Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense


Flawless use of Willy Wonka footage

Jon Stewart, to the surprise of nobody, did a bit about the government shutdown issue, placing blame squarely where it’s deserved.

Making 100% valid points along the way (including a great capper at the end), Stewart shows a clip from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with a message to House Republicans from a small business owner.

The message is appropriate, but if you carry the reference too far, it would probably be better if the Republicans suffered the fate of Augustus Gloop, something that happened near the beginning of the chocolate factory tour, ensuring Augustus would not be causing trouble when matters of golden eggs and technology were in play.

Stewart backs it up with perfect driving and football analogies, though, so it’s all good.


Gas prices

Interestingly, back when gas prices were hitting the $4.00 per gallon mark, the right-wing was absurdly shouting blame at President Obama for the increase. Now that gas prices have dropped around sixty cents, I don’t think I’ve read or heard a single peep from that same right-wing group thanking the president for lowering prices… or even acknowledging the drop.

It’d be nonsense, either way, since the president has little, if anything, to do with gas prices, but it’s amusingly hypocritical. No doubt, there would be some "explanation" about how Obama was responsible for the increase, but not the decrease.

I (heart) Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart addresses the birth control mandate and the oppositions claims of “religious persecution” and “wars” on religion.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Vagina Ideologues – Sean Hannity’s Holy Sausage Fest
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The Satisfying Purity of Indignation

From Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech (emphasis mine)…

The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach — and condemnation without discussion — can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

Thanks to M. Duss at the Wonk Room for pointing out the highlighted text. Duss says about the highlighted bit…

That’s a wonderfully succinct description of the simplistic and destructive ideology that drove George W. Bush’s foreign policy, and which Bill Kristol is still trying heartily to convince himself and others hasn’t been discredited. This isn’t to say that Obama hasn’t retained some troubling elements of Bush’s national security policy, which progressives will continue to challenge and debate. But I think it’s hugely important to recognize that the key foreign policy conceit of the Bush years, the idea that America is in an existential struggle with a monolithic, undifferentiated Islamofascist other, has been discarded. And America — and the world — is safer for that.

I’ll go a step further and say that it applies to many of the “Tea Party Patriots” and their vitriolic outrage toward anything and everything surrounding Obama, non-Christian religions, homosexuality, abortion, and a number of other issues. Their arguments and manufactured controversies, mostly vapid, provide for them the “satisfying purity of indignation” that rational thinking and critical analysis do not.

Hardly befitting someone claiming to be a “patriot.”

You can discover the galaxy, too.

NASA’s equipment is some pretty powerful stuff. But astronomy also depends on the curiosity and contribution of amateur astronomers. […] If they can discover something great, so can any of you other students who are here tonight. All you need is a passion for science.

– President Barack Obama during the White House Star Party


Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

President Barack Obama - Nobel Peace Prize WinnerSince President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, there’s been a firestorm of criticism with some people even implying that Obama himself somehow used subversive tactics to gain the award… that he used manipulative tricks that somehow succeeded in conning the Nobel committee into giving him the prize.

I’ve yet to hear someone from the right give any sort of acknowledgement that it’s rather nice that the president of our country won the award. Not only will they not even show a snippet of national pride in the matter, but they rail against Obama, crying that he’s done nothing to deserve it… that he’s accomplished nothing noteworthy in his term as president (or in his life)… that the award is now cheapened.

Despite explanations by the Nobel prize committee as to the reasons for their selection, Obama’s opponents continue to see nothing but their own imaginary country-destroying conspiracies, socialist takeovers, irresponsible policies, and egomaniacal rantings of our president and of anyone who happens to come down one step to the left of nut jobs like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. It’s as though they’re so blinded by their frothing hatred for our president, they can’t even acknowledge that the man has some good points… that he does want this country to succeed and to be safer and to be respected around the world… and that he’s working to accomplish that goal.

I can’t say that I agree with everything Obama has done (or rather that the Congress has done), but I do see some glaring goodness from the man. When I voted for him, there were checks in both the pro and con columns, but the things in the “pro” column outweighed the others. National security was in the “pro” column. After the Bush era, I feel that our country was far less safe than before, but in one year in office, I feel that Obama has changed that. Even as early as July, international opinions of the United States were almost back to their pre-Bush levels. Friday, I read an international poll showing the numbers even higher than in July, exceptionally so among Western European nations.

The right-wing of this country will poo-poo those statistics and complain that the country is much less safe and say that Obama has done nothing but lie and collect an unwarranted paycheck. The not-so-thin veil of partisan hatred obscures their vision so much that they refuse to acknowledge, or even see, even small positives about our president.

Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize should be a cause for celebration… an inspiration… a reason to be proud. The Nobel committee explained their position well and an award of this nature is not unprecedented as some would claim. But instead of savoring the pride, the honor, and the inspiration that should come from a Nobel prize, Obama’s opponents, not Obama, cheapen the award. Their wild spewing of vitriolic anger tarnishes the luster of a prestigious, honorable prize that was awarded to a man chosen by the Nobel committee for both his accomplishments and for the promise of what he, and the rest of us, can yet accomplish toward global peace.

Rachel Maddow has more to say.

(thanks to my friend Rob Kent for the link to Rachel’s video)

I’m okay with this…

I got an email from President Obama today. Well… a form email, but an email nonetheless which addressed the Nobel Peace Prize that he received today. Here’s what it said.

Daniel —

This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I’d been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

That is why I’ve said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won’t all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award — and the call to action that comes with it — does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.

So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we’ve begun together. I’m grateful that you’ve stood with me thus far, and I’m honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

I was surprised to read the news this morning, too, but I feel sad for anyone who doesn’t consider that a gracious acceptance and an honorable goal.

Glenn Beck and the Key to the City

It seems that Glenn Beck has received the “key to the city” from the mayor of his hometown, Mount Vernon, Washington. Bud Norris (the mayor), evidently emphasized that “the honor was for his professional accomplishments, not his political views.”

There were about 800 demonstrators on hand, reportedly evenly split between supporters and detractors.

Beck gave an acceptance speech at the event. MSNBC reports (emphasis mine)…

Beck, 45, mostly stayed away from discussing politics. But he said he didn’t remember politics being so divisive when he was growing up. The country could count on a bright future if people would stop tearing each other apart, he said.

I’m not sure if that’s hypocrisy or irony coming from the guy who said that Obama is a racist and has a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” He’s also the guy who said “Everyone is Hitler, except for me!” and…

The Manchurian Candidate couldn’t destroy us faster than Barack Obama. If you were planning a sleeper to come in and become president of the United States, this is how he would do it.

(and that’s pretty mild compared to a lot of his stuff)

This buffoon of hatred, bigotry, and absurdism is the guy who says we should stop tearing each other apart? Well… actually, he didn’t say we should stop. He said that our country could count on a bright future if we would stop.

I guess he wants no part of that.

Why take them seriously?

Here’s why it’s really hard to take the religious right seriously.

“I don’t believe in global warming,” said conservative activist Kim Simac, a horse trainer and mother of nine from Wisconsin who also believes that the teaching of creationism and prayer need to be brought back to public schools.



One delegate, Sue Phelps, drew comparisons between Barack Obama, Fidel Castro and Adolf Hitler – “they were good orators too” – and said the president’s nationality and religion were “unanswered questions”.



“Today in America, far too many young people enter adulthood unprepared for college, career, and life,” said Allan Golston, president of The Gates Foundation’s U.S. Program. [Drew] Dickens agrees and believes that “part of the problem is that we have removed prayer and the Ten Commandments from our schools and curriculum.”


I could go on. When people are that vocal, yet that oblivious to facts, that ignorant of the Constitution, and that eager to force their religious beliefs on others, they’ve really got no room to complain when they are ignored or mocked.

First Ammendment Wins in DC Protest

From John Moltz comes a link to an interesting perspective of the recent Washington, DC “Tea Party” protest march. He links to Matthew Yglesias’s website with the following quote.

As was the case with the bulk of the protesters, there was very little sense that anyone had any actual specific complaint with Obama’s health care proposals. That one woman loves the confederacy. This guy thinks guns are great and diversity is stupid. Many protesters feel that abortion is murder and/or that Barack Obama is in league with terrorists. But nobody had a sign urging the president to adopt more stringent cost control measures, or slamming the concept of regulations to require insurers to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

I don’t know if that’s valid criticism or not since protests (on pretty much any issue by any group) generally tend to be more about displaying slogans than offering solutions.

Photo via ABC News The signs I’ve been seeing in the photos I’ve viewed seem to express opinions on a pretty wide array of issues… including taxes, the deficit, ACORN, lies, socialism, Hitler, health care, and God. Some signs seemed to be well thought out by intelligent people. Some signs were obviously not. Some were absurd.

Again, I think that’s probably the case with almost any protest. You’ll find signs by sincere, intelligent, knowledgeable people alongside signs by folks who have good intentions, but are just running on pure emotion and don’t really know too much about the issues… alongside signs by people who are certifiable whack jobs. The signs will run the gamut from concern to anger to disgust to outrage to blind hate.

Most of the reports I’ve read about the protest this past weekend are saying that the crowd was exceptionally well-behaved. I haven’t read anything about any “incidents” occurring that would mar the gathering. That (in my book anyway) is a real plus for this protest.

Whether I agree with some or all of the protestors is another issue altogether, but I’m glad I live in a society where this kind of gathering is allowed to happen. There are some things about this country I think are wonderful and some things I think are pretty messed up, but freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are two of the great things.

I’m sure President Obama would agree with me.