Thursday, January 31, 2008

Terrorists by the numbers

By Libby

As my favorite pundit Yogi Berra once said, "It feels like deja vu all over again." We killed AQ's No. 3 man. Anybody out there keeping track of how many times we've got this guy? If memory serves, we've seen this headline more than once and every time I see it, I get this vision of the conversation at AQ headquarters.
"She-et. They got number three again."

"So who's going to be number three now?"

"Not me man. That guy always gets killed. I want to be number four."
They never get number four.

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THIS POST IS ABOUT NAKEDNESS AND SEX !!!

by expatbrian

(And you’re reading it because your “dirty little secret” is that, even though you feel terribly guilty about it, you like sex)

ABC is being fined for indecency for an episode of NYPD Blue (one of the finest shows on network TV) in which the side and back of a nude woman was briefly shown.

OH MY GOD! OH MY FREAKING CHRIST!!

NOT A…..PLEASE GOD, NOT A….NUDE BODY!

HOW UTTERLY DISGUSTING!

The only thing that’s indecent is the fine and the reason for it.

God, are we ever going to get our heads out of the sand and our minds out of the gutter? Why are we so horrified when we see a naked body? What is so ”obscene” about it? And why are we so desperately afraid that our sons or daughters, who see their own and probably their siblings and parents naked, might see someone else?

Why do we allow this ridiculous religious myth to go on that the human body, in its natural state, is the work of the devil? Actually, not the entire body….just a few square inches of it.

To be fair lets pin this down. On a woman, there is about 4 square inches at the very tip of each breast that is obsene. You know, the part God created to feed and nurture his newest children. Yeah, cover those two, disgustingly dirty things up. Also on a woman, a line from the pubic bone to the tail bone….about an inch wide and maybe 12 inches long. This is truly the devils work. I don’t even have to tell you why this area is so dirty and evil. Afterall, it includes the area where the woman has….oh…I can’t even say it! Where she has S..E..X. BUT ONLY FOR BABIES…..NOT FOR ENJOYMENT!

Men are even more disgusting than women. The amount of dirty space on them is difficult to define because it….CHANGES SHAPE AND SIZE. God, how perversely evil is that? Talk about the devil’s workshop.

So lets continue to teach our children just how bad their bodies are. Lets make sure they understand how wrong it is to feel pleasure in their “private” areas. This will insure that they will realize how “different” they must be from everyone else for having these feelings and being curious about them. Afterall, not everyone could be as dirty and wrong as they are, right?

It's important that they understand how evil and bad these feelings are and how crucial it is to deny they exist and how God does not want them to do ANYTHING to acknowledge those feelings. BUT, once they sign a marriage certificate, those feelings are all GODLIKE and wonderful and they can feel free to enjoy them at will. At that point, they can easily just put aside all of the guilt that has been driven into their brains about it every day since their birth!
Sue me.
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Who, Me?


I'm pleased and flattered that Libby has asked me to help out at The Impolitic. I'm expatbrian (an American West Coaster who has chosen to live in Singapore) and my blog is World Gone Mad. I am also pleased to join my colleague, the eloquent Cap'n Fogg, as a contributor here.

If you love the war, support the president, go to church every sunday and watch Fox News, you probably won't like me. Otherwise, stick around. I'll try not to bore you.
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This time for sure....

By Libby

We're about to welcome a new guest blogger to the Impolitic. I hesitate to make this announcement because the last two people who swore they would photoblog here disappeared and started ignoring my emails as soon as I announced their imminent arrival. I'm beginning to think the intros are a jinx so I think this time I'm going to let him introduce himself.

Expect him when you see him. I think you're going to like him.

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Hold the crow

By Libby

My friend Joe Tobacco says he's a southern Democrat. I'm not sure what that means. I stopped reading him for a while because when he started getting a lot of links from Insty and Malkin and the other big fringers, his posts started sounding a little like they were playing to that choir. But he seems to have settled back into moderation again and I've been checking in more regularly. He asks if those of us who predicted that Bush would bomb Iran and who posit that the Deciderer might decide it's in the interests of national security not to vacate the office are embarrassed now? I told him I would be happy to be embarrassed but I wouldn't be dining on crow until 1-20-09, thanks all the same.

I'm looking forward to a heaping helping on that day and I'll swallow it gladly, but in the interim Avedon flagged this interesting Freudian slip at the WaPo.
That is the problem Bush faces as he prepares to deliver his seventh and probably final State of the Union address tonight.
It seems the seeds of doubt are planted in unexpected places and like the corpse lily, one never knows where or when they might bloom.

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Bush balances budget on backs of the elderly

By Libby

So let me get this straight. We're in a health care crisis in this country. Almost 50 million Americans can't afford health insurance and Bush recently told us that it's not a problem because anyone can go to the ER for critical care. We'll leave aside that this still leaves millions without the ability to get preventive care that would keep them out of the ER in the first place.

Now comes Bush with his budget proposal designed to cure the deficit he created by 2012 and how does he propose to do that? Our compassionate conservative came up with the brilliant plan to cut billions in spending from the two programs that assist those who have to rely on near death experiences in the ER for their health care, namely Medicare and Medicaid.

The cuts won't be made to corporate welfare payments to private insurers who offer overpriced supplemental plans. No, he wants to slice the guts out of the safety net that the poor literally rely on to stay alive. He proposes to kill Medicare by cutting already inadequate reimbursements further.
Most of the Medicare savings in the budget would be achieved by reducing the annual update in federal payments to hospitals [especially teaching hospitals], nursing homes, hospices, ambulances and home care agencies.
So I guess the plan is that the elderly and the poor are supposed to wait until their health has critically failed to go to ERs that won't exist because hospitals will fail without proper reimbursement, which will solve the problem of the doctor shortage since there won't be there any place for them to practice. I don't know if Bush has come up with one of those pithy Orwellian names for this proposal, but I think I'm going to call it the Genocide Budget. I can't think of more accurate description.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Here he comes to save the day

By Capt. Fogg

The last time we had a simultaneous decline in U.S. household wealth and income was in 1974. One might suspect that the printing of dollars to pay for the Vietnam war had something to do with the inflation and stagnation that ensued and that we might be facing a seriously frustrating repeat of a situation that launched an anti-government philosophy and gave us Ronald Reagan and the "debt doesn't matter" idiocy.

But I digress. Today's rate cut by the Fed, following close upon the heels of another panicked attempt to avoid a stock market crash has had an effect so far this afternoon, but as Robert Shiller, a Yale University economist says,
"The Fed is going to have to keep slashing rates, probably below inflation,''
and that may fuel a continuation of the consumer borrowing and spending frenzy that got us into this mess; a frenzy that mirrors the myth and machismo driven borrow and spend Bush philosophy.

I've already had e-mails from friends today that seem to be some kind of sigh of relief that Bernanke's "bailout" will, like Mighty Mouse, save the day. I'm not so sure we can look to cartoon characters for redemption, as we have been doing since George took office. When interest rates are at the level of inflation, a level to which this latest reactionary rate cut may bring us, a repeat of the housing bubble seems likely. According to Craig Torres and Simon Kennedy writing for Bloomberg yesterday:
"The last time the Fed pushed real rates so low was in 2005, in the middle of the three-year housing bubble, when consumers took on $2.9 trillion in new home-loan debt, the biggest increase of any three-year period on record."
But I guess that's what being a Reaganite conservative today is all about: endless repetitions of a failed formula and attacks on any suggestion of any actual fiscal conservatism.

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Change, anyone?

by Capt. Fogg

A
s for the Republican issue, none of it was unpredictable: the beautiful, sunny 74 degree day, the end of ridiculous Rudy, the recrudescence of the McCain campaign, the Floridian fizzlement of Ron Paul and the success of Governor Charlie Crist's Cure All tax cut. As for the Democratic, officially moot exercise in electronic voting, it was less so. I suspected that Obama might edge out Clinton, but I was wrong and of course we lost Edwards and I'm sad to see him go.

Apparently saying change a lot wins the cigar although the notion that McCain represents change in any discernible direction other than a less hysterical approach to immigration seems unsupported. I've seen him making out with George and talking up the forever war too often. Obama was my choice, which figures, since anyone I vote for usually loses, but don't ask me why. I actually didn't decide until I was in the booth. OK, so I thought he represented change although I still don't know why or what or how he would change anything.

So Nothing but Ambition Hillary scored a big win, but no delegates against Barak who won't get any Florida delegates either leaving Nothing but Ambition Edwards to go home. Nothing but Ambition McCain will get all the Republican delegates Florida has to offer. Nothing but Ambition (and bucks) Romney will have to keep slogging and smiling and pretending while Nothing but Ambition Huckabee has yet to decide whether God has forsaken his campaign along with Florida's Evangelicals.

So it's another gorgeous morning. Perfect day to put the top down again and go visit a local yacht broker to talk about boosting the local economy. Is there any change yet?

Cross posted from Human Voices

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John Edwards out

By Libby

This is just coming in from the AP saying John Edwards will withdraw from the race.

The two-time White House candidate notified a close circle of senior advisers that he planned to make the announcement at a 1 p.m. EST event in New Orleans that had been billed as a speech on poverty, according to two of his advisers. The decision came after Edwards lost the four states to hold nominating contests so far to rivals who stole the spotlight from the beginning — Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

The former North Carolina senator will not immediately endorse either candidate in what is now a two-person race for the Democratic nomination, said one adviser, who spoke on a condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement.
I'm sorry to hear this. Although he never built up enough steam to get his train rolling, he's been invaluable in injecting progressive issues into the debate. They say he plans to stay in NOLA to work on a Habitat for Humanity project.
With that, Edwards' campaign will end the way it began 13 months ago — with the candidate pitching in to rebuild lives in a city still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Edwards embraced New Orleans as a glaring symbol of what he described as a Washington that didn't hear the cries of the downtrodden.
It's difficult to figure why Edwards campaign never took off with progressives. He was voicing our concerns and willing to buck the establishment to promote them. Certainly his failure to acheive any crossover momentum was partly driven the hateful media vendetta against him but his failure to energize 'the left,' including myself, always surprised me.

I never could quite put my finger on why I didn't see a champion for our cause in him. In retrospect, I have to think that in some part, it all went wrong when he allowed himself to be browbeaten by the right wing rage machine into firing Amanda and Melissa. I was really encouraged when he hired them and extremely disappointed when he let them go. It made it difficult to believe he could lead us, when he caved so quickly to the fringers. I think subconsciouly, I never quite got over it. I have a feeling, I'm not the only one. [via]

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Indecisions and revisions

By Capt. Fogg

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;


A
nother sunny morning in the Sunshine State and I soon will be off to my local polling place; a VFW hall about 3 miles from here, sitting all alone between large tracts of parkland that still show signs of the three hurricanes that passed through here a few years ago.

I always vote and I always know who I am going to vote for long before the primary, but this morning I have two big questions I have to answer: do I put the top down on the car and who the hell do I vote for? The second question may very well not be decided until I'm under way and perhaps not until I walk between the big, green howitzers into the building. I'm going to have to vote for someone.

Of course the Florida vote has been made all but moot by the Democratic Party's little hissy fit that deprived us of delegates and I'm convinced that as usual, the most preposterously unsuitable candidate will prevail on both sides and of those two, the less likely to fix our national mess will win - but there are local issues that need to be decided and it's a nice day for a drive in the country. . .

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
-T.S. Eliot-

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Smells like smoke

By Capt. Fogg

I used to read The Gun Toting Liberal although other than for the title that describes me fairly well, it's slant is hardly liberal or even "slightly left of center" lately, and I haven't read much 2nd amendment debate there. I used to read them, but it's all over now and I'm through wishing I could quit them; I'm finished.

I'm aware that the title of "liberal" has become meaningless through decades of tendentious definition, but what kind of Liberal claims that Barak Obama is a Muslim, Caroline Kennedy is his daughter and the New York Times commits treason? Actually, the antic internet smear campaign against Obama is more comical than the usual swashbuckling swift boat stuff I've seen used against John Kerry, his wife, Max Cleland and even against John McCain in previous elections. It ranks with the little remembered and less effective campaign to insinuate that Dwight Eisenhower was Jewish.

Leonard Pitts comments in today's Miami Herald about the strangeness of a country that accepts Shaquille O'Neal and Mohammed Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who are Muslims and worries about whether Obama, who is not a follower of the Prophet, is secretly the Baghdad Candidate. I would actually dismiss the effort as being so puerile as to be ineffective but for the e-mails that pour into my mailbox with indignant comments about Barak Osama refusing to salute the flag or say the pledge of allegiance and taking his oath of office on the Koran. Apparently there are people looking for some reason to tear him down that distract from their real reason and then there are always those who will fall for the "where there's smoke, there's fire" fallacy. Of course, where there's smoke there's often a smokescreen and what smells like smoke to some, smells like bullshit to others.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Straight question

by Capt. Fogg

It so happens that I agree with John McCain about the need to improve medical care for veterans. He told an audience here in Florida this weekend that he would issue a "plastic card" that the recipient could take to any doctor or hospital instead of "waiting on line to wait on line to make an appointment to make an appointment" at a Veteran's Hospital. That would be nice, but why then would it be the first step into the dismal swamp of Socialism if that card were issued to the rest of us? Why isn't John recommending the privatization of the VA if he and his party want to leave health care in the hands of the insurers and drug manufacturers and for-profit hospitals? Why, if the government can't possibly help us and can't really do anything right as the Great Cornball Communicator told us and the Republicans count beads and repeat; why then does McCain think it can work for some and can't work for others?

Just looking for a straight answer.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Busy busy

By Libby

Sorry folks. I overslept and I have doctor's appointments all day so I won't be back until this evening. I've got some posts at the Newshoggers and my co-bloggers will be following the news there and of course my compatriots at The Reaction are also always posting. Oh, and I have some new stuff at The Detroit News.

I'll be back later.
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Brunch



It's Sunday. How do you like your eggs? Or perhaps you would prefer some dumb chicken?
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Speedy recovery Tim

By Libby

Tim Blair was the first right wing blog I ever commented on. I've always had a fondness for Aussies and for a while I was semi-reg, sparring with Andrea Harris and the rest of the crew over global warming and foreign aid. That was a long time ago and I haven't so much as looked at his blog in years so I had no idea he was diagnosed with cancer. The good news is the surgery was apparently successful.

I've long since given up on curing him of his misguided politics, but I'm certainly sending a good thought for a full and speedy recovery to a fellow blogger.

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Obama the next JFK?

By Libby

Back when Acidman was alive I got into a bit of blog fight with some of his fans. He asked which president we would want to date. Actually, I think he put in more physical terms but the theme was who did we find attractive as a man. Rob, rest his soul, was as politically opposite to me as is humanly possible and so were most of his 'wimmen' as he called them. The women were flooding the comment section with heavy sighs over Bush and when I said JFK, they piled on with a vengence.

I emerged from the sea of claws unscathed by reminding them we were talking about physical attraction, not politics, and JFK is the only president I found attractive in that way. Hell, I was 12 years old when he died and I had a huge crush on him. But truthfully, he's the only president that inspired me as a leader as well. History tells us he was a flawed man, but he was so charismatic, when he told us to ask what we could do for our country, we wanted to answer his call and we did.

Today Caroline Kennedy's op-ed endorsing Obama is generating a lot of buzz. I don't think endorsements usually mean all that much, but this one, from our former little princess of Camelot, I think is huge. Caroline clearly inherited her father's eloquence and these sort of comparisons trump all the bought ads in the world.

He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

[Obama can] make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.
For myself, I'm still finding it difficult to trust Obama, but I feel that way about all the candidates and since we're going to get stuck with one of them, his ability to inspire the electorate is his best selling point. POTUS is a unique position and no one can really predict how any man or woman will stand up to its rigorous job demands. Perhaps the best we can hope for, is to elect someone who can inspire a disengaged electorate to get involved. It certainly seems better to me than the cynical detachment we have now.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

The real cost of the occupation

By Libby

Cernig has another must read up at Newshoggers. Thanks to an FOIA request, we have some hard numbers from the Pentagon on the human toll of Bush's folly. These numbers can't be repeated enough.
The US has suffered more than 72,000 battlefield casualties since the start of the war on terror in 2001, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The query by the campaigning Veterans for Common Sense organisation shows that 4372 American soldiers have died and another 67,671 have been wounded in action, injured in accidents or succumbed to illness in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The veterans' group had to force the US Defence Department to release the figures by persuading judges to uphold their FoI rights.

A second request to the Veterans' Administration, the government-funded body responsible for taking care of ex-servicemen and women, showed 263,909 soldiers with experience of the two 21st-century wars have so far received treatment for everything from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the aftermath of amputated limbs.

It also showed 52,375 veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD and 34,138 have received approval for disability claims for the psychological disorder. As of October 31 last year, 1.6 million Americans have been deployed overseas since 2001.

Harvard University estimates the cost of caring for Iraq and Afghan veterans over the next 40 years will amount to between £125bn and £350bn, depending on the long-term effects of trauma.
You won't read this in the US media. This comes from Scotland and note those figures are in pounds. I don't know the exchange rate but I assume you can double those amounts and the figures represent the vets currently in the system. As Fogg pointed out, even now Bush is busily trying to ensure the occupation never ends so those costs will be compounded indefinitely if we stay for the 100 years that McCain merrily counts as an acceptable timetable.

I don't find that acceptable on any level myself.

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Quick bytes - Going out of my head edition

By Libby

Song in my head... The classic version is better but I'm posting this one as well because I loved the Mike Douglas show when I was a kid.

I have too many links, old and new, that are too good to lose but I won't have time to blog about so some weekend reading for you.

This is the must read link. Cernig has been working with a blogger think tank to pull together a suggested nuclear proliferation policy for the government. We don't actually have one in the US.

I posted on this myself a while back but Diane reminds us the Thought Crime Bill is still alive and should be dragged out back and shot. Contact info for your Congresslizards is on our main page sidebar.

I've always thought this was true and here's new evidence that easy access to internet porn reduces incidents of rape.

I missed blog for pro-choice day but here's a good linky post.

Conservative Communism is worth a read in full but here's a quote.
The incredible influence Neoconservatives that were spawned in the Conunist Ascension have in the current government is undeniable. The concepts of a greater American empire, established with the policy of nation building, by unilateralism if necessary, once the anathema of the traditional conservative ideology, is now foreign policy du jour. Stalinist methods such as domestic surveillance without warrant, disregarding habeous corpus, disregarding lawful legislation through executive decree, expansion of the power of the executive coupled with a reduction in the powers of the legislative, increased militarism and nationalism fueled by a distrust of internationalism and fear of outside threats are now political reality.
Diebolds aren't our only problem with the electoral process. SCOTUS rulings will probably "hand the 2008 presidential election, and likely many national and state elections, to the Republican Party."

I'm all for making 08 a historic election by breaking the rich white guy lock on the office but Lambert puts his finger on what bothers me about Obama.

Meanwhile, Wexler still wants impeachment and you can help.

If you need a reason to jump on the impeachment wagon, well, here's 935 false statements leading to war just for starters. I have a post on this one at Detroit News.

If that's not enough to get you excited about impeaching, how about the INS deporting American citizens? This is a result of Bush's directives and if we don't impeach, there's no guarantee the next president won't just keep all his insane policies in place.

[Most links via Avedon]

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Media Bytes - Built for Comfort Edition

By Libby

Song in my head. I couldn't find an original version by Willie Dixon or Howlin' Wolf, but this cover was pretty good. Meanwhile, it's been a hell of a week, both emotionally and physically. I woke up at six this morning feeling literally like I had been hit by a truck. Everything kind of hurts and I'm moving slow. Not to mention, I've been pretty much out of the loop for a week so it took hours to catch up on my reading. I'm still defragging my brain, so here's some media bytes to keep you entertained while I process the information overload.

I believe I've never posted one of these but this has to be the best cat blogging ever.

Charles looks at the Yangtze River - what's left of it.

Would you want this woman to teach your children? I wouldn't have a problem with it myself but apparently, some parents do.

I loved this. Ask Golden Age Wonder Woman.

Night of the Living Constitution. Funny in a way that kind of makes you cringe.

Same for this one. Disgraced former Majority Leader Tom DeLay: "McCain has done more to hurt the Republican party than any elected official I know of." The text doesn't do it justice. It's better on video.

I also love slow mo videos.

This link comes up with a post on paper construction sculptures you've probably already seen but scroll on the sidebar to find the colorful construction paper art. I like these even better.

I'm not sure what to make of this but the whisper was very weird.

And I may have already posted this link, but in case you missed it, the Library of Congress Commons Project on Flickr is very cool.

[Best links always come from Avedon]

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Beat the clock

By Capt. Fogg

They used to say that the sun never sets on the British Empire. Will we have to say the clock never runs out on the American Empire?

George Bush's rhetoric is still all about freedom in Iraq and that means the freedom of George Bush to do what he pleases with Iraqis with impunity and immunity from any of the silly laws they pass under the false impression that they are free. It's no more convoluted than the argument that we had to attack Iraq for having a nuclear program when we knew he didn't have any - an absurdity that only Condy could say with a straight face.

The UN mandate authorizing our presence in Iraq expires at about the same time George Bush's term of office and George seems to want very much for the association to continue indefinitely according to the New York Times today. With the customary secrecy and anonymity protecting the customary suspects, White House, Pentagon, State Department and military officials have drafted a proposal that would commit the next president to keeping troops, both regular and mercenary, there indefinitely and keeping them above and immune to any laws Iraq might pass to protect its citizens from their boots and bullets.

It's a technique familiar to students of the British Empire and should be a caution to anyone who thinks Iraq 's citizens will be content to submit to tyranny and institutional abuse of power in order to further the interests of an occupier.

Nothing here surprises me except for the fact that the media continue to insist we'd rather hear about celebrity overdoses and childish spats between candidates than about the fact that Bush continues to equate freedom with eternal domination of Iraq and acts as though he did not give a flying hoot about representing the will of the United States People. If this becomes law, we might as well forget about electing a new president at all, because Bush will have the last laugh.


Click me!

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Ain't got no time...

By Libby

I'm having a wicked crazy week so if you're sick of politics today and need something to entertain you, go over and check out Alex Johnson's new blog, Fearless by Default. Some of you may know him as Freddy of The Drunk Stuntmen, and those who don't know him at all, can get the details at my Newshoggers post. The blog is still young and I'd advise you start at the first post and read through to get the full effect. I think you won't be sorry.

I may be a bit biased but I think it's the best new blog I've found in a very long time. Check it out.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's a fight for our lives on FISA

By Libby

I posted on this yesterday at Newshoggers but the situation is heating up more quickly than I expected and I'm busy at work today so I'm sending you to the experts for the updates. The situation is critical and needs immediate and intenstive citizen response. Glenn Greenwald is on the case and has comprehensive posts on Reid's tricks and Rockefeller's smug boasting that the tricks are working and the Democratic 'leadership' expects to be able to sell us out without a fight.

Yesterday's call to arms in Blogtopia produced some good results. John Edwards stepped forward to make a statement.
"It's time for Senate Democrats to show a little backbone and stand up to George W. Bush and the corporate lobbyists. They should do everything in their power -- including joining Senator Dodd's efforts to filibuster this legislation -- to stop retroactive immunity. The Constitution should not be for sale at any price."
And as Jane points out:
Well...yes. And that includes candidates, you know, leaving the campaign trail to do their jobs. Which Obama and Clinton can -- and should -- do. South Carolina is an hour and a half plane ride away.
Indeed. We need to pressure Obama and Clinton to get their butts on the floor and walk their talk. They say they're going to fight for us. Well now is the time to prove it. They need to put their self interest aside and get to DC and stand with Dodd to fight for the rule of law and accountability for the lawbreakers.

As Kos points out in a piece posted at The Hill, there is only one tiny fix needed to the FISA bill.
A single uncontroversial technical correction, allowing unencumbered monitoring of foreign communications routed through the United States, is required to fine-tune FISA. Yet that simple fix has been hijacked by Republicans in an effort to protect their telco pals. As usual, the GOP hopes that its patented fear-mongering will browbeat timid Democrats into submission.
The Dems knew this when they sold us out in August so they could go on vacation and promised to fix the bill to protect us, not to put in the fix to protect the White House. We can't let them get away with this without a fight.

Christy has the lastest on what you can do to help. Please take a moment and let your voice be heard. This is a battle we can't afford to lose.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Market fundamentalism

By Capt. Fogg

If you're a Republican, you probably hate George Soros and aren't inclined to listen to his advice about economics as you are to that of some talking head on Fox. I don't know how he was received at the World Economic Conference in Davos this morning when he said

"The current crisis is not only the bust that follows the housing boom, it's basically the end of a 60-year period of continuing credit expansion based on the dollar as the reserve currency. Now the rest of the world is increasingly unwilling to accumulate dollars.''
but it makes sense to me. The figures bear that out as foreign-exchange reserves around the world have fallen to a record low recently as the share of the Euro increased. Of course increasingly unwilling is not a measure of the limits of the unwillingness, but reducing interest rates may not be the way to reduce that trend. It was an ill conceived expansion of credit that began in the Ronald Reagan 1980's
"That created an asymmetric incentive system, a moral hazard, that allowed the expansion of credit.''
Soros has been predicting the decline of the dollar for several years and despite the usual meaningless accusations of being a liberal, he's been right.
"We are there to clean up after bubbles first rather than to prevent the danger,''
said Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's Asia chairman, of the latest rate cut.
"It's a dangerous, reckless and irresponsible way to run the world's largest economy.''
Of course dangerous, reckless and irresponsible are words frequently used in describing the attitude and the actions of the Bush administration and the many messes we're in don't help the effort to deny it. If you hear any thing about this conference from the usual tabloid TV sources, it won't be much; this conference isn't the sort of thing that gets in the way of lachrymose laments about overdosing celebrities or steroids in sports or lurid crime stories, and the public isn't accustomed to giving a damn about any larger picture than the one on that flat screen HDTV they just bought on credit. They will just go on listening to candidates bitching about who believed Bush's story in 2003 or who loves Jesus more or who represents change without specific and realistic explanation. Knowledge of economics, and expertise with financial and monetary policies are nowhere near as appealing as the customary pandering to prejudice, greed and the glory of war.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Excess hoggage - Information overload edition

I haven't done one of these posts since the beginning of the year and even though I'm skipping some of the posts that aren't particularly relevant over time, it's a long list but bear with me on this. For one thing, I like to keep the links archived here because the blog moves so fast at Newshoggers and for another, I'm working this week so I won't be posting a lot during the day and if you're pining away for my insights -- well -- it's something to read while you're waiting for new stuff. So without further ado, in more or less chronological order from January 1st, here goes:

Still standing after all these years. I've actually forgotten what this one was about. Let me know if it was any good.

Our new surveillance society.

A very depressing prediction for 2008.

More predictions.

Counting on the vote count. Verified voting issues are already a problem in the primaries.

Don't get mad -- just impeach.

The loneliness of the political reporter. I knew this is why journalism stinks today.

Bush on Bush. Really, it's frightening the way he sees himself.

A little optimism never hurts.

Never too early or too late for that matter, to think about voting fraud.

No, it's not really a free country when we have suppresion of dissent that would make any third world dictator happy.

SWAT outrage of the week. This wasn't even about drugs, it was about refusing medical treatment.

Marijuana is good medicine

Loose change.

We are so NOT safer now. If anything happens outside of Iraq, we're screwed.

Learning from history. A throwaway post with surprising comments. Part two, a different response.

Is this freedom?

Our moronic media.

Weird anomalies in the NH recount.

Iraq is shaping up to be the next narco-state.

FISA fight still on. It's heating up folks and I have a fresh post near the top at Newshoggers right now on this one.

Our malevolent media. Really, they're no better than a bunch of schoolyard bullies.

However, we have at least one honest jouranlist. Wish he would start a trend.

And finally, nobody really won in Nevada's Democratic caucus.

So that catches us up. I hope to be back this evening, if not sooner with some fresh news,

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Bye Fred, I'm going to miss you

By Libby

It's not exactly a shock that Fred Thompson dropped out of the race and the usual suspects are speculating on which candidate gains the most from his departure. I don't have a clue myself and I find I don't really care. This cycle has been so tumultous and unpredictable that all crystal balls are clouded and predictions seem pointless but I really am going to miss him.

I've been secretly rooting for him to win from the beginning, mainly because I thought he would be the easiest to beat in the general, largely for the reasons that he failed in his primary bid. But mainly, I'm sorry to see him go because the post I did about his wife long before he ever entered the fray went viral and has consistently generated google traffic ever since. I suppose that will die out now after this last surge of interest.

So goodbye Fred. For once the phrase, "we hardly knew you" is more truth than cliche but it was a hell of a ride to nowhere.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Small change

There may be fewer people this morning who are obsessed with Hillary raising taxes or Huckabee speaking in "tongues" during his State of the Union address much less with whether Romney wears funny underwear. Stupid or not, it's the economy.

The Dow might regain some or all of this morning's losses; It looks that way now, but the debt keeps ballooning and there is speculation that we may end the year with something approaching 2004's $413,000,000,000 record. That doesn't bode well for Bush's replacement and it doesn't bode well for us or our children or their children's children. Universal health care has a millstone around its neck before it's even been born and with Bush's endless war, our next president isn't going to have a lot of options.

True, Clinton took office with a huge debt and left with a surplus, but he wasn't saddled with a war without end or the Bush tax cuts. So no matter who we compromise on in November, he or she isn't going to be able to push through a $60 billion much less $110 billion health care program with ease and Guiliani's "biggest tax cut in American History" promise will likely meet the same fate as Bush the Elder's "read my lips, no new taxes."

It's very easy to say "change." It's harder to define it and hardest of all to do it.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Edwards and Clinton

By Libby

I'm just the soul of comity today. I agree with Josh. I don't see any particular reason John Edwards should drop out of the race other than perhaps wanting a normal life again. Otherwise, as long as he has the money and supporters, he's contributed greatly to the discussion, forcing forward issues that Hillary and Obama would likely have otherwise ignored.

I've never bought into the phony rich guy meme about him, nor do I think he desires to be a kingmaker at the convention either. I believe he genuinely cares about the working class and he's our only true advocate. I for one hope he can stick it out to the end, if only to stick it to our malevolent media. The only reason he's not doing better is that the media hates him and has done everything possible to discredit his concerns.

I also agree that Bill's presence on the campaign trail is a bit over the top. I get that he wants to seen as supporting his wife and to maybe subtly plant the theme that they will be something of a team, but given his status, it is getting to the point where the attention is more on him than her, and presumably, she would be the one in charge this time. It doesn't help her stature when he's charging around like a character from a 50s movie, defending the 'little woman' from her detractors. In a way, it reinforces the whole gender sterotype that a woman isn't strong enough without a man behind her.

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Dangerous McCain

By Libby

I have to agree with Chris Bowers. He makes a good case for spending our energy defeating McCain rather than worrying about who wins the Democratic nomination. I'm of the mind that 08 isn't going to be the cakewalk that everyone is expecting and McCain would be hardest to beat in the general.

Not to mention, with "Freedom Watch" and other likeminded neo-con operatives arraying their forces and considerable funds, Congressional gains aren't a given either. Choosing our battles has never been more important. [Via Avedon]

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Corporate greed is killing us

By Libby

When I think of all the ways America has changed in my half century on this earth, the thing that strikes me as one of our greatest losses was the demise of professionalism. By that I mean, I remember when businessman was defined as a shopkeeper while doctors, lawyers and even journalists were considered practictioners of a profession. The bottom line wasn't measured solely on profit margins then, best practices and reputation mattered more than money. Now they're all businessmen first and practitioners second.

Avedon points me to skimble who digs down to the root of this changeover.
The American ship is sinking from the weight of its own economic narcissism. Our accountants and finance professionals have been richly rewarded for squeezing the last microscopic drop of profitability out of every other profession. That's why American newsrooms don't bother with news. That's why American old age homes imprison their residents as cheaply as possible. That's why American insurance companies refuse to pay out claims for sick people or destroyed homes. That's why we've proven that America is massively incapable of nationbuilding in Iraq or in Afghanistan or even in Louisiana.
That's also why your doctor can only spend ten minutes with you; why your lawyer won't take your case without a big retainer and journalists deliver soundbites instead of digging into stories. Time is money and money has become the ultimate barometer of success.

And speaking of journalists, I don't understand why the head honchos at the newspapers don't grasp the nexus between cutting the newsroom budget and declining circulation. We used to read the newspapers to get a unique perspective and detailed analysis of current events. If all they deliver is the latest wire story that we can find anywhere on the internets, why should we buy their product, much less stain our fingers with the annoying ink?

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Does anybody have the paddle?

By Capt. Fogg

No sir, the economy is healthy, "financial markets are strong and solid" and Bush is optimistic. I'm glad the US markets are closed today, because the rest of the world is taking Bush's words to mean the end is nigh. Stocks plunged in Germany, Hong Kong, India and Brazil today and the European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index fell the most since Sept. 11, 2001. Commodities are falling on the perception that a recession will reduce demand.

The slide began last week while President Bush was unveiling his inchoate plan to fix everything with a small handout to the peasantry and a cheerful dose of oblivious optimism. The worst week for US stocks in five years followed apace. The rest of the world has caught on that their US investments are only as sound as the withering Dollar and nothing Bush is capable of doing will do anything to postpone or lessen the coming crisis. The Bank of China alone may have to write down 17.5 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) for the fourth quarter of 2007, and another $2.4 billion this year because of the mortgage crisis, says Bloomberg today and the rest of the world seems to be just as far up the creek.
"It's the worst I've ever seen,''
said Johan Stein, who helps manage the equivalent of about $14 billion at Nordea Asset Management in Stockholm.
"The financial system is in terrible shape, and no one knows where this will end.''
No one knows when either but my guess is that it won't end soon or nicely, nor will I be buying that new boat this year.
"We're confident that the global economy will continue to grow, and that the U.S. economy will return to stronger growth,''
Said White House spokesman Tony Fratto today. If there's anything that typifies the Bush Bunch's reliance on belief rather than competence to change reality, he just expressed it.

Cross posted from Human voices

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Outing Paul

By Capt. Fogg

Today, of course, marks the official celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. Not everyone is happy about it. "what an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it," said one dissenter at the time. "We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey day."

Back in the 1990's King was excoriated by a certain publication as a world class philanderer who beat up his paramours, seduced underage boys and was a Communist sympathizer. Claiming that black activists wanted to rename New York city after Dr. King, he suggested Welfaria, Zooville, Rapetown, Dirtburg and Lazyopolis as alternatives. "Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions" is a typical analysis and one of many, many more quoted in The New Republic's current article: Angry White Man.

Of the 1992 riots in Los Angeles he wrote: "Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began." and "I've urged everyone in my family to to know how to use a gun in self-defense. For the animals are coming." Of racial disturbances in Washington DC the previous year, he announced in his newsletter: "Animals take over the DC zoo" and "This is only the first skirmish in the race war of the 1990's."

It's obvious that I'm talking about Ron Paul, the puckish and charming Republican candidate who tempts us with things we want to hear about the tendency of our current administration toward a bloated, secretive, rapaciously greedy, authoritarian nanny-state with little respect for the balance of powers or constitutional authority. He got my applause when the Republican debate audience jeered at his mention that the US had once forcibly ended Democracy in Iran and I'm usually glad to see him undercutting the empty sloganeering of his opponents. But anybody can say anything and some have said too much for me to believe in their motives or veracity.

If one can believe the words that have been published for decades in Ron Paul's various newsletters, he doesn't much like black people, Jews, ( who blew up the WTC) homosexuals or people who don't take a stand against them and their civil rights. "Bring back the closet" shouts one of his headlines. Other articles decry gays for trying to poison the blood supply and for enjoying having AIDS because of the sympathy it provided them. AIDS, of course, had been deliberately concocted by the World Health Organization claims another of his articles.

Ron Paul's various newsletters, published under his name since the 1980's show strong ties to extremists like David Duke and their extremist causes. Although he claims not to have read or be responsible for the countless outrageous statements made over the decades, it's rather hard to believe in him any more.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tabloid news is destroying democracy

By Libby

I have to agree with Jeffrey McCall. TV news is bad for for our republic. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.
The public wants a different kind of television election coverage. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 80 percent of Americans want more coverage of where candidates stand on issues and more coverage of lesser-known candidates. This is not likely to happen soon. It is easier and cheaper to cover elections with a template that tells us where a particular prominent candidate is, which celebrity appeared with the candidate, the latest poll numbers, and who feels momentum. It is more sensational to show and analyze Hillary Clinton’s teary eyes than detail her policy initiatives.
So everybody outside the Village agrees that TV news is a joke and our elite media are failing us. That's truly bipartisan, except that we think it's failing for different reasons. Whatever. What are we going to do about it? I say we pressure the FCC to break up the media conglomerates to open access to more points of view. Anybody have a better idea?

[via]

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EPA evades disclosure of documents

By Libby

I have so had it with this administration. Everything is a bloody secret. Now the EPA is citing executive privilege and refusing to provide documentation on why they struck down California's emission laws.
The EPA informed Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that many of the documents she had requested contained internal deliberations or attorney-client communications that would not be shared now with Congress.

"EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California's waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting," EPA's associate administrator Christopher P. Bliley wrote.
Screw the chilling effect. This is a taxpayer funded agency, allegedly working to protect the environment on behalf of the American people. They work for us. We have right to know why they decided no state should be allowed to do better than the federal minimum standard. Furthermore, it's pretty clear that this boils down to a Bush appointed hack doing a end run around the rule of law.
"The documents are going to show the decision remained the responsibility of the administrator," Shradar said. "He stands by his decision." [...]

"Further disclosure of this type of confidential information could jeopardize the agency's ability to effectively litigate claims related to California's waiver request," the EPA's Bliley wrote.
Sixteen states got tired of waiting for this administration to take climate disruption seriously and took matters into their own hands. They shouldn't have to sue to do so. This is the kind of "big government" interference I wish the "small government" types would pay attention to. They're always obsessing about entitlement programs, which should be a function of the feds. We need minimum standards on a national level. But they won't say a word against this kind of inappropriate federal overreach, because it's good for business.

Unfortunately, it's bad for America and it drives me crazy that they can't see the difference.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow day

By Libby

I know I should have been blogging more, but it snowed today so I went out and played in it instead.


The twenty minute snowman with most of the time spent finding rocks for the face. Time was I would have spent an hour or so sculpting some fabulous snow creature, but the snow is not really the same here and the snowmen don't last long.


This guy was already leaning a half hour later. If the temperature drops as it's supposed to, he may freeze like that. That would be cool but I'm not counting on it. More likely I'll wake up to snowman brains melting in the mud.

No matter. It was fun to have snow. I have to admit, I do miss it a little.

Update: He's still standing this morning. Well, I mean he's leaning even lower but his head hasn't fallen off and it's freezing out there today. If the wind doesn't blow him over, he's likely to live a little longer.

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Radar love

By Capt. Fogg

"I don't know whether Arizonans want to be policed by cameras, It smacks of Big Brother to me."
said Senate Transportation Chairman Ron Gould of the plan to install photo radar in that state. It smacks of revenue enhancement to me. Most Americans aren't familiar with the apparatus that takes pictures of passing cars' license plates if they're exceeding the speed limit. They're common and a nuisance in England, but that's a country of narrow winding roads with blind corners every hundred yards or so. Arizona is a different story.

In my small town in Florida, some cameras have been installed at intersections to prevent the frequent (or so they say) running of red lights. Rear end collisions have risen and the popular suspicion is that the private company that manages the system has shortened the yellow light time because they get a cut of the fines. There is much credible evidence from studies not sponsored by those with a vested interest in enforcement, that speed limits aren't directly related to accident rates; it's more important that traffic move at a uniform speed. Strict enforcement tends to produce a greater disparity between the 15% or 20% who obey ( and have a higher percentage of accidents) and the vast majority that do not and thus it creates a more dangerous road. The prevalence of radar detectors ensures that that majority will continue to seek their own speed but will have to speed up and slow down constantly.

The assurance that we will be electronically monitored for our own safety is more transparent than most windshields - it's all about making up for revenue shortfalls. It's about extracting more money from the people without having to call it a tax.

The Arizona project was tested in Scottsdale and An Arizona State University professor who studied the results says that it reduced speeding and accident rates. No thought was given to the drivers who simply took an alternate route to avoid it and needless to say, I don't trust his figures. Even if it were true, the thought of being monitored in my actions by a soulless machine is enough to bring out the libertarian in me and I'm sure Arizonans will feel the same way. The real question is do we have any choice but to submit to the rules of those who make a living regulating us?

Cross posted from Human voices

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Media Bytes - Wish you would Edition

By Libby

For those of you who have never seen a 45 rpm record in action, I'm embedding today's song in my head.



I wonder what every happened to the Yardbirds? Meanwhile, I have lots of videos today.

This interview with Doughy Pantload and Jon Stewart is priceless. I wish they would air the whole 18 minutes.

This one comes from Australia and is really quite clever. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Kevin Hayden just had a birthday and as you can see , he's aging well.

They're calling this a heated exchange between Romney and the press. I don't know about heated but I was rooting for the AP guy. Good for him.

An Onion a day keeps depression away. Newsflash, voter's top issue is bullshit.

[The rest of these are via Avedon who always finds the best stuff.]

Don't delay. Beat the rush and turn in your cash for the new Halliburton Coins.

Do you want those eggs over Uzi?

I love JRR Tolkien and his Lord of Rings series, so you can imagine my delight in seeing this confection which is ten times more impressive than the one they did last year.

Judging conservatism by the results. It ain't that pretty at all.

A lot of people are laughing about southern fried squirrel but I don't think they understand that people actually still eat squirrels down here. I think it will help Huck more than it will hurt him.

This one is sobering but advice well worth taking. Refuse to be terrorized. There are more dangerous things in your life than terrorists.

And finally, I've always wanted to go to Las Vegas for the neon. I love neon lights, but I'm not much for gambling so I've never been that motivated. However, I now have a really good reason to go. I could happily spend a week at this place. I'm pretty good too, so it wouldn't cost me much to hang around.

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Shoot the messenger

By Capt. Fogg

Republicans. The dinner I attended last night after the Dow closed down another 300 points was supposed to be about boating, but the speaker manages a large brokerage house and his talk turned into a tirade about the sensationalist press grasping for ratings by spreading panic about the economy. I recall some film clips from 1929 with a similar message that encouraged people to buy, buy, buy because prosperity was just around the corner. It was of course, but the corner was a long way off.

He compared the financial press to the Weather Channel, which has dramatically increased ratings every time a hurricane is predicted. Ratings or no ratings, the three hurricanes that have devastated my town three times in the last few years were real enough. The sky may not actually fall, but the stock market does and so do telephone poles, trees and houses whether you read about it or not.

In fact I think the press has been talking up the economy for far too long, not to mention the Bush Administration and Bush himself who rhapsodized about his optimism just last week. A hundred point gain after a 600 point drop in the Dow is always announced as a "rebound" and the word Recession has as rarely been heard as a discouraging word. But it has nothing to do with Bloomberg looking for ratings that several European economists I know have been warning me that the creek we seem to be up would soon require the paddle we seem to be missing and not only Greenspan and Bernanke but George the Decider seem to be desperately seeking some way to boost an economy that was supposed to be wildly prosperous after 7 years of profligate spending, wanton borrowing and what has amounted to a tax holiday for major corporations and the very rich. What was supposed to trickle down has trickled overseas.

We're not going to get an admission of culpability here, just a breathless plea for more tax cuts that should give the average family enough extra cash to delay foreclosure for a week or two while the borrowing and spending go on and on and Bush looks to open a third front in his mindless and Quixotic crusade.

"I have a list of economists here who tell us the Dow will close higher at the end of 2008 than at the end of 2007," said the speaker. Who knows? But I'll bet most of those prognosticators are working for a living rather than lounging on their yachts, and if it does prove accurate, will we actually be better off? Will foreigners own more of our corporations and banks and bonds and real estate and other assets? Will General Motors be General Tso a year from now? Will milk be $12 a gallon?

The Dow is hardly indicative of the health of our economy or the wealth of our nation or even the prosperity of our citizens. How many of us are better off now than we were in 1998? Don't all raise your hands at once.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

PSA on primaries

By Libby

Just in case you need a refresher course on how the primary system works, nytexan posting at American Street has a useful and simple guide to the process. You see there's delegates and then there's super-gates....

As the name implies, the super-gates are the real power brokers. The people don't have as much influence as you may think.

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Bachmann's proud of working poor

By Libby

The economic meltdown going on reminds me of the civil war in Iraq. The serious people will debate the niceties of language and politely disagree on terminology ad infinitum. But whatever they call, or don't call it, it's apparent to anyone with two brain cells and an ever thinning wallet that the economy is about to crash. Easier to debate syntax than solutions I guess.

And solutions are in short supply. Krugman notices the GOPers want their permanent tax cuts, among other goodies, and don't care what it costs to get them. They're determined to keep draining the national treasury dry and they're willing to watch the country fall into ruins while they're doing it, as long as they come out with their booty.

In fact they apparently find generating poverty a point of pride.
Today, Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), the chief deputy Republican whip in the House, unveiled his proposal to stimulate the economy. His legislation — the so-called Middle Class Job Protection Act — does nothing for the middle class. Instead, it reduces the corporate tax rate by 28 percent.

At a press conference today unveiling the stimulus proposal, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) justified the conservative plan to give tax breaks to corporations — instead of working Americans — by arguing that people actually like working long hours:
I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.
Be sure to catch Ms. B at her second job at the Burger King on nights and weekends. She looks great in that uniform and really enjoys the work. Who wouldn't rather have two jobs to make ends meet than spend time with their families?

Oh sorry, I had her confused with a real person who doesn't receive an outrageous salary and the world's best health insurance benefits for working three days a week with about four months paid vacation.

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A healthy debate

By Libby

Health insurance is a hot topic in this cycle and FDL teamed with the AFLCIO to put up a survey on health care issues that will run until early February. It's unique in that it gives an option to enter a written account of personal experiences with insurer misconduct. They already have over 1,400 tales of criminally negligent denials of service.

FDL has a couple of them at the link but none are more egregious than this man who had his artificial arm repossessed. Which in turn pales in outrageousness when one recalls the young woman who died recently due to a delay in authorization for a liver transplant.

The survey will be printed out and distributed widely among policy makers and politicians. Considering the energy, knowledge and access that this group has, I think this as an excellent way to get your voice heard where it matters and I'd urge participating in at least the question portion of the survey.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Friend Maddy

By Libby

I had all these posts I was going to do but then on a whim I decided to check out my friend's links, which usually doesn't take too long, since they never update. I guess it's been quite a while since I checked on Maddy because she came out of hiding again and has this fancy new website and another new album. I just spent an hour listening to her.



Isn't she fabulous? She's grown up, both as a woman and as an artist. I always knew someday she would get so big I wouldn't be able to talk her at a gig anymore. She just won an award as best international jazz vocalist. Go figure.

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Trouble in Pottersville

By Libby

One of my favorite bloggers, jurassicpork, is in trouble. He just posted what could possibly be the Last Dispatch From Pottersville. So far the site is still up so maybe it's an empty threat but just in case, I'm reproducing the entire post here.
No, I'm not walking away for good, either for a novel or otherwise. This could be Pottersville's final dispatch because my former bank, Citizen's, has not only shut down my checking account but the branch manager with whom I spoke just told me that they've already shut down my blog.

It seems the reports of Pottersville's demise are not exaggerated but premature.

I haven't the time to get into the particulars as to why my account had been capriciously shut down by Executive Services (Which is at the corporate level in Rhode Island) but suffice it to say that we are finally in the throes of a fascist corporate dictatorship when a bank steals from you without warning, treats you like garbage through its ill-trained tellers and desk help people, then terminates your account then goes after your ISP and pressures them to shut down your blog when you stand up for your rights.

Jared Chandler, it ought to be noted, is still employed at Citizen's even though he's the one who'd started this brouhaha with his psycho behavior.

So, bottom line: Citizen's would rather fire their "valued customers" than their clearly disturbed tellers when said customer stands up for their rights. Furthermore, if you rail against such shoddy treatment by telling just the facts, they'll even go after your main form of communication.

So copy and paste this while you can, put it on your blogs and help this go viral (unlike the last time, which Citizen's obviously had taken much more seriously than you people). If Pottersville disappears, you'll all know why. It wasn't me. They shut me down because they were afraid of what I'd say, because this is a corporate fascist dictatorship's version of Public Relations and Conflict Resolution: Impinging on our right to free speech after capriciously throwing your finances in complete turmoil.

Happy birthday, JP.
Yes. It's also it's birthday and he's been thinking about quitting the blog for quite a while now. This would be a great loss to Blogtopia, so click over and leave him a birthday message and see if we can't cheer him up a little and change his mind.

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Live free or Diebold

By Libby

The questions over the New Hampshire results linger and while I don't really understand how they arrive at these numbers, the conclusions are difficult to ignore.
To my complete (and continuing) amazement, the "diebold effect" on Hillary's votes remains after controlling for any and all of those demographic variables, with a p-value of <.001: that is, there are less than 1:1000 odds for this difference occurring through chance alone, and that's after adjusting for variability in Hillary's votes due to education, income, total population, and population density.

While this "diebold effect" varies in magnitude depending on the exact covariates used, it seems to center around an additional 5.2% of votes going for Clinton from Diebold machines. The same analysis shows a Diebold disadvantage for Obama of about -4.2%, significant with a p<.001, using the same covariates.
I remain concerned about making an issue of this in New Hampshire, not because I don't think it's possible that the Diebolds screwed up but because I fear in such a sparsely populated state, the anomalies won't be dramatic enough to cause great concern. I fear that, in turn, will diminish the impact of future problems that I'm sure will arise in other states where the outcome is more important to the final national tallies.

However, it's a moot point now. Kucinich has coughed up the cash and a recount of the Diebold ballots will begin shortly. I can only hope the results are shocking enough to garner enough of a public outcry to kick this cursed company out of our electoral system.

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Don't try this at home

By Libby

Shorter John King to Glenn Greenwald: Dammit, I'm a professional you sniveling, snarking amateur so if you can't say anything nice about me, STFU.

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Huckabee's Church of America

By Capt Fogg

The trouble with molding a society or running a government "according to God's standards" as Mike Huckabee says we should do, is that God's standards can only be determined by people like Mike Huckabee, and Mike Huckabee, like most of mankind, has his own God. I don't think he has Krishna in mind, or Vishnu, much less the God of whom Mohammad spoke or even the God who commands us to exterminate certain nations, cast out our non-Jewish wives and refrain upon pain of death from using certain kinds of thread in out clothing or eating a cheeseburger.

Of course Huckabee is really talking about amending the constitution, not to institute the 600 some odd Biblical commandments that he and his chuckleheaded Christian cheerleaders ignore as a fundamental precept of their religion, but to solicit the support of the fundamentalist barbarians who base their "values" on the unchristian and non-Christian contempt for homosexuals and are so dependent upon polyester preachers withTeflon tongues that they think the Bible prohibits abortion.

Opening my first e-mail this morning was like entering some gas station bathroom to find the toilet un-flushed and clogged. FAITH. FAMILY. FREEDOM was the headline, followed by

Mike Huckabee a Man of Principle for President.

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

I could hardly read the rest of it. Needless to say, I don't think a government directed by faith is anything less than a tyranny of the faithful. I don't think we need a government intruding into family matters or a government to tell us who we may or may not include in our families and if we have that, we have no freedom at all.

I'm sure I don't have to explain that the foundation of the enlightenment philosophy that produced our form of government was that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were fundamental rights and not privileges or favors bestowed upon us by God's chosen king. The latter of course was the way the world was run in the 18th century and that was supported by Biblical authority. It was a step away from the Biblical and ecclesiastical authority we took by assigning sovereignty to the people and not to the often half-witted and corrupt interpreters of "faith" like Mike Huckabee and to allow our Constitution to be twisted so as to pretend the American Revolution never occurred and the government and its Church were once again as one.

"I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards,"
said Mike speaking as though he were God's own mouthpiece. Mike Huckabee would rather have us governed by an oligarchy of Baptists and bibles with their peremptory ideas about God than by the will of the citizens. Is there anything further from the essence of democracy than Huckabee's vision?
"We need a President that thinks about all the people"
says the screed floating in my in-box, and I agree. All the people are not fundamentalists however, much less Christians of any sort. Some of us have different gods, different ideas and all of us are guaranteed the right to have them.
"Mike Huckabee is attacked by the New York Times because when asked about evolution he states "I believe that creation has a Creator."
Not so; he's attacked by those who don't want science suppressed and superstition installed.
"More than 20 years ago Mike Huckabee determined to put his faith and conviction into action fighting for the American Family and their Freedom to Pursue Happiness"
except when that happiness includes things Huckabee thinks his personal god dislikes or when that family doesn't met Huckabee's standards. Huckabee and his pet god will tell you what freedom you're allowed and indeed it will be little enough of it unless those of us who really value liberty and want a government that is us rather than them, send Mike a message of contempt by voting for a candidate that represents our traditional, constitutional values and not a church.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Anniversary

By Libby

I'm a couple of days late with this one, but this is such a fitting tribute for the occassion and I do so love me some Yeats.

[Via Avedon]
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One less choice

By Capt. Fogg

E
ven though the month is barely half over, I think it's safe to award the Capt. Fogg Finger of Speech award for January to our Supreme Court, otherwise known as the judicial branch of the Republican Party and guardian of corporate and religious interests.

Without giving any explanation of their reasoning, the court decided yesterday that you or I have no right to try unapproved drugs even if we are terminally ill and have nothing to lose. It seems to me that such rights belong to anyone if one is to maintain, in keeping with law and precedent, that we are free people who own our selves, our lives, our bodies. Upholding a lower court's ruling that
"Although terminally ill patients desperately need curative treatments ... their deaths can certainly be hastened by the use of a potentially toxic drug with no proven therapeutic benefit,"
the Bush Court under God got out the rubber stamp and used it to establish that, the ninth amendment notwithstanding, we have no fundamental right to self preservation; no fundamental right to make decisions or take actions regarding our self preservation that put no one else at risk. This ruling easily reduces to absurdity. Depending on prayer rather than penicillin can kill you, why do we not force the proven treatment and deny the unproven in this case?

Of course a doctor can sell you a gun or give it to you, I can buy rat poison without a license, I can use nicotine with a proven tendency to shorten my life, but not some drug that hasn't had years of testing and approval by the Government and yet offers some small degree of hope to me and no risk of harm to anyone else. Death can certainly be hastened by withholding a promising treatment and when death is otherwise inevitable, where is the justification, legal or moral, for black Robed Republicans to withhold hope?

Our guardians of the constitution have essentially removed one more right from a thinking adult that they would so dearly love to grant to a fertilized egg and so, amongst the vast throng of deserving applicants, I have to chose our Republican packed courts as the most worthy of the first monthly Fogg Finger of Speech.


Cross posted from Human Voices

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Monday, January 14, 2008

What a drag it is getting old...

By Libby

Somehow I let a whole day slip away from me. I've been posting a bit at Detroit in advance of the primary and at Newshoggers but otherwise I didn't get around to blogging the stories I collected this morning. I've been following odd links and immersing myself in pop culture today.

Avedon put me onto this story about the final season of The Wire. I just figured out why I've never been able to find it. It's on HBO. I haven't subscribed to that level of service since 1976. I don't watch enough TV to pay for premium packages. But the article at least explained what all the fuss is about. The Wire does sound like just the kind of program I could get hooked on. I suppose I'll make an effort to watch it on DVD someday.

I also visited Gawker for the first time today and a few other gossip sites whose names I've already forgotten. It was a little depressing to figure out how out of touch I am. I had no idea who 80% of the people they're talking about are or what they do. I mean who the hell is Paul Rudd or that vampire woman Panky or Pinky and why should I care? Moreover, why are the people who catch a glimpse of them on the street so excited?

I guess I'm just an old fogey now. I didn't find it all that interesting. I was much more entertained by this old Gerald Boing Boing cartoon that Lester sent me.

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Democrats for Romney

By Libby

My right wing colleague at the Detroit News blog, Richard Burr picks up on my suggestion that Republicans vote for uncommitted on the Democratic ballot tomorrow and posts an amusing endorsement for the candidate. But equally amusing is this YouTube ad from Democrats for Romney. [via Avedon]

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The Hormuz Hoax, part II

By Capt. Fogg

George W. Bush wants a war with Iran so badly that I have to be suspicious of any news item that relates to Iranian matters, particularly when the information comes from the US government. When I first heard the mysterious voice saying
"I am coming to you ... You will explode in a few minutes."
something sounded wrong about it. It's not only that the voice seemed to be putting on a deliberately thick accent, it certainly wasn't coming from a speed boat pounding through the swells at 30 knots or more as the video seemed to indicate; no effect on the voice of the impact of the hull against the water, no background noise of roaring engines or wind. I spend a lot of time on the radio, both from my boat and from my amateur station. I can tell the difference. It's unusual, but not unknown for such behavior to be found on the Amateur Radio bands and less often on the police and public service bands. On CB radio, it's almost standard procedure. When such people are identified, the punishment can be rather severe and the perpetrators are very often teens who are using dad's radio equipment when he's not around. Of course the VHF marine channels used by everything from pleasure boats to battleships are not immune to abuse.

Now the Navy Times is blaming the incident on a mysterious pirate radio operator or operators who have been doing just this sort of thing on the Marine VHF channel 16 for decades at all hours of the day and night. It seems in fact, to be happening all over the world and is often attributed to the mythical "Filipino Monkey." Someone with a radio on shore or on another ship gets his kicks from listening to conversations, interrupting with obscenities and making threats. According to many radiomen, female voices on the radio often elicit vulgar comments from these people. All ships and most boats are required to monitor channel 16 and so it is difficult to claim that the transmission was intended for one vessel or another and impossible to know where it originated, particularly in crowded shipping lanes like the straights of Hormuz. Such radios can be bought at any marine supply store without having to show any identification or license.

We were shown the audio and video of the boats simultaneously said
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, because “ it gives you a better idea of what is happening” not because there is really any evidence that the voice came from the boats. Can it be that we have just narrowly escaped fulfilling Bush's dream of a massive air attack on Iran using this random and meaningless incident as an excuse? We've been fooled in just this way before at the cost of millions of lives and we have a president with a record of fooling us again and again.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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