Friday, February 29, 2008


Contrary Indicator

From "Moo Point" on Barry Ritholtz's Big Picture:

I don't think you need any more proof of a recession than this headline:

"Bush: U.S. is not headed for recession."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Buddy Miles Died Today.

Buddy Miles (right) was, among many other things, the drummer and singer for the Band of Gypsies, along with Billy Cox and Jimi Hendrix. The trio released one album together, with Buddy and Jimi singing each others' songs. The album, Band of Gypsies, is considered by many to be a singular masterpiece of African-American music.

There are three epochal anti-war songs. The first is Machine Gun. Which begat War Pigs. Which begat Disposable Heroes.

Without Buddy Miles, Machine Gun could not exist. His singing and playing create the song. My condolences to his family and friends. He was 60 years old.

After awhile, your cheap talk don't even cause me pain ...
So let your bullets fly like rain.

A house for $100.

Lots of them.

Dick Gregory, National Treasure

Born in 1964, I was blessed to be brought up by a father who grew up during a peculiar period between 1955 and 1970 when the entire concept of political comedy was invented from whole cloth. I was the 2nd generation. My father, Allan, was the first.

There is nothing in the comedic lexicon from 1975 to 2008 that can compare to what began in the mid 1950s and extended to 1975.

Ernie Kovacs. Bob and Ray. Lenny Bruce. Dick Gregory. Bob Newhart. Bill Cosby. Smothers Brothers. Flip Wilson. Richard Pryor. Carol Burnett.

Dick Gregory, in this clip from Feb. 2008, shows what being a comedian is all about, and why so many thousands of people have been inspired by the concept of intelligent, informed and thoughtful comedy that tries to change the world while still being humble and funny.

Watching this clip makes me really miss my dad, Allan Edgar Watts. My father was a brilliant comedian who knew, like Dick Gregory, that a joke is only funny if down deep it is about love and justice and the underdog winning.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Denise Oliver-Valez writes ...

Note: At Talking Points Memo, Denise Oliver-Valez wrote the following essay, which she has graciously given me permission to reprint here:

I'm 60 years old, and "black". I was born in the north, in the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, and lived in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. My grandmother, (Dad's mom) who helped raise me, was a "white" woman from Kansas.

My Dad was a Tuskegee Airman in WWII - and was beaten to a pulp by racists when he got off a bus to go to the training field with an army buddy who "looked black" (my dad was fair with blue eyes).

By the time I was 5 we moved south - where my dad was teaching at a "black" university in a racially segregated town, where I couldn't enter a store to buy an ice cream cone. At age 6 we moved to the campus of a "white" school in PA - where I was asked in all seriousness if my best friend (the only Jewish girl in town) had horns and a tail. By the time I was 9 and back in the south, I watched my dad and some other young professor’s hold off cross-burning KKK'ers with shotguns.

By age 11 I was bussed to a school which had race riots because kids who looked like me were going to the school for the first time. This was in Queens, in NY.

By age 13 I was informed by my school guidance counselor that if I tried to apply for a special High School in NYC (taking off a day for auditions) I would get detention and a blue referral card. "White" kids were allowed the day off. I applied anyway - and was accepted to the High School of Music and Arts.

By age 16 I was engaged in the civil rights movement and in later years lost close friends, and two partners, who died because someone didn't like their skin color, sexual orientation, politics, or religion.

I am now 60. And for the first time in my life I am REALLY proud of my country. I wish my grandmother was alive to see this. She had to flee Kansas to marry my grandfather in 1915 because "inter-racial" marriage was illegal. I wish my dad and mom were alive to see this. They had hopes that Colin Powell would/could have run for President - but his wife, wisely held him back. It was not the right time.

Most of my ancestors have been in this country since the 1600's. I am descended from Revolutionary War heroes, Civil War Heroes, and people who were enslaved.

I am an American. I defy anyone to question my "patriotism". On the backs of my ancestors - black, white and indigenous, this country was built.

I see my students at the University excited to be engaged in the political process for the first time. They make me proud. 95% support Obama, and I teach at a predominantly "white" school. I see a coalition broader than the one I was a part of in the sixties forming before my eyes. That makes me proud.

I see Michelle Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, and they make me proud.

As an anthropologist, I realize that "race" is a social construct, but if you think racism isn't alive and well you are living in a bubble.

If you think that Barak Obama hasn't felt racisms sting because of his upbringing, you are naive.

But - he's not demoralized nor has he internalized crippling self-hate. He has hope and a vision, and is being supported by a broad base of people that I thought I'd never live to see come together, here in MY country. That's good enough for me.

And to honor his wife Michelle, in response to some of the positions expressed here (thankfully the minority ones) I will now send another donation to help Barak Obama's campaign.

And be REALLY proud to see her as First Lady.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cushnoc, Kennebec River, Feb. 24, 2008

If there was a "Cheesy Lo-Budget Paranormal Activity Documentaries Hosted by a Forgotten, Washed Up Actor Speaking Ponderously" channel, I might consider getting cable again.

Street Poetry


Democracy must be stopped.

Every year, the Portland Press Herald and every other newspaper runs a story on "whether" the New England Town Meeting form of government needs to be eliminated in favor of ... something else. It's as reliable as the visit to the maple sugar shack newspaper stories of mid March. Yes, Direct Democracy stinks. Let's get rid of it. It's almost as bad as voting.

Si, Se Puende

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Don't these people have 500 channels of shitty cable TV?

It may be that no city gets more excited than Bakersfield when a new chain restaurant opens. A spokesman for Famous Dave’s, Peter DeYoung, said nearly 1,500 guests were on hand Monday, which ranked first or second in the chain’s 165-location history across 35 states.

Kathleen Cisneros was there. She and her husband had been comparing rib joints lately, happened to drive by, remembered Famous Dave’s advertisements and decided to stop in.

“We said, you know, might as well try it,” she said. Because of the crowd, however, they decided to take their orders to go.

Streets of Bakersfield, indeed.

Shorter Boston Globe:

Barack Obama has the nerve to suggest to our children that they should aspire to more than working at the 7-11 and living in a trailer park. What an uppity, insensitive, uncaring, unfeeling, pompous jerk.

By Susan Milligan
Globe Staff / February 23, 2008

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - For Tom Buffenbarger, the choice in the Democratic primary is simple: a man with a dream and a woman with a plan. And to him, Barack Obama's lofty vision doesn't answer the nuts-and-bolts questions working-class America has for its next president.

"What do you want? The editor of the Harvard Law Review or a fighter for working families?" Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists, bellowed at an Ohio rally for Clinton on Tuesday night, just after Obama was declared the winner of the Wisconsin primary.

At campaign events, Buffenbarger said, Obama "cocks his head and lifts his nose up" as he talks about changing the tone of American politics. "Hope? Change? 'Yes, we can?' Give me a break!" the union leader mocked, drawing boisterous hoots from the crowd.

They are Clinton's firewall: the working-class voters who say they don't want to hear fancy words about changing Washington; they want to know exactly how the next president is going to bring jobs to their struggling communities and make sure their children have healthcare.


Why not just say he's an uppity nigger who has the nerve to like classical music?

What a pile of illiterate shit.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm no expert, but ...

You don’t triangulate a war.

Ask LBJ how that worked for him.

Or .. to put it another way …

There is no good way to implement a horrible idea.

These are the millstones that Hillary Clinton has decided to wear as pendants for this election.

I believe this is why she is not winning.



The Truth is Interesting


So let me get this straight.

If you point out that combat soldiers are often forced to train and fight without important pieces of equipment that they are supposed to have, that means you don't "support the troops."

But if you call these combat soldier liars and insist that they have all the equipment they need -- even when they don't -- that is a sure sign that you "support the troops."

Just checking.

If a unit gains access to enemy weapons, and they are safe and usable, they will use them, especially if their own supplies and supply chains are not reliable at the moment.

The bigger point, in which I agree with Barack Obama, is that if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq, there is little doubt that units in Afghanistan would be better equipped and better staffed in every way possible than they have been. That is axiomatic.

Fighting two wars on the opposite side of the Earth at the same time inevitably puts enormous stresses on any military force and military supply chain. None of this is earth shattering.

Ronald Reagan was very reluctant to commit U.S. troops into vulnerable positions after Lebanon for precisely this reason and he was wise for doing that.

Rumsfeld's quote "you go in with the army you've got, not the one you want ..." is exactly the attitude Reagan counseled against, and in fact, it was one of his justifications for bolstering the defense budget and military readiness.

If you actually examine what Obama said, it boils down to invading Iraq was not a good idea and that not-good decision has had many unintended, but not unforeseeable consequences, including real impacts on U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

This is not an earth-shattering observation. And it certainly is not "unpatriotic."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tispaquin was a Real Man.

I really like that Barack Obama references Native Americans in his rally speeches. No presidential candidate has ever done this in my lifetime, or well, during the entire history of the Earth.

Someone said to me, so, who is going to hear that? Who is he talking to ?

There is no more disgusting racism than that against Native Americans in the United States because it always boils down to the same question I have heard since I was a kid: "What, there are still some of them around?"

Not a single American Indian law or land sale would ever be considered legitimate under international and U.S. law today. All of them would now be considered brutally corrupt trash under international law.

Time to start over.

Anyone smart enough to recognize evolution as being scientifically true also recognizes that all U.S. law regarding American Indians is as intellectually bankrupt as creationism.

Are you proud of your country?

Asking if you are proud of your country is a loyalty oath. It is profoundly insulting to human intelligence.

How can you be proud of government sponsored genocide, slavery, racism, of women not being allowed to vote?

It's a dumb, meaningless question that is only asked by people who support the above.

The Old Man on Line One

The U.S. is Faulknerian in the sense that Faulkner was fascinated with how the past has a hammerlock on all possible futures. The Slave Holding South has always -- and still -- acts like a chunk of Strontium-90 on the entire social brain stem of the United States and keeps the entire country in a never-ending state of endless violent retardation.

I hate referencing the "South" in these terms because it sounds so broad brushed.

During the formation of the United States, the southern slave states demanded that black people not be considered persons, yet they must be counted for the purposes of apportioning representatives to Congress. This massive, open lying and duplicity is still the trademark of the Republican Party and Southern Republicans today. To claim a person is not a person and has no right but they still count as a 3/5ths of a person to counter the evil North, is a symptom of a mental infection that not gone into remission in the United States ...

I must complain ...

We have too many candidates, too many elections and too many chances to vote. It completely gets in the way of my blogging about how the system disenfranchises me.

The Boston Globe smells bad ...

By Susan Milligan
Globe Staff / February 19, 2008

WASHINGTON - As Hillary Clinton struggles to regain her momentum in the presidential race, frustrated feminists are looking at what they see as the ultimate glass ceiling: A female candidate with a hyper-substantive career is now threatened with losing the nomination to a man whose charismatic style and powerful rhetoric are trumping her decades of experience.

Decades of experience?

Here's the rest of the story.

Basically, this is not a story. It is a string of every worn cliche the reporter can dredge up or find a source to dredge up for her.

Note that it does not mention a single issue. For all of its pearl clutching about how "style wins over substance" the story does the exact same thing. It is an embroidered sampler of style without substance.

It's horrible braindead non-journalism dressed up as "insight." Typical Boston Globe poop.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Darwin Day is Every Day

The abundance on Earth of covergent evolution (ie. the eye has evolved 40 different times) suggests an enormous multitude of life pathways besides that observed on Earth. Just look at the multitude of pathways on Earth. Any observation we ever make from Earth at other planetary bodies is a tiny snapshot in their multi-billion year story, and ours. We may face the conundrum of having life everywhere in the Universe, but due to the size of the Universe (which alone makes this a certainty), all that life will remain utterly unobservable from Earth for thousands of our lifetimes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What I'm Listening to ...

Pink Freud: Wish You Were Mom
The Jungbloods: Come on people now, literally !!!

h/t B1Bummer ...

Hillary and the War

There is no good way to implement a horrible idea.

Hillary is going down in flames because she has not convincingly said no to this ...

McCainiac and the Dog Abuser?

The Mittster has whipsawed so much now he is of no use on a McCainiac ticket. McCainiac needs to move toward a moderate, non-loony stance to have a chance in the general, while Mitt repudiated and spat upon his entire moderate, non-loony portfolio in order to win the primaries. It's lying liars in a fun-house mirror/echo chamber.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lumber towns disappear ...

My grandfather's family lived for a while in a Mississippi lumber town that no longer exists. My father took us there once and showed us and all that was left were about three buildings crumbling in the mud.
sekmet | 02.06.08 - 1:16 pm | #

Surveys show that lumber towns disappear when all the trees have been cut down.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Media Phrase "Middle America"

Makes me think of a bad frozen pizza balanced on a large tire like blob of waist fat, watching Wheel of Fortune re-runs.

Longwaver explains ...

the monoline bond insurer meltdown:

The bailout is hilarious... So I'm sitting here holding a flaming bag of shit, but I have this insurance policy that tells me that what I'm really holding is a dozen long stem roses....

Some guy tells me that my insurance is no good so I start to worry that I might have to admit that I'm holding a flaming bag of shit...

Now luckily another guy comes along and tells me that the insurance is just fine....

Wheww... I feel so much better.. .

-- Longwaver

Monday, February 04, 2008

I'm upset ...

Hillary refuses to renounce her woman-ness or refuse to accept votes from women voting for her in part because she is a woman.

What if a guy did that ?

Health Truancy Cops

If parents had to "qualify" their kids for kindergarten and 1st grade the way they have to "qualify" for medical care, a lot of kids would not go to school ... ever. The genius of public education is that your child is required by law to go to school and the bill is paid. There are no forms to fill out. No deadlines to miss. We need Health Care truancy officers just like we have truancy officers.

Five Killed with Tasers

I know, death is such a big joke. That's why we're all so cheery at funerals.

Tazered and dead.

Polluters v. Obama

Wow !!!! ... Barack Obama politely scorches the buttskin off a lying, sleazebag tobacco, oops, coal industry lobbyist.

Wow !!! ... A Great Speech ...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

My Sponsors

Deepwater Irish Coral Reef

This is a coral reef 3,000 feet below the Irish Sea. No light ever reaches it. It is too deep. The corals are probably 100-1,000 years old. They grow more slowly than the slowest growing tree. Many of these coral reefs have been completely destroyed in the last 20 years by fishing trawlers that drag the ocean bottom. Those that are left will soon be destroyed.

Once destroyed they will take centuries or millennia to recover. Or, like the passenger pigeon, they might disappear from Earth forever.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Comedy Gooold ...

Comedy gold, I tell yuh ...

However, the use of latino variations of McCain's name APPEAR as racism because it insults an entire race. My point was that, in most cases, I believe this was unintentional.

In the world of political debate, appearance is everything. If you appear to be racist, then you will be considered one. Leon was right to make his request because these commenters are profaning what is a legitimate position with regard to illegal immigration.

What scares me is ...

a) U.S. Americans have very little savings.
b) Almost all property except a house is worthless once it leaves the store/dealership.
c) People are now losing -- nay, walking out of -- the only real asset they have: houses.
d) The U.S. job market has been in a flight from quality for almost a quarter century and this shows no signs of abating.

So how, or more precisely, with what, are we supposed to spend our way back to prosperity?

It Can't Happen Here ...

Really. Seriously. Truly.