GOP Senators in “Bipartisan” Group Show True Colors

Obama is "not pleased" with Sens. Enzi and Grassley for revealing their true colors as unabashed partisan nay-sayers. No kidding.

These guys have not had a bipartisan thought in this entire Congressional season. The only one worse than these Just Say No politicians is the Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee for: (a) forming a sub-committee to try to figure this out, thereby revealing his own lack of interest in doing so; and (b) putting three Republicans on the team as if the GOP had a right to an equal seat at the decision making table.

The time for the sham of bipartisan to be abandoned has arrived. Democrats will pay dearly for failing to accomplish what the voters elected them to do and which they've avoided by trying to make cooperation an end in itself rather than a means to a greater end. Let the 2010 elections clearly be a referendum on Obama's and the Democrats' family and social values agenda and the GOP's obstinate nay-saying. We may end up with a single-party legislature as the Republicans engage in a circular execution.

A Year Ago, I Died ((Flags: Personal))

It was one year ago last Friday that my heart stopped beating. Twice. Both times I was resurrected.

Having been through those experiences and the subsequent open-heart bypass surgery, the recovery, a complicating after-effect, lifestyle changes called for by the whole experience and a powerful spiritually transforming experience in the process, I can honestly say that I finally understand fearlessness and the true meaning of absolute freedom. I am a somewhat but not completely different person from what I was a year ago; more intensely focused on spiritual growth and teaching, more aware of my mortality and of the importance of my message to the world. I have one major goal now: reach 5 million people with my spiritual teachings in three years.

Every day is beautiful. I am blessed and grateful beyond words. And I am more than ever acutely aware of the Truth in my personal spiritual motto/slogan, "There's Only One of Us Here."


Ted Kennedy is Dead

Just caught a bulletin. Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, one of the great liberal thinkers and actors of this or any other generation, has died of brain cancer.

This is a staggering loss for a nation which seems to have a decreasing number of genuinely principled thinkers in its national leadership. We all knew it was coming soon. But the reality is no less stark for knowing that.

Like his brothers before him, he will leave a large hole in the fabric that is America.

U.S. Torturers Miss the Point

I was in high school and college during the height of the Cold War. I remember the horror with which those of us who were the liberal thinkers of the day viewed the then Soviet Union for its gulags and fake insane asylums and torture. Such inhumanity was so outrageous to our sensibilities, so over the top, that we scarcely had words to describe our disgust. Of course we didn't actually know that the Soviets did any of that stuff for a while. But then Russian writers started smuggling out the truth that bore a surprisingly strong resemblance to what our own government had been telling us. We were dumbfounded and aghast.

After yesterday's release of the internal CIA study of its torture tactics, I am having difficulty finding words to describe how I feel. My country — once a bastion of civil liberties and human rights — is now at least as despicable in its treatment of other human beings as the old Soviet Union in its heyday.

And what are Bush, Cheney and their underlings saying in response? They don't deny the patently criminal behavior. Instead, they defend and justify it on the grounds that it worked, that it played a key role in keeping America safe after September 11, 2001. As if "it worked" is any kind of defense — legal, moral or rational — for engaging in heinous behavior that violates dozens of international laws and treaties that we have historically demanded be enforced by other nations whose misguided leaders engaged in similar acts.

Never mind the complete absence of any proof that torture worked. The point is that even if you had such evidence, it would not excuse the criminal conduct. "It worked" might be a defense you could raise in a trial but if you break the law for what you think are justifiable reasons, you're not exempt from arrest and trial, only possibly from acquittal or mitigation.

Bush, Cheney and their direct reports who were involved in this activity need to be tried as criminals if we are to avoid perpetuating our growing reputation as amoral bullies and murderers. It really is that simple.

District 9: Two Movies, One Good, One Not So Good

If I'd been alone I'd have walked out of "District 9" last night 1/3 of the way into the movie.

The first third of the film was highly intriguing and innovative. I liked everything about it. The metaphor for dealing with race was exceedingly well done. The sort of bumbling but determined British bureaucrat was a believable and likable character. The blustering military presence and dominance were real. The aliens were sufficiently…well…alien to be mysterious. I liked the shaky-cam documentary approach. It was all good.

And then the violence started. And continued unrelentingly with splattering gore, horrific explosions and utter destruction and devastation becoming the theme and focus of the remainder of the movie. The violence, perhaps because of the documentary style used to shoot the movie, perhaps because of deliberate choices made by the director, was not sufficiently cartoonish and removed from reality for me to view it as detachedly as I often am with s-f film violence. I suspect that was an artistic decision that made the underlying message of the movie clearer and gave it greater impact. It wasn't the violence per se that I found objectionable; it was the sheer volume and dominance of it. It felt like the director couldn't think of any insightful way to pursue the message he had in mind and resorted instead to death and destruction as meaning.

Too bad. I had been primed by reviews from some of my colleagues to expect one of the better s-f films of the past 20+ years. It just didn't rise to that level, though its story line and early character development really promised that.

I'd give it 3 stars out of 5.

Niners’ Smith Looked Better Than Hill

In yesterday evening's pre-season matchup between the 49ers and the Raiders, Alex Smith out-shone Shaun Hill, I thought. The two are locked in a dead heat for the starter job and this was the second week the coaching staff had given both of them equal time behind center.

Smith was 3/9 for 30 yards and had one interception (arguably not his fault). Hill was 3/7 for 20 yards. Neither threw for a TD. In the ridiculous world of NFL QB ratings, Smith ended up with an impossibly ugly 4.2 while Hill "earned" a 50.3 rating. But just watching the two operate the offense, Smith seemed more poised, he made better tough decisions, and he seemed more confident than Hill, who as last year's starter while Hill was injured  should have the inside track.

Clearly one pre-season game isn't all that meaningful; despite the desperate hype offered up by the TV broadcasters, this wasn't a "must impress" game for Alex. And although I evaluated him higher than the incumbent, it is certainly true that he'll have to do a lot better than be in a dead heat with Hill to win back the starting position.

New Shafer Media Site Launches

Tonight, we launched a brand-new redesigned Shafer Media Web Site reflecting the New Media award we won yesterday and more clearly positioning us in the Web space.

Chipp Walters and I put the site together in about 5 hours using WordPress and the Transcript Theme Framework. It will grow in coming days and weeks, of course. I'd love to hear your comments about it.

My Team Wins Prestigious NewMedia Award!

Shafer Media was just named winner of the NewMedia excellence in Web design award for 2009!

This is a high-prestige award on which this entire team has worked tirelessly on behalf of a fantastic client, Capital Insurance Group, and its member-services Web presence known as The Protector Network. I am so proud of my team. They really rock!

Lead designer on this project is international award-winning Chipp Walters. He's an old hand at NewMedia awards, having won a passel of them when the awards emerged as the Oscars of our business. The awards helped him launch the successful Human Code enterprise that did phenomenal multimedia work for many major clients.

All I can say about winning this award is, Cool!

Hey, Mr. President! When Do You Start Leading?

We sent President Obama to the White House with a clear mandate for change but he won't use that power where it's most needed. Instead, he prefers to allow the Know-Nothing, No-Everything Party to have far too much influence on public policy in a sadly misguided effort to be bipartisan.

The latest casualty: the public option in health care reform. That loss would be totally unacceptable, Mr. President, to your "base". Trust me. Your base already feels betrayed by your early decision to take a single-payer plan off the table without a single second of debate. If you allow this provision to be gutted from the bill as well, you might as well just do like your predecessors and let the health care insurance industry write the legislation. Nobody who's been paying attention the last 30+ years believes we will ever reform health insurance without a public option. It's the only real lever in the current legislation that has a hope of getting the health insurance industry to curb its greed and act responsibly.

Please, Mr. President, stop the ridiculous posturing on bipartisanship. Notice that word begins with the prefix "bi" meaning "two". You can't achieve bipartisan governance when the opposition is only interested in being the opposition.

Your job now should be to use your bully pulpit and convince those independents who have been influenced into changing their views on health-care reform by the screaming madness of the un-American opposition to return to their previous understanding of what's good and necessary and then to get back to D.C. and impose some party discipline to get this job done.

I don't want to see you be a one-term President but if you keep up this lack of real leadership from strength, I fear that will be the result.