Sunday, May 31, 2009

Headlines of the day

This one made me laugh. Jeffrey Rosen vows never to “blog” again . Be still my beating heart. If only it were true that he was going to stop writing. Rosen, you will recall, wrote the definitive unsourced smear piece on Sotomayor. It wasn't a blog post. It was a feature article. But as Glenn explains, his defense appears to be, bloggers made him do it.

Second most hilarious headline, I Am Marla's Observations on Artificial Selection in Chrysler Dealerships. I don't suggest you read that link though. She's certifiable. Read John Coles' takedown instead. It's more informative and he's a much better writer.

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Pro-life movement breeds terrorists

By now you've heard that Dr. George Tiller is dead. The latest word is they have a suspect in custody who is expected to be charged with the murder. The motive hasn't been established but no matter who Tiller's murderer turns out to be, it's clear that the anti-choice movement breeds this domestic terrorism. This sort of violence is encouraged by zealots and aided by irresponsible media commentators who make their living fueling their mindless outrage.

Worse yet, the early framing from the far right Xian wingosphere not so subtly implies the murder was justified because Dr. Tilley was courageous enough to perform late term abortions. So easy for the holier than thou crowd to excuse killing in the name of their God. But they betray their own faith. If God hadn't intended choice, then he wouldn't have allowed our brains to develop the option. And I'm pretty sure there was something in their Bible about "judge not, lest ye be judged."

Yes, Dr. Miller did terminate viable pregnancies, but the circumstances under which he did the procedures isn't as simple as the anti-choices would like us to believe. It's hard to read the story of someone who sought his services and not understand that sometimes it's the most merciful choice.

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In Tiananmen Square...

Has it really been 20 years since the massacre at Tiananmen Square? I remember it like it was yesterday.



I'm not the only one. Thousands turned out to commemorate the anniversary. Rest in peace.

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New Home

Success! I have the keys to my new place. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for the transition. Only had to take a six month lease. It's got a fireplace and a lovely back yard. Two porches. Hardwood floors. Nice safe neighborhood. A block away from a huge park. Not too far from the parents. And it's cheap. Almost $250 a month less than I'm paying here.

Now if I could just magically transport my stuff there without having to do all this packing and moving. Going to be a busy for a few more days but I'll be checking in as I can.

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Night on the town

I see the Obama's had a night out on the town in the city so big, they named it twice. Wingnuttia melts down. ZOMG! The cost. The inconvenience to the residents, (like those who cheered them on their way out of town). How dare he take a night off from saving the world?

Meanwhile, the 'moderate' Jazz tells me that any right winger who complains is a hypocrite if they didn't similarly rage against Bush's record breaking vacation time in office, but I'm also a hypocrite if I don't criticize the Obamas for taking one little personal trip. What a load of horseshit.

Obama has already done more work in the first few months in office than Bush managed to accomplish in his entire eight years. It's not like he works two days and takes three off on a regular basis. Cripes, they didn't even spend the night in Manhattan and I feel pretty certain that Obama is working today. He deserves a night off with his wife once in a while and there is nothing hypocritical about being glad that he managed to squeeze one in.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

She's a rainbow

Long day of househunting, so I'm just catching up on the news. I see Sotomayor mania has reached derangement level in wingnuttia. I'm going to use what energy I have left to put up a longer post at DetNews but for you highest common denominator readers, Media Matters is the place to go for debunking the myths, while Wolcott provides the color commentary in his own inimitable manner.

The hubbub reminded me of this Stones song and in a moment of pure synchronicity, as I thought of the song, today's thunderstorm ended right at sunset and there was a perfect, full horizon, double rainbow over the hotel. Hope that's a good omen for everyone.

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Busy day

I have a ton of places to look at so no time to post this morning. I'm at a place called the Brookwood Inn, where I ended up by default because a huge thunderstorm sprang up just as I was driving to the hotel I intended to stay at and it was raining so hard I couldn't see the road signs.

It's an okay place. The room is clean anyway, even though three of the lights in the room don't work. The good news is they have free local calls so I don't have to use up my cell minutes and the wifi works well. On the downside, they have the second most dismal continental breakfast I have ever seen in all my travels. Which is okay with me since I don't eat breakfast first thing in the morning. Anyway, I'll have more to say this evening. Have to get cracking on the house hunt now.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hit and run

Won't have time to blog this morning. I have a couple of new posts up at the DetNews that are worth reading. I'm debunking the GOP car dealer purge rumor and the phony "reverse racist" smear against Sotomayor. That should shut the critics up, but it probably won't.

Meanwhile, I ran across this yesterday. The new ad by the Republican study committee is hilarious in its cluelessness. Theme - Obama is a divider. The GOPers have become so pathetic, it's almost hard to mock them. Like kicking someone when they're down, you know.

Also, I have this loose link to Paul Guttenberg's photo gallery. Somebody at FB enticed me over to look at his perfect shot of a for real New York black and white cake, but the rest of the gallery is well worth a look too. And as long as I'm pitching photographers, let me send you over to my old friend, John W. Farrell. I never understood why he didn't become as successful as say, Richard Avedon. He has such a great eye for a shot.

So, with that I'm off to find a new home. Hope to be back this evening.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Transition

Light posting today. I'm in the midst of this moving thing and it's been a big day. I cut my hair, made a bunch of appointments to look at apartments, got my car jiffy lubed and successfully bought and activated my first independent cell phone. You know of course, that I've owned a cell for quite some time, but that it was given to me by my family for emergencies. I've never had to set up my own account before. As it turns out it's very complicated.

I ended up getting a cheap prepaid phone until I have time to figure out the options. But in any event I'm off to the lovely town in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days to find a new home. I expect to get a hotel with wifi though, so I will check in.

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Major meltdown

Well, Petraeus endorsed closing Gitmo and said we need to stop torturing prisoners in an interview this week. Which of course I was happy to pass along to the crew at Detroit News. There's some serious head exploding going on among the far right regs in the comment section. They're working hard to maintain the cognitive dissonance today. Funny.

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Making terrorists

No one could have predicted that incarcerating innocent men for years without charges and torturing them for information they didn't have would turn them into radicals.
One of the detainees whom a newly released Pentagon report says returned to the battlefield after he was released from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp told McClatchy that he was a local security leader in Afghanistan when he was arrested and became a radical Islamist only during his detention.
This in the context of the Pentagon's latest list of Gitmo releasees who "returned to the battlefield." Their criteria is, shall we say, flexible.
The report found that 27 were confirmed terrorism suspects and another 47 were suspected terrorists as of April 7.

The department defines suspected in part as "unverified or single-source but plausible" reported activities. In its 27 confirmed cases, the Pentagon said it has fingerprints, DNA, photos or reliable intelligence tying them to terrorist activity since their release.

Most of the confirmed and suspected terrorists the agency listed have either died in battle or in suicide attacks, or have been arrested by local authorities.
So in other words, it barely matters if they "returned to battle" because most of them aren't a threat any more. Not that anyone but McClatchy seems willing to mention this part. I swear, the vast majority of our media are a greater threat than terrorists.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mindreaders

There are many people on the internets who tell me what I really think and predict what I'm going to do in the future. They're always wrong but somehow they believe they've won an argument.

I've noticed that happens to President Obama too.
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SCOTUS pick announced

So, it's Sotomayor. I don't have much to say on this yet. It's probably a good pick and no matter who it was, the opposition is going with "liberal activist" judge.

Meanwhile, the GOP 'accidentally' released their talking points to the press. Smells like a fix to me. The language is too mellow for it to be a real internal memo, IMO. Looks like a sneaky way to capture the momentum of the news cycle. The bigger question will be down the line. Will the GOPers filibuster, or will they remember this?

Update: The buzz has finally hit Memeorandum. Probably crashed the server. There's almost a full page of chatter.

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Mockery made easy

I don't bother reading or mocking the wingnut bloggers for the most part. It seems a bit redundant when Roy and Thers do it so well. Read the comments at Roy's place too. Priceless. And speaking of Thers, I had no idea that lawn mowing was such a hot topic -- 75 comments.

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The places I've been...

Not sure what possessed me to check Tom McClung's facebook page last night. Maybe it was the new profile pix, but I was overjoyed to find this video there. I was at this party.



This has to be from at least ten years ago. I don't know the conga or the horn player but the rest of these guys were my main men back in the days I call the Lost Boy years. Ah, the parties we had and the music they played. That's Tom McClung on the piano. Patrick Lavery on the drums. Mark Herschler on the guitar. Mark Bode on the accordian. And Dave Shapiro on the stand up bass. Dave had a little crush on me for a while. We used to hang out and plot out our route to drive around the world. It's almost possible.

We partied a lot in those days, often as not in my own living room, but the Hampshire Piano parties were legendary, routinely drawing well over a hundred people. They threw two or three a year, tuning up the best piano in the shop for the festivities. Nearly every musician within 50 miles would show up for pick up jams that will never be repeated in this lifetime. Good times.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Big bust in Afghanistan

It's no secret that I think Obama is getting it all wrong in Af/Pak but this I suppose is something of an improvement. At least they're not going after the poppy farmers this time and it was an impressive haul.
The seizure by Afghan Army commandos and American forces took place in Marjeh, a town in Helmand Province, the American military said in a statement on Saturday. In all, soldiers found more than 101 tons of narcotics, including heroin, poppy seeds, opium and hashish. Large amounts of heroin processing materials were also confiscated, the military said.
There's something to be said for busting at this level in that the Taliban does use the drug trade to finance it's operations. But I'm not so sure the cost is going to be worth it in terms of winning any hearts and minds of the locals.
The drugs were taken in a central market area in the town. A battle ensued in which, according to the American military, 60 insurgents were killed. An American military spokesman said the allies met a surprising level of resistance, fighting the militants for four days in gun battles and by aerial strikes.
No word in the article about civilian casualties but you have to figure that some innocents must have been caught in the crossfire on this one. You have to wonder, after so many years there, why they didn't have better intelligence by now. One would think the resistance should have been anticipated. [via]

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Prisoner's rights

The Boston Globe did a nice profile piece on my long time listserv friend Paul Wright and his publication Prison Legal News, a self-help magazine.
The publication, known as PLN, does more than highlight mail censorship, sexual abuse by prison guards and prison overcrowding in its black-and-white pages. The nonprofit tabloid often takes on the role of prisoner advocate, going to court against states and private prison operators -- and winning money, reform and public attention for prisoners. [...]

PLN is not fighting for cable TV or air conditioning for prisoners," said Rhonda Brownstein, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, in Montgomery, Ala. "What they're fighting for is basic human rights, and the basic human rights we're talking about are the right to be free from violence by other prisoners or guards, the right to adequate medical care, adequate mental health care and the right -- to an extent -- to freedom of expression."
Paul commited a serious crime that put him in jail in the first place but he's the best example I know of someone who turned his life around and found a way to turn bad into something good.

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Judges in jeopardy

Who could have predicted that harping on the "evil activist" judges who issue decisions based on rule of law instead of, say, the Bible would lead to this.
The threats and other harassing communications against federal court personnel have more than doubled in the past six years, from 592 to 1,278, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. Worried federal officials blame disgruntled defendants whose anger is fueled by the Internet; terrorism and gang cases that bring more violent offenders into federal court; frustration at the economic crisis; and the rise of the "sovereign citizen" movement -- a loose collection of tax protesters, white supremacists and others who don't respect federal authority.
In other words skinheads, the criminally insane and the far right GOP base. Gee, I wonder where they got the idea, they're supposed to fight against them?

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Tornado cloud

I finally uploaded this video I took a couple of weeks ago. There was a tornado warning and I've never seen the clouds look so close to delivering one since I moved here. I realize in retrospect I should have talked and explained what you were seeing. That cloud was so low. You'll notice at the end that the fringe edge is almost brushing the roof of the building.



There was an even bigger and blacker cloud that was funneling down on the other side of that building but I couldn't get a shot of it. Neither amounted to anything, but the lightning storm that followed was wild.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

The case for closing Gitmo

This is one for the archives. Matthew Alexander, a senior interrogator in Iraq makes the ultimate argument in favor of of closing Gitmo.
Anyone who served in Iraq, and veterans on both sides of the aisle have made this argument, knows that the foreign fighters did not come to Iraq en masse until after the revelations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. I heard this from captured foreign fighters day in and day out when I was supervising interrogations in Iraq. What the former vice president didn't say is the fact that the dislike of our policies in the Middle East were not enough to make thousands of Muslim men pick up arms against us before these revelations. Torture and abuse became Al Qaida's number one recruiting tool and cost us American lives.
He goes on to point out that they found Zarqawi, because of intelligence gained from detainees who were not tortured, but rather cajoled into giving him up. And on a related note, President Obama's top military adviser Mike Mullen also says Guantanamo should be closed.

I really don't understand how the GOPers fearmongering on Gitmo is getting so much traction, well except for the relentless pushing of the meme by the usual suspects on the TV. I mean we have well over 2 million in prison right now. How on earth is adding a couple hundred more going to change anything?

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Toolbag in Space

The space shuttle landed so the satellite tracker is now showing the Space Station. But thanks to Kevin in comments to the last post, it seems they have a permanent track on the toolbag in space that was lost on a previous repair mission and is just floating around up there. I like this one so much I put it on the sidebar under Daily Buzz so I can check on it anytime I want.

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Driving in my car


I got nothing I feel like talking about today so here's something out of my email. I owned this exact 60 Dodge Dart. Bought it as a relic in the late 80s and spent a lot of time and money restoring it. Sadly, I lost it in the divorce and the ex managed to trash it in a just a few weeks, as was his wont. Anyway, the photo comes from this place where he has a whole lot of old cars that old fogeys like me will remember.

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Preemption

I'm so disgusted by the preventive detention position Obama took, that I don't even want to talk about it, but this is an improvement.
President Obama continued to reverse his predecessor's policies this week by undoing a controversial Bush administration rule known as "preemption" that used federal regulations to override state laws on the environment, health, public safety and other issues.
The Bush administration used this as a "regulatory action to clear state and local laws that businesses and corporations didn't like," said Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center." It's good because it makes it harder for corporations to do things like quash legitimate tort suits. So there's that...

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

This old house

I love this new Lego series. Word has it they're planning to launch more kits in the future featuring different architects.


I really like Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings and Falling Water is my favorite, maybe because I once visited there in person. It's a beautiful house and was a lovely trip.

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Banksters pump up gas futures


There isn't any market driven reason for the price of gas to be rising this summer. In the current depressed economy the normal supply and demand dynamic isn't in play. And the refiners have plenty of excess capacity. It appears the Big Bank investors are driving up the price of crude.
U.S. crude-oil inventories are at their highest levels in almost two decades, and demand has fallen to a 10-year low, but crude oil prices have climbed more than 70 percent since mid-January to a six-month high of $62.04 on Wednesday. [...]

Big Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley and others are able to sidestep the regulations that limit investments in commodities such as oil, and they're investing on behalf of pension funds, endowments, hedge funds and other big institutional investors, in part as a hedge against rising inflation.
They can do this because they're not subject to the same position limits as regular commodities traders.
However, big Wall Street banks are exempt from these restrictions, and there also are no such limits in derivatives markets. These vast unregulated markets involve private contracts between swaps dealers — usually big Wall Street banks — and large investors. These dark markets, also called over-the-counter markets, are thought to be 10 times larger than the futures market, and they have no position limits and no regulation.
In other words, on the one hand the banksters are stuffing their pockets with taxpayer money to keep themselves in business and on the other they're actively sabotaging the recovery by bleeding the consumers on the commodities end by using the same sort of regulatory dodges that crashed the economy in the first place. This is the same market manipulation that is said to have caused the spike in natural gas prices last year.

I ask again, why are none these people in jail? [grahic]

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Nashville Cats

I always think of the Grand Old Opry and country music when I think about Nashville, but apparently , it's becoming the music center of the US.
Today, it's home to over 180 recording studios, 130 music publishers, 100 live music clubs, and 80 record labels. It's turned into the Silicon Valley of the music business, combining the best institutions, the best infrastructure, and the best talent. And, like Silicon Valley's broad reach across many high-tech fields from hardware to software, biotech to green energy, Nashville has become the center for multiple musical genres from country and gospel to rock and pop, attracting top talent from across the United States and the globe.
Wow, 100 live music clubs. No wonder I keep hearing about musician friends moving there.

And speaking of music, I'm totally hooked on the Power Pop blog. It's where all the cool cats of Blogtopia go to hang out. I love the Friday listomania and the related Thursday clue, even though I haven't managed to wish the coveted no-prize yet. This week as an added bonus, we get a cut of one of the proprietor's early musical efforts, Simels song. I loved it myself. [Bonus track, Lovin Spoonful - Nashville Cats.]

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Torture apologist gets waterboarded - video

TPM finds the video of Mancow's waterboarding. You watch it happen and really, it doesn't look that bad. But he doesn't sound so macho now.



So who will be the next torture apologist to try to do better? As Zachary points out, it's useful to remember that Mancow knew they weren't going to hurt him and had medical help standing by in case anything went wrong. Neither was he fully secured to the bench. Imagine what it would be like if you can't move at all and can't ask them to stop as soon as it gets scary.

Update: Jesse Ventura challenges Hannity to be next.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Sympathy for the devil

I'm kind of blogged out tonight but there's a few short items you might want to read on this long weekend. I'm always astounded by the much vaunted civility of the far right fringers.
RADIO HOST: Well I don’t know why your husband doesn’t put a gun to his temple. Get the hell out of here.
But they're the civilized ones because they never say fuck... Guess the shock jock before you click the link.

Another far right shock jock decides to prove waterboarding isn't torture and lasts 6 seconds before admitting -- it's torture. I think every torture apologist at The National Review should volunteer to do the same demo. I mean, to prove it's really just sprinkling a little water on their face.

Jerry Falwell's "institution of higher learning," Liberty University has banned the student run Democratic club from campus. Supply your own sardonic joke.

And why is Newt on my teevee everyday? Are there no other Republicans than a disgraced serial adulterer who was kicked out of power by his own party and hasn't held an elected office in ten years?

Video in my head.

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Hapless 'terrorists'

I didn't blog about the great bust of the terrorist plot in NY yesterday because I had a feeling the initial details were overstated. And sure enough, nearly everything they said was wrong. The guys didn't meet in prison. One of them is apparently a schizophrenic. And they didn't have any kind of plot going until the informant arrived. The informant sounds a little dicey too.
He had no way of knowing that the stranger’s path to the mosque began in 2002, when he was arrested on federal charges of identity theft. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, and became a confidential informant for the F.B.I. He began showing up at the mosque in Newburgh around 2007, Mr. Muhammad said.

The stranger’s behavior aroused the imam’s suspicions. He invited other worshipers to meals, and spoke of violence and jihad, so the imam said he steered clear of him.

Mr. Muhammad said members of his congregation told him the man he believed was the informant offered at least one of them a substantial amount of money to join his “team.”
Sounds like entrapment to me, just like the other so-called dangerous terrorist plots the Bush era investigators 'thwarted.' As The Nation put it:
By the now, it's maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it's revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne'er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur.
It's also useful to note that neither were they caught because of any NSA surveillance sweep or Patriot Act inspired snooping. This was straight up law enforcement work.

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Shorter McClatchy: Cheney is a liar

Once again, McClatchy commits actual acts of journalism in dissecting Cheney's speech at AEI. The lede says it all:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.
The piece goes on to "fisk" the rest of the low points of Cheney's fairy tale. On his denial that the Bush White House was intimately involved in authorizing torture policies at Abu Ghraib and beyond, McClatchy notes:
However, a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report in December traced the abuses at Abu Ghraib to the approval of the techniques by senior Bush administration officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Read the whole debunking, if only for the pleasure of seeing a news outlet use a responsible model of reporting. That being he said/the record states...

I've been hearing that McClatchy is on shaky financial ground. I propose we all do our part to keep them in business by linking more often. Towards that end I've put them on the sidebar so I remember to look there first for blog fodder. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Update: Dan Froomkin adds his own context to this story and is also one of the very few journalists willing to call a lie, a lie.

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Track the space shuttle

Emergency post for all my fellow deep space lovers. Thanks to Billy B for this very cool tool that tracks the space shuttle. As far as I can tell, this is in real time.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

In the eyes of a child


I've been following politics so long that I don't trust any politician, not even the ones I vote for. So I've been rather conflicted about Obama. While I think he's the best president we've had for a very long time, and he's done a lot of good, it still makes me uneasy when I see him continue bad policies and cover up for the last administration.

But it's photos like this that ease my mind somewhat. Children, especially babies, have a sixth sense about people and when I see them engage with our president like this, it makes me think he's probably a good man who is going to do all right by us in the end. [Photo via, h/t Geor3ge.]


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Funny because it's true

Quote of the Day:
The only force on Earth stronger than stupidity is wilfully self-inflicted ignorance. ~RC McKee
A brilliant mind and an astounding photographer.

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Losing hope for health care

If anything should be clear to our Serious People in DC, it's that the health care industry has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
The HCAN report shows that after 400 mergers involving health insurers over the last 13 years, concentration has gone up in local markets across the country. The single largest provider of small group coverage (for small businesses, for example) controlled a median market share of 47 percent in 2008. The American Medical Association says 94 percent of insurance markets in the U.S. are highly concentrated.

The result, of course, is soaring prices—with premiums up, on average, more than 87 percent over the past six years. Profits at 10 of the country's largest publicly traded health insurance companies in 2007 rose from $2.4 to 12.9 billion (428 percent) from 2000 to 2007. The CEOs of these companies in 2007 alone collected an average compensation of $11.9 million each. Nice work if you can get it.

As then Senator Barack Obama said in September 2007, "These changes (mergers) were supposed to make the industry more efficient, but instead premiums have skyrocketed."
So why are these people even at the table discussing health care reform? It's the last thing they want. [via Avedon who has a bunch of links that shouldn't be missed on health care and other important stuff.]

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Banksters profit on deaths

This is not illegal, but it is certainly seriously creepy. The major banks funded their overinflated executive compensation plans by taking out life insurance policies on "hundreds of thousands of their workers, with themselves as the beneficiaries."
The insurance policies essentially are informal pension funds for executives: Companies deposit money into the contracts, which are like big, nondeductible IRAs, and allocate the cash among investments that grow tax-free. Over time, employers receive tax-free death benefits when employees, former employees and retirees die.
We're talking tens of billions of dollars worth of policies here among just the biggest banks. Helluva ghoulish tax dodge. Remind me again why we didn't just let these banks fail? [via]

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RNC fails to rename Democratic party

Aw shucks.
The Republican National Committee backed away Wednesday from a resolution that officially called Democrats the “Democrat Socialist Party,” but instead voted to condemn Democrats for what it called a “march toward socialism.”
And I was so looking forward to the new DSP bumper stickers... No word yet on whether the GOP plans to be "respectful but firm" by issuing motivational anti-Democrat posters with a hammer and sickle motif to the rank and file.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You are what you eat

I've been arguing for years about the dangers of genetically modified foods and now the American Academy of Environmental Medicine released a position paper stating they "pose a serious health risk."
“Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health,” said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM.
Full position paper available at the link. And as far as I'm concerned GM seeds pose every bit as much risk to the environment. Proponents claim the world can't produce enough food to feed a growing population but I doubt that's true. GM technology has always been about control of the supply and fatter profits for the corporations.

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Nonsensical trolls

This has to be the most incomprehensible hate mail I've ever received at the DetNews comments. The person was apparently responding to this post. Seriously. The SEO spammers make more sense. I have no idea what this person is talking about.
Picking Scabs Again

We have real stories happening TODAY and you are still scratching at scabs from the last administration.

The Chinese had plenty of people like you working at newspapers during the cultural revolution. Everything the party did was good, while spending all of your precious essence seeking to destroy the "capitalist roaders" and other phantom enemies of the state.

I have only read 4 of your "pieces", but in that small sample you have criticized all 5 Black Types and you have never criticized a single member of the 5 Red Types. I know most here don't know what that means, but I know you do. Is this how you "Angrily Open Fire" on your enemies?

At some point the Detroit News will have to do the responsible thing here...

Talley, Tallahassee, Fl
I found this so baffling I even spent some time googling the phrases to try to make sense of it. I mean there is a tenuous connection between "red types" and the Chinese Cultural Revolution but not sure how to make that leap in the context of my posts. Anybody want to take a stab at interpreting this one?

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I think I'm in love

Freshman Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida has an interview in Vanity Fair and whispers the sweet nothings that I like to hear.
Bear in mind, this is an enemy with no army, no air force, no navy. We didn’t have to put in this kind of effort when we were facing the Soviet Union, with over 10,000 nuclear weapons. Why do we have to put in this effort, and bear this expense, and move these many lives against an enemy with no forces that it can put in the field? The C.I.A. has said that the total number of foreign fighters in Iraq—not the people whom we provoked to fight against us—the total number of foreign fighters in Iraq is 800. So now, for six years, we have had 150,000 American soldiers chasing 800 people—they haven’t found them. So what is the chance that another six years is going to solve that problem, or for that matter another 60 years? It’s fundamentally not working, and we can’t afford it anymore. So for our own sake we have to end it.
Read it all and see if you're not swooning too. [via]

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Pure gossip

Dumbest *story* ever. Not to mention boring.
Under a cloak of secrecy, some of the world's wealthiest people gathered in an unprecedented meeting early this month in New York City possibly to coordinate strategies for giving their vast fortunes to charity in the midst of the financial crisis.
This is on the ABC News site? First, it's not so secret if they know about it. Second, for all anyone knows they're planning the billionaires' annual summer picnic. And third, I'm willing to bet they've all been in the same room before, so what's so unprecendented? Seriously, isn't there some -- you know -- real news they could be covering?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reid ripe for primary challenge

I'm not concerned about losing Reid's seat to a Republican. As is being pointed out everywhere, the GOPers don't have a strong candidate to unseat him, despite his dismal polling numbers. But I don't understand why the A-listers who do these things aren't finding a primary challenger for him.

The man has been a disaster as the Senate leader. Hell, we may as well have a GOPer in there for all the good he's done. He personifies the calcified establishment that is part of the problem. Seems like a perfect time to get a more progressive Senator out of Utah. Like how about Rocky Anderson? He's a little nutty but would be much better than hapless Harry.

Correction:Damn. Of course Harry is from Nevada. It was the Mormon thing that had me stuck on Utah. Well, scratch Rocky then. Too bad. I was liking that idea. Still there must be somebody in Nevada who is better than Harry. Probably 99% of the population and 100% of the potted plants.

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You really got me going

Song in my head that inspired the title of this little linkfest.

I was messing around in youtube because Tim Meehan left this update on Facebook. "Try this: add &fmt=18 to the end of youtube video URLs. You'll hear a big difference." I didn't notice any difference on this video but maybe I'm just too deaf to hear it. Or maybe it only works on your own home-produced vids. If anyone can figure out what it's supposed to do, please leave a comment.

Dan has the rant of the day on the GOP's foolishness.

And I've had this rant on single payer health care hanging around so long I forgot what jurassicpork said, but I remember it was really worth reading. By the way, he's fallen in love on the internets.

SCOTUS upholds CA medical marijuana law by refusing two appeals by hold-out counties without comment.

On a related note, Ohio DEA agent indicted for perjury and fabricating evidence in a case that involves a professional informant called Bray. I seem to recall he was involved in some dicey cases in Oregon a few years back. [h/t Avedon]

Meanwhile, Holland is shutting down prisons because they don't have enough criminals. [via Moonbootica]

Moon also is my primary source for science news these days. She unearths Ida the missing link. I really love fossils. Next lifetime I want to be an archaeologist.

And an interesting twist on climate change. Arctic melt that is causing the sea to retreat and the land to rise. Weird.

Picture of the day at mikevotes place. It takes some talent to snarl with a smile.

Related art of the day from Andy. Picture made entirely of corn. Seems fitting.

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Myth of the self-made man

Not sure why I bother to engage my critics who are never in a million years going to admit they're wrong. I suppose I have this absurd optimism that someday, I'll evoke a Helen Keller breakthrough -- like when she finally gets the concept of water. But since I spent way too long answering the last comment, let me link to the thread wherein guys who probably don't make over $40K a year will zealously defend the top 1% of wealthholders as if they were one of them.

I've never actually investigated the backgrounds of the top 14 on Forbes list, and not to denigrate their intelligence or the work they put into their companies, but self-made seems a bit of a stretch when all but one comes from well-to-do and/or well connected families and went to the best schools money can buy. I don't suggest you read the whole tiresome thread but if you're curious, my summary of the advantages they had in getting where they are today is near the top right now. I for instance, never knew that Warren Buffet's dad was a Congressman.

On a related note, WaPo had a long piece on the high cost of being poor. Most people have no idea what it's like to live in real poverty. This piece didn't really explore the working poor aspect enough. They make just a little too much money to get government assistance but not enough to get ahead. It's a contributing factor to keeping people on welfare that is too little noticed.

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Hate mail of the week

A new critic surfaced today at DetNews in response to this post.

A clueless person.

This woman is hatred personified.

I was not a supporter of Bush and yet they have such hatred for America they always believe the worst of this country and seek it.

Torture? Show me one person that had lasting damage from what was done?
Please do investigate - EVERYONE.

Then when you see the corruption that made me leave the Democrat party and the stench of rot and evil - then the light of an investigation would be welcome.

Ironwolf21, Jackson, MI
Of course it would be easy to find a dozen accounts of people who suffered permanent damage, just at Gitmo, but why bother. No way to break through the cognitive dissonance in that crowd. And does anyone actually believe he didn't support Bush and the cursed occupation?

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Double standards for DNA testing

Prosecutors don't have any problem using DNA testing to win convictions, but when it comes to appeals that could successfully prove wrongful convictions they fight DNA testing requests, tooth and nail. The prosecutors offer an array of excuses from closure for the families of victims to eyewitness testimony that establishes guilt. But there are many documented cases where eyewitnesses have been proven wrong by the testing and hard to see how it benefits the victims' families if an innocent person is in jail while the real perp still goes free. One might think the prosecutors real concern is in having their convictions overturned.
Prosecutors said much the same when Douglas Warney, convicted of murder in Rochester in 1997, argued that a DNA test could lead to the real killer. They called his assertion “a drawn-out kind of sequence of if, if, if.” Yet that is exactly what happened after Mr. Warney’s DNA test, and the killer, when he was identified, confessed.
In the end, fighting the requests probably uses more court resources than simply allowing them and the tests more likely than not would establish whether the defendant's claim of innocence are valid. But of course such a common sense approach would imply the main concern is serving justice. It's been a long time since I believed the system delivered that, especially for what appears to be in this article, poor defendants of color.

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Obama at Notre Dame

I didn't follow this story very closely but it appears despite the media's obvious salivating over some imagined huge confrontation, Obama's speech at Notre Dame went very well. Despite some scattered protests, he received several standing ovations and the speech was widely praised as inspirational. Full text available at the link.

Also, the Great Orange Satan has a charming photo gallery. So, it's on to the next ginned up "Obama problem" our media elites will invent this week. [via BuzzFlash]

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So crazy it just might work

Diane finds a fascinating technological breakthrough. Well a potential one anyway.
A Manhattan Beach start-up called Solaren Corp. seeks to launch an array of giant solar power collectors into orbit 23,000 miles above Fresno and beam the energy to Earth. PG&E has signed a contract to buy the power -- if Solaren can make the technology work. ...
The initial array, hoped to be operational by 2016, would deliver "about half the output of a modern natural-gas-fired plant" diectly from space. Hey, it sounds crazy to me too, but they laughed at Alexander Graham Bell, and look what happened to the telephone. In any event it's good to see technology being developed for constructive uses instead of for more effective means of killing people in wars.

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Madoff victims or co-conspirators?

Interesting development in the Madoff case. It seems some of the so-called victims may have been in on the deal.
Some of the victims apparently were able to state the size of the annual returns they wanted from Madoff. Their accounts soon would reflect those returns, some of which regularly reached as high as 100 percent. The Journal cites people familiar with the investigation as its source.
Not sure why anyone would think a 100% return wouldn't eventually pique the interest of the SEC even if Bernie never got caught. Greed apparently breeds stupidity.

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Gas line

I've been meaning to post about gasoline. I filled up my car a few days ago. I think I don't need to feel guilty about my carbon footprint though since my last fill-up was on 12-3-08. I paid about $1.50 a gallon back then. When I tanked up last week, I paid $2.25. Since then I've been paying a bit more attention and I see it's already up to $2.45 around town.

I suppose you can chalk some of that up to the usual summer price hike, but Cosa noticed another factor that was under-reported. That being the end of oil company subsidies. Once this fully hits the fan , I'm thinking we may be seeing that $5.00 a gallon gas again.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

All the world's a stage

I'm obsessed with the upcoming move so I'm a bit distracted and not following the news as I might otherwise. Fortunately, at Kvatch's place they translate the headlines so well, you don't have to read the stories.

Besides, the only ones doing real journalism these days is McClatchy. This is how it's supposed to be done.
WASHINGTON — Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, defending the invasion of Iraq, asserted in 2004 that detainees interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp had revealed that Iraq had trained al Qaida operatives in chemical and biological warfare, an assertion that wasn't true.
A simple statement of known fact. How refreshing. That's a model that could save newspapers.

Diane has some thoughts on the trustworthiness of the health industry to assist in reform and flags this LAT coumn that comes with an embedded poll. Shockingly when I voted, 93% of the respondents don't trust the healthcos.

Avedon finds a Libertarian utopia and thinks we should make them live in it. I have to agree.

And science meets art. A stunning microphotography gallery.

One of my longtime favorites. Richard Avedon photos.

My favorite deep sea dweller dredges up a fabulous animation. Yellow sticky notes.

My friend Stephen really is an actor who has been known to wear a poodle skirt if the Bard demands it. But he won't be typecast. He does manly roles as well.

And in case you were wondering, the DFHs were right. [ via fokowi]

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When the Fogg lifts

Quote of the day from my friend Capt. Fogg.
Yes we can. But no we won't. Really nobody expected Barak Obama to bring about the Kingdom of God, or even a Democracy of justice. That his supporters did, is just another of the straw men ambling down the yellow brick road from GOP headquarters. What we really wanted is somebody not actively trying to destroy our country in every possible way, but from day one we've been giggled at because he hadn't done in 24 hours what Jesus Christ hasn't done, lo these 2000 years and largely because his followers are Christians.
Plenty more where that comes from.

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An encyclopedia of scandals

A lot of people linking to this Fran Rich column and flagging the creepy covers Rumsfeld used on his secret briefing reports. But the big story, that has been and still is being effectively ignored by the media, is the Pentagon's domestic psyops program using the retired generals.
What happened on Jan. 14 was the release of a report from the Pentagon’s internal watchdog, the inspector general. It had been ordered up in response to a scandal uncovered last year by David Barstow, an investigative reporter for The Times. Barstow had found that the Bush Pentagon fielded a clandestine network of retired military officers and defense officials to spread administration talking points on television, radio and in print while posing as objective “military analysts.” Many of these propagandists worked for military contractors with billions of dollars of business at stake in Pentagon procurement. Many were recipients of junkets and high-level special briefings unavailable to the legitimate press. Yet the public was never told of these conflicts of interest when these “analysts” appeared on the evening news to provide rosy assessments of what they tended to call “the real situation on the ground in Iraq.”
The report was widely cited to "debunk" Barstow's exposure of the program. Then only a couple of weeks ago, the Pentagon withdrew this "exonerating" report and scrubbed it from its website. It barely rippled the news cycle.
Network news operations ignored the unmasking of this last-minute Bush Pentagon cover-up, as they had the original Barstow articles — surely not because they had been patsies for the Bush P.R. machine. But the story is actually far larger than this one particular incident. If the Pentagon inspector general’s office could whitewash this scandal, what else did it whitewash?
Good question and one that Americans deserve an answer to sooner than later. I understand and even empathize to some extent with Obama's desire to avoid this debate, but as Rich points out, the vast corruption of the Bush regime is just too big a story to simply close the book without a public reading.

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RedState's winning ways

I can't possibly bring myself to link to Robert "McCrazy" McCain, but fortunately Tim F provides the pertinent quotes on the great success of the RedState tent shrinking campaign.
Erick Erickson of Red State started a Facebook group to protest the NRSC’s endorsement of Crist, and Erick just sent this message to group members:
Subject: They are listening

I’ve been getting all sorts of emails begging me to shut this group down.
Instead, please consider inviting ten friends each. The NRSC will not listen to us unless we help shut down their fundraising. You can help.

Thanks,
Erick
Way to go RedState. Purge your party of the vile appeasers who would sully your pristine pup tent with dark entreaties to welcome teh gay who so threaten the sanctity of serial adulterer Newt's marriages. Reject the surrender monkeys who would invite the dusky masses out of the laundry rooms and into your fold. Live ideologically pure, or die.

I'm begging you too. Please, don't ever stop.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Exploded internet rumors

Epic fails of the 08 campaign. One year ago today, former CIA analyst and current security consultant Larry Johnson confidently predicted on his blog that what came to be called -- by him -- the "explosive Whitey tape" would surface at the appropriate time and change everything. Still waiting...
[h/t Atrios]



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Flying in the face of the sun - Updated

I keep running into these amazing deep space links. This is an incredible shot of the space shuttle Atlantis hooking up with Hubble in the face of the sun. "Amateur Astronomer Thierry Legault shot it with nothing but his own telescope, a solar prism and a Canon 5D Mk II." [h/t dan]

Update: A report on the Hubble repairs. Amazing. They're practically rebuilding it on site.

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VIRUS ALERT !!!!

Yahoo mail servers appear to be infected with some kind of weird virus. It's sending out emails titled, "(Whoever) sent you a message from a friend" and asks you to click a link. I've already received two from different people. If you get one from me, delete it. I'm not sending out links and I haven't managed to answer any emails in weeks, much less send new ones.

Update: Thanks to Kevin in comments for the reminder that Facebook and My Space is also being hit with a similar bug.

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Tea baggers don't pay taxes

This is mildly amusing. Chief organizer of the *spontaneous* tea parties they had last month, Michael P. Leahy is a tax cheat and apparently also some sort of con man.
According to documents obtained by Teablogging by running a goddamned simple Nexis search on the internets, national Tea Party organizer, Top Conservatives on Twitter cofounder and TCOTReport.com publisher Michael P. Leahy has, over the past 16 years, amassed nearly $150,000 in state and federal tax liens, small claims court judgments and civil suits.
In other words, Joe the Plumber writ large. As the kewl kidz might say, #tcot:fail!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Sex and drugs and rock and roll

Nothing much worth talking about today. Just a few links that don't require much commentary.

The first sex themed amusement park in China is about to open its doors. Neighbors aren't happy but the owner claims it will be a public service. This quote from a local sexpert was most striking.
"But people will become more tolerant and have positive attitudes towards sex; for example, people [already] care more about female orgasm. I read a report saying in the west about 90% of women have experienced orgasm, but in China the number is only 28%," she said.
Speaking of sex, this squigged me out a little but wow, Cher nearly naked at 62 doesn't look all that different from when she wore the same outfit in her 40s. Of course she is a walking monument to cosmetic surgery, but still you have to give her some credit for working so hard to keep up appearances.

Dan has some insights for the newspaper biz. "The biggest problem facing newspapers is a well earned skepticism that they will accurately inform their readers."

Meanwhile, NYT is musing on pay models for their internet product. They should read Dan's post first.

And I'm sure you'll shocked to learn that four days after the big announcement about the health care industry's deep concern for cutting costs, they're walking back on their pledge. We're down to well, maybe they could sorta, kinda, cut some costs, someday, but only if it doesn't cost them any ill-earned profits. Someone remind again why they are even invited to the table on this when the system needs to be reformed to get their greedy paws off it.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Future Jack Boots of America


I was a Girl Scout as a kid and I led a Brownie troop as an adult. We learned how to survive in the woods and sang cheery songs around the campfire. Granted the Explorers, a co-ed program afilliated with the Boy Scouts, has always had a different focus but their latest training program is disturbing.
The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”
The program is open to 14-21 year olds, but the leaders take them at 13. Tell me not one 13 year old is going to try this shit at home. And the whole fight the enemy mentality seems to me to go against the spirit of Scouting. What ever happened to civic projects? Instead they're creating a culture of violence.
Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns — known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”
An unfortunate quote considering the program's past history of sexual abuse by some counselors. This whole program strikes me as so many shades of wrong. Appalling.

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War on (some) Drugs over?

I'd love to believe that the new Drug Czar is really going to end the War on (some) Drugs, but this isn't all that encouraging.
In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.
"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."
I suspect the hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders who are currently behind bars or under court supervision would beg to differ. But the rest of his words are soothing.
The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said. [...]

The administration also said federal authorities would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries in the 13 states where voters have made medical marijuana legal. Agents had previously done so under federal law, which doesn't provide for any exceptions to its marijuana prohibition.
Well and good, except that at least two medical marijuana dispensaries have been raided in California since Obama took office. Still, I don't want to be too negative. We'll give them some time to walk that talk. But until the raids stop and the drug funding goes into treatment centers instead of SWAT teams, I'm not popping any champagne. When I see the czar call for the abolition of mandatory minimum sentencing and forfeiture laws, I'll start celebrating. Until then, it's all just rhetoric.

Update: I see Jacob Sullum shares my skepticism.

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Fast and easy

I got a bunch of errands to run today, including a trip to the big city, so here's some quick and easy on the mind links.

The story of stuff. I haven't watched the video they're talking about yet, but it sounds very cool.

More wonders from deep space. 20 pictures from the Hubble spacecraft. I especially love the nebula that stares right back at you. [h/t Moonbootica]

This is very cute. Vote for doodles for google. Google ran a contest soliciting drawings from school kids for their daily logo. You can vote for your favorities in four age groups. Personally I thought the 4-6 year olds had the best drawings.

And finally, if you need a little politics to tide you over, Young Matt has a short post on the failures of conservatism-in-practice.

Late entry: What? You have a better idea for a new GOP logo?

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Senate upholds usury

If you were hoping for any kind of real reform of credit card company abuses, forget it. The Senate voted in support of credit card company loan-sharking with only 33 members voting for Senator Bernard Sanders' proposal to cap interest rates at 15%. It seems the credit card companies don't think they can stay in business unless they can spontaneously jack your rates at any time, for no reason at all, to up to 41%. In fact, over 1/3 of credit card holders are now paying over 20% in interest alone. This leads to stories like this Michigan man who has been trying to pay off a $4,000 debt since 1986. So far he's paid $15,000 and only been credited with $1,800 in payments to the principal thanks to fees and interest rates.

You may ask yourself why the Senators would so shamelessly support business practices that would be considered illegal if they were being conducted by a private loan-sharker. As always, follow the money. DWT has a list of the traitors along with the amounts of campaign payola they've received from the banking industry. Disgusting. There ought to be a way to hold these people accountable under the law for such shameless pandering to special interests. As it stands, I guess anything we can do to hold them up to public ridicule will have to do for now.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Medicare Scare

Sooner or later the Social Security/Medicare cost "problem" is going to come up for review on the Hill and there will be much bloviating on how to fix it. No doubt this will bring the "privatize everything" forces out of the woodwork again, but Robert Reich does some preventative framing today. Read it all, but here's the money graf.
Don't be confused by these alarms from the Social Security and Medicare trustees. Social Security is a tiny problem. Medicare is a terrible one, but the problem is not really Medicare; it's quickly rising health-care costs. Look more closely and the real problem isn't even health-care costs; it's a system that pushes up costs by rewarding inefficiency, causing unbelievable waste, pushing over-medication, providing inadequate prevention, over-using emergency rooms because many uninsured people can't afford regular doctor checkups, and spending billions on advertising and marketing seeking to enroll healthy people and avoid sick ones.
It seems pretty clear to me that the solution is to get private insurers out of the health care business. I don't understand why there's not a greater consensus on that point.

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GOP embraces its inner idiot

I had the same reaction as Ed Kilgore did when I first heard about the GOP's intention to mount "a formal resolution calling on GOPers to start referring to the Democratic Party as the 'Democrat Socialist Party.'" I thought it was just a ploy engineered by the way far right crazies of the party. A bad joke that would be treated as such by the leadership. But no.
According to sources speaking to Politico's Roger Simon, the Republican National Committee will approve the resolution at a special meeting of the RNC called for that very purpose.
They're calling a special meeting to officially call the Democratic Party names like elementary school kids on the playground instead of using their energy to come up with alternate solutions to the policies they find so objectionable? How much sillier can they get? But as Kilgore says there is a serious side to this.
It's easy to mock this stuff, but it's actually pretty significant: we are not talking about some radio blowhard or self-promoting Fox "personality" in this case, but the Republican National Committee. If, as Simon predicts, it approves this resolution, Republicans who like to think of themselves as serious people need to feel some real shame. Comparing the Democratic Party to the leadership of a totalitarian society, and treating it as an enemy of the country, isn't just ridiculous: it's an incitement to crazy people to act crazy or worse.
It's even beyond that I think. This dances on the thin edge of treason. Particularly ironic from the same party that was calling us traitors just for opposing the disastrous adventure in Iraq. [graphic]

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Sign for Single Payer Health Care

Today's point and click activisim is for HR 676. that has been endorsed by 463 union organizations in 49 states including 116 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state AFL-CIO’s. It's a little more complicated than most as you have to verify your signature by a subsequent email, but well worth the effort to get comprehensive health care for all. Full details at the link but here's the resolution:
Be it Resolved That: We call on our members of Congress to pass HR 676, non-profit Medicare for All, so our people and our nation can have the excellent healthcare system we deserve. Healthcare is a human right, and we call on our members of Congress to recognize that right.
Sign the petition here.

[Via Cosa who has much more background material.]

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saving America

Quote of the day:
"Bad jokes and gay marriage are destroying the country but torture will save it." ~ Jon Stewart
Video putting it in context here. [hat tip HBK]

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Jesse Ventura calls a Dick a dick

Jesse Ventura is doing the talk show circuit to promote a book and he gave Larry King an earful on Dick Cheney's latest historical revision tour.
VENTURA: It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.
I never followed Jesse. I always thought he was pretty crazy and never really understood how he managed to got to be governor of Minnesota but he's shining here. He takes on more of the sacred GOP cows in this clip, including Rushbo. Love to see Rushbo bite back against him but I'm sure he wouldn't dare.

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Carrie Prejean Naked Again

As I said before, I don't care at all if Miss California, Carrie Prejean, shows her tits or poses buck naked for that matter. But it is worth mentioning for the hypocrisy factor. Little Ms. Holier than Thou is sitting of judgment of other people's morals and hiding her own little dirty secrets. TMZ has the new shots taken much more recently at the link for your purient amusement and we have nipple exposure here folks. Funny she didn't remember having those taken either.

On a different note, it occurs to me that somebody has a job that requires cruising the internets looking for naked pictures of celebrities. I bet there's a lot of guys that are jealous about that.

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Retailers drop prices to win sales

I suppose you could call this the invisible hand of the free market at work. Consumers stopped spending on high priced goods, so the retailers are finding ways to offer cheaper versions of their former luxury lines of merchandise. In some cases they're using cheaper materials and cutting some of the frills but Starbucks dropping their coffee price made me wonder why they charged more for it in the first place. They're making up the 30 cent difference by charging more for the more complicated drinks, but shouldn't that have been the standard all along under a fair pricing scheme?

The retailers are, of course, hoping that people will go back to their spendthrift ways in the future, but I wonder if the upside of this recession won't be that consumers finally realize paying a premium for the status of a brand name just isn't worth it.

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Combat stress takes its toll

They identified the shooter who killed his comrades at the US army base in Iraq. His identity isn't important so much as the fact that he was on his third deployment to Iraq, and his commanders had already taken away his gun because he was exhibiting signs of stress. If they had sent him home sooner, maybe those 5 soldiers he killed would still be alive. Suicide rates are up too.

In a way, these repeated deployments are a form of torture of our own troops.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun houses

Slow news day and I'm bit preoccupied with housing options, being that I'm going to be effectively homeless at the end of the month. So Phila's link to a building made entirely of recycled kitchen sinks caught my eye. Can't move into that one, but I spent an hour digging through the archives of the site and found the Puma container store pictured here. Great concept. It's made entirely of used Puma shipping containers and is tranportable. They break it down and move it to different cities.

I hadn't realized that so many people are doing repurposed construction. They don't give you any pricing but this container house is very cool and it's even more ecologically sound for building with used containers. Worth exploring further.

Phila also has a bunch of other especially interesting links in this Friday's hopeblogging. This ghost energy installation is as beautiful as it is frightening. I mean that is just spooky. And you should click over if you like really old cartoons. He's got a great one at the end of the post.

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Gibbs on Cheney

Speaks for itself...



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Home of the future?

You hear prefab mobile home and you don't usually think stylish, but this one is kind of cute. The $100,000 price tag seems a little steep to me for a 992 sq foot place that still needs an foundation but I suppose with the energy efficiency built in you would recoup costs rather quickly and the green products used in construction are a plus. I could see myself living in a place like it.

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Anti-trust

This is good news for a change. The White House is going to
reverse the Bush administration's policy
on anti-trust violations, that might have been best described as "look the other way."
Herbert Hovenkamp, a leading antitrust scholar regarded as a centrist between those seeking more aggressive enforcement and those who generally argue for restraint, said the guidelines by the Bush administration were “a brief for defendants.”

He said that the repudiation of those guidelines by the Obama administration “will almost certainly have a greater impact than the guidelines themselves had.”
No specific industry will be mention in the White House announcement but it's believed to be targeted at agriculture, energy, health care, technology, telecommunications companies and maybe even banksters. Further, small companies will be encouraged to bring complaints to the DOJ, where they are expected to be taken seriously again. Hope it's a real change and not just feel good rhetoric.

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Beware of insurance giants bearing gifts

Is this supposed to make me feel better? The health-care industry offering to trim $2 trillion in "future costs" for health insurance over the next decade.
The groups aim to achieve the proposed savings by using new efficiencies to trim the rise in health-care costs by 1.5 percent a year, the officials said. ...

"We are developing consensus proposals to reduce the rate of increase in future health and insurance costs through changes made in all sectors of the health system," the groups wrote to the president. "We are committed to taking action in private-public partnership to create a more stable and sustainable health care system."
I have news for these people. I was already priced out of the present costs over a year ago and see nothing in my future that will allow me to meet payments that are contained by 1.5 percent. On a $750 monthly payment, we're talking about what, about $11.00? Sardonic laughter.

We need a affordable single payer option. Why aren't we seeing that on the table in these sham negotiations? [graphic]

Update: Ezra agrees with me, only with much more wonk.

More from Ezra. Maybe it's a better sign than I think.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

For the Fashionistas - Updated

Okay, so I said I wasn't at all interested in the White House Correspondents Dinner, but I confess. I'm always interested in what Michelle Obama is wearing. HuffPo has some photos. She looks great in hot pink and I'm wondering if that choice wasn't a subtle approval of the Code Pink Mother's Day peace rally. I'm not crazy about the necklace though. Too fussy for me. Would have been better without the big pink flower, but maybe it looked better in person.

More photos of the rest of the gliterati. A better look at Demi Moore's dress. Not bad. And Meghan McCain.

Update: Pure gossip from the NY Daily News and a better look at Meghan's dress. Not attractive.

Shorter Michelle Malkin that I won't link to: "Nobody invited me to anything so I'll just sneer." I will steal her link to the official gossip site but if you just want pix, here's a good gallery of the Bloomberg afterparty.

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Lost in space

The Hubble telescope is sending data from far away places. Great photo at the link.
Myriad galaxies, including some of the ­cosmos's remotest objects, are caught by the Hubble Space Telescope, providing astronomers with key information about the universe's early history. The newly-released image was one of the last taken before this week's repair mission to the telescope, which orbits Earth, by the space shuttle Atlantis.
It never fails to knock me out that we can see into deep space in my lifetime. [h/t Moonbootica]

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