Friday, July 30, 2010

Enjoy the weekend!

... celebrate the end of July
... and do something fun to welcome August!

Me? I think I'll be reading a couple of books - I've bought several in past few weeks and have read only one of 'em.

... and to "do something fun to welcome August"? - think I'll make ice cream on Sunday!

Hope all is well with you & yours!

How 'bout them Cubs!

Cubs - 2; Rockies - 17!!!

... Rockies get ELEVEN consecutive hits in the 12-run 8th inning.

GOP foreign policy: Perpetual War

From HuffPost:
Newt Gingrich Suggests Attacking Rest Of 'Axis Of Evil' (VIDEO)
Jeremy Binckes
First Posted: 07-30-10
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich twice called on the United States to attack North Korea and Iran Thursday because the United States has only attacked "one out of three" of so-called "Axis of Evil" members by invading Iraq.
What's wrong with these people???

Just for fun: once upon a time I noted W's administration's proclivity for "magical thinking" - "we create our own reality"; if the right incantation is pronounced, the problem will be fixed... basically, the power of words and words alone to change reality was consistently asserted by W & his minions.

I note that Gingrich's appeal to W's "axis of evil" formulation continues this fine tradition.
In Gingrich's world-view, W having identified Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as "The Axis of Evil" has magically changed the world: YES! - these three countries ARE "The Axis of Evil" - W said it, therefor it is true!...
... and, more to the point: SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT IT!!!

And then?
... Cuba?
... China?
... The Socialist European Union???

... any and all of these would make fine enemies!

Stop the madness!

just for fun...

The "Cost of the Iraq War" ticker over at the right went past $800Bn the same day that this story broke:
$8.7 billion in Iraq funds not accounted for: audit
Tue Jul 27, 3:58 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Pentagon cannot properly account for nearly nine billion dollars in Iraqi oil revenues and other funds it received for reconstruction programs after the US invasion in 2003, a US audit found Tuesday.
Have a nice day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Bubble Meter - A housing bubble blog: Home prices up in May
Okay - WHY?

I note that within a 1-block radius of my house there are SIX houses on the market. To my knowledge, only one of these is 'distressed', but still...

Are Dems paying attention?

Republicans block small business lending bill
I realize it's not the standard strategy for the party-in-power to adopt, but have Dems given any thought to simply running an anti-GOP campaign this fall?

I note that Republican incumbents have provided more than enough ammunition for Dems to use, and GOP challengers (e.g., Paul, Angle) have also been quite generous.

Gently remind voters that while Dems have been trying really hard to GOVERN, Republicans have simply been "the party of NO" - more than happy to play politics with the health, wealth, and well-being of ordinary citizens in the name of pure partisanship.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Afghan army struggles with ethnic divisions
Within the past month or so, Tom Friedman (!!!) asked (What's Second Prize?),
"Why do we have to recruit and train our allies, the Afghan Army, to fight? That is like someone coming to you with a plan to recruit and train Brazilian boys to play soccer."
In previous post, I suggested to General McChrystal (!!!):
Don't focus solely on military training.
Drill, weapons training, strategy & tactics: all are necessary, but none is sufficient.

Rather, include a rather large dose of Afghan history.

My guess is that one objective of training Afghan forces is to provide a nucleus for an Afghan national identity. If this be true, then Afghan forces need to have some sense that the country they're being trained to defend is worth defending.
Does our training of Afghan forces include curriculum elements designed to build a nationalistic nucleus of an Afghan nation???

Why am I doubtful?
... and why do I continue to believe that a small committee of ordinary U.S. citizens could do a better job with policy - foreign, domestic, economic - than the 'high-powered' brain-trusts who are now in charge?

I've not the energy...

... to take on Fox News.
BUT: I'm glad someone does:
"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Right Wing Lies

Two very long days...

... spent on a movie set: "Random Natural Occurence", one of six short films produced under auspices of the Duke City Shootout (DCS).
6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday.
6:30 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
... to shoot two scenes lasting perhaps 3 minutes!

Premise: Life Traffic Control Room of Purgatory, maintaining balance between incoming & outgoing souls. I was Controller 2 (of 5).

The DCS 2010 Gala Premiere is Sat. Jul. 31, 7 pm at UNM's Popejoy Hall, and tickets are on sale now! All seats are reserved.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I've said it before...

... and i'll say it again:
Politics, religion, and life are not co-extensive!
Again, as stated before... I maintain friendships with folks whose politics I despise, and who view me as a hell-bound heathen.

I can have lunch with these folks & discuss religion & politics.
We both enjoy the dialogue.

It helps to have a sense of humor.

If I were to cast aside all my friends whose politics I despise, and who view me as a hell-bound heathen, I'd have very few friends!
(Of course, there are the rest of you - who agree with my progressive outlook, and are happy to accept - or deny - an 'invisible cloud-being'.)

Absent this mutual tolerance, what hope have we?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Water falling from the sky!

... I think it's called "rain".
I looked it up on Wikipedia.

North Korea

... I've absolutely NO CREDENTIALS to justify my opinions regarding North Korea.

Wait - let me backtrack on that: I served in 2nd Division of U.S. Army in South Korea - on the DMZ - back in 1975-6.
I'd guess that from a professional pundit perspective, that gives me all the credibility in the world to opine about North Korea today!

... anyway... here goes.
The draw placed Korea DPR in Group G. They played their first match against five-time winners Brazil on 15 June, with Brazil winning 2 goals to 1. Their next game was against Portugal on 21 June, with a defeat of 0–7 and finally Côte d'Ivoire on 25 June, which Korea DPR lost 0–3. After losing all three matches in the group stages, they were knocked out, finishing at the bottom of Group G.
[Wikipedia entry, Korea DPR football team]
North Korea got thrashed in World Cup.

How'd this happen? ... well... they don't know competition.
They're a VERY insular society.

So... when
North Korea Issues a New Warning
1. I'm not surprised.
2. I'm not scared.

In fact, I sort of hope that North Korea decides to launch a war against South Korea and the West.
They'll get thrashed.
The Korean peninsula will be re-united.

Except for the North Korean Army and Kim Jong-Il, no one in North Korea has a decent meal... ever.
... and, based on performance of Saddam's "elite" Revolutionary Guards during both Gulf Wars 1&2, I'm less than convinced that North Korea's multi-million man Army has the capability to resist a modern force... and the Republic of Korea (ROK) troops are VERY well trained, equipped, and disciplined!
[Our 'intelligence' communities are conditioned to over-estimate the strength of our opponents.]

Again: I have absolutely NO credentials upon which to base this analysis... but I am a betting man, and would be happy to offer as much as $10 to $1 that, should North Korea decide it's time to engage South Korea and their Western allies, North Korea will get trounced!

back in graduate school...

no - i'm not "back in graduate school".
this is a reflection on my grad school experience.

Statistics Department, Purdue University, 1984-1988.
My office-mates included mainland (communist) Chinese & Taiwanese.
Other fellow-students: a Palestinian, an Iraeli, several Indians, a Pakistani... more than one evangelical Christian.

We managed to get along just fine, even collaborating on homework!
Department parties were potential opportunities for World War III, but everyone attended, and all seemed to enjoy themselves... even engaging in conversation with "THE OTHER".

So why is the world so fucked-up? - if you get just plain folks together, we somehow manage.

[then again, maybe it's just that statisticians are so much more... reasonable than other folks!]

"Why do I bother?": well, here's a reason

Why do I bother?.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
[possibly misattributed to Edmund Burke]
Whether Burke said it or not, the thought is still valid.

If we DON'T speak against ignorance and evil ,then ignorance and evil win.

Yeah - it takes a few moments to compose a reasoned reply, and more than likely the author of ignorance will ignore the response.
BUT: if I say NOTHING in response, I am complicit in the evil.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

quick update on previous post...

A previous post attempted to refute some slanders against Islam now making their way thru the politically conservative crowd via email.

I should have addressed more directly the Five Pillars of Islam:
Can a good Muslim be a good American?
scripturally – no...
Because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Quran.
Just exactly what are the Five Pillars?
For Sunnis (including our best buds over in Saudi Arabia):
1. Confession of faith: "There is only one God. His name is Allah. Mohammed is his Prophet."

2. Pray daily.

3. Give to charity (note: a lot like "tithing" in Xian tradition!)

4. Ritual fasting (note: a lot like "Lent" and other feast days in Xian tradition!)

5. Pilgrimage to Mecca.
Other than the 'pilgrimage to Mecca', these differ not at all in kind from standard Xian cultic practices... and I'll note that a LOT of Xians make 'pilgrimage' to Jerusalem to 'walk in Jesus's footsteps'... the Israeli economy would collapse without Xian tourists.
Confess your faith, pray daily, give to charity, observe special days for worship (e.g., "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.")
Okay - pilgrimage is not required of Xians, but, as noted above, LOTS of Xians nevertheless undertake pilgrimage to the Holy Land and feel 'blessed' in so doing.

... still, the author of this anti-Islam screed believes a devout Muslim's adherence to these five rather benign cultic practices makes that believer simply incapable of being at the same time a Good American!
Someone: give me a clue!

from email correspondent & sometime reader of Buffoon

There's so much to say I have no idea where to even begin.
This was in response to my offer to be sympathetic recipient of gripes about co-workers...

... but: it pretty much sums up my recent attitude towards blogging!

There's just an awful lot of stupidity & craziness out there.
Yes - "I have no idea where to even begin."

'cuz i know you're dyin' to know...

in march we bought a new set of cookware.
one of my requirements: must be dishwasher safe.

so... how many times have i washed the cookware in the dishwasher?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why do I bother?

As indicated in previous posts, several of my correspondents (mostly relatives) are quite a bit more conservative than I, and they forward me emails espousing their views.
This is the second time I've taken the time to reply.
Here goes.

... But first I'll note that much of the anti-Islam screed below could have been adapted from anti-Catholic screed pre-JFK - simply replace "mullah" with "Pope" and "Mecca" with "Rome". ... and the basic argument regarding "allegiance" is straight from anti-Catholic propaganda!

Original indented, normal font.
My replies indented again, italic:
This is very interesting and we all need to read it from start to finish and send it on to everyone. Maybe this is why our American Muslims are so quiet and not speaking out about any atrocities.

Can a good Muslim be a good American?

This question was forwarded to a man who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. The following is his reply:

Theologically – no. . . . Because his allegiance is to Allah, The moon god of Arabia .
well, yes - Allah was adopted by Mohammed as the Universal God of his revelation.

... much as the TWO gods of the Old Testament (God: "El", as in ImmanuEL and IsraEL; and the LORD: “YWH”) both started out as local cultic gods, and were conflated by the Mosaic tradition into the single god of the Hebrew scriptures, later adopted by Christians.

By contrast, Christians worship a deified MAN, and would have us imagine God sucking on Mary's tit!

… also, just for grins: Christians participate weekly in ritualized cannibalism: "this is my body... this is my blood..."

… and is it worth mentioning that Xianity is founded on belief in efficacy of HUMAN SACRIFICE?
Religiously – no. . . Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Quran, 2:256)(Koran)
Well, yeah… and how does this differ from mainstream Christianity (or any other revealed religion)?
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
[John 14:6]
ALL revealed religions claim exclusive access to “the Truth”.
(and I note that the author, by pejoratively equating Allah with the “moon god of Arabia”, implicity denies the legitimacy of Islam!)
scripturally – no. . . Because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Quran.
Strictly speaking this is not quite right. The Muslim declaration of faith is starkly simple:
“There is only one God, his name is Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet.”
Nothing about “allegiance” in this simple creed.

… and again, how does a Muslim’s devotion to the Five Pillars differ in kind from the Christian’s much more elaborate creedal confession, e.g.,
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Again, all revealed religions demand adherence to supposedly god-given secondary rituals and beliefs.

Geographically – no .. Because his allegiance is to Mecca , to which he turns in prayer five times a day.
Well, no. Again the creed is starkly simple. “There is one God. His name is Allah. Mohammed is his prophet.” And there is nothing about “allegiance” to Mecca – the ritual of facing Mecca in prayer is a liturgical practice unrelated to fundamental belief.

In the same way, Orthodox Jews around the world face Jerusalem in daily prayer, and Christians almost universally direct worship toward an altar marked by a cross or crucifix. These liturgical, ritual practices do NOT have anything to do with “allegiance”!
… and just for grins: our school-children pledge allegiance to A FLAG!
Socially – no. . . Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews.
This may be strictly true, I don’t know.

BUT: I believe you’ll find in Paul’s epistles basically the same advice for believing Christians: avoid the non-believing Gentiles & non-believing Jews – they will only pollute you.
(I’d look up the references if I thought it necessary.)

… and for what it’s worth, Mohammed in the Quran singled out Jews and Christians as “People of the Book”, to be treated with respect.
Politically – no. . . Because he must submit to the mullahs (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and destruction of America , the great satan.
This is NOT true. It is FALSE!
On the contrary, Islam is a remarkably democratic religion: all believers are equal before God. The respect accorded mullahs & other spiritual leaders derives from their presumed scholarship. But there are NO intermediaries between the believer and God.

True – some Islamic governments have accorded the clergy secular, legal, governmental functions & authority – but this is a matter of government, not religion.

There are no synods or councils to which the believing Muslim must submit his conscience. If he can read and understand the Quran, his spiritual standing before God is equal to the most learned mullah or ayatollah in the community, and it is only the individual believer’s conscience in matters of religion that is relevant to his faith.

Yes – there are mullahs and ayatollahs who preach hatred of America as the ‘great satan’ – but they do this not as religious leaders, but as political leaders.
Islam qua Islam grants them no special spiritual status.

By contrast, creedal denominations (Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans among them) DO assert submission to a church hierarchy:
“And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”
That “apostolic Church” bit confirms belief in the special spiritual status of clergy!

… and I’m pretty sure that if our tax laws permitted it, LOTS of Christian preachers would be delivering sermons on the evils of Islam!
Domestically – no. .. . Because he is instructed to marry four Women and Beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34 )
Which one (or one dozen) of the Levitical Laws would you like me to choose to ridicule?

Forget Leviticus, let's head straight for Paul:
"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything."
[Ephesians 5:22-24]

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 2:10But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 2:11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 2:12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 2:13For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 2:14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
[1st Timothy 2:9-14]
Intellectually – no… Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.
Please, someone tell me: just exactly HOW is the U.S. Constitution “Bible-based”????
It is a wholly SECULAR document. The words “God”, “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Bible”, “Faith” occur in it NOWHERE. … and it expressly forbids religious qualifications for federal office.
"no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
[U.S. Constitution, Article VI, section 3]
Okay – most of the framers were at least nominally Christian… many of them were Deists… some were Freemasons (among them, George Washington).
Based on these backgrounds, am I free to characterize the Constitution as a Masonic document???
Philosophically - no. . . . Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran does not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.
"there is no compulsion in religion"
(Quran, 2:256)

… and again, an examination of Christian scriptures, and an analysis of Christian practice – historical & modern – suggests that Islam differs not a whit from any other revealed religion in demanding exclusivity!
Spiritually - no. . . Because when we declare 'one nation under God,' The Christian's God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as Heavenly father, nor is he ever called love in the Quran's 99 excellent names.
Well – okay – even tho’ Mohammed’s revelation has strong ties to the Judeo-Xian tradition of 6th/7th-century Arabia (from an orthodox Xian’s point of view, the Arabian Christianity to which Mohammed was exposed was almost certainly heretical) – Allah, God, the Lord, and Christ are not interchangeable. For that matter, “the Father” of the New Testament is hard to reconcile with God/YWH of the Old Testament (in fact, not a few early Christian heresies explicitly DENIED that Christ and the Old Testament god were the same!).

So what?

… for what it’s worth: “The Pledge of Allegiance” didn’t incorporate “under God” until 1954, in response to anti-communist hysteria.
… and the Pledge is NOT a binding legal formulation.
Therefore, after much study and deliberation.... Perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. - - - They obviously cannot be both 'good' Muslims and good Americans. Call it what you wish it's still the truth. You had better believe it. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future.

The religious war is bigger than we know or understand. ....

Footnote: The Muslims have said they will destroy us from within.


AND .......
as the person in our Washington , D.C. Whitehouse
is trying to convince
the people they are.

Thus ends the anti-Islam screed. What follows is my commentary.

Just for grins:
Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
[Treaty of Tripoli, 1797; by contrast with anti-Islam screed referenced above, this Treaty IS the law of the land!]
All revealed religions demand exclusivity, claim to represent the one & only truth, require "allegiance" to a named higher power, and involve cultic practices that seem just a little weird to the non-believer... Islam differs not at all from Christianity in these respects.

Many Christians in America today forcefully assert their allegiance to a "higher power" that justifies MURDER in the name of conscience. (e.g., killing abortion providers in the name of Christ is just hunky-dory!)

My non-tongue-in-cheek retort:
Can a Good Christian be a Good American?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

L'Affaire Sherrod [update]

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment says it better than I could.

But I need to say something.
In the past I've suggested that SecTreas Geithner is a victim of the Peter Principle.
I am now going to extend this argument: President Obama is also a victim of the Peter Principle: good Senator, great campaigner... lousy President.
... What's more, he's surrounded himself by similar folks - victims of the Peter Principle, all!

Rahm? - Competent DCCC chair, competent chair of Democratic Caucus.
Wholly out of his depth as White House Chief of Staff.

AgSec Vilsack? - truth to tell, I've no idea what he used to do, but presume he was competent. As Secretary of Agriculture, l'affaire Sherrod demonstrates fairly clearly a deplorable lack of judgment and willingness to yield to inappropriate - and misinformed - political pressure.

Without going line-by-line thru the rest of Obama's advisors & Cabinet, my bet is that the same victimhood has befallen them all: all are victim's of The Peter Principle, and are now completely out of their depths.

How else to explain the lackluster record of this Administration, its reluctance to advocate strongly for what the Campaign promised were strongly held convictions, and its basic ineptitude to deal with even mild political attacks?


[Note: what follows is copy/pasted from my response to a comment... I'm guessing few folks read comments, and want to get this response more fully 'on record']

don't get me wrong:
i secretly thought about voting for mccain in '08, only because i thought it cruel to burden anyone i liked with w's mess!

... and i'll be voting for obama in 2012 (assuming he's the dem candidate).

that said: i'd prefer to see obama bring his extremely effective campaign messaging to his role as leader of the free world! - his inner circle seems to have persuaded him that a low-key, 'bipartisan' approach - always seeking compromise - is a wise course. i believe this approach is foolish.
cleaning up w's mess requires boldness - articulating clear goals & fighting for 'em.
yeah - he might lose the occasional political battle, but the way he's going he's losing the war!

Public Service Announcement

If you (female) our your significant other (male) are not in the habit of routine breast self-examination: start today!

My sister, my wife, my bro-in-law's sister (my sister's sister-in-law), my mother-in-law, my across-the-street neighbor: all have been diagnosed with breast cancer within past 8 years.

Early-onset breast cancer: ages 35-45.
Thereafter: if nothing else kills you, you WILL get breast cancer!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan...

From The Guardian via HuffPost:
US military build-up in Kandahar will bolster Taliban, warns security monitor
Nato's counterinsurgency tactic shows no signs of success, says Afghanistan NGO Security Office
Jon Boone in Kabul,
Sunday 18 July 2010
The US military build-up in Kandahar is likely to further strengthen the hold of the Taliban over the vital southern Afghanistan city, a highly respected security organisation said today in a bleak report warning of record Taliban violence and rising civilian deaths across the country.
Money quote:
"We do not support the [counter-insurgency] perspective that this constitutes 'things getting worse before they get better', but rather see it as being consistent with the five-year trend of things just getting worse," the report said.
Tell me again: why are we there???

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free advice for all Dem candidates (worth every penny!)

Congressional Republicans have made it clear that they intend to run against Dems - as opposed to in favor of Republican policies. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) was quite explicit:
"I don’t think we have to lay out a complete agenda, from top to bottom, because then we would have the national mainstream media jumping on every point trying to make that a campaign issue."
I suspect GOP challengers to Dem incumbents will be using the same tactic.

It is a potentially powerful tactic: run an anti-Dem campaign.

There's a fairly simple counter-tactic readily available.
All GOP candidates (House & Senate, incumbents and challengers) have campaign websites.
All of these websites include an "issues" page - laying out the candidate's position on what he or she views as the critical issues of the 2010 election.
Use this freely available information!
Design your campaign at least in part to illuminate your opponent's positions on key issues. Develop solid arguments against your opponent's positions on issues. This isn't that hard, given the ludicrous positions the GOP has staked out for itself!
(Note: you can also use this an opportunity to positively portray your positions!)

Rinse & repeat... frequently.

If your esteemed Republican opponent doesn't want to talk about the issues, YOU should make it a point to talk about 'em - and to highlight your esteemed opponent's idiotic positions!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Again from Think Progress:
Peter King: Republicans Shouldn’t ‘Lay Out A Complete Agenda,’ Because It Might Become ‘A Campaign Issue’
[Rep. Peter] KING [R-NY]: So, It’s a combination of being against what Obama is for, and also giving certain specifics of what we are for. Having said that, I don’t think we have to lay out a complete agenda, from top to bottom, because then we would have the national mainstream media jumping on every point trying to make that a campaign issue.
[emphasis in original]
Again: Are DNC, DSCC, DCCC paying attention?

The Republicans don't want to talk about their agenda! - They're afraid of it, they're running from it... it might become "a campaign issue"!!!

Note also: "It's a combination of being against what Obama is for..."
... Well - at least he's honest.
Obama could be for apple pie, motherhood, and a chicken in every pot... and the Republicans would be AGIN' it!

A challenge to loyal readers: produce your own YouTube vids based on Republican talking points! - Start today!!!
Heck - I'll even post your YouTube vid on PrivateBuffoon.


Several weeks ago I got a phone call from an old family friend whom I last saw when I was... maybe 5 years old. I've no memory of him, but his family were next-door-neighbors when I was a child, and the brilliance of the 3 kids has been a continuing source of family stories forever (David - who called; Mike, now deceased; and Judy, whom I've met within past 20 years).

Anyway, it was in fact a very enjoyable phone conversation. David is the age of my older twin sisters - which puts him 9 years older than I. We chatted about Tulsa, about family, and about current events. He's a conservative Republican, and he put it to me point-blank: "So, you're a Socialist?"
... "YES!", I replied.

If "socialism" means that I want my government to protect me from the rampages of unbridled, predatory capitalists, then... YES! I'm a socialist!!!

I really DO wish that progressive types would take to using the 'socialist'/'socialism' label more frequently - if only to take the pejorative connotations out of the words.

No - what the GOP calls 'socialism' isn't... but as long as they're defining words to their liking, why not?
Again: if "socialism" means that I want my government to protect me from the rampages of unbridled, predatory capitalists, then... YES! I'm a socialist!!!

What's more: I want my elected leaders, and my candidates, to espouse this view - deliberately, forcefully, publicly.

We are - still, even after passage of so-called "health-care reform" - the ONLY developed country in the world without some form of universal health insurance.
Europe and Canada lead the way in REGULATION of financial institutions.

Our fear of the magic-word "socialism" keeps us from enacting common-sense laws to benefit "We the People of the United States".

In the meantime, the Republicans are quite happy to regulate our private lives - dictating which sex acts are or are not appropriate, denying us the right to kill ourselves with the drug of our choosing (except for alcohol - and Boehner seems to be quite happy that Prohibition was repealed!).

Stop the madness!

Ah, geez: now I agree with the demi-god Greenspan!

From Think Progress:
Greenspan Calls For Full Expiration Of The Bush Tax Cuts That He Helped Enact
Think the Republicans will listen to the man they once worshipped as a living god?

Personal news

Teresa came home from the hospital today, apparently none the worse for wear.
"Neutropenic fever" - her second bout in 8 months.

Buffoon's financial advice, revisited

On 1 June I recommended buying BP on 7 June - as a short-term investment.
On 7 June, BP closed at $36.76.
Today it closed at $37.10.
Yesterday it closed at $38.92.
Yesterday was the first day you would have seen a profit if you'd taken my advice.

On 14 June I called DJIA bottom at 8500.
Now - it's likely to get down there... SOMETIME!
... but my calls are generally to be interpreted as more-or-less short-term forecasts...
I suppose if it gets down there within a quarter - say, by 14 September - I could take credit for it...
... but I was really anticipating a more precipitous decline.

Is DNC paying attention?

Boehner calls for less regulation, public calls for more
"I think having a moratorium on new Federal regulations is a great idea," Boehner said. "[It] sends a wonderful signal to the private sector that they are going to have some breathing room. I think there is a way to do this with an exemption for those emergency regulations that may be needed or some particular agency or another. If the American people knew that there was going to be a moratorium for a year, that the federal government wasn't going to issue thousands of more regulations, it would give them some breathing room."
We've already seen unregulated capitalism.

Read Dickens.
Review Triangle Shirt Waist Fire.
Look at pictures of black-lung disease.

The Great Depression? - unregulated markets.

Love Canal? - unregulated industry.

DeepWater Horizon oil disaster? - unregulated Big Oil.

The GOP? - stop regulating private business.
Let the free-market wreak havoc whenever & wherever it chooses.

Please: is someone at DNC, DSCC, DCCC paying attention???

Monday, July 12, 2010

TV religion - a 'just for fun' commentary

I've long been drawn to TV evangelists.
Nope, I don't know why.

Anyway, a few months ago I discovered Shepherd's Chapel - broadcast for several consecutive hours most nights, starting around midnight.
Pastor Arnold Murray & his son, Dennis Murray, present a "chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse" 30-minute Bible lesson in each program, working methodically through one book of the Bible at a time.

Their exegetical method is interesting:
If the literal words of the King James Bible suit their needs, they use the text as given, taken literally.

If the words present some problems, or don't quite match their theology, they adopt one of two alternatives:
1. Interpret the text metaphorically.
2. Cite the 'original language' (Hebrew or Greek), and use their own 'translation' of the original language to make their point.
Note: Both Arnold & Dennis give the impression of being fluent in the original languages, but it becomes clear after a while that they are relying on a Bible-study aid: Strong's Concordance
Anyway - that's not the point of this note.

In searching for information about Shepherd's Chapel on Google, I discovered this somewhat amusing circumstance:
There's a cottage industry - mostly other fundamentalist Christians, but including a few atheist & agnostic commentators - devoted to attacking Shepherd's Chapel!

Not a few of the Christians label Shepherd's Chapel a "cult"... and unfavorable comparisons to Mormonism abound.
The internecine wars between Christian fundamentalists I find... amusing.

(I wish I could remember the source of this quotation!). Some years ago I read a paperback "History of Western Civilization" - title & author now long forgotten. Anyway, in discussing early Christian heresies, the author said something to the effect that... :
"Orthodox Christianity demanded not only that you believe in Christ, but that you hold right opinions about him!"
I am reminded of this remembered quotation whenever I watch the TV evangelists, each arguing strenuously for his or her particular version of the "truth"... and all basing their claims to "truth" on a simple appeal to the straight-forward words of the Bible!

I view my addiction to TV evangelists as harmless... and it's cheap entertainment!

p.s. I watch these shows for entertainment. I'm aware that most of the folks in their audiences watch to strengthen their faith... and this is somewhat disturbing. All of the TV evangelists - including the fundie Catholics on EWTN - are in the "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!" camp! - contributing significantly to America's anti-science bias, and compelling all candidates for office to at least nominally profess belief in G-d (or, as my friend OneFly calls him, "the invisible cloud being").

Sunday, July 11, 2010

how NOT to spend Satuday night...

... in the Emergency Room.
Wife woke up Saturday morning with 102 temp...
In year 8 of Stage IV breast cancer, on chemo... when her temp is elevated, I get concerned...called on-call folks; advised to wait.

Fever broke at noon.

... Took her temp again at 10:30 p.m.: 103!
Called on-call folks again.
Doc recommended the ER... we got there at midnight; I hung around till 4 a.m., when they FINALLY started pumping IV antibiotics into her.
X-rays show pneumonia.

She's been admitted today.

Just in case you didn't know: CANCER SUCKS!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Outta the Cornfield scores!

My friend OneFly over at Outta the Cornfield scores a hit on C&L's Mike's Blog Roundup!


Buffoon welcomes new follower

"Nameless Cynic": welcome to the neighborhood!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Opera Unlimited's "Mikado"

I attended Opera Unlimited's production of G&S The Mikado this evening.
SEVENTY-ONE (71) school kids - 1st thru 12th grade - presenting a simply delightful rendering of this Gilbert & Sullivan classic.

One more performance: Saturday, 10 July, 7 p.m., Highland High School Performing Arts Center.
Admission? FREE!

Opera Unlimited is a non-profit that brings opera to schools in New Mexico... and runs a day-camp every summer to produce a Gilbert & Sullivan show.
Six-weeks of rehearsal culminate in a one-weekend run...
... the kids were great.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cynical thought-for-the-day

If voting could really change things,
It would be illegal.

[reportedly a sign at Revolution Books in NYC.]

Just for fun: "Take back my country!"

The Tea-Party's rallying cry seems to be "Take Back My Country!" - suggesting that "their country" has been usurped by... who knows who.

Much of their rhetoric suggests that they long for the Eisenhower Era, when everybody was nice to one another and Blacks weren't so uppity.

So... Just for grins: here's a plot of marginal tax-rate for upper-bracket earners:

The top tax-rate was over 90% during the '50s of the last century.
Truth to tell, I'd be okay returning to these "golden years" (at least in terms of tax policy)!

Best news I've seen in a long time

Morning Joe Panel Lauds Palin's Chances as 2012 Presidential Nominee
Sarah Palin heading the GOP ticket in 2012 would be a dream come true!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


... from entertaining!

After FINALLY getting the house cleaned, and turning over almost all 4 July food prep duties to sister-in-law & brother-in-law (grilling, mixing dip, cutting up & laying out stuff),... yesterday I managed to get the garage cleaned - after 5 months I parked the truck in the garage last night!

... anyway, it'll take me awhile to recover.
... so's not much posting...

p.s. when you clean house once every two years, cleaning house is a big deal!

Monday, July 5, 2010

"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Words to Ponder on the Fourth

"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Words to Ponder on the Fourth

My favorite:
"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."
- Mark Twain
How I wish this advice were adopted by we sane folks!
Ridicule & mockery are powerful rhetorical instruments.
Why don't we use 'em?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Meanwhile, over there...

The Afghanistan Paradox: When the War's Defenders Make the Case for Why We Should Stay, They End Up Making the Case for Why We Should Go
... It's a curious thing about Afghanistan: every time a politician makes a case for why we need to stay, he or she ends up making the case for why we should leave.
Afghanistan's govt is corrupt, criminals control the opium trade, the Taliban is making a comeback... all reasons we should stay.

Recall: the putative reason for invading Afghanistan in the first place - with far too few troops (thanks, Rummy!) - was to get bin Laden & quash al Qaeda.
Okay - we failed.

So... why are we still there?
Who the hell signed up for that?????

Stop the madness.

4th of July with family & friends

We celebrated the 4th with a "view the new kitchen" + barbecue, with family & friends.

Ended up just like Thanksgiving: everyone brings enough to feed everybody.

Entertainment: My sister & I sang a couple of Gilbert & Sullivan songs, she on mountain dulcimer, I on bodhran (Irish frame drum).

Happy Independence Day to all!
... in the best of all possible worlds, you, too, spent it with friends and family.

Just for fun

Happy Independence Day!

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Michael Steele causes uproar with Afghan remarks
By John Whitesides John Whitesides (Reuters)
– Fri Jul 2, 2010
... "This was a war of Obama's choosing," said [Michael] Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee. "This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."

On the bright side:
... The comments sparked a wave of criticism from Democrats and calls for Steele's resignation, led by prominent Republican conservative columnist Bill Kristol.

"Needless to say, the war in Afghanistan was not 'a war of Obama's choosing,'" Kristol said in a blog on the Weekly Standard magazine site. "It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort."

[emphasis added]
This may be the first time Kristol has been right about anything!