Saturday, June 20, 2009

Embassy Listing

I've been collecting the embassies that are alleged to be accepting wounded from Tehran off of twitter reports. Below is a list of addresses and phone numbers for those embassies; the addresses have been checked off of websites rather than relying purely on twitter reports.

Justin and I tried calling the embassies to confirm that they were indeed taking wounded but the international circuits are rammed.

I believe this list to be more accurate than the one I submitted to HuffPo but it's tough to tell. If you have any additional confirmations, please post them and tweet them!

Ireland - North Kamranieh Avenue Bonbast Nahid Street, No. 8 19369 - (98 21)-22 80 38 35

Australia - No. 13, 23rd Street Khalid Islambuli Ave Tehran 15138 - (98 21) 88 72 44 56

Finland - Elahiyeh, Agha Bozorgi St Shirin Alley no.4 P.O.Box 19395-1733 - (98-21) 22 20 70 90; 22 23 09 79

Finland (Alternate) No. 2, Haddadian St., Mirzapour St. (former Soheil St.), Dr. Shariati Ave. Tehran 19336

Germany - Ferdowsi Ave., No 320-324, Teheran - (0098 21) 39 99 00 00

Belgium - Elahieh - 155-157 Shahid Fayyazi Avenue (Fereshteh) 16778 Teheran - (98) (21) 22 04 16 17

Canada - 57 Shahid Javad-e-Sarfaraz, Ostad-Motahari Avenue 15868 Tehran, Iran - (98 21) 81 52 00 00

Netherlands - Darrous, Shahrzad Blvd Kamasaie Street, First East Lane No. 33 - 98 (0) 21 .22 56 70 05 / 22 56 70 07

Norway - No. 201 Dr. Lavasani St. (Ex. Farmanieh St.) Corner of Sonbol St. Tehran, Iran - (0098 21) 22 29 13 33

Italy - 81, Ave. Neuphle le Chateau - 98 21 672 6955

Slovenian Republic - No 30, Narenjestan 8th Alleym, Pasdaran Avenue PO Box 19576 19575-459 - (98-21) 280- 2223

United Kingdon - 198 Ferdowsi Avenue - (98) (21) 64 05 20 00

Switzerland - Elahieh Ave. Sharifimanesh Yasaman Street No. 2 P.O. Box 19395-4683 19649 Tehran - 98 (0)21 22 00 83 33

Austria - Bahonarstr., Moghaddasistr., Zamanistr Mirvali 11, Teheran - (+98/21) 22 75 00-38

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pop Quiz!

Read the following two news reports carefully.

There will be a test question at the end.

A) A few days ago, an Islamic fundamentalist shot and killed a prominent pro-Israel leader in his own synagogue. The fundamentalist had been harassing this leading figure of the pro-Israel community for decades, and belonged to an organization that regularly decried him as a "mass murderer" who would receive a punishment from God.

B) A few days ago, an Christian fundamentalist shot and killed a prominent pro-abortion leader in his own church. The fundamentalist had been harassing this leading figure of the pro-abortion community for decades, and belonged to an organization that regularly decried him as a "mass murderer" who would receive a punishment from God.

Question: which fundamentalist is a terrorist?

A Only
B Only
Both A & B
Neither A nor B

As usual, there is about 20% of the American population who manages to get this question tragically, painfully wrong.

I don't have the arrogance required to tell you what God wants you to do about abortion or anything else, but I can damn well tell you that advocating murder makes a mockery of the words "pro-life."

THIS is why I'm so fervently opposed to the Republican party. These people are their base. It's no longer a matter of differing opinions - the intellectual conservatives long ago bailed on the Republicans, and the few that remain are being pushed out by the Limbaugh crowd. These people think murder is acceptable as long as they do it for a good cause. How is that not fucking terrorism?

Just wait - in a few more months we'll get to hear these same idiots complaining about the "war on Christmas" because some radio station somewhere won't play Christmas music 24/7 or because some school board will insist on teaching a science class with, you know, ACTUAL SCIENCE. You know what's different about our made-up little war on your made-up little holiday? We're not fucking killing anybody.

Is it too much to ask for Christians who act Christ-like?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Loaded Questions

So I was invited to answer a question on a writing site I occasionally visit. The question was:

"Do lobbyists in Washington represent the interests of the average American or those of corporations, labor unions, associations and other special interests?"
My response is below:

When answering a question, there are a great many things to consider - target audience, factual research, the vernacular of those involved with the subject matter, and many more. What is often overlooked when answering a question - such as the question above - is the inherent bias implanted in one's answer by the phrasing of the question. This process is known as making a "loaded" question.

This question provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the loading process at work.

Consider for a moment the possibility of running for office. To win, you must gain the trust and the votes of as many people as possible. Is the easiest way to do this A) appealing to the average American, or B) appealing to small groups of Americans who are only truly concerned about one or two things? There is a fair argument to be made for either answer, so let's ask the real question - when attempting to win the greatest number of votes possible, is it preferable to appear to be working for the average (and consequently most numerous) American, or to appear to be working for small, limited groups with small, limited interests?

The question, you might say, begs the answer.

The truth, as always, is more nuanced, and requires a bit of history. Luckily, this being a representative democracy - the sort which absolutely cannot survive without an educated and activist citizenry - a short history lesson is never truly remiss.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is probably the most well known amendment, with the possible and unfortunate exception of the Second Amendment. Most any grade school student would know that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of (and from) religion; the better students would probably know it says something about free assembly, too. And the honours students? They could likely tell you that the First Amendment also guarantees you the right "to petition government for a redress of grievances."

This less well known but nonetheless fundamental right ensures that every American citizen is guaranteed access to their elected officials to state their case for how they feel the government should be operating, particularly when the government is not operating in a manner they approve of. Certainly important for any democracy that hopes to be truly representative, and surely effective in the days of gentleman farmers and low population. But how, in today's high-tech, high-powered, high-finance Washington, is the common, average American to get their voice heard and their grievances redressed?

If only there was some method of joining with like-minded citizens and send a representative of your interests to argue your case before Congress...


So do lobbyists in Washington represent the interests of the average American or those of corporations, labor unions, associations and other special interests?The real answer is, of course, that no lobbyist represents every American, but instead represents the special interests of groups of like-minded, hard-working, entirely average Americans like you and me. Don't like abortion? There's a lobbyist to represent you. Against the war in Iraq? Lobbyists are petitioning the government on your behalf. Are there abuses to the system? Sure - any time there's an intersection between capitalism and politics you'll find corruption, something the modern Republican Party has demonstrated with such enthusiasm that I need not even include an example. But when it comes to the issues, you name it - somebody's petitioning about it. And that is as average, and as American, as can be.

Properly understood, even the most loaded question can be disarmed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

State of Affairs

Sarah Palin's being advised by Scientologists, John McCain's daughter is getting in fights with an increasingly irrelevant Ann Coulter, John Boehner and Eric Cantor released a budget without any numbers in it then, to cover for it, launched an attack on Obama's budget - but used Bush's budget numbers, Fox News stops even trying to pass as a credible news source and reproduces Republican memos complete with typos - and then splices in clips of Joe Biden saying something damning as though he'd just said it, then get busted when it turns out that not only was the video six months old but it was also a clip of him quoting something stupid McCain had just said - and then Mitch McConnell specifically says that Republican congressmen should stop thinking they are legislators and instead focus on playing politics.

Honestly, what happened to you guys? Are you even trying anymore?

Oh, and then there's Glenn Beck and Chuck Norris ::lol::

And now Scott Murphy is about 60 votes ahead of Jim Tedisco in NY Congressional District 20, a district where the registration ratio is 42% R, 26% D, and 24% I (that's over 70,000 more Repubs than Dems), and Republicans outspent Dems 2,097,954 to 1,266,074.

Boehner said last month:

"This election is on March 31st, and it is a giant opportunity for us to let America know that America is on our side."

Of course, at the time Tedisco was up by 21 points in the polls, because he's been Senate Minority Leader for 20 years and Murphy has never run before. Now that he's won, Boehner admits America must not be on their side, right?

In a Tuesday morning news conference, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the outcome of the election shouldn’t be seen as a referendum on the GOP leadership in Congress.

"It’s between those two candidates in New York,"

Oh, Republicans. Consistency is just so HARD!

It's so bad that Tedisco started suing to say the election was unfair before a single vote had been cast.

The Republican party today is represented by people like "Joe" the "Plumber", a man so stupid he actually said the media shouldn't be reporting on wars, while working for the media reporting on a war... a man so stupid he got laughed off a stage while giving a speech about how "bad" the EFCA bill is - to actual plumbers - when he admitted in the face of questioningthat not only was he not an expert but had actually never even read it. This is a party represented by Sarah Palin, who got flustered when asked hard-nosed questions like "what magazines do you read?" This is a party represented by small-minded people with even smaller-minded ideas.

I'll say it again - what happened?

Listen - American needs you. No democracy can truly stay representative with a one party system. We NEED a good opposition party, and you know what? Conservatives have had good ideas in the past, and they'll have good ideas again. But if your idea of a good plan is a budget without any fucking numbers, and you can't string together more than three words without mentioning how much you hate brown people, and you think that teaching science in science class is somehow ethically wrong, and you can't be bothered to read legislation before deciding you're against because Rush told you to be, you're not fucking helping. You want to talk traitors? Willful ignorance and blind ideology is a rejection of everything America has ever tried to stand for, and to coat yours in fervent, racist patriotism is the most cynical and disgusting way of pretending otherwise that I've ever seen.

Get out of our way or get out of our country, but we're fixing the mess you made of this place, with or without you. You don't have to be part of the solution - but stop being the fucking problem. God didn't barf us into existence 6,000 years ago, Mexico is not invading Texas, the war on drugs isn't working, the war on Iraq was built on lies, torture is NOT ethical, and you DO. NOT. SURROUND. US. You can have your bunkers in the wilderness and your Kansas redoubts, but stop pretending to represent America. You've given us a bad enough name as it is.

Shape up - or shut up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Climate Change Deniers, Your Time Has Come...

... and gone. And this is all that's left.

The next time I hear somebody claim that "tons of scientists" are denying global warming, I am going to use my usual response, which almost always shuts them up:

"Name one."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Helping Out

From the good folks at Comments From Left Field:

I’ve been writing here for about four years now, and over the course of those four years, we’ve asked you guys to open your wallets on several occasions. We’ve asked you to give some of your hard earned cash to politicians who have taken hard stands, and thanks to you we have raised thousands of dollars for Fisher House in honor of two brave soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq.

But we’ve never asked you to give money directly to one of our own. Many blogs out there hold fund drives to keep their sites up and running, and we haven’t even done that, Mike paying the bills out of his own pocket to keep Comments From Left Field going.

This is about to change.

Last year we brought a talented and prolific woman into our fold. Kathy, whose own blog at Liberty Street is quite excellent, has since then become one of the leading voices here at Comments From Left Field. If we could afford to pay people a salary, I’m fairly certain that Mike would agree with me in saying that she would be the first on the list to catch a paycheck. She has become one of the key driving engines to this website (and more than makes up for my somewhat manic blogging patterns).

Frankly, I wonder if CFLF would still be alive without her.

The problem is, while Kathy has toiled endlessly here and at her own blog, catching work that can actually pay the bills is a different matter entirely. You may have noticed that over the past few weeks her contributions here have gone way down–this is because she couldn’t keep up with her internet bills and they finally cut her off.

And still her dedication has her going to the library in whatever spare time she can muster to write for us. As I say, I truly wish we could cut her a paycheck.

But the fact still remains–Kathy is in dire need of financial assistance, and the best I can do is turn to you, our readers, and ask for your kindness and your generosity. I know these times are tough, I know a lot of you are scrimping and saving every dime you can, but my sincerest hope is that if you can spare some cash, any cash, it doesn’t have to be a big amount, is that you toss some of that change over Kathy’s way.

Together we can’t make all of Kathy’s dreams come true, I hold no illusions about that. What I want us to do is to come together and at least scrape enough cash up for her so that she can get her head back above water–keep the wolves at bay for at least another day, so to speak.

You don’t have to give a lot, just a dollar or two. And if you can’t do that, please help spread the word around. Write up a post on your own blog, email your friends. Kathy is one of the best voices out there on the internet, and it would be a shame if we lost that because she too became a victim of the economy.

If you write up a post, you’ll get a link from us in a gratuity post I’ll do later on, and if you aren’t on our blogroll now, doing so will buy you an instant spot on the blogroll with few questions asked (I’ve learned my lesson to unrestricted blogrolling, thank you very much!).

And to start things off I’ve already donated $50.00 to the Kathy bailout fund. Please help grow that sum by clicking the button below. Thank you!

Let me know if the button works, because I may have done it wrong. :lol: Even a dollar or two helps, as many of us know all too well. I think this is a worthwhile cause. Imagine for a minute - no more internet access. Pretty miserable, eh?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dangerous Games

This whole Rush Limbaugh thing has been mighty entertaining, no doubt about that. Watching Republicans kow-tow to the mighty Rush speaks volumes about their herd mentality.

I must admit to some worry, however.

Highlighting Limbaugh's influence in the GOP - and then tying it to his utterly idiotic remarks, most especially his "I hope the President fails" comments but also his racism, misogyny and just plain stupidity - is definitely good politics. But it is politics nonetheless - and Obama built his supermajority of public support by NOT indulging in that murkey pool.

Let the Republicans continue to tear themselves apart, or let them come together and start getting some decent new ideas. Either way is a good outcome. But kicking them while they're down and playing politics is exactly the opposite of what got Obama elected. It's tempting for sure, but it could backfire all too easily.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I'll admit it - I didn't watch the speech last night (it wasn't a State of the Union address, no matter what you may read on the interwebs). Nor did I watch Bobby Jindal's response.

I've heard amazing things about Obama's speech, and awful things about Jindal's, but I'm not prepared to stand in judgement as I didn't watch either (and honestly, I feel terrible for Bobby Jindal - he had the miserable task of standing up and giving a speech right after the nation's most popular and charismatic politician, AND had to deliver Republican talking points on top of it, AND was being held up by his own party as the next great hope, which is a ton of pressure to live up to - I don't envy him the task at all).

No, I can't comment on the style of the evening. But, having read through transcripts and reviews, I can comment, at least in part, on the substance.

What really struck me about Jindal's policy prescription, in contrast to Obama's, was how predictable it was. It is literally the same policy plan they've offered for decades, with some words changed to present the illusion of modernity. The details are touched up, but the spirit remains the same - government is the problem and must be defeated so that the private sector can reach it's full glory.

Now, I understand that's the root of conservative thinking. What I don't think they realize is that in the face of Wall Street scandal, huge populist resentment, rampant bank failures as a direct result of flawed bank policies, massive CEO entitlement scams and golden parachutes galore, that criticizing the government and offering as a solution the exact fucking things that are utterly collapsing under the weight of their own greed is probably going to be a rather tough sell.

What they're doing is setting the next election cycle up as a choice between the private sector and the government, rather than trying to offer a new alternative viewpoint - and I have trouble believing that anyone is going to vote for Bernie Madoff's coworkers, even in proxy.

The only way they could make it worse would be to use that false paradigm as an excuse to shamelessly obstruct President Obama's initiatives for the next four years in an effort to score political points.

Oh, damn.

Well at least they're not making up stupid, fictional talking points that even their own supporters decry as utterly - oh, shit.

*Sigh* So long, GOP.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something to think about

Good friend and prolific writer Matttbastard is working with blogger Sarah J on a chapter-by-chapter break down of Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine." What I've read from the two so far has been as outstanding as it has, to make the obvious but nonetheless accurate pun, shocking.

You can read for yourself what Sarah and Matt have to say, and I do recommend it.

Happy reading!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dear Humanity

Dear Humanity;

You may want to consider re-reading that book I sent you a while back.

Remember the part where it said I wouldn't want two people to love each other and be happy together?

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Me neither.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Other Half

The NYT had a great article recently about how this recession is really hitting certain people harder than others - meaning, of course, the wives and mistresses of the banking class. Take a look:

Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. “One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s not what I signed up for.”
Can you imagine? No golf! However will the poor dear survive?

In other, much less important news, 45 million Americans remain uninsured.

On the plus side, odds are looking pretty good that our poor Mr. Davis won't be off the links for long - at least not if he's in line for one of those fancy, publicly-funded bonuses.

In other, much less important news, 45 million Americans are completely unable to get basic fucking medical care.

The time for universal health care is now, and not a day later.

Of course, if you live in any industrialized country on the planet EXCEPT the wealthiest one in history, the time was years ago.

What are you waiting for, America?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Global warming - the skeptics

I get to listen to a lot of conservative talk radio in the truck at work, which is every bit as humourous as it sounds. One thing I occasionally get to hear about, both from the radio and from my boss, is climate change skepticism. Since environmental issues aren't my strong point (you won't find me outdoors unless I'm getting paid to be there), I decided to look it up.

I think my favourite article was this one from the Washington Post, back in March of 2008, on the climate change skeptics. An outtake:

Both the Republicans and Democrats are poised to nominate presidential candidates this year who back a mandatory federal cap on greenhouse gases. After years of voicing doubt, President Bush has said repeatedly that he is convinced that humans are contributing to Earth's warming and that the nation needs to break its dependency on fossil fuels.

Not so, say the skeptics. While the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore last year, this cadre of critics has formed a counter-group called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which issued a report yesterday arguing that recent climate change stems from natural causes. (While the IPCC enlisted several hundred scientists from more than 100 countries to work over five years to produce its series of reports, the NIPCC document is the work of 23 authors from 15 nations, some of them not scientists.)

(Above emphasis mine)

I've claimed before that the climate change skeptics were a vanishing minority of scientists, only to be contradicted that it's actually a whole slew of scientists from around the globe. In my search for proof of that statement, the closest I could find to any enumeration of the ranks of the skeptics was the above - hardly a rousing number for those last remaining die-hard deniers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wait, what?

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome the President of the United States is.

Life is pretty darn good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bush - Some Laws Still Unbroken, Good Luck Finding Them

When somebody writes a three-hundred page paper (or as I call them, "books"), it's probably because it's something they think is really important.

And when the author is the head of the House Judiciary Committee, well, maybe it IS really important.

And when the paper is a deconstruction of the most recent Presidency, with a step-by-step explanation of which laws were broken and how - well, with a new President about to assume the position, it doesn't get much more important than that.

h/t to my friends over at Comments From Left Field for pointing this one out.

The 4th Amendment? That's SO 20th Century.

It's just a few short days until Obama assumes the Presidency and his transition process is well under way. Consequently, the news media has been full of little else besides Cabinet postings, inaugural plans, and Bush legacy reviews. However, despite the perception of a nation on pause, the business of government proceeds apace.

Take, for example, yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on the curious case of a man arrested mistakenly, then charged for legal violations discovered through his illicit arrest. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that evidence obtained from an unlawful arrest based on careless record keeping by the police may be used against a criminal defendant.

The 5-to-4 decision revealed competing conceptions of the exclusionary rule, which requires the suppression of some evidence obtained through police misconduct, and suggested that the court’s commitment to the rule was fragile.

It is easy to sympathize with their decision. We've all seen an episode of "Law and Order" or similar show where the police are handicapped by the exclusionary rule and forced to use ridiculous mental gymnastics to get around it, usually to catch the worst dirtbags imaginable. After enough episodes of "CSI," almost anyone would be in favour of restricting the 4th Amendment.

What people often forget is why we have the 4th Amendment in the first place - and what kinds of cases aren't shown very often on TV. It's easy to imagine yourself the innocent victim of a crime, desperate for justice and frustrated as the police are handicapped by what appear to unnecessary laws. But it's much harder for us to imagine ourselves in the place of the innocent victim of police overreach, where our only protection is that very Amendment.

What's even harder to imagine is the case of the police officer who can't get a legitimate warrant against you, and so fakes one up and later claims it was a simple negligent mistake. All of a sudden, the burden of proof is on YOU to prove that the "mistake" was no mistake and your "guilt" is in fact innocence. In other words - as guilty as can be until you prove your procedural innocence.

I'm hopeful that most judges will apply this new ruling in the fair and honest method in which the Supreme Court obviously meant for it to be used; but after the last 8 years, can we really afford to take such a gamble?

I'm back!

Sorry for the long hiatus, dear readers (yes, both of you). I'm afraid planning a New Year's Eve event took almost all of my time for most of December. Now that the New Year has arrived successfully, I'm finding myself with a bit more time on my hands, and I expect to be putting some more work into this blog as a result. Watch this space over the coming weeks for articles on a variety of topics - I'll try to avoid the news coverage, which is posted about ad infinitum in the blogosphere, and stick to my main areas of interest. Which you probably share, if you're still reading.

In the meantime, here's a link through to an article from a conservative worth listening to. I've often said that I feel that true conservatives have a lot to offer this country, when they're not busy being hijacked by neo-conservatives bent on dominating the world and your personal affairs, and former Congressman Tom Davis is no exception.