Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheney's success story - updated with video

I've been pretty much keeping to my pledge not to read wingnuts or neoo-cons or any other rightwing asshats for at least nine months now. When I went to the doctor today, in spite of the fact I had only been taking half my BP meds for month because I was running out, I had the best reading I've had in years -- 130 over 80. Coincidence? I think not.

But I do read what others say about the people on my DNR list and Steve Benen gets quote of the day on Cheney's latest foray into revisionism.
Cheney thinks it was a sterling success when it came to national security and counter-terrorism. Perhaps there's something to this. After all, except for the catastrophic events of 9/11, and the anthrax attacks against Americans, and terrorist attacks against U.S. allies, and the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bush's inability to capture those responsible for 9/11, and waging an unnecessary war that inspired more terrorists, and the success terrorists had in exploiting Bush's international unpopularity, the Bush/Cheney record on counter-terrorism was awesome.
I hear Gibbs also had a great takedown at the WH presser today. Sorry I lost the link, but he effectively asked why anybody bothers to listen to Cheney anymore. It's a good question. Maybe the media could think up an answer to that one. We wouldn't have to listen to him if they stopped putting him on teevee.

Update: Video of Gibbs remarks.

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Doctor , doctor, give me the news

I'm leaving in about 20 minutes for the doctor. I haven't read any news today in the interests of trying to keep my blood pressure down. I have feeling it's going to be bad because I've only been taking half my meds. And I get doctor anxiety in general so don't want to add to it. I am collecting links for later. If you want to get a jump on the reading, here's a few.

joshtpm: Guy who brought assault rifle to Obama event now says he's praying for Obama's death.

joshtpm: Pastor who prayed for Obama's death gets specific; now says he wants him to get brain cancer like Kennedy.

AdamSerwer: RT @JonHenke: Organizing against WorldNetDaily: Time to boycott WND supporters. That would be Jon Henke of The Next Right. As a commenter pointed out, they need to include Michele Bachmann on the boycott list because she's saying the same things. Probably could add a few more GOPers as well.

buzzflash: Did you know?: "Every piece of plastic ever made is still on the planet."

Also blitzed the DetNews this weekend with posts explaining how we already practice socialism in this country. So if you want more to read, click the link below. You'll have to scroll some to get them all.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Goodbye Ted

Meant to put this up earlier. I watched most of Kennedy's funeral yesterday. It was very moving. If you missed it, here's a nice photo gallery of when his hearse stopped at the Capitol steps on the way to Arlington.

And in case you want to see it later, CSPAN has the archived footage of the memorial service on Friday and the funeral mass and burial service yesterday. I thought the letter Ted sent from the grave was brilliant. He made it very clear that his dying wish was to see universal health care coverage enacted. And the lightning storm that blew up, kind of out of nowhere, at the very end made for a dramatic finish. I'm thinking that storm was really Ted's spirit, saying his last goodbye. He was such a force of nature in life. It would make sense he would leave this earthly realm with a dramatic flourish. [graphic]

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Liberal media

You know, I was just thinking this morning, damn that liberal media, there are clearly not enough GOPers on my teevee. Thank God, NBC is going to fix all that. Apparently they just hired Jenna Bush for the Today show as occassional correspondent.

I'm told she won't be doing politics but rather will focus on educational issues. I suppose she'll be teaching us how to ditch the Secret Service so you can party and how to stiff the waitpeople on thousands of dollars of comped drinks.

Addendum: I'm thinking that was too mean. She may have grown up to be a better person. And you have to cut her some slack for having to grow up in that family. Maybe she'll be good at it and do something real to improve public education. So I should have said, good luck to her.


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And the award goes to...

Quote of the day goes to Steve Benen responding to Kevin Drum about how the right has succeeded in ruining the debate with lies and fear mongering.
They've pulled it off, so far, by telling almost comically-ridiculous lies, and managing to get scared, gullible people to believe them. It's no small feat. Indeed, it's almost impressive. Conservatives have managed to create a debate out of nothing but partisanship, paranoia, and greed.

If there's a Hall of Fame for political con jobs, this one's a first-ballot inductee.
Hell, it should be up for a lifetime acheivement award. Can't think of anything more destructive than this one, although many of their hate campaigns and unncessary wars come very close.

Also still nursing this bad shoulder. Had a rough night so I'm going to try to rest it as much as I can today and maybe nap a little, so in case I disappear, last night's lightning in Philly. I love lightning.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Go down fighting...

I hear Preznit McCain is going to be on the Sunday bobbleheads again tomorrow. They should running this video, Bill Moyers on health care as a human right as a continuous loop instead. But they won't.

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Live for today

The shoulder is worse than ever today. Hoping this five year old percoset is going to help and doesn't kill me because the chemical composition changed with age. Anyway, just a few links to let you know I'm alive.

I watched Ted Kennedy's wake last night. I felt like slapping Orrin Hatch. He gave a pretty good speech but given that he had lied about Ted earlier relative to the reform bill, the only thing that would redeem him in my eyes right now is if he acted as Ted's surrogate and worked his butt off to honor Ted's life's work and get universal health care enacted.

The GOP really are gutless cowards and maybe we need an open hunting season on this idiot who joked about hunting Obama and then made another joke about it after he was called out and pretended to apologize.

Haven't had the stomach to watch this yet, but I may get to it. Glenn Beck: 12 min. of the craziest conspiracy theory rants you've ever seen on TV.

And idiots like Beck and Blimpbaugh are surely the reason that Krugman's hate mail is so weird. To paraphrase a tweet I just got, we live in a country where a couple of bloated, self absorbed drug addicts get paid millions to lie and endanger the lives of innocent children.

Small wonder factcheck.org has to do pieces like the 26 lies about healthcare that were in that stupid viral email you got from your right wing friend. And even at wingnut town halls like Bachmann's, anguished constituents howl they don't want "socialism" to take away their Social Security benefits.

Gah. It's too depressing to think about too much. As an antidote, let me leave you with this fun gallery. Iconic photos of the 20th Century rendered in Legos. And Uncle Blodge has some cheery pix too.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Live and let die

Still trying to rest the shoulder so yet another linky post without much commentary.

This should cut down on my useless phone calls by about 90%. I swear I've never had so many robocalls in my life as I have since I've moved here. Good news. FTC will be banning most robo-calls starting 9-1-09.

John McCain put up a smug tweet the other day just before this event, saying how much he was looking forward to a "civil town meeting." Didn't quite work out to be so civil. As I said on twitter last night, the GOPers are creating a monster that is going to devour them too. Drumming up outrage among their deluded and clueless base against "big government" only works for them if they can make Dems the big gov. Unfortunately, the rubes are starting to figure out that the GOP is part of the big gov too. This won't end well, I'm afraid.

And this was covered yesterday by a lot of bloggers, and it's only a fundraising letter, but it's still so over the top false that it makes me ask again when do we call this sort of politicking sedition? The whole thing was egregious, but this was the big Q that set everyone off.
"It has been suggested that the government could use voter registration to determine a person's political affiliation, prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system. Does this possibility concern you?"
I mean this isn't the KKK or some fundie group. This is the fucking Republican National Committee suggesting that the opposition party is planning political genocide. This at a time when their base is showing up with guns at Obama appearances. It's not just irresponsible. It's anti-American.

Meanwhile, Waxman is going after the astroturfers and Think Progress lists the multiple front groups of AHIP who are trying to kill reform.

Speaking of reform, without a public option, there is none. Insurance companies will earn $1.39 trillion in new revenues over 8 yrs if a bill passes without it.

And if all that has left you as depressed and grumpy as it has me, then head over to Whiskey Ina's for garden pix and her latest in the series of 100 self portraits. She is really is an amazing artist. Also, scroll for Curly and Larry Elvis.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Far Right's Reverend "White"

I really hate where this is all going.

Chris Broughton, the man who brought an assault rifle and a handgun to the Obama event in Arizona last week, attended a fiery anti-Obama sermon the day before the event, in which Pastor Steven Anderson said he was going to "pray for Barack Obama to die and go to hell", Anderson confirmed to TPMmuckraker today. ...The sermon, which was titled "Why I Hate Barack Obama" and also contained virulent anti-gay themes.
Of course the far right Rev's name isn't really White, but he's a much more extreme, reverse Rev. Wright, who the media was so excited about a year ago. So since they gave the gun guy air time already, do you suppose they're going to go check on his spirtual advisor? And cluck about how the GOP should renounce him? Not holding my breath.

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Changes in attitude

I was a little off on the timing. I believe I predicted this would happen in 06 and the lastest in 08, but throw all the bums out is finally a meme that's catching on even within the "preserve the party at all costs" crowd.

And on a slightly related note, another good short animation explaining why socialized insurance coverage makes sense.

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Nobody cares about Gypsies

When I was a kid, my mother used to threaten me when I was bad, telling me the gypsies were going to come and kidnap me. I used to wish they would. Not really down with the alleged thievery but otherwise I loved the idea of traveling around the world in a wagon and camping out and dancing and singing around a campfire. And the fortune telling. I wanted to be a fortune teller.

I had no idea they still suffered such a bad reputation all these decades later but apparently, people still believe the worst about them. Madonna was booed in Romania when she spoke out against gypsy discrimination. I'll never understand mass bigotry. [graphic]

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And when I die...

A lot of people linking to Amanda's post but let me jump on the bandwagon too since I'm closer to end of life than most of the cool kids. Not that I'm particularly influential or anything, but by all means -- politicize my death.

Meanwhile, sorry for the light posting but my shoulder is just killing me. I'm trying to rest it as much as possible. It's so bad, I broke down and made a doctor's appointment yesterday. Just have to get through the weekend and I'm still hoping that the old trick of "as soon as you're going to see the doctor, the problem goes away," still works.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RIP Ted Kennedy

There will be no shortage of eulogies for Ted Kennedy today, so I leave it to those who knew him better to opine at length. Surely, I can't do better than Joe Biden's moving statement. I'll just say that he was a complicated man, far from perfect. He was my Senator for most of my adult life. He made mistakes. He sometimes infuriated me. More often he inspired me to work for the common good.

But perhaps the best eulogy of all is to simply let Ted Kennedy speak for himself. His words on health care and his thoughts on raising the minimum wage show the measure of the man and speak louder than all his admirers and critics combined.

At the end of the day, Kennedy was a man born into privilege who mainly used the power that comes with that status to fight for the neediest among us. Whatever his failings, he deserves the tributes more than the criticisms.

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Oh the painful irony

I screwed up my shoulder when I was scrubbing the lawn chairs a couple of weeks ago. It was getting better for a while but in the last couple of days, it took a turn for the worse. I'm in nearly constant pain. It hurts to open a can of freaking seltzer water and it kills when I have to shift while I'm driving but I don't have health insurance anymore, so I'm trying to tough it out. Ironically, I have to go get a checkup so I can get my prescriptions renewed but I don't want to go in hurt. If there's something really wrong with it, I don't want to know.

Even more ironic, I ran across this item today.
In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don’t bother to make an appointment. One Thursday morning in Tokyo, I called the prestigious orthopedic clinic at Keio University Hospital to schedule a consultation about my aching shoulder. “Why don’t you just drop by?” the receptionist said. That same afternoon, I was in the surgeon’s office. Dr. Nakamichi recommended an operation. “When could we do it?” I asked. The doctor checked his computer and said, “Tomorrow would be pretty difficult. Perhaps some day next week?”
Via Doug J who added this anecdote.
It’s almost hard for me to believe this kind of thing, but I’ve seen it first-hand. When I was in France with my parents a few summers ago, my dad had a nasty flu and was afraid he might need medical attention if he didn’t improve soon. We called up and were told that a doctor could stop by the next morning if he still felt bad.

And we pay over 50% more per person for health care than Japan or France.
I'm thinking if it does turn out there's something seriously wrong with me, it will be cheaper to travel to a country with socialized medicine. A plane ticket is way cheaper than an operation here. And I haven't taken a real vacation in four years.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mental Health Break of the Day

Needs no explanation. Thirty seconds of pure joy.



I think they may have a prodigy on their hands with this tyke.

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Nuts from the same family tree?


Just noticed today that there is a remarkable resemblance between Jonah Goldberg and Adolph Hitler. Seriously. Don't you think if Jonah shaved so his only facial hair was that short little moustache, they would look enough alike to be grandfather and grandson?

Could explain why Jonah seems to have such an odd fixation with fascism. In fact it could explain a lot about Jonah. [Graphics via fixedreference.org and arkansasgopwing.]

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Reports of my demise...

Sorry I disappeared yesterday. I lost power for over 7 hours and otherwise had a terrible day too depressing to describe. So forgive me, but just another linky post of news to peruse.

Greg Sargent notices in contrast to the 24/7 mult-day blitz of coverage when Darth Cheney was howling that if only the documents were released, it would vindicate the Bush administration's use of torture, there has been virtually no coverage now that those documents have been released. Maybe because the only thing they prove is Cheney is bald-faced liar.

Not that the lies will stop. As Tim F is the latest to note, the media exacts zero penalty for lying. In fact, they celebrate the liars on a regular basis as credible commentators. Not sure which is worse.

On a related note, this 30 second ad from Doctors without Borders is just bone chilling. Made me want to sob for the human race.

On the health care reform front, this is the best short video explanation of the single payer system I've seen so far.

This teaser for Taibbi's latest at Rolling Stone on what's wrong with reform looks like it's going to be a blockbuster.

Why single payer advocacy matters now more than ever.

Roger Ebert follows up his previous post, this time making the moral case and 538 injects some facts into the fantasies about socialism and immigrants as related to reform.

Like Atrios, I've also always had a thing for creative and interesting urban street stairs. Ghost streets of San Francisco.

This chapel built on a lava plug in the middle of a town in France has a lot of stairs too. Very cool. [via Phila's Friday Hope Blogging]

And to end with something entirely soothing, thanks to Buckeye for this gorgeous pink daylily. Love those flowers. They don't last long but they're so elegant.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

I pledge my allegiance

This is the funniest thing I read all weekend. I pledge my allegiance -- er, um -- to the tshirt of Gene, the patriotic citizen of America. Seriously, a GOP leaders meeting in Illinois discovered they didn't have a flag in the room to pledge to, so they had some guy wearing a tshirt with a picture of a flag stand up and they pledged to that.

I'm pretty sure that violates at least a couple of the rules of etiquette regarding flag use. Not to mention, being incredibly weird.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Twitter for beginners - Part Three: Navigation

So we've covered how to build a follow list and the language of tweeting. You've signed on and set up your profile page, so what's next you ask? Why, jump right into your Twitter stream. Hit that home button on the menu bar above your avatar and see what your "tweeps" are doing. All the "tweets" of all the people you are following will be there. Which is not as overwhelming as it sounds because most people don't tweet all that often.

There's a few things to keep in mind. Everything you post will show up in your tweetstream feed and on your profile page. While you can see everyone's tweets on your follow list, unless they are following you back, they won't necessarily see what you're saying. If you want to get through to someone not following you, you have include @username in your tweet. If you put that at the beginning it's logged as a reply and in my experience it's the best way to get a non-follower's attention. But as long as @username is included in your tweet anywhere, it will be routed to that user as a mention. Addendum: I should add this is true, even if you're not following the person.

On the sidebar of your home page, there is a button @YourUsername. Replies and tweets that mention you will show up there, whether or not you're following that person. Your tweets directed to a non-follower will show up there on their home page. Sometimes, they answer you, sometimes they don't, but there's a pretty good chance they're going to read it. People who are following you, will see your tweets in their main feed on their home page. If a group of people are all following each other, you can see everyone's tweets and have a conversation.

However, your tweeps are also having conversations with people you don't follow. Then you only see one end of the convo. If you're curious you can click on the @username of the person they're talking to and figure out what it's about. The main point is without @username in your tweet, only your followers will ever see what you're saying.

The other button on your sidebar, direct message, is where you'll find private messages that don't show up on the public feed anywhere. Keep in mind you can DM anyone who is following you but if you get a DM from someone you follow who is not following you back, you won't be able to reply to it. There is also a favorite button on the sidebar, but I don't use it so you're on your own with that one.

The one other important thing to remember is that everything you post to the public feed will show up on your profile page. This is the page people get when they check you out, whether or not they're on Twitter. Nothing else shows up on that page. Nothing anyone else says to you directly or indirectly shows up there. This is why it so often looks like pointless babble when you check out someone's profile. No context. If you want your profile to be more readable, it's worth taking the time to paste in a bit of a quote to what you're answering, to give it more context for the casual passerby.

The only other things I'd mention is that it's easy to unfollow if you find someone is tweeting too much stuff you're not interested in and you'll find a lot of your new followers will be spammers and sexbots. You can get rid of those, and anyone, by blocking them, but I haven't bothered. Twitter seems to remove the sexbots for you every once in a while and the spammers seem to leave on their own if you don't follow them back. Meanwhile, you also will get real-life friends who found you and real people you didn't know before who turn out to be nice and interesting folks.

And that's really all you have to know to get started. Try it and I'll bet you'll like it. The biggest danger is liking it too much. And of course, if you do join, follow me and if you're using a name I won't recognize, tweet me to let me know and I'll follow you back. [graphic]

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Random Sunday

Summer always brings out the internet feuds. The current feud between Mark Ambinder and every liberal on the internets is still going strong. Today Krugman fires the next volley.
But I’d like to return to one point: even after retracting his statement about people who correctly surmised that terror warnings were political being motivated by “gut hatred” of Bush, he left in the bit about being “reflexively anti-Bush”. I continue to find it really sad that people still say things like this.

Bear in mind that by the time the terror alert controversy arose in 2004, we had already seen two tax cuts sold on massively, easily documented false pretenses; a war launched with constant innuendo about a Saddam-Osama link that was clearly false, and with claims about WMDs that were clearly shaky from the beginning and had proved to be entirely without foundation. We’d also seen vast, well-documented dishonesty and politicization on environmental policy. Oh, and Abu Ghraib was already public knowledge.

Given all that, it made complete sense to distrust anything the Bush administration said. That wasn’t reflexive, it was rational.
Indeed, as I said on Twitter last night, it was the only rational response. Having watched this same theme play out several times now with various *serious* pundits, I can't fail to notice the legacy journalists who cheered on the war are just as determinedly blind as any wingnut. They can't simply own a mistake and move on. There's always that little justification about why they just had to take that position. Which I guess is just human nature, but it is really galling when they blame their failings on the dirty hippies and refuse to fully acknowledge we were right. As is dead on, not a single thing we said didn't come to pass, and sometimes surpassed our most pessimistic predictions.

In other news, and no, there's no way I'm linking to it, World Nut Daily is reporting, "Talk-show host Sean Hannity, a vocal opponent of Barack Obama's policies, said today he would not rule out a bid for the presidency in 2012." I'm not even going to click in to read it, but you can find it on Memeorandum right now if you must. Thinking he should tap Pat Buchanan as his running mate. What a ticket that would make.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday slacker blogging

The internal clock reset is not going well. Couldn't fall asleep until 4:00a.m. and a cloudy morning made it much too easy to sleep in. At this point I'm hoping to just readjust by skipping a sleep cycle altogether. Anyway, in the interim, here's a few links to what's worth reading on the internets today.

My personal favorite is this post by aimai who runs into Joe Klein at a barbecue and roasts him over the coals of reality. Revenge is sweet, even when lived vicariously.

Loving that Froomkin is back. He posts another good take on why passing any old kind of reform bill just to chalk up a perceived win for the Dems isn't going to sit well with the people who voted for real change.

This video of Rep. Anthony Weiner on Joe Scarborough's show is getting rave reviews around the toobz. Great defense of the public option.

Power to the people. Bloggasm tells us that the video of Barney Frank taking down the Hitler woman at his town hall garnered over a million views and the majority of them were driven not by the big blogs or media outlets but instead by social media sharing. Wondering how long before the "professional" journalists start blaming Facebook and Twitter for destroying their industry.

And it's been much too long since I linked to my blogroll. I couldn't pick out just one post anywhere. I encourage you to start at the top and keep scrolling at Swashzone, Newshoggers, The Reaction and Cosa Nostradamus where they've been much more productive than me.

Oh, and I keep promising to pitch this blog. Tome of the Unknown Writer is collecting health care stories, both pro and con for reform. If you don't have a blog and want to publish your story or stance, that's the place to go to get it on the internets.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Slow news day in August - Updated: McCaughey resigns

Ah, our DC media are like kids with a new toy. But to be fair, since the MSM started hiring based on looks instead of knowledge, they probably really don't know. They likely really are too young to remember when anatomical terms were considered impolite.



On a different note, I imagine Betsy McCaughey may have been ready to wee wee her pants when Jon Stewart asked her to find the page in the health care bill that makes end-of-life consultations mandatory. Part One of the interview is what aired. I understand Part Two didn't get on the TV. Haven't watched either myself yet but am archiving here so I can see it later. I hear it was great.

Update: Wow. The power of The Daily Show. This just in. McCaughey resigns her $30K a year gig at a medical device company just hours after the show was taped.

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Explaining wee wee

Gah. I didn't watch the presser but as soon as I saw the words wee wee'd on Twitter last night I was pretty sure that it would be the media obsession today. They didn't disappoint.

It occurs to me that fully half of the White House press corps are too young to remember the historical roots of the term, so as a public service, let me explain. Back in the dark ages of the 50s and early 60s, anatomical correctness didn't exist. Any mother who taught her children to refer to their penis or vagina would have been kicked out of the PTA for encouraging obscenity. Thus a wide variety of euphemisms were used instead. Wee Wee and pee pee were commonly used, as were willie, peter and sometimes privates. Wee wee and pee pee functioned as both nouns and verbs. Other euphemisms for urination were tinkle or Number One. I'm sure you can guess what Number Two was.

So to clear up the great mystery over what Obama most likely meant when he said "wee wee'd up," pretend he said "piss their pants." And then imagine the uproar if he had said it that instead. Meanwhile, I wonder if anybody remembers what he said about health care reform? I'm pretty sure the legacy media isn't going to remember to tell you. They'll be much too busy divining the deeper meanings of "wee wee."

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Common sense drug policy in Mexico

If memory serves, this bill, or one similar, was passed with a wide margin a very long time ago by the Mexican legislature but their president wouldn't sign off on it. Whether that's true or imagined, Calderon did sign now and decriminalized possession of "personal use" amounts of drugs.
Anyone caught with drug amounts under the new personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory.

The maximum amount of marijuana for "personal use" under the new law is 5 grams — the equivalent of about four joints. The limit is a half gram for cocaine, the equivalent of about 4 "lines." For other drugs, the limits are 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams for LSD.
This makes total sense. Mexico's drug problem is with cartels. Some local guy getting high isn't out there killing people to protect his turf. Chasing down small time users just bleeds resources from the real fight.

I have a vague recollection that Bush was still president when they were trying to pass the original bill and the White House sent a strong signal that it violated Bush's international zero tolerance policy. Wondering if those recent meetings with President Obama had anything to do with it being signed now?

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Throw a great barbecue...

And apparently the major media will eat out of your hand forever.


Just in case you've been missing President McCain in the last 3 hours that he has been missing from your TV, he will once again be on the Sunday morning bobbleheads. You have to wonder why he's become a permanent fixture. As Steven Benen points out, McCain is of no particular consequence on The Hill these days. He doesn't chair any important committees. He hasn't introduced any major legislation. He's not a pivotal vote on the floor. He's not even a Maverick anymore. His recent voting record is one of the best GOP rubberstamps inside the Beltway.

The only possible interesting thing George Stephanopoulos could ask McCain about is this tweet from five days before Libya welcomed the Lockerbie bomber home with a hero's welcome.
Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man.
Maybe George could ask him what interesting things they talked about while McCain was off conducting a foreign policy tour instead of staying here and dealing with our domestic issues. Sometimes I wonder if McCain remembers he lost the election, but I suppose you can't criticize him too much. The media still treats him like a winner. Maybe he didn't notice the election is over.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mental health break

I've long been fascinated by carnivorous plants. Like most kids of my era, I had a venus fly trap. They used to sell them somewhere. Maybe in the back of comic books or the five and dime store. It didn't live very long. Probably because I kept touching it to make the little hands close up and there weren't enough flies in the house to feed it. In any event, this new species of pitcher plant they discovered in some remote place is really cool. Apparently the largest ever found. Big enough to eat rodents.

If you're not a regular Daily Show watcher, and I'm not because I don't have cable anymore, Jon Stewart discovers Fox News has gone liberal. One of his better segments.

And my fascination with space pix continues. Astro_127 shared the view out of the back window of the space station yesterday and today, a view of ISS on the horizon as they left on their return trip home. I'm a person who is still amazed that you can get up in one place, hop a plane and arrive in a whole other part of the planet in one day. Can hardly imagine what it's like to wake up in space and arrive on earth that evening.

And I don't have any tats myself, but I know many who do. I found this graphic hilarious. What your tattoo locations say about you. My apologies to my tattoo sporting friends. I'm sure it doesn't necessarily apply.

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Bailin' on Beck

In the greater scheme of things, this isn't the most earth-shaking development in the world, but it does appear that Beck's sudden vacation was probably forced by the uproar over his over the top accusation about Obama's alleged racism. Granted Fox didn't lose any money, but with the reported advertisers pulling or blocking their ads from his show, now having reached 20, it's a small moment of comeuppance that's worth savoring.

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Why we fought

If I was feeling calm and connected instead of cranky and disengaged, I might have written this:

"Why we are in this," isn't about the political winning and losing. There's a reason why so many of us have worked so hard for so many years trying to bring back a viable, strong Democratic party. It wasn't just so we could say we won. It was to bring some sanity, some balance, some transparency and accountability and humanity back to governing. There's a reason we're Democrats--because we think our ideas are better for the country. Because the Republicans are bankrupt, are incapable of governing, and are not interested in governing, only in enriching themselves and their cronies. The corporatist course they put the country on in 1980 has proven utterly disastrous for the majority of Americans.

"Why we are in this" is to fix this mess. Wasn't that what "hope" and "change" were all about? And with a Democratic House, Senate, and President for the first time in 15 years, forgive us for thinking that fixing this mess would also be the top priority for our leaders.

The thing is, winning and governing aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, in this political environment, with a crumbled economy, failing states, and the uncertainty of two wars, governing boldly, governing effectively, governing with purpose and passion will be the key to sustaining political wins--political wins that will cement the progressive policies that we need to put the country back on track. And let's not forget the fact that all of us who worked so tirelessly to get Democrats back in power need some proof that it'll be worth our while to repeat that effort.
In any event I completely agree. Read the rest at the link.

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This is not going well

My internets are clogged. My computer is f'ed up. Lost a post I've been working on for a week because the holding file got corrupted. Most of my friends seem to be in some kind of trouble. I'm going deaf from the cacophony of crazy and stupid out there. I need a reset button for my life so I can start this day over.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Morning twitbits

Trying to reset my internal clock and I'm operating on -4 hours of sleep. So while I gather my thoughts, here's some short links that will need no interpretation for you high denominator readers.

Factcheck.org: Seven falsehoods about health care.

The Whole Foods Boycott, is picking up steam and its stock is going down fast.

This is so on target. Who doesn't recognize this genre of blogger?

Kevin McKage has a great letter to editor on health care reform and GOP lies. Currently on top of the page here.

Good editorial at USA Today on the public option.

Tort reform is highly overrated as a cost containment device.

After dissing Chuck Todd on twitter last night, I'm praising him today for this report. Seems when given the facts vs. the false spin, 53% support the present health care bill.

Breaking the no-link to Politico policy for this one. FreedomWorks ain't free. Charging 10K to be part of their Sept. hate march in DC.

And speaking of hate, more hideous Nazi analogies. One by a county commissioner in Michigan and in case you missed it somehow, Barney Frank skewers idiot Nazi propagandist in Dartmouth MA.

[graphic]

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Screw it

Seriously, I'm effin' done. Screw working for the politically possible. Screw the watered down public option. I'm sick of the noise in the health care debate. I'm sick of the disinfo. I'm sick of pushing back against the crazytrain. Sick of exposing astroturfers. Sick of the sellouts on all sides. It's all a distraction.

I decided today, that from right now until the damn thing is over, I'm going to push for single payer. Towards that end, I've been blogging up a storm at Detroit News today. Click on the link below if you want to see where I'm going with it. I'm probably still taking up all the real estate at the top of the blog for the moment.

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Jeer and Loathing in Las Vegas

Seriously. Heil Hiltler? I'm so disgusted that words have completely failed me. You just have to watch the TP video to believe it. I'm sure this has nothing to do with gasbags like Beck and Limbaugh trading on Nazi imagery for their outrageous quips. And really, is time yet for the GOPers to apologize to Pelosi for accusing her of lying when she brought public attention to this hateful trend?

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Twitbits

Mining the twitter links, so you don't have to, a few items I won't get around to blogging.

In case you missed it, Maddow v. Armey video from MTP yesterday.

This one from Benen is the must read. Bruce Bartlett on how the right coopted the public narrative. Be sure to read the original post too.

An especially fine rant from Rude Pundit on the bullshit movement.

Good question: 'Why Are Cops Tasering Grandmothers, Pregnant Women and Kids?' [via]

And an old link I don't believe I ever posted to James Joyner's very good post on a cost benefit analysis of taser use.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Joe Scarborough blemishes MSNBC brand

Of course Scarborough is not the only media star who does this sort of thing, but MSNBC is supposed to be the liberal station.

It was a true homecoming for MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough when he came back to the University of Alabama campus Thursday as the keynote speaker for the local Republican party's annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner [...]

Scarborough also excoriated the "liberal media" and said knowingly he had "looked behind the curtain" and that "it's worse than you think," [...]

Scarborough was unabashedly partisan, invariably saying "we" when he talked about Republicans, their causes and strategies and how "we" can take over Congress again. In other words, he left no doubt whatsoever that he was still a proud, card-carrying member of the GOP.
If Olbermann or Maddow said anything remotely resembling this at a Democratic fundraiser, there wouldn't be enough smelling salts in the world to revive the media and far right pundits from their fainting couches. But it's Scarborough, so no one mentions it. Except us unserious hippies. [via the GOS]

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Wherein Jake Tapper and I have a conversation

So I deleted my post from last night because I believe it was rude of me to post Jake Tapper's DM. Normally I would not have made a private message public but since I couldn't reply by DM, I didn't have a way to get my answer through to him and I needed to vent. To his credit, when I pointed that out, he made it possible for us to converse privately. My disagreements with him aside, you have to give him credit for making himself so accessible to an ordinary schlub of no particular influence like me. He doesn't have anything to gain by that.

To elaborate a bit on the reason I blitzed Jake with tweets about his guest list in the first place, I was agitated after a visit with my Dad and sister yesterday. We had a heated discussion about health care reform and I found one thing my Dad said to me rather alarming. I told him the anti-reformers were lying to him and he said he saw elected GOPers saying those very things on TV. Now my Dad is a smart man and it's not easy to fool him. But, being from a different era, he obviously trusted that the GOPers wouldn't be allowed to lie on air.

This is the root of the problem with he said/she said journalism. While there has been some pushback by the media lately, the problem is that they treat the liars as credible in any way and too often the pushback is limited to a single spot, while outrageous lies are allowed to be repeated endlessly. So, for instance, you have one commentator thoroughly debunking Betsy McGaughey but only in one segment. Then she's invited back later, on the same network, presented as an expert and allowed to repeat her falsehoods all over again without challenge by a different host.

In the latest replays of this dynamic a Grassley spokesman admits he doesn't really believe in death panels. It was buried deep in a WaPo article where most people won't see it. But they've seen him repeat the lie hundreds of times on TV.
Similarly, Missouri GOPer Roy Blunt was called out by his local paper for lying about rationing of health care in other countries with real socialized medicine. He promised never to do it again, but it's too late. The TV won't be blasting the admission 24/7 so the lie is still out there, spreading, while the truth remains buried in odd corners where few of the misinformed will ever see it.

This is what I was trying to get through to Jake Tapper yesterday. To be fair he pushes back more than most of his peers, but still, when the media shows deference to liars, gives them a microphone and fails to challenge them vigorously and repeatedly -- they're just as culpable as those who spread the lies. If it's rude to point that out -- so be it. It's too important to ignore.

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Pros and Cons

Worth a thousand words. Reform supporters.


Anti-reform protesters


And then, at the same rally -- this:
One sight was perhaps a little un-nerving to those in charge of making sure everybody remains on their best behavior.

A man, who decided not to give his name, was walking around the pro-health care reform rally at 3rd and Washington streets, with a pistol on his hip, and an AR-15 (a semi-automatic assault rifle) on a strap over his shoulder.

"Because I can do it," he said when asked why he was armed. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms."

Two police officers were staying very close to the man.

"What he is doing is perfectly legal," Detective J. Oliver, of the Phoenix police department said. "We are here to keep the peace. If we need to intervene, we will intervene at that time."
Photo at the link. Judging from his comment, assuming the gun guy is anti-Obama 2nd Amendment activist. I'm not a person who believes stricter gun control laws will protect the public, but I can't help but think it's the false rhetoric stoking up anxiety about guns being taken away that precipitates this sort of display. There are days that I begin to think we might need to rework the "incitement to violence" aspects of the First Amendment. [photos via Mark Knoller]

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wherein Jake Tapper hollers at me

Post deleted out of respect for privacy.

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Twitbits

Picked up a bunch of links in the last 24 hours that are too short to comment on, but worth reading.

Why was Abu Ghraib bad girl Lyndie England invited to give a lecture at the Library of Congress? It was cancelled after threats. No answer to the first Q but I'm willing to bet the threats didn't come from lefties.

In this video segment, Maddow skewers Dick Armey and his, now former, DLA Piper Law and lobbyist firm. Armey, as you may know was just forced to resign after media scrutiny of his activities as head of Freedom Watch. Scrutiny that as instigated in large part by Maddow's relentless focus on the astroturfers. I really can't wait for Meet the Press this Sunday when the two of them are the same table.

This is longish, but if you read nothing else, read Rick Pearlstein's excellent history of the crazytrain. It has been chugging down the Beltway track for decades and he doesn't spare any scorn for the media fail that's allowed it to pick up so much steam.

If you missed Jon Stewart on Glen Beck and his former view of the medical system after he underwent hemmoroid surgery, it's not to be missed.

This was hilarious. Must view of the day. Fox focus group backfires on Sean insHannity! Their own focus group called them liars.

If there was any doubt that the town hall protesters don't really give a flying leap about the legislation and are just looking to act out their anger, this will remove it. Oops, Republican Protestors Missed the Healthcare Forum. One person actually brought a cowbell! On some level it's funny. Made me laugh anyway, albeit sardonically.

This guy gives Rude Pundit for his money. As he said, "I've been ruder, but don't remember when." Just read it.

This was sweet. Very short vid of a dance sequence from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, World. Oldsters will appreciate it.

Very cool complilation here of the Eiffel Tower from 78 dramatic angles.

And QOTD, from tweeter docpark. "We're so conditioned to seeing lights move on a screen - the silence of a shooting star is alarming - like you've gone deaf."

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A tale of two headlines

Krugman muses on the state of journalism and the media's failure to inform.
Two contrasting headlines from two very different news outlets.
New York Times: “False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots

Politico: “Sarah Palin and “death panels” - is she helping or hurting her political future?”
This gets at one of my biggest gripes: reporting that focuses on the political game without ever informing readers or viewers about the actual facts. Back in 2004 I did a survey of news coverage on the rival Kerry and Bush health plans; on TV, at least, there were a number of reports on how the plans were playing politically, but none — none at all — on what was actually in the plans.
Thus it was then, and thus it has been ever since. At least when Democrats are in power. But I think the media really went off the rails in the last election. They started to seriously compete with the immediacy of the blogs and became addicted to hit counts, without understanding or perhaps even caring that hits don't necessarily equal reach. But for whatever reason, their descent into horserace coverage and sensationalized tabloid headlines that don't at all reflect the actual content of the articles became widepread and completely entrenched throughout even the "serious" media.

The NYT piece is a good start and I actually have links to a couple of other pieces that are starting to resemble real journalism again. But as Dr. Krugman points out, in this NYT article he cites, they still fail to make an important connection between Grassley's every changing rhetoric. We still have a long way to go before the media fulfills its given mission to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

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Going insane

I hate being a technodope. My oldest blog, Last One Speaks suddenly started showing this long line of ugly and incomprensible (to me) code at the top. The template is so ancient that when I first started using it, Blogger didn't even have buttons to autoinsert html code for basic functions like bold and italics. They forced me to upgrade it once, years ago, but it's worked fine for all this time.

I know I didn't do anything to it myself. I haven't worked on that template in literally years. The blog has become just my little hideaway where I share the minutia of my boring personal life with my friends and family in far flung places. I'm afraid to import to a new template because I've got six years of my life sunk into that blog and I don't want to lose the archives.

And that code is above the header but below the navbar thingy. It doesn't even show on the template. I've literally screwed around with removing various bits of the main template for hours now and still can't rid of it. Next lifetime, I want to be a technogeek so I can read that language and figure this sort of problem out quickly.

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You are what you eat, but what are you eating?

Genetically modified foods is one of my pet hobbyhorses. While there is a case to be made for advanced science in agriculture as the world population expands, the problem with GM foods is the products are woefully undertested for the long range effects on our bodies and the looming environmental impact of depending on Frankenstein seeds that cross polinate heirloom species out of existence. Scientific American takes on the shadowy underbelly of the business.
Research on genetically modified seeds is still published, of course. But only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering. “It is important to understand that it is not always simply a matter of blanket denial of all research requests, which is bad enough,” wrote Elson J. Shields, an entomologist at Cornell University, in a letter to an official at the Environmental Protection Agency (the body tasked with regulating the environmental consequences of genetically modified crops), “but selective denials and permissions based on industry perceptions of how ‘friendly’ or ‘hostile’ a particular scientist may be toward [seed-enhancement] technology.”
Make no mistake, the ulimate goal of corporations like Monsanto is to control the international food supply chain. And they're quietly succeeding by degrees, as the world is distracted the latest shiny outrage.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Truth & Consequences

Goddess forgive me for taking pleasure in other's misfortunate but I love this. Advertisers bailing on Glenn Beck. At the last count, 12 have pulled their ads. This of course won't affect Fox's bottom line. I understand the ads will just be placed on different programs but I did see a rumor that Beck is taking an unexpected vacation -- so there's that.

More overt death threats:
The Secret Service is investigating a man who authorities said held a sign reading "Death to Obama" outside a town hall meeting on health-care reform in western Maryland.

The sign also read, "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids," referring to the first name of President Barack Obama's wife, said Washington County Sheriff's Capt. Peter Lazich.
Awaiting the Palinites and other fringe rightwing's collective outrage at actual threat against children. Not holding my breath.

If you're not at Netroots Nation but wish you were, they have a livestream of the events.

And mark your calendar. There will finally be a Meet the Press worth watching this Sunday. I think David Gregory is on vacation and they will have a Special Edition featuring the panel, Dick Armey, Tom Coburn, Tom Daschle and Rachel Maddow.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wrong answer - it's DOA

No could have predicted that the GOP would pull a sleazy double-cross on the reform bill.
Is it time for bipartisanship itself to start its own “end of life consultations”? Probably not, but Dem anger is palpable on the Hill over Grassley’s decision to throw in his lot with the “death panel” brigade at a time when he’s supposed to be the GOP’s point man for good-faith bipartisan efforts to find common ground on health care reform.
Yes, once again Lucy yanked the football and left the Charlie Brown Dems lying on their butts in the Grassley. Looks like our spineless Senators are going to let the GOP's pet crazies win and yank the end of life counseling provision. This is dangerous on so many levels, not the least of which is the crazies will feel empowered and they won't stop. They'll just keep getting crazier.

Greg is wrong here. It is most definitely time to convene the "death panel" and declare bipartisanship DOA.

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In a nutshell

This is the most profound statement I've read all week. Captures the essence of this fight perfectly.
"Liberals fight against war, exploitation and torture. Conservatives protest healthcare."
Says it all.

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Random thoughts

I've been busy at DetNews this morning and dealing with the painters here at the house. I have errands to run this afternoon and want to go spend a little time with the folks so here's a few links and other loose thoughts from the last 24 hours.

As it turns out, Newt Gingrich was for *death panels* before he was against them.

For as long as I remember, if it bleeds - it leads was the industry standard for reporting. I don't think that's so bad. Why not? People are naturally more interested in unusual events and disasters than they are about ordinary events. The difference is the media didn't used to invent or encourage the bloodshed. And by that I mean, CNBC is a menace to civilized society.

Would be hilarious except they let him spew this crap on TV every day. Glenn Beck goes so far off the rails of the crazytrain that his guests won't even talk to him.

White House fights viral emails with it's own viral email. Haven't got mine yet but I imagine I'm their list.

Whatever did happen to Palin's expensive GOP bought wardrobe? No one knows for sure.

Rush Limbaugh is an asshole. But you knew that. "Sex-retary of State"??? Jerk.

The Remote Area Medical team takes their act to the city. Long lines for this event in LA.

One of the better Day in 100 Seconds segments I've seen lately. Pwn Hall meetings.

How Congress spends its summer vacation. At CODELS.

Nice post by my pal Kathy of Stone Soup on interfaith efforts for health care reform.

Random twitters I liked: LanceMannion, "All accusations coming from the Right should be interpreted as confessions." Rudepundit, "Sitting in Central Park, I heard a woman say on her cell, 'He can go the town hall thing, but if he yells and gets on the news, it's over.'"

And twitpix of the day from John McCain, Spider Rock at Cayon de Chelly.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

These people are monsters

I hear Michelle Malkin is stalking the little girl who asked the question at Obama's town hall in New Hampshire. Feels like Graeme Frost all over again. Yet *respectable* bobblehead programs still entertain her and let her plug her vile books.

Wonder how much hate mail that poor little girl is getting from Malkin fans? I'm betting it's a lot and scaring her half to death. Odd that the same people who scream bloody murder over the mere mention of Sarah Palin's kids, have no compunction whatsoever about harassing an anonymous kid who happens to become associated with something or someone they disagree with.

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With a bullet in their head...

I have a long linky post at DetNews listing all the death threats and guns and such at the town hall meetings I've collected over the last few days. It's a long list. But I found this video to the most disturbing illustration so far, of the crazy that has taken over the far right.



The man in the white shirt with the megaphone is shouting:
“Why are we bankrupting this country for 21 million illegals who should be sent on the first bus one way back from wherever they come from. We don’t need illegals. Send them home once. Send them home with a bullet in their head the second time. Read what Jefferson said about the Tree of Liberty — it’s coming baby.”
Never a good sign when a guy like that starts calling you baby. But I'm just as struck by the woman, who bears a remarkable resemblence to Michelle Malkin from behind, calling Obama a dictator. Not the barest flicker of memory or recognition that under Bush they wouldn't have been allowed on the streets.

I have to tell you, I'm not easily frightened but these people are really starting to scare me. There is no proof you can show them to change their minds. In fact, if you show them proof that can't be refuted logically, they just call it a lie and get even crazier. A bill will be passed. No telling what they'll do then. I'm really starting to get scared.

[via Shakes]

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Only a matter of time

You've all of course heard about the gun totin' protester outside of Obama's town hall yesterday with the Jefferson quote on his sign. But I just heard about another guy who was arrested inside the building. This does not bode well.
Police said a man arrested at the scene of President Barack Obama's visit to the city Tuesday was found to be in possession of an unlicensed loaded gun.

Richard Terry Young, 62, of 821 Ocean Blvd. in Hampton, was arrested around 9:40 a.m., hours before Obama's arrival, and charged with the misdemeanor crimes of criminal trespass and carrying a loaded pistol without a license.

Young was found inside Portsmouth High School, where Obama later in the day held his town hall-style forum. Young was detained by the Secret Service and subsequently arrested by Portsmouth Lt. Corey MacDonald. Young was carrying a pocket knife, police said. A subsequent search of his vehicle, parked on school property, revealed a loaded hand gun, police said.
I find it hard to believe that carrying a loaded, unlicensed firearm is only a misdemeanor, but that aside, it doesn't take much imagination to see where that could have gone.

Obama gets 30 death threats a day. The militia types are in nearly unanimous agreement that the revolution has begun. We can hope that the Secret Service is able to protect Obama, but I think it will be a miracle if some innocent bystander doesn't gunned down before this is all over. And if that happens, their blood will be on the GOP, their astroturfers, and media idiots like Beck/Limbaugh's hands. And also those in the media who don't push the crazy, but don't push back against it either.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Riots working for Dems

Matt Yglesias wonders why the Dems are bothering to hold these town meetings. I can think of a few reasons.

First off, with all the rioting, it just about guarantees good media coverage for events that otherwise would have been pretty much ignored. I've never known a politician who would pass up a chance for face time with a teevee camera. Second, they have a pretty crappy bill proposed right now, particularly in the Senate. I don't think they really want to be talking to progressives about single payer and/or meaningful public options.

The distraction factor is working on a lot of levels for them. It makes the dedicated opposition look entirely insane while they look brave for standing them down. Meanwhile, they don't have to discuss the policy points, which would be a lot harder to defend if only progressives and single payer advocates were showing up to ask the questions. It's perfect political theater. If they really wanted a serious debate, they would be staging constituent outreach events much differently.

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Rove under fire after document dump

Too funny. You've proably heard by now that the House Judiciary Committee released thousands of pages of emails relative to the politicalized DOJ firings under the Bush White House. Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have both testified now. Word on Twitter is that Harriet threw Karl under the bus but that is probably just going to be icing on the schadenfreude cake. TPM has its readers digging into the document dump, or as the cool kids are calling it now, crowdsourcing, and already they came up with this gem.
In a January 2007 email, White House political director Sara Taylor wrote:
Prior is going after Griffin. He's made this his cause.... We need to find some folks to defend Tim and his credentials, not to mention our policy.

Your thoughts? Rich Lowry offered to help Tim
The best part? Taylor went on to ask: "Anyone better?"
That would be Rich Lowry of the National Review. The same guy who saw starbursts when Sarah Palin winked at him on his teevee during the primary debates.

Meanwhile, you almost have to admire Rove's bravado. On the heels of the release of the docs he tweeted, "I welcome release of HJC interviews & docs. Items speak for themselves." As I tweeted to him, "Why yes. Yes they do."

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Daily picks

Joke of the day from Facebook. My friend Alex: believes--for reasons that should be obvious--that the Ottoman Empire must have been one relaxed empire indeed. Rick replies:It was, until they were invaded by Hassocks.

Snark of the day. Haven't watched this yet but hearing it's great. Jon Stewart on the alleged "death panels." Healther Skelter.

Quote of the day. Atrios: If only "crazy" single payer advocates got this much attention.

Picture of the day . From Astro 127, Docking to the space station.

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Meteors!

Almost forgot about the annual Perseid showers. Tonight is supposed to be the peak night for it. I probably won't be able to see much because there's too much ambient light from the shopping centers and have no idea where to go around here to find a nice dark spot in the country. But get out there and look if you can. Hearing they're good this year.

Meanwhile, the shoulder is much improved after resting most of yesterday but I'm ready to die of heatstroke. It finally got hot enough for me to want to turn on the central air and it appears it doesn't work. The unit is spinning nicely outside but no cool air in the house. My own fault for not checking it sooner I suppose. I expect in this heat wave it will take two days to get a tech out to fix it. By then I probably won't want it anymore. May have to go shopping to cool off.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Putting Obama into focus

Happy Day. Froomkin is back and he's cutting Obama no slack. As he points out, everything will be made clear in the not too distant future.

One possibility is that Obama, to everyone's surprise, will come out with a strong bill much like the one he promised his supporters during the campaign. It is conceivable, after all, that the reason Obama hasn't publicly issued ultimatums and twisted arms and busted heads is that he believes it's best to do those things in private -- and only when the time is truly ripe. In this scenario, which I call the Obama-as-community-organizer scenario, the community's needs are finally met, but in a way such that even those who had thwarted the people's will are allowed to save face.

The other possibility -- well, I call that one the Obama-as-pushover scenario. In this one, Obama will come out of it having given away the store -- having neither significantly improved the health-care system nor lowered its costs, but rather having created a new entitlement that primarily benefits the health insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries.
Dan is thinking the latter is more likely. I'm trying to hold out some hope for the first scenario, but it's not easy. It's the waiting that's the hardest part.

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Twitter for beginners - Part Two: The language

You know the drill. You look at somebody's Twitter page and it doesn't make sense. It's a long list of disembodied comments. That's because you're just sitting at their dock and not swimming in the tweet stream. Once you're signed up, you hit the home button and there are the tweets of everyone you follow and it looks more a conversation in the comments section of a blog. But it still looks like a foreign language, which it is in a way, but it's easy to learn. Take for example this tweet:
andrewhuntre RT @utbrp: RT @ddjango: Where In The World Is Your Member of Congress? http://bit.ly/mBc23 / Reeks of "C Street/Family" hooliganism.
What this says in longer form is Andrewhuntre retweeted Utbrp, who retweeted Ddjango's link to, Where In The World Is Your Member of Congress? Andrew adds that it reeks of C Street and The Family's hooliganism. What comes after the / sign following the link, is Andrew's comment on the link. You'll see different forms of that. Some people use // some use | or || to separate their comments from the original tweet. Retweeting obviously just means he's reposting someone else's tweet.

Sometimes, people will put their comments at the beginning of a retweet like this.
johnrobinson Prayers & good vibes sent your way RT @jeffjarvis My cancer: http://bit.ly/1233IT
John is obviously reacting to Jeff's link announcing the sad news that he has cancer. So anything that goes before the RT is the commentary of the tweeter. So far, it's easy. But what about those hash tags, you ask. Like this:
andrewhuntre RT @politicalticker:"Palin urges restraint at town hall meetings"- http://tinyurl.com/nb69pj / Backs off when busted as part of #Crazytrain

andrewhuntre "What's In This Health-Care Bill Anyway?" http://bit.ly/vqrvG (via @DeloresMBernal) #hcr #hc09 #tweetthepress #digg
Hash tags are just a category that people start and try to build into a trending stream. If you click on any one, it will take you to a page that consolidates all the tweets of everybody on Twitter who is using that tag. Not just the ones you follow.

The thing about Twitter is that mini-memes develop when a lot of people are tweeting about the same subject. If you don't know what they mean, visiting the page usually helps define it. And they change often. Most of those tags started since I joined. #Crazytrain is shorthand for wingnuts like birthers and teabaggers. That seems to be supplanting #rwnj of last week, which was right wing nut jobs. #hcr is health care reform. #tweetthepress is a new one just started yesterday by some people that want to get the legislators to discuss the reform bill on Twitter. Often they're obvious, sometimes they're not, like #GWS for global war on spiders. In any event, don't worry about them. You don't need to use them to get started and you'll pick it up as you go along.

Otherwise, it's not that different from texting from a telephone. When you only have 140 characters or less, you get creative with abbreviations. And the tweets make more sense once you have the context from reading the link.

Addendum: Dealing with links. Twitter is supposed to have an autofunction that shortens your links if they're too long, but it hasn't worked for me. Maybe it only works for mobile tweeting or is an app I don't have. You're likely to have to shorten yourself in an external program. I use bit.ly. A lot of people seem to use tr.im. I gather that's better if you want to track your link hits but I don't care about that. In any event, obviously, with only 140 characters you are going to want to shorten them.

Coming in part three, navigating the twitter stream. And if you missed it, Part One - Your follow list. [graphic]

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Twitter for beginners - Part One: The Follow

Like most people that resisted joining Twitter, I did my fair share of mocking it. I looked at a few indecipherable pages of other people's twitter feeds and didn't get the attraction. I told myself I didn't need another social media forum. I only recently joined Facebook and it was already sucking up enough of my time. But as more of my friends signed up, I struggled with a growing sense that I was missing out on something good. And eventually my curiousity prevailed and I signed up.

I told myself, I wasn't going to tweet. That I just was going to register so I could access more of the pages. That was what, a couple of weeks ago? Now, some 600+ tweets later, I'm a total convert and have figured a few things out that seem worth passing on. So let me start by telling you that Twitter is what you make of it. Whether you use it as another social forum or as a tool depends on how you set it up.

The first thing you want to do when you sign up is to follow people. If you already have friends there and know their usernames, you'll, of course, start with them. If all you want to do is socialize, then you're done. Chances are they will follow you back and you're ready to chat. However, if you want to use Twitter as a link aggregator, then you have to figure out not only who else to follow, but how many you're willing to add.

When people told me they were following hundreds of people, I thought that was crazy. But it's not uncommon to see users who follow 1000s. I started with about 25, but I'm already up to 90. I expect I'll add more but intend to keep it within 200-300, which isn't as overwhelming as it sounds. The trick is to structure your follow list to enough people who are talking to each other that the conversations make sense, but to avoid adding too many prolific updaters so your tweet stream doesn't get out of control.

I had to do some tweaking to avoid too much repetition of the same links. For instance I was following several newswires and dropped most of them because there were too many tweets. The one problem with Twitter is everyone uses tiny links so you don't know where you're going when you click out. However the advantage over Facebook is that the links open directly into a new window and when you close out you don't lose your place in the stream.

I'm happy enough with my current list. I have all the personal friends I could find so far. Many of them barely tweet at all. A few of them tweet all day long and post links I'm interested in, which is why I dropped the newswires. I don't follow any celebrities, nor do I follow some of the more popular and prolific tweeters like AnaMarieCox, Kos, Shoq or pourmecoffee. If they say anything particularly noteworthy, it gets retweeted.

For strangers, I started out following mostly media people and usually only one from any source. Jamison Foser of Media Matters. Chris Hayes of The Nation. Adam Serwer of The Prospect. Jake Tapper of ABC. Rick Sanchez of CNN. Greg Mitchell of E&P. Taegan Goddard of PR Wire. And of course, my pretend boyfriend Mark Knoller of CBS. I also follow Jay Rosen, who may be the most prolific tweeter ever and whose tweets are often more like a journalism lecture than a conversation, but I like that. You learn a lot from him. I also have Karl Rove and John McCain for entertainment value.

Anyway, your follow list is going to define your experience. Starting slow and letting it build organically worked for me. It's a good way to jump in without drowning in the tweet stream. [graphic]

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Town Hall Terrorism

Having a bad morning. Couldn't fall asleep until 3:00am and then popped awake at 7:30 because my shoulder is hurting so much. Apparently I strained it yesterday when I was working on the lawn chairs. So while I nurse this injury, here's a couple of links worth reading. Frank Schaeffer, who worked with the GOP's smear machine and was instrumental in organizing the shock troops of the religious right, but has since defected, looks at the current town hall terrorism and it's relationship to the astroturfers. His closer nails it.
Dick Army and company have been driven mad by their reversal, not just of political fortunes but of seeing that they've wasted their lives. They now know they were wrong: about the country, the free market, war for fun and profit, and what the American people really want. They made their best case and were rejected by the American people — and by history. Bush was their man and he turned out to be a fool. So now all the the Republican gurus have left is what the defeated Germans of World War Two had: a scorched earth policy. If they can't win then everyone must go down. Obama must fail! The country must fail!
These people are monsters. And it really does seem like they've lost their minds. Few support First Amendment rights more strongly than I do, but seriously, I'm beginning to think some of the leading lights of the far right need to be taken off the streets and put into mental health facilities.

Also worth reading is this series that goes line by line through the actual reform bill to debunk the current scary myths driving the lunatic fringe.

Oh, and if you didn't read today's Progressive Breakfast, you should have. It's another good one.


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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Fun

I've been doing my long form blogging at DetNews so if you want my serious posts you should check over there. Scroll down in particular for my item on the Twitter threats coming from the anti-reformers. Sobering stuff. But I'm thinking on this warm Sunday afternoon, a little mental health break is in order. So under the heading completely unpolitical:

I grew up watching Sandy Becker's kid show. I have fond memories of playing Simon Says along with the studio audience. I remembered him more as having the "goody two shoes" style of Romper Room than the irreverence of Soupy Sales but this video of out-takes from their pre-taping of commercial breaks just opened my eyes up to a whole new side of him. Hilarious. Had no idea he was so profane.

Can't remember if I plugged my friends Rich and Flo's upcoming segment on Smithsonian TV here or not, but I'm sure I haven't passed on the virtual on-line version of their Museum of Toilet Paper. It's really very cool. Check it out. And while you're there listen to some of their music. They were pioneers in self-marketing their albums on-line.

Okay, I guess this is a little political but in a light way. Short news vid about Detroit's first Medical Marijuana Expo.

Moonbootica passes on a great site about British butterflies. Pretty pictures and good info.

Love this botanical art. If I had a house of my own, I would fill it with artist's renderings like those.

And my new pet. I call him Orville for short. Click to embiggen the photo so you can get a really good look at him.

Late addition: Okay, this is one is political but in a good way. Once you read the Bobblespeak Translations you'll never have to watch the Sunday talk shows live again. This week's transcripts for The Chris Matthews Show and Meet The Press.

Also: From my friend Heretik: Three, Two, One Salsa: three plums, three garlic cloves, two green zebra tomatoes, two sweet onions, juice of two limes, one jalapeno. Yummy, plummy salsa!

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