Ian was walking around his bedroom this morning holding a big, black spider halloween decoration – the kind with wiry legs so you can pose it or wrap it around something. He had one of its front legs in each hand and was singing, in a low, gravelly voice, “♪ If you happy and you know it cwap you hands! ♫” then clapping the spider‘s “hands” together.

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Comedian Jim Jefferies riffs on Americans and how they love their guns, via Vox:

You have guns because you like guns! That’s why you go to gun conventions; that’s why you read gun magazines! None of you give a shit about home security. None of you go to home security conventions. None of you read Padlock Monthly. None of you have a Facebook picture of you behind a secure door.

After putting up that last post, a couple of earworms wriggled their way into my internal playback loop.

Say man, when you going back to Florida?
When am I goin’ back to Florida? I don’t know, don’t reckon I ever will.
Ain’t you worried about getting your nourishment in New York?
Well, I don’t care if I do-die-do-die-do-die-do-die.

– Johnny Cash from “Orange Blossom Special”, from the album of the same name.

And

Florida, Florida, the redneck riviera
Florida, Florida, there’s no more pathetic place in America
Yes a man must make unpopular decisions, surely from time to time
And a man can only stand what a man can stand
It’s a wobbly volatile line

Florida, Florida, the water table is fucked
Florida, Florida, there’s no more perfect place to give it all up
A man must take his life in his own hands
Hit those nails on the head
And I respect a man who goes to where he wants to be
Even if he wants to be dead

Florida, Florida, its a tropical paradise
Florida, Florida, there’s no more perfect place to retire from life

That’s all of the lyrics to Vic Chesnutt’s “Florida” from the album West of Rome and, if you don’t own it already, you really should just stop what your doing and buy it right now.

Jeb Lund writing for The Guardian:

You might have missed it, but Florida has solved climate change. Our state, with 1,300 miles of coastline and a mean elevation of 100 feet, did not, however, limit greenhouse emissions. Instead, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), under Republican governor Rick Scott, forbade employees from using terms like “climate change,” “global warming” or “sea-level rise”. They’re all gone now. You’re welcome, by the way.

It’s pointless to call linguistic distortions of reality like this Orwellian: people tune you out when you use that word and, besides, Big Brother at least had wit. These are just the foot-stamping insistent lies of intellectual toddlers on the grift. It is “nuh-uh” as public policy. This is an elected official saying, “I put a bag over your head, so that means now I’m invisible” and then going out looting. Expect to see it soon wherever you live.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting broke the news on Sunday, stating that the prohibition on the terms “climate change,” “global warming” and “sea-level rise” went into effect after Scott’s inauguration. Former DEP counsel Christopher Byrd and five other former employees stated that the policy was unwritten and “distributed verbally”. Even when working on projects with people outside their department, employees had to scrub reports of any mention of the terms and, when necessary, replace them with euphemisms. For instance, “Sea-level rise was to be referred to as ‘nuisance flooding’” – like your high-rise atop the San Andreas fault features an “increased likelihood of intermittent wobbliness”.

(read the whole thing)

And here’s the perfect comic to go along with it.

GW gag order

Last week the US Department of Justice released a scathing report on the racist practices of the Ferguson Police Department. The Atlantic covered the story in great detail here. And here by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

One should understand that the Justice Department did not simply find indirect evidence of unintentionally racist practices which harm black people, but “discriminatory intent”—that is to say willful racism aimed to generate cash. Justice in Ferguson is not a matter of “racism without racists,” but racism with racists so secure, so proud, so brazen that they used their government emails to flaunt it.

The emails including “jokes” depicting President Obama as a chimp, mocking how black people talk (“I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment!”), depicting blacks as criminals, welfare recipients, unemployed, lazy, and having “no frigging clue who their Daddies are.” This humor—given the imprimatur of government email—resulted in neither reprimand, nor protest, nor even a polite request to refrain from reoffending. “Instead,” according to the report, “the emails were usually forwarded along to others.”

The best response the issue of racism in Ferguson and everywhere else in America where the problem festers was the speech President Obama delivered yesterday to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma March.

You can read the transcript here.

It was very powerful, and it was the most pro-American speech I’ve heard by any politician in decades. Unlike his detractors (I’m thinking of the despicable Rudy Giuliani), Obama truly gets what this country is about and what really makes it exceptional. The final third of the speech was the best.

There’s nothing America can’t handle if we actually look squarely at the problem. And this is work for all Americans, not just some. Not just whites. Not just blacks. If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination. All of us will need to feel as they did the fierce urgency of now. All of us need to recognize as they did that change depends on our actions, on our attitudes, the things we teach our children. And if we make such an effort, no matter how hard it may sometimes seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built.

Fellow marchers, so much has changed in 50 years. We have endured war and we’ve fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives. We take for granted conveniences that our parents could have scarcely imagined. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship; that willingness of a 26-year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.

That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.

For we were born of change. We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people. That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction — because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it.

Look at our history. We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit. That’s who we are.

We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some. And we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth. That is our character.

We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free –- Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan. We’re the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because we want our kids to know a better life. That’s how we came to be.

We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened up the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.

We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent. And we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, and the Navajo code-talkers, and the Japanese Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied.

We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.

We are storytellers, writers, poets, artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.

We’re the inventors of gospel and jazz and blues, bluegrass and country, and hip-hop and rock and roll, and our very own sound with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.

We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway.

We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.” We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for the past. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing. We are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe old age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habit and convention. Unencumbered by what is, because you’re ready to seize what ought to be.

It was expertly delivered and very well received, and because of that, I’m sure I’ll soon be hearing about all the Obama haters who will say it was a terrible speech.

I am an old man and I’ve been listening to rock ‘n roll bands since I was twelve. How is it that only about a month or so ago I heard of Radio Birdman – a great punk band from Australia that put out so many great songs? I have no idea. Neither do my pals Zippy and Gorby, or my rocker friends Rob and Shane. And we thought we knew our shit! sigh…

I found out about the band via Tulip Frenzy, and I am very grateful (So are Zippy and Gorby).

So this edition of Friday Night Videos is devoted to a band that you, if you were clueless like me, have never heard of. Note: they put out there music from ’74 – ’78, so there are no official videos.

Let’s start with “Hand of Law”

…and then “Aloha Steve and Danno”,

…and here’s a real treat – a live performance from 1977 recorded at the Marryatville Hotel (which appears to have turned into something very different than what it was in 1977). Four songs: “What Gives”, “search and Destroy”, “Burn My Eye”, and “Descent into the Maelstrom” plus some band interviews between songs. Turn it UP!

What the hell, let’s throw in an encore. It could be the best… “New Race” live.

The orange skin and the alligator tears and his answer to an earlier question with “If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas” were strange enough, but John Boehner took creepiness to a whole new level with this:

Watch The Daily Show’s coverage of the total failure of the House of Representatives here. The Boehner weirdness begins around the five-minute mark.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. He died on September 24, 1991 at the age of 87. Visit a cartoon rendition of his office and read a short biography here.

Dr. Seuss was best known as the author and illustrator of many children’s books including The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. But he had another career as a political cartoonist for a liberal New York City daily paper, PM during World War II. He drew more than 400 editorial cartoons for the paper from April 1941 through January 1943. He was highly critical of isolationists like Lindbergh; he also loathed racists, and he didn’t really care much at all for Congress, especially the Republicans and some conservative Democrats who organized the Conservative Coalition with the purpose of dismantling Roosevelt’s New Deal. Here’s one Seuss did for the May 18, 1942 edition of the paper. (via brainpickings.org)

Suess Congressional Wrecking Crew 5-18-42 crop reduce

Seventy-three years have gone by, and Conservatives are still trying to destroy America’s social safety net. All it would take to update this cartoon would be to replace “F.D.R.” with “Obama”.

Some things never change. Probably never will.

Last week Rudy Giuliani was all over the news and late night shows because he said he didn’t believe that President Obama loved America. Then he made it worse with his attempts to back peddle out of it. I was going to put up a post about it, but I didn’t because I didn’t have the time and the site was down and anyway a whole lot of people covered it better than I would have. (The Daily Show and The Nightly Show)

But today I read a post by Jonathan Capehart post for the Post Partisan blog. The post starts with Governor Scott Walker’s response to a question about whether he believed Obama was a Christian or not. He replied with “I’ve never asked him that…You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that.” But there’s plenty of video evidence out there showing Obama saying he is a Christian. The question is really, do you believe what he’s telling you and, if not, then why? Walker avoided the question.

Capehart then cites polls showing 70% of Republicans don’t think or don’t know that Obama is a Christian, he then quotes a few other people who’ve said incredibly hateful things about the president that have absolutely no basis in reality. Read the ignorant, racist remarks by Larry Klayman and David Jackson, and then answer me this:

Why do so many Republicans hate Obama so much? Do they really believe all the lies about him? Can they not believe what they actually hear him say and see him do on television? Their own lying eyes? Amazing to me… frightening that the Republican party can pander to these people for votes and get away with it.

It depends on your point of view.

Production vs Comp graph

If you are one of those owners of capital at the top, well it’s been GREAT! But if you are a regular working Joe, not good at all.

From the graph you can see that everyone’s income went up along with productivity until around 1973. A divergence started and stayed fairly close until around 1980. Then in 1984, we heard this in and ad for President Reagan:

It’s morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history. With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes, more than at any time in the past four years. This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married, and with inflation at less than half of what it was just four years ago, they can look forward with confidence to the future. It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?

Well, maybe because even though the economy was in the doldrums for a few years preceding 1980, at least the wealth was kinda sorta still being shared. But after that, not at all.

And after Reagan we had George H. W. Bush, then Clinton, then W, and now Obama. And not one of them have been able to change the rules in our country that allow the richest of the rich to get richer and richer as the bottom 99% fall behind.

The rules of the game are rigged in favor of those who already have great wealth. If you read the article in The Atlantic where I found the graph, you’ll learn more about how and why the divergence started and continues to expand, and you’ll find out what might happen if we don’t do anything about it (it’s not good), and what we could do to start to close the gap. (Hint: spend money to improve the education of our population and improve our failing infrastructure).

If the rich want to avoid a revolution, they better start looking out for the health and welfare of the communities that supply them with workers; first by sharing the wealth that comes from increased productivity with their workers, and second by encouraging local governments to increase spending to repair our decaying infrastructure systems.