Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Friday Snowboarding Video

I don't snowboard. I don't ski. Vulcan is a dry planet. We sandboard.

I love the understatements from his buddies in the video.

I appreciate the skill and "mental toughness" that this act required. I've mind melded with a living rock, so believe me, I know mental toughness.

"When nobody's ever done something and it's a descent, you don't know whether it's going to avalanche or not, it's really sketchy."
-Long haired buddy.

It's really sketchy. I wonder what he calls dangerous?

"If you mess up its like big consequences, you know."
- Female buddy.

Ah, the lingo of the young.

Speaking of the young, a quick "shout out" --as the middle-aged kids these day say--to the youngest member of my extended family. She is all of 4 days old.

Welcome to this planet. Let's get rolling, it'll be fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bill Ayers interview on Fresh Air

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the producers and host of Fresh Air. Lately they have been on fire (link).

Today Terry Gross interviews anti-war activist William Ayers. (link) Partial transcript below.

It was very interesting. Now that Terry has interviewed him I expect that Fox News and right wing talk radio will be using the quotes from the show. I expect that they will always credit the source and I expect them to provide complete context (they love to accuse others of taking stuff out of context when they take stuff out of context.).

I expect that they will attack Terry Gross for even having the interview. I expect their fans to send Terry some violent comments. Why? Because they have been getting the message from their leaders, Sarah Palin and John McCain, that it is okay to say "Kill him" at rallies and to never sit down with someone who is considered a terrorist. I hope Terry and her team capture these comments and not only pass them to the police, but post them.

I want others to see that the RIGHT is the source of the violent threats today, not the left. Law enforcement needs to look at people and groups encouraging domestic terrorism against our leaders, no matter what the source. They will look at the left out of force of habit, but most likely the source of violent comments will be the right. Who loves to brag about their guns? Who made it a point to stock up on guns after Obama was elected?

But why would they attack Terry, one of the most skilled, insightful (and tiniest) interviewers in the country? Because she is now someone who "pals around with terrorists". The right wing have been telling us what to do with terrorists for years --often in graphic detail. There already was one comment that was removed by the NPR moderator for not following their comments guidelines. (I can already hear the commenter, "NPR is using MY tax dollars to silence my free speech on their website!" Oh NOES!)

One comment that my friend NTodd at Pax Americana will find most interesting had to do with the question, "Did we do enough to stop the war?" NTodd is always asking us that question about the current wars.

Ayers kept trying to put his actions at the time in context with the time. He asked about the people who decided that the ends justified the means. What do we say about people like McNamara who led us into war? Of course it is different when you are a country and you decide to kill people. You have been told it is necessary to kill people. What if it is proved that the information was wrong? That it wasn't necessary to kill people? Then what? What if you supported killing people and then you found out that killing people wasn't necessary? Is the fact that the country is doing it make all the difference? What if they willfully lied, just to get you on their side and to get permission to kill?

Here is my transcript of the end of the interview. Again, I encourage you to listen to the whole Fresh Air interview with Bill Ayers from the beginning.

Terry Gross: A lot of people have called you an unrepentant terrorist. I think a lot people want to hear you make a full fledged apology for some of your actions with the Weather Underground, such as bombing the Pentagon. So I want you, now that we have heard a lot of your story, to give us your answer to that.

Well you know my answer is that the kind of culture of apology doesn' t appeal to me. If I had something specific to think about apologizing for I might. But it's kind of a blanket statement that what we did was so extreme and so wrong that I ought to just say it was crazy.

William Ayers: "I respond by thinking that it would be a good thing if everyone from that era stood up and said 'This is what I did'. Some people were official apologists for that murderous policy in Vietnam. Some people participated in it, some people made the decisions. We opposed it and our opposition took an extreme form. It was never terrorism because it never targeted and never in fact resulted in death or injury to anyone. We were issuing a screaming response to murder and to terror. And I think we were right in that. I don't think everything that we did was brilliant. And as I said, some of the examples of kind of extreme violence and property destruction could be challenged as stupid, backwards, misguided and so on, but I don't think they can be conflated with terrorism, nor should they be. And I think that I don't feel any real regret for taking actions against this war. But again I'd be happy to stand up and measure what I did and what was negative and bad with what I did with what other people did.

Looking backward I don't see who did the right thing and who can claim that this is the proper way to end the war. Clearly we are involved in a war now. Clearly I'm not advocating any kind of action that is illegal and I've been involved in the anti-war movement from the beginning. However, I don't know if any of us know how to stop this war in Iraq. We seem to be stalled. We seem unable to take the next step. And I'm hoping that we can continue to build a movement, an independent movement for peace that can put pressure on the new administration to do the right, to do the right thing."

Bill Ayers thank you so much for talking with us.

Thank you Terry.
Terry Gross and William Ayers 11/18/2008 (link)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Drop It. Be Like Jews

Q. Dear Mr. Spocko, should we call the losing Republicans and conservatives to account for their actions and hateful words during the last eight years? What should we do?

Also, is it okay to gloat or at least mock them

A. Just drop it.

The game is over.
They lost, we won.

Focusing on the people who supported them won't get us anywhere. We should really focus only on the future. Isn't one of our biggest groups called MoveOn?

If you are looking for a model that makes sense for how to act now we should really be acting like the surviving Jews after World War II.

The guy who lost during WW II was punished (my grasp on human history is tenuous but I think he killed himself because he felt so bad about what he did). The Americans and Jews had a big event where then forgave the people who supported him, especially those who were just following orders. I'm a bit fuzzy on this but I think they concluded that the people who created the programs weren't really responsible nor were the people who were just following orders. There was really only one person responsible and he was now out of power. He had an accountability moment. What more is there to do? Clearly his ideas and his policies were repudiated after he left office in a bunker.

The Jews decided that it was more important to move on with their lives than to try and bring to justice the people who made life miserable for others. What good can come from remembering the bad stuff? I think "Always Forget" was even their motto after the war. Let their acts and world view slink away.

I believe the famous saying applies here: "Those who cannot remember the past will never repeat it". I expect that some people will want to make some strong case for "justice", but we all know that it's waste of time. They have really, really smart lawyers who will happily tie you up with their legal reasoning. I mean John Yoo teaches law! Besides, the cable TV and radio hosts will encourage us to all come together like they did under Bush. They are very exacting in their separating of actions from words. Their word people are better than Clinton's. Here is one I'm sure we will be seeing more of in the future.

Bush, Cheney and his team were NEVER directly responsible for anyone being tortured or killed. How can we say this? Because Bush never had a gun in his hand and pulled the trigger. No water was poured from Cheney's hand into the mouth of a prisoner strapped to a board down. Rumsfeld never held the club in his hand that beat to death an enemy detainee. Condi Rice never placed a glow stick up the rectum of an prisoner.

All they did was move words around. Words on paper. Words on computer screens. Words from their mouths in meetings. They never did any actual physical acts, and as we have seen only the actual physical acts count.

If there was one thing that they were good about it was following the law. If the law wasn't what they wanted, they created the law that was needed so no laws were broken. If laws were broken they would be in jail, right? They held themselves to that standard, which is really what America has always been about. People who are not in jail are innocent.

Remember, nobody is a villain when they are doing what they feel is right for the country. This isn't like the movies where a short bald "Dr. Evil" laughs and holds the world ransom for 700 billion dollars.
To attack them now, after we have won, isn't helpful. Why?

Because people learn from their mistakes when they are forgiven and then they stop making them. They don't think that being lenient is a bad thing, especially when it comes to their own "crime" (which many don't even see as a crime). We only need to look at Scooter Libby to see how communing his sentence made him a better citizen who surely won't do something questionable again. His life is over in the public sphere. I don't ever expect him to be out making money by being on TV, writing a book or bragging about his "crime" in speeches to supporters. He knows that would be wrong.

History has shown that when you don't punish people for making a mistake or breaking the law they never make that mistake again. They may know technically that they "got away with it", but morally they realize that they were wrong and understand that the compassion shown comes with the suggestion, "Go and sin no more."

Learn From Ford. Pardon people, it's Good for the Country

Remember after Nixon? We chose to not go after a few people who broke the law. That was the right thing to do because we found out that when you forgive people for their law breaking they leave the public eye, they learn their lesson and never act like that again. I think that Rummy and Cheney are the best example of people who learned from the Nixon Administration the most. They are a prime example of why we shouldn't follow up on people who have done bad things (especially when people did those things thinking they were doing what was right for the country.) Nixon was pardoned and that sent a clear message to Rummy and Cheney not to do what Nixon did. And they didn't! Cheney and Rummy never taped themselves and they never ordered the break in of the Democratic headquarters. The pardon worked.

Follow the Lead of the Christian Right. They Forgive and Love their Neighbors

Since 80 some percent of the people call themselves Christian, we should all be more like the Christian Right who follow the words of Jesus and love their neighbors as they love themselves. The Christian Right has seen that it is better to forgive others their sins. I think that they are following the lead of Jesus when he says, "he who is without sin to cast the first stone".

Right Wing Christians are known for turning the other cheek about the violence committed toward them. I think it is important to emulate the Right Wing Fundamental Christians who, during the lead up to this election, made it a point to never bear false witness about Obama. That is what I will most remember about their stance toward Obama. They never bought into untruths that were spread by that Catholic Sean Hannity. The Methodist Rush Limbaugh was especially good about never using the Lord's name in vain, unlike that Catholic Sean Hannity who kept calling Obama the Messiah.

What I especially liked about the Right Wing Christians is how they wanted to embrace Jesus' message of the good Samaritan with their support of gays (who many realized were the Samaritans of their day. Samaritans were despised by some at the time. Yet they took care of the man who was beaten up when others wouldn't).

The way they responded to people who wanted to take away the rights of gays, was truly Christ like. I really don't think that I could be as Christ like as the Right Wing Christians when they went all out to protect the homosexual's rights in the sight of the community. They, liked Jesus with Mary Magdalene, really responded to the perceptions of some people that gays were bad. They did like Jesus did when he hung out with the prostitute Mary and made her a part of his team. They accepted gays just like Jesus accepted Mary.

As so many Right Wing Christians tell me, "NOWHERE in the bible is the phrase, 'Love the sinner, hate the sin'". And if there is one thing that the Right Wing Christians know it is their bible. They know that Jesus never said that and I'm so grateful for their understanding of both the words and spirit of Jesus. Picking up phrases not from the Gospel (or anywhere in the bible) and pretending Jesus said them is something that they just won't do. Phrases that can be used as a club are clearly out of bounds. I'm always heartened when I hear one Christian call others on this mistake.

I think the other thing that I really like about the way that the Christians acted was the way that they embraced the Tax collectors just like Jesus did. You never heard from right wing Christians that taxes were a bad thing.

Understanding that collecting taxes was part of the whole "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" shows that they know that their reward is the love of God and their personal lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As I read in bible history:
Jesus never taught that there was anything inherently wrong with paying tribute to the Roman Government or collecting the tax. He was opposed to extortioners, but would fling open the door of repentance and salvation to them. He rejected none, not even the worst.

He set a new precedent among the Jews by accepting and associating with the tax collectors. He ate with them (Mark 2:16), He offered salvation to them (Luke 19:9), and He even chose a tax collector (Matthew) as one of His twelve disciples (Matt 9:9).

I think that the people will understand where I come from by looking at the actions of the people I've listed here. I can't really expect to be better than them. I'm only half human.


P.S. No gloating either. You know if the shoe was on the other foot they would be gracious in victory and wouldn't gloat or bait us.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Voted Today

As a registered member of the Democratic party I was proud to vote today.

Beautiful sunrise in San Francisco today.

Our long national nightmare should soon be over.

There was a feeling of hope for the future in the air and in the smiling faces of the people in line. As I drove into downtown I saw people standing on street corners waving signs hoping that our gay friends will continue to have the legal right to marry. I waved back.

I've been actively working against the violent rhetoric that is directed toward liberals, democrats, journalists and Muslims for years now. I don't think that the other side will stop if Obama is elected. I think their hate, anger and violent rhetoric will increase, because that is what they do. I think that the people who encourage that hate should be ashamed of themselves. Why some people want to be associated with that hate is still perplexing to me.

This morning I heard people talking about getting ready with guns. They implied that certain people would riot if Obama didn't win. They love to keep whipping up the fear and the division.

I'm tired of the fear of the future. I need some hope. Hope for a better future.

I just want to say again for the record that I'm not a member of the Communist party. I am not a communist. I'm not a member of the Socialist party. I'm not a socialist. I'm not a member of the Marxist party. I'm not a Marxist. I'm also not a Stalinist.

Anyone who says that I, or my choice for president of the United States, Barak Obama, is any of these things is inaccurate. They should know that they are wrong and to continue to proclaim anything other than that means they are doing it on purpose in complete disregard for the facts. I'm old enough to know when calling someone a Communist was a career death sentence. What's that line? Oh yeah, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts."

When Obama is elected he will be the President of the United States. He will still be a member of the Democratic party. That will be the fact. I'm looking forward to that day.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Goldman Sachs ready to hand out £7bn salary and bonus package... after its £6bn bail-out

Goldman Sachs: Reverse Robin Hood.

THIS is what "spreading the wealth around" has meant to the urber-rich for decades.

Goldman Sachs ready to hand out £7bn salary and bonus package... after its £6bn bail-out
By Simon Duke
Last updated at 8:55 AM on 30th October 2008

U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs HQ which has set aside £7bn for bonuses and salaries this year

Goldman Sachs is on course to pay its top City bankers multimillion-pound bonuses - despite asking the U.S. government for an emergency bail-out.

The struggling Wall Street bank has set aside £7billion for salaries and 2008 year-end bonuses, it emerged yesterday.

Each of the firm's 443 partners is on course to pocket an average Christmas bonus of more than £3million.

The size of the pay pool comfortably dwarfs the £6.1billion lifeline which the U.S. government is throwing to Goldman as part of its £430billion bail-out.

As Washington pours money into the bank, the cash will immediately be channelled to Goldman's already well-heeled employees.

News of the firm's largesse will revive the anger over the 'rewards for failure' culture endemic in the world of high finance.

The same bankers who have brought the global economy to its knees seem to pocketing the same kind of rewards they got during the boom years.

Gordon Brown has vowed to crack down on the culture of greed in the City as part of his £500billion bail-out of the UK banking industry.

But that won't affect the estimated 100 London partners working at Goldman Sachs's London headquarters.

The firm - known as Golden Sacks for the bumper bonuses it pay its top bankers - is expected to cut the payouts by a third this year. However, profits are

falling much faster. Earnings have plunged 47 per cent so far this year amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

This has wiped more than 50 per cent off the company's market value.

Read more here.


Sounds like a job for “The Spocko Squad” (A Quinn Martin Production)

An elite team of accountants, tax attorneys, private investigators, bounty hunters, laid off pissed employees and servants of the rich and of course bloggers.

We travel the global to expose and recover ill gotten gains, the misuse of the tax payer dollars and bring law breakers to justice.

In Color!

Tonight’s Episode:

Sachs of Gold

Lt. Dan Spocko
Sgt. Trademark Dave

Guesting starring Ian Welsh as “The Professor”

h/t to Ian Welsh for the story