Thursday, October 30, 2008

Does 1994 Torture Law Apply To Bush?

This just in via CNN:

Federal jurors convicted the son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor Sr. of torture and conspiracy charges Thursday, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in the southern district of Florida.

Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., also known as Charles McArthur Emmanuel, was found guilty on one count of torture, one count of conspiracy to commit torture and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, said Alicia Valle, special counsel to the U.S. attorney.

Taylor's case, tried in Miami, Florida, was the first brought under a 1994 United States law saying those accused of committing torturous acts overseas can be tried in a U.S. federal court.



American Express to cut 7,000 jobs
Qwest to cut 1,200 jobs
Yahoo to cut 1,500 jobs
eBay to cut 1,600 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce
After taking over Lehman Brothers, Barclay's will cut 3,000 jobs
Whirlpool will cut 5,000 jobs
Chrysler will cut 5,000 jobs
Time Inc. Plans 600 Layoffs

Exxon Mobil: Biggest profit in U.S. history: Largest U.S. oil company surges past analyst estimates to post net income of $14.83 billion.

When will somebody other than me say that this is criminal?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One More Time: Voting Psychology Survey

I posted this last week and was asked to post it again. It's an interesting survey, so check it out:

A research team from the Psychology Department at New York University, supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous.

Learn more by going to the survey link:

At the request of the survey authors, I have closed comments only for this post.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama Middle East Adviser Dennis Ross Wants Iran War

As we get closer to election day, I try and maintain my hope that Obama the man will trump the industry lobby money he's accepted. I know this is naive. I know from his FISA vote that he can be swayed to vote for industry interests over what is best for America. He voted for immunity for an industry that broke the law invading our privacy at the behest of the criminal BushCo administration. His stance on adding troops to Afghanistan clearly tells me that he is way more into war than I want him to be. I don't like his Iraq withdrawal plan either (in that it is not immediate), since he has succumbed to neocon goading to make sure he always uses adjectives like "responsible" when he discusses withdrawal of our troops. Like it's even close to responsible to leave them in there for one day longer.

I keep praying that Iraqi resistance will continue to balk at signing the security forces agreement, even as BushCo yanks at Iraq's balls by threatening to cease "vital services" if they don't sign it. I hope they call BushCo's bluff. I've never, ever believed that if we exit Iraq, the whole place will go up in flames. Instead, I believe our presence there is what creates and foments violence and our game of playing one faction against another has achieved the results the neocons desire: to create enough insurgency and instability so that it appears that US troops must stay in order to control the insurgency and stabilize the instability. Al Queda never existed in Iraq until we got there, but now we say we can't leave because Al Queda is in Iraq. Total bullshit.

Last night I read an article "A Bright Shining Lie: Dennis Ross And The Run-Up to An Attack On Iran" and realized I had never heard of Dennis Ross, a member of Obama's Middle East team. Here's some evidence of his troubling influence:

It was during the question and answer period that I brought up a prominent report in the Israeli press which said former member of parliament and former cabinet minister Ephraim Sneh, speaking for his government, sent identical memos to both Senators Obama and John McCain. The memos declared that Israel would attack Iran in 2010 unless the “Iranian nuclear threat” is negated by a US attack or a regime change in Tehran.1

Subsequent to having received the memo, Barack Obama was asked at a campaign stop in Iowa if Israel felt it had the “green light” from the US to attack Iran. Obama chose not to answer the question directly, claiming any answer would be speculation. Instead the candidate responded, “my job as President would be to try to make sure that we are tightening the screws on Iran… before Israel feels its back is to the wall.”2


Last week Ross wrote that the Bush administration is failing in regard to Iran, opining that we cannot afford “four more years of US policies that are tough rhetorically but soft practically.”3 In a recent Wall Street Journal article4 co-authored with Richard Holbrooke and James Woolsey, with whom he has founded the group called United Against Nuclear Iran, Ross and his colleagues beat the drums for war with the usual exaggerated warnings of imminent danger and a dubious list of past and future Iranian transgressions.

In an article in the Financial Times5, Daniel Dombey and James Blitz wrote that Ross, working with the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think-tank, has produced a report calling for the Americans and Europeans to bypass the United Nations and impose tougher sanctions on Iran. In addition to the sanction campaign, the report, which is titled “Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development,”6 recommends taking military steps such as “pre-positioning additional US and allied forces, deploying additional aircraft carrier battle groups and minesweepers [and] emplacing other war materiel in the [Gulf] region.” The report further urges that these military actions should be taken by the new President on his first day in office!

I didn't like what I read in the article, but needed to get more information before I got really worried. So, I went to my own Middle East advisor, Juan Cole, and well, now I'm really worried. I entered Dennis Ross as a search term on Cole's website and got this results page.

Here are some troubling quotes:

August 28, 2004:

WINEP has largely followed AIPAC into pro-Likud positions, even though its director, Dennis Ross, is more moderate. He is a figurehead, however, serving to disguise the far right character of most of the position papers produced by long-term WINEP staff and by extremist visitors and "associates" (Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer are among the latter).

WINEP, being a wing of AIPAC, is enormously influential in Washington. State Department and military personnel are actually detailed there to "learn" about "the Middle East"! They would get a far more balanced "education" about the region in any Israeli university, since most Israeli academics are professionals, whereas WINEP is a "think tank" that hires by ideology.


It was these WINEP and AIPAC-linked US Likud backers in the Defense Department who had the Iraqi army dissolved as soon as Saddam was overthrown. This step threw Iraq into chaos and led to the deaths of nearly a thousand US servicemen so far, since an Iraq without an army would inevitably depend on the US military.

December 13, 2007:

Farideh Farhi has more on the lack of an Iranian nuclear program. She shows that remarks of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to American scholars and politicians have been distorted by propagandists such as Dennis Ross. But it does turn out that Rafsanjani frankly told the Americans in 2005 that Iran had no weapons program, and did not need one, but that it did want to close the fuel cycle.

Perhaps since Ross is just a member of Obama's Middle East team, and not its leader, and perhaps if there are other advisers on the team to counter Ross's influence, we may have some hope. Although, he helped Obama prepare for his Middle East trip and traveled with him, and Obama's quotes above, in regards to Iran, reflect Ross's viewpoint.

As I researched this post, I came across an American Thinker article, railing against Obama's radical leftist anti-Israel advisors. The most heinous evil doer on the team, according to AT, is Robert Malley, lawyer, political scientist and specialist in conflict resolution (God forbid we should need somebody who knows how to do that) and Program Director for Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group in Washington, D.C. This seemed to be a good sign. Of course, the American Thinker article was still stating as a fact that Obama is a Muslim and attended a Muslim Madrassa school.

Here's an article on the Council on Foreign Relations website, with backgrounds on some of Obama's advisers. Ross is not listed. Here's an interesting perspective from the Socialist Worker.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Orgy Of Positive People

My friend Arthur sent me an email with a subject line that said "Inspirational news..." The only thing inside the email was a link. When I went to the page, I started to say to myself, "Oh I have to blog about her...and about him...and him!" Until I realized that there are 50, count 'em, 50 stories of human beings who are doing amazingly positive things. Every single one of them is worth reading about and listening to.

So, please take a look at Utne Reader's 50 Visionaries Who Are changing Your World. You will get lost in an orgy of positiveness from which you hopefully won't have to ever return.

(Hey, that blog post title will bring in some traffic, won't it? hehe)

Friday, October 24, 2008

What The Scientists Have To Say

There's a great YouTube site that is in the process of compiling and uploading videos of scientists who talk about who they plan to vote for and why. Have a geeky look-see.

Don't Let Anyone Stop You From Voting

Bring your cell phone to the polls and record any problems you see. Then post them at VideoTheVote. You can also check out the Voter Suppression Wiki. It's a great resource for local info.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Me And Joe Don't Care How Much Sarah's Clothes Cost

Even though I shudder at the thought of a fundamentalist Sarah Palin in the white house, I have to say that I wasn't as shocked and horrified about the $150,000 makeup and wardrobe spending made by the RNC on Sarah's behalf. Yes, she's supposed to be speaking for and to Joe Six Pack, and I guess also Joe's wife (but the jury's still out on that one), and so the thought that she spent $75K in Neimans alone, where Joe and his unnamed wife would never shop, is hypocritical. But it's her attractiveness that got everybody all excited. All the Republican teevee and radio boys were drooling over her. Republican male voters fell in love with her. And it surely wasn't because of her experience or her brains, so sorry to say.

So...any good marketer/packager would capitalize on Sarah's strengths and do their best to support and enhance Sarah's image. If I were in charge of her image for that campaign, I would have done the same thing.

Besides, the Jane Six Packs of the world don't expect Sarah to dress like them. They expect her to be gorgeous so they can aspire to being just like her. This "big disclosure" isn't going to shock or horrify Sarah's "base."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Exclusive: Riot Police Ready For Young Republican Unrest After Elections

I don't want to unfairly place the spotlight on one segment of our society, but somebody has to say what most people are just too darned afraid to say. And that brave somebody is, well, me.

It's about all those Biffs and Bryces, Jessicas and Jennifers out there in middle to upper class land, who are quietly seething underneath their cabled wool sweaters and white oxford cloth shirts. You all know who I'm talking about, those agitators, those sons and daughters of mostly white people, who are angry, underneath their bow ties and please-don't-CFM low-heeled pumps. They're angry about how marginalized they are. How they are so often discriminated against. How many jobs they lose every day to affirmative action. How difficult their parent-funded lives are. This gang, known as the Young Republicans, may sound effete, maybe even girly-manish, but in truth, one small event, like McCain's loss of the upcoming election, could unleash a violent torrent of unused sexual energy, and send them into a rage that could precipitate a cataclysmic end to peace as we know it.

If you're not afraid, then you darn well should be. Because if their hero John McCain doesn't win this election, these Young Hooligans, these Commandos of a war they'll never have to fight directly, these Commandos who would never be caught dead going commando, will take to the streets, by golly, and run about in their penny loafers. In deep solidarity they will march (hope somebody brings some bandaids!), raising their French manicured fists, their pasty white hairy knuckled fat fingered man hands high into the air, as their Righteous Republican voices shout Gosh Darnit! with all the spoiled brat rage they can muster. They might even use their Blackberries so much, texting such things as "All our voter caging efforts for naught!" and calling each other to cry off their Lancome mascara, that the whole cellular infrastructure will collapse.

It will be, well, a riot. I don't know about you, but I think they could do some serious damage.

And I hope their white socks don't get dirty.

If they are at all worried about getting soiled though (riots can be so icky!), they can send their illegal immigrant gardener or maid ("don't ask, don't tell" is the unofficial Republican immigration policy) into the foray as their proxies, while they gather at Starbucks to drown their sorrows in a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino® Blended Crème (accent not mine). Whether they join their fellow bank-bailing socialists on the filthy streets to fight against the dawn of Obama's communist, baby killing, whale coddling era, or they meet in the vaunted golden high rises of their bank-owning daddies to plan for victory in 2012, they will make themselves known. "Whatever it takes!" they always say, "Just Git 'er Done!"

But seriously, you don't have to be afraid this coming election day. Our brave police state has been thinking ahead, as they are wont to do. Cities across the nation have the situation under control. They are doubling up their police presence, so that they can patrol America's streets on election day, to make sure that all the poor voters, the black voters, the Hispanic voters, the voters with foreclosed homes, the know, all those Democrats...will feel safe while they stand in line at the local high school or town hall. That's what they'll be doing, yeah.

I applaud their efforts, these peace keepers dressed in black boots and riot gear, and their incredible courage. They will somehow pull off the impossible task of protecting people, all the while actually looking like they plan to arrest or kill them! And I also want to commend them on their boldness in coming straight out in the press and saying what only I have had the balls to say, that there's just one group of people we should all be afraid of on election day. Joe The Officer, that fearless symbol of something or other, will face the fearsome, fuming crowd of Young Republicans, with the kid gloves they so deserve.

I sure do feel safe, now. Don't you?

(My thanks to digby over at Hullabaloo for alerting me to this great news.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nir Rosen: Embedded With The Taliban

Hat tip to Mathew Good for this interesting video of Nir Rosen being interviewed by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. (If you are reading this post in an email, please click through to my blog to view the video):

Tell A Story: How Science Trumps Creationism

From RadioLab:

This spring, Robert Krulwich gave the commencement speech at California Institute of Technology. He called it “Tell Me a Story.” And commencement speech it may be, it gets at the heart of what we do here at Radiolab. It’s a treat to hear his passion. We enjoyed it. And we thought you might too.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obama Is Cheating By Being Right About Everything

I am very happy with Colin Powell right now. (Two videos follow. If you are reading this post in an email, click through to my blog to watch the videos.)

I don't think anybody could have nailed it so perfectly as he did. Nothing was sacred. FINALLY somebody said, "What's wrong with being a Muslim?" on the dessicated and verbally flatulent MSM. Somebody is finally serious enough not to give three shits about how "hot" Sarah Palin is(n't). All these drooling teevee common-taters and fat wingnut radio pawns and redneck Palin supporters who hurl racial epithets at black cameramen and assault reporters, are yuckin' it up about her religious hotness, and we have two fucking wars going on and our country is in the final financial flush down the big bog toilet. Do we have time to talk about Sarah Palin's hotness? Or about a crusty old domestic terrorist named Ayers who's now a boring teacher? About a voter registration organization that has zippo zero to do with actual people showing up and committing voter fraud?

Fuck no. Fuckity fuck FUCK no.

It's time to get serious boys and girls. The General has spoken.

Now that I've said that...I want you to enjoy a laugh or two with the comedic blow-by-blow rendition of Brokaw's show with Powell, written by The Bobblespeak Translations. I love this guy. He told me he sits there during these shows with a beer and cigarette and just types away. If you look at his URL, it says Moonshine Patriot. I don't know how he does it as well as he does, but it's just peachy.


October 19, 2008
Host: Tom Brokaw
Guest: Colin Powell

Brokaw: America and the whole world are facing a nightmare of crises like we have never had before

Powell: yes it's almost as bad disco

Brokaw: indeed

Powell: we've got that crazy economy, wars all over the place, and we got to reach out to our friends like Pakistan and our enemies like Spain

Brokaw: daunting challenges!

Powell: we need an articulate guy

Brokaw: a novel idea

Powell: there's going to be a crisis on January 21st 2009

Brokaw: what is it!?

Powell: i can't tell you

Brokaw: wow!

Powell: we need a president that calms people down and that people like and trust

Brokaw: i smell an endorsement coming!!!

Powell: we need leadership with greening, energy, poverty, for needy people

Brokaw: you hate America, don't you?

Powell: I will endorse someone smart, ready, well-informed, patriotic, with good ideas-

Brokaw: spill the beans handsome

Powell: Ok - i know and like John McCain and I've met Barack Obama and I admire John McCain although the GOP is increasingly evil...

Brokaw: out with it buddy

Powell: okay i've given a test to them both and McCain has been ranting like a crazy person - he's an erratic possibly insane loony and frankly a jerk

Brokaw: but but but.....

Powell: Sarah Palin - i wouldn't hire to walk my dog without fucking it up

Brokaw: none of us would General - hell she shoots wolves

Powell: turns out Obama on the other hand is smart, inclusive, hopeful, reaching out, not dividing America

Brokaw: well there is that

Powell: then you have McCain, running a hateful, racist, evil, divisive, mean, nasty, dishonest, pathetic, shitty campaign

Brokaw: hey whatever works smoothie

Powell: Let's face it I didn't leave the GOP - the GOP left Planet Earth

Brokaw: but Obama might be a muslim

Powell: So what? So what if he were? How come no one ever says it's fucking racist and wrong to say a President can't be a Muslim???

Brokaw: they’re swarthy?

Powell: a 14 year old kid joined the army and died a hero under the Crescent and Star

Brokaw: maybe we can harness their fanaticism for our own ends

Powell: Obama is who we need NOW

Brokaw: but he has no experience!

Powell: he is a brilliant man, a snappy dresser, and a transformational figure, and a campaign genius

Brokaw: well you would say that - you are black

Powell: his race might help with the rest of the world

Brokaw: the world! Pheh!

Brokaw: will you beg Obama to please stay in Iraq?

Powell: hey if they Iraqis want us to leave we should leave

Brokaw: but it's been such a fun war to cover

Powell: Get over it Tom

Brokaw: Let's talk about William Ayers

Powell: [ smacks Brokaw ]

Brokaw: ow!

Powell: [ rolls eyes ]

Brokaw: Ayers is worst person in human history

Powell: i don't truck with no motherfuckin’ Weathermen and neither does Mister Obama

Brokaw: Lessons from Iraq?

Powell: Look I tried diplomacy but Bush was stupid and he was the President - in my defense the CIA lied to me

Brokaw: uh huh

Powell: Let's not argue about who lied about what - the real mistake was not killing more

Brokaw: true

Powell: we goofed - it's happens

Brokaw: Who care what you think then

Powell: Do you how many white people consider me their Black Friend?

Brokaw: no

Powell: Millions

Brokaw: You said Bush would be moderate and optimistic

Powell: Yes look at Liberia

Brokaw: [ head explodes ]

Powell: Tom your brains are all over my suit

Brokaw: sorry about that general

Powell: The Bush administration had a decent 5 minutes from 12:06 to 12:11 pm on Jan. 21 2001

Brokaw: Good times

Brokaw: Apologize to McCain!

Powell: We need a man younger than 100 years, a smart man, and reasonable man, a clever man, a sane man, a non-psycho-

Brokaw: okay you've made your point

Brokaw: you're black - do you think americans are racist?

Powell: yes

Brokaw: you're black - would you be Ambassador to Africa?

Powell: that's a continent Tom

Brokaw: Whatever

[ break ]

Brokaw: C-Todd gimme the polls

Todd: Ohio is an unmoved tie - but Obama has Wisconsin

Brokaw: hoh mai

Todd: Obama getting close in West Virginia

Brokaw: oh my gowd why

Todd: The economy - otherwise it's baffling

Brokaw: indeed

Todd: Obama's winning in Charlotte cause of banking and in Montana and the United States of Brokejaw

Tom: warble

Brokaw: can McCain win?

Todd: yes - if he can wheel people age 75 to 100 to the polls

Brokaw: can terry schiavo vote?

Todd: yes but she has endorsed Obama

Brokaw: Colin Powell - wow!

Scar: Obama is cheating by being right about everything

Tom: Florida?

Scar: Powell will help - he's a respected military dude

Brook: the Republican party left me and went into Ga Ga Land

Mitchell: I'm very worried about this - the GOP has become a hate filled looney party - a problem with centrist Republicans

Brokaw: both of them!?

Parson Meachem: this is like a Seal of Approval from Morgan Freeman playing God

Brokaw: how so?

Meachem: he's a stand alone brand he stands for 'Military Uprightness'

Brokaw: is that it?

Meachem: Understand that Powell has been America's Magic Negro for over a decade and a half

Scar: I want to warn the Obama campaign to focus on the states you must win - McCain closes strongly - forget N. Carolina and just take Florida and win this thing

Brokaw: what the fuck is wrong with John McCain Brooksie - what's his raisin detter?

Brooks: They made a decision not to run a likeable moderate maverick candidate and decided to run a hate-filled divisive mean campaign

Scar: now wait just a second - we all laugh at Sarah Palin now - but McCain will lose by less than he was in July

McCain: i hate President Bush!!!!

Crowd: Booooo Buuuuuuushhh!!!!

Obama: Buuuuuuuullshiiiit!!!

Mitchell: the fact is Obama is running a very sad nasty ad campign - on national television

Brokaw: what sleazy thing are they doing?

Mitchell: running a video of McCain talking in his own words

Brokaw: that's below the belt

Brokaw: this is not fair

Mitchell: indeed Obama is cheating by being popular

Tom: John Lewis said a mean thing

Parson Meachem: John Lewis is literally a Saint - They call him Bleeding Gums John

Brokaw: he gave his life for the cause of gingivitis

Meachem: McCain was likeable this week because he has conceded the election in his mind

Brokaw: Obama is going to win big with a Democratic Congress

Scar: this is a Republican country

Brokaw: it's bad news for liberals

Brooks: why have the liberals given us a huge debt and big spending!!!???

Brokaw: indeed those fucking liberals I already hate the failed Obama administration

Alaska Is Shaped Like A Crown; So It Has A Destiny To Lead The Nation

As an appropriate update to my post below, this is a fascinating, but frightening documentary produced by Max Blumenthal, about Sarah Palin, her extreme religious views, the real reason behind her "inquiry" into banning books at the library (to block a book written by local pastor Bess who came out as a gay man), and the violent speech at her church ("...we put our feet against the heads of the enemy"). If you are viewing this post in an email, please click through to view the video:

Thanks to for posting this video.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

McCain/Palin In All Their Ilkiness

I've been reading a few thousand blog posts and news stories in the last few days, in case you wondered where I've been. And I noticed a little trend lately, of writers using the word "ilk." Now, I don't read conservative blogs. I let other people do that. I don't have the stomach for it, especially now that Mc* (there are just too many McFunny names for him now) and his Rabble-Rousin' Righteously Religious Runnin' Mate have become desperate and have started to inflame their dimwit base with heinous lies.

So, what I'm saying here is that it's the lefty blogs that are using this word "ilk."

I'm not sure I'm liking this trend. I feel like ilk is a dirty word. I know, I know. I could probably win the trash mouth blogger award hands down. But sometimes a good fuck here and there is required in order to effectively communicate how angry I am, and we should all be, for the many, many crimes that this administration has perpetrated upon the American people, and millions of innocent people in Iraq.

But enough about fucking, let me tell you an ilk story.

A few years ago, I was dating a cowboy jeweler artist kind of guy. He was nice enough to suffer through a couple of hours over at my parents' house from time to time, only under the agreement that afterwards he could run home and take a hot bath to wash off all the bigotry. My mother is the worst offender, and with Fox news on the TV 24 hours a day in her living room, we get to watch that crap in the background with the sound muted so that she could make sure that we listen to her commentary. At one point she was going on and on about some commie pinko Democrat or another (I tend to drift and miss most of the details), and she turned to my boyfriend as he sat politely with his stetson in hand, and she said, "Blah blah blah blah blah, but you and your ilk think blah blah blah blah."

On the way home, he kept repeating, "You and your ilk." What ilk was that? The cowboy ilk? The jeweler ilk? The balding ilk? The "you're fucking my daughter that slut the mortal sinner" ilk? (That's a pretty big ilk, historically speaking.) She'd met him exactly 3.5 times and yet she somehow knew more about his ilk than he did. She was lumping him into some undefined group of ilks who she obviously disliked. She was dismissing him, and his associates, whomever the guilty parties might be, with a wave of a hand and a three-letter word.

I guess I could say, "Sarah Palin and her ilk..." and you would understand I was speaking disparagingly about her, along with some undefined group with whom she allegedly ilked on a regular basis. I'm tossing her and her entire ilk overboard, and walking away without lowering a single life boat. I guess you could figure out which ilk I was referring to, within the context of my rant. But why would I make you work that hard?

The problem with using the "i" word is that, in times such as these, the more specific we can get when describing McCain and Palin, the more effective we will be in exposing them for who they really are. Ilk is a lazy word. It's too easy. It's harder, and takes many more words, to say exactly what we mean. But it's better writing if we do.

For instance, Sarah Palin is a fundamentalist Christian who believes that the US government should be run under the rules of her form of Christianity, that government schools should teach her brand of Christianity and all of the crazy dinosaur stories associated with it, and that public libraries should ban books that Sarah disagrees with, and that America is inherently a Christian nation, and that Christians should be the majority who are in charge of the heathenish rabble. (Got that all you Jews? Oh, I forgot. She loves you and Israel so much that she hopes that when the rapture comes you'll make the correct choice and become her brand of Christian or, well, die. But don't despair, she'll be smiling and winking as you burn in the fires of the great conflagration that she hopes will come sooner rather than later, so that the Christians can take their righteous place in the promised land and take over the abuse of Palestinians.) She believes that American citizens are "allowed" to follow whatever religion they choose, but that only her brand of Christians know the true way and thus should be in charge.

That's a whole lot of words, but if you didn't know that some of her deepest beliefs threaten your freedoms, all those words are important. You wouldn't know half as much if I had just said, "We're not going to be safe if the second highest office in this land is taken over by Sarah Palin and her ilk."

Sarah Palin is also the kind of woman who lets her husband govern with, or sometimes, without her. Even though she was the one elected to office, not him. She also fires people who won't do her bidding, and she has recently been found guilty of violating ethics laws, irregardless of her assertions to the contrary. I guess this would mean that she and John McCain are both liars, since he blatantly lied to Dave Letterman, and had the balls to show up on the show a few weeks later and say, "I screwed up" instead of the much more accurate "I lied to you." He has some trouble being specific too.

John McCain, of his own admission, is a "gambling man," and he "pals around" with casino owners who also pay him to legislate in their favor. He is also a veteran who, if he had never done time in the Hanoi Hilton, would simply be regarded as a cocky little pain in the ass with a bad temper, and a bad pilot who crashed three military jets, versus the dazzling and amazing war hero of his manufactured image. He was such a member of the fake war hero brigade, that he left the scene of a fire on the deck of his aircraft carrier and, from the safety of the officer's mess TV, watched more than 100 of his fellow soldiers die. He also ditched his ailing wife to take up with an heiress, and now he can call her a cunt and ignore her on stage after each debate. What a guy!

So, as you can see, Sarah and John are members of many ilks. Some of them pretty despicable. That's why I'd like us libruhls to stop being lazy and tossing that three-letter word around, and instead, get really, really specific.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Interesting Psychological Voting Survey

A research team from the Psychology Department at New York University, supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous.

Learn more by going to the survey link:

At the request of the survey authors, I have closed comments only for this post.

Voting From France

The other day, I met Fiachna and David at one of our favorite little cafes in "Little Africa," or the Paris neighborhood called Chateau Rouge. We sat together outside, drinking coffees and pastis, and watched the bustling world go by. At one point, a woman was walking towards us on the sidewalk, and I noticed that not only was she wearing a t-shirt with a big Obama logo, but she also wore a black beret with an Obama logo tilted jauntily to the side. I caught her eye. She looked at me a bit sideways, not fully confident, as she continued past us on the sidewalk. I raised my hand in a thumbs up, and she smiled.

I'm in Paris, mind you. Four years ago, I'm not sure that you would ever have seen French people walking down the street wearing the campaign garb of an American presidential candidate. Based on the incredible success of Obama's appearances in Europe a few months ago, I think you can see that the rest of the world is poised in anticipation of the results of this election. It has world focus, and people from Baghdad to Paris are as emotionally attached to its outcome as we are. Early in the primaries, when my baker noticed my bad French accent and asked me if I was German, I answered that I was American. His eyes lit up and then he did a frowning thumbs down gesture and said, "Juhorjuh Boosh." But he smiled broadly when with a thumbs up he cried, "Eelahree Cleentone!"

I didn't have the heart to tell him that she was not my favorite choice for a candidate. It would have been complicated for me to find the French I needed. But I suppose I could have simply said, "Je préfère une femme, mais non cette femme."

America has been a world force in a negative way in the last eight years, especially when it plays its self-ordained role of imperial policeman, warlord and jailer. Yet it has also played a hugely positive role, because there are many Europeans I have encountered who still dream of seeing America. They want to stand on a beach in California, look up at the forbidding sky scrapers of New York, stare at the uninterrupted expanse of Texas, ride a horse through ghost towns in Arizona, and gaze at the gaudy 24-hour glitter and listen to the ka-ching of Las Vegas.

What an opportunity we have during this election and afterwards, to live up to that dream.

I traveled to Paris with my 80-year-old Dad and my brother soon after 9/11, and no matter where we went, be it to ask a question at the Metro or in restaurants or tourist attractions, when the French found out we were Americans, there were grand gestures of concern and, well, fraternité. They felt for us, and told us so, in language and kind gestures.

How terrible that we stepped on this graciousness with the jack boot of a typical maligning right wing horse shit tactic like "Freedom Fries," just because those damn socialist Frenchies had de gaulle to say no to mighty BushCo's fake and illegal war with Iraq. I have always been deeply embarrassed to be associated with such ignorance. It is the same brand of ignorance that McCain and Palin are feeding and stoking in hopes they can move the ignorant to vote for them. I don't care how much Bush and Cheney and Rove snicker at their supreme court supported, voter suppressed and electronic voting machine manipulated robbery of the 2004 election, how slimy it must feel to know, deep down inside, that the only way you won was by breaking laws and telling lies to stupid people.

If Obama wins, it will be because he won the hearts and minds of the people, without chicanery. I believe that makes him the better man.

Three days ago it took me a few hours to research and complete my absentee ballot for the election. I had to vote against the despicable ploys of fanatically religious people who want to declare that marriage is only between a man and a woman. I had to vote against xenophobic anti-Hispanic measures too. I liked it when I read later in one guy's blog that he was a bit disappointed with the ballot, because "Fuck No" wasn't one of the vote choices. I can relate.

My next step was to go to the post office and get the ballot mailed. As with most experiences for an expat in a foreign country, I had to figure out how the post office worked. There's always a line in my post office, but that day, there were two lines. I stood in the line I usually stand in, while I watched the other line to see what was up. There was a gal behind a small counter and she seemed to be dealing with quick mailing purchases, so I switched to her line. She was helping a woman fill out a form. I watched them for a while too, still worried that I might have chosen the wrong line, as I worry in the grocery store, when I try and decide which line will move faster, make my decision, and still watch the other lines so I can chastise myself if I made the wrong decision.

It was then that I realized I was standing in front of a very cool self-service machine, where you can place your envelope on a scale at the top, and then press buttons to determine the necessary postage, pay and then get a sticker at the end to place on your envelope. It was easy as pie, and within moments I had a sticker for 1.70 Euro. But, where was the mailing slot? I was sure there would be at least three, one for Paris, one for other parts of France, and the third for étrangers, or foreign countries. I walked to the front of the post office, to the back, and then outside. Nothing. So, I returned to my line and the woman behind the desk noticed me and I held up my precious envelope and asked her where I could put it. She took it from me, looked down at it, and then back up to me. She said in French, "This is your vote." and then glanced to the other woman she had been waiting on. They both looked at me, expectantly. I said, "Oui....Pour Obama!" They both relaxed, and smiled.

I bowed to the envelope, my hands in prayer form, and said, "C'est très important!" and they nodded solemnly. I have a feeling my envelope received more focused attention than most envelopes that day. Vive la Fraternité.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

America, The Beautiful

Maybe this is why Al Jazeera is banned by corporate cable companies in America.

Say It Ain't So, Joes

Image courtesy of Chris "Space" Smallfield.
He asks that you pass it around, with attribution.
You can get the image here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Letter To Undecided Voters

In more than 25 years of experience in corporate America, I have learned a very important thing: the entire tone and psychology of the organization is set by the person at the top. If the person at the top is flawed, the organization will be similarly flawed.

I have watched John McCain lose himself (I am from Arizona, so I know who he used to be), and his campaign is erratic and reactionary versus well planned and focused. Then I compare his campaign to that of the younger and more inexperienced Barack Obama, and all I see is steadiness, thoughtfulness, effective strategic and tactical planning, focus, forward movement, zero drama and most of all...results. There are no whispers of confusion or dissent inside Obama's campaign, nor any indication of disarray or disagreement inside Obama's party. This is not the case with McCain.

Just like the very funny, but true statement, "They'll never treat you better than on the first date", Barack Obama and John McCain will manage our country as they have managed their campaigns. If John McCain has lost himself, and lost control of his campaign, then how will he be able to find himself after being elected, and then lead America out of its own drama?

At this very critical time in our country's history, we need a president with true leadership skills, who can inspire the American people to take responsibility for their country and together with him, their new leader, steer this ship back onto a more focused, less dramatic, less erratic, more respectful, well planned course.

And most of all...get results.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Have Some Good News & Some Bad News

The two Naomis - Klein and Wolf - talk about how BushCo has meticulously planned not just the war, in order to gain dominance of Middle East oil and enrich their military industry pals, but also the disintegration of our rights, the overthrow of our government and the movement of, as Klein said it on the Colbert Report, debt into the hands of the American people and cash into the hands of the BushCo cronies in banking, finance and insurance.

Let's start with this first short video of Representative Brad Sherman saying that he and other lawmakers were threatened that if they didn't pass the bailout bill that the markets would crash and that there would be martial law in America. So, as I and many other people suspected, there was no big emergency, it was BushCo trying to create fear so they could shove something through. They did it with the Iraq war, and we let them do it again. But the most important point is that Bush invoked the specter of martial law, just a few days before he imposed it for the first time in America. Watch (If you prefer a longer version, it's available here):

Now, here's Naomi Wolf talking about the big picture. "On October 1st, there was a coup in America." (Hat tip to A Progressive Girl for posting this gem.) This is a long video, but worth watching all the way through:

Now, for a little good news, because we certainly need it. I love this video below. It makes me hopeful. Can America, will America, stand up? When I see this, I have a glimmer of hope that they can and will:

A Fun Little Exercise

AIG spent $11,379,000 lobbying in 2007. So far, in the first two quarters of 2008, they've spent $6,730,000. Third quarter statistics are due October 21st.

The American government now owns 80% of AIG.

AIG is still paying lobbyists to lobby the American Government.

I like the way digby puts it: The government is paying lobbyists to lobby itself.

Via Eric Umansky and Sharona Coutts at ProPublica:

An AIG spokesman, Joseph Norton, told us via e-mail a few minutes ago: "We are not a GSE [government-sponsored entity] and are therefore not restricted. We remain a share-holder owned entity and continue advocacy activities."


"That's an absurd and unacceptable response," Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 told us. "Government officials should move immediately to correct this situation. The government now owns AIG. And the government should not be retaining private lobbyists and lobbying firms to lobby itself."

Wertheimer added, "It sounds like AIG officials don't seem to understand that the United States government owns them now, and they are not freewheeling independent operators in the private sector as they used to be."
So, I did some digging and found out that one of AIG's lobbying firms, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, also lobbies for the Colombian government, the Government of Georgia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and is chock full of troubling characters:
  • James C. Langdon Jr., Senior Executive Partner at Akin Gump, is a Bush Pioneer having raised at least $100,000 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election.
  • Bill Paxon, Senior Advisor, is another Bush Pioneer, former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
  • Ken Melman, former deputy assistant to George W. Bush and director of White House political affairs, who's also been linked to Jack Abramoff
There are also some Democrats on the team:
  • Robert S. Strauss, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and special trade representative under President Carter;
  • Vernon E. Jordan Jr., former chairman of the Clinton Presidential Transition Team

Here's another tidbit from a 2005 WaPo article:

"President Bush's top independent intelligence adviser met last winter with investment bankers in China to help secure his law firm's role in lobbying for a state-run Chinese energy firm and its bid for the U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., according to his law firm, Akin Gump.

The involvement of James C. Langdon Jr., chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a major Bush fundraiser, underscores the tangled Washington connections beneath CNOOC Ltd.'s bid...

Langdon's involvement, given his dual role as Bush intelligence adviser and energy lawyer at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, may prove politically problematic, some security experts said. Members of the intelligence board, known as PFIAB, are granted the highest security clearance and develop top-secret advisories and reports for the president, most of which are not even available to members of Congress."

It looks like BushCo was already paying lobbyists to lobby his damn self. It just didn't matter to the American public until they watched their tax money prop up AIG. Now, maybe, everybody will pay attention? Nah.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Get Ready For The Angry Mob

As the McBush camp and all of their surrogates were trashing Obama for being a rock star, the RNC, accompanied by Rove and The Neocons (the Middle East Destructionist band), were scratching their heads and asking each other, "Where can we find a rock star of our very own?" These guys who get their rocks off on the big bang boom destruction and domination of oil-rich countries, were suffering from a symptom plaguing most perversions and addictions: their war-lust had lost some of its luster. They wanted a higher dose, bigger risk, a false sense of control, bordering on out of control.

And they were jealous of Obama's seemingly effortless ability to attract huge crowds of adoring fans, not just in America, but in that nasty, festering land of socialists and other n'er-do-wells, Old Europe. Yes, that Old Europe. The one with the stronger (read erect) monetary unit.

And to make it all the more annoying, McBushCo knew that those crowds came of their own volition. They weren't paid to be there. The Obama camp marketed the events, but no marketing plan alone made 80,000 people show up in Oregon. The crowds were hungry for hope and change. Are those campaign slogans empty? No. They are deep, and meaningful to people who are weary of war and finally paying attention to the impact that the last eight years have had on their own lives.

The crowds also saw the nascent quality of leadership in a "young" Obama. A quality that has grown leaps and bounds in the last few months, and become so embarrassingly evident to the Neocons, as Obama's calm, even, thoughtful, non-flamboyant, authentic essence provided a stark contrast at the debates, to the crotchety, nasty, bumbling old man that the Neocons have pushed forward as their candidate.

Well, after some prolonged scratching of their bald heads and shriveled balls, the good ol' boys found their rock star in Sarah Palin. She's the kind of rock star that stirs up the most base, conscious and unconscious, vile Neanderthal behavior of the ignorant masses. There have "only" been a "few" instances of people in her adulating crowds shouting about Obama: "terrorist!" and "kill him!" And only one instance where the crowd shouted racial epithets at a black cameraman. But heck, boys will be boys, you betcha! And ignorant toothless women will be right there in the rabble with their "hubbies," thrusting their campaign placards towards the sky and screaming for blood. And those are just the Christians. Or at least, the Sarah Palin brand of Christians.

Yes, anybody that thinks Sarah Palin is anything more than a vapid, but conniving shell of a human being is ignorant. Of course, there are spent politicians like Pat Buchanan and college educated columnists like Fred Barnes who wax lustful about her, this candy-coated ball of granite, but they are smart enough to know that their new rock star might be able to move those ignorant masses into a frothing, pointy toothed, murderous, put-the-nigger-in-a-noose gang in 2012.

Yep, there's been a whisper of Palin 2012 floating around. And here's the kicker. Just think how effective Sarah Palin would be after 4 years at Neocon University. In a few weeks time, she was able to memorize enough talking points and repeat manipulating emotional slogans, to bluff her way through the extremely controlled (by her party) debate and speeches along the campaign trail.

If Karl Rove knows anything, it's how to manipulate and inflame the ignorant, bloodthirsty crowd. And Sarah Palin is his new Tool In Training. With 4 years of Neocon indoctrination, she will still be vapid, still be conniving, but soon, very soon, she will also be lethal.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One Person Can Change The World

Or at least he can change the hearts and minds of 10 million workers. I heard that Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO had been bold enough to bring up the "I'm not voting for a black guy" issue, and address it directly with his union members. But holy cow, I had no idea how powerful his message was. This is one of the most stirring and passionate speeches I've ever watched.

Hat tip to The Queen of Spain who posted this video on her blog. Enjoy. (If you are viewing this post in an email, please click through to my blog to view the video.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

U.S. "Secretly" Produces Content For Iraqi TV

Shhhh. Only the Washington Post knows. Don't tell Iraq!

The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to "engage and inspire" the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.


"They don't know that the originator of the content is the U.S. government. If they did, they would never run anything."

And I bet the Iraqis are so dumb, they can't figure any of this out. They don't read any American media, of course. Because, you know, those rag heads can't read anyway. And besides, I bet the U.S. military and their contractors are so damn good at pretending to be Iraqis, that nobody can tell the difference. I bet the underlying messages of the content are so well hidden, that no Iraqis ever say, "Haha! Look at this horse shit!" Nope. We Americans are experts at creating fake Iraqi content that will move the hearts and minds of Iraqis so that they will love us, and eventually, hopefully, they might greet us as liberators, even. Why, after they see enough of this content, they'll even thank us for destroying their country, killing more than one million of their brothers and sisters and displacing four million more and, oh yeah I forgot, liberating them from their oil.

We Americans are the kings of Iraqi content. Us, the ones with a dearth of Arabic speakers in our military and government. Us, the ones who barge into countries without a fucking clue about local culture and bomb democracy down everybody's throats. The throats of people who are left alive, that is.

I bet Iraqis don't gather around the TV in the local and sip coffee and laugh at the bullshit propaganda. Nah.

(Hat tip to Amygdala.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Middle East 101 For Biden & Palin

I like the Mosaic Intelligence Report on LinkTV. I learn a lot about the Middle East - things that you'll never, ever see in the U.S. press. Below is host Jamal Dajani's Middle East primer for the Vice Presidential candidates.

The one thing he doesn't cover in the video, is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad NEVER SAID HE WANTED TO WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE FACE OF THE MAP. Fuck. I get so tired of Neocon bullshit talking points, and the U.S. press not challenging it, or worse, as in the quote below about the New York Times, continuing to support the lie.

From Juan Cole:

By the way, Nazila Fathi at the NYT again today attributed to Ahmadinejad the phrase "wipe Israel off the face of the map." He didn't say it, and spoke of the regime. He quoted Khomeini saying, "This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." (Een rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Quds bayad az safhih-i ruzgar mahv shavad; the verb construction mahv shodan is intransitive). (Khomeini had said 'vanish from the arena of time.') He has explained that he meant that the Zionist regime would collapse just as the Soviet one did. He didn't threaten to wipe anything off anything.

Anyway, if you're reading this post in an email, click through to my blog to view the video.

Angry People On The Street

I recently published a post about BushCo putting soldiers on America's streets, and was surprised this morning that CNN actually had an article about it on their front page. I was also surprised that they even mentioned the Posse Comitatus Act, even though they never really directly said that the placement of troops on the streets is illegal. They just called it "controversial."

But here's the quote, near the end of the article, that really stood out for me:

"We need a lot more in our toolbox in order to deal with angry people on the street," said Col. Barry Johnson of U.S. Army North.

BushCo is worried that this financial mess, the huge loss of jobs, foreclosures of homes, expensive gas, expensive home heating, devaluation of the dollar, high food prices, an unending war in Iraq, huge mismanagement of war contracts with billions in missing cash and guns, all these things might cause the people of America to rise up in protest.

One could only wish for such a thing.

But in the eyes of Col. Barry Johnson, angry Americans protesting in the streets must be controlled by soldiers with rubber bullets, spike strips and Tasers. We got a preview at the Republican National Convention, where more than 800 people were arrested, some of whom were just riding bicycles, or curious bystanders, or nationally known journalists and their crew. Many of the actual protesters that were arrested were angry about what the Republicans have done to destroy our country, but few of them were violent.

There's a difference between angry and violent. Just ask Jesus.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Who You Gonna Call? Toxic Mess Busters!

Sarah Palin says in the video below that there's a toxic mess on Main Street. I'm just a little libruhl feminazi from Arizona who has never played hockey in her entire fucking life, but I think I can safely assume that my new BFF Sarah means there's a toxic mess on My Street, and boyo boy, dern it! I'm waaaaay over here in Paris, a whole gosh darn ocean away from my unsold condo in Arizona, and I have no idea who to call! Even though Sarah Palin one-ups me when she can see Russia from her house (beyotch!), from my apartment I can see Spain, I can see France AND I can see Sarah's underpants!

But, I can't see my way out of this toxic mess on My Street. Who'm I gonna call? The Onward Christian Soldiers guys? The Great Deregulatorz? Sarah Palin her damn self? Or maybe my own Arizona Senator, John McCain? Nah. I just need to call my bank and ask them, really nicely, if they'll hold off a little while on my foreclosure. And then, when they tell me to fuck off and die, I'll have to call a bankruptcy attorney. So much for McBush helping the little peoples on "Main Street." I am ditchin' Sarah Palin as my new BFF and removing her from my top friends on Facebook and MySpace! That'll show her. She can go straight back to her own damn Main Street and scrape the moose shit off her boots. I never did like those stupid glasses, anyway. I mean, get lasered Sarah! OMFG!

William F. Buckley Just Turned In His Grave

William F. Buckley would be horrified to know that his eloquent, erudite, arch conservative principles were mimicked by a beauty contest winner whose every sentence is littered with you betchas, darn rights, heck-of-alots, and hockey moms, sentences ending in prepositions, incomplete sentences, and basically, a whole bunch of gibberish about nothing:

Juan Cole's article "The Non-Debate":

Joe Biden has been either the chairman or the ranking minority member on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee for many years, and is one of our foremost foreign affairs experts and legislators. His acumen and expertise are wide-ranging.

Palin has revealed her real self in the Gibson and Couric interviews, and clearly knows nothing and offers only rubbery expressions and glib repetition, for all the world like a rasping myna bird, of a stream of memorized slogans that sound as though they were disinterred from a time capsule originally buried in William F. Buckley Jr.'s back yard several decades ago.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Secret Meeting Between Treasury Dept & Financial Industry: They're Fucking Us With This Bill

Read THIS and read THIS and write to your representatives fast. We do not want this bailout bill to pass. Please take the time to read this and protest loudly. Tell your friends.

Download the bit torrent recording of secret meeting conference call and listen to the Treasury Department and financial industry insiders talk about how the additions to the bill that the Democrats "fought for" are just shams (CEO pay caps, metering out the $700 billion in smaller chunks, etc.). They can ALL be ignored or worked around.

Then watch this video:

Goose Stepping Towards A Police State

Or, I should say, we are already sitting ducks.

As of TODAY, October 1st, 2008, the Army is now patrolling American streets, in flagrant and, I might add, illegal disregard of the Posse Comitatus Act.

This news blew my mind. (Hat tip to my good friend Tony over at ThemBonez) I still don't know what to think about it. They are selling it as "protection" but it's only about control.

How easily we tumble towards fascism. Without a whimper from the people.

700 Billion Trillion Million Bajillian

Years ago, I never could "get" the concept of square footage. It's not that I'm dumb. I'm just...relational. Yeah, that's the ticket. Relational. I am an "experiential" learner. I don't always learn things just by reading. I have to get my arms around stuff. I have to read a bunch more things that relate to the first thing I read. If I read a political article and it quotes three or four people or mentions a related historic event or discusses a geographical place, any of whom I had never before encountered, then I have to toddle off and read about those quoted people, those historic events and those places. Then I'll finally "get" the article. Context. It's a good thing. And holy shit, it takes a long time to learn that way.

But I bet I know a lot more than most people when I'm done.

So, back to square footage. My Dad was a meanie to his first 5 kids, but he'd somehow gotten it out of his system by the time I came along. He was grumpy and yelled a lot, especially when he came home from the office and looked at all the faces of all the people he had to support with his business somehow. It was usually not a good idea to cross his path before he had his pre-dinner scotch. And even after dinner, it wasn't a smart idea to get him involved in your homework. He probably destroyed one of my sister's mathematical abilities forever, when he tried to explain the concept of "perimeter" to her. He dragged her down to our basement in Philadelphia and sat on the couch in the kids' "wreck room" and made her walk around the outside edges of the room at least 20 times. Each time she returned to his scowling, impatient face he'd demand, "So? What's it called that you just walked around?" All she could so was sob.

Consequently, I never asked my Dad to help me with my homework. Although, I probably would have "gotten" perimeter the first time I walked around it. Because I'm an experiential learner. And because I watched all five of my brothers and sisters get yelled at by my Dad, which taught me that I better have answers whenever anybody asks me anything, and fast. I could probably write a book with the first half of it recounting the miraculous right answers I have pulled directly out of my ass, and the second half of the book would be full of hilarious blabbering answers I came up with that were not even close to the right answer, but they either bored or amused the questioner so much that they eventually let me off the hook.

"Say, what's that tree over there?"
"Well, by the looks of it, we know it's definitely not a conifer. Those kinds of trees, like the blue spruce my mother favored at Christmas time, don't grow in these parts. After all, it's Hawaii and there's a proliferation of palm trees here, specifically of the non-date variety. But this is no palm. No siree. It has variegated leaves too, which narrows it down to a small group of, well, variegated leaf trees. So, it must be more rare than non-variegated leaf trees. And the bark is very, very shiny and hard, which rules out those trees with spongy bark that they make wine corks out of. No, it's more like an ironwood tree, er, bush, uh...treebush. But not of the desert family of ironwood. No. Since we're not in the desert, of course. And those berries are orange, which, if they're anything like Pyracantha, then they are almost definitely poisonous and should be avoided by small children, small dogs, and small old people. Oh. Maybe it's a Pyracantha bush?"

If I slow down for a second, you know, take a breath, look in the least bit confused, they might just kill me, or ground me for life. So, I just keep on talking.

My sister is probably smarter than me, and can learn by reading. Maybe she can learn better by hearing someone talk. We never talked about it. But she sure as hell can't learn by being yelled at. And she never learned the art of bloviation like I did. She's quiet.

So, back to square footage. I used to be a draftsman. That was way before people started calling me a draftslady, or a draftsgal, or a draftswoman. I was just a draftsman, in a room full of draftsmen (the men kind), all of us getting shiny calluses on the front of our third finger, from bearing down on our mechanical pencils. Yes, I have inhaled the tinny scent of graphite, and have lived to tell the tale. I've drawn louvers and door jambs and roof hatches and computer housings. I've drawn piping diagrams for oil refineries at Union Oil in El Segundo, California and schematic and wiring diagrams for some damn electrical thing or another at Intel. I measured and plotted things while wisely keeping tolerances in mind.

So, you might imagine that I understood that linear footage meant one foot stuck to the end of another foot and a whole bunch of one foots strung along in a single, solitary line, making up a total of some amount of linear feet. And it wasn't at all a stretch of my imagination to understand that square footage was like one of the linoleum tiles in my mother's kitchen. Each side was 12" or one foot long, so, one tile was one foot squared (whose perimeter, by the way, was 48") (And don't ask me why it was squared instead of quadrupled. Don't ask why it's times 2 instead of times 4. That involves isosceles triangles and pentagrams and the devil and would take me too long to explain.). Got it.

But here's the big problem: How big was 35,000 square feet? Or 1200? That's what I had a hard time with. I am not into sports. So I have no idea what anybody means when they say something is the length of three football fields. Now, if I had hold of a brown leather ball, and I was running my ass off with 8 black guys the size of my mother's twin Frigidaire running after me, I would know exactly what the length of a football field felt like. It's experiencing the thing that counts. Feeling what it feels like.

So, when I bought a condo that measures 1200 square feet, I finally got the concept of square feet. Because I know what it feels like to stand in the middle of 1200 square feet and look around. When my brother bought a 35,000 square foot building to house his business, I knew what 35,000 square feet felt like, when I stood upstairs and looked down on his shop room floor. So, if somebody tells me they have a 10,000 square foot home, I visualize about 1/3 of my brother's office and about 10 times my condo.

Got it?

OK. So why the hell am I babbling on about this? Because somebody fucking asked me if I "got" how much $700 billion or $1 trillion was, and since I have not had the chance to cram thousand dollar bills down my toilet so I can intimately understand how long it would take and how tired my arms would be and how pissed off I would be and how evicted I would be by the time I flushed $700 billion down the crapper, I have yet to really "get" how much that is.

So, as usual, at the threat of a question dangling in the air that I...horrors!...don't have an answer for, I just babbled on and on in this post, in the vain hope that nobody would catch on to the fact that I don't rightly know how much $700 billion is. And then they'd kill me.

But lucky for me, some guy named Scott emailed me today, out of the blue, with this very, very, very long sentence (I know a lot about length):

Can I please get my video posted on your blog?

Just like that. Then he put a link on the next line. Then he said:


Ah. A man of few words. Such a relief.

I hesitated. Little flashes of porn flitted through my brain. "Oh please Scott, don't be sending me a porn link. OK Scott?" And I clicked.

And Scott explained, calmly and clearly, without forcing me to go to the treasury and count it out myself, how much $700 billion really is. It's as big, and thorny, and shiny-suited and poisonous as a Pyracantha:

Scott Brown
Clean Green Productions
"Be the change you want"