Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gramsci vs. the Paparazzi, Part II: Electric Gramsciboo

"So there I was, just hanging out on the lap of my minion, like you do; one thing I've learned in my life is that sometimes you do need to keep your minions happy."

"Then - out of nowhere! - a camera, and some fool of a paparazzo is in my face, taking pictures of me relaxing. And you know, if you're going to take pictures of me, make them action shots, you know, 'cause I am a cat of action, you know."

"But of course, what that photographer neglected to realize was that cameras have strings on them, see? And I am great with strings."

Dramatic Voiceover: The following is the last picture we found in the photographer's camera. The photographer was nowhere to be found.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Today on A&E Biography: Gramsci Up Close And Personal

"You know, I'm just sittin' here on the sofa, trying to be my own cat, but well, yes, I suppose I know that I'm very popular. I think it's because I'm so shiny. Yes, I suppose you may kiss my paw..."

"....what? You're still here? Didn't you kiss the paw?

What is it you want now?"

"Hmph... Those paparazzi, always gettin' up in my face..."


Time for Common Sense

MDMA can be helpful, and stupid American puritanism stands in the way:
Dr. Michael Mithoefer is at the forefront of a controversial field of study. He is leading a pilot study into using MDMA -- the pure form of the illegal drug ecstasy -- to treat depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

In a Thursday segment, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on Gail Westerfield, a Georgia woman who took part in Dr. Mithoefer's trial, ingesting MDMA as a treatment for her PTSD stemming from a childhood assault and being raped in college.

"Some doctors say it's the well known effects of ecstasy: Open alertness, euphoria, calmness, that could prove useful when it comes to therapy," said Gupta.

"It can remove some of the obstacles in therapy and act as a catalyst to the therapeutic process," said Dr. Mithoefer to Nature News.

Among the 21 patients in the study, those who received MDMA saw their mental well being improve more significantly than those on a placebo. No major side effects were recorded in the study.


Education in Idaho

Well, I reckon this helps to explain that whole thing with the kids on the school bus:
VAY, Idaho - The Secret Service is investigating a sign erected by a northern Idaho landowner that advertises a "free public hanging" of President-elect Barack Obama and other political figures.

Bonner County Sheriff Elaine Savage said Thursday that she and a Secret Service agent from Spokane, Wash., planned to take a look at the sign put up by Ken Germana.

"That's a political statement," Germana told the Bonner County Daily Bee. "They can call it whatever they want, a threat or whatever."

The handmade cardboard sign posted to a tree has the words "FREE PUBLIC HANGING" written in large letters above an equally large "OBAMA." A noose hangs down the middle of the sign.

In smaller letters are the names of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Al Sharpton.



Gay people are able to control our musical theater! Heaven forbid!
The artistic director at California’s largest nonprofit musical theater company resigned Wednesday amid protests over his donation to a campaign to ban gay marriage in the state.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor

And we'll beat the crap out of them:
Children caught trying to slip illegally into the U.S. are mistreated while in custody, transported home unsafely and denied access to representation, a study released Thursday contends.

The Austin-based think tank Center for Public Policy Priorities outlined a series of shortcomings by the federal government in dealing with unaccompanied illegal immigrant children taken into custody.

According to the study, inadequate policies lead to the maltreatment, including children going without water at U.S. Border Patrol stations, being handcuffed, having their requests for medical attention ignored, and getting struck and knocked down by agents.


A Mess

The Bush administration, with years of experience with contractors in Iraq, proves itself once again to be highly skilled at throwing money around irresponsibly:

In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury's massive bailout of financial firms, the government has poured money into the country's largest banks, recruited smaller banks into the program and repeatedly widened its scope to cover yet other types of businesses, from insurers to consumer lenders.

Along the way, the Bush administration has committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.

Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.

"It's a mess," said Eric M. Thorson, the Treasury Department's inspector general, who has been working to oversee the bailout program until the newly created position of special inspector general is filled. "I don't think anyone understands right now how we're going to do proper oversight of this thing."


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Hopefully nobody winds up getting shot in the face:
Vice President Dick Cheney, getting ready to hand off the job as the nation's second-in-command, will sit down with Vice President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday at the Naval Observatory.

Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said Cheney and his wife, Lynne, have invited Biden and his wife, Jill, to their home at the observatory, the vice presidential residence.



Well done, Connecticut:
Superior Court Judge Jonathan Silbert has scheduled a hearing at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday in New Haven to enter the final judgment in the case that allows same-sex marriages in Connecticut. Once the hearing ends, couples can pick up marriage license forms at town and city clerk’s offices.


A Fluke?

Or... a cure?

An American man who suffered from AIDS appears to have been cured of the disease 20 months after receiving a targeted bone marrow transplant normally used to fight leukemia, his doctors said Wednesday.

While researchers - and the doctors themselves - caution that the case might be no more than a fluke, others say it may inspire a greater interest in gene therapy to fight the disease that claims 2 million lives each year. The virus has infected 33 million people worldwide.

Dr. Gero Huettler said his 42-year-old patient, an American living in Berlin who was not identified, had been infected with the AIDS virus for more than a decade. But 20 months after undergoing a transplant of genetically selected bone marrow, he no longer shows signs of carrying the virus.

“We waited every day for a bad reading,” Huettler said.

It has not come. Researchers at Berlin’s Charite hospital and medical school say tests on his bone marrow, blood and other organ tissues have all been clean.

A Canadian-U.S. research team has discovered a way to rejuvenate key virus-killing immune cells that become “exhausted” after a person is infected with HIV.


More Red State Values

Won't someone think of the children?
Madison County, Idaho was once dubbed "the reddest place in America" by Salon, but that didn't make it any less shocking when elementary school children started chanting "assassinate Obama on the school bus.

Matthew Whoolery told KIKD News he found out about the chanting from his second and third graders, who had no idea what the word "assassinate" meant.

"They just hadn't heard anything like this before," Whoolery stated. "I think the thing that struck us was just like, 'Where did they get the word and why would they put that word and that person together?'"


Alternate Universe

The Republicans live in one:
Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated.


Road Home... for Whites

Surprise. The Road Home program is discriminating against African-Americans:
A group of civil rights attorneys filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday claiming racial discrimination by the Louisiana Road Home program, an already troubled $10.3 billion effort designed to help Hurricane Katrina victims rebuild their storm-damaged homes.

The lawsuit argues that it was unfair for the program to base grant amounts on pre-storm market value, as opposed to actual rebuilding costs. It claims as many as 20,000 African American homeowners received diminished grants because the value of a three-bedroom home in a mostly black neighborhood like the Lower 9th Ward fetches thousands less on the market than a home of the same size in mostly white areas. Yet, the rebuilding costs are similar.

"HUD allowed a formula that is biased and threatens to undermine the recovery efforts of African-American homeowners," said Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, one of three groups that has sued seeking class-action status. "It failed to take into account the legacy of racial discrimination in the housing market, which has resulted in systematically lower values for homes in communities of color."


Not Saving the Whales

National security is once again the trump card:

The US Supreme Court has invalidated two court-imposed restrictions aimed at protecting whales and other marine mammals from powerful Navy sonars during anti-submarine warfare training off the southern California coast.

In a 6-3 ruling on Wednesday, the high court criticized a federal judge in California for imposing restrictions that the majority justices said jeopardized national security in an effort to protect the environment.

“We do not discount the importance of plaintiffs’ ecological, scientific, and recreational interests in marine mammals,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “Those interests, however, are plainly outweighed by the Navy’s need to conduct realistic training exercises to ensure that it is able to neutralize the threat posed by enemy submarines.”



No mortgage buy-out after all. And the Dow plummets:
An increasingly despondent Wall Street fell for the third straight session Wednesday as investors absorbed another series of dismal corporate reports and news that the government won't buy banks' soured mortgage assets after all. The Dow Jones industrials dropped more than 410 points, and all the major indexes lost more than 4 percent.

The stock market has lost about $1 trillion over the past three days, according to the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index, which reflects the value of nearly all U.S. stocks.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


If you can't get drunk and shoot guns, then what kind of a world is this, anyway?
The sheriff of Los Angeles County plans to prohibit his off-duty deputies from carrying their guns while drinking because several have been accused in recent years of firing weapons while intoxicated.

Sheriff Lee Baca says there has been a disturbing rise in alcohol-fueled misbehavior among his deputies.


Another First

America sometimes does itself proud:
(Silverton, Oregon) Plenty of politicians reinvent themselves, but few do it quite like Mayor-elect Stu Rasmussen.

Rasmussen has been a fixture in Silverton politics for more than 20 years, and had twice before been mayor of the small city 45 miles south of Portland. Those terms, however, were before Rasmussen began earing dresses and 3-inch heels in public, receiving breast implants and beginning to transitioning.

Silverton has made Rasmussen the country’s first openly transgender mayor, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that works to help openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people win elected office.

Rasmussen, 60, unseated incumbent mayor Ken Hector, with whom he had long clashed, by 1,988 votes to 1,512.

Because Rasmussen’s appearance was no secret, the campaign was dominated by policy issues.

“I’ve blackmail-proofed myself,” Rasmussen said.


Perfect Sense

Domestic abusers clearly deserve the right to own deadly weapons:
Thousands convicted of a misdemeanor for threatening or assaulting a spouse or girlfriend could once again own guns because of a flaw in the federal law.

That prospect grew more likely Monday after the Supreme Court gave a skeptical hearing to a government lawyer who argued that a crime of domestic violence should result in a loss of gun rights.
(One should note that it ought to read "girlfriend or boyfriend." Men can be victims of domestic violence too.)


Looking Up

Things are, people seem to think:
Whether they voted for him or not, Americans are optimistic about the next four years with Barack Obama as president, according to a new CBS News poll. Seventy-one percent of all Americans say they are optimistic about the next four years, including nearly half (48 percent) of all those who voted for John McCain. Just 17 percent of all Americans are pessimistic, including 40 percent of McCain voters.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Heartland Values

Michigan elects KKK member:
Michigan Messenger broke the story Oct. 1 that at least two Michigan GOP precinct delegates had ties to white supremacists. In the story, Michigan Messenger reported that Randy Gray, of Midland, was a self-avowed member of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan.

An image of Gray has now surfaced in the Midland Daily News (online edition at The newspaper said the image shows Gray, 30, protesting the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. And to top it off, Gray is dressed in his KKK robes while standing at a busy intersection in Midland. His protest was held in front of Garber Chevrolet at the corner of Eastman Avenue and Saginaw Road in Midland and lasted 15 or 20 minutes.

Police told the Midland Daily News that Gray was exercising his First Amendment rights. What was Gray’s protest about?

“I feel white people feel more oppressed,” he said. “We’re basically told as white people we can’t have any organizations. We’re ruled by communists.

“It’s not just about Barack Obama. It goes deeper than that.”


A New Low

Bush keeps on breaking records.

Worst president ever:

US President George W. Bush's approval rating has slumped to a record low, according to a new survey released today.

The CNN television/Opinion Research survey found that just 24 per cent of respondents believe Mr Bush is doing a good job, against 76 per cent who said that was not the case.