Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't Snitch

It's not just street gangs that embrace the code of "don't snitch." Back in the 60s, we hippies lived by the same maxim. It's a code I pretty much lived by all my life. Of course, once I grew up and stopped hanging around with drug dealers, it wasn't that hard to keep. I don't get exposed to a lot of crime in my sheltered little world.

But now that the extreme right wingers have gone into full out assault mode on the Obama presidency, it's become somewhat more material. I'm sure you've heard about the Facebook poll that was asking whether Obama should be killed. If you're not up to speed on the story, then see GottaLaff who broke it on Twitter and was one of the people who alerted the Secret Service.

It received enormous media attention, but this tweet from an account called several hasn't been mentioned much. It says:
Don’t just sit back and be disgusted when you see a post online that threatens the President or other federal official. Report it to the Secret Service. Contrary to popular belief, they can’t see everything by themselves. Contact info for reports here.
As a long time champion of free speech, especially political speech, I don't suppose I'll ever be fully comfortable with reporting my fellow citizens. But honestly, I'm becoming terrified by the relentless escalation of anti-Obama furor among the sore losers of the fringe right. I don't suppose every single off-hand reference to wishing him gone is worth reporting, but serious threats of bodily harm probably qualify, no matter how uncomfortable one might feel about "snitching." I don't see any other way to make these maniacs stop.

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Eek! My Neighbors!

Okay, this guy isn't literally a neighbor but he probably lives within 100 miles of me and there's plenty more like him around these parts. This is why I keep a low profile locally.
The N.C. State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners has announced that Jerry Blanchard, 49, has had his license permanently revoked because his felony conviction violates state CPA regulations.

Blanchard was charged in August 2008 on two felony counts of “knowingly and willfully … threatening to kill, kidnap, and inflict bodily harm upon U.S. Senator Barack Obama,” then a Democratic candidate for President, according to a federal complaint.
They say it probably wasn't a serious threat to the President's life but even though I'm no fan of incarceration for political speech, when it crosses the line like that, I think it's good he got some jail time. I don't see any other way to stop this insanity.

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Indiana town dumps insurer over racist email

I'm loving Alan Colmes this week. Not only did retweet me, he later posted another link to this little blog, thanking me for this post. Today he passes on this story about a town that dumped their insurance company. The best part, in one of those delightful moments of internet synchronicity, he gives a shout out to one of our favorite bloggers, whom I've much neglected lately.
Bloomington Indiana is cutting ties with the Hylant Group after one of its executives sent out insensitive and racially charged email on his company account. The executve, Denny Flahualt, has resigned.

Blogger Hart Williams broke the story earlier in September, reprinting the email and its troubling images: images of Obama as Hitler (isn’t that getting old), comparing Obama to the USSR, referring to Obama and Biden as “Dumb and Dumber”, Obama as Jesus, and a likeness of Obama urinating on a map of the United States.
He's really good about boosting us smaller bloggers. I like that.

I've also listened to Colmes radio show for two nights running now. A first for me. I normally hate talk radio, but I've been enjoying hearing him squash the wingnuts in his rapidfire manner. The downside is the show is on really late, from 10pm - 1am ET, so it makes it hard to get on a good sleep schedule. Unclear whether I'll be able to make it a regular listen, but if you're a nightowl, give him a try. I predict you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Welcome Sam

My first live tweeted birth. It was a nail biter but what a baby!


And here's the happy family.


More photos and details here, here and here.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Early Rollout for Palin Memoirs

Not sure how they can call Palin's upcoming book a memoir. Wouldn't that require that she had some actual cogent thoughts to retell? Far as I can see, the woman hasn't uttered a coherent sentence since she burst out the Yukon and strutted onto the national stage after trading in her moose hunting mukluks for a pair of red fuck-me pumps. Guess that's why they invented ghost writers and Sarah's managed to spin 400 pages out of the straw in Palin's head in only four months. Maybe they used a really big font.

It's to be titled "Going Rogue." I was a bit disappointed they didn't take my suggestion -- "Ya Betcha. Also." But the title is rather apt when one considers the definition of a rogue is a worthless scoundrel. Meanwhile, Sully wonders, "But why the rush? It couldn't be that she's trying to beat any other account of her bizarre career and surreal private life, could it?"

I'd say it's more likely they're trying to beat an impending lack of general public interest. Sarah's not capturing the news cycle like she used to and her cult of slavering admirers, panting at her feet just waiting and hoping for that special starbursting wink, is shrinking daily. Looks more like the Joe the Plumber strategy to me, meaning -- quick get that book on the shelf before they forget her name -- than it does any attempt to preempt what juicier tell-alls might be lurking on some hard drive somewhere.

In any event, Harper Collins won't be getting any of my money. I intend to employ the same strategy I used for Doughboy's "Liberal Facism." I'll read the Cliff's Notes version on Twitter and the blogs. I feel certain the snarky reviews will far surpass what thin plot they could possibly weave out of Sarah's shallow, or I should I say callow, musings.

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Wild Life

My friends are having a baby and live tweeting the birth. I'm up way too late waitng for updates but I'm fading fast. So to end the day, or start a new one I guess, with something postive in honor of the imminet arrival of Sam, here's a few interesting links.

Google Books now has every single issue of LIFE magazine online in a searchable database. Just browsing the covers was fun.

This wasn't working when I checked in but I assume it will be repaired by now. BBC put wildlife video archive online. Looks like hours of great viewing there.

A brilliant cartoon on wingnut bigotry.

Some gorgeous shots of Sedona.

Marcellina just celebrated her 2 year blogiversary. Scroll down for great shots of the Austrian mountains.

And Lance Mannion live tweeted a PBS special about how Teddy Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir worked together to create the national park system. I didn't realize just how vast it is. Roosevelt signed off on 51 bird sanctuaries, 100 million acres of national forest, 5 national parks and 4 national game refuges. Made me wish I had cable TV so I could watch it. But of all the tweets, I loved this quote the best.
Muir at 75: "I wonder if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling."
I would have liked to be friends with Muir. I wonder things like that too.

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Defending Polanski

I fully expect Roman Polanski's lawyers to fight his extradition. That's their job. I don't blame his victim for wanting to forgive him and let him get away with it now that it's been thirty years. We all know she'll get trapped in the center ring of a media circus that will be uglier than the event if he gets hauled back here to jail. I greatly empathize with her position.

But for everyone who is casting Polanski as the victim now, see Kate Harding. However else the man acted in his life since, thirty years ago he raped a child and ran from justice. He's the villian. There's no happy ending in this story.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm such a dork

I have a lot of tweets but I'm still pretty much a newbie at Twitter and just got my first major retweet yesterday. I was so ridiculously excited to discover this morning that Alan Colmes of Alan Colmes Liberaland, and formerly of Hannity & Colmes, had retweeted me, I almost called my Dad to tell him. Lots of other cool folks retweeted it also, but connecting with the big media is why I've been haunting Twitter in the first place. It was for this tweet:
Dear Wingnuts: No, you can't have our country back. We're still fixing all the stuff you broke. Love, Teh Left
Which was responding to a link Colmes put up to his post on some conservative confab called Take Back America. You should click over and look at the list of their breakout sessions. Bigotry on parade.

You know if it was just regular citizens exercising their right to be fringe extremists, it wouldn't bother me so much, but this stuff is being supported by major GOP figures. I've seen a lot of political ugliness in my lifetime, but I don't recall it ever being so fully embraced by a major political party and so glorified by a media that largely refuses to call foul when the rhetoric stinks. Sometimes it scares me.

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Dan Riehl is a vile idiot

Taking the right wing smear machine to a new low, Dan Riehl joins into the ongoing wingnut campaign to avoid making the connection between the over the top bleating about the census among his compatriots and the murder of census worker Bill Sparkman. And no, I'm not linking to his toxic cesspool of a blog, although I did just leave a comment there. If you must see it for yourself, go through Larissa's post.

To summarize his idiotic blathering, fancying himself a "crime reporter" he speculates that Sparkman was murdered for being a pedophile, apparently based on nothing but his own bizarre fantasies about sex crimes. He posits that since "we don't know" whether Sparkman was single, or had any kids himself while being a Boy Scout leader, that the "evidence" would suggest this is a possibility. He also says Sparkman didn't have a college degree.

Of course our ace sleuth doesn't seem to know how to use "teh google." Sparkman's college bio is on line. I posted the link hours after the discovery of his body, which I got on twitter from HoneyBearKelly. Indulge me while I quote from it.
Bill Sparkman's education story is one of thoughtful parental involvement for his son and for himself, personal fortitude in the face of very difficult circumstances, including very serious personal illness. He thought of it as volunteering in his son's classroom. He never imagined it would lead to a career change. Bill began his career path as a sports editor for the Mulberry Press and through various jobs thereafter, it landed him in London, Kentucky, just as his son was entering elementary school. [...]

Bill was making great progress when a life-threatening brick wall popped up. A cyst had formed on the right side of his neck and it was found to be non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Refusing to let that get in his way, he persevered. He began the necessary medical treatment and continued to do his student teaching. ...[...]

Bill graduated from WGU in December 2007 with his bachelor's degree in mathematics education. With warnings from his doctor about traveling by plane, Bill attended the actual graduation ceremony in February 2008 in an alternative way-—by driving all the way across the country to Salt Lake City to attend in person to receive the diploma he worked so hard to earn. While Bill is waiting for a math teacher position to open, he is substitute teaching in various school districts in London, Kentucky.
Maybe Riehl should use his super sleuthing skills to investigate himself, for criminally negligent blogging.

Update: Rumproast finds more delusional speculation among the wingnut outlets and says after the shitstorm of criticism his post got, Riehl just twittered the whole post was a joke to "piss off liberals." Ha! Ha! Brutal murders and pedophile jokes are so funny.

Of course, what's really sick about it, is the wingnuts will no doubt really think it's funny. If there really is a God that can do all that hellfire and brimstone stuff, I wouldn't blame him for exploding this cursed planet. Don't know how else you can get rid of these vermin. They keep breeding.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Hopi Prophecy

The Elders Speak - Part One. I watch this stuff and want to just go and hang out with Native American elders for the rest of my life. This guy just exudes peace of mind.



Part two here and there are a bunch of related videos on the YouTube page. Good to be reminded once in a while about the importance of staying connected to the natural world.

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Get famous for health insurance reform

It's clear that we won't be seeing a final bill for a while yet. In fact, one might think it going to be quite a while, since Organizing for America is sponsoring a video contest. Create the best 30 second video you can that makes the case for passing health insurance reform in 2009. They're looking for any angle, but are specifically asking for parodies of its critics. Winner will be shown on national TV. Deadline 10-18-09. Details at the link.

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More on the census worker murder in Kentucky

I've been holding back on this story waiting for it to develop but it's now hitting the legacy media outlets with CBS News and the NYT publishing the newest information. It's hard to believe law enforcement are still hedging over whether to call it a "homicide, suicide or an accident" with this eyewitness account on record now.
A part-time census worker found hanging in a rural Kentucky cemetery was naked, gagged and had his hands and feet bound with duct tape, said an Ohio man who discovered the body two weeks ago. [...]

The only thing he had on was a pair of socks," Weaver said. "And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something."

"And they even had duct tape around his neck. And they had like his identification tag on his neck. They had it duct-taped to the side of his neck, on the right side, almost on his right shoulder."
Kind of hard to do that "by accident." And for the record, the word "fed" was scrawled with a felt-tip pen across the victim's chest.

Of course, we don't know the motive yet and I suppose it is possible that he stumbled onto a meth lab or moonshiners or something out there in the sticks but it seems unlikely to me. I made the mistake of looking at Althouse's comment section where they refuse to even consider the possibility that there might be a nexus between the over-the-top hysterical bleating of the Republicans and their fellow wingnuts and this obvious murder.

The victim's truck and his work computer that he logged the census info into were 50 yards away from the body. And it's hard to forget the relentless fearmongering over the census in the prededing weeks. Right Wing Watch has a great compliation and Think Progress has more in addition to the clips I posted earlier.

All I know for sure, no matter what the motive turns out to be, the blood will be on all their hands for creating an environment where bizarre conspiracy theories about the most basic functions of government thrive and expressing their mistrust with unbridled anger is somehow acceptable.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mental Health Break

It's been an entirely drizzly, dismal, dreary day here. The kind of day where once I would have spent it curled up in an easy chair, reading. But now that Gore invented teh internets, I spent it following random links. Ran across this video. I wasn't sure I would make it through the whole thing, but it was good. An instant storyboard made of sand. Maybe you'll like it as much as I did.



Update: I didn't realize when I posted this that it's from a Ukranian television program. Thanks to reader JimBob for finding a translation for the storyline.

It was in 1941. They were in love. They had a child. But World War II had began. And he gone to war to protect his country (Soviet Union). She was waiting for him to come back alive. She got the letter about his death. Obelisk with a star on the top - it's the memorial to all people from Soviet Union, who was died in this war. In the end of story inscription : "You are always with us."

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I run from Iran

Don't know what to say about the nuke facilities in Iran except I'm really glad it's Obama dealing with the problem and not Bush and Cheney. Thinking Obama handled it rather brilliantly. Via LanceMannion, this from Sully describes it well.
Obama has known about this facility from day one. At Cairo, he reached out the Muslim world, undermining the Iranian regime's ability to engage in arm-waving, fear-mongering anti-Americanism. He built himself a triumvirate with Brown and Sarkozy, who actually have an intelligence presence in Iran. He used that presence to build an airtight case. He cut a deal with the Russians. He reached out to Iran, knowing that they would likely reject or ignore his overtures. Then, when Ahmadinejad comes to New York, having to face Western journalists, Obama announces the the existence of the Qom facility, turning the spotlight on Iran when they are unable to hide behind state-controlled media. Obama, cool and calm, pulled off a near-perfect diplomatic pincer.
Apparently they've known since 06 and I'm guessing the only reason they couldn't do anything about it was our former Swaggerer in Chief couldn't drum up any international support on taking action. I do think military action would be deadly.

Jake Tapper posted a good explanation on that. He says, "So why not just take out the facility (beyond the obvious desire to avoid a huge conflagration in the region)? 1. Bombing one facility wont acheive the larger goal: ending Iran's nuke ambitions. And 2, if they keep getting caught by good intel, they may ultimately conclude their ambitions are futile. As opposed to being bombed and digging in more determined than ever. And SteveHynd adds, Its in Qom, Jake. Centre of Shia. One missed missile, or crashed plane, and the Muslim world explodes.

Probably good to remember when we get pissed at Obama for not fixing the problem we find most important right away, that he has to deal with all the problems at once and it's not so easy to prioritize. Only so many hours in any day and he's just one man, who looks more tired every time I see him in the news.

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Come in from the rain

Dark damp morning. Hard to get going but before I get lost on the internets, a few quick links leftover from yesterday.

Never thought I'd be doing this, but I'm linking to the National Journal. This is a good piece. If air travel worked like health care.

If you see an attack ad from the League of American Voters, this is the anit-reform group who is behind it. Not to be confused with the actual non-partisan League of Women Voters which is of course the point of naming their org something so similar.

Kent Conrad can kiss my lily white ass.

And speaking of National Journal, Rich Lowry is still an asshat. Mr Starbursts is okay with his winky girl criticizing a sitting president on foreign soil.

When did Katie Couric get to be such a good journalist. I didn't watch her Beckfest interview but I should have. She was great here, calmly and persistently hounding Beck on defining "white culture."

In just this year, 36 people have been killed in taser attacks by the police. Many more are tasered every single day for simply not immediately and obediently showing deference to abusive cops. Like this semi-paralyzed 81 year old guy. And I read in the NYT today that the police actually used one of those military grade sonic cannons on the G-20 protesters. Can't say I'm liking the the growing militarization of our civilian police any better under Obama than I did under Bush.

Here's some video of the confrontation between the cops and the anarchist kids at G-20. I don't condone the vandalism but jebus, overkill comes to mind with the response.

And to end with something pleasant, a great design blog with lots of cool pictures, via Kevin McKague.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

A thousand words

Something extra light to start the weekend. I have a lot of picture links so I'll post them all at once for a little mental health break.

Josh Marshall is looking for a caption on this photo from the G-20 summit. A few came to mind, but nothing I wanted to share with the world. Anyway it's a nice gallery. My favorite shot was this one. I love when they capture the two of them in those moments.

In contrast, I got this gallery of the UN reception from Nico Pitney at twitter. I found it to be, as Nico put it, bizarrely entrancing and an example of when being President must be really awful. Indeed I looked at about half of the 130 shots and was reminded my own excrutiating social rituals of that sort. This looked much worse. If you're less patient you can get the effect in 20 seconds in video form. Hard to blame Obama for looking frozen in time.

This is the cute overload of the day. Hold the mustard.

And this isn't a photo, but there are thousands of words here. When I was spell checking in Google for another post, I noticed The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form. Ambitious project. I was impressed.

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Say hello

Just added The Grand Panjandrum to the blogroll. He started following me on twitter and I checked out his blog. Didn't have time to read much of it but I like him. He's from New Hampshire. Click over and check him out yourself.

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Sing, sing a song

This story has already dropped off the radar but you probably heard the cries of outrage over the school kids that sang about Obama. I wasn't going to blog about it, except that Joanne Jacobs blogged it. We were briefly co-bloggers during my nine days of fame as a quasi Fox News blogger so I read her post and got pissed off enough to leave this comment.
One might think that unless one was a parent of one of these children it's none of their business what a single school does to commemorate Black History month. It's not like this was done by some edict out of the White House. It was part of a lesson plan drawn up by a person who wrote a book about Obama. It might encourage them to read a book. OMG the horror! I find it far more disturbing that the school principal received a death threat from some nutcase that got fired up by the overblown media/right wing bloggers' attention.

And it also seems to me that many of the people who are so appalled by this are the same people who want to bring back school prayer, abridging the separation of church and state and have hissy fits every time a kid decides he doesn't want to pledge to the flag.
It was stuck in moderation for hours but I just checked to see if it was ever posted and discovered the reason this dropped so abruptly off the daily outrage sheet. It seems some school kids sang about Bush too. Praising him for his help with the Katrina disaster. Charming lyrics.
Our country’s stood beside us
People have sent us aid.
Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade.
Congress, Bush and FEMA
People across our land
Together have come to rebuild us
and we join them hand-in-hand!
Hard to believe I can't remember the hysterical shoutrage back then about indoctrinating the children with this ditty.

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Your mama

Love it. Priceless exchange between Kyl and Stabenow on health care coverage.



[via TPM]

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Dancing with the Devil

I managed to stay awake long enough last night to catch the big story in the local news. It seems they have this benefit concert every year that is very popular with the local residents. But this year it's not being well received among the fundie crowd.
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The organizers of a local music festival have made a controversial decision to give the money raised by their event to an organization promoting evolution and atheism. The Charlotte Pop Fest '09 is a music festival taking place in Charlotte's Myers Park area this weekend. The event features some well-known local and national bands.

Last year, proceeds from the Pop Fest went to an international children's charity. The proceeds from this year's Charlotte Pop Fest will be going to the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Dawkins is one of the best known evolutionists in the world and is also an atheist who wrote a book called The God Delusion.

Pop Fest organizer James Deem says what he's trying to do is raise awareness for "science and science education."
Sweet Jesus! Real science? For the love of their God, the man believes in evolution rather than some guy in the sky waving his hand and willing the entire universe into existence at the blink of an eye. Can't have that. The concert promoter already lost one sponsor over it. I won't be surprised if it ends up being cancelled.

I remember when I was a kid, the way religionists would reconcile evolution with the magic hand of God theory was that God willed evolution. While there are other reasons for "why we are here" that I've heard and liked better since then, I could live with that explanation. As much as we know about evolution, I don't believe anyone has fully explained the universe yet. Why not some omnificent force?

I've never begrudged the fundies the comfort they find in their religion. Sometimes I even envy them for being able to sustain a belief on pure faith. Sounds like it's easier than maintaining my stoic cynicism. Too bad the fundies aren't equally tolerant. Ironically one the events at this festival will be held in a area called Freedom Park. I guess by that they mean, free to believe or we do, or you're free to leave. Must be in their Bible somewhere.

[Thanks to PZ Myers for the link.]

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Traveling Show

Not feeling at all well today. Afraid I'm coming down with something but I'm trying to ignore it. May have to go lie down for a bit though, so here's a few links.

This is long so I haven't watched it all yet, but it's very cool. An interview with Avedon Carol conducted in the virtual studios of Second Life. That's her real voice though. Very sultry. She should be on the talking heads here. Makes a hell of lot more sense than any our usual pundits.

Also via Avedon, a good NYT op-ed on ending the drug war by Misha Glenny, author of “McMafia: A Journey through the Global Criminal Underworld.” Would like to read that book.

A pretty cool interactive map of NYC. I love maps.

And a lovely gallery from the National Geographic archives.

Late addition: This really so cheering. Too sweet. The Orangutan and The Hound.

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Census Worker Found Hanged in Kentucky

It's too soon in the investigation to draw any conclusions but in Kentucky today, the decomposed body of a census worker was found hanged from a tree with the word "fed" scrawled across his chest. Investigators aren't saying much but acknowledge it appears to be a homicide. According to an earlier report:
Census employees were told Sparkman's truck was found nearby, and a computer he was using for work was found inside it, she said. He worked part-time for the Census, usually conducting interviews once or twice a month.
I believe this may be his bio. It appears he was a single parent with a special needs child and medical problems of his own.

On a May 29th episode of Bill Bennett’s radio show RNC Chairman Michael Steele said, “Certainly the collection of this information is going to be part of an ongoing political campaign by this administration.”

In June of this this year, Michelle Bachmann told a TV audience:
Take this into consideration. If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up and put the Japanese in internment camps.
She went on to say that her family would only answer one question on the forms, despite the law requiring all questions be answered.

Then we had the mad mobs of August descending on the town halls on health insurance reform, while Beck plugged his bizarre anti-government conspiracies throughout the summer culminating in the Fox sponsored 912 Hatefest in DC. It's possible none of these things are related, but it surely is a damn odd coincidence.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's in a name?

Spent some time interacting with the DetNews crowd in comments today. They've been pretty quiet since I've been posting some stuff they can't easily refute or complain about. And as usual, more links than time, so here's some short takes worth reading.

I love Al Franken. Nice to see someone inside the Beltway who remembers the Fourth Amendment.

I don't actually recommend you watch this clip. I think I'm going to need years of therapy because I succumbed to curiosity and watched Tom Delay on Dancing with the Stars.

I've been pretty much ignoring Glenn Beck lately, and I haven't read this series. It's long but I've been seeing great reviews on it. This is Part Two of Alexander Zaitchik's biographical piece. Link to Part One is there and Part Three is still in the works. People are saying it offers great insights into how he became such a lunatic. I may read it when all three are up.

Speaking of Beck, his impending hometown Glenn Beck Day continues to generate controversy. The mayor is gung ho and says his email is running about 50/50 pro and con. But one of the local Councilmen says, "Of several hundred e-mails I have had, there are maybe three supporting it. All of them talk about the fact that they will shop no longer in Mount Vernon." Oddly, no outside press is going to be allowed at the sold out event where he'll be speaking. Odd, since he's such an attention whore. Also hear there are demostrations planned for outside of the event. Looking forward to that coverage.

For those of you on Twitter, there's a Twitter worm spreading via Direct Messages. It's apparently more clever than most and likely to come in under the name of someone you know and trust. I certainly wouldn't have opened it, any more than I would have the one that allegedly came from John Robinson asking me to join his Mafia game. But I did get caught by one when I first started there and had to change my password, so better to be forewarned I guess.

And I spent some time on Twitter this morning, reading the live tweets of the UN meeting. The big buzz was Gadhafi spoke for 90 minutes and made no sense whatsoever. But what amused me was every single person spelled his name differently, including the MSM guys. Guess I'm not the only one that noticed. Jake Tapper tweeted this fun fact. The Library of Congress recognizes 112 different spellings of the name of the Libyan leader. ABC News just ruled: "Moammar Gadhafi" but apparently there's no way to misspell it. How many people can say that about their name?

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The will of the people

I adore John Cole, but sometimes I don't understand why he gets worked up. He was unhappy that the MA state legislature passed a law allowing Deval to quickly appoint Kennedy's successor, after they had passed one in 04 preventing Romney from doing the same. He says:
There is no excuse for this kind of nonsense. I fully understand there are times for partisanship, but not when dealing with the law. This kind of gamesmanship, jiggering the law to put ideological allies in office, destroys confidence in the system, pisses away the moral high ground, and gives people the right to make arguments about “the Democrats are no better,” because in this case, they aren’t. If you can explain how this is any different from the Republicans and the right-wing blogosphere, after eight years of Bush, suddenly discovering the importance of oversight and minority party rights, I’m all ears.
I left this comment:
My thought is we're all going to bitch about what the other party does, no matter what the instant political considerations are. So John Cole, with due respect, so what if both parties do it? Meaning it's a problem but why single out this incident? This stuff goes on everywhere and I've seen worse, with gerrymandering of districts at the local level.

I'm in the camp that thinks these situations come up frequently enough that there should one national standard for replacing federal representatives. Let the states dick around with the state and local standards but DC is where the big money and the big issues are decided and no state should be short a Rep no matter what's going on.

The governor should be required to appoint a successor from the same party as held the seat within say 30 days or less and a special election should be scheduled within a reasonable time frame so no state would have an unelected Rep for more than a year. I see no reason why the appointee shouldn't be allowed to run for the seat.

In any event, in the instant case, it's clear the intent of the people is to have two Democratic Senators. That's what they voted for at election time. So I'm not getting what's so bad about this vote. The hypocrisy? As far I can see, in both cases it preserved the intent of the electorate.
You should read the whole thread though. Aimai's comments were awesome and the Juicers regs were in fine form. I was surprised at how much disagreement there was about it.

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State's Secrets

Not sure how much to make of this, but it sounds good. Raising the threshold under which state secrets can be invoked to shut down lawsuits would be an improvement.
The new policy, which could be announced as early as Wednesday, would require approval by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. if military or espionage agencies wanted to assert the privilege to withhold classified evidence sought in court or to ask a judge to dismiss a lawsuit at its onset.

“The department is adopting these policies and procedures to strengthen public confidence that the U.S. government will invoke the privilege in court only when genuine and significant harm to national defense or foreign relations is at stake and only to the extent necessary to safeguard those interests,” says a draft of a memorandum from Mr. Holder laying out the policy and obtained by The New York Times.
Of course, the cynic in me thinks this is just a cosmetic fix designed to derail the Congressional move to limit it by law. And it's hard to forget that the administration has already used it in cases they inherited from the Bush administration.

Then again, it's comforting to think, they might really be trying to ramp it down in order to rectify the Bush era abuses. Will be watching to see how this develops.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Give the people what they want

Finally succumbed to popular demand at DetNews and spent the afternoon talking about ACORN. It's actually getting a little more interesting now that it appears that stupid defund ACORN bill that our idiot Dems helped pass may defund our entire military-industrial complex too. If that happens, I'll end up thanking them for passing it after all. And I'd note it was a freshman Democrat who noticed the unintended consequences. It gives me some hope that maybe we can rebuild the Democratic party with better politicians. (More about the allegedly "independent" filmaker at DetNews link at the bottom of the post.)

Meanwhile, the latest in GOP hypocrisy. Sen. Brownback praises a federal grant for a rail spur in his state. Of course he fails to mention that the grant comes from the stimulus bill he voted against. Good for the Dems for calling him out on it. [via matttbastard]

Interesting to see the far right wing media ragers start to criticize Beck. Fun to watch but forgive my cynicism if I don't believe the concern is genuine. Hard not to suspect that they are really more interested in stopping him from gaining supremacy as leading wingnut and bleeding off their audience.

I'm sure it will shock no one that Joe Lieberman isn't sure which party banner he'll stand under to launch his reelection campaign in 2012. I think he may as well make it official and run as a GOPer.

I rag a lot on Faux News here, but cripes, the WaPo isn't any better. It gets harder every day to feel bad about the demise of the dead tree media.

But I would make an exception for John Robinson's News & Record. He and I developed a relationship when I first moved here and they were the wunderkids of the media world for being the first newspaper to embrace blogs. It was a rocky start but I've come to like him very much and respect his work. He's an editor that gets what's wrong and is trying to fix it. In any event, click on this story, hogwild in NC. The picture alone is worth giving him a hit. Sometimes I really love this state.

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They always hated Bush

I'm not that much interested in the latest wingnut outrage over some stupid conference call the NEA sat in on with artists. It's silly. But I'm linking to this piece because it's a good reminder of how much Bush politicized every part of our government during the dark years of his regime.
It may have taken awhile, but thanks to Patrick Courrielche’s exposé at, of all places, Big Hollywood, conservatives are positively fuming over the Bush Administration‘s decision to funnel $2.2 billion through the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives into programs that specifically support the President’s ideological and policy commitments, like the Abstinence Education Program, designed to “enable states to provide abstinence education and mentoring, counseling, and adult supervision to promote abstinence from sexual activity.”

Conservatives are rightly upset with a speech Bush delivered at the 2004 White House National Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, in which he said “[i]t’s hard to be a faith-based program if you can’t practice faith [and] the message to you is, we’re changing the culture here in America.”
Remember how upset all these people who claim they never liked Bush either were back then? The protest rallies were awesome. Oh wait... Google seems to have lost the coverage of those.

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I was black before the election

My few errands turned out to be a marathon excursion yesterday. The good news is I got caught up on a lot of stuff that floundered while I was barely able to drive. Bad news is I crashed out early and missed Obama on Letterman. Of course, with the internets, you can always catch up on TV. Here's the video, in case you missed it too.



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Monday, September 21, 2009

Quick hits

Have to run out and do some errands so a few links to occupy any passersby.

It really is astounding that the populist anger at Banksters never really took hold. In fact it's died down so much, they're right back to their dirty little tricks. Krugman explains.
What’s wrong with financial-industry compensation? In a nutshell, bank executives are lavishly rewarded if they deliver big short-term profits — but aren’t correspondingly punished if they later suffer even bigger losses. This encourages excessive risk-taking: some of the men most responsible for the current crisis walked away immensely rich from the bonuses they earned in the good years, even though the high-risk strategies that led to those bonuses eventually decimated their companies, taking down a large part of the financial system in the process.
I have a feeling if Obama actually went after these crooks he might win over some of the more reachable Tea Party shouters. Or maybe not, but at least he'd please some Indys I bet.

A lot of people pissed off about the insurance mandate that looks likely to be a integral part of any reform bill. Ilya at Volokh Conspiracy says it's likely to survive any constitutional challenge at SCOTUS. Mainly because of the precedent set by Gonzales v. Raich, the medical marijuana case that was brought forward as part of Bush's war on marijuana. Unlikely the five justices who are still on the bench would overturn their own precedent set in that case.

I haven't been able to get through this gallery, but if you're curious, TPM has lots of pix from the Value Voters confab.

I'm not the only one thinking up ways to get marginalize Fox. BuzzFlash has started a guerrila activist movement Turn Fox Off in public places.

And seriously, this is fascinating but it is really gross. Take heed of the warning. Greg Mitchell has video of a woman removing a skull eating botfly from her own head.

To balance that out with something more pleasing, try these pix from the DC Farmers Market.

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Parody is illegal?

Funny, one might think that First Amendment thingy would have prevented this, but apparently the NY Post doesn't see it that way.
Early this morning, some 2,000 activists affiliated with a group called The Yes Men handed out copies of a 32-page parody issue calling attention to climate change. But when volunteers tried to distribute copies outside the Post's offices, they were detained by police and their papers were confiscated, says an eyewitness. [...]

The parody issue was distributed today to raise awareness in advance of tomorrow's United Nations talks on climate change. Yes Men co-founder Andy Bichlbaum says the group printed about 1 million copies at a cost of $50,000; the expense was underwritten by a private donor who prefers to remain anonymous.

Last fall, The Yes Men produced a fake New York Times edition about the Iraq War. Bichlbaum says the group chose the Post for its global warming stunt in part because of the paper's denialist stance on the issue. "Unfortunately, they never do real reporting on climate change," he says. "We're hoping this gives them the little kick in the ass that they need."
So far the NYPD has not responded to inquiries on "why the volunteers were detained, on what grounds their papers were confiscated and whether they'll be returned." I'm predicting arrests for "disorderly conduct" myself and I doubt the papers will be returned. I would be happy to be wrong though.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Bobbleheads

You of course know that President Obama is on all the Sunday talk shows this morning. I didn't get to watch live because the other thing that happened to me in the last couple of days is my TV reception went kerflooey. Think it's just the weather but I don't think the stations I get with my little rabbit ears play them anyway. Bad couple days for electronics in this little household.

But YouTube to the rescue. Gotta Laff posted two so far. Short clip of CBS with Schiffer and the entire Meet the Press. I'll update if more come in.

Meanwhile, if you don't have time to watch, there's always the must read of every Sunday. The Bobblespeak Translations tells you what they really meant and you end up laughing instead of sneering with disgust. So there's that.

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Can't somebody sue Fox News?

You've probably heard about Fox News taking out that big ad in major newspapers, claiming that they were the only ones that covered Glenn Beck's 912 Protest. Of course that wasn't true. For crying out loud, even CSPAN covered the whole dismal affair. And as it turns out, my feeling that the crowd was playing to the cameras was right on. What I didn't realize at the time was a Fox News producer was on stage, but out of camera range, directing the noise as if it was some freaking game show.

Of course, the big stations pushed back against the Fox ad. Rick Sanchez did a great segment and flat out called them liars and CNN did a promo as well calling them out. I think that's great on one level but the problem is, Fox viewers are unlikely to see this stuff and even if they do, they won't believe it. They only believe Glenn Beck. So ultimately it ends up as free advertising for Faux News.

I'm thinking a better strategy to get back at them would be for some enterprising attorney to sue Fox News for false advertising. I'm sure we have consumer protection laws about that and Fox is falsely advertising itself as a news station. It's not. It's an advocacy channel for the GOP.

It wouldn't even have to be a big federal case. Even a small case, with a complaint based on some narrow issue, in one jurisdiction, in one state would do the trick. Way I see it, there's hundreds of hours of archived footage showing how Fox edits stories to spin them in the GOP's favor. The dozens, if not hundreds of times they "accidentally" identify GOPers as Democrats when some scandal breaks. Allowing Beck to create and promote the 912 project and then covering it as "news" smacks of political manipulation and advocacy. You get the picture.

I have to think there's a way to make this case. And it doesn't even matter how small the case is or if it succeeds. This would be, as Chuck Todd put it, catnip for the cables. It could generate weeks worth of controversy coverage that they love so much and it would be much more negative PR for Fox. Not to mention, the lawyer would become famous. Somebody young and hungry could make a name with a case like that. Just look at Orly Taitz.

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My computer hates me

Part of the reason I disappeared the other day was because I had that problem with not being to see YouTubes on the blogs. I spent hours fooling around with the settings, changed the restore points three times with no effect. Then I finally realized that it was working in Firefox but not in IE. Now, I know it's horrible to use IE but for some reason this old computer hates Firefox. If I leave a window open it crashes the computer. Shut me right down the other night and I lost a bunch of links I was collecting because I hadn't saved them yet. And now, after all that, the YouTubes started working again in IE this morning. Gah.

Also while I was waiting for resets, I decided to cut my hair. Got trigger happy with the scissors and cut it too short, but just as well. Screwed up the shoulder again. It was twinging like crazy since. Not so bad today though and now at least I have a haircut that will last for a couple of months and hope I built up some strength by stressing the arm a little. So there's that.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hypnotic

I forgot to post this yesterday. It was the 39th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix' death. Little Wing

This is the mesmerizing link. Bright Kite. It refreshes every 20 seconds or so and people post photos and updates about where they are. I seriously couldn't tear myself away for about 20 minutes. Fascinating. I"m going to post it on the sidebar so I can check it every now and then. [h/t Gotta Laff]

If you managed to tear yourself away from Bright Kite, Greg Mitchell posted the funny link of the day. A burglar busted because he stopped to check his Facebook updates while in the victim's house and forgot to exit his page. Made it pretty easy to track him down. No word on whether he commited the burglary to pay for his internet connection.

Sad news. One of the founders of Fire Dog Lake, Christy Hardin Smith is leaving Blogtopia. Even more sadly, it's because of health issues. Teh Left will miss her voice. We're diminished without it, but of course I send her healing thoughts for renewed health and peace of mind. Be well Christy and thanks for all you've done.

But to leave on a happier note. Troll Cat knows everything. And Andy's morning glories.

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How soon they 'forget'

I've spent way too long arguing with Joe Scarborough today. I love that Twitter can let that happen but it's really a waste of time. I spent an hour digging through Google looking for unrotted links from 04 and 05 to make my point. He probably didn't even read them. But I like the illusion that I'm making him think.

Of course, being me, I spend a couple of more hours in my archives here, reviewing the insanity of those days. Atrios is right. There isn't really a way to sum up the craziness of that time in a few words. It was so vast. So pervasive. Daily shock and awe for eight years. The Bush administration struck on every front and the media let it happen. Not only didn't they challenge it. They supported it. They fronted for it. They were a willing conduit for the disinfo and now they want to pretend they were innocent bystanders? Pisses me off.

And I can do without the double standards and the false equvilancies too.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Uncanny

The question is, did this guy channel Glenn Beck 15 years before the fact, or is Beck channeling him?



Not sure whether it's my computer or something at YouTube but I'm seeing blank spaces where the videos should be, but only on blogs. If it's widespread, here's the direct link to the video. Those seem to be working fine. [h/t HBK]

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quick links

I always seem to have more links than I have time to blog about and some things are interesting and just don't require a lot of commentary. But I do like to keep them archived here instead of foundering in some hold file that inevitably gets corrupted just when I'm looking for a link so bear with me, even if you don't like these linky posts.

First and foremost, Vote for Sinfonian-Blast Off! blog. He's been nominated in 7 categories in The Florida Netroots Awards and modestly requests you only consider voting for him in five of them.

The GOPers are determined to keep the 912 lunacy going. They're now complaining that the taxpayer funded DC Metro system didn't run enough trains to accomodate their anti-tax, anti-government protest. Even more delicious, the GOPer who is demanding answers, voted against Metro funding. Maybe someone should tell them, that just like freedom, infrastructure improvements aren't free.

Pandagon debunks a related Metro myth the wingers have been floating about how the Metro problems "prove" there were a gazillion people at their protest.

Meanwhile, Obama has been on the road selling reform. Mark Knoller reports, the Fire Marshal estimates there were 15,000 people in the Comcast Center at University of MD for Obama's speech today. There was 1 heckler.

And Obama just can't win with the media. They've been railing about how he failed to sell reform during the August recess. Now that's he out there doing it, they're wringing their hands and asking if he's overexposed. I only link to Tapper's story because the punch line at the very end is priceless. Can't accuse Gibbs of not having a sharp wit.

This looks useful. Media Matters launched a new subsite, Smearbuster that dispatches the right wing smears against liberals as they come in. I have a feeling they'll be busy over there for a long time.

This is interesting. Surprised to find it in the Detroit News. TV's 'Newlywed Game' features first gay couple. Good for them. Even better is the gay couple is Star Trek's Sulu and his long time partner who have been together for decades, but only recently got married.

Via SoBeale, I loved this. Pink insects. Never seen one myself, but I'm going to start looking for them. God knows, we have plenty of damn insects around here.

And to end with something funny, this New Yorker cartoon made me LOL.

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Sotomayor Comes Out Swinging

Apparently they didn't call her a Wise Latina for nothing.
In her maiden Supreme Court appearance last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a provocative comment that probed the foundations of corporate law.

During arguments in a campaign-finance case, the court's majority conservatives seemed persuaded that corporations have broad First Amendment rights and that recent precedents upholding limits on corporate political spending should be overruled.

But Justice Sotomayor suggested the majority might have it all wrong -- and that instead the court should reconsider the 19th century rulings that first afforded corporations the same rights flesh-and-blood people have.

Judges "created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons," she said. "There could be an argument made that that was the court's error to start with...[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics."
I have to admit I was little nervous that Sotomayor would turn out to be a stealth corporate shill, so while I don't want to read too much into a single sentence, I'm greatly relieved to have heard her say it. Revoking corporate personhood would go a long way towards solving the corporate stranglehold on society. Granted she can't do it alone, but it's a start.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shaming the Hatemongers

I may have left a link to this earlier, but it's so good and it really stuck with me, so I want to highlight it more strongly. I didn't know this:
In 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor two brothers, related to six US presidents, enlisted in the Army.

In 1944, these brothers, Stanley and Ralph Dunham went ashore at Normandy and served their Nation fighting the Nazi’s across France, Italy and Germany. Another young American, Stanley’s, brother-in-law, Charles Payne, fought with Patton’s Third Army and was among the troops that liberated the prisoners at the Nazi Death camp of Buchenwald.

In 1945, upon return from Europe, Stanley and his wife Madelyn, who had served the nation’s war efforts by working on a B-29 assembly line, settled down and started a family.

In 1961, a grandson was born to the Dunham’s at the Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital, in Honolulu United States. In 2008, that grandson won the election for President of the United States by a 9,522,186 plurality.
Read the whole thing. It's a moving post and the best indictment of the anti-Obama hatefest I've ever seen.

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Surveillance concerns - real and imagined

I suppose it's not surprising in light of his sellout vote on telecom immunity, but it's still disturbing that the Obama administration wants to keep certain Patriot Act powers. These three are due to expire and they want them extended.
*A secret court, known as the FISA court, may grant “roving wiretaps” without the government identifying the target. Generally, the authorities must assert that the target is an agent of a foreign power and/or a suspected terrorist. The government said Tuesday that 22 such warrants — which allow the monitoring of any communication device — have been granted annually.

*The FISA court may grant warrants for “business records,” from banking to library to medical records. Generally, the government must assert that the records are relevant to foreign intelligence gathering and/or a terrorism investigation. The government said Tuesday that 220 of these warrants had been granted between 2004 and 2007. It said 2004 was the first year those powers were used.

*A so-called “lone wolf” provision, enacted in 2004, allows FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of an individual even without showing that the person is an agent of a foreign power or a suspected terrorist. The government said Tuesday it has never invoked that provision, but said it wants to keep the authority to do so.
I'm with the ACLU on this. All of these have already been abused under Bush and the lone wolf is particularly invasive. I'm not a national security expert but I'm pretty sure the government had plenty of means to accomplish this sort of surveillance before the Patriot Act and adding these provisions, that are all too easy to abuse, probably isn't all that necessary.

In contrast this concern trolling is overblown. I'm not worried at all that the White House is archiving publicly available internet commentary. Anyone who leaves comments or whatever on social networking sites and expects them to remain private, shouldn't really be using a computer. The White House isn't the only one harvesting that kind of info. Cripes, every SEO marketer in the world is doing it and while the full details may not be available, it's not like the White House is trying to keep it secret if they're publicly asking for bids on the contract.

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Who Could Have Predicted...

Here's a (fake) shock. Max Baucus wasted weeks 'negotiating' with the GOPers on his health insurance reform bill, watering it down into a shit sandwich, that's worse than no bill at all in terms of solving the problem, and not a single Republican is going to sign on. Good news is, neither will a lot of Dems. They need to give that bill a decent burial and start over again.

Here's a (real) shock. Little Green Footballs proprietor, Charles Johnson emerges as a voice of reason on the far right's extremism. Even he sees the not so subtle threat of violence as pervasive in their ranks. And there's more. He calls out the liars of Wingnuttia. Media Matters has more on today's attempt to inflate the 912 march attendance. Cripes. They're not even trying to hide their dissembling anymore. And why would they, when they don't pay any price for it? It keeps the deluded flocking to them for affirmation and raises the old hit count.

And I didn't get to this earlier, but still worth the view is David Shuster's segment on how these people are fomenting hate.

And a surprisingly interesting tell all by Matt Latimer, former Bush speechwriter who's cashing in on the Bush bashing, now that it's safe to do so. But unlike most of them, I found this longish excerpt a good read and will probably read the book if I borrow a copy. I won't pay for these things on principle. [via Atrios]

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Daddy's Home!

Obama had a busy three flight day on the road which included a AFL-CIO speech and a fundraiser for Arlen Specter. I thought this photo, in light of that, spoke volumes.


Via Mark Knoller.

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Crazy Day links

I've been tied up with some personal issues so obviously a very late start today. Let me give you the prime links from my tweetstream and I'll be back in a bit.

Jay Ackroyd passes on a link to video of his Netroots Nation panel. It was a really good one.

Fun with FOIA on how to check your FBI file. Via Avedon, whom I've neglected terribly since my shoulder went out.

Depsite wide debunking, Glenn Beck claims on Fox & Friends this morning that 1.7 million attended the 912 march. It boggles the mind that anyone believes this, even the deluded fans. That's almost as many as showed for the inauguration. Surely these people saw that on TV and would realize they didn't cause the same gridlock? But then again, they think Beck is the only one telling the truth.

I'm too lazy to dig through my archives, but I'm sure I predicted they would end up using this on US civilians when I first heard about this weapon being used in Iraq.
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore deployed (but did not use) military type sonic crowd-control devices at two town hall meetings, one held by GOP Darrell Issa and the other by Democrat Susan Davis. These devices are the same as those used to control crowds of insurgents in the Iraq war theatre and have been linked to ear and brain injury.
Granted they didn't actually use it at these events, but I'm guessing it's only a matter of time. Via SoBeale, who dug out her old post making the same prediction last year.

Chris Hayes of The Nation tweets, Palley: Letting Bush tax cuts expire in 2010 reduces by almost half the projected annual deficits (as % of GDP.) Almost half.

And while our rich folks are whining about a possible tiny tax increase here, other countries are raising rates by a much heftier margin since the worldwide financial crisis hit.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

RIP, Patrick Swayze

I'm not embarrassed to admit I loved him in Dirty Dancing. I thought he was very sweet and damn sexy in that movie. Liked him in Point Break and Roadhouse too.

And RIP former Carter press secretary Jody Powell. Word has it he died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Sad to lose so many famous people this year. Or is just that I'm getting so old that it feels like more people I know are dying? Reminds us to cherish the days we have and the ones you love.

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The Mad Minority March

I'll admit it annoys me that the media ignored war protesters for all the dark years of the Bush era while they give the Tea Party protesters days on end of coverage. I'm pissed off that they treated us like "kooks", the fringe of society, while they treat people who really do believe in insane conspiracy theories like "normal" Americans. I mean there were a lot of late middle-aged peace marchers who hadn't protested either for decades, or never had before, only they weren't talking about death camps, guns and commie fascism. But that's just an irritation that can't be changed. The important point is a lot of these tea party people revel in violent ideation. There's a strong faction within this "movement" who truly are on the fringe of civil society. I'll give CNN some credit here for exposing this element.



Exposing this is good to a degree, but it's a double-edged sword. In watching the coverage and the YouTubes, it seems clear to me that the most radical are there to play to the cameras. They want to see themselves on the news and when they get home, their friends will treat them like heros for standing up to "The Man." The problem is, the more attention they get, the more they're going to escalate their schtick to get that attention again. As long as the cameras roll, I'm thinking it won't end until blood is spilled. When that happens the blood will be on the media's hands -- starting with Glenn Beck -- but all are complicit who encourage the freak show while they ignore the POTUS.

I don't think I'm overstating the danger, when I look at the links I assembled in 24 hours but judge for yourselves and forgive me, there is some repetition.

One of the best, Max Blumenthal's unauthorized tour of the event.

Alan Colmes Pictures from a tea party.

March on Washington.

Here Is Your Conservative Movement, America.

More DC 9/12.

Armed and dangerous.

The last photo in and my personal favorite, says it all about Fox. We should all be so well infromed.

And Matt wins the snark competition with a different view of the "dark fringe."

Yes, they're a mad minority but they have been stockpiling guns and ammo since before Obama was duly elected and more than just a few are just itching for an excuse to use them. The media gives them credibility at all our risk.


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Loose links

So another reason I didn't post much yesterday is I went over to visit with the folks. We watched Tiger Woods win the latest PGA tournament and I now have a pretend crush on Brandt Snedeker. He's such a cutie with that hippie hair cut. Too bad he lost. Anyway, I have a few stray links of interest to amuse you while I'm working on the other stuff.

Roll Call posted their annual list of the 50 richest Congresspeople.

Networks gave more time to screaming Joe Wilson than to the content of Obama's speech. And now the Democrats want to keep him in the spotlight by censuring him? Let him fade from the spotlight already is my feeling. Who cares what he says? He's nobody.

All that cheap imported shit we're buying was probably made by child labor.

And I don't know if he made a point with this volley, but jeebers, Federer made a helluva tennis shot here.

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In the Belly of the Beast

Since I was forced to step back from the daily fray, I've developed a curious sense of detachment. I don't feel compelled to instantly respond to everything. So I've been thinking and collecting links for the last couple of days. I really am working on a post or two trying to make a coherent narrative out of all this musing, but in the interim, here's a somewhat lengthy video. It took some guts for this old guy to walk through the crowd with this sign. Hate to think what would have happened if he didn't have a police escort.



Guess the protesters want to keep their event ideologically pure. Funny that sounds sort of like Hitler, doesn't it?

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Spirit of 912

Sorry I dropped off the grid yesterday. I spent the day catching up on some chores that went undone while I was disabled and following the progress of Glen Beck's big 912 Tea Party. The one that was supposed to capture "the way *we* felt on the day after 9/11." I'm sure you all remember how the entire country went into a criticizing the president mode on that day. But that aside, just what exactly these *tea party patriots* are protesting still remains rather murky. The NYT asked them.
“I want Congress to be afraid,” said Keldon Clapp, 45, an unemployed marketing representative who recently moved to Tennessee from Connecticut after losing his job. “Like everyone else here, I want them to know that we’re watching what they’re doing. And they do work for us.” [...]

Ruth Lobbs, 57, a school teacher from Jacksonville, Fla., said she flew to Washington on Saturday to protest how she believes the government has violated the Constitution. She said she did not vote for the president, adding that her anger has been welling for years.

“It’s more than Obama. This isn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Ms. Lobbs said in an interview, as she held a yellow flag that declared, “Don’t Tread on Me.” “I don’t know if anything will come of this or not, but this is a peaceful way of showing our frustration.” [...]

Ms. Davis said that no single issue prompted her to come to the capital, saying, “It’s everything.”
Actually, it's not all that murky. When they say "everything" they really mean they can't stand that the Democrats not only won the election by a wide margin, but did it by running a black man. I'll do a separate post with the photos, but what struck me about a lot of the signs is their slogans were ripped directly from Glenn Beck's tirades. And he didn't even show up to his own rally.

The Beck-Limbaugh-GOP- et al. agenda is pretty clear. As this interview on CNN notes Republicans Are Stoking "White Racial Resentment" and it's working all too well.

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Virtual March for Health Care

I'm working on a couple of posts but in the interim, via GottaLaff, I see there's a Virtual March for Healthcare today. Follow the instructions at the link to participate in a mass email to our Congresscritters.

And if you don't see this today, I'm sure you can join in at any time. The thing is to keep contacting them and let them know we're serious about wanting reform.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Reform won't happen without us

To be honest, I haven't had the heart today to read all of Matt Taibbi's latest Rolling Stone piece on health care. I just read the last page and he makes a very good point.
In the House, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York refused to support the bill passed by the commerce committee unless he was allowed to attach an amendment that will enable Congress to vote on replacing the entire reform bill with a single-payer plan (Bernie Sanders is working on a similar measure in the Senate). On the labor committee, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio took a more nuanced tack, offering an amendment that would free up states to switch to a single-payer system of their own. [...]

Then again, some of the blame has to go to all of us. It's more than a little conspicuous that the same electorate that poured its heart out last year for the Hallmark-card story line of the Obama campaign has not been seen much in this health care debate. The handful of legislators — the Weiners, Kuciniches, Wydens and Sanderses — who are fighting for something real should be doing so with armies at their back. Instead, all the noise is being made on the other side. Not so stupid after all — they, at least, understand that politics is a fight that does not end with the wearing of a T-shirt in November.
In a way we should be ashamed that we're letting the tea party shouters show us up, because they may be so very wrong, but they are out on the streets making their voices heard. I understand the dilemma of having nothing to really support so far from the administration, but all the more reason we should be shouting from the rooftops to listen to the Congressfolks who are working for the reforms we want.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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How 9/11 Should Be Remembered

Hard to believe it's been eight years. Everyone of course remembers where they were when they heard the news and if only we could forget the atrocities that were commited afterwards in the names of the victims. We still live with the effects of those to this day.

The victims get memorialized every year in various ceremonies but few pay any tribute to the survivors. It seemed like almost the entire country collectively wet their pants and went into a cowering cringe, ready to give up any collective freedom to regain their sense of security again, but New Yorkers refused to be terrorized by the thugs that plunged their city into chaos. They worked together to restore order. As the author of this article, which should be read in full and from whence I stole the title of this post, put it:
New Yorkers triumphed on that day eight years ago. They triumphed in calm, in strength, in generosity, in improvisation, in kindness. Nor was this something specific to that time or place: San Franciscans during the great earthquake of 1906, Londoners during the Blitz in World War II, the great majority of New Orleanians after Hurricane Katrina hit, in fact most people in most disasters in most places have behaved with just this sort of grace and dignity.
As we've moved past the national fear, there's now an annual debate on how best to honor the victims of 9/11 without exploiting them. I'm thinking the most appropriate tribute to the victims and the best way to honor the spirit of NYers on that day is to do something nice for a complete stranger on its anniversary. Just because we're all humans on Earth and for good or ill, we're in this together.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

The President's Speech to Congress

I'm not going to say a lot about the speech. Despite the glamorous ending it didn't knock me out. And surely the singlemost satisfying aspect was that he finally called out the GOPers as liars.

I didn't read any of the reactions except for Dan Froomkin, who is always worth a read. He points out what was missing, notably any mention of all the mysterious meetings with industry insiders. It's an ongoing worry that the deals cut to get industry support are going to screw us and we'll end up with a worse system than we have already.

However, on its face, when I summarized the talking points for my DetNews post, it doesn't sound all that bad. Short on details, but the lofty goals sound rather grand. Crack down on the worst practices of the industry, give individuals group power in purchasing policies, and the immediate availability of some sort of emergency coverage for those who aren't able to get insurance because of pre-existing conditions all sounds good in theory. The mandates not so much, especially since he didn't put forward the public option as a make or break part of the deal.

But he did what he had to do. He took charge of the narrative again and I agree with Bill Scher that the bottom line is Obama put the public option back on the field, it's now up to us to get it over the goal line. Obama's scolding about progressives making too much of it was irritating, but I think it was more political positioning than serious. In the present environment, he's better off not making it an issue, but we still have to, especially since getting real reform, like single payer feels nearly impossible.

Which is not to say we shouldn't try. I'm told that there's a Weiner-Welch amendment due to come to the floor that would replace the House bill with HR 676, the Single Payer bill. It's worth a shot to push it, but if that fails we will need the public option as a fall back position. Hell, if we get that far, it will be a lot farther than we as a country have advanced since they invented Medicare. So there's that.

And of course the main thing is bitching on blogs and in comment sections isn't going to get the job done. We have to contact our Congresspeople and tell them to do it. That's key.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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You Lie

This is the photo of the night of course. The immediate response to Wilson's outburst.


So to get the obligatory Joe Wilson post out of the way, I don't really give a flying leap that Wilson acted like a jerk. Frankly, I would have cheered if the Democrats had done that to Bush back in the day. Of course, Bush actually was lying but it becomes a matter of standing for something. Say what you want about the cretins of the GOP, but at least they're consistent and strong in their opposition. That's more than we can say about our wishy-washy Democrats.

As to why Wilson did it, at first I was thinking along the lines of Chris Hayes, that Wilson is really that stupid and uninformed that he simply believes the viral emails and was genuinely pissed off. On reflection, I'm thinking it was pre-planned to capture the news cycle. It's certainly working. The media love this sort of vapid story and will no doubt spend days pondering the deeper effects of rudeness.

Meanwhile, the Wilson clip is being played on a continous loop and no one on TV is bothering to point out that Wilson was wrong. Everyone is talking about the GOP instead of the substance of Obama's speech and to the extent that they are talking about the reform bill, the focus is on the non-issue of coverage for illegal immigrants. Even more irritating is the big bloggers are feeding that meme instead of changing the narrative. One hopes that will change soon.

However, there is one bright spot in this dreary development. Joe Wilson's Democratic opponent pulls in nearly $200K in campaign donations since Wilson opened his big fat trap. I've heard that Wilson is also getting some positive feedback from the cretins in his base, but haven't seen any figures and note that the complaints have shut down his phones and his website is down as well. So there's that little bit of karmic kickback. And with that, I vow to herewith ignore Mr. Wilson and let him sink back into much deserved obscurity. [photo credit]

Update: Okay, just one more update. It seems Wilson is in deep debt, perhaps approaching bankruptcy and also the new count on his opponent's donations are now at $300K $400K $500K $800K. Would love to see him clear a million before the circus is over.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Random links of beauty

I'll be getting to the speech in a bit but I have a few stray links I didn't get to in the last couple of days that are worth passing on in the interim.

I loved this story. A writer at Wired disappears and challenges readers to find him for $5000. The plan was to stay underground for a month and if no one found him, he wins. A couple of readers found him before the deadline. Just another lesson in how little privacy we have in the internet age.

This one made my heart leap with joy. "Is Glenn Beck's Show on Right-Wing Life Support?" Sara makes a good case for yes. He does keep losing advertisers and the mayor of his childhood hometown is under some fire from the residents for offering Beck the key to the city. The running joke is "Thousands have locks changed." That's not quite true but neither is everyone happy about it and the mayor of a nearby city is capitalizing on the discontent by offering Jon Stewart the key to his city. No complaints that I'm aware of there.

Yet another local GOP candidate caught in a sex scandal in Allentown, PA. Seems he was having a little sex chat on his campaign's Facebook page. These guys apparently never learn.

The newly refurbished Hubble telescope is sending spectacular images back to earth. My friend Carol Gee has more.

And my pal Whiskey Ina hit a milestone in completing 100 self portraits in 100 days. Go check it out, they're astonishing in their variety and their beauty.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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