Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Horse Racing with Big Mitch

Here’s what you need to know:

In trial heats, Giuliani beats Clinton (47-40), and McCain also beats Clinton (47-39).

John Edwards polls about the same as Clinton. He loses to Guiliani (46-40) and to McCain (47-38).

But Obama beats Giuliani (46-40), and he also beats McCain (44-40).

Mit Romney loses convincingly to all three Democrats.

Results are from Zogby America Poll. Feb. 22-24, 2007. The margin of error is +/- 3.

My view is that anyone of these Dems can beat the pants off of McCain or Giuliani. But for candidates other than Barack Obama, it’s an uphill battle.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, February 25, 2007

An Open Letter to Prince Harry from my Pride and Joy

Dear Prince,

I'm not sure if you read my father's blog or not, but after I read of your impending deployment I figured I just had to write.

It's good to see political scions in uniform—provided, as I’m sure you’ve had time to consider, that it’s a uniform from an Allied power. On this side of the pond, we’ve been seeing a bumper sticker reading “Draft Jenna,” a reference to our commander-in-chief’s daughter. The underlying sentiment, I think, is that if those in power had to think about putting their own kids in harm’s way, they wouldn’t be so quick to wage war.

I love my country, but I won’t enlist in support of a war that has, to my way of thinking, been conducted with neither foresight nor accountability. And if you do read Big Mitch’s blog, you’ve read that, mirabile dictu, he’s given a thought or two about a draft, if only to make our leaders think twice about sending young men and women to die.

My Pop says, “War is hell.” Men and women who return from it -- even those who bear no physical wounds -- are often scarred by the horrors of what they must do and what they observe. What effect will war produce on you? Of course, we pray for your safe return, just as we pray for the safe return of every one of our own brave troops. May it also be God's will that your experience fortifies you as a spokesman for peace.

I’ll send you off with a quote from another famous Harry: “Be copy now to men of grosser blood, and teach them how to war.” By “men of grosser blood,” I do not mean the brave British troops under your command, nor my own countrymen overseas. I mean the cowards who hold power in America, who keep their families safe at home while they profit from sending members of my generation to die.

Godspeed … and tell ’em Young Ike sent you!


Ike Schapira

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another old joke revisited

Faithful readers of this space know I like to revisit old jokes when they become timely. See for example: here, and here. Well, here we go again.

First, the old joke:

“Did you hear they cancelled Easter this year? It’s true. They found the body!”

Now for the update, as reported in Time magazine:
In a new documentary, Producer [James] Cameron, [he, of Titanic fame,] and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, make the starting claim that Jesus wasn’t resurrected --the cornerstone of Christian faith-- and that his burial cave was discovered near Jerusalem. And, get this, Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.
According to the article, cleverly entitled, “Jesus: Tales from the Crypt,” one of the tombs within the burial cave is inscribed “Jesua, son of Joseph.” I would say that undermines another cornerstone of the Christian faith.

Cameron's film will be shown soon on Discovery Channel, Britain’s Channel 4, Canada’s Vision, and Israel’s Channel 8.

Too bad that he’s already used the line: "I’m the king of the world!"

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, February 23, 2007

From MoveOn.com

Subject: It's time to take on Fox


I wanted to tell you about something pretty outrageous.

Fox News convinced the Democratic Party to let Fox host a nationally-televised Democratic presidential primary debate this summer in Nevada!

But Fox isn't even a legitimate news channel! It's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh—dedicated to smearing Democrats. (Recently, Fox falsely claimed Sen. Barack Obama attended a terrorist school!)

There's a growing backlash of people demanding that Democrats drop Fox. Can you help out by signing this petition to the Democratic Party of Nevada? It's really easy—just click here.


"... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights. (Robert Service)

In the late ‘70s, I had a pal who purchased an abandoned mining site about 27 miles north of Fairbanks Alaska. He aimed to make it a lodge, but things got in the way. The hope was that he could attract Japanese honeymooners who consider it a portent of good fortune to see the Northern Lights on their wedding night.
Down the road was the Poker Flat Research Range described on its own website as “the world’s only scientific rocket launching facility owned by a university.”

Almost every night, rockets would go up from Poker Flat. I always wondered what it was all about. The answer that always came back was they were studying the Northern Lights. It kind of struck me as strange because, frankly, the Northern Lights may be eerie looking, but there is not a great mystery about what causes them. I figured they were part of a spy program that took a peek over the North Pole at our supposed enemies (in those days, the Russians.)

Anyway, today, AFP is reporting that
The US space agency NASA has launched its first five-satellite mission on board a single rocket aiming to unlock the age-old mysteries of the aurora borealis.

The two-year mission, dubbed THEMIS -- an acronym for Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms -- was launched successfully late Saturday after a 24-hour delay, NASA said in a statement.
Maybe I am getting a little hypersensitized to being lied to, or maybe I am just suspicious by nature. But here’s what we know so far.

They have been studying the Aurora Borealis for 30 years or so, and now NASA announces a “new” program. The name of the program is THEMIS, which coincidentally is the name of the the Titan who was the goddess of justice, of whom Homer said, “Themis, who looseth and gathereth the meetings of men.” (Odyssey, Book II)

Soon it will be March, named after Mars, the Roman name for the God of War. History teaches us that March is well named, because wars tend to start in that month. And thus it is that the zodiac sign of Aries begins in March, Aries being the Greek name for Mars. Aries, of whom Hesiod, Homer’s contemporary, said, “ally of Themis.”

It’s thirty years later, and I am still wondering what is so interesting about the Northern Lights that justifies so many satellite launchings, each one of which does damage to the ozone layer. I am still wondering if it’s part of a spy program that takes a peek over the North Pole at our supposed enemies. And I am still wondering if I am being lied to.

“… and tell ‘em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pitchers and catchers report

It is widely agreed that the Democrats took over the Senate because the nation wants to be represented by people who will debate, and end the war. Today, the minority party blocked debate on a non-binding resolution of disapproval. Here’s how it worked: according to the rules of the Senate, 60 votes are needed to debate an issue. The majority could only garner 56 votes vs. 34 against debate.

People are dying and it might be a good time some for some hardball. Pitch one is a high inside heater. Here’s how Big Mitch would make it so: First – a procedural vote to change the requirement so that a simple majority can bring an issue to the floor. Anticipate Republican filibuster, but do not move for cloture. Instead, let the Party of Bush filibuster till their heart’s content. The image of Mitch McConnell or Trent Lott reading from a phone book is what this country needs to let them know who is on our side.

What is the game plan of the Party of Bush? They aim to have a vote on a binding resolution that they will not cut off funds for the troops. This gives Dems a Hobson’s choice. Either vote for it, and face the ire of the pacifist wing of the Democratic Party or vote against it, and expose yourself to the plaint that “you voted against supporting the troops in harms way.”

Okay, so the Party of Bush wants to put the Dems in a box. Big Mitch says, we need another brush back pitch, to make the Republican’s jump out of the box.

Let’s have a bill that say they will not cut off the funding for troops. Good start, but it needs a couple of amendments. How about one that says: all funds for the surge will come from a Windfall Profits Tax on military contractors? Or, all funds for the surge will come from a rescission of tax breaks for Republicans? Or, all funds will be matched by funds for veterans’ benefits and medical care. Let’s get some votes on the record from the Party of Bush!

Now suppose all of those amendments fail. C’est la vie! The Democrats can walk out of the Senate en masse and let the vote proceed. Sure, it will pass, but in order to be binding, it has to pass in the House of Representatives – the People’s House – and Big Mitch is not feeling it. That’s your curve ball that looks like it’s going straight for the head, but breaks over the plate.

At some point, you have to go with what got you there. In the case of the Democratic Senate Majority, it is opposition to the war in general, and the surge in particular. Do you think the Party of Bush could lay off a pitch in the strike zone: a renewed motion for a non-binding resolution expressing disapproval of the surge? Seven Republicans crossed over on today’s vote and joined the Dems to start the debate. I am saying there are three more, who will have just lost confidence in their knees.

You may be thinking this is a lot of work for a resolution that is non-binding but hey, it’s only spring training. The real season starts in less than 6 weeks.

When the first batter steps up to the plate in April, here’s something to be thinking about:

In the first poll conducted for Newsweek since the State of the Union Address, 58 percent of respondents said, “they wish the Bush presidency was simply over.” Nearly 86 percent of Democrats shared that sentiment, compared to 59 percent of Independents, and 21 percent of Republicans. (Source: CNN Political Ticker)

John Conyers is the new Chair of the House’s Judiciary Committee. This is the committee which has jurisdiction over any possible impeachment proceedings. In a shot over President George W. Bush’s bow, Conyers told a peace rally that Bush likes to fire any military advisors who tell him he can’t win the war, but “he can’t fire you [the people]. He can’t fire us [the Congress], but ‘we can fire him.’” With that line a roar went up in the audience. The loud chant began: “Impeach Bush!”

Sure, the Speaker of the House has said that Impeachment is off the table. But it will soon be time to step up to the plate.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bob Novak is a traitor

Robert Novak testified today in the Irv “Scooter” Lewis trial.

Novak, in case you forgot, is the scumbag who outed Valerie Wilson, the covert CIA agent who communicated to her husband that the CIA counter-proliferation division wanted to send him on a mission to Niger because of questions raised by the Office of the Vice President about allegations that Saddam had attempted to purchase yellowcake from that African nation. Novak says that he got the information from two senior Administration officials, namely, Richard Armitage and Karl Rove.

The Huffington Post reports:
He describes his interview of Richard Armitage, which was on background.

He asked Armitage about Wilson’s trip to Niger. He asked Armitage why Wilson was sent. Armitage replied, “Well, it was suggested by his wife Valerie, who was employed by the counter-proliferation division of the CIA.” Armitage referred to her as Valerie, no last name.
(I wrote about Armitage’s role in this in Dick Armitage is a poor excuse last September.)

So the only thing that wasn’t handed to Novak on a silver platter by senior administration officials was Mrs. Wilson’s name, which Novak got wrong.

More importantly, Bob Novak knew that she was a covert operative. The entire counter-proliferation division of the CIA is covert. This is common knowledge in Washington D.C., but even if it weren’t, Novak testified that he talked to Bill Harlow, the CIA spokesperson.

Again, according to the Huffington Post, Novak says, “The use of the word ‘operative’ was his own choice. It didn’t indicate he had any knowledge she was an intelligence operative, he had no information she was covert.”

Big Mitch says, “Bullshit! Bob Novak is a traitor.”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fart Jokes

Let’s face it: the best humor involves fart jokes, and if you don’t agree, you need to loosen up. Take a peak at this howler from Think Progress:
Rep. Rohrabacher: Global Warming May Have Been Caused By ‘Dinosaur Flatulence’

This week, Congress held its first hearing on the landmark IPCC report on climate change. That report concluded that global warming is “unequivocal” and human activity is the main driver, “very likely” causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.

During the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) — one of the 87 percent of congressional Republicans who do not believe in man-made global warming — questioned the authors of the report about a period of dramatic climate change that occured 55 million years ago. “We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?’

Now I like a fart joke as much as the next guy, but there is a serious question hidden within it. Apparently, 87 percent of congressional Republicans have their head so far up their asses that a good dinosaur fart is just like a breath of fresh air.

These people don't agree with the consensus of the scientific community that it is 90 percent certain that human activity is causing global climate change. Suppose they are right even though that sounds like another shitty joke. Do these buffoons also doubt that there is global climate change?

Assume that it is the case that temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting, oceans are rising and low-lying land is headed for inundation as hurricanes grow in intensity and frequency. Now suppose this is a natural phenomenon, the result of 6 billion people exhaling rather than the result of 2 billion people driving gas-guzzlers.

Are these Know-nothings going to shrug their shoulders and say, "Not my fault, man! The one who smelt it dealt it!" Shouldn’t even the oil company toadies in the Party of Bush issue a clarion call for American to harness her ingenuity to solve the problem of global warming? And what would it look like if they did?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, February 09, 2007

How to tell the news from old jokes

Almost a year ago, in The Truth Without Jokes, I wrote:
Several have commented that it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish legitimate news headlines from the ones that appear in the The Onion.
Consider this old story, (as retold by Arthur Naiman, in “Every Goy's Guide to Yiddish”)
Murray and Esther, a middle-aged Jewish couple, are touring Chile. Murray just got a new camera and is constantly snapping pictures. One day, without knowing it, he photographs a top-secret military installation.

In an instant, armed troops surround Murray and Esther and hustle them off to prison. They can’t prove who they are because they’ve left their passports in their hotel room. For three weeks they’re tortured day and night to get them to name their contacts in the liberation movement. Finally they're hauled in front of a military court, charged with espionage, and sentenced to death.

The next morning they’re lined up in front of the wall where they’ll be shot. 

The sergeant in charge of the firing squad asks them if they have any lasts requests. 

Esther wants to know if she can call her daughter in Chicago. 

The sergeant says he’s sorry, that's not possible, and turns to Murray. 

“This is mishagos (craziness)!” Murray shouts. “We're not spies!” And he spits in the sergeants face. 

“Murray!” Esther cries. “Please! Don't make trouble.”
Compare and contrast that with the following news item from the Huffington Post under the headline, “BREMER PAID ‘GHOST EMPLOYEES’ TO AVOID ‘REAL TROUBLE.’”
Paul Bremer told members of Congress today that he was aware that nonexistent “ghost employees” were on America's payroll when he was administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

But because the real employees - who provided security for Iraqi ministries - were “74,000 armed men, it seemed a lesser risk to continue paying” everyone while trying to figure out who was actually showing up for work.

When Davis asked whether any of that money had wound up in the hands of insurgents, Bremer said he didn't know. But “if we stopped paying them, my judgment was we could have real trouble.”
How to tell which one is real, and which one is a joke? It’s simple really. Look at the numbers changing in the column to the right, and ask yourself this: “Which one isn't really funny?”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Memo to Hillary

Need more humor. The “evil men” joke was a good start, but unfortunately it reminded us of what we hated most about Big Dog.

Here’s a suggestion for the next time someone asks you, “Knowing what you know now, would you have voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq?”

Answer: “If I knew then what I knew now, I would have bet everything on Point Given in the 2001 Belmont Stakes.”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What happens when a blogger relies only on the mainstream media

Your faithful correspondent is determined to mine the mainstream media to find news of interest and to provide a unique analysis drawing on my personal political point of view and memories that extend back to the 1960’s. The problem is that the mainstream media often gives short shrift to news items that are inconvenient to their corporate interests. For example, a story that suggests that King George the Incompetent was not fairly elected is bad for business in two ways.

First, take a company like General Electric, one of the largest military contractors in the U.S. and the owner of the National Broadcasting Company. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that bashing Bush is bad for business. And by the way, they got plenty of rocket scientists.

Second, take a company like the Fox network. It is obvious that by being pitchmen for the administration, the reporters have gained access at an unprecedented level. Dumb Dubya got Tony Snow a job, and the rest of us have been getting a snow job ever since.

Nevertheless, every once in a while, I glean little tidbit from some out of the way media source. That’s when my blogger instinct kicks in. For example, I ran across this little nugget in the Seattle Post Intelligencer: Election Staff convicted in recount rig.
CLEVELAND -- Two election workers were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio’s most populous county.

Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee. They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty.

Prosecutors accused Maiden and Dreamer of secretly reviewing preselected ballots before a public recount on Dec. 16, 2004. They worked behind closed doors for three days to pick ballots they knew would not cause discrepancies when checked by hand, prosecutors said.
Though the article makes no mention of it, an accompanying picture shows Rosie Grier, (see below) who was acquitted on all seven counts of various election misconduct or interference charges.

And this is where the perspective of a veteran of the sixties comes in handy. You see, this ex-hippy is old enough to remember Rosie Grier, pictured here (second from left) when he was one of the “Fearsome Foursome,” the only complete defensive line all enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He is also remembered for serving as a bodyguard for his friend, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, although he was hanging with Ethel Kennedy the night that Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968. According to my recollection, it was Rosie who seized the weapon used to shoot RFK. (Others say it was Rafer Johnson.)

The point is that the mainstream media provides no context to how this courageous defender of an icon of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party could ever be suspected of stealing an election for Dumb Dubya.

Let’s review what we know so far. This paragon of toughness was also an ordained minister, and the author of a book called “Needlepoint for Men.” Clearly, he had (shall we say?) a sensitive side. His autobiography is entitled “Rosey: The Gentle Giant.”

But if it weren’t for bloggers like Big Mitch who are willing to look beyond the scant reporting provided by the mainstream media, nobody would ever wonder how he turned into the person shown in the picture that accompanied the Seattle PI article:

Come to think of it, the mainstream media didn’t do a whole helluva lot of reporting about the fact that people were convicted in Ohio of rigging the election that put George W. Bush in office for a second term.

Somehow, I am left with the feeling that I may be missing a part of the story.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”