Saturday, February 05, 2011


Rachel Maddow had a good segment on the growing importance of the new social media to the revolution in Egypt. Twitter, in particular, is a medium in which information can be exchanged with millions at tera-bit speed, literally as it is happening. It's a truly revolutionary medium of information whose possibilities are still barely glimpsed.

Is Glenn Beck Getting His Fashion Statement Ideas From This Blog?

Two days after The Thinker caricatured Glenn Beck with a club and capelike caveman outfit he shows up in a weirdly similar attire on his show. The Huff Post reports:
"His Friday show opened on what might be one of his strangest stunts. Beck was wearing a cape — or cloak, or robe, depending on how you look at it — and holding a staff."

The Huff Post was baffled, but not us. Although we may appear to be a small, obscure blog, our influence reaches beyond our discreet numbers. Remember, as we have stated and previously demonstrated, we own Beck's brain. Whatever suggestion may have compelled Beck to take fashion tips from this blog, it was planted in his brain by us. Glenn, you are not a free agent; you are our vassal.

Give it up, Glenn, while there's still time. Your only path to salvation and mental health freedom is to seek professional help. And not from your faux "co-author" psychiatrist. But from a real, board-certified mental health professional. We can provide a list of excellent referrals. In fact, we're implanting them in your brain right now, at this very instant!

Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric and Brian Williams Leave Egypt

Reported without comment. None is necessary ...

Musical Interlude, Dedicated to The Egyptian Freedom Demonstrators: All Along The Watchtower

I love this song, written by Bob Dylan and emblazoned forever in Rock history by Jimi Hendrix. Included are two newer badass versions (I hate to pick one over the other, so I put them both in)  by Dave Matthews and that forever Hippie rocker Neil Young jamming with a great jammin' band, Pearl Jam. This song is dedicated to the brave Egyptian demonstrators in Tahrir Square, Cairo, whose thirst for freedom has captured the world's imagination. Enjoy!

All Along The Watchtower

By Bob Dylan

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

Friday, February 04, 2011

First Journalist Dies of Gunshot Wounds In Egypt’s Revolution, Imus Mocks Cooper

Anyone with half a brain, a big microphone, and one ounce of responsibility would realize that the escalating threats, beatings, and violence directed at journalists by the pro-Mubarak thugs is real and very perilous for the international media on the ground. The first death of a journalist in this crisis in Egypt has happened: “Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, was taking photographs of fighting between protesters and security forces from the balcony of his home when he was shot Jan. 28, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram said on its website.”

I’ve frequently made fun of Anderson Cooper on this blog for his vanity, his eagerness to hog the camera and make the story as much about AC360 as what he’s reporting on. He’s been knocked around for that quite a bit, unlike Richard Engel of NBC, a fearless foreign correspondent who is at the same time thoughtful and informed, who has lived in the region and speaks the language. Engel is widely respected as a kind of anti-Cooper, although it’s not by design. After twice being attacked by pro-Mubarak street thugs Anderson went into hiding to file this report:

Whether or not one approves of Cooper’s style of journalism, for Fox denizen and radio guttersnipe Don Imus to question the integrity of Cooper’s reporting by asserting that the attacks on him and his crew  were a “stunt” is utterly despicable and completely beyond the pale. There’s always going to be an asshole like Don Imus sitting in the comfort of his Fox bunker peanut gallery casting aspersions on a journalist who is in the line of fire; in real danger on the front lines of the Egyptian revolution. Previously, Imus had raged that Rachel Maddow was a “gutless coward” for her reaction to Keith Olbermann's departure.

The irony is surely lost on Don Imus, a bottom-feeding bomb thrower with a serious case of PROJECTION.


Can John Boehner keep a lid on his alleged affairs with two women, a Washington lobbyist and a Congressman's press secretary? Will Boehner be able to stay in office as Speaker of House (scary, considering he's third in line of presidential succession)? Will Boehner hold a tearful deluge presser with his wife of 37 years at his side (or will she elect to stay in Ohio) as RepubliCON lackeys look on stiffly, except Eric Cantor, who just can't seem to wipe that silly grin off his face? Should we take the 'BAY-' out of pronouncing 'BOehner'?


The National Enquirer ran with this story which should largely be credited to Mike Stark's reporting. See Sam Seder video interview below, and more here on the StarkReports.

Interesting curiosity/happy coincidence: Ever noticed how similar our favorite wingnut rag's logo is to the National Enquirer's? Right down to the color scheme/typeface, except the Enquirer's is in italics. Well, with stories like this and this and this — the author should know where the despicable misogyny comes from; it's all around her, at the click of a DC site link, like one featuring scantily clad women. She writes "The plot line is always the same: create a caricature of the woman and destroy her public image." Really? Bachmann and Palin are doing a pretty good job all by their little selves; calling them idiots and history manglers is just stating the obvious. This is one more example of false equivalence from the Right. Hillary Clinton is brilliant. (Has anyone questioned her intelligence lately?) Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are idiots. Those are the facts, madame. It's a matter of record.  Hmm ... It wouldn't surprise if it turns out the National Enquirer and the Daily Caller are sister publications.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Would You Take Foreign Policy Advice From This Creature?

I didn't think so. With his ratings plummeting, much to the credit of the American people, Glenn Beck may have finally flipped his lid. First he gets kicked off the air in New York City (thanks to liberal Renaissance man elevating the radio listener's IQ, Thom Hartmann) followed by the Philly market. Knowing a little of how Beck's fecal brain works (we own it!), losing Chris Matthews' backyard, Philadelphia, must have really scrambled Beck's brain waves. Be on the lookout for more disturbances emanating from his Fox's Lair bunker. He launched into a rant defending the honor of fellow lunatic Michele Bachmann, called a "balloon head" by Chris Matthews. Beck's comic book paranoid view of history allows for no nuance and context or, heaven forbid, complexity. Joan Walsh has a habit of being prescient and ahead of her time. She predicts Beck may have finally lost his mind. His latest self-promoting rant involves a plot by liberals and the Left to install a Caliphate in Europe that will spread its tentacles to America, and ... the world!

Targeting Journalists In Egypt, Prelude To A Violent Crackdown

The escalating violence in Egypt as Mubarak thugs and provocateurs are unleashed into peaceful crowds needs to be dialed back before the situation spirals out of control. Most disturbing of all is the rising death toll and what appears to be the beginnings of a crackdown by the military. The Mubarak thugs are now targeting journalists with the usual trumped-up accusations that they're foreign agents working to undermine the regime.

It's always the same story when a repressive regime begins to lose its grip on power. It goes something like this: International pressure leans on the dictator to show restraint against the demonstrators, from the President of the United States to the UN Secretary General, with little effect. The regime publicly promises restraint, but at the same time, behind the scenes, unleashes its thugs against the demonstrators. The regime's attempt to shut off the internet failed. The regime could not stop twitter and cell phones from broadcasting the events on the street. Al Jazeera has a live nonstop feed, and all the major U.S. and international news organizations are on the scene. The international media are shining a spotlight on the violence, which has escalated to gunfire. Now, with its back against the wall the regime plans a major crackdown. Every military dictatorship has the same MO: Suppress the media and the semi-free flow of information before turning its guns on the people. Only journalists stand in the way. And they're very exposed. They've been beaten, detained, threatened, and hospitalized with serious injuries, all in the space of one day.

This is intolerable. It's incumbent upon President Obama to publicly and forcefully warn Mubarak to not harm journalists, who are there to tell the story, and to immediately deescalate the violence. No one is more imperiled than journalists in a chaotic, violent situation in which they can't even count on the relative protection of large numbers of people. Mr. President, please do not allow the Egyptian crisis to degenerate into another Tiananmen Square. Your silence on this matter will embolden violence against the media first, followed by terrible violent repression of the demonstrators. It could be a blood bath. Tell Mubarak: Stop the killing. Cease the violence. Step down. NOW.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tom Brokaw’s Chaotic, Garbled Universe

NBC’s less-than-éminence grise Tom Brokaw waxed a little poetic about the “very crowded universe” in national network/cable news today compared to his Star Trek days, when he was just as inconsequential. “There are a lot of planets out there, and some are colliding with one another," he said. “Some of them are drifting too close to the sun and burning up. Others seem to be supporting a different kind of life-form than anybody would have expected.”


That’s not the way planets behave. Planets circle their suns in orderly, established orbits. The collisions occur early in the formation of a planetary system, when all that universal debris is still trying to sort itself out in its sun’s gravitational field. Or with the intrusion of outside destructive universe objects. (Hint, hint, Tom?)

Furthermore, planets do not drift too close too the sun and burn up. Other objects do — but not planets. Tom might have been mixing his metaphors with the Icarus legend, about the dude who flew too close to the sun and melted his wax wings, falling to his death. Or maybe he was thinking of Pluto, the nuts' ex-planet.

Confused, perchance sclerotic … ya think?

Asked if MSNBC was “better off” without Keith Olbermann, Brokaw replied coyly, “You're not going to get me to go there.” Gee Tom, I thought you had already with your bewildering astronomy metaphors.

“Listen,” said Tom the corporate tycoon. “We're better off than (ABC and CBS) because we do have cable. Where it got sticky is when our commentators were anchoring political coverage. Those are, in some ways, incompatible roles. We worked our way through that.

Incompatible, why? Those of us who chose to watch MSNBC over NBC or ABC or CBS knew exactly what we were getting. We chose not to watch Brian ‘Yellow Hair’ Williams, David ‘Helo Head’ Gregory, or Tom ‘Marbles Mouth’ Brokaw because frankly y’all are YESTERDAY’S BORING ‘NEWS’ SNOBS with an arrogant top-down notion of the news and commentary WE,  the audience peons, should get. This patronizing view that YOU know what’s best for us and it’s planets Brokaw-Gregory-Williams is, well ... contemptible.

Brokaw, you can’t buy a fucking clue. Do you take the audience for fools who have to be spoon-fed a bunch of corporate media drivel? Do you really think NBC-MSNBC-CNBC is our sole source of information, that we don’t read the Times, Huff Post, WaPo, Politico, dozens of outstanding blogs, and watch serious broadcasts of the type you’re too timorous to provide? Do you think canceling Worst Persons and Psycho Talk was a service to the audience?


And what’s with all the “we” this and “we” that and the other? Striking the obligatory humble corporatist tone (an obvious oxymoron) Brokaw said, “all of our component parts — NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC — are much bigger than one player, and I include myself in that. If I went away tomorrow, NBC News would still be the dominant news division in America. There ain't none of us who is irreplaceable.”

That’s nice to know, Tom, you old cliché-meister. IT’S JUST THAT WE THOUGHT YOU WERE ALREADY GONE, OFF TO (GREENER) PASTURES. I mean, we were really REALLY hoping! Tom, you sound like that cranky old uncle who’s overstayed your welcome, that no one can quite understand, and who just won’t take a hint.

But wait. Tom authored a forgettable and idiotic book about the 60s with a title taken from a 1972 McGovern pin — kinda like Lawrence Welk doing a book about Rock ‘n Roll. Y’know you’re right, Tom. You’re one totally replaceable component part. The sooner the better.

RACISM In The Ohio Statehouse: "I Don't Need Your People"

"Today in 2011, it feels more like 1811 in the state of Ohio under a governor who just does not get it." So said Ohio State Senator Nina Turner (D-OH) about newly elected Teabagger and Fox/Murdoch money recipient John Kasich. Senator Turner was being polite. He "gets it" alright. Turner said Kasich had "the pure unadulterated gall to say that he can’t find anyone. In that same caucus meeting when I said to the governor “if you need help, we can help you” and he said, and I quote, “I don’t need your people.” Now as an African-American, I was kind of perplexed about “I don’t need your people.”

Understandable. Blatant, unadulterated racism from a state's top elected official is perplexing, even if that politician is a Republican. After all, this is 2011. And this arrogant punk of a governor didn't even have the decency or the manners to treat a state elected legislator with the respect and dignity she has earned and deserves, after she had offered to help him. The people of Ohio are getting a taste of Teabagger "government." Mob rule, tyranny, by the few, the rich, the powerful, white wingnut males. That's what Teabaggerism is: Unrepresentative, undemocratic, reactionary, RACIST and elitist. In Egypt, the people have risen up against this sort of thing.

Question of the day: Is racism a genetic DNA mutation peculiar to conservatives, wingnuts, and authoritarian personality types?

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Truth About JOBS And Paul Ryan's Randian HYPOCRISY

HYPOCRITE is just another word for REPUBLICAN. Libertarian too, in Paul Ryan's case. Let's connect the dots, shall we, people? This is for anyone out there who DARES call themselves "Independent" and favors a woman's choice in the abortion wars, or retaining our tattered but still strong Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid safety net, YET voted for the current crop of Republican extremists (at this point it's irrelevant what we call them — fascists, NAZIS, hard right, far right — whatever rocks your boat, they're ALL IN THERE) for governor and Congress.

Don't profess shock or panic about your relatives' benefits because Republican extremist Paul Ryan is wielding a machete against them. Weren't you the same imbeciles who believed in "Death Panels" or "government takeover"? And if you're Ohio "Independents" hoping for that high-speed rail "stimulus-that-didn't-work" funding to bring jobs to your state, fugheaboutit. Your Republican Governor Kasich axed it, his poll numbers plummeted, and faster than a New York minute California Senator Boxer requested those monies for HER STATE and got them redirected. From Wisconsin too, where the Teabaggers are killing good-paying  private sector jobs faster than a high-speed bullet train.

Job-killers these Republicans are. We have voluminous historical stats to prove it. They have a huge propaganda machine and a cadre of Right wing economists to tick off all the extenuating circumstances why we shouldn't believe the evidence before our eyes, because they're economists and we're not, even though the evidence that Republicans KILL jobs and Democrats CREATE jobs keeps repeating itself over and over and over again throughout history. Just imagine what the Republican propaganda machine could do with the genuine positive figures produced by Democratic administrations, even the current one. The mind boggles!

Paul Ryan, Tea Party Vampire: 'Don't Do As I Do Or Say But Read Rand ... Oh, Nevermind.
 Which brings us around to Ayn Rand fanatic, Tea Party VAMPIRE Paul Ryan and his slash-and-tear machete lifted against the New Deal. It turns out Wisconsin's reputation as a liberal bastion, a repository of progressive ideas and independent-minded progressive leaders is much exaggerated. Who woulda thunk it with all those "cheeseheads" descending on Dallas, Texas for the Super Bowl? So is it any wonder that Rep. Ryan (surprise, surprise!) is a HYPOCRITE of the highest order?

And AGAIN, to Paul Ryan's canard, that nothing has done more to "help" poor people than the U.S. free enterprise system, historically Democratic administrations have vastly outperformed so-called "free enterprise" Republican administrations not only in job creation but in REDUCING levels of poverty:
Examining the Census data, what I found was this: during the 20 years of Republican administrations, each year on average the number of Americans living below the poverty line rose by 416,400, while during the 20 years of Democratic administrations, each year on average this number fell by 829,900.
 It turns out this freeloading WINGNUT  used the Social Security "SAFETY HAMMOCK" that he so imperiously derided in his SOTU response — "[t]his is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency"— YEAH, LIKE FOR EXAMPE, WOULD YOU BELIEVE ... PAUL FUCKING RYAN?!?

Why? Ryan must think he's EXEMPT from practicing what he preaches because he reads Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. I mean, just getting through that mind-numbing tome is like a year's worth of back-breaking manual labor. By the way, the latest shipment of this emergency fire kindling to Ryan's office for distribution to constituents and staff, or anyone else contemplating feeding off the hated government trough, has arrived. See below, OLD cover (left), NEW cover (right).

Update On The Twitter/Facebook/YouTube Egyptian Revolution

I was remiss in not crediting Facebook, along with Twitter, in my earlier post on the central role of social networking sites in sparking the Egyptian Revolution. My antipathy for Facebook, hardly ameliorated by its recent Hollywood treatment, got in the way. This Op-Ed in the New York Times tells the story from ground level. Once again, it is the dictators' failure to fully grasp the power of this new media, the only ones remaining that truly belong to the people, that has pushed despotic regimes to the brink of collapse like so many pieces in a "domino theory" for the new Twitter/Facebook/YouTube age. For many leaders of this revolution, Hosni Mubarak is their King George III or Tsar Nicholas II. They have never known another despot in their lives.
"Clearly, the scent of Tunisia’s “jasmine revolution” has quickly reached Egypt. Following the successful expulsion in Tunis of the dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the call arose on Facebook for an Egyptian revolution, to begin on Jan. 25. Yet the public here mocked those young people who had taken to Twitter and Facebook to post calls for protest: Since when was the spark of revolution ignited on a pre-planned date? Had revolution become like a romantic rendezvous?

Such questions abounded on social networking sites; but even cynics — myself included — became hopeful as the calls continued to circulate. In the blink of an eye, the Twitter and Facebook generation had successfully rallied hundreds of thousands to its cause, across the nation. Most of them were young people who had not been politically active, and did not belong to the traditional circles of the political opposition. The Muslim Brotherhood is not behind this popular revolution, as the regime claims. Those who began it and organized it are seething in anger at police cruelty and the repression and torture meted out by the Hosni Mubarak regime."

Ayrton Senna Documentary Wins Top Honors at Sundance Fim Festival

Ayrton Senna was the greatest racecar driver of all time. He occupies a singular place at the pinnacle of Formula 1 racing, above the greats of the sport, from Juan Manuel Fangio and Jim Clark to Gilles Villeneuve and Formula 1’s winningest champion, Michael Schumacher. In Brazil Ayrton Senna stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Pelé, the world’s all-time greatest footballer and FIFA’s athlete of the century, in legendary stature.

And what a legend he was. Ayrton Senna’s awesome talent was off the charts. A racing writer who had considered Gilles Villeneuve to be the best and “most spectacular” racecar driver ever changed his mind after watching hours of film of Senna’s races. He realized, he said, that Senna was “spectacular all of the time.” Yesterday, the documentary Senna received top honors in its category at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Here’s a review. It seems to be an exceptional film about an exceptional man.

Ayrton Senna pushed the envelope to its very limit. He redefined pushing the envelope. He stepped outside it and took one, two, three … four steps beyond where anyone had ever gone. Or could go. It’s been said there is no more intense human activity short of war than Formula 1 racing. Or at least the Formula 1 racing of the 80s and 90s when Senna reigned supreme over rivals Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, and fellow countryman Nelson Piquet.

There was one memorable confrontation between Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet during the Hungarian Grand Prix that recalled that famous scene in Rebel Without a Cause in which the two rivals play a game of chicken by drag racing to the edge of a precipice. Whoever brakes first “chickens out” and loses the game. Piquet was in the lead going into the straightaway with Senna fast on his tail.

Nelson Piquet had the better team, the better car, Williams, and was vying for the world driving championship, which he would go on to win that year. Senna was the young gun driving for Lotus, the legendary team of  hat-tossing Colin Chapman. Lotus had seen better days with another famous Brazilian racer, Emerson Fittipaldi, and then Mario Andretti at the wheel as they steered its striking ‘John Player Special’ black-and-gold cars to world driving and constructors championships.

As Senna zoomed up behind Piquet, drafting and dancing in his mirrors — which did not faze the unflappable Piquet, famous for having the lowest heart rate in the drivers community and snoozing in his car during a race start delay — he was piloting an inferior Lotus racecar which had won its last Grand Prix races, back-to-back, earlier that year at Monaco and Detroit, owing to Senna’s prodigious talent.

They raced down the straightaway flat-out, sparks flying as the cars bottomed out on the rough Hungarian track. Piquet had the lead and the inside line. Then Senna made his move. He swung outside and pulled up alongside Piquet. They were racing wheel-to-wheel toward a hard-braking sharp right-hand turn at the end of the straightaway. Senna was supremely confident of his ability to outbrake anyone going into a turn and still maintain control of the car. Piquet knew it. He knew that if he braked too soon he would be overtaken by Senna. Too late and he would be forced to overcompensate, losing his line and taking a wide outside turn. He knew Senna would shoot the inside gap and have him, either way. So Piquet took the only option left to retain the lead. He dove into the corner “hot” braking late and hard, going into a controlled skid. Piquet’s rear end waggled momentarily, but then his tires gripped asphalt and accelerated out, holding his line, with Senna’s black Lotus boring in and riding up his tail.

It was racing in its purest form. Nelson Piquet had the better car, yet had to summon every trick in his arsenal to hold off the hard-charging Ayrton Senna. It was a risky maneuver, but it probably saved Piquet the championship. I remember thinking, “Yo Senna, cut your compadre a break; he’s got enough troubles handling teammate Nigel Mansell without you giving him a hard time.”

But that’s not how Ayrton Senna thought. He finished second that day, behind Piquet, and looked none too happy about it. Senna once said about losing: “Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.”

Senna had many memorable quotes:

“Racing, competing,” he said, “it’s in my blood. It’s part of me, it’s part of my life; I have been doing it all my life and it stands out above everything else.

And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.

And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.”
Having seen Ayrton Senna drive at the peak of his Zen-like performance, it once occurred to me that the phrase “in the zone” could have been conjured up with him in mind. After several unsuccessful attempts to capture this ethereal quality, because he was too fast for my camera’s shutter, I think I got close with this shot of Senna on his way to winning the 1988 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. It’s not a camera trick or Photoshop. Everything around him is a speed blur. But Senna’s famous red and white McLaren stands out in high relief, as if floating within a bubble of calm. Not too bad for an amateur photographer:

That was Ayrton Senna, in the zone. Some of those performances were so amazing that he’d take the lead and keep increasing it until he had lapped almost the entire field and was nearly a minute ahead of his closest competitor. That is unheard of. Senna lost a few races this way, such that once having eliminated his competition early, he raced against himself trying to top his own personal best. With fewer than ten laps remaining, he didn’t fail but his car sometimes did, breaking down mechanically. It was frustrating to think that if only he’d eased off he could have coasted to victory. But that wasn’t Ayrton Senna.

On compromise, this is what the uncompromising Ayrton Senna had to say: “You must take the compromise to win, or else nothing. That means: you race or you do not.” (President Obama must have channeled Senna when he was criticized for compromising on taxes with the Republicans.)

Ayrton Senna had a sense of fatalism about how he lived his life. Four months before his death, he said: “If I’m going to live, I want to live fully. Very intensely, because I am an intense person. It would ruin my life if I had to live partially.”

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Revolution in Egypt

Would this people's revolution sweeping Egypt, begun in Tunisia, and reaching into Yemen have been possible without the social networking revolution on the Internet led by Twitter? Back when the Iranian people rose up against the dictator, only to be violently suppressed by the dictatorship, we noted that Twitter "enables the two “Ps” — presence and participation — as one blogger noted, like no other technological tool currently available to the people."

Twitter has become the despots and dictators' worst nightmare, bypassing the repressive reach of the state with instant communication to the linked masses for organizing, mobilizing, and participating in anti-government, anti-establishment activities. As Egypt hangs in the balance through extraordinary days and nights of tumult, struggle and uncertainty for its people, the globalization of democracy is being impelled by the 21st century revolution of social networking people power. And YouTube is helping to get the word out: