Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Economic Patriotism

In his interview with Barbara Walters, President-Elect Obama asks for simple decency this holiday season:

WALTERS: Should bank executives -- it's almost Christmas time -- forgo their bonuses?

OBAMA: I think they should. That's an example of taking responsibility. I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, "I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well, because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times."

How much is enough, Gordon Gekkos? People are suffering while you pad your wallets. How much is enough?

"Articulate Advocacy . . . Thank You, Sarah Palin"

A California-based political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better, will unveil a series of advertisements this Thanksgiving week giving . . . um . . . thanks . . . to vanquished GOP vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin. The group thanks Sarah for her "articulate advocacy of common sense conservative values" (hahaha - I'm sorry, but I did chuckle typing this snippet) and then closes with a female doppelganger of Wilford Brimley issuing an urgent request for the Governor's moose chili recipe:

Hahaha - articulate advocacy. Man that's a gut-buster there also, you betcha.

My holiday present to the good folks at Our Country Deserves Better (who had no love loss for Barack Obama during the final weeks of the campaign): A wonderful montage of Sarah's most articulate moments:

Thank you for those interviews, Sarah. Please run in 2012.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joe The Television Repairman

Say it ain't so, Joe? Death to analog!

Red Dawn?

The commie bastards took our McGriddles! Wolverines!!!

Oh damn. Gird your loins, folks!

Russian Professor Igor Panarin, described as a "leading Russian political analyst," predicts a new dawn for Mother Russia spawned from the economic collapse of the United States of America (courtesy of Drudge):

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily IZVESTIA published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

The paper said Panarin's dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year's events. When asked when the U.S. economy would collapse, Panarin said: "It is already collapsing. Due to the financial crisis, three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street have already ceased to exist, and two are barely surviving. Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world's financial regulator."

When asked who would replace the U.S. in regulating world markets, he said: "Two countries could assume this role: China, with its vast reserves, and Russia, which could play the role of a regulator in Eurasia."

Then, after a brief consultation with Michael Bay, the Ruskie pedagogue took it one step further; a geographic collapse for America as well?:

[Panarin] predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

He even suggested that "we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all." Panarin, 60, is a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.

The "Office of the President-Elect" responded to Panarin's prognostication with caution: "Just to be clear, while President-Elect Obama strongly disagrees with Mr. Panarin's despicable remarks, he looks forward to a constructive dialogue over the fate of Alaska."

UK Introduces New ID Card System, Codename "Older Sibling"

As I have written before here, it irks me when holier-than-thou foreigners pat us on the back for the election of Barack Obama, saying things like "we didn't think you had it in you, old chaps!" America is imperfect, but it's the most perfectly imperfect country ever devised by the hand of man. Yes, with all its flaws, it is still the greatest country in the history of history - put that in your pipe and smoke it Luxembourg.

What really gets my goat is many Euros talking about how they didn't think such a racist country could ever see its way clear to electing a black president. This sort of attitude infuriates me, because only one who had put their ethnic house in complete order should say something as pedantic. And, as anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of European history (and I'm not talking about World War II - I'm talking about RECENT history) knows or who has taken a cursory glance at a website or newspaper covering European politics in the last few years understands, "the Continent" is anything but when it comes to racial, religious and ethnic equality.

But the folks that I hold to the highest standards because of their close relationship and shared origins are the Brits. And the Brits today, as reported here, showed conclusively that they are moving backwards, not forwards, in this area:

Britain has begun a national identity card plan for some foreign nationals in an attempt to combat terrorism and identity fraud. Opponents say it represents a costly erosion of civil liberties. The program has been debated heatedly for several years. The cards are expected to store biometric data and information about the cardholder's nationality and work eligibility.
The first group to receive the new cards will be foreign students and permanent residents' spouses who apply for visa renewals. Officials expect more than 50,000 cards to be issued in the next four months and that the program will be expanded in coming years.

This topic has been hotly debated in Britain for several years since passage of the 2006 Identity Cards Act which gave the green light to this system (you can read more about it here). But what does this really mean for Brits? What should they expect? The answers might frighten you if you hold your freedom and civil liberties precious and think it is important to protect minorities within your country:

Under the NIR ("National Identity Register"), UK Residents with an ID card will be required to fulfil certain functions:
-Attend in person to be photographed, have their fingerprints taken and iris scanned.
-Promptly inform the police or Home Office if a card is lost or damaged.
-Promptly inform the National Identity Register of any change of address.
-Promptly inform the National Identity Register of any prescribed change of circumstances affecting the information recorded about them in the Register.

Whoa - everyone who gets an ID card will be fingerprinted and have their eyes scanned? Are you kidding me? We are not fighting Europa. We are now fighting Oceana.

Well, how are you rolling this out - is this a requirement for everyone? This isn't being "targeted" at certain segments of the population, right?

The first to receive ID cards will be foreign nationals, from 25 November 2008, and the Government intends to follow this up by offering young people ID cards in 2010. Ordinary British citizens will then be offered (on a voluntary basis at first, but later in larger volumes) ID cards from 2011 to 2012.

Oh good, so "ordinary" British citizens won't need an ID card until at least 2012 if not later - but foreign nationals need one starting this week? Well, I'm sure the scope of what this will be used for will be limited. You know, just preventing identity theft or for customs purposes:

For example, Gordon Brown was reported to be "planning a massive expansion of the ID cards project that would widen surveillance of everyday life by allowing high-street businesses to share confidential information with police databases."[57] He apparently described how "police could be alerted as soon as a wanted person used a biometric-enabled cash card or even entered a building via an iris-scan door."[58]

Ah, I see. Good, so limitless surveillance. Excellent. And at least it isn't targeting minorities or people who have been in the country for a short period of time, foreigners, things like that. Y'know - the dangerous elements. The ones you need to keep an eye on. Hey - if they have nothing to hide, they shouldn't care, right?

Good thing you Brits are around to pat us on the back for our progress in electing a black president. We can really take a cue from you chaps about how to treat everyone equally, openly and with respect. Speaking of which, tell me again the last minority prime minister you folks elected? Simply goes to show you that no matter what it is we get wrong here - and we gets lots of stuff wrong -everyone else will inevitably get it wronger.

Next time you complain about that DMV line, remember that at least they aren't fingerprinting you or scanning your iris. Liberal or conservative, be glad you're an American - where at least you know you're free (from compulsory biometric identification and registration).

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Very Last Samurai (We're Sure This Time)

Tom Cruise, method actor, may still be inhabiting Nathan Algren, his role as a drunk, has-been American army hero turned Japanese rebel in The Last Samurai:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A security guard shot and killed a man wielding two Samurai swords Sunday on the grounds of a Scientology building in Hollywood, police said.

The unidentified man approached three guards around noon in the parking lot of the Scientology Celebrity Centre, Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Terry S. Hara said.

The man was "close enough to hurt them" when one of the guards shot him, Hara said. Detectives were questioning the guard to figure out the swordsman's motive and determine whether the shooting was justified.

Surveillance tape showed the man arriving at the center's parking lot in a red convertible, then approaching the guards with a sword in each hand, Hara said.

When asked for comment on the unfortunate death of the sword-wielding attacker, Cruise responded, "no . . . I will tell you how he lived."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Those Evangelicals: Always Banging. Wait - what?

Honestly, I can't do the article justice, so please just read it for yourselves here. Long story short: Texas evangelical pastor challenges congregation (the marrieds, of course, no single tag-along fornicators) to have sex every day for a week.

It's really worth a read. It's an interesting idea. Frankly, I'd like to hear more talk like this from the Religious Right. At least then there's something we can agree on: more sex.

But - and I can't believe I'm doing this - I understand what they're getting at here, but sex is truly a complicated subject and perhaps this is just too flippant. Wow - really? I'm calling evangelical preachers too flippant about sex? Wow, I really am my mother. Where was I? Oh, right. Anyhow, my point is that this was meant as a closeness/bonding exercise, but simply having sex every day for a week does not fix deep issues and divides between two people - in fact, the pressure of it might even exacerbate them. And, frankly, some people don't have the time, energy, good-health or even interest in having sex every day - even for a week. Sex is as individual as every person is, and a call-to-groins such as this can be a boon to some but serve to further alienate those for whom the bedroom is a house of marital horrors. Listen, sex by itself does not fix all things. It is not a balm that heals all wounds. Believe me, I've been rubbing myself with it for years and I'm still as sick as before. Theoretically. Metaphorically. Double entendre. Whatever - hand me a tissue.

However, on the other hand (get it? get it? dude, I'm trying here...), what the flock do I know - I've been married four times, not counting the time I briefly married Brit-Brit in Vegas. All I'm saying is that I think their, um, heart (or whatever organ) was in the right place, but perhaps this skews too far in the other direction from the normal "keep your ankles covered, you harlot" attitude of many conservatives. How about some nice middle-ground sexual politics from evangelicals? Indeed, how about some nice middle ground sexual politics for us all.

No? How about just some nice sex for all of us? Eh? Eh, comrades? Sigh. Hand me that Lubriderm, will ya'?