Monday, April 30, 2012

Left--Right, and the Way We Believe

   I know this may be hard to believe but democrats and republicans in Congress sometimes have opposing viewpoints.  Not only that, they often have differences in opinion as well.
   Sometimes they disagree on vital issues that affect the nation.
   Sometimes they even bicker.
   Here is Speaker of the House John Boehner demonstrating my keen observation:
   And here is one of many democratic responses:
   Maybe we should vote all of the men out of Congress, and the world might be a better, more sane place with women in charge. They certainly couldn't do any worse then men have.
   But then again, gender doesn't guarantee anything. I remind myself of Margaret Thatcher, the British Reagan.
   And then I shudder.
   However, the two sides clearly view women's rights differently. Republican Congressmen like Boehner and Sen. McCain from Arizona vehemently deny there is a republican war on women, as does the Republican Noise Machine, the folks at Fox so-called News and Rush Limbaugh, etc.. Yet the actions in Congress to restrict reproductive services for woman through agencies like Planned Parenthood, and the actions of 37 state legislatures controlled by republicans that are doing the same and worse, are undeniable and thoroughly documented (yes, we have things called records and video tape). Even Mr. Boehner in his passionate statement above, is passing an amendment to keep interest rates on student loans at 3.4% (which would have increased soon to 6.8 if no action is taken) by paying for it by raiding funds from the Obama health care initiative set to help women through preventive care, rather than close a tax loophole as the democrats would have, and thereby attacking women's health care at the same time he is denying republicans are attacking women's health care.
   And while he's on a roll, he blames democrats for... well everything.
   I've postulated previously that 6 percent of the general population is sociopathic, here:
Considering this, at least as far as the republican leadership is concerned (Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, John McCain and his teammate, Jon Kyl, Darrell Issa... gee, I'm having trouble stopping), consistently display symptoms of psychopathology.
   To be kind, which is a trait of a psychologically fit individual, I believe these gentlemen are ill, and that they actually believe the lies that seem to flow from their mouths as freely as water from a tap, lies that drive their agenda which is to constantly protect the richest amongst us from increased taxation, funnel as much money to large corporations as possible, use war for political expediency, and a myriad of other transgressions that hurt women, the poor, blacks, Hispanics, the elderly, and anybody else who isn't already rich.
   They can't help their actions. Rep Paul Ryan's defense of his  budget to Catholic bishops is a clear example:
   Rep. Ryan would have us believe that his budget proposal actually helps the poor in America by defunding the food stamp program and others that were specifically designed to help the poor during times of national distress (distress which the republicans caused by the way (recession)). And he can't see any problems with giving more tax breaks to the richest 10% in the country while strangling our most vulnerable.
   He is always right, according to him, no one can tell him otherwise, and he blames everyone but himself and his colleagues, for everything that is not in accordance with his world view.
   He is clearly insane... or a true sociopath. He will smile at you and praise Christian values while slowly turning the knife in your back.
   But not all conservatives are sociopaths... and some democrats are.
   I have a lot of family friends who reside, or have resided in southern states, like Alabama. They tend to have a very different political and religious views than I do, even though I live just two degrees of latitude north of Montgomery. I see and read their comments on Facebook often. Some like to write about their religious convictions, and some their political. Many label themselves as being conservative.
   Some don't like President Obama at all, and aren't shy about saying so.
   I do not usually engage in debate with my friends, at lest not publicly (although once in a while one of them will write something so outrageous that I am forced to respond and set them straight. They are usually tolerant of my liberal, Hollywood, outbursts). Why? Because I have come to recognize that these two particular subjects, religion and politics, are the two subjects most people are most adamant about, and least likely to ever alter their viewpoint or ever concede that they may be wrong. As far as these two subjects are concerned people will believe what they believe no matter what. It usually takes some hugely traumatic event in their lives to get them to amend these views, when logic and every shred of evidence suggests that they held an erroneous worldview, and should have done so long before.
   So I never try to challenge them. I get it. People like to think they are going to heaven when they die. It doesn't hurt me if they believe that. Only when they try to inject their views onto me and others forcibly, as the republicans are doing now with woman's rights, do I have a problem. Only when fanatics try to revise history in schools and indoctrinate their ideas of reality to our children (brainwash), do I have a problem. Only when they equate theology with science, as the creationists are constantly attempting, do I have a problem.
   Let's examine these differences in personalities. Maybe we'll come up with some answers that allow us to understand each other a bit more.
   You see that silhouette of a dancing lady above. I was hard pressed to find a copy that wasn't twirling around.
   You can find this image on the Internet easily. Why here's a link right now:
   It is said that if you see the lady dancing in a clockwise fashion, then you tend to utilize the right hemisphere of your brain more than the left, and visa versa, if you see it twirling in a counterclockwise fashion you use the left hemisphere more.
   And it is said that if you use the right hemisphere more you tend to possess these personal characteristics:

uses feeling                                 
"big picture" oriented                  
imagination rules                         
symbols and images                    
present and future                         
philosophy & religion                   
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)                
spatial perception                            
knows object function                     
fantasy based                                   
presents possibilities                      
risk taking    
And the left:

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

   Which one am I you ask? Well after initially seeing the dancing figure flipping head over heels, I slapped myself a couple of times, and now realize I'm a Lefty all the way.
   Was there ever any doubt?
   What does this tell us about the differences between the republican mind set and that of democrats?
   Not much.
   It does present an interesting case in that the majority of people can be separated into two broad categories, which if you use Congress as a microcosm of the general population, represents a rather accurate picture of the world.
   Let's examine briefly here the seeming difference between the two patterns of behavior associated with the right and left side of the brain.

To be continued:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Skid Row Diary 3

July 15th  Tuesday  Day 3

"Truth is Relative." -Miranda Vera Cruz de la Jolla Cardinal.

   My alarm sounded at 3:00AM. I got up to turn it off and adjusted the volume on my little portable color T.V. It was already tuned onto channel 13, and "Star Trek, Voyager," was just beginning. I watched the "Tess returned from the Future a Disgruntled Employee episode. Not particularly worth watching but served its purpose by helping to wake me up.
   You can't find "Star Trek, the Next Generation" (STNG) on broadcast T.V. anymore. Oh no! The T.V. bastards sold it to TNN, or some other cable network.
   Sons of bitches!
   I showered at 4:00. The shower room closest to mine is communal, with room and shower heads for 4. Nobody was in there this morning, which was fine with me. I don't know about you, but I do not care for showering with men. It's icky.
   There's a large window in the towel area of the shower room, with no screen, or anything attached to stop anyone from throwing things, or jumping out of it, only to land 5 stories below onto a concrete alley next to the kitchen. The window looks out to the north of L.A., and I can see the top of the City Hall building as I stand naked drying myself off. I can waggle my large, ponderous tallywacker at the unsuspecting world with impunity if I so choose to do so, as I often do.
   Back in my room I listened to J.S. Bach, this morning on KMZT, while writing about yesterday. I tend to be more patient, observant, and verbose, than I was 12 years ago, for which I apologize profusely.
   It would take two 2 hour sessions to write everything down, and I wasn't finished until close to 8:00.
   I appeared to be slightly irritated this morning at John Manzano for his habit of trying to purposely irritate me. Is this the behavior of a friend? If he's about 8 years old, it is.
   I'll get over it.
   At 5:15, or so, I stopped writing for a while to meditate for 400 breaths while looking down at a small, dark stone placed an inch or two from a lighted tea candle with the room's lights darkened. I also stretched, did some sneaky yoga moves and calisthenics for 10 minutes, before I resumed writing.
   Near 6:00AM I switched radio stations to KLOS and the Mark and Brian Show. Mark and Brian graced us with their presence this morning. Mark Thompson blamed yesterdays absence on his having to attend jury duty, a civic duty he could no longer avoid.
   Of course, I don't believe him. He was probably up there in Santa Clarita, lollygagging at Magic Mountain Six Flags, the miserable son of a bitch, leaving the rest of us out to dry!
   I can't remember exactly when I began listening to Mark and Brian, but it was a long time ago. Possibly when I was the dispatcher for the Canoga Park ARC 7 of 8 years ago. I listen to them when I can every weekday morning.
   They're crazy.
   Mark also spoke of how he had forced his small daughter, Amy, to go to the movies with him to watch,"The Hulk," a recent release, starring the most beautiful and talented woman in the known universe, Ms. Jennifer Connelly. The film also starred Nick Nolte, as chance would have it. He beat out Jeff Bridges for the role.
      Amy, apparently, was not interested in seeing the film, and was further put out when she discovered her father sleeping half way through it.
   "Have a nice nap," she queried brightly as they exited the theater. 
   The son of a bitch!
   Hey Brian... you don't get off the hook that easily. We'll get back to you eventually.
   Near 7:00 I switched the old T.V. on back again to see what Giselle Blondet was wearing on Despierta America (I'm so sick), only to discover a blank screen on every channel. This disturbed me, as you may well imagine. There was no sound either, only static issuing from the speakers. What could have happened to my poor T.V. between 4:00 and 7:00AM to cause this phenomena? Cosmic rays?
   I disconnected the antenna, shook it vigorously, and reconnected it. No change. I then tried fiddling with it, and suddenly, upon changing the channel selector again, the picture and sound returned.
   Giselle was wearing pants again, and an uninteresting top, which was not a good omen for the day. I had just endured a five day period, which ended just last Tuesday, in which she wore pants every single day. I had been about to take action by writing to the shows producers alerting them to this affront, which I have done on occasion, when she broke the streak by wearing a nice dress and thereby displaying those national treasure legs.
   At 7:15 I went to collect John Manzano from his room for breakfast. He told me to go on, that he wanted to sleep a little longer. I left him.
   Pancakes and turkey sausage.
   I was on my way to the One Step Center, turning the corner on 6th and Wall, when an elderly, black, street gentleman accosted me. He came from behind a tree as I passed, hands and arms outstretched as if to attack, growling, "You fucking bastard..." continuing to mutter as he stopped himself just short of touching me.
   This kind of thing can happen frequently on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Encounters of this nature have happened to me before. Usually these brief altercations are verbal in nature, as this one was, and nothing comes of it. We were just across the street from the Central Police Station if I should need any assistance or a place to seek safety, which I did not.
   I told him, "Whatever..." and walked away. We were both lucky he hadn't touched me.
   I reached the One Step 15 minutes before it opened, and was first in the door at 8:00. I grabbed the one computer that did not have its floppy disk portal locked (why do they do that, dear reader, why?), and printed some personal files I needed. I also printed some pictures of Jennifer Beal, Kiki Daire, and Francesca Rettondini, which I needed. I also looked for a job. Nothing was on my voice mail. I found one message from my Email from Sue Cummings asking me if I was still interested in employment at USC, the University of Southern California. I Emailed back, letting her know I was still interested. I also called Leonard upstairs and checked for new job orders, for which I got one number. I faxed my resume to that, along with two others I found on Flip Dog.
   From the One Stop I walked west on 9th to Grand, where I caught the Dash back to USC and the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, which was open today. I had to spend 30 minutes in line just to get a Driver's handbook. It was the most crowded DMV office I'd ever seen. I changed my official address to Monzanos' mother's house in Camarillo.
   I returned on the Dash to Arco Plaza. Another extremely warm day. I dare say I perspired a tad.
   No mail today. I did buy a Super Lotto ticket, specifying 13 as the Mega number.
   Across the street at the Central Library I checked my Email again. No word from Sue yet. I found a good book on yoga, "Yoga for Real People," by John Baker.
   I'm a real people.
   I left the library and walked to the 7th Street Red Line Station on, well, 7th Street. The signs there had been changed to make movie audiences think they were looking at a subway station in New York. This was for the Spiderman movie I expect. Still no Kirsten or Toby. Probably in the trailers.
   I took the Red Line to Los Angeles City College (LACC) at Santa Monica Bl. and Vermont. I'd never been there before, so didn't know my way around. As I emerged I found myself at the northeast corner of the facility, at the outskirts of the oval running track utilized by people who like to run in ellipses. I walked around until I found the college entrance, past a swimming pool, until I found a placard map which pointed out the way to the Administration building. There I picked up an admission application, which I took with me to the Financial Aid bungalow, where I was given some more forms to fill out. I didn't fill any of them out right then and there. I took them with me though. I learned that due to my total income from last year being under $13,000 and that I was currently on General Relief, I might be able to go back to school without having to pay anything.
   I'm all for that!
   On my way back I stopped at the 99 Cent Store across the street from MacArthur Park (the same MacArthur Park that actor Richard Harris sang about in 1968), and found some small memo pads and staples. Up the street at Food For Less, I bought 3 jalapeno cheese pastries and spam. And from that store I caught the 18 bus on 6th that took me right to the Weingart's front door.
   It was now 3:00PM. I walked by the case managers office to see if I could get some laundry tokens and detergent. One of the new managers, a cocky young black kid, called me out, yelling, "Are you on this floor?" He was showing off for his his boss from whose office he had just come out of, and for my nearby case manager, the beautiful Labren Marshall.
   "Why yes, I am," I answered.
   This surprised and disappointed this blatant asshole. His chance to legitimately bust an evil doer, a non-vet walking around on the veteran's floor had just flown out the shower window.
   This guy had even issued me laundry tokens once, had seen me writing in the lobby directly from his office when I was still living in the dorm.
   Short term memory loss, a symptom of gung ho stupidity.
   "Who's your case manager?" He tested me, his last hope at redemption.
   I simply pointed to Ms. Marshall's open door.
   "Ms. Marshall?" he croaked, close to tears now.
   "That's Mr. Joyce," my lovely case manager called out. "Don't you know Mr. Joyce?"
   "No, I don't. That's why I thought I'd give him my old college tackle." What a dick.
   "Hi Mr. Joyce. How are you today?" Ms. Jetter, another case manager, asked as I passed her office.
   "Very good. Thank you. Are we having our meeting today?"
   "Is it today?" she asked.
   "Every Tuesday. Phase two meeting. Four PM."
   "Yeah, well, I guess I'll have to come down..."
   "Yes, please come. It will go so much more smoothly if the facilitator actually shows up."  I'm such a smart ass.
   She laughed, and I went to my room. I had received no laundry tokens.
   Ms Jetter never showed. Mr. Edward Bertram did. Together we asked the folks in the nearby security office if the Phase 2 meeting was going to be held.
   "What meeting?"
   "The Phase two meeting."
   They called Ms. Jetter's office. No answer.
   I went back upstairs. Her door was closed, and she was no where to be found. These case managers need to learn responsibility. I wrote her a letter asking for credit for the meeting, and slid it under her door.
   I wrote in my room while listening to classical music. At 5:00 I went to dinner. Chile Mac. A big change from the spaghetti and meat sauce we had last night.
   John Manzano came to my room shortly after dinner. We watched "Married with Children," then I told him I was going to the Drifters A.A. Meeting, and he went away.
   "How boring," he said.
   I watched "Charlie Rose," instead of going to the meeting. He was talking to someone about President Bush's latest snafus, his stating that Iraq was trying to get uranium from Africa during the last State of the Union Address when it wasn't true.
   I watched and listened while cutting articles out of the newspaper and stapling them together with my new stapler and staples.
   At 8:00, I watched another exciting episode of "The History Detectives." Tonight they were attempting to authenticate two bullets thought to have been removed from the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde, the famous road bandits of the Depression era. They weren't. It was determined the bullets were probably used by Bonnie and Clyde to murder two Highway Patrolmen.
   I watched this while filling out my college financial aid paperwork. Boy, the federal government sure is nosy. I filled out more paperwork while watching Bryant Gumbal on a PPS program reviewing recent polls recently taken to measure the American public's attitude toward the Bush administration's attempt to circumvent the Bill of Rights, especially the 4th Amendment, by issuing the so-called "Patriot Act" (as good an example of Doublespeak as there ever was).
   I finished all of the paperwork by 10:00, my bedtime. I went to sleep watching a POV documentary concerning the plight and validation of Fred Korematsu, an American of Japanese ancestry who refused to be interned after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and became a fugitive, and was subsequently arrested. This is probably the greatest example of our government ignoring the civil rights of one particular section of our citizenry, and a reminder that said government can and will ignore the rights promised to us in the Constitution whenever it feels like it, or whenever it feels it can get away with it. The legality of the internment was even confirmed by our Supreme Court, but evidence withheld by the U.S. government caused his conviction to be overturned decades later.
   The United States was subsequently convicted of withholding evidence in a federal case and sentenced to 45 years in federal prison, and is currently seeking parole.
   On November 10, 1983, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of U.S. District Court in San Francisco formally vacated his conviction. He spoke to the judge, saying, "I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color." He also said, "If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people."
   I remembered the poll results from the Gumbal program. It amazed me that so many were perfectly happy to give up their Constitutional rights in the name of fear, in the name of the fight against terrorism.
   Hey, Saddam! Come out of hiding and run for President of the United States of America. Bush is priming the pump for you, and if he has his way the U.S. won't be much different from your Iraq.
   When I did fall asleep I dreamt of Jennifer Connelly, the lovely American actress from "A Beautiful Mind," among many other fine films.
   She and I were barreling down a rural highway, driving a Ford V-8 Cabriolet with the top down and being chased by another car filled with highway patrolmen who were shooting at us. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," was playing in the background. We were both dressed in Depression era garb, and Jennifer was next to me in the front seat as I drove, turned around and shooting back with a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, and shouting out with glee.
   "Get'em Jenny girl!" I shouted while swerving hard to the right to avoid a goat.
   "I will, Ricky baby. Take that coppers!"
   She fired off a sustained round, and the sheriff's vehicle suddenly burst into flames, swerved left to avoid the goat, and overturned several times before coming to rest by the side of a corn field.
   "Aye Eeee," Jenny and I both shouted, as we sped on leaving the crippled coppers far behind. She sat back down in the seat, and looked at me adoringly.
   "I love you Richard Joyce," she said breathlessly.
   "I love you too, Jenny girl," I replied.
   We disappeared in a thick cloud of dust.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Save The Frogs Day!

   As I'm sure you know today is "Save the Frogs Day."
   The frogs even have their own website, which is right here:
   You can find almost anything you'd hope to know about frogs on that site.
   I first became aware of frogs by reading my favorite novel, "Cannery Row," by John Steinbeck. In there was a chapter where the lead character, Mack, and his gang went out hunting for frogs which they hoped to sell later. The following is a classic paragraph written by a classic writer:

   "During the millennia that frogs and men have lived in the same world, it is probable that men have hunted frogs. And during that time a pattern of hunt and parry has developed. The man with net or bow or lance or gun creeps noiselessly, as he thinks, toward the frog. The pattern requires that the frog sit still [like the two pictured above], sit very still and wait. The rules of the game require the frog to wait until the final flicker of a second, when the net is descending, when the lance is in the air, when the finger squeezes the trigger, then the frog jumps, plops into the water, swims to the bottom and waits until the man goes away. This is the way it is done, the way it has always been done. Frogs have every right to expect it will always be done that way.  Now and then the net is too quick, the lance pierces, the gun flicks and the frog is gone, but it is all fair and in the framework. Frogs don't resent that. But how could they have anticipated Mack's new method? How could they have foreseen the horror that followed? The sudden flashing of lights, the shouting and squealing of men, the rush of feet. Every frog leaped, plopped into the pool, and swam frantically to the bottom. Then into the pool plunged the line of men, stamping, churning, moving in a crazy line up the pool, flinging their feet about. Hysterically the frogs displaced from their placid spots swam ahead of the crazy thrashing feet and the feet came on. Frogs are good swimmers but they haven't much endurance. Down the pool they went until finally they were bunched and crowded against the end. And the feet and wildly plunging bodies followed them. A few frogs lost their heads and floundered among the feet and got through and these were saved. But the majority decided to leave this pool forever, to find a new home in a new country where this kind of thing didn't happen. A wave of frantic, frustrated frogs, big ones, little ones, brown ones, green ones, men frogs and women frogs, a wave of them broke over the bank, crawled, leaped, scrambled. They clambered up the grass, they clutched at each other, little ones rode on big ones. And then--horror on horror--the flashlights found them. Two men gathered them like berries. The line came out of the water and closed in on their rear and gathered them like potatoes. Tens and fifties of them were flung into the gunny sacks, and the sacks filled with tired, frightened, and disillusioned frogs, with dripping, whimpering frogs. Some got away, of course, and some had been saved in the pool. But never in frog history had such an execution taken place. Frogs by the pound, by the fifty pounds. They weren't counted but there must have been six or seven hundred. Then happily Mack tied up the necks of the sacks. They were soaking, dripping wet and the air was cool. They had a short one in the grass before they went back to the house so they wouldn't catch cold."

   Save the frogs from what, you may ask. Good question.
   You see that pretty little girl in the second picture above. Well she's holding a proclamation signed by the mayor of Tampa, Florida, where a whole bunch of frogs live.
   That proclamation in part states that frogs have survived in more or less their present form for anywhere from 350 to 250 million years (like sharks, which are declining in population as well), having survived ice ages, asteroid bombardment, and other environmental changes (wherein the dinosaurs did not), yet in recent years frog populations have been declining around the world in unprecedented numbers, that nearly one third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and that up to 200 species of frogs have already become extinct. This is due to pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, foreign species invasion, climate change, and over harvesting by guys like Mack.
   As we've discussed previously with our friend the pika, frogs health and population strength are considered as early indicators of environmental stress, with their health indicative of the health of the entire biosphere, which means what happens to frogs may very well begin happening to other species as well, including are own.
   The proclamation goes on to describe how important frogs, toads, tadpoles, and salamanders and such, are to the environment, eating pests and keeping our waterways nice and clean, and all, and how they are used in pharmaceuticals and medical research, and if the frogs and toads are all gone we're going to have to start using orphans to replace them.
   It is signed by Bob Buckhorn, the mayor, who proclaimed today, April 28th, as "Save the Frogs Day," which was cool as a today is "Save the Frogs Day," everywhere else too.
   The mayor goes on to say that he urges all citizens to join him in supporting efforts to protect Tampa's frogs, "for the benefit of the ecosystem, and ultimately, mankind."
   It was signed March 11th, 2012, and has an official stamp and everything.
   Wikipedia agrees with the mayor:
"These declines are perceived as one of the most critical threats to global biodiversity, and several causes are believed to be involved, including disease, habitat destruction and modification, exploitation, pollution, pesticide use, introduced species, and increased ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B). However, many of the causes of amphibian declines are still poorly understood, and the topic is currently a subject of much ongoing research. Calculations based on extinction rates suggest that the current extinction rate of amphibians could be 211 times the background extinction rate (background extinction rate, also known as ‘normal extinction rate’, refers to the standard rate of extinction in earth’s geological and biological history before humans became a primary contributor to extinctions) and the estimate goes up to 25,039–45,474 times if endangered species are also included in the computation."
   There's a whole entry on Wikipedia devoted the decline of amphibian populations, which is right here:
   And it seems that the entire point of "Save the Frogs Day," is that what ever happens to the frogs will adversely affect humans, if not right now, then in the near future.
   So we better understand what is happening to the frogs... and save them! Why? Because frogs help us. And they're cute. Just look at that frog up there sitting down like he owned the place.
   Frogs have a right to life too, and it would seem that humans are currently hurting them.
   Stop that humans, you are being bad.
   We need our frogs. Frogs are our friends.
   I think I've made my point perfectly clear. As a matter of fact I believe everyone should go out and adopt a frog as soon as possible...
   On second thought, don't do that. It would probably screw things up more.
   Just stop poisoning them, polluting the air with greenhouse, ozone eating gases, and building condos on their ponds (and chasing them down with gunny sacks).
   We will end our time with the frogs with some fun Frog Facts:

There are 6,317 amphibian species, of which 5,576 are anurans (frogs and toads), 566 are caudates (newts and salamanders), and 175 are gymnophiones (caecilians). (Caecilians are amphibians that lack limbs. They look a bit like earthworms or snakes and can grow up to 1.5 m (5 ft) in length. As they generally live underground, they are the most under-studied group of amphibians).

What's the difference between a frog and toad?
Not much. True toads (bufonids) tend to have short legs and dry 'warty' skin, though there are plenty of frog species that fit this description as well. Toads tend to have toxic secretions, but so do poison dart frogs.

Not all amphibian species have tadpoles. Some caecilians give birth to live young and some salamanders have larvae that essentially resemble the adult stage, but with external gills. There are many terrestrial frog species that emerge as froglets directly from the egg, bypassing the tadpole stage altogether. This adaptation allows them to live far from water bodies (on mountain tops for instance (with the pikas)), and provides the parents with an increased ability to guard their eggs, which are laid on land. It also removes a serious risk that aquatic larvae must face: predation by fish or dragonfly larvae. Many terrestrial salamanders employ this strategy as well.

Amphibians are the oldest land vertebrates. Ichthyostega was an amphibian species that lived in Greenland 362 million years ago.

The smallest frogs are the Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa from Papua New Guinea, sizing in at only only 9 mm in length. Next up is the critically endangered Cuban frog Eleutherodactylus iberia. These frogs measure only 10 mm (0.4 in) when fully grown. They are threatened by pesticides(Atrazine is one of the world's most common pesticides: over 80 million pounds of it were used on American crops last year, and it has been in use for 50 years. This harmful pesticide is an endocrine disruptor that can turn male frogs into females at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion. Atrazine causes cancer in laboratory mammals and developmental problems in fish. Atrazine is one of the most commonly detected pesticides in rainwater, groundwater and tapwater in the USA. Atrazine is used on corn, sugar, sorghum, yams, rice, Christmas trees, and for lawn care. Frogs and humans share half our DNA, so Atrazine can't be good for humans either. That's likely why the European Union banned the harmful pesticide in 2004. But the company that produces it, Syngenta (based in Switzerland) has $11 billion in revenues, and has a huge lobby to keep Atrazine on the market in the USA. SAVE THE FROGS! needs your help to ensure Atrazine gets federally banned and out of production as soon as possible!), and by large-scale mining operations that destroy their habitat.

The world's largest frog is the Goliath Frog Conraua goliath, which lives in western Africa. They can grow to be over 30 cm (1 ft) long, and weigh over 3 kg (6.6 lbs). This species is endangered, due to conversion of rainforests into farmland, and due to their being used as a local food source.

Some species only live a few years, but many live 6 or 7 years. The African Clawed Frog Xenopus laevis and the Green Tree Frog Litoria caerulea can live about 30 years in captivity. Determining their life span in the wild is difficult, but if anybody wants to follow some frogs around for a couple decades, please let us know.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Price of Knowledge

   Not only is Rep Fox's statement above mean spirited and offensive, it doesn't making any sense, unless... well, we'll get back to her shortly.
   Here is our President responding to Rep. Fox's statement: "She said she had 'very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there’s no reason for that.' I'm just quoting here," Obama said. "The students who rack up student loan debt are just 'sitting on their butts having opportunity dumped in your lap.’ I'm reading it here. I didn't make this up."
   He continued: "Now, can you imagine saying something like that? Those of you who've had to take out student loans, you didn't do it because you’re lazy. You didn’t do it lightly. You don't like debt. A lot of you, your parents are helping out, but it’s tough on them. They're straining. And so you do it because the cost of college keeps going up and you know there’s an investment in your future."
   The reason this subject is coming up at this particular time, considering the problem of student loan debt has been with us for decades (Speaking to my lovely ex-case manager, Erin, (pictured above, during a recent impromptu meeting with President Barack Obama at a local Pizza Hut) Wednesday, I learned that she is still burdened with student loan debt. Most young case managers who have come to work here at Skid Row Housing Trust, are burdened with student loan debt. The President said Wednesday that he and his wife had just paid off their student loan debt 8 years ago, so he hadn't paid up until he began running for the U.S. Senate. I, on the other hand, am not burdened with a huge amount of student debt due to the fact that I had the good sense not to go to college), is that the House of Representatives have caved in to public pressure ingeniously applied by President Obama to keep the interest rates of federal student loans from increasing from 3.4% to 6.8%, which is almost exactly double, June 1st. This would equal out to about $1000 more a year for students. 
   Loans are indeed a big problem for approximately 7 million students who start out in life with a massive debt load, typically having to pay approximately 8% of whatever income they do make, with the average time to pay it off being 10 years. These loans, unlike other debts, and other types of loans, cannot be discharged by bankruptcy, the federal government, who issues the lion share of these loans is pretty much guaranteed they will be paid back.     
   It's weird. Middle class families have seen their income stagnate for years and years (while executive pay has increased exponentially), while the cost of college education has risen more than 300%.
   High unemployment means it is harder for new graduates to pay off their debt, which now averages more than $25,000. In 2007, half of college graduates were able to find work immediately. In 2009, this figure had dropped to one fifth. Increasingly, graduates and drop-outs are facing years of struggle and indenture-ship after leaving college.
   Back to our unsympathetic Rep. from North Carolina, Ms. Foxx. One reason that she is intolerant of students who complain of their large debt loads is because she works for the Association of Private Sector Colleges/Universities, the Apollo Group (owner of the University of Phoenix), and Corinthian Colleges, in that, according to Andrew Leonard,  of, these schools and businesses are among the top 20 financial contributors to her in 2011-2012.
   Accordingly she introduced the misnamed "Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act." for profit education institutions, which cater to about 12% of all college students.
   "The for-profit educational sector is an industry almost entirely subsidized by the federal government. Around 70-80 percent of for-profit revenues are generated by federal student loans. At the same time, judging by sky-high dropout rates, the for-profit schools do a terrible job of educating students. The Obama administration’s efforts to define a credit hour and require state accreditation were motivated by a very understandable desire: to ensure that taxpayers are getting their money’s worth when federal cash pays for a student’s education. In contrast, Foxx’s legislation is designed to remove that taxpayer protection. So here’s a more accurate title for her bill: 'The Protecting the Freedom of For-Profit Schools to Suck off the Government Teat Without Any Accountability Whatsoever Act.'
    In 2008, for-profit schools registered a a graduation rate of 22 percent. (Public and private non-profits registered 55 percent and 65 percent respectively.)
    54 percent of the students who enrolled in 2008-2009 in 14 publicly traded for-profit schools had withdrawn without a degree by 2010.
    The biggest player in the for-profit sector, the University of Phoenix, graduated only 9 percent of its B.A. candidates within six years."
   So much for privatization, voucher schools, and the market economy.
   Cumulative nationwide student loan debt is now over $1 trillion dollars, which is more than the total debt held by credit card holders as of last December, $801 billion.
   This isn't just bad news for students, that amount of debt weighs down the entire economy. With students defaulting at ever-higher rates, interest rates and fees are always changing, adding constantly to the weight of the burden college graduates (and those who didn't graduate but still have to pay off the loans they took out in more hopeful times) carry.$1-trillion-debtors-rally-for-relief
   What has the President done about this dire situation since entering office? Funny you should ask.
   Despite the inference that he has done nothing, made by Karl Rove's recent ad which we briefly discussed in the previous post, "Is This Really News?" Obama has done quite a bit, not enough, but not nothing.
   What did he do? He cut out the middle man.
   He did that by signing into law the Health Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, the Federal Direct Loan Program which is the sole government-backed loan program in the United States.
   Well what the heck did that do?
   The federal government used to give money to banks who then loaned to students, without providing any service themselves except to charges for their services.
   The Direct Loan Program eliminated the banks, saving $68 billion in the process.
   Granted $68 billion is a relative drop in the old bucket compared with $1 trillion (1000 billion), but you know how the old saying goes, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon we're talking about some real money."
   Considering the high cost of a college education coupled with the high national unemployment rate, is it really worth getting said education.
   We hear stories all of the time about new college grads entering the job market and having to settle for jobs at McDonalds (not that I have anything against the fine people who work at McDonalds, who provide a wonderful service).
   So is it worth it?
   The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said so on the Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday night. He acknowledged the problems and difficulties with student loan debt, but insisted a college education is still the best answer to having a better life... at least monetarily.
   And he's probably right.
   As Dylan Rattigan pointed out Wednesday as well on the MSNBC program, NOW, with Alex Wagner, the price of learning is now the lowest in history, yet the cost of an education in the United States is probably the highest, the payment of which benefits for profit universities and other educational systems as we've discussed. I agree. I've learned a great deal about politics and how the political world works since 2004 when I became actively interested in politics (my critics might say I haven't learned squat) all on my own with the help of political radio programs initially, then cable T.V. news, and the Internet, and old fashioned books, for a negligible cost, all without the benefit of a college education. I feel that now I'm fairly conversant in regards to this subject, as well as some others, and I feel confident enough to declare I can debate anyone, anytime, about politics and the system of government in this nation, including those with B.A.s or Masters, or PhDS. And I'll hold my own because truth and beauty are always on my side.
   Yet I would not be able to get a job here at Skid Row Housing Trust as a case manager because I lack a college degree. That's what students are paying for, not the education, you can get that anywhere, but for that little piece of paper that basically states the person who owns it had the wherewithal to make it to class occasionally and pass enough tests to graduate.
   Maybe that system needs to change... that requirement.
   House Republicans now say they will vote to keep the lower interest rates later today, paying for it by raiding the health care law, (the Prevention and Public Health Fund specifically, which contains billions of dollars aimed at encouraging people to take better care of themselves, thereby saving money down the road), denying services to those who most need them.
   They just love to sabotage Obama's health care any chance they get.
   These people are unconscionable. Rep. Paul Ryan just got spanked by Catholic Bishops for his budget, which they found morally objectionable due to the fact that it basically screws the poor while giving more tax breaks to the rich. Republicans in Congress just don't get it, because they can't, being sociopaths and all.
   Sen. Reid's plan is to pay for it by closing a corporate tax loophole that allows certain businesses to avoid payroll taxes by gaming the tax system. Closing the “John Edwards loophole,” named after the former senator who used it while practicing law, would raise enough revenue to offset the $6 billion cost of extending the current interest rate.
   We'll see what happens.
   As for my own opinion, which Social Democrat Thomm Hartmann and I agree, I think that since educating our young people will benefit the country as a whole in the long run, we as a nation should do everything we can to educate as many people who want to get educated, for as much as they can stand... for free.
   Oh, my God! But that's socialist! (and "snobish" according to former presidential candidate, Rick Santorum) That's not the way capitalism works! Should everyone get everything for free, or rather, paid for by American tax payers?! Are we going to be like those European countries, those commie bastards.
   Why yes.
   And "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
   Neither will labels. Not if the substance behind those labels work!
   Educating our young people, like any other part of the country's commons, it's infrastructure, should be nurtured and developed, because at the end of the day it benefits everyone.
   Even sociopathic republicans.

Addendum: The House of Representatives have just passed the Student Loan bill (approximately 12:30PM PST) which keeps interest rates at 3.4% interest. However, the White House has threatened to veto this version due to the republican's insistence it be funded by buts in the president's healthcare act. Fortunately we still have over a month to come to some consensus and get this bill passed.

Is This Really News?

                                           One Day

 Looking through my Email at the Yahoo site, I often look at the six or seven news stories that Yahoo features on it's opening page. Yesterday I noticed this story featured, entitled, "Karl Rove-linked group Crossroads slams ‘cool’ Obama," by Oliver Knox, of something called The Ticket.
   It can be found right here:
   It basically and simply announced that Karl Rove's (you remember him, George W. Bush's hatchet man, and one of the guys responsible for outing Valerie Plame, an active covert agent of the CIA, because her husband wrote an op-ed disagreeing with the White House's version of reality) super PAC, American Crossroads, began running this ad:! 
   "Four years ago America elected the biggest celebrity in the world. And America got one cool president," the ad postulates, then starts to blame Obama for the student loan crisis which was largely caused by George W. Bush, and the republicans in Congress.
   At the very end the ad asks this: "After 4 years of a celebrity president is your life any better?"
   Yes, it is.
   That is my simple reply to this simple ad.
   The middle class is paying less in payroll taxes, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women was enacted, health care for 40 million Americans became available who otherwise would not have had it if not for the President, the head of Al Qaeda who was responsible for the 9/11 attack is now residing at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, combat troops have left Iraq, and we averted a national depression, among other things.
   Yes, we are better off. Substantially and demonstrably.  
   The above ad is solely political propaganda, pure and simple. And we're going to see a whole bunch more of these types of ads which are designed to influence the minds of voters to vote for their particular candidate, and knowing this, should be summarily ignored. Ads from every side should be ignored.
   The question of this post is this. Is the running of this ad news?
   The traitor Karl Rove runs a new ad and Oliver Knox feels the necessity to write a small piece about it. Okay, I'm fine with that. But then Yahoo News feels that story is important enough to feature it on it's main Email site which is used by millions of people every day. Does this story really merit this type of publicity.
   What's next? "Karl Rove scratched his fluffy, white derriere at 7:36AM!" making the headlines.
   Come on Yahoo! If your going to report the news report things that are actually news worthy.
   Just saying.

 Addendum: Since I posted this entry this morning, many in the media have commented on this ad. Donald Trump said it was so bad he first thought it was produced by the Democrats, and that it projected the President as being larger than life and drew attention to Obama's popularity. Our friend, the ever lovely, Stephanie Miller, thanked Karl for the ad, stating the Democrats should probably run the same ad answering the end caption: "After 4 years of a celebrity president is your life any better?" as I did... "Yes." and listing the same accomplishments listed above (plus all the others), demonstrating what the Republicans don't seem to understand... that Americans don't mind having a cool or popular president who can also successfully lead the country, in other words, one who can walk and chew gum at the same time, a concept Karl and his republican minions can't seem to grasp.
   Thanks Karl. Keep up the good work!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Carol Bernett!

   It is my great honor, privilege, and pleasure to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my favorite comedians and actresses, and people, Ms. Carol Burnett!
   And I might as well do it today as it happens to actually be her birthday.
   Carol Creighton Burnett was born at a very early age, and at 4:00AM CST precisely, which would be 2:00AM where I live, and 6:00PM in Japan. She was born in San Antonio, Texas... well, I suppose one can't help where one is born. San Antonio is of course, the seventh largest city in the nation, and the scene of the Battle of the Alamo, which took place from February 23rd to March 6th, in 1836, where John Wayne and Billy Bob Thorton, and approximately 182–257 Texans were brutally killed by the Mexican Army during the Texas Revolution.
   The Texans would get the Mexicans back 31 days later at the Battle of San Jacinto.
   As far as I know Carol had nothing whatsoever to do with either battle.
   She's a pacifist. 
   Her mom, Ina Louise, was a publicity writer for movie studios, and her dad, Joseph Thomas, a manager of a movie theater, so Carol was born into the business, you might say.
   Unfortunately her parents both suffered from the same disease I have suffered from, addiction, to alcohol primarily, and Carol spent a good deal of time with her grandmother, Mabel Eudora White (One of Carol's trademarks, if you will, is her tugging at her ear at the end of each episode of the Carol Burnett Show, which she says was a message to her grandmother. This was done to let her know that she was doing well and that she loved her. Ms. White passed away during the shows run). 
   Her parents divorced, and she and her grandmother moved to Hollywood, near where her mother lived, in a boarding house with her younger half-sister Chrissy.
   At one time she worked as an usherette at what is now the Hollywood Pacific Theater, on Hollywood Blvd, near Cahuenga. The story goes that one night, the movie playing was Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" (1951), a film Carol had enjoyed very much. She advised a late arriving couple to wait until the next show, because the film was so good it should be seen from beginning to end. The manager of the theater heard her say this and made a big deal about firing her on the spot, ripping the epaulets off her uniform.
   Decades later, when she was to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she was asked by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce where she would like it placed. Carol asked that her star be placed in front of the Pacific. The star is at 6433 Hollywood Blvd.
   Revenge is oh so sweet.
   After graduating from Hollywood High School in 1951, Carol won a scholarship to UCLA, in Westwood where she initially planned on studying journalism. During her first year of college, she switched to theater arts and English, thinking about becoming a playwright. She found she had to take an acting course to enter the playwright program.
   "I wasn't really ready to do the acting thing, but I had no choice."
   During her first performance she improvised.
   "Don't ask me why, but when we were in front of the audience, I suddenly decided I was going to stretch out all my words and my first line came out 'I'm baaaaaaaack!'"
The audience responded:
    "They laughed and it felt great. All of a sudden, after so much coldness and emptiness in my life, I knew the sensation of all that warmth wrapping around me. I had always been a quiet, shy, sad sort of girl and then everything changed for me. You spend the rest of your life hoping you'll hear a laugh that great again."
   And here's one for the books. In 1954, during her junior year, a professor invited Carol and some other students to perform at a formal party. Afterwards, as she was abscond... steal... relieved the host of the burden of ownership of some cookies she was placing in her purse to take home for her grandmother, John Beresford Tipton, Jr and his wife approached her and complimented her  performance and asked about her future plans. She told him that she wanted to try her luck with musical comedy theater in New York, but did not have enough money. Tipton offered her and her boyfriend each a $1000 interest-free loan on the spot. The conditions were that it was to be paid back in five years, his name was never to be revealed, and if she became a success, she would help others attain their dreams. Carol took him up on his offer, and off to New York she went.
   Oh gee, I realize now I have revealed Carol's benefactors name. Well, it can't be helped now.
   That same year her father died of causes related to his alcoholism.
   The next year she would marry that boyfriend, Don Saroyan. They would divorce in 1962.
   In New York Carol worked for a while as an hat check girl. In 1955 she got a job as the girlfriend of a ventriloquist’s dummy on the popular "Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show." This led to a co-starring role opposite Buddy Hackett in the short-lived sitcom "Stanley" from 1956 to 1957, which was one of the very last sit-coms that was broadcast live.
   After that she was unemployed for a few months, then became a popular performer on the New York circuit of cabarets and night clubs, most notably for a hit parody number called "I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles," who was the current Secretary of State. She performed this number on "The Tonight Show," with Jack Parr, and "The Ed Sullivan Show," gaining more and more national exposure.
   She gained success on Broadway in the musical, "Once Upon A Mattress," originating the role of Princess Winnifred, in 1959. The same year she became a regular on "The Garry Moore Show," (who I happened to meet once. I'm not allowed to say where) a  job that lasted until 1962.
   She won her first Emmy that year for her "Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series" on that show. Ms. Burnett portrayed a number of characters, most memorably the put-upon cleaning woman who would later become her signature alter-ego. Of course this experience got her interested in doing her own variety show, and had to have been the precursor to "The Carol Burnett Show."
   Carol finally became a headliner when she appeared in the 1962 special "Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall," co-starring her good friend Julie Andrews. The show was written by Mike Nichols (who received a 2003 Kennedy Center Honor, along with Carol)  and Ken Welch.
   During this time Carol guest starred on a number of T.V.  shows, including "The Twilight Zone" episode "Cavender is Coming" and a recurring role on  "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.". She  became good friends with Jim Nabors of Gomer, who would be her first guest on her own variety show, and who she considered good luck. This would cause her to invite Jim as the first guest every season.
   And here's another one for the books. After appearing several times as a guest on Lucille Ball's "The Lucy Show," they became friends and Lucy a mentor to Carol. Lucy even offered Carol her own sit-com produced by Desilu Productions. But Carol, wanting to explore the possibility of her own variety show, turned her down.
   The two remained close friends until Lucy's death in 1989. Ball sent flowers to Carol every year on her birthday. When Carol woke on her birthday in 1989, she learned of Lucy's death that morning. Later that afternoon, sure enough, flowers arrived at Carol's house with the note "Happy Birthday, Kid. Love, Lucy."
   The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) didn't want to do it. They did not want Carol to do a variety show because they believed only men could be successful at variety, but her contract required that they give her one season of whatever kind of show she wanted to make.
   The men were wrong.
   As they often are.
   On September 11, 1967, "The Carol Burnett Show" debuted. It was an hour long variety / sketch comedy television program starring Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman (of "Blazing Saddles," fame) Vicki Lawrence (of "Mama's Family," fame), Lyle Waggoner (of "Wonder Woman," fame), and Tim Conway (of "McHale's Navy"). It became an instant sensation, and earned 25 Emmy Awards during its 11-year run. It allowed Carol to fire off a wide range of comedy and musical numbers, in which she parodied movies, commercials, and people, such as movie icons  Gloria Swanson, Shirley Temple, Vivien Leigh and Joan Crawford, or singing alongside favorite vocalists like  Jim Nabors, Steve Lawrence, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé. She brought on stars not known at all for slapstick comedy, including Rock Hudson and then Governor Ronald Reagan while providing a platform for new talent such as Bernadette Peters and The Pointer Sisters, which I might add, fulfilled her promise to Tipton.
   Here's some random clips:
With Robin Williams:
With Harvey and Tim:
With everybody:
   "I think the hardest thing to do in the world, show-business-wise, is write comedy. We had a great staff of writers, and if we had a sketch we were rehearsing and it wasn't working, we'd call the writers down and show them what we had come up with. And there were no egos. In eleven  years, we never had a writer get angry because we made it a little bit more of our own and maybe a little improved. They would jump in and say, "Oh okay, how about this then, while you're doing that?" We were all in the sandbox together."
   Carol opened most shows with a question and answer session with the audience (first clip above). One time she was asked who her favorite actor was. She replied, "Anthony Hopkins - you know, the little English guy?"
   That was way before Hannibal Lector.
   The show was taped from CBS Television City's Studio 33 (known today as the Bob Barker Studio), in Studio City, where Erin, Paul, Erin's best friend Julie, and I (and a whole bunch of other people) went to attend "The Price is Right," one time. 
   We didn't get in.
   "The Carol Burnett Show" was ranked #16 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time in 2002, and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All Time."
   After 278 episodes, "The Carol Burnett Show" ceased production in March of 1978, and is generally regarded as the last successful major network prime-time variety show.
   "I'm glad I was born when I was. My time was the golden age of variety. If I were starting out again now, maybe things would happen for me, but it certainly would not be on a variety show with 28 musicians, 12 dancers, two major guest stars, 50 costumes a week by Bob Mackie. The networks just wouldn't spend the money today."
   Which is sad.
   Ms. Burnett appeared other vehicles during and after "The Carol Burnett Show," among them, "Pete 'n' Tillie," in 1972, with Walter Matthau , as a woman battling alcoholism in "Life of The Party: The Story of Beatrice." "The Four Seasons," with Alan Alda, "Annie," directed by John Houston, and starring Carol, Tim Curry, and Bernadette Peters, and one of my favorite comedies, "Noises Off," with Michael Caine, John Ritter, Christopher Reeve, Nicollette Sheridan, our friend Marilu Henner, Denholm Elliott (in his final performance before his death), and Julie Hagerty.
   By golly, she's been in so many movies I watched her just last night in the epic 1986 television mini-series "Fresno," which stars Carol and a whole bunch of other people... mostly actors.
   Here's a clip of what I watched:
   Carol was the first celebrity to appear on the children's series "Sesame Street," on that series' first episode on November 10th, 1969. How many people can say that I ask you? Not many.
   She's done loads of other stuff too, like appearing on the game show "Password," for years and years, and on the soap, "All My Children," which was a favorite of hers.
   She got married again the year after she got divorced, and had three daughters. She was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for appearing on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," an episode I happened to catch recently since they play Law and Order about a 100 freaking times a day on basic cable. 
   So she likes to keep busy, you know, it helps pass the time.
   I love this about Carol, she was always open to her fans, never refusing to give an autograph, and has limited patience for "Those who've made it, then complain about loss of privacy."
   She has received a Peabody Award, the 2003 Kennedy Center Honors, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, A special Tony Award, was nominated 17 times for a Golden Globe Award and won 5 times, and was nominated 23 times for an Emmy and won 6!
   And all of us here at Joyce's Take love her, and wish her continued good health and fortune for her, her family, friends, and anybody else she may happen to meet today, but most of all, a very happy birthday!
   Happy Birthday Carol!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ann Romney Hasn't Worked a Freaking Day In Her Life! Three

   I heard a lot of accusations and statements of fact in the above clip without there actually being any facts cited to back them up.
   In other words Ted Nugent is pulling it all out of his fat, blubbery ass.
   What I find fascinating about the clip however, is all of the vapid morons who are standing around lapping up his insane dribble.
   This is the Fox News audience.
   This is the Limbaugh audience.
   These people are lemmings who need to be led. They need someone to tell them what to do so they can feel safe.
   But we'll talk about the Republican / Democratic mind set pretty soon.
   Oh, and by the way, there is no Democrat Party. The Republicans all like to call it that as some sort of infantile snub. But I've heard some progressive commentators begin to use the term, and they shouldn't. It is the Democratic Party.
   You keep this up republicans and we'll start calling you guys what you should be called, the Sociopathic Party.
   According to the right-wingers at Fox, they can't see anything wrong or worrisome about what Nugent said. Mike Huckabee didn't hear anything the least bit threatening at all! I guess a guy who fries squirrels in popcorn poppers would think little about chopping a few heads off.
   I see a certain disparity in the way the media reacts to right-wing attacks against democrats and the president, and those made by progressive surrogates, even if unintentionally, because unintentional comments carry as much weight as intentional comments to the republicans and the media. Hilary Rosen never said she was against stay at home mothers, and said so repeatedly, but the media let republicans frame the issue as if she had.
   Why? It's good for business (ratings). You have a 24 hour news cycle (except for MSNBC of course, which believes we need to know more about what is going on inside of prisons on Friday nights and the weekends) that constantly needs to be fed, and a good manufactured "controversy" is a good a way as any.
   But it's strange. The media doesn't seem to care about it the other way around, when right-wingers make horrific statements about democrats, the president and his family, and progressives. How weird. One would think right-wing controversies should be great for ratings too, shouldn't they?
   Yes they should. that's why it strange that the media is not making very much about Mr. Nugent's blathering, in comparison to Ms. Rosens gentle statement of truth.
   I don't know, maybe I'm crazy and all of those drugs I did in the 70s are catching up to me. Let's compare, shall we?
   Yes, we shall.
   Once again, here's what Hilary Rosen said:
"Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life."


Ted Nugent calling President Barack Obama "a piece of shit" who should "suck on my machine gun."

   Whoooooa! Gee willikers! I detect a certain disparity in... in... vehemence, to say the least.
   Perhaps we have taken Mr. Nugent out of context here, and we don't wish to be harsh in our judgment.
   Let's check again:

   Nope. It seems we did get the context right, and the subtly. Mr. Nugent didn't have very many nice things to say about any democrats at all, did he?. One might get the idea he doesn't like them very much.
   That was back in 2007 before Obama was president (election night 2008 must have been bad for Ted). Yes, I know what your thinking, that was a long time ago Rick. What's the big deal?
   The republican embrace of what he said is a big deal. Can you imagine what kind of outcry would result if a somewhat prominent democratic surrogate said anything like that?
   The republicans would first implode, then explode, like our sun is going to do in 5 billion years, and they'd love every minute of it.
   Plus the recent remarks in the first clip, they're not only offensive and crude, they are incendiary as well, especially given the fact that he's saying this at an NRA conference with all of those lemmings around who one would guess, own guns.
   True, the first clip has garnered some media attention, especially on MSNBC and Current TV, which tend to be more progressive than others networks, yet why hasn't the other mainstream media outlets brought the same amount of attention as they did Rosen's?
   Who knows? Perhaps there is a vast right-wing media conspiracy directed against our president. There has been discussions that through all of the media attention paid to the republicans throughout their primary process, who were bashing each other, and Obama, more or less constantly for months, that the president was the one who came out of the whole thing with most of the bad publicity.
   And since we lacked a democratic primary process this year, that's probably true.
   However, the president and his minions haven't helped themselves much. Here's the Romny's campaign response to what Nugent said: "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil." 
   That statement doesn't really do anything to distance themselves from Nugent. It doesn't even mention him! It does get a little dig in at the president, implying Obama is making similar "divisive" remarks.
   What was Obama's response to Rosen's statement?
   "First of all, there is no tougher job than being a mom. I've watched Michelle, who for most of her career had juggled work and family. but there were times she was on maternity leave and I promise you that's work. That was an ill-advised statement by somebody on television. It's not something I subscribe to. My general rule is, you don't talk about the spouses of elected officials because they've got a really tough job. They're out there supporting their husband or wife who's chosen to serve in the public eye. I think they're off-limits. So on both counts it was the wrong thing to say and I haven't met Mrs. Romney but she seems like a wonderful woman and I know she's devoted her life to her family."
   So he threw Rosen under the proverbial bus, and as fast as possible. In this he was a spineless little weeblewobble.
   And if Ann Romney is out there stumping for her husband, sorry, she's fair game. If she doesn't want to get criticized she should stay at home and take care of Tagg.
   Speaking of which, there has been a recent House Democratic proposal, Women’s Option to Raise Kids Act, (WORK) a bill that would consider women who are raising children under the age of three as "working" under the rules applied to allow her to continue to receive government assistance. The republican response to the Rosen statement indicated that republicans, including Mitt (Mitt) considered motherhood and raising young children as real work.
   So they should embrace the WORK bill... right?
   After Mitt stated "All moms are working moms."
   "Well, I agree," Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said of Romney's comment.
   And then: "It's a stretch. It's a stretch. It's a stretch," Mica told The Huffington Post, when told about the WORK Act.
   "It is work, but it isn't work in the normal sense that you would qualify for those kind of benefits," he said.
   Did he understand that stay at home moms are working too, and that should be counted when applying for benefits?
   "I see the argument. Yeah," he said. "But it doesn't pass the test."
   What test? And who's giving it?
   Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who is running for Senate, called the Democratic bill "disgusting."
   "Frankly, the idea that Democrats are doing something like this is disgusting," Mack said. "That being said, we should honor women not only for the work they do outside the home, but for the hard work at home."
   Huuh? What the freak is he talking about? We should honor moms who take care of their kids at home, just not allow them to do it when they get into hard times, by not counting the honorable work they do as work.
   Now that's disgusting.
   On and on. Here's the article from the lovely Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post which describes all of this blatant republican hypocrisy: 
   And lastly, let's get back to Ann, and her endearing sensitivity.
   I've actually had to wait until today to write this post in order for Ann Romney to make this statement last Monday night at the Connecticut Republican Party’s Prescott Bush Awards Dinner: After discussing how she understands the challenges mothers face, Annie said, "I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids. Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn’t easy for any of us."
   She loves that women are talking about deficit spending and the economy (lie), and now she loves that hundreds of thousands of women don't have the choice that she had.
   Ann Romney loves a lot of things it seems, all of them either a lie, or just weird and condescending.
   And she still hasn't worked a freaking day in her life!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Government Behaving Badly

   As I monitored the Sunday morning news programs last Sunday, as is my custom (I used to be an avid watcher of NBCs "Meet the Press," but with David Gregory at the helm now, and his propensity to not call his guests out on lies, or his not bothering to check facts, or his allowing republicans to filibuster... I don't watch so much anymore), the GSA and Secret Service so-called scandals were the lead stories on every show.
   As Cenk Uygur points out in the second clip above (along side the lovely and erudite Ana Kasparian, who graduated from California State University, Northridge in 2007, so she's actually a San Fernando Valley Girl I'm happy to say. All of us here at Joyce's Take love Ana. Watch her here take on Greg Gutfeld who ridicules NOW:! Fiesty!) the republicans in Congress, and the Republican Noise Machine are trying to blame President Obama for these failures. And it is true that the captain of a ship should be held responsible for the deeds for his crew, and everything that goes on on the ship, but that's what they have Captain's Mast for, to discipline crew members who have broken the rules, and I should know, I've been through a few myself. So, as the president has promised, these matters will be looked into (and I'm sure the republican's will insist, this being an election year, and all) and dealt with appropriately.
   But the republicans can and will go to the extreme (this being an election year, and all). As my friend Bill Press, of The Bill Press Show (now on Current T.V. every weekday morning from 6:00AM to 9:00AM EST), Obama will next be blamed for it raining in Washington D.C. over the weekend (if indeed it did rain, and if it didn't he be blamed for that).
   But the attention paid to these incidents by the media, I think, is severely disproportionate to the alleged infractions.
   For those subterranean rock dwellers who don't know anything about this let me briefly provide an overview of what all of the fuss is about.
   The General Services Administration (GSA) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 under President Truman to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA consists of two major services: the Public Buildings Service (PBS) and the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). "The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops government-wide cost-minimizing policies, and other management tasks." -Wikipedia
   So, in effect, one of the GSA's duties is to cut costs for the entire federal government. That is why, when it was discovered that GSA Western Regional Commissioner Jeffrey Neeley (pictured above) organized an October 2010 trip to Las Vegas where the bill totaled $820,000 for an extravagant conference for its employees, which included $100,405.37 for the ‘pre-meeting-meeting, $5,600 for 3 private in-room parties, $79,511 for ‘light’ refreshments and beverages, $31,208 for a ‘networking’ reception, $44 per person for breakfast everyday (in Vegas?! You can get breakfast free in Vegas), $30,208 ($95 per person) for reception and dinner each night, $75,000 Team building exercises – in which bikes were assembled to donate to a Boy’s and Girl’s club, $6,325 for commemorative coins to give to every participant, etc., all at taxpayers expense, there was a twidge of an uproar.
   At least they didn't plan on keeping the bikes.
   Neely, who was put on administrative leave last month, is being investigated for other actions like personal trips labeled as official business and billed to the government as well. He repeatedly cited the 5th Amendment reserving his right not to incriminate himself when brought before the U.S. House House Oversight Committee.
   The Secret Service (the United States federal law enforcement agency charged with protecting  current and former national leaders and their families, such as the President, past Presidents, Vice Presidents, presidential candidates, foreign embassies; and protecting our currency from counterfeiting and fraud) scandal involved 11 Secret Service members and 10 military personnel accused of bringing up to 21 women back to their hotel in Cartagena, Columbia, three days prior to President Obama delivered remarks at the Summit of the Americas, earlier this month. It has been determined that none of the prostitutes were underage. Prostitution is legal in Columbia, so technically no one was breaking the law, and probably everything would have gone unnoticed if not for a business dispute between one Secret Service member who refused to pay the young lady pictured above the agreed upon price for her services, wherein the police were called and the incident brought to light. That's one dumb Secret Service member.
   At no time was the president's life put in danger over this, however, there may have been sensitive security documents or information that was unsecured during this incident with potential problems resulting, or maybe not. Still, this type of behavior is considered unacceptable for those U.S. agents involved, hence the big scandal, which of course the republicans will attempt to politicize to the best of their advantage, it being an election year and all. Several Secret Service members have already been dismissed.
   Republican Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told "Meet The Press," Sunday, that "anyone who is found to be guilty" of misconduct ahead of President Obama's trip to Colombia last weekend will be fired.
   "There are many, many agents in Colombia interviewing the women involved, interviewing the hotel employees," King said. "There [are] hundreds of Colombian police assisting the Secret Service in this. So it's going all out and from every indication I've seen from the moment this scandal broke until now, there's no attempt to cover anything over. Everything--every lead--possible lead is being examined."
   Really. How much tax payer money is being spent investigating these working ladies? And what do the investigators hope to find that they haven't already?
   "But chances are there were previous instances of misconduct, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa told "Meet The Press." "Nobody believes that something with eleven or twelve people involved couldn't have happened before," Issa said. "The real point is will we have confidence that it'll never happen again, particularly foreign nationals having access to our men and women in, in, in the Secret Service. That's the important part that the director is working on. Yes, these were prostitutes, which is awful and salacious, but they were also foreign nationals."
   Nobody believes this hasn't happened before? How presumptuous of Rep. Issa. I certainly could believe it given some evidence, and why shouldn't I? Clearly Rep. Issa, who is by no means as pure as the driven snow himself ("We are busy in Washington with a corrupt government, with a government that I said more than a year ago was perhaps -- because of the money, because of the amount of TARP and stimulus funds -- was going to be the most corrupt government in history, and it is proving to be that, just exactly that," Issa said in a Bloomberg television interview. I guess he's forgetting he is a part of that government. And he's right. The government is corrupt. We've discussed this before, dear readers. But it is not the Executive branch that is corrupt. Rather it is the Legislative Branch, Congress, of which Issa is a leader, that is ripe with corruption. Issa is projecting his own corruption onto the Obama Administration, a favored republican tactic), is intimating that President Obama has let this agency run amok, and that he will see to it that it won't happen again.
   Thanks Darrell!
   On ABC's "This Week," Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a ranking member of the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, wondered aloud whether more female agents within the Secret Service's ranks would deter such bad behavior.
   "I can't help but wonder if there'd been more women as part of that detail if this ever would have happened," Collins said, calling for the agency to recruit more women and minorities.
   I'm wondering why she would consider this. Does she believe that the presence of female agents would have a mitigating influence on the 21 drunken men involved?
   Possibly. Who knows? I certainly don't. All I can say is that I hope women in the Secret Service  are treated better than their counterparts in the armed services (rape).
   Alright, I do not condone the actions of the GSA or the Secret Service and military members involved in these incidents.
   Having said that it seems to me that the republicans, and Congress in general, the media, and the executive branch which would probably include the president, has let other scandals slide that more than likely are of a greater magnitude than these two, and deserve vastly more scrutiny than they have received. Indeed, they are hardly ever mentioned and are kind of swept under the old rug as fast as possible.
   Let's start out with an easy one, and obvious. The federal government, and by that I mean the U.S. taxpayer, subsidizes oil companies to the tune of $4 to $7 billion dollars a year. That's about 11 million dollars a day, and as Kurt Vonnegut would say if he were here, "Sunday's too!" Companies like BP, Exxon, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, are given billions to simply keep doing business as usual and make record profits on top of the subsidiaries. Why?
   Subsidies may have been a good idea a hundred years ago when they were first implemented, but they are surely not needed now, as oil corporations are all grown up and can take care of themselves. Asked why the subsidies should continue, indeed why the republicans have voted recently to continue them, they say, ending them would not affect the price of gasoline at the pump (so what?), that it amounts to a tax hike (so what?), and that it is unfair to punish one particular industry by cutting off their free money (huuh?). The fact is that the oil industries own Congress and they want the subsidies to continue, and lobby for it, and they get what they want... more of our cash.
   So according to the republicans, giving away billions to Exxon is perfectly alright, but giving hundreds a month to stay at home moms on welfare is a no no.
   What's next? Military procurement, that's what.
   There seem to be some programs, and military hardware that the pentagon no longer wants, but Congress insists they have.
   For example, "the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, ordered for the Marine Corps. This military program is not yet operational, but it’s been promised for a very, very long time. The initial order for the Marine Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was placed by the Pentagon back when Ronald Reagan was President and the Soviet Union was feared as an enemy. With an entire generation gone by, however, military contractor,  General Dynamics has yet to deliver. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle is now strategically out-of-date and militarily unnecessary. The Pentagon has concluded that the vehicles simply are not needed.
   If congressional Republicans really cared about cutting spending, they would be working in cooperation with the Pentagon to end the boondoggle. They’re not. One by one, prominent Republicans are lining up to defend the wasteful spending." -Irregular Times
   Why? Because republicans believe money needs to be siphoned to military contractors, because military contractors own Congress, the contractors want the programs to continue, they lobby for it (expecially members whose districts are home to contractors who employee their constituents), and they get what they want, more tax payer dollars spent for... things we don't need.
   That's a scandal if you ask me, and nothing less.
   What kind of money are we talking about here?
   As Dr. Carl Sagan never said, "Billions and billions."
   Let's get into the trillions, shall we. The government now projects that the total cost to develop, buy and operate the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be $1.51 trillion over the next 50-plus years, or $618 million per plane, according to the Pentagon. The new estimate, based on calculations made by the Cost Assessment Program Evaluation (CAPE) office, includes operating and maintenance costs of $1.11 trillion, including inflation, and development and procurement costs of $332 billion for the aircraft, plus $63.8 billion for the engine. The F-35 has been in development for over 11 years, with some estimates of a trillion already spent, with not one plane to show for it. That's a scandal.
   And last but certainly not least, Iraq and Afghanistan.
   The most recent major report on the total costs for the "wars" in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan come from Brown University in the form of the Costs of War project from last February, and are estimated at least $3.2  to 4 trillion dollars. And that's just the dollars. There's a significant amount of loss of life involved.
   All three of these actions were unnecessary. The Talaban would have handed Osama Bin Laden to us if the Bush administration had handled it correctly. If we weren't in Afghanistan we wouldn't be in Pakistan. They wanted to go to war instead. That's a scandal.
   Iraq was unnecessary all together.
   We're still spending anywhere from $190 to $300 million a day in Afghanistan for no discernable reason, except to feed military contractors. That's a scandal.
   At the start of the Iraq war the Pentagon flew over cargo planes filled with bricks of hundred dollar bills, about 100 billion worth to begin reconstruction. About $6.6 billion of that simply disappeared, presumed stolen!
   $6.6 billion!  Where's the outrage? Where's the investigation?
   According to the Commission on Wartime Contracting's final report to Congress, $31 to $60 billion plus has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan.
   $31 to $60 billion ("a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money")! Where's the outrage!? Where's the investigation?
   And why did the law that created the Commission on Wartime Contracting also dictate that it end it's activities at the end of last September? We don't need to know about this kind of thing anymore?
   I know it's an election year and all, but when we get all in a huff over the GSA and Secret Service, we need to keep in mind a larger picture.
   A picture of the things that those who are in power don't want you to see or think about.
   A picture of slight of hand, lies, deceit, and omissions, a picture of how our government really works.