course, approved legislation to levy and collect taxes, but management of the public debt was the business of the executive branch.

And playing cute with the debt ceiling only dates to New Gingrich in the 1990s. Before that, increases in the debt ceiling, as necessary, were entirely pro forma votes.

The 14th Amendment, in Section 4 provides that "The validity of the public debt of the United States.... shall not be questioned." Although the 14th Amendment was part of a package of Amendments intended to resolve issues left over from the Civil War, the Supreme Court has interpreted the public debt provision as giving the president very broad authority.

The government can go on selling bonds to cover its costs as long as money markets accept them. Lately, the Federal Reserve has been helping that process along. Whether Congress has voted to increase the permissible amount of total debt is a technicality. It's not as if the government runs out of money next week.

If President Obama were to invoke that emergency authority to prevent the economy from collapsing as money markets began shunning U.S. government bonds, it is hard to imagine Republican leaders suing the president... to demand what? That he let the economy go off a cliff? And it is even harder to imagine the Supreme Court, even a Court as partisan and corrupted as the Roberts Court, voting to tie Obama's hands in an economic emergency that -- keep in mind -- is entirely contrived.

Obama, the Great Conciliator, finally showed a bit of irritation and a bit of spine this past week. It would be perverse of him to reward Republican intransigence by agreeing to an 11th hour deal that, by definition, would have to be on almost entirely Republican terms to be approved by the Tea-Party besotted House of Representatives.

Better to show some leadership in an emergency, invoke the 14th Amendment, calm money markets, and leave the Republicans sputtering mad. Obama might even come to enjoy exercising leadership.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior fellow at Demos. His most recent book is A Presidency in Peril.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's hot

Texas Textbooks

It's well-known that the state of Texas, mainly because of its size and number of students, has a large sway over the nations school textbooks.

The logic of that can be confounding, but it actually appears that the Texas School Board is doing the right thing after all and not pushing "creationism" or "intelligent design" in the new textbooks.

In fact, it looks like, the state is so strapped for funds (the "Texas Miracle" ahem!) that they will be using older textbooks and not doing many new ones. That's a fairly decent idea on how to save some money.

The past textbooks could not have been THAT old or THAT wrong, so why not use them again? And start using some electronic textbooks. And THAT could save a LOT of money, both on the part of the state and the students themselves.

Evolutionary Science Materials in Texas Get Preliminary Approval, Creationism Debate Fizzles

AUSTIN, Texas -- An expected fight over teaching evolution in Texas classrooms fizzled Thursday when the state's Board of Education gave preliminary approval to supplemental science materials for the coming school year and beyond with only minor changes.

The Republican-dominated board drew national attention in 2009 when it adopted science standards encouraging schools to scrutinize "all sides" of scientific theory, a move some creationists hailed as a victory.

But Thursday's unanimous vote diffused the expected renewal of that debate. A final vote is scheduled Friday and even though the board still can make changes before then, member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, predicted few fireworks would erupt.

"Somebody might want to refund their tickets," Bradley said after the vote. "There wasn't a fight."

The public hearing was dominated by witnesses encouraging the board to adopt the materials that had been recommended by state Education Commissioner Robert Scott.

One that didn't make the recommended list was an electronic textbook that includes lessons on intelligent design, the theory that life on Earth is so complex it was guided with the help of an intelligent higher power.

"There's no bad science going into classrooms" in the approved materials, said Dan Quinn, spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a group that sides with mainstream scientists on teaching evolution.

The new online teaching materials are necessary because the state could not afford to buy new textbooks this year, leaving students to use some that are several years old. Supplemental materials that are approved have the advantage of being on the state's recommended list, but school districts can still buy other materials they chose.

The board instructed two publishers to make changes to some biology materials that used drawings of embryonic similarities between species. The board said more accurate photographs should be used instead.

Another publisher was instructed to make changes to a section that compared human and chimpanzee skulls. The publisher's written response disputed that its material was wrong, and it has the choice of changing the section or withdrawing its material altogether.

Board Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, a former biology teacher who disputes evolution, and Bradley said there was little debate among board members because the materials met the standards set in 2009.

"The supplements are good," Cargill said.

One conservative group, Texans for a Better Science Education, had put out a call to pack Thursday's public hearing with testimony urging board members to adopt materials that question evolution. But they were outnumbered by witnesses urging the board to adopt the materials with few changes.

"I don't want my children's public school teachers to teach faith and God in a science classroom," said the Rev. Kelly Allen of University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio. "True religion can handle truth in all its forms. Evolution is solid science."

The public testimony got off to a heated start. One of the first speakers, Tom Davis of Austin, urged the board to ignore any materials that deal with creationism or intelligent design.
"Intelligent design is creationism, wrapped in thin veneer of pseudoscience," Davis said.

"Creation isn't really science at all. It's philosophy."

Sensing that repeated attacks on religion were to come, board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, offered anyone in the audience $500 if they could find any reference in the state science standards to "Jesus or God." "It's just not there," Mercer said.

The tone of the debate quickly settled down from there.

David Shormann of Magnolia, who runs a Christian-based math and science education software company, said evolution has too many "untestable" components and can't provide a real look at ancient life without a "time machine or a crystal ball."

But Lorenzo Sadun, a math professor at the University of Texas, said those opposing evolution overstate gaps in the fossil record and other areas when trying to discredit the theory.

"The theory of evolution is based on almost as much evidence as the theory of gravity," Sadun said.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Out of Office?

True story: Saysanna was swamped with work and couldn’t wait to get away on a well-deserved family holiday in Bali. Before he left for the airport, he excitedly composed his out-of-office message, completely unaware the content would be a key factor in the ransacking of his home.

“Bye bye Houston, hello Bali!!! No laptop, no cell phones, no TV…not even a land-line phone in our thatch-roofed bungalow over the water. :-) If you need anything, please contact my manager Miranda Kxxxxx, *, tel (713) 230-XXXX as I will be completely unreachable for the next three weeks!“

Investigating the robbery, the police officer in charge concluded that the attack had actually taken place over an extended period of time. It was almost as if the perpetrators knew that there was no risk of a surprise interruption.

“Who might have known the specifics of your holiday plans?” asked the officer. While thinking through the possibilities, Saysanna paled as he remembered the content of his out-of-office message. He’d shared his holiday plans, manager’s name, an email addresses and phone number with anyone sending him an email, either inside and outside the company.

Because his name and address could easily be found in the local directory as well as on his LinkedIn profile, the culprits found an easy route to his home.

Here’s how you could compose a safer out-of-office response.

Thank you for your email. I am currently unavailable until 22 August 2011 and will not have access to my mailbox during that time. Please expect some delay in responding to your email upon my return. For urgent matters please contact my colleague , who can be found in our Global Address List (GAL) or send me an sms on my mobile.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Strip for Putin!

Ooh la la! Or, how do you say that in Russian? примите его!

I wonder if these women will be "putin out for Putin"? And why are there no pictures with this story?!?

Women Urged to Strip to Support Putin for President

MOSCOW, Jul (Reuters) - An online campaign has been launched in Russia urging young women to support Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in a presidential vote by taking off their clothes, a lawmaker's site showed Sunday.

Called "Putin's Army," it features a video of a blonde student called Diana who struts along Moscow's streets in high heels and a black suit before scrawling "I will tear my clothes off for Putin" on a white top in red lipstick and starting to undo her clothes.

Inviting girls to strip off for Putin for the chance of winning an iPad2, the campaign comes ahead of the March 2012 presidential vote. Putin was president between 2000-2008 before handing the reins to his protege Dmitry Medvedev.

Widely seen as Russia's key decision-maker, Putin may return to the Kremlin next year.
"The goal: For Putin to be president!" said a statement on its page on social networking site, Russia's answer to Facebook.

During Russia's Soviet era, nudity in advertising was taboo but has since become widespread, a fact which has outraged Russian feminists who say it only intensifies an already sexualized culture where prostitution is common.

It is unclear who orchestrated the campaign which was posted on the blog of parliamentarian Kirill Shchitov, from Putin's ruling United Russia party.

In October, a band of journalism students posed in lingerie for a calendar for Putin's 58th birthday. (those photos can be seen here, I think)

Original. I'm not quite sure how stripping will get Putin elected, however. It's probably already a done deal, and these guys just want to see some flesh. Can't really argue with that.

City Farmer

I recently finished another great book, "City Farmer: Adventures in Growing Our Own Food" by Lorraine Johnson. If you live in a city and want to grow some of your own food, I highly recommend it. Lots of good stuff in there about what you can do and what other people are doing.

Here's a short blurb taken, er, borrowed from the net:

Attention city farmers! An exciting new book on the topic of urban farming in Canada - published summer of 2010 - is now available for purchase. This book, City Farmer, was written by Lorraine Johnson of Toronto. It is an inspiring, hopeful testament to the value (social, economic, environmental) of growing food in our cities, and the unique ways that people across our country are doing so! We had done a brief interview with Lorriane, but were not sure that any of our story would be included - we are very pleased to see a small mention regarding Little City Farm in this book. Thank you Lorraine.

Psst! Check your closest public library.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

American Night Heron

I FINALLY got around to uploading this video to YouTube. I've seen this bird hanging around the Garden a lot, probably because he's got a steady diet of frogs. Mmmm ... frogs .....

Call it treason

I've been calling it treason for awhile now. What we need to hear is that word resonating from the floor of the House, and the well of the Senate, and the White House.

Yes, I'll Dare Call it Treason
The Republican Party no longer has its country's best interests at heart - and Americans suffer as a result.
by Cliff Schecter

Once upon a time, in a land that now seems to have been populated by tooth fairies and unicorns, there was a political party that had a set of core beliefs to which they actually adhered.

Among them was that actually balancing the budget, as opposed to just talking about it, was sacrosanct. Slow change, while necessary, had to be balanced against the traditions of the United States, ones that had mostly served us well over two centuries.

Foreign military adventures should be limited to our national security interests. And one of the single most important components of diplomacy was protecting the economic interests not only of an elite few, but of the great many Americans who toiled in our factories and fields.

This party was known as the Republican Party, and while one might have disagreed with them on their policy prescriptions to cure any particular US ill, one could at least see some logic in their beliefs and understand that they - with some obvious exceptions from time to time (ahem, Joseph McCarthy, ahem) - were doing what they thought was right for the United States of America.

Today, this once respectable organization has turned into nothing so much as a collective id the size of a David Vitter Pampers shopping spree. When facing changes to this nation that make them uncomfortable, they choose national hate. When facing ideological worship versus the greatness of the US, the former always wins the day. When facing a choice of what is good for the US or their personal bank accounts, they inevitably go with the latter.

Every. Single. Time.

In simple terms: We, the people of the United States, are the maid. The GOP is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Any questions?

The one caveat is that it's not Republicans, so much as the forces of the anti-American, gun-toting, religious and corporate Right that have taken over the GOP who are responsible for papa's brand new bag. The Right is Darth Sidious to the GOP's Anakin Skywalker, Angelina Jolie to foreign-born children.

And yes, sadly, the Dark Lord has also sunk his hooks into quite a few in the Democratic Party, just somewhat less in number and relevance.

Charter members of this anti-American Right include the National Rifle Association, whose executive vice president-cum-Waldo impersonator, Wayne LaPierre, pushes new and more deadly weaponry into the hands of American criminals and terrorists without a first thought of the common good of his country. Giddily referring to US law enforcement agents as "jack-booted thugs", and using fear of a black president to encourage the militia mentality among his most deranged (and armed) followers, his reign at the NRA has facilitated their retreat into revolutionary rhetoric, which has included plans by associated paramilitary groups to kill police officers and government officials.

Not so good for the US, but great for selling weapons to support LaPierre's $1.27m salary, as well as NRA board members who earn a paycheck by owning companies that pay their bonuses based on firearm sales.

It also includes the "pro-business" Right's support for finishing a four-decade quest to hollow out US manufacturing and destroy what was once, as succinctly put by polymath and top-rated progressive radio host Thom Hartmann, "the American way of life". A few elite moneymen get rich, while the United States' ability to create things that don't come with fries or an apple pie, once a source of great pride to, you know, Americans, has gone off clubbing with Casey Anthony.

No political will to fix US infrastructure

Last week, China broke the record for the longest sea bridge in the world with the opening of the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge. Quite symbolically, it passed Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which had previously held the record.

You'd think that this, in and of itself, would pain those on the Republican Right and their friends among the Blue Dog Democrats, "patriots" who never hesitate to tout American greatness. But for some reason - perhaps campaign contributions make a soothing bubble bath? - their refusal to fund the slightest hint of improvement or addition to US infrastructure is allowing it to collapse quicker than John Boehner at an all-you-can-drink Margarita marathon at Bahama Mama's.

We used to make big things in the US, often with direct government investment. Whether it was the federal highway system, the Sears Tower, or the Golden Gate Bridge - these were not small undertakings. It was a proven method of creating jobs and wealth, as well as a source of national pride.

These days, it's the historical blindness and hatred of any spending contained in a philosophy that underpins simplistic calls for "austerity". Contained in budgets written by small-minded men such as Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, it has seen corporate cybernetic organisms posing as legislators do what once would have been unthinkable: pave the way for Chinese exceptionalism.

US slipping in quality-of-life indicators

Yet perhaps right-wingers' work to undermine America is nowhere as evident as it is in the everyday indicators of how we are doing as a country. Whether it is the World Health Organization's ranking the US in 37th place, our impressive 33rd place in children's ability to navigate math and science, or 39th place in our environmental quality (we're still two spots ahead of Cuba!), I simply don't understand how one can claim to love the US and blithely ignore or work to exacerbate these indicators by gutting government every day.

But then again, what should we expect from a movement whose leaders, such as that dimwitted dolt known as Texas Governor Rick Perry, openly discuss secession? Or, as I pointed out in last week's column, the blood diamond-accruing conman Pat Robertson, who has wished Sodom-like destruction on the United States, because gay couples in New York now have the right to marry?

Secession? Destruction? There used to be a term to describe people who wished these tragedies would befall their own country. Today that term is "Republican presidential candidate", whether from the recent past (Robertson in 1988) and potentially - God help us - the future (Perry in 2012).

Lest one think this list is biased, I have not even gone into the details of the outing of an undercover CIA agent (see Karl Rove) or the Right's current crusade to make the US default on its debt (and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's incentive to profit off of this, as he has shorted US treasury bonds in his personal investment portfolio).

Humorist and writer Leo Rosten once said that "a conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead". Today, however, the love for radicals and radicalism is alive and kicking on the Right, and sadly for the US, it doesn't seem ready to die anytime soon.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

Follow Cliff Schecter On Twitter: @Cliffschecter

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


(Unfortunately, Obama far too easily concedes to Republicans. It's almost like he's a closet Republican himself.)

Heat Index=130!

And we think it's hot here in Houston!?

A unusually intense, long-lasting, and widespread heat wave with high humidities continues to plague the Central U.S. The heat index--how hot the air feels when factoring in both the temperature and the humidity--exceeded 100°F in twelve states on Monday and thirteen on Sunday, with the dangerous heat extending from Texas northwards to North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. At least thirteen deaths are being blamed on the heat in the Midwest. The heat index hit a remarkable 131°F at Knoxville, Iowa on Monday, and a heat index in excess of 120° was recorded at numerous locations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois.

A 1-in-7-year heat wave coming for the Eastern U.S.

The extreme heat will shift slowly eastwards this week, peaking in Chicago on Wednesday, Detroit and Pittsburgh on Thursday, and New York City and the mid-Atlantic states on Friday.

Temperatures near 100°F are expected in Detroit on Thursday and New York City on Friday. Detroit has hit 100°F 18 different years in its 137-year record, and New York City 22 years out of the past 140 years, so this heat wave is expected to be about a 1 in 7 year event.

While that makes it a notable heat wave, the most remarkable feature of this July 2011 U.S. heat wave is the humidity that has accompanied the heat. A heat index over 130°F, such as was observed yesterday in Iowa, is very rare in the U.S., and extremely dangerous. According to Christopher C. Burt, wunderground's weather historian, the only place in the world where a heat index over 130°F is common is along the shores of the Red Sea in the Middle East.

A major reason for the remarkably high humidities accompanying the July 2011 Midwest heat wave is the record flooding the region experienced over the past three months. As pointed out by wunderground's climate change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood in his latest post, with hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland still inundated by flood waters, and soils saturated over much of the Upper Midwest, there has been plenty of water available to evaporate into the air and cause remarkably high humdities. This makes for a very dangerous situation, as the human body is not able to cool itself as efficiently when the humidity is high.

The extreme heat will last through Sunday in the mid-Atlantic, but should end on Monday, when a cold front is expected to sweep across the region. However, the latest models suggest the heat will re-amplify over the Midwest next week.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Very nice restaurant, Farrago World Cuisine, only a few blocks from the house and the Garden. Got a note from the owner today ...

Stephanie, one of your members, had me and my sous chef swing by your lovely garden this evening after her dinner at our restaurant. We'd love to help out with compost veggie clippings, etc if you need them. We'd also love to become a member and buy any extra stuff you guys need to get rid of to keep this lovely produce enjoyed locally. We go to farmer's markets almost every day and even grow all of our own herbs already. :) Howard Steele, owner of Farrago in Midtown. We could even do a meet and greet at the restaurant for the members.

Pretty cool, ripe with possibility. Too bad the timing kinda sucks ...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Do you remember?

Got this from a Democrat in Nebraska. THE Democrat in Nebraska.

Do you remember when ...?

All the girls had ugly gym uniforms? And wore tennis shoes not $200 Nike's!

It took three minutes for the TV to warm up?

Nobody owned a purebred dog?

When a quarter was a decent allowance?

You'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?

Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces?

You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time? And you didn't pay for air? And, you got trading stamps to boot?

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?

It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents?

They threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed... and they did it!

When a 57 Chevy was everyone's dream cruise, peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady?

No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked?

Lying on your back in the grass with your friends... and saying things like, 'That cloud looks like a... '?

Playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game?

Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger...

And with all our progress, don't you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace, and share it with the children of today.

When being sent to the principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home?

Basically we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

And our summers were filled with bike rides, Hula Hoops, and visits to the pool, and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar.

Didn't that feel good, just to go back and say, 'Yeah, I remember that'?

I am sharing this with you today because it ended with a Double Dog Dare to pass it on... To remember what a Double Dog Dare is, read on... And remember that the perfect age is somewhere between old enough to know better and too young to care.

Send this on to someone who can still remember Howdy Doody and The Peanut Gallery, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Bell , Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk.

How Many Of These Do You Remember?

Candy cigarettes...

Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside...

Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles...

Coffee shops with Table Side Jukeboxes...

Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum...

Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers...

Newsreels before the movie...

Telephone numbers with a word prefix...( Yukon 2-601). Party lines...


Hi-Fi's & 45 RPM records...

78 RPM records...

Green Stamps...

Mimeograph paper...

The Fort Apache Play Set...

Do You Remember a Time When Decisions were made by going...


Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, 'Do Over!'?

'Race issue' meant arguing about who ran the fastest?

Catching The Fireflies Could Happily Occupy An Entire Evening?

It wasn't odd to have two or three 'Best

Having a Weapon in School meant being caught with a Slingshot?

Saturday morning cartoons weren't 30-minute commercials for action figures?

'Oly-oly-oxen-free' made perfect sense?

Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles?

The Worst Embarrassment was being picked last for a team?

War was a card game?

Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle?

Taking drugs meant orange flavored chewable aspirin?

Water balloons were the ultimate weapon?

If you can remember most or all of these, Then You Have Lived!!!!!!!