Tuesday, December 25, 2007

that's it - Ron Paul definitely does not get my vote

My flirtation with Ron Paul lasted about 7.5 seconds, and, I have to admit, his recent statements about fascism were most endearing.

However, it is now revealed that Ron is yet another Republican Presidential candidate who simply feels that the Theory of Evolution is just a theory, and that the Science has holes.

Um, that's Dr. Ron Paul, the annointed oracle of common sense.

Um, that makes 6 of the 11 Republican candidates (including Alan Keyes, who, after all, was included in the recent debate) rejecting the notion that Evolution provides a mechanism for explaining that things can change over 4.5 billion years. Of course, there's still some debate about that last item, too.

Heading for the airport in an hour, for 6 days in LA with Karen's family. The boys are coming, too. In fact, this was the first morning in a long time, when there were 4 humans waking up in this house (if only we could get them to wake up).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ron Paul

Don't know what to make of this phenom.

He is clearly connecting with many young idealists, and his statements about creeping fascism and government abuses are timely and correct.

Still, there's something disturbing about the 'reduce government', libertarian strain, that I just can't accept. If he bolts the Republican party and runs as an Independent, I think he will be very successful.

Here's what worries me - the Supreme Court has gone past the tipping-point into very bad territory, and the next nominee, from the next president, will either restore some balance, or seal the doom of the American Experiment. To me, this is the chief reason why a Republican must NOT be permitted to win the White House next year.

I am endlessly frustrated by reporting about the presidential race. Even NPR is totally deficient in discussing any substantive issue - I expect this to be gone from all other media reporting. Either the Media emphatically doesn't want any real debates about issues, or they are simply too lazy to report on anything other than popularity polling. I just don't get it.

Merry Christmas, all you Christians out there. To all of us humans living in the northern hemisphere, we are over the solstice hump, and the Sun will NOT be going away, once again. We can breathe a sigh of relief and, now, all we have to worry about is Greenland melting.

Off to LA tomorrow morning - as our little family does its share to contribute to the unsustainable lives our ingenious-but-flawed species has invented. Never have so many been so comfortable - never have society's slaves been so invisible.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

there are no coincidences - part II

Isn't it funny how quickly the fire in the Executive Office building has become the non-story of the week, especially since, as reported in this article (scroll down to the 5:10 pm update):

"the fire raged mainly in the office of Mr. Cheney’s political director, Amy Whitelaw".

Nothing to see here - move along...

there are no coincidences

So, a copy of the Magna Carta sells at auction. Isn't it nice that the document that first proclaimed and guaranteed our basic civil liberties is so highly valued?

Let's take a closer look at the Reuters story. The document was purchased 'by the founder of a private equity firm'. Sounds reasonably innocent.

How much effort would it have been to mention the name of that 'private equity firm'? A very short trip to Google reveals:

who is that masked man?

I am reminded of how Hitler was determined to preserve relics of Judaism, for his planned museum to a 'vanished race'.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

hey, watch this


take a P

out of EPA, and you get this

Meanwhile, this is a story that might have some longer term implications for Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. I wonder if it's a big topic of conversation at the truck stops this morning?

Monday, December 17, 2007

ok, geography hounds - try this

as heard on 'The World' (public radio) this afternoon, this geography quiz.

My final score: 374,201 (level 10). You are scored both on accuracy and response-speed.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

morning in America

Something I haven't done in a while: walking outside with my camera after eating my cereal, and appreciating the beginning of a new day. From our side-yard, looking east:

And, a few more steps back, revealing the dim outline of Mt. Hood (you have to squint, but it's there, at the bottom of the clear spot on the left):

Not too much work pending today, so I will steal some time and get back to the pile of films that I now have checked out from the library.

Last week, at a used book sale, I chanced upon the autobiography of Josef von Sternberg, a director I was first exposed to in college. I didn't know that much about him personally, so the book was a revelation. First of all, I always thought he was one of the classic early German directors, and was astonished to hear that he grew up in New York, and was a Jew originally named 'Jo Sternberg' (a capricious distributor added the 'von' to give the impression of nobility and he liked it).

The other day, I watched one of his early silents: The Last Command', for which the star, Emil Jannings, apparently won the very first Best Actor award, in 1928. It was astonishing in its vision, composition, lighting and editing, with multi-layered characters and quirky title cards that were written by Herman Mankiewicz (who, of course, went on to write little films like 'Citizen Kane').

Waiting for pickup at the library is The Docks of New York, and already on the pile upstairs is The Blue Angel (which I saw, once, decades ago) and The Scarlet Empress (the film which I studied back in college).

This is what I do, when I get interested in a particular director: view as many of the films as possible, in sequence, if possible. The last director that captured my attentions in this manner is Werner Herzog, and in my VCR at this moment (only a tape was available) is a curiously-repellent film called 'Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen' (or, in English, 'Even Dwarfs Started Small'). I think I'll be done with Herzog after this one - it is truly bizarre.

Played piano for two musical programs tomorrow, so it was a busy day. On Thursday, I have the first rehearsal for another music program, to be given on December 23rd. The 22nd, 23rd, and 24th will be busy with several events and dinners with friends, and then, on Christmas morning, we (all 4 of us) fly to LA for a few days, returning to Portland on the 31st (so the boys can be with their friends on New Years Eve).

As a said earlier, not a whole lot of pending work for me, before we leave, so it's a great time to watch films and read, listening to the furnace burn oil to keep us warm, while the Washington DC circus goes on and on and on...

OK, I really do need to do a little programming today, so time for coffee!

Monday, December 10, 2007

most mysterious news story of the week

is there something more to this than meets the eye? the story, as written, has a certain Zen-like quality.

Friday, December 07, 2007

the White House sez...

they agree with the decision where the CIA destroyed the torture videotapes, because, had they come to light, it would have exposed the identities of the CIA agents involved, and this would be a serious security breach.

One word comes to mind: Plame.

It's (almost) laughable.

Meanwhile, GREAT news for Catholics (building a bridge to the 11th Century!).

actual good news

2 items today.

first of all, Keith Olbermann's rousing special comment last night.

second, and even more heartwarming, is the story that the California initiative to modify its electoral college winner-take-all practice (as done in virtually all states), will apparently NOT make it to the ballot.

This was a bald-faced GOP attempt to steal 2008 (their claims of 'it brings fairness into the system' might be respectable if they also advocated making this change in Texas, which routinely awards all its electoral votes to Republicans).

This was truly a sleazy, cynical political nastiness, with signature-gatherers fraudulently inducing passers-by to first sign a petition asking for more money for 'Childrens Cancer Research' (as if they really cared), and then slyly asking if the person would also sign this additional sheet for 'something about election reform'. Bastards.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Liar (earlier this week) and Incompetent (today)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Harried homeowners seeking mortgage relief from a new Bush administration hotline Thursday had to contend with a bit of temporary misdirection from the president himself.

As he announced his plan to ease the mortgage crisis for consumers, President Bush accidentally gave out the wrong phone number for the new “Hope Now Hotline” set up by his administration.

Anyone who dialed 1-800-995-HOPE did not reach the mortgage hotline but instead contacted the Freedom Christian Academy — a Texas-based group that provides Christian education home schooling material.

Maybe he was actually intending to advocate a faith-based solution to the mortgage defaults...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

today's humor

First, Andy Borowitz:

Kim Jong-Il Kicks Iran out of Axis of Evil
Nukeless Nation ‘Not Evil Enough,’ Says Korean Madman

One day after a National Intelligence Estimate revealed that Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, North Korean president Kim Jong-Il ejected Iran from the Axis of Evil, calling them “not evil enough.”

A visibly furious Kim called a press conference in Pyongyang today to excoriate the Iranians as “evildoer wannabes” and “pussies.”

“I can’t tell you how many times Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looked me in the eye, told me he was developing nuclear weapons, and cackled like a madman,” Kim said. “That man does not deserve to cackle.”

Kim added that when Iran was admitted into the Axis of Evil in 2002, “they knew the rules: no nukes, no membership.”

The National Intelligence Estimate, Kim said, showed that Iran was not holding up their end of the bargain: “They said they were enriching uranium and all the while they were going all Libya on my ass.”

In the first step towards formally removing Iran from the evil organization, the North Korean strongman said he was “un-inviting” Mr. Ahmadinejad from the Axis of Evil’s winter golf outing in Scottsdale, Arizona. In a terse statement from Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president said he would agree not to attend the outing but wanted his deposit back.

As for who would take Iran’s place in the Axis of Evil, Kim said there was no shortage of candidates: “Right now we’re looking at Venezuela, Syria, and Rupert Murdoch.”

And now, for Hannukah, there's this:

It's sort of fascinating to me...

How, one by one, the Media annoints a white guy as the 'Republican front-runner', only to discover that, as the weeks go by, the new guy is exposed as either a raging hypocrite or, more frequently, shallow.

First Mitt Romney - he was the fresh, energetic, handsome guy who would rescue the GOP - now revealed as a pandering glamour-boy with no scruples.

Next Rudy - he was the strong-on-leadership-9/11 candidate, now revealed as thoroughly corrupt and mean, to boot.

Next Fred Thompson - he was the 'charismatic' plain-speaking, just-us-folks Everyman, now revealed as dense and mostly disinterested.

So who comes riding into the lead? Huckabee, currently vaulting into the front-runner slot, a God-fearing speaks-his-mind Man of God, who has God on his side, and benefits from the advice of God, and did I mention God? Now, not only are the vultures pouncing on the unpleasant facts of his actual record, but today, it is revealed that Huck was asked yesterday to comment about the uproar over the Iran NIE, and that topic was news to Mikey.

One by one, they are all exposed as hopeless hacks, no better than the shameful W they are hoping to succeed (so to speak).

Who's left? John McCain, who, I'm beginning to feel, may actually come out on top, since nobody cares enough to attack him (for now).

And now a word about political dynasties.

Yes, it's bizarre how some families have made political office the family business, but it's always been that way, and, I think, goes back to our species' acceptance of hereditary tribal chiefs. It was thus a hundred-thousand years ago, it was thus in every human society.

This tendency has frequently brought us leaders-with-familiar-names who rose to the demands of the times and performed great service (think Franklin Roosevelt). On the other hand, we have the obvious W, finally fulfilling the promise that was unfulfilled by his less-than-brilliant ancestor, Franklin Pierce (did you know that Barbara Bush was a Pierce?).

Would Bush be where he is today if his last name wasn't Bush? Probably not.

Would Hillary be where she is today if her last name wasn't Clinton? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Would Gordon Smith be where he is today if his last name wasn't Smith (yes, the same Joseph Smith who founded Mormonism)? Maybe not, but the fact that the other side of his family is the (mostly Democratic) Udalls, there's the family business again.

Let's all admit that we love our dynasties, and we cede to them the prerogative to rule over us. I'm not sure whether that's simple laziness, mass hypnosis, or that inbred instinct to recognize the familiar and reject anyone whose last name has more than two syllables and/or an uncomfortable number of consonants, sort of like 'Kucinich'.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

ha ha - Kucinich saw a UFO!

hmmm - if this is true, then why did the Media make such a big deal about it?

Silly me - Dennis is always the 'joke' candidate - I forgot what The Memo said.

How could anybody possibly take this guy seriously.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Andy Borowitz piece today - har har...

Huckabee Chooses Jesus as Running Mate
Move to Shore Up Evangelical Base

In a bold move that could dramatically alter the playing field of the 2008 G.O.P. presidential race, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee today named Jesus Christ as his vice-presidential running mate.

Governor Huckabee has made an increasing number of comments about his relationship with Jesus in recent debates, but few Republican insiders expected him to announce that he was anointing Christ as his vice-presidential pick.

“This could be huge for Huckabee,” said Stenson Partridge, a veteran G.O.P. consultant. “Among Republican voters, Jesus Christ is even more popular than Ronald Reagan.”

The Reverend Pat Robertson, a supporter of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said he was “blindsided” by the news of Huckabee’s decision: “I talked to Jesus last night and He didn’t mention anything about it.”

At a raucous Huckabee rally in Davenport, Iowa today, supporters of the former Arkansas governor could be seen holding signs reading “HUCKABEE/CHRIST ’08.”

It is “highly unorthodox” for a presidential candidate to select a vice presidential running mate who is a prominent figure in the Holy Bible, says Davis Logsdon, dean of the School of Divinity at the University of Minnesota.

But according to Mr. Logsdon, if the Huckabee-Christ ticket makes it all the way to the White House, it could be historic in more ways than one: “If Huckabee is elected and then something happens to him while in office, we would be looking at our first Jewish president.”

Sunday, December 02, 2007

just saw 'Into The Wild'

We read the book years ago, and, since it was a miserable day of rain and wind (more coming tonight), and since we had other chores in the area, we went to an early-afternoon matinee.

Wonderful film, heartbreaking. Amazing photography and performances by all the actors. Sean Penn is turning into quite the craftsman. Plenty to think about.

While in the theater, my cell phone vibrated. On the way to the car, I checked my message - it was from Joe and Shirley, sitting on Poipu Beach, drinking a mai tai at Brenneke's, my unchanging standard of Heaven on Earth. A bit different from a dark and stormy night in Portland. Enjoy, guys!