Monthly Archives: June 2010

What if these Senators had to have hearings on them like the one on Kagan

Wouldn’t that be neat. For instance, what if a panel of Supreme Court Justices, Ambassadors, Administration Secretaries, and other entities requiring Congressional Approval had a two or three day period to ask ridiculous and “personally revealing of point of view” questions to nominated Senators?

If Kyl or Grassley or Sessions had to answer questions about things they had done twenty years ago, of their previous lives in other occupations, on specific issues like guns or women’s rights, etc., where would they end up? My guess is that many would have their elections nullified.

Bulwer-Lytton Awards Announced… I know you were all waiting for this…

San Jose State University’s English department gas announced this year’s winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Awards for really bad fiction writing. The contest takes the opening line in several categories of fiction writing and makes its awards to those who put themselves in the league of 19th Century writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.

The overall champion was Molly Ringle of Seattle with this gem of an opening line:

“For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.”

Our congratulations to Ms. Ringle.

To see all the winners go HERE where you will also lern how to enter next year’s competition.

Grassley brought up something wild today at the Kagan hearing…

Listen to this… is the Second Amendment right to bear arms granted by God? Gee, I guess Grassley thinks so. Kagan handled it pretty well.

But this shows what’s fundamentally wrong with so many folks in our government.

Confessions of a Former Conservative (via The Hippie Professor)

I picked this up today… there’s more at his site (including another half of this article).

I have a confession to make. I used to be a conservative. I am now a liberal. This is my story. To be honest, this article may not be of interest to anyone but me. It describes changes in my political views that have occurred over the course of 40 years or so. There may or may not be some insights in here – insights that might apply to politics in general. Regardless, I feel the need to write this – partly because I want to get some of it off my … Read More

via The Hippie Professor

Goodbye to John Willis

Everyone in the theatre likes to read Theatre World, the annual report of shows on Broadway, Off Broadway and in regional locations around the country. Originally founded by Daniel Blum, it was taken over by Willis in 1965 when Blum died.
Willis stayed in charge of Theatre World until his retirement in 2008 (it is now edited by Ben Hodges.)

I must say that one of my favorite treasures on my bookshelf is the Theatre World which lists Ride The Winds, the show Berta Walker and I produced at the Bijou Theatre on Broadway in 1972. The fact that we we appeared there made me feel like a legitimate theatre professional.

John Willis died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 93.

Here’s a stupid quote… would you believe it is from Fox & Friends?

Gee… I sure would.

“The President took a matter of hours to pick a commander in Afghanistan so why is it taking months to plug the leaking oil?”

– Brian Kilmeade Fox and Friends

And these are the people who have the same responsibilities as a US President, no?

Quote for the Day – Bob Herbert’s Saturday column said it all

“We’ve been in Afghanistan for nearly a decade already. It’s one of the most corrupt places on the planet and the epicenter of global opium production. Our ostensible ally, President Hamid Karzai, is convinced that the U.S. cannot prevail in the war and is in hot pursuit of his own deal with the enemy Taliban. The American public gave up on the war long ago, and it is not at all clear that President Obama’s heart is really in it.

For us to even consider several more years of fighting and dying in Afghanistan — at a cost of heaven knows how many more billions of American taxpayer dollars — is demented. “

– Bob Herbert in the NY Times.

“Demented” is the operative word here. There is no way out. It costs us more every day. It kills our servicemen. It supports a corrupt system. And it has become Obama’s property.

What will the American People do to turn this around? Probably nothing.

Senator Robert Byrd Dead at 92

The senator’s office announced that he passed away at 3 a.m. this morning at a Fairfax, VA,  hospital.  He was serving an unprecedented ninth term in the U.S. Senate.

First elected to the House in 1952 and the Senate six years later, the fiery West Virginia Democrat known for his oratory

Not all organic food is “organic”

Here’s a clip about food imported from China… Click on the address for more.

This post is presented in cooperation with Panhandle Vegan.

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Think those “organic” strawberries from China are better for environment? Think again.

The organic label is meant to signify that a food is relatively environmentally friendly: Organic producers are forbidden from using many synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. When that organic food comes from China, that label may not mean much.
“When I see organic food from China, I question,” environmental journalist Michael Pollan told PRI’s The World, “how organic is it?” Organics are a $26 billion industry in the United States, and an increasing amount of that is coming from China. Pollan points out, “organic is a very big global business now. People don’t realize it.”
A Chinese grocery chain owner who spoke with Global Post estimated that “maybe 30 percent of farms that put the organic label on their food produce the real thing.”
Consumers should look beyond the label and consider the real environmental cost of their foods.
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Isn’t Stephen Colbert Great?!

This hits BP right where we live.

I just read this when I got on line a few minutes ago – Senator Byrd has been hospitalized.

This was posted by Nathan Empsall at
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Senator Byrd Hospitalized

From The Hill:
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has been admitted to a Washington-area hospital and is in “seriously ill” condition, his office said in a news release Sunday.
The statement said that Byrd, 92, “was admitted to the hospital late last week suffering from what was believed to be heat exhaustion and severe dehydration as a result of the extreme temperatures.” The region has experienced a stretch of temperatures in the 90s with high humidity.
Byrd’s office said he was not expected to remain in the hospital more than a few days, but “other conditions have developed which has resulted in his condition being described as ‘serious.'”
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Looking over the problems we’ve covered in the past few months…

It’s getting so that time has to be sorted out among things which are all terribly important.  The difficulty here is that almost all of the things require majority participation in one form or another… and if your time is focused on one thing, it’s hard to find time for all the others.

Here goes:

1.) Problems with GMOs in foods

2.) Dangerous pollution from the Gulf Oil Spill

3.) Problems with the Military and just being at War in Afghanistan and Iraq

4.) Tea Baggers

5.) Our Disastrous Economy

6.)Republican plans to repeal Health Care advance

7.) Our relationship with Israel as they step on Palestine

8.) More GMO problems as Monsanto takes over the agriculture seed industry

9.) Wall Streets fight against financial reform

10.) Religion against Global Warming

…and that’s just part of it, It would help if you let me know which things you want to focus on here at Under The LobsterScope. Leave a comment


If you can get HBO, then you have to see Gasland, a documentary film by Josh Fox about the natural gas industry and especially how “frac” mining in porous shale with highly toxic chemicals is polluting the water supply (air supply, too) in many places around the country. If you can’t get HBO, go to the Gasland web site at and get the information… and write your congressfolk after you do.

Elly and I got very upset watching the movie as most of West Virginia is built on the Marcellus Shale, one of the prime areas where Fracing is making the water undrinkable (and flammable). Shepherdstown is slightly removed from the area, but shale is porous and this could spread from New York state into the south with us in the middle.

The film goes into related natural gas drilling problems in Texas, the far west, the mid west and other areas… so much of the US is affected that it is amazing this is the first time a film like this has been made.

New York State is working on an anti-fracing measure and it is hoped that Charles Shumer is going to bring it national. Like the oil industry, however, there are a handful of high-paid lobbyists for each and every lawmaker and the industry has extreme power (and tight relations, it appears, with Dick Cheney.)

Anyway… I’ll get more out on this later. What we needed was one more miserable issue to get into… but this one hits me at home.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – lots of choices, hard decision

Under The LobsterScope has been showing the winning editorial cartoons for several years every weekend. I  do the selection by collecting my favorites all week long…going through fifty to a hundred samples – and some weeks it is hard to make a decision.

This week I have seventeen finalists to go through… which is what I will do before I put up the post. With luck, I’ll cut the selection down to three… this isn’t a week that will end up with one.

Here we go:

Bruce Plante in the Tulsa World:

…at least someone gets his wish out of the BP mess…

– and –

Bob Englehart in The Hartford Courant:

… looks like Pensacola will lose its tourist income this year…

– and –

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

… had to do at least one Cartoon on the McChrystal affair…

– and –

Just an extra for fans of the World Cup…

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

… this could change political noise forever.

Quote of the Day – Why isn’t a politician’s gaffe a good thing?

“If a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth, as someone once said, why isn’t that a good thing? Don’t we prefer the truth, even if it pops out by accident? Increasingly, no. What the press seems to value is successful spin. As gaffes and the phony umbrage that follows them gradually swallow up our politics, the press has taken on a bizarre role like that of judges in a figure-skating competition, as opposed to referees in a hockey match. What counts is the artistry.”

– Michael Kinsley

Why we should be more like animals…

Why we should be more like animals…

I think the oil spill is getting us to think more about about what humankind has done to the other living creatures that make up the Gulf’s biosphere. As I was searching for something completely different (the source of the joke “Death or Moobli” which I laughed heartily over as a read a book on conversation that I picked up at the Shepherdstown Library… I’ll repeat it further down the post), I discovered this small video entitled “Tortoise helps tortoise”:

We see that in its slow-motion way, a tortoise actually rescues one of its kind… evaluates the situation, gets into position and pulls off a turnover.

I’m not sure what the human response would be in the same situation. I mean, after all, we can talk and evaluate things…

“Are you drunk?”

“What’s it worth to you?”

“Look… if I have time…I’ll send someone.”

Is this an opportunity to take someone’s territory? Steal their wallet? Laugh at their situation?

And so the joke (thanks to Daniel Menaker in “A Good Talk”):

Two missionaries are captured by a tribe of natives deep in the heart of the jungle. They are tied up to poles and surrounded by dancing tribe members and it doesn’t look too good for them. Finally, the Chief stops the dancing, faces the two missionaries and says:

“You have a choice. Death or Moobli?” (Why the Chief speaks English, I don’t know.)

One missionary, thinking that death has got to be the worst choice, asks for Moobli. The Chief raises his hand and the tribal members untie the missionary from the post and proceed to beat him, strip him of his clothes, yell insults at him, urinate and defecate on him, make him run through a double line of the tribe’s children who pelt him with stones and finally they leave him sobbing in a pile of garbage. He is shattered, a broken man, and goes insane.

The second missionary, seeing what has happened to the first, decides that it would be better to be dead than go through the horrible and unbearable punishment that his associate had, looks at the Chief and says;

“I choose Death!”

The Chief raises his arms and says: “Death!…. But first, Moobli!”

Hopefully, I haven’t ruined it in the retelling. This tells me a lot about what life is like among people.

It’s time to support Dennis Kucinich on GMOs

Four days ago, Congressman Kucinich came out with this statement as a response to the Supreme Court’s 7-1 decision to allow the experimental planting of genetically modified alfalfa seed before an environmental review is completed:

“Why do we continue to throw precaution to the wind?”

“Today the Supreme Court ruled that when it comes to genetically modified organisms, we as consumers have to wait until the damage is done and obvious before we can act to protect health and the environment, even if that damage could be irreversible.”

“Haven’t we learned from the catastrophe in the Gulf of the dangers of technological arrogance, of proceeding ahead with technologies without worrying about the consequences? Why do we continue to throw precaution to the wind?

“Tomorrow I will introduce three bills that will provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for all Genetically Engineered (GE) plants, animals, bacteria, and other organisms. To ensure we can maximize benefits and minimize hazards, Congress must provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for all GE products. Structured as a common-sense precaution to ensure GE foods do no harm, these bills will ensure that consumers are protected, food safety measures are strengthened, farmers’ rights are better protected and biotech companies are responsible for their products.”

There’s more information at the Organic Consumer’s Association.

I need an entertainment for the early afternoon…

The last couple of days with McChrystal and increased oil spill reaching Pensacola, FL, and starting my nominal “retirement” (first Social Security payment came yesterday), I have been increasingly depressed.

Then I discovered “Zombie Pirates in Love” by Tom Smith and I’m full of bubbly hope again!

Like that?

Here are the lyrics:
You’ve heard of Captain Blackbeard,
How he had a dozen wives,
Well, we’ve got something more weird,
And it’s surely changed our lives.
You may not think us gentle or kind,
But we’re all gallant swains,
We admire a lady for her mind,
Or more precisely her BRAINZ!

Zombie pirates in love, yo ho!
Zombie pirates in love,
We used to be normal buccaneers
Till those lights came from above,
Our ship met a glowing fog one night,
And we came out with an appetite
For human flesh, if it’s Miss Right…
Zombie pirates in love, yo ho!
Zombie pirates in love.

We’ve got that rakish swagger,
And we’ve got that roguish charm,
We’ve got that bug-eyed stagger,
And we’ve got somebody’s arm.
Now, you may think you’re faster
Than a zombie on a boat
But all we need’s a pastor
And you’re Mrs. Undead Cutthroat.

Zombie pirates in love, yo ho!
Zombie pirates in love,
We may be dead, but we’ll be wed
When pushing comes to shove,
Come on, me beauty, take a chance
On eternal love and true romance,
At the wedding we’ll do the Thriller dance….
Zombie pirates in love, yo ho!
Zombie pirates in love.

Our honeymoon will be a terror
Of connubial bliss
For no bride’s mother can prepare her
For a night like this,
In matrimony holy
Our bones will groan and creak
And if we both chew slowly
We could make it last all week.

So let’s hear all the cannons roar and
Let’s all celebrate.
Raise the Jolly Roger, Corman,
I’ve acquired a mate.
You’ll be my wife long after life,
You’ll always have my heart,
We’ll keep love fresh with living flesh
Until we fall apart.

Zombie pirates in love, yo ho!
Zombie pirates in love,
We’ll roam the sea eternally,
My rotting turtle dove,
It’s not the life you might have had,
But zombie pirating ain’t all bad,
And I can’t wait to eat — meet! your mom and dad —
Zombie pirates in love, yo ho!
Zombie pirates in love.
Zombie pirates in love, yo ho!
Zombie pirates in love.
Yo, ho, yo, ho, we’re zombie pirates in love!

Now back to my radio show prep.

Tomorrow is my Radio Day at WSHC…

I stopped off at the radio station this morning to get the key from John Case who won’t be in town tomorrow… I’m covering the Winners and Losers Program alone.

Today I’m putting together my music and some discussion topics. I stopped off at the Contemporary American Theater Festival office at Shepherd and talked to Peggy McKowen and Ed Herendeen to see if I can get someone to interview. The trouble with Theater People (I should know this, of course) is that a 7:30 AM show after rehearsing late into the night is a dismal prospect. Peggy is going to try and get me someone…then get back to me later today. I’m not really expecting anyone…although this would be good promotion for the CATF.

Anyway, it will take me some time today to be ready for tomorrow. BTW: you can hear the show live on-line at if you are outside the tuning range for FM 89.7 in Shepherdstown.

US Moves Ahead in World Cup!

Who would have thunk it?
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U.S. wins, advances to World Cup’s second round
The United States has advanced to the second round of the 2010 World Cup with a dramatic 1-0 victory over Algeria.
Landon Donovan scored off a rebound in the first minute of stoppage time to put the Americans into the round of 16.
With England’s 1-0 victory over Slovenia just minutes earlier, the U.S. would have been eliminated from the tournament with a loss or a tie.
The U.S., which won Group C, will play Saturday against the second-place finisher of Group D. That group includes Germany, Ghana, Serbia and Australia.
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McChrystal Relieved of Duty…

McChrystal is out and Petraeus is in (his former assignment, no?). The President has made the decision that shows he is in charge of the military.

Now… can we really have a counter-insurgency status in Afghanistan. I just heard former Defense Secretary, Bill Cohen on MSNBC,  say “No.” General Barry McCaffrey, also on MSNBC, agreed with Cohen.

Everyone is waiting for Obama to come out and speak. AS I watch TV, he is coming out.

“Today I accepted General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation…”, Obama started out and then said nice words about McChrystal’s skills and ability to carry out orders.

I don’t hear him saying that we are pulling out of Afghanistan.



Obama’s statement:

And I would consider this the Quote of the Day:

“The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our Democratic system, and it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.”

Quickie Update on McChrystal

According to all reports, the meeting between the General and the President lasted about twenty minutes.

After the meeting, McChrystal abruptly left and did not go in to attend the full staff war meeting.

Obama said he would make a statement later in the day, but as of now, McChrystal’s status is unknown.

So what is Obama going to do with General Stanley McChrystal?

We should find out today. The General has been called in to have a face-to-face with the President, plus there will be a meeting of all the civilian and military folks who plan this war in Afghanistan, including those cabinet members and the Vice President that McChrystal and his staff also insulted in the Rolling Stone article.

Every different pundit is guessing that either something…or nothing (more like Obama’s record so far)… will happen.  McChrystal may be fired, or just brought down a peg in public, or stripped of his associates, or… well you get the idea,

James Fallows, in The Atlantic, yesterday, said the following:

If the facts are as they appear — McChrystal and his associates freely mocking their commander in chief and his possible successor (ie, Biden) and the relevant State Department officials (Holbrooke and Eikenberry) — with no contention that the quotes were invented or misconstrued, then Obama owes it to past and future presidents to draw the line and say: this is not tolerable. You must go. McChrystal’s team was inexplicably reckless in talking before a reporter this way, but that’s a separate question. The fact is — or appears to be — that they did it.

I agree with Fallows. This is what should happen. But there have been enough occasions that everyone thought Obama would do something, and he did something else… pulled back or underplayed one thing or another.

Obama could also have McChrystal courtmartialed under existing law. Spencer Ackerman in the very conservative Washington Independent looks at it this way:

Regardless of whether McChrystal should be fired — there’s, frankly, a compelling case to be made when considering the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s penalty of court martial for “any commissioned officer [using] contemptuous words” against the civilian chain of command — my guess is that he won’t be. Obama summoned McChrystal back to Washington pretty much immediately after the story hit, which suggests that he’s not thinking about a wholesale revision of his strategy.

So now we wait and see what Obama does. Will he get rid of McChrystal and secure the authority of civilian control of the military? Will he humiliate McChrystal and let him hang about on the vine with his staff, then keep him in place… thus keeping the Afghanistan action in place without change?

My guess is that McChrystal keeps his job and this stupid war goes on undiminished.

I hope I’m wrong.

Just saw this on John Aravosis’ blog…

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Gen. McChrystal has reportedly offering his resignation

1. Will Obama accept it? Unlikely.
2. When will Gates be offering his? It’s not likely McChrystal wasn’t following the lead of his boss, who hasn’t exactly been following the President’s orders for a while now.
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So lets check out the news sources and see if this is true….

For Support Contributions in September, I’m giving away a great picture font!…

It’s one of my classics,  Bill’s Barnhart Ornaments, being given as a gift for all who support  Under The LobsterScope with a contribution of $5.00 or more.

In 2004 I started Under The LobsterScope during the election season. For six years I have presented the best liberal-oriented material I could find and my own comments on politics and the arts (and a few other subjects).

I need your support to keep this blog going… when I started I was employed and well-paid, but, as a result of the Bushified economy, I was more-or-less unemployed for three years, and now I have retired to Social Security eligibility. Under The LobsterScope is my major achievement each day.

I’m asking if you will donate at least $5.00 to Under the LobsterScope. If you do, you get my picture font,Bill’s Barnhart Ornaments (usually priced at $29.00) , absolutely FREE OF CHARGE, sent to you immediately by e-mail.

That’s it. $5.00 or more and I will send you this font (partial sample below) which is only available at my UTF Type Foundry site.

Even a small donation of $1 or $2 helps (although $5 helps a whole lot more…and gets you the font. Some folks who really like this blog give even more!) The amount is up to you. We accept contributions through PayPal and the credit/debit cards shown below.

Remember…All contributors of $5.00 or more receive a copy of my Picture Font, Bill’s Barnhart Ornaments (I send you the versions for both Macs and PCs, plus a handy keyboard chart). As I said, I regularly sell this font for $29.00

This offer will end on September 30th.

I appreciate those of you who have come on board every time I’ve put up a new Free Font and hope more of you will join in. Previous donors have received four of my Free Fonts…Bill’s Universal Symbols, Bill’s Cast O’Characters, Bill’s Dingbats and Bill’s Century Marks. Since several contributors have come back more than once, it is clear that this is viewed as a “good deal”.

So please click on the “Donate” button below:

Bill T.