Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Psychedelic

I love lightning bugs. They've have been an endless source of entertainment lately and have been especially psychedelic for the last couple of evenings. Apparently, I'm not the only one who's fascinated by the buggers. Quote of the day.
“...It’s very, very easy to talk to fireflies.” ~Dr. Sara Lewis
So it is. [h/t Jules Siegel]

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Coleman Concedes

Okay, this surprised me. I didn't expect it at all.

Mr. Coleman stepped outside his home just a short while ago to give his news conference. He indicated that he and Mr. Franken had a positive, personal talk and he told the Democrat that being senator was the “best job he’ll ever have.”

The Republican’s statement began this way: “Ours is a government of laws, not men and women. The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken and I respect its decision and will abide by the result. It’s time for Minnesota to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward. I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States Senator – Al Franken.”
Guessing either Pawlenty told the GOP he wasn't going to buck the polls and intended to certify or else the RNC decided they sank enough millions into a losing battle.

Of course, there are other theories...
Ha! ||RT: @GregMitch: Norm Coleman: Now I'll have to chance to take that trip I've long planned--hiking the Appalachian Trail.
[hat tip HoneyBearKelly]

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Two for tea

In case you forgot to mark your calendars, this Fourth of July is slated to be the next big Mad Tea Party extravaganza for the ODS crowd. You'll be shocked to learn that Fox is promoting them, again. May they be just as successful as the first one.

Meanwhile, John Cole thinks us dirty hippies shouldn't let the wingnuts have all the fun.
So here is my plan for a tea party of our own. This year, from after Thanksgiving until 2 January, I want everyone who wants to signify that they support any liberal or dirty hippy position to do the following things to show your support for the cause:

1.) Put up a large evergreen in your living room and dress it up with lots of ornaments.
2.) Drink egg nog.
3.) Place candles in your window.
4.) Take the day off on the 24th or 25th of December, and spend it with your family.
5.) Sing little ditties and songs (we can even call them “carols”).
6.) Buy gifts for your friends and loved ones.

I have a lot more ideas about how we can really show our solidarity. I’m tentatively thinking about adopting the reindeer as our mascot, and maybe making mistletoe our official plant life, but I’m open to ideas. What do you think?
I think he may be on to something here...

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Finally -- Franken!

So the Minnesota Supreme Court rules Franken is the winner. Of course everybody knew that for the last almost eight months, but now it's official. All that remains to be seen is if Pawlenty will do the right thing and certify him. He'd be crazy if he didn't. Public opinion strongly favors an end to this charade. I'm thinking a lot depends on whether he intends to run for re-election or not.

Of course, I fully expect Coleman will still want to take it all the way to SCOTUS. TPM runs down some of his possible strategies at the link. But for the moment, I'm visualizing thunderous applause when Sen. Franken enters the chamber for the first time.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

The GOP's new hero

It's the WaPo, so I'm just going to link to Memeorandum's cite to Cilliza's aha! post, wherein he's certain he's discovered the next new great hope of the GOP. None other than Lindsay Graham, apparently because he managed to string together a few sentences without any major grammatical errors while "subtly" getting his digs in at Obama.

If you want to know what Cilliza said, go to Steve M who has the quotes along with a rather illustrative list of reactions from the GOP base to the same Meet the Press segment. Too funny.

But I'm beginning to understand why the Villagers love their GOPers, neo-cons and other members of the perpetually wrong club so much. Birds of a feather and all that...

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Madoff pays, Banksters still free

So Bernie Madoff gets the max. 150 years. Won't have him to kick around any more. And I don't disagree with the judge.
“Objectively speaking, the fraud here was staggering,” Judge Chin said. “It spanned more than 20 years.”
But I do have a quibble with the prosecution's characterization of it as "one of the biggest investment frauds in Wall Street history."

It may have been the longest running by a single operator, but there are host of banksters out there who defrauded the entire system of trillions and they're not only getting away with it, they're getting government handouts even as they perpetrate their latest scamming of the oil futures market.

Madoff surely deserves his sentence, along with the forfeiture of his personal assets. I hear they only left his wife with a paltry 2.something million and they have to sell all the fancy digs. But meanwhile there's a corrupt hedge funder, or two, flying around on private jets without a worry in the world about indictments. That's just not right.

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Sanford's Women

I wasn't going to post anymore about Sanford's love life, but this is intriguing. It may well be that Sanford wasn't only cheating on his wife, he may have been cheating on his mistress too. Tucked into this story that rehashes the affair with Maria, is this little bombshell.
And more names of women were coming in over the transom. The total was at three and counting.

“Women?!” Davis responded, sounding incredulous. “Women?!”
The piece doesn't delve any further into that revelation. And what about the woman at Guido's Bar in Argentina that he was allegedly seen with several times over the past few months? The owner described her as a dirty blonde with green eyes. It's difficult not to speculate.

For the record, I don't think Sanford should resign because of the affair, or affairs as the case may be. I don't even think he should resign because he apparently lied about them. But I do think he should resign for failing to properly conduct the business of his office. If it's true that he routinely disappeared without making arrangements to have the business of the state covered in his absence, that would be an impeachable dereliction of duty, IMO.

Update: Thanks to HuffPo for the link.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Going down to the Roadhouse

I can hardly believe it was the sixth anniversary of the open mike at my dear friend Jamie's Rt. 63 Roadhouse. My bro, Mark Herschler, started the open mike there. He turned it over to Peter Kim, who took this video and is playing bass, a long time ago, but Mark came back for the anniversary party.



Makes me a little homesick for the golden days of lovely downtown Northampton.
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Nico, my hero

Nico responds to this morning's CNN segment that had me so riled up earlier, and confirms that Milbank did indeed call him a dick and follows up with citations to the points he made about Dana's "reporting." I can't believe I missed Milbank's orginal in-depth report on this gravely serious matter.
The circle of reporters who actually did the work of following up on the People Magazine picture of Obama in his trunks includes only myself and Dana Milbank of The Washington Post.

We cornered Obama outside the Senate radio-TV gallery after a press conference. Milbank asked a few leading questions and we both wrote columns based on his reply that ran the next day. Between the Chicago Sun-Times running the Obama photo on the front page hyping my column and the reach of The Washington Post, the attention inspired other outlets to do derivative feature stories. Of course, it also made great gab for the cable news shows.
As Nico said in the clip. Pathetic. Seriously pathetic.

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Prima Donna Protocol

The prancing prima donnas of the oh so very elite White House press corps are still carping about Nico Pitney getting that question at last week's presser. I watched this exchange on CNN between Dana Milbank and Nico and I got pissed off all over again myself. At the stenos of the elite media of course, not Nico. Nico is my new hero.



For the record, here's the question Nico asked on behalf of a resident Iranian who responded to his request for questions.
PITNEY: Yeah, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions last night from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online, and one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of the -- of what the demonstrators there are working towards?
Contrast this to the questions posed by the "serious" press. "Eyerollers like, did you speak out on Iran because of Lindsay Graham and John McCain (CBS News's Chip Reid) or (Fox News's Major Garrett) What took you so long?" And of course the equally "serious" matter of Obama's smoking habit.

I don't know who the Village stenos think they're fooling but it's painfully apparent to anyone with two or more functioning brain cells that they're just jealous and moreover they're pissed because their "authority" is being challenged by both bloggers and the White House. They're not the gatekeepers anymore. They don't get to drive the narrative like they did before Blogtopia built its muscle.

As Matt put it, it comes down to simple "status anxiety among the special class of reporters who do things like attend White House press conferences." And besides, who engraved their precious protocol in stone anyway? It's their own invention, previously enforced under the threat of co-ordinated bad press. Their problem is, they don't rule the playground any more. And like any cowardly bully, as soon as the little guys push back, they run home crying.

[Via Atrios, who tells us that Dana whispered to Nico at the end of the segment, "You're such a dick."]

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Ombud 'defends' Froomkin firing

Okay, so I'm already breaking my pledge not to link to WaPo, but this is still about Froomkin. I suggest you don't bother to click the link. Here's the shorter version. OmbudAndy sort of addresses the firing of Dan by repeating the fiction that he just wasn't popular enough to keep on the roster. That's Fred Hiatt's story and they're all sticking to it. In fact, no one at WaPo is allowed to comment further.

How Froomkin's column was sabotaged in a deliberate attempt to drive down his traffic count has already been widely addressed, and it was obviously done in order to justify dropping him. It's also painfully apparent that the only reason they did it was because Dan held up a mirror to the insider's media club and they didn't like their own reflection. Andy admits himself that the Post wanted Dan to stop doing media criticism. Hell, that's why we were all reading White House Watch in the first place. But I'm linking to the post for this quote from Andy:
It's too bad both sides could not have found a way to save White House Watch. The Post will lose a valued voice, even with its diminished audience. And Froomkin will lose the benefit of The Post's prestige and reach. ...With his loyal followers, he'll survive. So will The Post.
Ha! I've got news for Andy. The WaPo is quickly losing its prestige and I wouldn't bet the farm that it will survive for that much longer. Not as long as they elevate their stenographers and regular neo-cons to star status and dump the honest voices from the roster. If they wanted to ensure their survival they should have dumped Fred.

But he's right about one thing. Dan Froomkin will surely survive and we'll all be following him to his next home.

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I can see it in your eyes...

Somehow, I missed adding this to yesterday's linkfest. The photo made the rounds, but this was the best caption.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just damn

Kos has all the luck. Why don't I ever get quality hate mail like that?

BTW, I didn't vote in the poll because there was no option for all of the above. [via Atrios]

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Improved with age

I'm going to see the folks this afternoon so a few links to amuse you while I'm out. Actually quite a few links. They've been piling up again. Starting with the newer stuff.

I'm not really following the tributes to the deceased celebrities much, but my friend Steve Audio has an interesting story about Michael Jackson from when he worked on one of his tours. And my deep sea buddy, Octopus has a personal vignette from when he was worked with Farrah Fawcett.

This story about Sarkozy and the burqas slipped by me, but my man Capt. Fogg has the must read take on that craziness.

Meanwhile, my sister finds some nano-magic. I'm old enough to remember when a computer took up a whole room. Didn't really expect to see nano-tech in my lifetime.

Never got around to blogging this outrage, but it still pisses me off. Jane runs down the details on the record bonuses expected at Goldman Sachs. And no link, but I read somewhere else that some of the other banksters are just going to increase base salaries in lieu of obscene bonuses. No limit to their hubris, I guess.

If you missed this one, it's funny in a really creepy way. Glen Beck plays with Barbie Dolls.

And to end on a cool note on this hot day, some eye candy starting with these astounding shots of an erupting volcano taken from the space station.

Via m. heart, a gallery of photos taken by blind photographers. And their Flickr gallery. Some beautiful stuff. It's sad they can't see their own work.

My pal Uncle Blodge has some fun shots taken around Philly.

The secret side to Marcellina. Who knew she was such a sexpot?

And a really spooky clouds hanging over Soho in Gotham City.

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A welcome change in drug policy

Amazing. Could it be the big brass finally started listening to the policy reformers?

The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, told The Associated Press that eradication programs weren't working...

"Eradication is a waste of money," Holbrooke said... [...]

"The farmers are not our enemy, they're just growing a crop to make a living," he said. "It's the drug system. So the U.S. policy was driving people into the hands of the Taliban."

"We're essentially phasing out our support for crop eradication and using the money to work on interdiction, rule of law, alternate crops," he told the AP. At the same time, Washington is upgrading its support of agriculture programs.
I still have a lot of other problems with our Af/Pak policies but at least on this issue, it looks like they finally got it right. Hell, I could have written that statement. Come to think of it, I did -- too many times to count.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

My last link to the WaPo

Never say never I suppose, but it will be a very long time before I send any traffic to the WaPo after this link to Dan Froomkin's last appearance on its pages. A very gracious goodbye post but he got his digs in too. I especially liked the line, "Hopefully, the next time the nation faces a grave national security crisis, we will listen to the people who were right, not the people who were wrong, and heed those who reported the truth, not those who served as stenographers to liars."

Meanwhile, here's a couple of the stenographers that the WaPo is keeping.



These are their "serious" journalists. Seriously. Disturbing. A perfect illustration of why newspapers are dying. They keep trying to compete by aping formats that are already done better by others. Can't quite decide if they're going for Comedy Central or Monthy Python with this gag. All I know for sure is that I'm gagging...

Update: For some reason DisQus hates me and I can't deal with trying to log in, so let just thank Shakes here for the shout out.

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Rockefeller on health care reform

Credit where credit is due. Although I will never forgive him for selling us out to the telecoms on the FISA immunity issue, Jay Rockefeller came out on the right side of health care reform. He recently "introduced the Consumers Health Care Act that would give all consumers the option to participate in a government-run plan competing with private plans." He admits he expects no bipartisan support.
"There is a very small chance any Republicans will vote for this health-care plan. They were against Medicare and Medicaid [created in the 1960s]. They voted against children's health insurance.

"We have a moral choice. This is a classic case of the good guys versus the bad guys. I know it is not political for me to say that," Rockefeller added.

"But do you want to be non-partisan and get nothing? Or do you want to be partisan and end up with a good health- care plan? That is the choice."
Politicians. You never know when they're going to do something good. I also see Arlen Specter came out for the public option but with the way he's flipped back and forth on every issue since he joined the Democrats, I'm not counting on his vote just yet.

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Mark Sanford's Maria Revealed - Updated

I'm already tired of this story but it's only natural to be curious about what the mysterious Maria looks like, so here's some photos. And more info on Maria Belen Chapur here. Who knows how much of it is true. I've seen a lot of conflicting reports in the few posts I've read on her. The most interesting find is this video of a TV report she did from NYC shortly after 9/11.



Video via Kevin Hayden who always has an astute take on the real news, at the link.

This is the last I'm posting on Sanford's affair. As far as I'm concerned he's just another run-of-the-mill GOP hypocrite. And no, I'm not linking to the sexy emails. I don't think they should have been published. I understand that public figures don't have the same expectation of privacy, but that sort of invasion makes me cringe, even at the expense of a cretin like Sanford.

Update: Hmmm. I thought it was probably Mrs. Sanford who leaked the emails but as it turns out, Maria's other boyfriend did it. So much for the wingnut theory that Obama was somehow behind it.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crying in Argentina

Well, let it be said for the record, my lie-dar is working just fine. I was wrong about there not being a mistress, but I knew Sanford was lying through those crocodile tears at the presser about something. Clearly, he didn't go to Argentina to break off the affair.
Carlos Soto, the owner of Guido's Bar, says he's seen Sanford and Maria Belen Chapur there several times over the last few months -- most recently last week.

Soto says they were "all over each other" last week in his bar, "kissing, holding hands and drinking wine."
So much for "spending the week crying in Argentina," unless they were tears of joy. I wish this was the end of it but sadly, I feel sure we'll be hearing every purient detail for at least another week. Meanwhile, I've already seen two different descriptions of the mysterious Maria. That can't be good.

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The Three Stooges of Ahmadinejad

What a bunch of maroons. McSame as it ever was.

Three U.S. senators said Thursday they will introduce legislation funding a package of assistance to help get around the Tehran regime's information block.

"The Iranian government recognizes that Internet is a threat to its stranglehold over society and is trying to impose its repressive controls over it," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said. "The legislation would authorize funds to ensure that Iranians have the hardware, software and other tools to evade the censorship and surveillance of the regime online."

McCain joined fellow Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, at a news conference to announce the legislation, which they said is an effort to support the Iranian people.
Not helping... The question isn't why are the three amigos so stupid. It's why is the media giving them a microphone? Did they all miss the memo? McCain lost the election precisely because of idiot grandstanding like this.

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Accountability for hate speech

This is long overdue. Hate jockey Hal Turner arrested for internet threats against federal judges. "A summary of Turner’s dangerous tirade against the judges":
Internet postings on June 2 and 3 proclaimed “outrage” over the June 2, 2009, handgun decision by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer, of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further stating, among other things: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed.” The postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers of these judges, along with a photo of the building in which they work and a map of its location.
More at the link. I'm all for free speech, even abhorent speech, but Turner crossed the line into criminal incitement as far as I can see. It's about time they started holding these guys responsible, particularly in light of the spate of nutcase murders that gestated in the petri dish of their vile rantings.

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SCOTUS rules for privacy rights

At last! SCOTUS finally got one right. On an 8-1 vote, they found the strip search of a teenage girl by school officials to be an unconstitutional violation of privacy. An easy and logical conclusion. They were searching for one freaking high grade Advil for crying out loud. Unsurprisingly, Clarence Thomas was the dissenter on that one.

Of course, the court was only half right on this case. They voted 7-2 to excuse the school because the law wasn't settled at the time of the search and assume the school was just being overprotective in deference to the parents. But as Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent, the assistant principal, "made Savana sit on a chair outside his office for more than two hours." “At no point did he attempt to call her parent,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. “Abuse of authority of that order should not be shielded by official immunity.” Damn straight.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Random Thought

A year ago, and for years prior to that, all these wingers who are so worked up now about the crackdown on the Iranian protesters were demanding on a near daily basis that the US bomb the whole country into glass ashtrays. They would have suffered a whole lot more if we had nuked them, as they desired.

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Sanford's confession - Updated

I watched the presser. Call me crazy, but I have a gut feeling that the affair is a lie too and he was doing something much nastier so he confessed to an affair because that's acceptable sin in the GOP. I could be wrong, of course, but it strikes me as odd that he would plan to spend a week breaking up with a mistress. And to do it over Father's Day weekend is rather bizarre timing.

On a different note, hey Fox "News", Sanford is a Republican, but you knew that. Funny how you never make that "mistake" in the other direction. Sadly, you're not alone in using that smarmy tactic.

Update: So there is an Argentinean mistress. The local paper has emails, that they've been sitting on since December. Everybody is "giving him credit," right up to Josh Marshall, for being so forthcoming. I don't know. My lie-dar is still twitching. But I hope I'm wrong for his kids' sake.

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Gov. Sanford's Exotic Trip

Generally, I think it's none of our business if Sanford wants to ditch his family on Father's Day and disappear to an undisclosed location. If not for the bizarre cover story, and his failure to inform his office of his whereabouts should a crisis arise, this wouldn't have become a story. But since he's been touted as a presidential hopeful, I suppose odd behavior is of some consequence, and in any event S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford was greeted by the press when he returned from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sanford said he was planning to hike the Appalachian Trail, but at the last minute decided to change his plans.
"But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic," Sanford said "... It's a great city."
He also said he has been to the city twice before, "most recently about a year and half ago during a Commerce Department trip." He says he "was alone on the trip" and declined to give any details on his "exotic" activities other than noting he enjoyed ride along the coastline.

Of course, the urge to speculate is strong. One can't fail to remember that "prostitution has been legal in Argentina since the beginning of republic." In fact, "currently Buenos Aires is one the world's premier sex trade destinations for both homosexual and heterosexual clients." And in an odd coincidence, on June 18th, this article on "Prostitute Plaza" appeared on the CBC.ca site.
According to the UN's International Organization for Migration, young women from the Dominican Republic began arriving to Argentina in unprecedented numbers in the 1990s. And they're still coming. [...]

Yet it's clear these young women and girls are being brought in to feed the prostitution trade. In a country of mostly fair skinned residents, they are considered exotic.
Just saying...

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Patience is a virtue

The Rude One reminds us that change doesn't happen overnight.
We're five months away from the worst presidency in our history, heading in the opposite direction, thank Christ, Allah, whoever, or no one. But objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, motherfuckers. This ain't apologia and it ain't deluded belief. Just like we can yell that Democrats who oppose Obama's policies are forgetting that people who voted for the man knew what they were getting, so can we say to the jittery on the left that, despite the fact that getting fucked over is a very real possibility, we need to remember that we who voted for him also did so on the basis of trusting his judgment.
Read the whole thing. [h/t Honey Bear Kelly]


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Testy, One... Two... Three...

The word "testy" was thrown around a lot yesterday to describe Obama's interaction with the media at the presser. I think that's a bit of an overstatement. He did cut down the idiotic questioners though with his usual cool and subtle sarcasm. More clips here of our President putting the smug WH press corps in their place. And if you want to see the full presser, unedited, CSPAN has it.

On a related note, Juan Cole reminds us that for all the indigination expressed all around about the crackdown on the Iranian protesters, Americans wouldn't be allowed to demonstrate in that manner here. He recalls the 250, mostly innocent, protesters pre-emptively arrested at last years RNC, which included some alt-media journalists. And let's not forget the 1,800 mostly wrongfully arrested protesters in NYC in 04. Not to mention the limiting of US demonstrations to "protest zones."

Meanwhile, the latest video from Iran shows the mullahs have taken to the streets and joined the protesters there.

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'Fess Up

Okay, who is the joker that signed me up for the FredThompsonPAC email list? They're sending me clips of Fred and Jeri's radio show.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Speaking of symbiosis Ben...

Ben Smith joins his colleague in whinging about the HuffPo question at the presser. Don't give them the traffic by clicking the link, here's the money quote.
The high-profile the administration is giving the left-leaning outlet is a nice case of symbiosis, not entirely unlike the Bush Administration's close ties to Fox, though the president's signal that he'd been briefed on the question in advance was particularly unusual.
As if nobody might have figured out on their own that Nico was covering the protests 24/7. And because keeping the politicians at arm's length is so important to journalistic integrity. Right. By the way Ben, does Jon Martin still work for your publication?


If only McCain had won, then everything would have been different. How much whine do you suppose they expect to make out of those sour grapes?

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Health Care: Two can play Luntz' game

I posted a while back about the GOP's favorite spinmeister's advice on how to kill health care reform and one of his key talking points was to personalize the horror stories about the dreaded socialized medicine of other countries. Good for Obama that he's co-opted that strategy and has been collecting thousands of horror stories about Americans who were failed by the private insurance system. Via Greg Sargent who tells us that the new database is well organized with one particularly useful search feature that "will also allow people to zero in on personal stories of people from their states or Congressional districts, so organizers can bring the need for reform close to home and use the tales to pressure members of Congress."

In related news, Avedon and Lambert are probably right that we shouldn't settle on health care and should be pushing the shit out of single payer. The passionate, indignant DFH in me wants to go that route. But the pragmatist in me says, push public option before they kill it, because it will still be better than nothing. And when I read Atul Gawande's latest article on how national health care programs evolved in other countries, he makes a good case for allowing reform to take its own course. The only thing I'm certain of is that we need to break the parasitic hold the private corporations have now.

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Politico throws hissy fit over presser

I only saw bits and pieces of Obama's presser today because my internet connection is hinky and my rabbit ear teevee reception wasn't working well either. But I caught enough of it live to see why the establishment media hates Obama. They keep trying to play the same gotcha by wingnut talking point game and he makes them look like idiots. Every. Single. Time. And they hate that Obama doesn't play the "all powerful media stars get all the questions game" either. The look on the guy standing next to him, spoke volumes, when Obama called on Nico Pitney of HuffPo for a question on Iran. The guy's sour face could have curdled milk from fifty yards.

Maybe that was Mike Calderone. I'm not sure what he looks like in person, but either way Calderone was quick to throw a hissy fit over it. Oh the humanity. The President called on a lowly blogger instead of a "real journalist." Don't even bother to click on that link, read Marcy's scolding instead. And she's absolutely right that Nico deserved that question. I linked to him early on, but Nico has been aggregating the incoming news in Tehran from the first minutes of the protests and never stopped.

Think Progress has video of the exchange. And if you missed the presser, I expect you'll be able to find the whole thing on the internets soon enough, but really you should read CoT's transcript instead. It's always the best one.

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The Mysterious Missing Mr. Sanford

I was tempted to join in the snarkfest over SC Gov. Mark Sanford's disappearing act. I mean, as the saying goes, it would be irresponsible not to speculate. Lord knows there was plenty of snarking going on, if you sift through the commentary. But having been burned by snarking too soon in the past, I held back on the chance that something bad had actually happened to him. However, the latest reports allege he's been in contact and was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

I would normally be inclined to doubt that, but then again, he would have been there on Hike Naked Day. While it's unlikely he was hauling ass over the trail buck nekkid himself, it's no stretch to imagine he was hoping to do some sightseeing of the homo-erectus variety.

And in another twist of irony, if Mr. "I Don't Want No Steenking Stimulus" was really hiking on the trail, he was tacitly endorsing the expenditure of stimulus funds for trail improvements. Odd story all around, but then again, all high profile GOPers are weird.

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Nuts and Dolts

A few links I've been collecting that don't need a lot of commentary.

Via Avedon, Bill Maher's fake AMA commercial. Funny because it's so true. And he has a good rant on Democrats. Money quote:
Shouldn’t there be one party that unambiguously supports cutting the military budget? A party that is straight-up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal healthcare, legalizing pot, and steep, direct taxing of polluters? These aren’t radical ideas. A majority of Americans are either already for them or would be if they were properly argued and defended. What we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren’t being served by the Democrats, because bottom line: Democrats are the new Republicans.
This is amusing in that sick GOP sort of way. Wingnuts plot for mandatory English use while standing under a misspelled banner.

In case you missed it, Obama at the Radio/TV dinner. I thought the jokes were sort of lame myself.

This is aging, but interesting. Jane on How they tried to kill Froomkin's traffic.

And via Mycos, a couple of very cool pictures of a Harpy Eagle. That first one almost looks like a gargoyle.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Call it AllAmericaCare

I've noticed that the reform opponents are adopting the old tactic of trying to smear reform efforts by terming it ObamaCare. Just as they mocked reform back when as HillaryCare. I don't think it's going to be all that effective given the realities of the present day, but still I see no reason to allow them to frame the issue. So I have a new name for health care reform. I'm going to start calling it AllAmericaCare.

I've started building that frame at DetNews today. I hope you will join me in using my new name, or if you have a better one, please leave it in comments and I'll adopt yours. Either way I think it would be good to kill ObamaCare before the media starts using it.

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Health care talking points

I've been doing my health care blogging at DetNews for a number of reasons. One, my readership there is the demo that needs convincing. Two, we now have several sitting US Representatives as front page bloggers and one hopes they might read my posts. And three, you high denonimator readers don't need the education. But it occurs to me that it might be useful to share the talking points I come across if you're posting on it too, so here's a few links.

Dr Krugman's transition to DFH is nearly complete. Loving his columns more and more every day. Here's a snip of today's offering.
I’m not that worried about the issue of costs. Yes, the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary cost estimates for Senate plans were higher than expected, and caused considerable consternation last week. But the fundamental fact is that we can afford universal health insurance — even those high estimates were less than the $1.8 trillion cost of the Bush tax cuts. ...

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.
Well worth reading in full.

Digby has a good post on the "competition" in the private health insurance market. Key points:
In Arkansas — Senator Lincoln should take note — Blue Cross Blue Shield has 75 percent of the market. [...]

Here is a clue to the Arkansas problem — and the national one, too. From 2000 to 2007, the median earnings of Arkansas workers rose only 12 percent, from $20,328 to $22,692. Health insurance premiums for the average working Arkansas family rose over the same period by 66 percent.
And Reuters has some revealing numbers on the struggle to pay for health insurance.
*25 percent of households have trouble paying
*40 percent expect to delay care this summer
*Baby boomers hardest hit

People born before 1946 were the least likely to delay care, probably because most can take part in Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for the elderly, the researchers found.
It's getting so bad out there that even GOP pollsters are finding Republicans and so-called moderate Independents are supporting a public option.

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A shred of hope in Afghanistan

If this is real, it's a step in a better direction for our policy in Afghanistan.
The new American commander in Afghanistan said he would sharply restrict the use of airstrikes here, in an effort to reduce the civilian deaths that he said were undermining the American-led mission. [...]

“When we shoot into a compound, that should only be for the protection of our forces,” he said. “I want everyone to understand that.”
Of course, the official line has always been that we only drop aerial bombs when the troops are in trouble, so I'm not sure I see what the big shift is here.

To be fair though, if you read the whole link, he's also talking about changing the rules of engagement a bit to discourage starting a ground fight when the Taliban are mingling with civilian poplulations. Since that seems to be one of their major defensive tactics, I'll be waiting to see how this plays out in real life before I start popping any champagne though.

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On a personal note

I'm getting a late start today because I'm still practically comatose from the huge Dad's Day dinner with the family. I'm not used to eating that much anymore. And I seem to have put out my back a bit when I weeded Dad's flower bed. So I've been nursing the muscle twinges and a lead belly while I cruise the internets this morning. It's been slowing me down.

By the way, for those who are interested in my personal travails, I am posting updates on the moving in to the new place at my other blog, Last One Speaks. So far, it's been more blandly informative than amusing, but I'm hoping to up the entertainment value in the next day or two with better photos and more interesting stories.

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Not newsworthy

Remember how during the Bush years, the media elevated every single Democratic complaint about GOPer policies into a major news item? Me neither. But that all changed when the majority shifted. Michael O'Brien posts a stand alone item highlighting the blathering of Sen Kit Bond (R-Idiot).
Demonstrations in the wake of Iran's presidential election are a sign that country's dissidents want the U.S. to get involved in the disputed contest, Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) asserted Monday.

Bond, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, pushed back against President Obama's claim that the election is not a U.S. issue, and urged the administration to speak out more forcefully in favor of Iranian dissidents.

"We didn't have anything to do with this uprising; we're not trying to tell them who they should select," Bond said on CNBC Monday morning. "But when they have such obvious election fraud and the violence with which they are dealing with…the way they've done it is unacceptable."

"They want us, they are appealing to us to recognize it," We need to recognize the legitimate aspirations of the American people."
Not sure if the reference to the aspirations of the American people is a typo or whether Bond really said that, as if our aspirations make a wit of difference to the Iranians. O'Brien posts it without any other context or comment. Needless to say, it pushed my cranky button. I left this comment.
I wouldn't be so irritated by your giving a forum to this useless blather if you at least noted at the end that Mr. Bond offered no actual evidence of anyone of significance asking for US meddling.

And as an aside, one wonders what Mr. Bond's reaction would have been if say, Iran's Supreme Leader had publicly stated that US anti-war demonstrations are a sign that Americans want Iran to get involved in our domestic disputes.
If this was an isolated instance, I wouldn't have bothered to say anything, but I'm really sick of the media treating every blessed moronic utterance coming from the GOP as having some earth shaking importance. I'm bloody tired of "horserace journalism." It's lazy and it's not helpful. As an aside, I will give the Hill some props though for allowing comments without registration.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Public option popular

Yet another poll, this one from CBS/NYT showing 72% of the respondents support a public health care option. As Taegan notes, "Most also think the government would do a better job than private industry at keeping down costs and believe that the government should guarantee health care for all Americans." Yet the Senate Dems are thinking of dropping it from the plan in order to "win Republican support for the bill." For crying out loud. When are these people going to get it? Screw the GOPers. Give the people what they want.

If they sell out on this, I swear, I'm going to embark on a one-woman campaign to throw every last one of them out whenever they're up for re-election.

On a related note, my man Robert Reich has some excellent advice for Obama on how to protect the public option. He says to screw the GOPers too and wisely advises Obama to put aside the rest of his agenda for a while and focus on health care until this is resolved.

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Iranian protesters set the bar

I still haven't been able to bring myself to watch any of the videos of the violence in Iran. The few stills I've seen have been upsetting enough. But there are plenty of first hand accounts coming in from all quarters. Roger Cohen, for NYT has a good "on the scene" read. It's interesting that the movement is being driven to a large extent by women, who egg on the men to stay involved. And the theme chant of "Allah-u-Akbar," God is Great, continues to thunder from the rooftops every evening. Let freedom ring.

This is clearly bigger than just a stolen election. It's looking like a full-fledged revolution to me and from all accounts, the consensus seems to be that Supreme Ruler Khameneni is in deep trouble. I think his thuggish response to the protests is what changed their focus from the election to the greater problems with the system. A belief bolstered by Mousavi's latest statement. But you should be reading smarter people than me for that analysis.

Meanwhile, now that the government crackdown is killing and injuring people, Obama issued a brief statement that was pitch perfect.

I continue to be awed by the courage of the demonstrators and encouraged by their tenacity. I agree with Sully on the greater import of this.
Empowered by new information technology, chastened by the apocalyptic conflicts of the last few years, determined to shift course away from civilizational warfare, the people of many countries are grasping for a new order and a new peace. It will not be easy; and it will not be short. But it is the only path worth taking.

And these Iranians are now leading the rest of us.
They set a high bar for activism and all citizens of the world who wish to break the yoke of corporate driven imperialism that currently strangles civil society for self-serving political ends would do well to follow their lead. [graphic]

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Errol Flynn

Today is Errol Flynn's birthday, or would be if he was still alive. There's a lovely tribute to him and his work at this post. I think the author overlooks some of his flaws. He was a complex and somewhat flawed man in person, if some of the other things I've read about him are true, but he was one of my favorite stars of that era.

I adored his swashbuckling persona in his movies. He was almost too pretty, but somehow he came across as manly, even when he was wearing tights while he crossed swords with his foes in some castle. I suppose on some level you might call him the first metrosexual. And he had this air of worldliness, but without being jaded or world weary. He appealed to the adventurer in me. I can't think of a single movie he did that I didn't like and would watch over and over again. Thanks to Honey Bear Kelly for the link and reminding me of the date.

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Tehran is bleeding

I can't bring myself to follow the events today. The crackdown is brutal. From the bits and pieces I've been reading it's ugly. Tear gas, water cannons, boiling water poured from helicopters. I think a lot of people are going to die. Moussavi says he's ready to be a martyr if necessary. Goddess be with them all.

I hear Twitter is the place to be, but if you don't tweet, Memorandum has a lot of coverage from various points of view. Needless to say the neo-cons, judging from their headlines and the response from my wingnut fan club at DetNews, are calling for US intervention. Saner minds are just following the events as horrified onlookers. All I feel certain of right now is this is still far from over and I'm really glad that Obama is president and not Mad McCain.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Roberts Court - Updated

SCOTUS split 5-4 on allowing exonerating, post conviction DNA analysis to be used in court. Roberts said in his opinion, "Allowing Osburne to prove his potential innocence risks 'unnecessarily overthrowing the established system of criminal justice.'" Because the justice system was intended to keep innocent people in jail? This on top of the decision yesterday that eliminated age discrimination in civil cases.

I'm too disgusted to rant. So Matt gets the quote of the day on this story.
The two cases handed down yesterday are just two new additions to the trend observed by Jeffrey Toobin, “in every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.” That’s conservative jurisprudence in a nutshell.
The Bush legacy that will haunt us for generations.

Update: Glenn reminds us that we can't solely blame the conservatives for this atrocity. The Obama DOJ also strenuously argued for this same position before the court, although they were under no compulsion to do so.

I didn't expect all that much from an Obama administration. I fully expected to be at odds with many of his policies, however, given his background as a constitutional scholar and former advocate for civil rights, I did expect him to roll back some of the worst encroachments on civil liberties of the Bush regime, not embrace them. But as Glenn points out, "in the areas of civil liberties, secrecy, and his Justice Department generally, the administration has been nothing short of abysmal." Glenn is right. It's a disturbing trend and progressives would do well to push back harder against it.

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The US House of Morons

I guess this is my day for profanity because there is really no other response to this moronic resolution "supporting" the Iranian protesters other than, "What. The. Fuck?" It passed in the House at 405-1. Ron Paul being the lone voice willing to stand up and say no.

I know I don't have to tell you high denominator readers why this is so stupid and destructive. But if you want to read my righteous rant, I put it up at DetNews where we now have some actual US Representatives posting to the blog. It's not at all polite, but really, I'm so irritated by this, I would have said it to their face if I ran into one of them tonight. So I posted it anyway.

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Our injustice system

I'm so cranky today. Here's another story that's pissing me off. Some 32 year old woman is fined almost two million dollars for downloading 24 songs off the internets. Leaving aside whether downloading music is right or wrong, what pisses me off is they single this person out for something that happens millions of times a day on the internets and throw the book at her. On behalf of some corporation.

But if you're a Wall St bankster who wilfully defrauded millions of people of their investment money, pocketing billions in personal profits, not only do you not get charged with any crime, the government gives you billions of tax dollars to keep your corporation afloat. That's just so wrong.

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A failure to inform

People are still talking about yesterday's poll that showed, among other things, that 76 percent of respondents supported a public option for health care. However, the results were mixed as they refined the questions.
In the same NBC/WSJ poll, only 33 percent of respondents said they thought the president's health care plan, to the extent they knew of it, was a "good idea;" 32 percent said it was a bad idea.

In short: the administration has yet to complete the sale. An additional 30 percent of the public had no opinion of Obama's proposal for reform. But when read a description of the general outline -- requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, an employer mandate, tax credits for lower income families to buy coverage, and tax increases on wealthier Americans to pay for it - the number of respondents in support rose to 55 percent.
That's wrong. It's not Obama's failure to sell the public option so much as it is a failure of the media to explain it. The numbers make it clear that the average voter who isn't obsessed 24/7 with following politics simply doesn't know the details of the plan. This is obviously because the media is too effin' busy reporting the politics of the negotiations instead of the particulars of the proposals. Which is supposed to be -- you know -- their job. Yet they profess to wonder why young people go to the internets and comedy shows for their information? Brings up the perennial question -- are they stupid or just lazy?

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They should have fired Fred instead

I'm still spitting nails over the WaPo's dunderheaded decision to drop Froomkin. I try not to swear much here but really, what fucking idiots. They dump the strongest voice they had willing to call out bullshit on all sides of the fence and yet today they give prime real estate to Krauthammer and Wolfowitz, two guys who were so wrong about everything in the last eight years, they should standing on a street corner with a tin cup begging for forgiveness.

Meanwhile, they sit around the boardroom bemoaning how the internets and those horrible opinionated bloggers are killing their business. What lamebrains. Blogs aren't killing them. They're commiting suicide with their own ass backwards editorial decisions.

Update: Jane has more background on why Froomkin was fired.

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The silent revolution

The protesters in Iran just knock me out. Their commitment, courage and the discipline it takes for hundreds of thousands to tacitly agree to march in silence is awe inspiring. It gives me goosebumps. I only wish Americans would take their example to heart. There's no reason we couldn't do this. We have much less to risk. Apparently the violence against the protesters is much greater in the more rural areas outside of Tehran but our government doesn't issue shoot to kill orders here.

Meanwhile, the political ramifications of the ongoing demonstrations become more interesting every day. From a emailer to Juan Cole:
As I mentioned in my previous email, today made it very clear that the dynamics of the movement are constantly evolving. From the first march where the only focus was on Mousavi/ people’s vote to Mousavi, today’s slogans touched on issues of freedom/justice/innocent people dying for a just cause. The posters of Mousavi of day one have given way to posters expressing deeper themes, and the deeper problems that exist in this country. “Democracy does not equal Dead Student”, “Stop Killing Us”, “We are not rioters”, “Silence is not acceptance”, “The key to victory: Calmness, Hope and Patience”.
If only we weren't so disgustingly complacent here, we could challenge the corruption in our own system too and very probably win. Sadly, Americans don't seem to put much value on the greater good as long they feel personally secure. In a way it's too bad we ousted the GOPers. If they were still in power, the country would be so thoroughly screwed up that it might have driven those who are now still comfortably off, into the streets too.


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fred Hiatt is an idiot - Boycott WaPo

I'm somewhere between outraged and flabbergasted. The man, Dan Froomkin, who gets the quote of the day with this post at Nieman Watch:
But here’s the good news for you newsroom managers wringing your hands over new technologies and the loss of younger audiences: Because the Internet so values calling bullshit, you are sitting on an as-yet largely untapped gold mine. I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter - whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.
Got fired today from the WaPo. His column is practically the only reason I haven't boycotted WaPo entirely for publishing Hiatt's lame editorials, along with the KKK of the wingnut right, Kristol, Kagan and Krauthammer. And there are plenty more dissembling neo-cons to add to that list.

Here's Froomkin's statement on the firing.
I’m terribly disappointed. I was told that it had been determined that my White House Watch blog wasn’t "working" anymore. But from what I could tell, it was still working very well. I also thought White House Watch was a great fit with The Washington Post brand, and what its readers reasonably expect from the Post online.

As I’ve written elsewhere, I think that the future success of our business depends on journalists enthusiastically pursuing accountability and calling it like they see it. That’s what I tried to do every day. Now I guess I'll have to try to do it someplace else.
With apologies to Greg Sargent and Ezra Klein who recently joined the WaPo enterprise, this is too egregious to let pass. I'm boycotting. The WaPo will not get another link from me. I'll still read Greg and Ezra, and the occasional Dionne column but I'm not going to click on their other insipid columnists and they will be my last choice for any news coverage. I urge everyone to do the same. A major drop in traffic is the only way to send a message.

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Sun and fun

It's a sunny day. I saw a baby bunny in my back yard this morning so I'm energized today to get out and do the errands. Here's a few quick non-political links to hold you while I'm out. I love daylilies in every form and while their are more exciting culitvars, these common ones are edible. I used to make tempura but scroll down and Hecate has a great recipe for crab stuffed blossoms that sounds yummy.

And speaking of flowers, m. heart always has a blogful of wonderful pictures of the Happy Valley. Some great bird shots and I especially liked this series of shots of Smith Gardens at sunset.

Haven't linked to Phila in a while. My favorite link over there this week is a great gallery of abandoned motels that once thrived when family vacations were taken on the scenic two lane routes. I remember staying in many places just like these on family trips of my youth.

I'm obsessed with John Cole's new pup Lily. Apparently she's loosening up as she gets used to her new digs. It sounds like the match made in heaven for both of them. I think Cole has been a little less cranky since he got her.

Finally, this looks like great fun and it appears anyone can make them. TKK did Troll Logic - The Movie. Can't wait to give it a try myself.

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Health care reform in trouble

I've been posting at my other blogs this morning, and need to run a few errands so just a quick recap on a couple of points. I have Republican Congresslizards to fight at DetNews so I'll be doing my wordy posts over there, but Ezra has been posting some great stuff on the political process and rightly notes today that reform is in trouble. He also makes some excellent suggestions on how to improve the CBO rating. Unfortunately, it's unlikely our idiot pols will take his advice.

On another note, Digby flags the insurance companies' admission they will continue to cancel coverage for their sick policy holders who require expensive treatments so they can protect their profits. Although, of course, they call it fraud prevention. And even more galling, she points us to this old blogpost that lists the monetary compensation of just the CEOs of 23 of the largest insurers. In 2005, these 23 guys received $559.8 million, and over a five year period, the sum total was $14.9 billion. Just for the 23 of them. It doesn't count the various other top brass like VPs and Board members, nor shareholder gains, or the other 200-300 insurance companies that aren't quite as big.

As the author points out, if just those 23 guys gave up 10% of their compensation, it would be enough to fund insurance coverage for five years for 35,000 families. Puts a new perspective on it, doesn't it? This is the best case for the public option I've seen yet.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unhealthy reform

Talk about sick... It's not surprising that there is a large contingent of Congresslizards trying to sell us out to the insurance industry. But it is disheartening to see them getting so well organized around it.

And of course, they're shocked to learn that the big insurers intend to continue to protect their profit margins by canceling medical coverage for the sick as soon as they develop serious illnesses, and rewarding their private bureaucrats for finding excuses to do so. I'm sure we'll be seeing some sternly worded letters of concern soon.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, Dr. Dean makes the case for the public option.



Goddess bless the few inside the Beltway willing to fight for real reform. If Obama had really been serious about health reform, then Dean surely should have been given Kathleen Sebelius' job.

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Privacy is dead

I'm no Luddite but this is why I held out until 2002 before I fully embraced the internets.
Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.
Of course, by 02 I realized that even though I had no Google presence, they were already tracking us through our various transactions and there was no where left to hide from government surveillance short of moving to a deserted island. Still, this is over the top. I was really hoping it would be curbed under Obama. Yet another false hope.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Random thought

Iranians demonstrate. Americans twitter.
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Yet another broken promise

Well so much for the "new transparency" in government. This embrace of secrecy is all too familiar.
The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of visitors to the White House, taking up the Bush administration argument that a president doesn't have to reveal who comes calling to influence policy decisions.
This is exactly what we voted against. And we already had this argument with Bush. He lost in court -- twice. Yet the Secret Service is denying requests for public information on the same damn grounds that the president needs to be able to have secret meetings that can't be divulged without compromising national security.

For crying out loud, then they should have their secret little tete-a-tete's outside of the White House. It's beyond nonsenical to suggest that anyone going into the White House that is of great interest to nefarious types wouldn't already be under some kind of surveillance, so the only people who won't know what's going on are ordinary citizens. And as Obama was so fond of reminding us during the campaign, it's the people's house. Not his.

This isn't change we can believe in. Hell, it's not even a change and all these little incidents are adding up. I'm beginning to wonder if Obama wants to be a one term president after all.

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Fits and starts

The plumber just arrived, two hours late, which is why I didn't post earlier, and I have to give up this room so he can access to the pipes, so just a couple of quick links for the moment.

Glenn remarks on the irony of so many warhawks who blithely called for bombing Iran into glass ashtrays at the slightest excuse, now becoming huge cheerleaders for the Iranian People's revolt. Apparently they square their cognitive dissonance with the fantasy that the bombings they called for were "surgical strikes," as if merely evoking such a clean sounding word for a dirty tactic would somehow magically prevent any deaths of innocent civilians.

On a different note, I'm not so irritated as some seem to be by the big embrace of the "be green in solidarity" meme. It's not that I don't understand how silly it is to think that somehow it makes a difference to the Iranians, or helps to win the revolution, but symbolism doesn't hurt unless it's used as an excuse to avoid taking real action down the line.

This is a feel good story about the Gitmo detainees who were released. It's not hard for me to imagine what this feels like.

"After almost eight years of captivity, each step of Khelil Mamut's freedom is a little overwhelming.

The ocean, which he could hear only on windy days when the waves crashed beyond Guantanamo's razor wire rimmed fence, is now something he can wade into. People call him by his name, not 278, his internee serial number.

Then there was the horse he saw while walking one of the island trails on Thursday, the day he and three other Chinese citizens of the Muslim Uighur minority arrived in Bermuda. The animal made him stop suddenly, just to stare.
It reminds me of what it felt like when I was finally free of my abusive first husband. The wonderment of freedom to make your own choices without fear is hard to describe, but there's nothing else like it.

And finally for all you James Joyce geeks, Happy Bloomsday.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Hate mail of the week

I posted about Krugman's column at DetNews today. My favorite response:
Liberal Hand-wringing and Backpeddling

We real economists, those of us who work in the real world, own businesses, make a payroll, and produce tangible things in life, and teach on the side, habitually laugh at Krugman and his "economics". Only an ivory tower economist and newspaper pundit would think that more spending and more debt, are needed to cure us of......spending and debt. Idiot.

Oh wait, I guess Libby Spencer believes this as well. Who would think that two people so ignorant could actually exist in the world.


MTCicero, Clinton Twp, MI
To be fair, he didn't write the title. He was riffing off another critic's comment, but he consistently criticizes Krugman as a failed economist. I believe he's the same guy who told me he had to lay off his independent contractor because of tax consequences that don't take effect until 2011. But he has all the answers...

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Stop in the name of the law

Via Avedon, today's best example of police misconduct. Two brothers were wrongfully accused of drug dealing but managed to clear themselves because they were able to get a security video proving their innocence.
What the tape doesn't show is striking: At no point did the officers interact with the undercovers, nor did the brothers appear to be involved in a drug deal with anyone else. Adding insult to injury, an outside camera taped the undercovers literally dancing down the street.
The cops that arrested them were indicted six months later, for drug dealing and multiple other charges and the brothers are bringing a wrongful arrest suit against them that I hope they win.

Their lives were ruined by these two thugs. "They owned a successful convenience store in Jackson Heights, but lost their license to sell tobacco, alcohol and lottery tickets." It took so long to prove their innocence that the store was shuttered just a week before the charges were dismissed. They're now struggling to make a living and their reputations in the community are ruined, even though they never did anything wrong.

Meanwhile, Radley finds another instance where a police dog with alleged super powers, such as following a trail over six months old, even over water, was used to convict several people. Finally some judge insisted the dog prove his prowess. He, of course, failed the test but in the interim, innocent people have rotted in jail for years.

It's probably true these bad officers are the exception and not the rule, but every city seems to have a few and it's small comfort to the hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent victims who are wrongfully incarcerated by rogue cops who generally don't seem to pay much of a price for their criminality.

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Can non-profs save journalism?

I meant to post this earlier. In an interesting development, the AP plans to distribute non-prof invesitigative journalism.

Four nonprofit groups devoted to investigative journalism will have their work distributed by The Associated Press, The A.P. will announce on Saturday, greatly expanding their potential audience and helping newspapers fill the gap left by their own shrinking resources.

Starting on July 1, the A.P. will deliver work by the Center for Public Integrity, the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and ProPublica to the 1,500 American newspapers that are A.P. members, which will be free to publish the material.
It strikes me as a good thing. I'm most familiar with ProPublica and they've done some great work. It would be good to see it distributed more widely.

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Tehran still smouldering

I was busy with personal stuff today so I'm off to a late start but the big buzz is still about Iran. The only thing that seems clear to me at this point is that you can't depend on the major media to get the story straight. For instance, the WaPo piece at the top of Memeorandum claiming to "prove" Ahmadinejad might have really won the election in a landslide has already been rather thoroughly debunked by Juan Cole.

Meanwhile, the best up to the minute aggregation is going on at HuffPo, where Nico Pitney has been liveblogging for the last couple of days. He's updating constantly with tips from observers at the scene, photos and some excellent videos. Also I haven't been following Sully myself, but I've heard that he's been doing extensive coverage and has a post aggregating all his links.

I remain impressed with the courage and conviction of the Iranian protesters who are now risking their lives to continue their civil actions. Of course, fascinating as it is, the real question is what does it all mean for US policy. The way I see it, it doesn't matter so much whether the Ahmadilooney remains in power. I've seen some headlines suggesting he'll come out stronger from this, but I don't see how. It looks to me like his credibility with the hardliners has been diminished by his awkward handling of the situation and it's going to be difficult to rouse the masses into an anti-American fervor because Obama has already established he's reaching out in friendship to the Islamic community and has rejected the Bush regime's focus on imperialism. Tim F expands on that theme with a post well worth reading.

On a different note, I hear that Americans who want to show their support for the protesters are being encouraged to wear something green.

Update: One last thought, I'm really glad Obama is president and not McCain. The last thing the Iranians need is for the US to meddle in this.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

CyberCom

Diane picks up a story that got lost in the excitement over Iran's election. This can't be good. The Obama administration is setting up a new military division CyberCom, designed to combat cyberterrorism. Diane nails the underlying issue.
To begin with, the new military command working in conjunction with the NSA will be developing systems to snoop with more sophistication on domestic emails and internet usage. Because of the howls of outrage when the Bush program to do the same came to light, the Obama administration has decided to gamble on more openness when it comes to invading our rights to privacy. To accomplish this, they're framing the issue as a matter of national security.
One can't help but remember Obama's betrayal on the FISA vote and his upholding of immunity for the telecoms. I guess all that speculation at the time that he was just playing 11th dimensional chess and was really going to work to dismantle these programs once he got in office were a bit too optimistic. Looks like the only ones that got played was us. What a drag.

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Anti-drug warrior busted for fake drug sale

This is so typical of drug war hypocrisy. Just as Rushbo demands every drug abuser be thrown in jail, while he's downing illegal doses of Oxycotin himself, here's the founder of the Over the Wall Foundation, an anti-drug abuse organization, conducting a little side business.
Farris, 47, arrived at the coffeehouse in a taxi, police said. An undercover officer gave him an envelope containing $480 in exchange for methamphetamine and ecstasy tablets, which turned out to be fake, authorities said. Farris was arrested at 3:40 p.m.

Farris was arraigned Friday on charges of selling a substance that he alleged was drugs. He is being held on $106,500 bail and could not be reached for comment.
I'm guessing his defense is going to be that he was conducting his own sting by using fake drugs and was surely going to turn the buyer into the police. But of course, the real story is much more likely that he was just scamming the buyer and looking to make a quick buck. Scratch any zealot and you almost always find a self-serving money grubber.

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Tehran Burning

Michael Totten has the best video from the scene that I've run across yet. It looks like tens of thousands of Iranian youths have taken to the streets. They are so many, the government security officers are running away from them. And as Totten notes, they're not chanting "'Death to America' or 'Death to Israel,' but 'Death to the Government.'" As an aside here, I have to offer a belated apology to Totten. When he first quit his job to go report from the Middle East, I mocked him as just another right wing, warmongering hack looking to push the GOP propaganda and cash in on the gullible rubes. But although I think that he sometimes omits certain perspectives from his narratives to favor a more right wing view, in general he has evolved into a good and neutral reporter. I've been impressed with his work in the last year or so that I've started reading him again.

But back to the point, the government had blocked most avenues of electronic communication yesterday but they neglected to shut down Twitter and the Iranians used this "silly" social network to organize a huge rooftop protest. Reports say the shouts of "Allah O Akbar" were deafening at 4:00am and the action is being compared to the 1979 revolution.

Certainly the circumstantial evidence points to election fraud. Juan Cole has a list of weird anomalies and the huge margins for Ahmadinejad in Mousavi strongholds surely suggest a hasty hamfisted attempt to skew the count. Meanwhile, Steve Clemmons' source is predicting there will be blood at the highest levels." He's talking about the possible death of Mousavi or the assassination of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

Still too soon to predict the final outcome but as I watch this unfold I can't help but think how different the world would be today if Americans had shown this same level of outrage in 2000 and 2004 when our own election results were as seriously suspect. Otherwise, I don't have much more to say but of course, there's no lack of commentary at Memeorandum.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Election Fallout in Iran

I can't say I'm surprised to hear the Ahmadilooney won Iran's election yesterday. The big question of course, is was the win legitimate? Considering the big build-up, a 2-1 margin on a first ballot seems a bit suspect to me.

The Guardian makes a case for the legitimacy of the vote, noting that outside Tehran the support for the government is strong. But reading The Lede's live coverage of the voting would also suggest that readiness for change was brewing more strongly than only within 30% of the voting population.

MyDD has a good roundup of links that are following the fraud allegations being made by the only viable losing candidate, Moussavi, and his supporters. I don't know enough about the integrity of the process there to say for sure, but my gut tells me that there was probably some manipulation. For one thing 538's analysis showed that it should have been closer and they're usually right on target. Granted they may have relied too much on western press coverage that is being widely said to have been too optimistic, but this is certainly odd if it's true.
U.S. analysts find it "not credible" that challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi would have lost the balloting in his hometown or that a third candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, would have received less than 1 percent of the total vote, a senior U.S. officials told FOX News.
Makes me wonder if they use touch screen balloting. In any event, I'm thinking the outcome isn't as significant to US interests as the reaction of the Iranian people will be. I'm already seeing some reports of protests in the streets. This story, as they say, is still developing. Much more commentary, as always, at Memorandum.

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