Monday, February 23, 2015

The Twitter Machine Known as @realDonaldTrump Strikes Again

Someone needs to adjust the algorithms driving the Donald Trump Twitter machine. It can't blame everything it doesn't like on Barack Obama, can it?

When The Donald finally follows through and gets elected to become America's CEO, can we blame everything from the weather to bad reality shows on him just as he blames everything from the Oscars to bad Superbowl plays on President Obama?

My Bold Day-After-The-Oscars Prediction

Within ten years, when people look back at the celebrity worship and backslapping convention held at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre last night, they'll ask, "Did they really overlook Inherent Vice?"

As a diehard Thomas Pynchon fan I had been waiting for Paul Thomas Anderson's film adaptation for months before and after its release. However, the vagaries of feature film distribution haven't brought it to a theatre within a hundred miles of my home yet. But on Oscar weekend I was able to pay to watch Inherent Vice on demand and did so twice. I've never seen a film that benefited so much from rewatching (just as Pynchon's books are all better and richer on second and third readings), and my prediction is that it will quickly become a classic as more people are able to see and share it.

Check back with me on this prediction in 2025 so that one of us can say, "I told you so."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The 2015 True Blue Liberal Blue Ribbon Award : First Call for Nominations

Also available for 49 other states.

If Oscar Sunday tells us anything, it tells us that nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is more important in our compulsively competitive culture than winning awards. So, finally, after more than a decade of preparation, we are ready to finally use our blogging expertise to award one blog the very first True Blue Liberal Blue Ribbon Award in 2015. In addition to the honor of being chosen and a blue ribbon graphic to place prominently (or secretly, or not at all) on one's blog, the winner will also win a pair of mugs, one honoring their home (or favorite) state, and one featuring our entire liberal blue nation.

One of the actual physical prizes.
The process of choosing this year's winner will last until December, with a chance for readers to comment and vote on long and short lists of candidates, but this is the very first call for blog nominations. Add a comment with a URL here on this blog post at or tweet a suggested blog address (your own or someone else's) to @TrueBlueLiberal on Twitter.

There is no need for any information about a blogger's real name or address until a the grand-prize winner wants to claim her or his prizes. I'm going into this process without preconceptions and looking forward to being surprised by a number of bloggers who are presenting unique valuable thoughts in a variety of new ways. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Embrace the Season

Hate to be a contrarian, but I'm really tired of whiners complaining this week about the cold. Winter will be over before you know it, but while it's here let's have fun. Use these red pandas as your inspiration to get out and enjoy the season tomorrow.

I fucking love winter.

"Giuliani Über Alles" by Hasidic New Wave

With Rudy Giuliani in the news again this week for his political commentary about our current President who doesn't love America in quite the same way Rudy does, we've had this little ditty from the late nineties stuck in our head:

There's a more polished version of this song at the end of Kabalogy (which is also worth it for 'The Frank Zappa Memorial Bris'), but this first public performance of  'Giuliani Über Alles' has a great energy:

If more recent memories of the man who has made a career out of being "Mayor 9/11" have driven any thoughts of his earlier association with police brutality and killings out of your memory, and if you don't know what the line about a "plunger up your ass" is about, then you need to read again about the torture of Abner Louima in 1997 followed by the police shootings of Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Patrick Dorismond in 2000 in Rudy Giuliani's NYC. Without his ability to form a new reputation on the wreckage of the World Trade Center, unrestrained NYPD abuse, brutality, and killings would be his only legacy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 21 is "International Peace Symbol Day"

A piece on Truthout this morning entitled "The Peace Symbol Celebrates Its 57th Birthday, But Still No Peace" begins with this paragraph:

"In honor of the 57th anniversary of the Peace Symbol, I, Bill Berkowitz, fully understanding that I have no official standing, do not possess any super powers, and do not know anyone who will make it thus, hereby suggest that February 21, 2015 be designated as: 'International Peace Symbol Day'."

Well, I also have neither official standing nor super powers, but I have a little blog that attracts actual handfuls of viewers each day, so I'm doing my bit to direct you to Bill Berkowitz's history of the famous symbol and proclaim that it will definitely be International Peace Symbol Day for me on Saturday, and for every other February 21st to come.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oil Doesn't Cause Fires. Oxygen Causes Fires.

The Oil and Gas Corps have a lot to learn from the firearms industry when it comes to public relations and buck passing. Thanks to the PR professionals at the NRA, every good American now knows that semi-automatic pistols, military assault weapons, and bazookas are no more inherently dangerous than any other tool or piece of sporting equipment left lying around the house. The oil industry needs to learn from this; they need to point out that just as every trigger needs a trigger finger, every derailed freight train filled with crude needs an ample supply of oxygen to enable combustion.

The force fanning the West Virginia flames shown above obviously lies with the Clean Air Act of 1963 and the evil wind-power industry.

Maybe Right-Wing Oklahoma Lawmakers Are Right to Ban AP U.S. History

After all, look at me, I graduated with honors from a major university as a history major, elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the history honor society Phi Alpha Theta, and I was twisted into a fucking liberal!  If that doesn't prove that studying history is evil, I don't know what does.

If the legislature doesn't act, kids in
 Tulsa might be seen wearing these.

If only the Oklahoma state legislature had been there to straighten out nefarious educators in the 60s and 70s and save me from all those pointy-headed teachers and professors in Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey, who conspired with national teachers' unions (and maybe the Communist Party) to twist my young mind against the beauties of unquestioning patriotism and myths about our founding as God's Beacon of American Exceptionalism, and taught me to "think" (as if that were a good thing).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"...I want my...I want my...I want my dumb TV..."

The following two quotations are from WNYC's The Takeaway today, "Your TV Is Listening to You. And Messing With It Could Be a Felony" about Samsung's new smart TV and its built-in camera and microphone. 
The first quote is from the Samsung privacy policy packed with your new smart television:
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

The second quote is from George Orwell's 1984 (the future simply arrived three decades later than predicted):
“Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.”

Here's the full radio segment for your listening pleasure:

Friday, February 06, 2015

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Patti Smith on William S. Burroughs

There are so many reasons to love Patti Smith, as anyone who watches this whole video will be reminded, but on what would have been William Burroughs' 101st birthday, watch it at least for what she has to say about his advice to a young Patti at the 59 second mark:

"Build a good name," Burroughs told her. "Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, you know, that name will be its own currency."

If Bush and Cheney are ever brought to justice ...

OK. Please stop laughing, BUT IF George Bush and Dick Cheney are ever brought to justice for war crimes generally, and specifically for the illegal and unjustified destruction of Iraq, then this article in The New York Times today, "Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report," should play at least some role in their prosecution. If they really were classifying parts of the 9/11 commission report in December 2002 that showed actual links to Saudi officials while still ginning up fictional ties between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein to begin their war, then this piece of evidence shouldn't be forgotten at their trial (again, please stop laughing).

This issue isn't even new, as shown by this exchange between Dick Cheney and Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press" on September 14, 2003, when we were only six months into our never-ending war along the Tigris and Euphrates. Cheney was still trotting out discredited Iraqi links and there were already rumors about the Saudi government connections contained in the suppressed sections of the 9/11 Report:

Dick Cheney: ... With respect to 9/11, of course, we’ve had the story that’s been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we’ve never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.
Tim Russert: We could establish a direct link between the hijackers of September 11 and Saudi Arabia.
Cheney: We know that many of the attackers were Saudi. There was also an Egyptian in the bunch. It doesn’t mean those governments had anything to do with that attack. That’s a different proposition than saying the Iraqi government and the Iraqi intelligent service has a relationship with al-Qaeda that developed throughout the decade of the ’90s. That was clearly official policy.
Russert: There are reports that the investigation Congress did does show a link between the Saudi government and the hijackers but that it will not be released to the public.
Cheney: I don’t know want to speculate on that, Tim, partly because I was involved in reviewing those pages. It was the judgment of our senior intelligence officials, both CIA and FBI that that material needed to remain classified. ..."

The shorter version? It's perfectly fine if the fictional Czech story of the Iraqi link is somehow "public out there" (with no help from Bush and Cheney, obviously), but the true Saudi link needs to be kept from the public.

Now for the happy musical outro courtesy of Michael Moore and REM who put all of this into a 2004 movie:

Monday, February 02, 2015

It must be so easy to be @realDonaldTrump

You can simply blame everything, even something as unrelated as an unsuccessful play in last night's Superbowl, on President Obama: