Monday, February 23, 2015

The difference

Tom Scocca, on why Brian Williams suffered for his false war correspondence claims, while Bill O'Reilly will suffer none for his

The reason why Brian Williams got into deep trouble for lying about his war experience while Bill O'Reilly hasn't is that Williams and O'Reilly have different jobs, for different employers. Brian Williams was paid to sit in front of a TV camera and give viewers an ostensibly neutral, agreeable account of current events. When people began disagreeing with Brian Williams about his presentation of facts, loudly and in public, it hurt his ability to perform those duties for NBC.

Bill O'Reilly is paid to go on television for Fox News and say things that get the viewers upset, even if those things are false or nonsensical. So what if his experience in the Falklands war was bogus? So is his experience in the War on Christmas. The fact that people are calling him dishonest simply proves, from Fox's point of view, that he's doing his job.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Look back, to look forward

New York Times editorial

Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.

Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Latest discount book buys

Picked these up at the local library book sale, all a dollar each:

Alpha & Omega: The Search for the Beginning and the End of the Universe (hc) by  Charles Seife

Carl Sagan: A Life (hc) by Keay Davidson

An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media (hc) by Joe Muto

Republic (pb) by Plato

The Road to Serfdom (pb) by F.A. Hayek

Mencken: A Life (hc) by Fred Hobson

Of these, I have previously read The Road to Serfdom and have listened to an audio book edition of Republic.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Excerpt of the day

From Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather

"Anytime there's even a hint of the government limiting the public's ability to buy guns, people go crazy about them taking away our freedom, but this new law that gives the government the right to spy into every aspect of your life, without your consent - barely a peep. A clear violation of the third and fourth amendments, but nobody says a word." He took a deep breath.

"You know what freedom really is?" demanded Rory. "Freedom is civil liberty, and the foundation of civil liberty is privacy. No privacy means no civil liberty means no freedom. You know why they don't just fingerprint everyone?"

"Seems like a good idea to me," laughed Chuck.

"Because once they have your fingerprints," continued Rory, ignoring Chuck, "you instantly become a subject in every crime. They'll run your fingerprints against everything they find at a crime. You go from being a free citizen to being a criminal suspect."

"And fingerprints are just one way of identifying you," added Damon. "Location, your face on a camera, things you buy - all your personal information creates a digital fingerprint."

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"Today, another UN school was shelled in Gaza, killing ten, wounding many more, traumatizing countless others. These civilian deaths even in a place designated as a safe haven simply beggar belief. It is impossible to feel sympathy for either Israel or Hamas at this point. Hamas is daring Israel to kill more innocents; and Israel is eagerly obliging them. How many more children have to die to feed these zero-sum ambitions?" - Andrew Sullivan

Monday, July 14, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict." - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quotes of the day

From Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller

On Scientology hagiographies of Hubbard: "Virtually none of this is true."

On Hubbard believing his fictional biography comprised of lies:

By then [L. Ron] Hubbard was nearly seventy years old and bad lived so long in a world of phantasmagoria that he was unable to distinguish between fact and his own fantastic fiction. He believed he was the teenage explorer, swashbuckling hero, sage and philosopher his biographies said he was. It was perhaps too late for him to comprehend that his life, in reality, far outstripped the fabricated version. He made the leap from penniless science-fiction writer to millionaire guru and prophet in a single, effortless bound; he led a private navy across the oceans of the world for nearly a decade; he came close to taking over control of several countries; he was worshipped by thousands of his followers around the world and was detested and feared by most governments.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quote of the day

"The anti-abortion zealots are just awful people, really. They have absolutely no problem treating these girls and women absolutely horribly while proclaiming themselves to be saints. It's a truly disgusting display of cruelty in the name of God." - Digby

Thursday, June 05, 2014

"Supporting our troops"

"Taken together, the far right’s dehumanization of the American soldier is clear. If he or she is willing to promote the Sarah Palin version of patriotism, honor and masculinity (or at least allow themselves to be used for that purpose), they are not human beings but rather legends and gods. And if they refuse, they lose their humanity once more, now becoming contemptible beyond all measure. Either way, they are not individuals — complex and mysterious and sacred — but rather means to an end that is, fundamentally, about their self-styled defenders’ ideological satisfaction. This, it seems to me, is an exceedingly twisted way to support our troops." - Elias Isquith

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Further tales of elected Republicans who sound insane

"Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign-ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of mandatory sign-ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s." - TN State Sen. Stacey Campfield

Yep, just like it. Can't think of any difference in the outcome of the ACA and Nazi death camps.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Quote of the day

"When our own nation is at war with any other, we detest them under the character of cruel, perfidious, unjust and violent: but always esteem ourselves and allies equitable, moderate and merciful. If the general of our enemies be successful, ’tis with difficulty we allow him the figure and character of a man. He is a sorcerer: he has a communication with daemons … he is bloody-minded and takes pleasure in death and destruction. But if the success be on our side, our commander has all the opposite good qualities, and is a pattern of virtue, as well as of courage and conduct. His treachery we call policy: his cruelty is an evil inseparable from war. In short, every one of his faults we either endeavor to extenuate, or dignify it with the name of virtue, which approaches it. ‘Tis evident that the same method of thinking runs thro’ common life.” - David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

via Less than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others by David Livingstone Smith

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quote of the day

"[N]o amount of after-the-fact sorrow could ever atone for joy taken in destruction, whether it was burning ants or shooting prisoners." - Stephen King, Under the Dome

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Quote of the day

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to publick traitors." - John Trenchard & Thomas Gordon, Cato's Letters #15 (February 4, 1720)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense. She respects no standards but her own. She is in perpetual tantrum, railing against her betters, which is practically everyone, and volunteering for the job of avatar to the country's reckless vandal of a political Id. It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children." - Charles Pierce, on Sarah Palin's 2014 CPAC speech

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Excerpt of the day

"[Ayn Rand] claimed to have created herself with the help of no one, even though she was the lifelong beneficiary of social democratic largesse. She got a college education thanks to the Russian Revolution, which opened universities to women and Jews and, once the Bolsheviks had seized power, made tuition free. Subsidizing theatre for the masses, the Bolsheviks also made it possible for Rand to see cheesy operettas on a weekly basis. After Rand's first play closed in New York City in April 1936, the Works Progress Administration took it on the road to theaters across the country, giving Rand a handsome income of $10 a performance throughout the late 1930s. Librarians at the New York Public Library assisted her with the research for The Fountainhead." - Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"[I]f the entire intelligence community thinks these reporters are either committing a crime or are an accomplice to one [for NSA reports based on Edward Snowden leaks], are they attempting to use this as a justification to target them with surveillance? This is the question the press should now be asking since we know it’s not just a fluke that intelligence officials are trying to paint journalists doing their job as criminals." - Trevor Timm

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Quote of the day

"Saint Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nobokov, Isaiah Berlin, and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both." - Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Quote of the day

"The truth is that neither federal nor state governments have ever mounted a campaign to intern the free-market faithful or blacklist the hardworking proletarians in the Chicago futures pits. However, they have used force over the years to break up strikes, imprison labor organizers, keep minorities from voting, round up people of Japanese descent, and disrupt antiwar movements. Today, though, it suits the resurgent Right to imagine itself as the real victim of state persecution, which no doubt enhances its aura as a dissident movement taking on a merciless establishment." - Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trivia of the day

Question: What was the first typewritten manuscript submitted for publication?

Answer: Life on the Mississippi (1883) by Mark Twain

Twain receives the credit for having dictated the book to a secretary, although this is not so much a verified fact as a claim found to be the most plausible case for first such use of the typewriter.

[Source - The Disappearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Quote of the day

"Extreme inequality, it turns out, creates a class of people who are alarmingly detached from reality — and simultaneously gives these people great power." - Paul Krugman, "Paranoia of the Plutocrats"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quote of the day

"The conservative capacity for driving nails into their own palms may well be limitless." - Charles Pierce

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quote of the day

"Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things." - Michael Sandel, Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Quote of the day

"Clearly he was the cause of the stories that had arisen recently in the more extremely abhorrent sectors of the tabloid press about there being 'Something Nasty in the Woodshead.' The stories had, of course, been offensive and callously insensitive and had largely been ignored by everybody in the country except for those very few millions who were keen on offensive and callously insensitive things." - Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Friday, January 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what [one] does not believe." - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Monday, January 06, 2014

Quote of the day

"With cold weather it is inevitable that the American right wing, which has a poor grasp of science and math (along with economics, American history, and current events), will claim this to be evidence against global warming." - Ron Chusid

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quote of the day

"No law has a right to discourage the practice of truth. A man ought to speak the truth on every occasion, a duty can never be criminal, what is not criminal cannot be injurious." - Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Declaration of Rights"

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quote of the day

"You’re an aggressive bully and an arrogant idiot!" - Mike Weinstein, speaking to Bill O'Reilly

Weinstein was responding to O'Reilly having called soldiers who wish to have their First Amendment rights protected by having the military adhere to church/state separation cowards.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quote of the day

"If your newspaper is going to publish a weekly column by Karl Rove, you have already crossed whatever conceptual boundary might stop you from publishing Suzanne Somers." - Jonathan Chait

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My most recent discount book buys

All for a dollar, courtesy of the local library book sale:

That Hideous Strength (pb) by C.S. Lewis

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons (pb) by Robert Sapolsky

How the Mind Works (hc) by Steven Pinker

Zero History (hc) by William Gibson

Storms of my Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (hc) by James Hansen

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman (hc) by Jon Krakauer

That Hideous Strength completes for me Lewis's Space Trilogy, having long years ago read my copy of the first installment and purchased book 2 in a previous installment of Discount Book Buying. Although I'm happy to obtain a copy of Storms of my Grandchildren in pristine condition, it does dishearten me that this former library copy of a book on such an important subject looks as though it was has never been checked out.

And in tribute to libraries everywhere, a word from author Neil Gaiman on their greatness.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Quote of the day

"Bear in mind that the measure of a man is the worth of the things he cares about." - Marcus Aurelius, The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations

I still remember standing in a Barnes & Noble bookstore about nine years ago, flipping through this book and coming across this quote, thinking it fantastic. I would put The Meditations on my must read list of philosophy texts.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Excerpt of the day

From The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney

I used to be a war reporter. From Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya to Zimbabwe I have been shelled, shot at, bombed, arrested, threatened and a Serb devotee of Slobodan Milosevic once stuck two sticks of dynamite up my nose. But never, ever, in all my times in all those wars have I felt under such harrowing psychological pressure as I did inside the brainwashing section of the Church of Scientology's exhibition, 'Psychiatry: The Industry of Death' on Sunset Boulevard in LA in the spring of 2007.
I previously wrote about the incident Sweeney is referencing, here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Baleful quote of the day

"I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange." - Michael Grunwald

Grunwald is a reporter for Time magazine. His tweet is indicative of a pervasive rot in an American press corps which identifies not with the role of journalism in maintaining/creating an informed public citizenry, but with disseminating and reverberating the images that the national security state would like the public to believe.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Baleful quote of the day

"Our NSA stories have been published and discussed in countless countries around the world, where they have sparked shock, indignation and demands for investigation. So revealingly, it is only American journalists - and them alone - who have decided to focus their intrepid journalistic attention not on the extremist and legally dubious surveillance behavior of the US government and serial deceit by its top officials, but on those who revealed all of that to the world." - Glenn Greenwald, e-mail response to Walter Pincus

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quote of the day

"How strange it is to reflect that [Emile Zola's book La Terre] is true. But it is. You have to confess it at last. Then you are aware of a grudge against him. Because he has exposed those odious French people to you? No; but because he has exposed your own people to you. You were asleep, and had forgotten; he has waked you up. You owe him a grudge - and will keep it." - Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quote of the day

"I continue to wonder precisely what Constitution of which nation [President Obama] taught back in his days in law school." - Charles Pierce

Balanced scales of justice is so pre 9/11

If you work for the CIA and torture someone to death, you can get a promotion. If you have access to classified info revealing mass domestic surveillance of United States citizens and reveal it, you can go to prison.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pierce, cutting to the bone

Charles Pierce, responding to an interview with two of the chiefs of the Washington DC insider pseudo-news site Politico

IC: You don't think there is any public calling to be perhaps boring if pensions are being stolen?

JH: I don't know. Maybe if I lived on Long Island, it wouldn't be that boring.

Fk you, you smug little prick. People are being ground up like corn meal out in the country but all's well with the world because Chris Matthews has your private number.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Today's discount book buys

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in our Time (hc) by Jonathan Weiner for $1.00.

Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming (hc) by Chris Mooney for $1.00.

Baudolino (hc) by Umberto Eco for $1.00.

Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning (hc) by George Monbiot for $1.00.

These are all former library books; the only one that appears to have ever been checked out and/or read is The Beak of the Finch, the other three look more or less brand new (with Storm World looking like it has never even been opened before.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Our nation should be ashamed

From Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, in the New York Times

I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. 
Yeah, sure the Bill of Rights says that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, but no one expects that to apply to Muslims with Muslim sounding names, do they?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

North Carolina Republicans versus the United States Constitution

From a bill proposed by N.C. Republicans:

SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
From the U.S. Constitution, which, contrary to the ideological wishful thinking of Republican theocrats, asserts:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [Amendment 1] ... No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. [Amendment 14]
Section 2 of the proposed bill is a call for nullification, something that I considered settled by the Civil War, giving some indication as to how radical the current incarnation of the Republican party has become.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Quote of the day

"[S]trange indeed though this may seem, the Istari, being clad in bodies of Middle-earth, might even as Men and Elves fall away from their purposes, and do evil, forgetting the good in the search for power to effect it." - J.R.R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales

One might consider this quote a companion to my previous post referencing the work of Tolkien.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Baleful quote of the day

"The man whom the [Obama] administration has put up to head the CIA would not say whether or not the president of the United States has the power to order the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen within the borders of the United States .. And the [Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation] hearing, remarkably, went on as though nothing untoward had happened." - Charles Pierce

Monday, February 04, 2013

Quote of the day

"I know it is fashionable to argue that MSNBC is just the flip-side of Fox News, but that only appears to be the case if you focus on partisanship. If you focus on whether or not viewers are better or worse informed after watching The Rachel Maddow Show versus The O'Reilly Factor the differences between the two networks is obvious. Maddow explains how things work. O'Reilly inflames people's passions. Maddow presents things that ought to scare her audience, like the way corporations are using Republicans to write legislation verbatim per their instructions, while O'Reilly is telling his audience that liberals want to ruin their Christmas celebration." - Booman Tribune

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reality versus media conservative's deranged perception of reality


As the right wing continues to rage and sputter about Obama being a socialist and a Marxist who hates capitalism and wants to bring the entire American economy to its knees, Bloomberg News reports that corporate profits have been higher than at any time since WW2 under Obama

Media Conservative "reality"

I think Obama sees himself as correcting historic wrongs in this country, as delivering the fruits of the labor of other people to people who he believes have historically been put upon. I think there’s a lot of perverse thinking that goes on in his mind, radical left-wing thinking. He was indoctrinated with Marx and Alinksy propaganda.
That link has even more hysterical ravings (e.g. President Obama is "hollowing out our military") equally disconnected from reality.

I never cease to be amazed at how many media conservatives appear to be genuinely deranged when it comes to politics.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quote of the day

"... [U]nderstand the arguments of those who are called enemy." - Martin Luther King Jr., "Beyond Vietnam: A time to break silence"

Via Glenn Greenwald

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A culture of impunity

In another of the seemingly never-ending examples demonstrating how the rich and powerful are held to a different standard of justice than ordinary citizens - and why one simply needs to read Glenn Greenwald's Liberty and Justice for Some - liar for unprovoked war (called the supreme crime by the Nuremberg commission) and torture Condoleezza Rice will become a part of CBS news.

Perhaps if Rice had lied about adultery or cheated at bicycle racing our society might have found some outrage at her actions, rather than financial and social reward for them.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Blog sabbatical

As you may have noticed, my blogging output has decreased quite a bit as of late and, given my work schedule for the next four or five months, it will likely not increase any time soon.

I will keep putting up posts when the inclination strikes me and the time is available, however. [I still intend to catch up on my backlog of book reviews and Book of the Year picks eventually.]

In the meanwhile, the blogs in the Blog Roll on the left cover just about anything I'd have to say anyways.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quote of the day

"The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary." - Ben Franklin, in handwritten note to his Constitutional Convention speech prayer proposal