Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the 0h0hs

Since we haven't seemed to come to a consensus on what to call this dark decade, I've decided to go with the 0h0hs because even though there were some good things that happened, my reaction to the morning news for the better part of the decade was oh oh, please make it stop.


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ten years ago today...

These end of the year/decade lists tend to get a bit tiresome to me but Foreign Policy posts a great one. It starts with these:
Lou Dobbs was a respected, middle-of-the-road journalist.

The prospect of achieving Middle East peace seemed imminent.

Beltway pundits believed Al Gore and George W. Bush were centrists who would govern similarly.

You could meet your loved ones at their arrival gate.

There were more than 2 million Christians living in Iraq.

Osama bin Laden was living with his family in a compound in Kandahar.

China's GDP was $1.4 trillion, half of Germany's.
Well worth a read in full. The world changed a lot in the 00s and sadly much of it was not for the better.

This list of the decade in acronyms was cute. I laughed out loud, really, at the 09 entry.

And my own Detroit News really does do great photo galleries. Haven't looked at all these yet, but I'm hearing good reviews from those who have. 104 ways to remember 2009. Enjoy.

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Federal Court Clamps Down on Tasers

This is certainly long overdue. The 9th Circuit Court just ruled "a California police officer can be held liable for injuries suffered by an unarmed man he Tasered during a traffic stop."
Michael Gennaco, an expert in police conduct issues who has conducted internal reviews of Taser use for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and other agencies, said the ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals prohibits officers from deploying Tasers in a host of scenarios and largely limits their use to situations in which a person poses an obvious danger.
It's not like it's never warranted, but clearly there have been way too many trigger happy cops in the last decade who taser out of mere spite rather than imminent danger. If this holds, maybe we won't be seeing any more tasering of kids, the wheelchair bound, senior citizens and people having health related seizures among other ridiculous uses of the weapon. Holding law enforcement accountable for unneccesary injuries would be a welcome change.

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All the spews fit to print

It's long been apparent that our traditional media is broken, having become little more than a steno pool for the Republican party, but the Undiebomber has really underlined that dysfunction in double bold. Steve Benen says it all, so I'll just quote him.
By all appearances, it doesn't matter if the Republican attacks are baseless and ridiculous. It doesn't matter if Republican national security policies failed. It doesn't matter that Republicans are more anxious to denounce the president than they are to denounce terrorism.

What matters now is what mattered before -- whether GOP voices can create and exploit just enough misguided panic and fear to benefit politically. If they can shout "soft on terror" often enough, and the media overlooks all available evidence, maybe the public won't notice how ridiculous the Republican lies really are.

Republican pollster Neil Newhouse said the attempted attack on Christmas is "a black eye" for the administration. It takes about three seconds of actual thought to realize how absurd this is. Was 9/11 "a black eye" for Bush/Cheney? How about the anthrax attacks? Or Richard Reid? Or the attacks against U.S. allies around the world? And the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan?
All good news for the GOP. Always. Not a peep out of the tradmed asking why Republicans hate America and are attacking our President in a time of war. And adding a little context to the GOPers lame retreading of the tired old "soft on terror" meme? Hah. They leave that to the DFH bloggers.

Also, the difference between you and me and Mike Allen at the Politico? We don't cut and paste Cheney press releases and call it news. (Not to worry, link goes to Media Matters)

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I must confess

I've been thinking about it and I admit I would say yes if Karl Rove asked me out on a dinner date. I mean, why not? I expect he would be an interesting conversationalist and I'm fascinated with the human race. The idea totally appeals to my inner sociologist.

Not to mention, at my age, the dating pool is rather small and hell - a date is a date. Think it's too soon to DM him and dare him to ask me out?


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Karl Rove back in the dating pool

Okay all you single women out there, here's your big chance. Karl Rove just divorced his wife of 24 years. Everyone else seems to be linking to this Politico piece with some sketchy details, but I'm loving this quote at The Caucus from his ex:
She called him a creative genius and a committed father to their 11-year-old son, Andrew, but also said he can be fierce and quite intimidating, even when he’s trying not to be.

“He’s learned to lay back a little bit when he and Andrew play chess,” she told me, “but even in croquet he’d be hitting my ball so far I was crying on vacation.” It isn’t only that he’s always working, she said, but that working for Republicans is the organizing principle of his life, at the center of his world, which he tends to divide into friends and foes. “I told Karl the other day,” she said, ” ‘You see things in black and white. I see lots of gray’.”
Even more interesting to me, is that Dana Perino is the official Rove family spokesperson. Whatever else her flaws, she is an attractive woman. Would it be irresponsible to speculate that perhaps Turdblossom's GOP family values may have included a little "hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail" with Dana?

Meanwhile, Karl's book is going to be released soon and you too can get a free, personally autographed bookplate by sending a SASE to to P.O. Box 40364, Washington, DC 20016. I'm guessing that also comes with inclusion on a GOP mailing list for future fundraising spam.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Mixed blessings

I've been absent from the blog because I've had so much family stuff going on. It's been many years since I've lived close enough to them to spend the holidays together, and it's been great. I cherish the time in ways that are deeper than it was in my careless youth.

But this morning, it all changed. My dear friend Karen in Northampton died very suddenly last night from an aggressive cancer. Tonight I'm paralyzed with grief. Blessedly she went quickly and didn't suffer long, since the cancer had advanced so far it was untreatable. She's slipped through the veils beyond hurt, so my selfish tears are for my own pain in trying to cope with this unbearable loss.

I can't really talk about it yet except to say she was a very good friend. I've missed her like crazy every single day since I left Northampton. Knowing I'll be missing her for the rest of my life is not a certainty I ever wanted to reach.

Rest in peace my sweet friend
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

If you keep this tradition, a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful day to those who celebrate in other ways.


Every day that you show up my dear friends and readers is a gift to me. Enjoy. [graphic]
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Friends in High Places

Yet another link you can't access without a subscription, but this is very cool so I'm going to quote it extensively. It turns out my friend, and former employer, Tom Lesser was one of the 400 who were invited to President Obama's Hanukkah reception.
Lesser, 63, was an early, active supporter who raised $500,000 for Obama, helped run his primary and general election campaigns in western Massachusetts, and served on the campaign's New England Steering Committee.
If I hadn't left the firm, I would have been the number two man on that team. Not that it would have gained me an invite, but one of the things I really miss about the firm is being so closely involved in Tom's political campaigning for progressive candidates. Tom is also a really good judge of character. He's an old school kind of guy who's not easily taken in by celebrity. I trust his insights.
"He was incredibly present," said Lesser, describing the quality he said he's seen in every exchange with Obama.

Whether expressing his thanks for words of support or letting his wry sense of humor show, Obama focuses on the person he's talking to, Lesser said. "He recognizes you and he remembers you. He's not looking at his watch, or looking around him to see who's next," Lesser said.

"That's a remarkable quality in anyone, but especially a politician. There are some politicians you meet and you get the feeling that there's no one home, or that the persona they're projecting is not who they really are. I've never had that feeling with him."
And I was even more interested in his assessment of Obama's policies.
Despite the beautiful, festive White House setting, Lesser, as reflected in his brief exchange with the president, was keenly aware that Obama is facing intense scrutiny and harsh criticism, some of it from erstwhile supporters. One recent poll showed his approval rating dipping below 50 percent for the first time, and another found that only 33 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction.

Asked about those sliding poll numbers, Lesser suggested taking a longer view.

"We are still at the very beginning of this presidency," he said, and it's still a bit soon to be expressing outrage about what has or hasn't happened.

In today's political climate, "people want things to happen very quickly. I understand that," he said, adding that he has felt that way often himself, especially during the years of anti-war protest in the late 1960s. "I learned that things change slowly, that how we think changes slowly."

The administration faces a crucial test, Lesser said, as the U.S. Senate prepares to vote today on its version of a health care bill. After that, the Senate bill and the bill passed by the House of Representatives will have to be reconciled and finally approved.

Though the Senate bill will offer coverage to millions, it is hardly perfect, Lesser said. It doesn't do enough to contain costs or provide enough in subsidies, he said, but there is no question that failure to win passage would be "very damaging" to Obama's political standing. "It would give the Republicans the feeling they can do whatever they want."

Asked about criticism that Obama gave Congress too much latitude to write the bill and didn't fight hard enough for it, Lesser said his sense was that the administration was trying to avoid the pitfall of the Clinton approach of handing Congress a ready-made bill "and watching it be torn to shreds."

The health care debate has shown once again, Lesser said, the country's deep, bitter partisan divide. "That was something he was trying to stop, and he hasn't been able to do that."

On Afghanistan, Lesser said Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops is consistent with what he said during the campaign. "No one who listened to him should have been surprised," he said.

That said, Lesser described the challenge there in daunting terms.

"I don't think anyone has ever succeeded in that country," Lesser said. "But I think he thought long and hard about it, and he has a lot more information than I do. I think he believes it would be an absolute disaster there if we just left now."

...Asked if he had any final words for those who are ready to label the Obama presidency a disappointment, Lesser said he would appeal for more time. Paying less attention to pundits - who are often wrong, he pointed out - might also help, he said. And finally, he would urge people to work for candidates who will fight for the measures they support.

"We can't create change by talking about it," he said. "We have to get more votes."
I'd submit that last line is the quote that sums up the whole debate that's raging right now among progressives.

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Medical Marijuana Makes Gains in MA

You won't be able to access this link unless you're a subscriber, but it's very good news that Hampshire County Sheriff Robert Garvey came out in support of MA House Bill 2160 which would legalize medical marijuana for various classes of illness.
"It's restrictive enough so there will not be any abuses of the drug," Garvey said in an interview Tuesday. "If the medical profession feels patients will benefit ... I see nothing wrong with it." [...]

Licensed patients and their primary caregivers would be allowed to keep up to 12 marijuana plants or 4 ounces of smokeable marijuana. The proposed legislation would bar patients from using marijuana in public places or driving under the influence of the drug.
Medmar advocates have been trying for years to get some kind of legislation through but it has always died in committees. Looks like they stand a better chance this time around. "The sheriffs of Berkshire, Nantucket and Suffolk counties also support the bill." That's big, especically the Suffolk sheriff since that's a rather conservative county and law enforcement resistance has been a major factor in defeating previous attempts. If it succeeds this time around, MA will be the 14th state to allow consumers the choice of this herbal remedy. Wishing them luck. There's really no good reason to deny terminally ill patients this choice.

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Senate Pushes Health Reform Bill Through Step Two

As expected, the Senate passed the health reform bill this morning on a 60-39 vote. Retiring Sen Bunning of Kentucky was the missing GOPer. Unclear what his motivations were though I heard some rumor he's pissed at McConnell. But whatever, the Senate Dems are thrilled with themselves and have received much praise from the President. The reaction among the rest of the world, at least on the internets is mixed. Not a lot of champagne cork popping happiness out there, and there's still a lot of disgruntled lefties bitching at full steam.

Lord knows, I don't feel much like celebrating it myself, but neither do I feel like leaping off the rooftop in despair. We've got at least a month, probably more to badger the conference committee into restoring some of the House provisions that would have made it better. And it is, as Ezra explains, still a major acheivement.
It's been a long time since the legislative system did anything this big, and people have forgotten how awful the victories are. But these are the victories, and if they feel bad to many, they will do good for more. As that comes clearer and clearer, this bill will come to feel more and more like the historic advance it actually is.
I hope he's right about that and have some hope that the disappointed lefties will come around and start working together again to make it stronger. In some ways, the hissiness that has taken over the internets in the last few days feels like the stages of breaking up with a lover. I believe that no small part of the anger is simply because people were forced to let go of the notion Obama is some secret 11th dimension chess whiz. He's just the same safe ante poker player he always was.

As Propect honcho Mark Schmitt points out, this process has probably been an education for him too.
I've always argued that Obama viewed his central domestic mission as changing the culture and practice of American politics. The passage of health reform is a revelation of just how desperately that change is needed and how difficult it will be to achieve.
As I said earlier, it's the process that needs changing. Vesting hope in single players within the system is a recipe for a crashing letdown from the start. Meanwhile, Amanda Marcotte is the latest to weigh in on the intercine blogwars, with a very smart post.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh Obama, why did you lie to me?

I don't understand at all why Obama would claim he didn't campaign on the public option. Stretching it to its most technical meaning, it could be said to be accurate, but it smacks of the kind of doublespeak the GOP turned into an art form. It certainly won't placate any of the critics from the left and it makes him look like just another political hack who thinks the electorate is too stupid, or has too short an attention span to remember.

I'm going to assume that he's as burned out on this debate as any of us are, probably moreso, and just made such a silly mistake out of exhaustion. Mercifully, it will probably blow over during the holiday lull. But I do hope he doesn't do it again soon. Bad strategy.

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Empowering Palin

Breaking my Palin embargo for Dave Weigel's post on why he doesn't write about Palin's stupid facebook entries. He makes a good point on how embarrassing it is that the political media, and I'd add a fair number of lefties, have allowed themselves to be manipulated by her.
The problem is that Palin has put the political press in a submissive position, one in which the only information it prints about her comes from prepared statements or from Q&As with friendly interviewers. This isn’t something most politicians get away with, or would be allowed to get away with. But Palin has leveraged her celebrity — her ability to get ratings, the ardor of her fans and the bitterness of her critics — to win a truly unique relationship with the press. She is allowed to shape the public debate without actually engaging in it. [...]

At the same time, I think that the media’s indulgence of Palin’s strategy — which often results in pure stenography of press releases that may or may not have been written by her — is ridiculous, bordering on pathetic.
Not only pathetic, but dangerous. I've heard all the arguments about how we need to mock the wingnuts to marginalize them, but as far as I can see there comes a point when you're simply spreading their message and de facto empowering them.

I see on Facebook there was a big movement to unsubscribe from Obama's email list or something to "send a message" about health care. It strikes me that it would be more useful to have an unsubscribe Palin day instead. I'd bet if everyone who friended Palin, or follows her tweets simply to mock her, unsubscribed at once, her "fan club" would be shockingly diminished. And that would be news that might make a bigger impact on the narrative. I mean, part of the reason the angry Tea Party crowd feels like a majority is that their heroine, Ms. Palin, has so many "fans."

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nothing says Christmas like a blog war

The blog wars over the health reform bill are still raging. Last I heard, Jane Hamsher was on Fox and Friends promoting her kill the bill strategy. Nate Silver and Ezra Klein have been posting rebuttals to the FDL posts pretty much non-stop. And dozens of others have piled on for one side or the other. I admit, that part of my irritation is it all smacks a bit of hit whoring. As someone pointed out on twitter, blogwars are great for traffic.

At this point I just don't care anymore what anybody says. I realized it's pointless to debate the kill the bill people because they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of killing it. If they were that powerful, we wouldn't even be having this conversation, since we would have a Congress full of progressive legislators. And now that my irritation is passing, I'm thinking, to the extent that it might change the narrative a bit, let them rage on. Meanwhile, I do want to flag this ultimate STFU post from Alex Pareene. While I don't agree that anyone should be silenced, he did express my initial frustration really eloquently.

I do, of course, hate this bill so far. Mandating that people give their money to those bloodsucking insurers rankles no end. But context is everything and Bob Cesca delivers that.
I made this point on Twitter yesterday, but it bears repeating. 3x higher costs for senior citizens sounds insane and criminal -- until you present it in the context of the status quo. Without the Senate bill, seniors would be paying 11x more. Additionally, a family of four earning $60,000 will pay around 20 percent of their income to premiums and out of pocket expenses. Insane! Until you put in context of the status quo -- 41 percent of their annual income would go to health insurance without reform.
I guess in the end, that's what annoys me about FDL's hysterical approach. Without this context, all their other valid points are diminished and I think it contributes to the whole "unserious dirty hippie" meme that has plagued progressives forever. Not to mention, it smacks of wingnut blog tactics. Granted they're not making stuff up out of the whole cloth, but errors of omission aren't good either. I think they would have been more successful in moving the narrative if they had taken a more balanced and less strident tone. But what do I know? I'm just a B-list blogger.

Oh and one other point worth mentioning, assuming this passes without any GOP support, which looks likely, it could be the first time a major domestic initiative in the Senate was solely the work of one party, and was unanimously opposed by the opposition party. Not the kind of history being made that bodes well for future legislation. I have a feeling it's going to be another long year.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Random thoughts

The easiest way for a leftwing activist to get on the teevee talk shows is to attack Obama from the left.

And, I'm hearing a lot of buzz today about how the insurance companies stocks are hitting record highs since the bill passed. Has it occurred to anybody but me that this could also have something to do with lefties threatening to kill the bill? It seems to me that also preceded the jump.

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Senate Rules Screwing Us

A lot of people on the internets want to blame Obama for this health care fiasco but he's just one guy. I'm not saying I didn't wish he had taken more of a leadership position on the narrative, but he didn't really promise to do that and in fact, there simply isn't a whole lot he can do to move the process through the Senate. The Democrats are not the GOP. They don't do party discipline and "the base," whatever that is these days, doesn't do lockstep either.

But the bottom line is if we want to fix what's broken, it seems to me that the Senate is the place to start. Krugman takes up that theme today.
After all, Democrats won big last year, running on a platform that put health reform front and center. In any other advanced democracy this would have given them the mandate and the ability to make major changes. But the need for 60 votes to cut off Senate debate and end a filibuster — a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution, but is simply a self-imposed rule — turned what should have been a straightforward piece of legislating into a nail-biter. And it gave a handful of wavering senators extraordinary power to shape the bill.

The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.
And from MyDD comes this additional factoid.
Still it is the unbelievable growth of the lobbying industry that is remarkable. When LBJ was the Senate Majority Leader in 1961 there were under 50 lobbyists. Today there are over 23,000 lobbyists.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a watchdog agency that tracks the amount of money being spent to influence legislation, a record $263 million had been spent on the lobbying efforts between January and July of this year in our battle for health care reform. By September that number was up to $400 million. It's likely to surpass $500 million when all is said and done coming just ahead of last year's $486 million spent. But yes, that's right one billion dollars has been spent by the various healthcare lobbies over the past two years.
That would have been a whole lot of healthcare if they used it for benefits instead to protect their profit-gouging scams. But this is the system we have right now, and it's not because the Constitution mandates it. The Senate invented these rules to protect their own cozy little club and the attendant perks they enjoy from membership. In my utopia, the progressives and liberals would all be working in concert to change that instead of hollering at the President and threatening to do the GOP's work for them. Meaning, don't attack the bills, attack the process.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

A YouTube worth $30 million

I'll be the first to admit that the production values on this YouTube produced by Fede Alvarez in Uruguay are really good. It's a hell of an amateur video and $300 is a lot to spend on a vanity project. Not surprising it went viral, but he got a $30 million contract out of Hollywood for it? Really? I don't see anything at all original about it. But decide for yourself.



Kind of looks about the same as the Avatar trailer, or any Godzilla movie, to me.

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De-infesting "homos"

Life in the Bible belt. It's a laugh a minute. I saw the video of this meeting on the local news. The guy initially denied saying it, but there no mistaking the tape. His mike was on and he didn't know it. Also worth noting this is a big bloated Bubba type guy speaking to a black woman.
At a hearing concerning domestic partner benefits, Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James took a slightly different tact on the issue: referring to gays as if they were vermin. James spoke of the effort to “de-infest” areas where gays “congregate.”

According to witnesses, Democrat Commissioner Vilma Leake gave an impassioned account of her son’s 1993 death to AIDS. After she spoke, James reportedly leaned over to her and asked, “Your son was a homo, really?”
And of course like any good ole white boy, he refused to apologize. Betting he goes to church every blessed Sunday to purge his sins, but they don't include hating on teh gays. I wouldn't be surprised to find out he's molesting children either. He so fits the type.

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Really Sick of Health Care Reform

So theoretically, we have a Senate Health Care Reform bill that has the votes to pass. Unsurprisingly, it pretty much sucks. A lot of the good provisions got eliminated and a too much bad stuff got added in. In other words, business as usual in the broken Senate. The agitation on the internets has calmed down a bit more, but still there's some angry liberals out there demanding we do something about this travesty. Still don't get the agitation. I mean didn't we all predict this outcome from the beginning?

I got sucked into a ridiculous argument about it over at Balloon Juice in a couple of threads, but I don't want to argue about it anymore. Killing the bill is simply out of the question for me unless somebody can give me a compelling reason why we should hand the GOPers what they've been working for since day one. Meaning, what do we win, if we kill it? My feeling is let the sucker pass and then keep fighting like hell to make it better in committee. And if we still end up with the proverbial shit sandwich, I'm still going to say, let it pass and then fight like hell for a new and better bill to supplant it. In the interim, we will have passed something. Even if it's only symbolic, optics matter in our ridiculous political discourse.

If the naysayers think they can get a better bill later, I suggest they elect some better Dems in 2010 to make it possible. By that I mean, if progressives/liberals were really a majority, then how did all these Blue Dogs get elected in the first place? And that's where I am right now. If others have different opinions, I respect that and I expect them to respect mine. At some point when everybody is ready to work together again to elect better candidates, give me a call. I'm on the team.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Progress in Copenhagen

They kinda, sorta reached an agreement to reach an agreement someday on climate change at Copenhagen this week. It's being roundly condemned by green activists and other stakeholders as a sell-out, a failure and some kind of disaster. And of course, it's all Obama's fault. He's no better than Bush. Worse than a thousand Hitlers. But this is actually progress.

For crying out loud, am I wrong in recalling that under Bush, the talks broke down so badly, they wouldn't even bother to meet anymore? And Obama cooly walked into a secret meeting between China, Brazil and India and got some additional consensus out of them. I can't call it a failure, it's a partial success.

I'm willing to take that and celebrate it. Sure as hell beats no progress at all.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Snowing in the South

Crazy day. Stayed up way too late last night finishing up a trash detective novel. Rather pointless since I guessed all the outcomes half way through the book. So then I slept in way too late. Very easy with the curtains up on a cloudy day. Then it started snowing and I needed to go to the store. By the time I got out of the store, it was really snowing and so pretty. So I played in it for a while. Then I got caught up in a convo at Balloon Juice. So I haven't even looked at the news yet. Hoping there's something not too stupid to talk about.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to Haggle

If Obama had only put aimai in charge of negotiations on this miserable health insurance reform bill, instead of Rahm and Reid, we might have ended up with a really great piece of legislation.

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Franken Shuts Down Lieberman

Have to say there's something that just feels right about hearing people call Sen. Franken -- Mr. President. But even better is watching him essentially tell HoJo to STFU.



Gotta love it. And the counterpoint of Old Man McCain whining about comity, after the whole country has been watching his party behave like elementary school hooligans in a cafeteria food fight for weeks on end is rather priceless too. [Via]

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About that deficit

This really can't be reiterated enough. The huge deficit is not Obama's fault. Explanation here.


Via. Please pass it on.

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Change is Incremental

So it feels a little calmer out in the trenches today. Read a few posts on the health care fiasco and at least the warring factions on the left have stopped name calling and started discussing their differences more rationally. Outside of sleazebag HoJo, I can't drum up much anger myself and I think this is quote of the day to keep in mind:
Sen. Klobuchar just made a great point on MSNBC- using the logic of those wanting to kill the bill because it isn’t good enough, we would never have passed the Civil Rights Act of 1960 because it didn’t have the reforms of 1964, 68, and 91 included.
Via John Cole who's been on fire for the last 36 hours or so. You should scroll around and read all his posts.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sick of Health Care

There's a certain irony in trying to follow the health care debate while you're sick and don't want to got to the doctor because you've lost your health insurance. Needless to say, I've been a bit rundown and cranky, so I can't yet talk about Joe Lieberman without copious use of the F bomb and hateful adjectives. I'll still have something to say about him in retrospect, but for the moment, I don't really want to talk about health care anyway.

The whole sorry scene in the Senate is such a dismal mess and the level of agitation on the internets is more than I can deal with. Besides, this isn't the final bill, so I figure I'll just hold my ire for a little longer outside of what I posted at the Detroit News, which was a lot today. I'll just say here that I'm disappointed Sanders caved and withdrew the single payer amendment. Personally I would have let that play out and delay the rest of the Senate business. Eventually the media would have been forced to ask the GOPers why they were gumming up the works.

But what do I know? I'm just an old lady with a miserable respiratory virus. And the entirety of Leftopia appears to have splintered into warring factions. Lot of anger, not so much information out there right now. I've had this sense of deja vu for the last few days. Feels like the weeks leading up to the Democratic National Convention in 08. Didn't think I'd have to relive that so soon. Can't say I'm liking it.

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Thirty Second Activism - Updated

Been a long time since I asked you to do a point and click. Support Bernie Sanders singlepayer amendment today: send a free fax to your Senators and your House Rep -- right now. May not make a big difference but hey, it couldn't hurt to let them know what we really wanted all along was single payer.

Update: Thanks to the latest stupid GOP delay tactic, you have plenty of time to send those faxes. It's easy. Please do it.


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Lost" Bush White House emails found

I'm always feeling overwhelmed by my own overflowing inboxes, but glad I don't have to read the 22 million "lost" emails that were recovered after techs discovered they had been mislabeled. I'm seeing some optimism around the internets that this could lead to some long overdue frog-marching of high level Bush era officials, but I wouldn't start holding my breath just yet.
"The e-mails themselves are not what we're getting," Sloan said.Documents related to the handling of e-mail under the Bush administration and subsequent information regarding how White House e-mails are currently archived will be released under a settlement with the Obama administration, which inherited a lawsuit the groups filed in 2007. But the National Archives must sort out which documents are covered by the Freedom of Information Act and which ones fall under the Presidential Records Act - which means they could be withheld for five to 10 years after the Bush administration left office in January, Sloan said. [...]

Monday's settlement allows for 94 days of e-mail traffic, scattered between January 2003 to April 2005, to be restored from backup tapes. Of those 94 days, 40 were picked by statistical sample; another 21 days were suggested by the White House; and CREW, and the National Security Archive picked 33 that seemed "historically significant," from the months before the invasion of Iraq to the period when the firings of U.S. attorneys were being planned.

Also requested were several days surrounding the announcement that a criminal investigation was under way into the disclosure of then-CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's identity. That investigation led to the conviction of White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents probing the leak.
There's some hope the emails could prove "Patrick Fitzgerald never received all the documents he requested during the Plame leak probe" but even if that happens, somehow I doubt we'll ever see Cheney or Rove in an orange jumpsuit. I keep remembering that weird "April Fool's joke" and the subsequent reports that emails had been deleted. Whatever the story behind that was, Rove really did visit the server farm around that time. Still think it's a strong possibility that the damning mail was routed through a dedicated server that has been sitting on the bottom of the ocean for a very long time.

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Say Hello

Went into brainlock yesterday. Collected a lot of links though, so while I'm composing my thoughts, take a click over to my friend Jules Siegel's new blog, The People's Republic of Moronia. Love the tagline - "If it ain't fixed, don't broke it." I think you can guess the theme.

He's blogging up a storm over there and catching the stories that you might otherwise miss. Click over and check it out.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Must be the season of the list

Atrios tweeted that he hates the end of year list season. I have mixed feelings myself. There's way too many mediocre ones, but I don't mind the interesting ones. And this year it's the "end of the decade" lists that are coming out. I kind of like the let's review thing for the decade. I mean over ten years, I've forgotten some stuff and I'm also curious to see what people think of as "the best" so here's the best lists I've seen in the last couple of days.

Starting with the meta, Matt posted this top 20 internet lists of 2009. I didn't drill down to the contents of each one, but the lists of lists was interesting in itself.

Robert Ebert put up one I liked. Best Movie Posters of the Decade. Didn't love all of them, but he's got a good eye.

Drew passed on this one. A short narrated photo essay. Photos by Maisie Crow, 2009 Boston Globe summer intern.

And I'm not a really a fan of this comic, but this panel did make me laugh. Quite possibly the worst pun of the decade.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

RIP Gene Barry

I can't believe there's been so little mourning for Gene Barry, who died this week at the age of 90. Maybe you have to be a senior citizen to remember him well enough to be sorry he's gone. Still, he didn't even get his own obit at the link above. He had to share it with some other guy.

I loved him myself, especially in his roles as Bat Materson



And as a millionaire cop in Burke's Law



I don't think I missed a single episode of either series when I was a kid. Burke's Law later morphed into a couple of other incarnations that didn't work as well but I still watched him every chance I got. Had a bit of a movie star crush on him. Always thought he was sexier than Rock Hudson who I think got much more attention back then than he deserved. I liked Gene better because he wasn't quite as pretty and he seemed smarter.

Really surprised there was so little mention in the news or the blogs. Thanks to Mark Knoller for telling me, or I wouldn't known.

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Losing Candidate Challenges Winner for Atheism

There are parts of this state that are truly frightening. A winning candidate in a local City Council race in Ashville, (not to be confused with Asheville), is being challenged because he's a vowed atheist. Conservatives in the town want to sue the city for swearing him in without requiring him to pledge to God. Apparently there is an obscure section in the state consititution that doesn't allow atheists to hold office.
One opponent, H. K. Edgerton, is threatening to file suit against the city to challenge Mr. Bothwell’s swearing in. “My father was a Baptist minister,” Mr. Edgerton said. “I’m a Christian man. I have problems with people who don’t believe in God.”
This provision of course violates the United States Constitution but small matter to these fundie sorts who appear to believe the separation of Church and State only applies to non-Christian religions. Meanwhile, the winning Councilman is taking it in stride. As he notes, this appears to more about sour grapes that a conservative candidate didn't win. The cons in Ashville might want to take a moment to reflect on why that happened instead of tying up the courts with frivolous lawsuits.

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The Authorized Money Launderers

This isn't news to me. It's long been known in the drug policy reform community that big banks launder drug money.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.
This is one very big reason they haven't legalized drugs. They know it would destroy the black market profit margins and all that lovely money would dry up. Just as the banksters own our politicians, the gangsters own the banksters. Ironic really that without the outlaws, the white collar criminals would have gone under.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

House Cracks Down on Banksters

This is just the first step, but it seems like one in the right direction. The House passed a regulatory bill to oversee the banksters on a vote of 223 to 202.
The 1,279-page House bill would create a new federal agency dedicated to consumer protection, establish a council of regulators to police the financial landscape for systemic risks, initiate oversight of the vast derivatives market and give the government power to wind down large, troubled firms whose collapse could endanger the entire financial system. The legislation also would give shareholders an advisory say on executive compensation, increase transparency of credit-ratings agencies and set aside billions of dollars to aid unemployed homeowners.
Unsurprisingly no Republicans voted in favor and quite a few Democrats crossed over to join them in opposition. Mostly ConservaDems, but also Kucinich. I assume because he thought it wasn't strong enough. Or maybe because the completely reasonable cram down amendment was stripped from the bill.

Of course, now it has to survive the Senate, where Lord knows what awful slicing they'll do on any meaningful oversight. Nonetheless, Obama praised the bill and urged the Senate to move on it ASAP. He also had some hard words for the banksters and their pet lobbyists. And he responded to the critics that say the bill will "stifle innovation" rather firmly.
"Americans don't choose to be victimized by mysterious fees, changing terms and pages and pages of fine print. And while innovation should be encouraged, risky schemes that threaten our entire economy should not," he said. "We can't afford to let the same phony arguments and bad habits of Washington kill financial reform and leave American consumers and our economy vulnerable to another meltdown."
Which reminds me, I seem to be seeing some change in attitude in our president. Lately he seems to be shaking off that "can't we all get along" persona and is much more willing to call the obstructionists out. So there's that. [h/t John Cole]

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It's that time of year

The last couple of weeks of the year are always sort of slow for news. So the blog fights start up, but I'm staying out of those. And of course, the lists arrive. Best/Worst of Everything in 2009. Some of those I like.

Haven't made it through this one that Alan Colmes flagged this morning because it's on HuffPo and that site hangs up for me all the time now. But I made it through the first few and it looks worth a browse. 60+ of the funniest protest signs in 2009.

TPM has a Catalog of Fox News "mistakes".

The one thing I miss about living up north is the snow sculptures. I used to live for a good packing snow and my snow creatures were always well received and appreciated by the neighbors, but none of my creations came close to these 20 Awesome Snow Sculpture Themes.

Whiskey Ina gave me this link. She has some fun holiday stuff at her blog, so click her too, but this 1966 Holiday Promo for CBS made me smile. Those were gentler times, and it's interesting for all the griping about the stupid alleged war on Christmas, they said Happy Holidays...

And this is incredible. The world's smallest snowman. It's one fifth the width of a human hair. Obviously the photo is much enlarged.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Solution is So Obvious

When I posted my koan, it was because I saw the link to Palin's idiot op-ed at Memeorandum with at least four dozen posts under it already. I'm sure there were much more before the day was over. Now Greg Sargent informs us:
I’m told by the paper’s insiders that her piece was one of the most-read WaPo opinion pieces of the year, coming in 21st in page views out of literally hundreds of opinion articles. An earlier Palin Op ed in the paper on the same topic was the third most read of the year.

A lot of this is probably driven by heavy outside linkage. But still, the fact that Sarah Palin, of all people, is able to command such attention for her views on the science of climate change, of all things, is kind of amazing.

To be clear, I’m not defending the decision to run the piece. I wouldn’t have run it. I’m just pointing out the undeniable fact that the woman’s name gets people clicking. Until people stop clicking, Palin and her views will continue to get attention.
No Greg. It's not amazing at all. I've been griping about this for years. Sure mocking the stupidity is fun. Snark pulls in the hits to their own sites. But if bloggers, progressives, et. al, really want to marginalize the idiots, the only way to do it is treat them like any other troll on the internets. Freaking ignore them.

The only thing that linkfest to her op-ed did was encourage the WaPo and the other struggling MSM sites to keep publishing this crap to drive their traffic.

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Evacuate Helicopter Ben

Dan at Pruning Shears notes the bubble of resistance against reconfirming Ben Bernanke. He makes a pitch for Thomas Hoenig, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, suggesting Hoenig might have broader political appeal than Ben. He makes a good case for it. For instance:
Much more importantly, Hoenig appears to be less than impressed with officials’ response to the meltdown. Back in March he gave a speech titled “Too Big Has Failed” sharply criticizing the bailouts (more speeches are published here). While some details have changed since then, the overall picture has not. And while much of it seems unexceptional, it would sound downright revolutionary in the capitol...
As Dan notes, the odds do favor Bernanke’s reconfirmation but he's right that it doesn't hurt to be prepared with alternative candidates should the movement to oust him gain any real steam.

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Heated Debates

Catching up on saved links this morning before I get lost in the day's news. Octopus lays into the climate deniers with some irrefutable evidence. Not that it will change their closed minds, but it's good ammo for any arguments you might get into with them. And Hart debunks the "Climategate" shoutragers.

I missed the fifth anniversary of Gary Webb's suicide. It was a couple of days ago. I spent ten days with him in Mexico once as part of a group. He was a great journalist and what the tradmed did to him was a truly a crime. They killed him just as surely as if they had pulled the trigger themselves. Robert Parry remembers...

Not often I would send you to the National Review, but this post by Tim Lynch of Cato is well worth reading on the futility of the drug war. I have my disagreements with Cato too, but the war on some drugs is something we always agree on.

My dear friend Mark Bode passed on a link to this short biography of his dad, legendary 60s graphic artist Vaughn Bode. It's very intense reading. Brutally honest account of Vaughn's struggle to fit into society.

If you missed this Jon Stewart segment, it's a good one, on the dumbing down of Gretchen Carlson. Hard to believe smart people would sell their souls to Fox just for money.

I loved this photo essay of Hall of Fame toys. Out of the 44 listed, I've owned all but four of them in my lifetime.

There's supposed to ten of these best viral video ads of the last year. I only saw six at the post, but maybe it's my computer. They were entertaining in any event.

And I loved this skyscraper in China and loved the vegetal city even more. That one looked like something out of a fairy tale.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Big Journalism 2010

It's been a really bad week in the major media. Print journalism as a profession choked out its last gasping breath when the creator of Politico was named to the Pulitzer Prize board a couple of days ago. Presumably because they're such "innovators" in "new media." Not that they didn't start out with great promise and still do deliver some occassional real news coverage, but it's been long since they decided their winning business model would be pure Drudge baiting. At this point, they're no more credible overall than Fox.

But that was just building the funeral pyre. Today, they lit the match when Neilson bought out Editor & Publisher's owners and closed E&P. I can understand shutting down the print version, but not getting why they shuttered the online edition. It's one of the few sites that I still read regularly and trust for news. I didn't know until today that they had been printing for well over 100 years but not surprised. They treated the news with a respect for facts and ethics that harked back to the days when journalism was a profession, rather than just a business.

Meanwhile on your teevee:
This morning, Gore appeared on MSNBC, where Andrea Mitchell read from Sarah Palin's Facebook page to ask the former vice president questions about climate change.
And John Cole tells me that later today, they were reading Sarah's insipid Twitter feed on air. This is our major media going into the next decade. Not exactly screaming reliable news source in my ear.

And I hear that Andrew Breitbart is launching a boatload of "vertical sites" to his winger Big Gov site and they're all named Big something...

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Building a Better Government

I've got a wicked bad head cold that has been totally kicking my butt for the last couple of days and our political discourse is so absurd at this point that I can barely bring myself to blog but this story is a bit cheering. For all the blame that Obama gets for not fixing things quickly enough, there's these little signs that at least under this administration, they're willing to try to contain costs and operate more efficiently.
The Office of Management and Budget launched the SAVE Award in September, an effort to solicit cost-savings ideas from rank-and-file federal employees. The agency received more than 38,000 submissions from workers, and the White House announced the four finalists Monday. The OMB is still calculating the total potential cost savings from each of the ideas.
The four finalists suggest using local banks, consolidating inspections, utilizing on-line resources for appointment setting and allowing vets to take home their unused medications from hospital stays at the VA. Small ideas, that translated over the system could save some big bucks. Apparently you can vote for your favorite at SAVEAward.gov and the winner gets to meet the President. However today is the last day of voting and it's likely all the finalists ideas will be implemented, so the taxpayer wins, no matter what.

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Celestial Wonder

Nobody seems to know what this was, but it's pretty eerie that it appeared over Norway just as Obama arrived to accept his prize and the world leaders are meeting in Copenhagen to discuss climate change.


There appears to be some consensus that it most likely may have been a failed test missile from a Russian submarine. I rather like the idea that it was a warning from some advanced civilization on another planet that we need to get our shit together as a species and start respecting this planet.

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Obama Accepts Peace Prize with War Speech

Okay, so let's stipulate up front that it is a little weird to give a peace prize to the president of a country actively involved in two ongoing military conficts. That being said, while a lot of people are sifting through the transcript, looking for the objectionable bits, I thought this part about the importance of diplomacy and the incremental nature of bringing about change was good.
Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – and condemnation without discussion – can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

...There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.
And I liked this third point a lot. Wish more world leaders would recognize that economic security is an important component of any peace process.
Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
I don't think that can be overstated. Looking at history, so much of what drives war seems to be a quest for material goods like land and control of natural resources, in order to ensure economic prosperity for the conquerors. I've always believed we could end wars if those who had more than they need were more willing to share their wealth with those who don't. I'm only sorry that the strategy going forward is still going to be bombs -- not bread. You can watch the video here.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Village Christmas

If you are wondering why traditional journalism sucks, as Oliver points out, it's all about the parties.


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Drug policy gets a little saner

I haven't linked to LEAP in a while because I've been rather pissed off at them for the way they treated one of their founding members, my pal Howard Wooldrige. He's no longer working for the group, but I suppose it's silly to hold a grudge forever and this really is good news for policy reformers.
* Washington, DC will finally be allowed to implement the medical marijuana initiative that voters overwhelmingly approved in 1998 but has been blocked by Congress each year since then.

* Funding for the White House "drug czar's" ad budget has been slashed by more than a third of its size last year. Studies have repeatedly shown that these ads actually cause teens to use more -- not fewer -- drugs.

* Washington, DC will be able to use federal funds to implement syringe exchange programs.
These are all issues we were fighting for six years ago when I was still very active in the movement. Glad to see some progress towards common sense in the approach to combating drug abuse and allowing sick people to use the natural herbal medicine of their choice.

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We all want to save the world...

Sorry but posting is likely to be a bit muddled today. I think I'm coming down with a head cold. I tired to post last night, but couldn't get past just reading the headlines on Memeorandum. Some 50+ stories and over 90% appeared to be either smug punditry, meaningless reports on process and personalities or pure gossip. Fortunately, this morning, I found this Andrew J. Bacevich piece on Afghanistan and warmongering in general. He's probably the only conservative really worth reading anymore and you should read the whole piece. But I'm just going to pull out this one bit, for quote of the day.
Averting a recurrence of that awful day does not require the semipermanent occupation and pacification of distant countries like Afghanistan. Rather, it requires that the United States erect and maintain robust defenses.
This is the key point that should be the foundation of our whole foreign policy. Too bad, that doesn't seem to be the case.

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Koan of the Day

If Sarah Palin wrote a really stupid op-ed and nobody commented on it - would it still exist?
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Day trip

Driving down to the airport with my sister this afternoon to pick up my birth mother, who will be spending the holidays with us. I'll be back later. In the interim, I've been doing my Climategate blogging at Detroit News and I have a blogroll full of fabulous bloggers that you can peruse at your leisure on he sidebar.

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Love That Dirty Water

I often feel guilty because I buy gallons of spring water and 2 liter bottles of sparkle water for my personal consumption. I know it's bad for the environment to generate all those empties, but this eases my conscience a bit:
More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.
All these violations were reported to EPA and whatever regulators are appropriately notified and "shockingly" "fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials."

Of course, we all know environmental regulatory enforcement was virtually ignored or even actively undermined under the Bush administration, but according to the article, all the people in charge who were appointed under Bush, still hold those positions.

I'm sure you recall when it was reported that Bush was loading the federal bureaucracy listed in the "Plum Book" six layers deep with his loyal GOP operatives. This is the hidden Bush legacy and partly why it's so much more difficult for the Obama administration to quickly repair the damage done by their predecessors.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

ACORN Employees Stupid but Not Criminals

They conducted an investigation into the ACORN employees that were caught up in Breitbart's little video sting operation. Former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, who held the office when I lived there and was a friend of one of the attorneys at my old law firm, reviewed the tapes. He found no evidence that the employees violated any federal laws or otherwise did anything illegal. Just that they acted stupidly. Not that I'm judging them for that. I've done some stupid things myself. But more interesting, and I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn this, Breitbart lied when they insisted the footage was raw and unedited.
"The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O'Keefe's and Ms.Giles's comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding," Harshbarger said.
Chuck Johnson at LGF excerpts the Politico coverage with more, so you don't have to give them a link.

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Space Tourism

I continue to be astonished at the leaps we've made in space travel in my lifetime. Hell, I remember when the first monkey orbited the earth, and now Richard Branson, partnered with legendary aviation designer Burt Rutan, is going to be launching a commercial passenger spacecraft perhaps as soon as 2011. The pair, along with their families will fly the maiden voyage of SpaceShipTwo, which can carry six passengers and two pilots.
SpaceShipTwo will be carried aloft by White Knight Two and released at 50,000 feet. The craft's rocket engine then burns a combination of nitrous oxide and a rubber-based solid fuel to climb more than 65 miles above the Earth's surface.

After reaching the top of its trajectory, it will fall back into the atmosphere and glide to a landing like a normal airplane. Its descent is controlled by "feathering" its wings to maximize aerodynamic drag.

Virgin Galactic expects to spend more than $400 million for a fleet of five commercial spaceships and launch vehicles.
Even more astounding, they already have heavy competition for this new market. "A handful of entrepreneurs including Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, computer game programmer John Carmack and rocketeer Jeff Greason are building their own suborbital rockets with dreams of flying people out of the atmosphere." I'm betting Branson will be first though. The only sad part is that Steve Fossett didn't live to see it happen. He would have loved it, I think.

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Nobody likes the health care reform bill

Nate Silver notices that much of the dissatisfaction with the current health care reform proposals is coming from the left -- because they don't go far enough.

I thought that had been obvious for a while myself, but it is odd that he seems to be the first big blogger to say it out loud. I think it might be because the A-listers really don't much read anyone but each other anymore.

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Oops!

Had a bad link for the Mayor of Simpleton yesterday. Hizzoner Mr. McKague can be found here where he's sharing his view of the world, sometimes from the seat of a ten-wheeler. With photos from the road.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cold hard facts

Trying to catch up on some long neglected links on this chilly Sunday. I've been remiss in linking to so many people. First of all, after yet another hiatus, The Mayor of Simpleton is back to blogging. I'll be updating the link on the sidebar again. And not sure how I could have missed this Atriot, but Spork in the Drawer is also being added to the blogroll. Click over and check them both out.

Also been way too long since I linked to Dan at Pruning Shears. His latest post on our US Intelligence Appartus isn't comforting reading, but necessary for anyone concerned about our civil liberties. This one item alone is cause for concern.
First was the report that Sprint Nextel provided customer location data over eight million times in the last year. Even taking into account the important caveats raised by Kim Zetter, there clearly is a great deal of data being accessed with no oversight by or reporting to Congress. As seems usual in these cases, we have only the earnest assurances of those involved as guarantee that abuses are not happening.
And our friend Hart has been blogging up a storm. He rightly chastises lefty bloggers for failing to pushback on the wingnut kerfluffle over "Climategate." I have to admit, I've been just as remiss as the A-listers on this score.

A bright spot on this story is 56 newspapers will publish the same editorial urging the participants at Copenhagen to stop dithering and take some meaningful action on climate change before it's too late.

Avedon also devotes a whole post on the left's dismal failure to have pushed single payer health care. Now we're stuck with the lamest "compromise" bill that probably won't even include a decent public option. Feeling a little red-faced about this one too. Not that I didn't push single payer at all, but I came in late and promoted the alleged compromise way too much.

Avedon also posts her annual roundup of Advent calendars. Scroll through her later posts for more.

Sully gets squee of the day with this pix. Only 34 of these little guys are left in the wild.

Meanwhile, this one is for Capt. Fogg. Bet he doesn't usually check out the LOLz cats but watertiger posts some very wise kittens. Think he'll approve of this one.

And I can't remember if I ever posted this here, but it's worth looking at again. Very cool cutouts from empty toilet paper rolls. I wish I was talented enough to do these things.

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I Love New York

Guess it's finally time to enjoy the holiday decorations. My operative in New York got a new camera and his pix are better than ever. Rockefeller Plaza.


Photo: John de Guzman

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Mike Finnigan rocks my world

You know him from Crooks & Liars where he regularly favors us small time bloggers with great links on his blog roundup of the day, but it wasn't until I friended him on Facebook that I found out he's a musician too. Wolfrum rounds up the many facets of Mike in a great post. Mike Finnigan is:
A) A universally respected musician that has played with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Etta James;
B) A one-time player on the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team;
C) A liberal d-list blogger’s best friend;
D) The coolest cat you’ll ever know;
E) Long-time Husband to Intervention`s Candy Finnigan
F) All of the above.
The answer is of course, all of the above and much more. Well worth a read in full.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Post Party Depression

No, I'm not really depressed but I am a little worn out today. I wasn't quite ready for it -- I really needed a day to rest -- but an old friend happened to be driving through town and wanted to stop by and see me. Haven't seen him in almost two years so of course I said yes and then madly spent a few hours shoving all the loose stuff in the living room into the closets and trying to make the place somewhat habitable for company. It was a great visit but I didn't get much sleep so I did my long form posting at Detroit News today and I'm begging off this evening with yet another linkfest.

It's been way too long since I dropped into the Swash Zone and I couldn't pick just one post to highlight. Just start at the top and keep scrolling. They've got everything covered there from good news on jobs by Rocky, to some prime snark from Capt Fogg on the latest wingnut craziness to a brilliant pushback on the so-called "Climategate" kerfuffle from that daring denizen of the deep, Octopus.

This photo is likely to piss you off. The plate belongs to Morgan Stanley Vice-Chairman Rob Kindler. I'll leave the acerbic commentary to Taibbi.

Somebody call Obama and tell him to hire Steve as the czar of solutions. This short guide to fixing everything is brilliant.

Phila resurfaces with another prime edition of Friday Hope Blogging. Plenty more than this there, so click over to read the whole thing, but I especially liked this news.
A library in Ames, IA will continue to carry Sex, Etc., a magazine comprising sex ed info written by and for teens.
Free copies of a sex-education magazine for teens will still be available at the Ames Public Library despite a petition to have them removed.

The library board voted 6-1 Thursday to continue offering Sex, Etc., which is published three times a year by Rutgers University.
And this link to French children's books of the 40s has some stunning graphics.

Watertiger has the squee of the day. These kittens on a slide are just too cute.

And the year's most amazing science images are just as billed -- amazing. I never get over how far we've advanced in space travel in my lifetime. Kind of wish I was young again, because I think in the next 50 years, a Star Trek type Federation of space travelers is likely to happen. I'll of course be gone by then.

Meanwhile, I hope to get back to more regular blogging tomorrow after a good night's sleep. [Graphic via Ateigen Studio]


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Air America is holding a contest to give one blogger a free ride on an upcoming cruise for progressives. There's five semi-finalists but only two seem to have a shot at it and I only know one of them. So please take the 30 seconds to click over and vote for Karl Frisch of Media Matters. They do great work over there and it would be good to see him win. Just vote in the poll in the upper right hand corner of the page.

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Graymail

I've long been fascinated by Blackwater founder Erik Prince, partly because he's so reclusive and partly because their training grounds were nearby the last place I lived. And of course because of Blackwater's involvement with the Bush administration. It appears that was more than just a business arrangement. As it turns out, in a Vanity Fair profile, Mr. Prince announced he was a CIA asset who was wrongfully outed. Interesting quote from a former US prosecutor, making a comparison between that and Valerie Plame.

Wonder were that guy was when the Bush administration was busy covering up her outing, but more interesting is Blackwater's (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) ongoing relationship with our US Special Forces. Apparently "Blackwater has for years been working on a classified contract with the Joint Special Operations Command in a drone bombing campaign in Pakistan, as well as planning snatch-and-grab missions and targeted assassinations." One has to wonder whether our lack of success with these missions has anything to do with Blackwater's obvious interest in prolonging their contracts.

All that aside, the article is notable for its detail of Prince's work for the government. It basically comes down to a veiled threat that Prince could spill some big secrets should he be indicted for anything. Which was until now, looking very possible. Another scrap of the Bush legacy, where only the bad guys really win.


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Friday, December 04, 2009

Health Care "Reform"

Honestly, I have no clue how to feel about the current iterations of the health care reform bill. There's just so much conflicting analysis and it seems pointless to read the damn bill until they get to the final. It's not like anything I have to say is going to change it. But Karen Tumulty's piece is still worth reading. It's encouraging she finds points of agreement on some positive aspects.
Pretty much everyone agrees that the health care legislation now making its way through both houses of Congress would do some things well. It would cover almost all of the roughly 33 million legal residents of this country who now lack health insurance. And a vast expansion of Medicaid, coupled with billions of dollars in subsidies to help low- and middle-income Americans buy insurance, would help ensure that most people end up spending less on their health bills, according to a new analysis by the CBO.
Less encouraging is a consenus that reining in the larger forces driving high health costs and delivering more efficient services are falling to special interests. And from what I've had time to read around the internets, the public option is looking more and more like it's either dead or at least far from the formerly popular modifier - robust. Still, if more people are able to get insurance and if they really prevent some of the more egregious practices of private industry, I guess that's better than nothing. Not really sure.

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Lou Dobbs Is Not Extreme Enough

Yes, hard as it may be to believe, among the hard core anti-immigrant base of the new GOP, a PAC that formerly supported Lou Dobbs has dropped their support because he made one slightly moderate comment about undocumented immigrants. The group now fully opposes him.
"Americans for Legal Immigration PAC is withdrawing support for Lou Dobbs after years, including the suspension of websites calling on Dobbs to run for President due to the perceived change in Mr. Dobbs's stances on immigration issues," the organization wrote.

"His recent comments on Telemundo and his national radio show supporting some kind of path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is inconsistent with positions of ALIPAC and the views of most American citizens," William Gheen, a representative of AILPAC also said in the written statement.

In a separate telephone interview with CNN, Gheen said that the group continues to respect Dobbs for helping to highlight the issue of illegal immigration.

But, Gheen added that Dobbs' recent remarks have "just blown everyone's minds" and that the group found itself at an "unexpected impasse" with Dobbs at this point.

"We feel like: Who are you and what have you done with Lou Dobbs?" Gheen explained.
The purity test for the crazy base just keeps getting more strict. I would find it amusing that the same people who cry fascism at every opportunity are so intolerant that even one unacceptable remark leads to banishment, except these people are really starting to scare me. I mean, they have guns. Lots of guns. And apparently hair-trigger tempers and no grasp of mercy. Not a comforting combo.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thrills and shills

Sorry posting is still spotty. I was pretty well burned out yesterday and today I have a few errands that may run long. But let me clear out some of these links for now.

They've been debating the health care bill for days without taking a single vote yet. There's a reason for that, and yes, it's just the usual GOP obstructionism. Via PWire we see that Sen. Judd Gregg issued a memo to the party with 15 ways to delay and derail the votes with procedural tricks. As TPM notes for the most part these are simply designed to "cause the debate proceedings to grind to a halt." Copious use of the filibuster is involved. Ezra adds, "this is a completely insane way to run the government." I can't improve on that.

I've been studiously ignoring the media obsession with Tiger Woods' penis, but Atrios is right in pointing out this article on the PR behind him that created the Tiger myth is worth a read.

I've also been avoiding the leaked "Climategate" emails but I may post on it at some point. In the interim, it's useful to note that it's pretty hard to depend on the tradmed to tell the story straight when Newsweek sponsored a "climate salon" which is underwritten by American Petroleum Institute, whose president was the keynote speaker and no environmental groups were invited. Or maybe they couldn't afford to pony up the price. We don't know, because no one is willing to tell how much API paid for the privilege of privately bending the journos ears.

Soros is in NOLA and announced plans to to increase help to the region. No specifics at this point, but interesting that he's stepping in just as most government entities are winding up, long before the place is rebuilt.

Briefly breaking the Palin embargo, because this is so choice. The little people aren't allowed to take photos with Princess Sarah at her book signing stops, but she does provide an official photog who will take a shot and send them one -- just like Santa at the mall. I'm told the prices are even steeper than St. Nicks annual gouging of parents.

And in case you missed it, you know how much I love these miraculous sightings. Jesus on an iron. She claims she's not going to try to sell it or otherwise cash in the icon. That might be a first.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Herding Cats

I've been thinking a lot lately about how some of the relationships that were broken back during the primaries of 08 were never repaired. There are blogs I used to read regularly that I don't even look at anymore. Since the election, there are cyberfriendships that have become somewhat strained to varying degrees depending on how much trust and patience one is willing to have with the Obama administration. I get the feeling some people are mad at me for either being too critical or not critical enough. Today, after the Afghanistan speech, the progressive world feels especially unbalanced and I despair. We're never going to move that window if we can't find a way to bridge our differences. This TAP piece brought it into focus this morning.
Several years ago, The American Prospect held a "What is Liberalism?" contest. The winner, Todd Washburn, submitted this definition: "Liberals believe our common humanity endows each of us, individually, with the right to freedom, self-government, and opportunity; and binds all of us, together, in responsibility for securing those rights." [...]

It is the progressive movement's commitment to these people -- its base, its core -- that will ensure its long-term survival. If we continue to compromise on the concerns of those people, or dismiss them as "special interests" working against an imaginary greater good, we will ultimately render our shared concept of liberalism totally meaningless. After all, if each group within the coalition is actually just in it alone, what's the point of subscribing to a common ideology at all?
I'm not convinced the left has ever had a common ideology outside of a very broad based concept of common good, but I think we were better at compromising with each other back in the day. We won a lot of ground then.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bucking Burr

I don't like linking to unnamed sources and I don't know how much creedence to give to it, but if it's true, I would be very happy to see this happen.
Two sources tell Hotline On Call that former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D) is set to announce he will run against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), reconsidering his earlier decision to drop out of the race.

"Already, several big-name candidates have declined to challenge Burr, who is running for a second term. Cunningham, an atty and U.S. Army Reserve captain from Lexington, will give Burr a solid, if not top-tier, challenger in '10."
Not that you could necessarily convince the deluded souls around here who don't even know that Hawaii is really part of the United States that Burr has been absolutely useless as a Senator. But a strong challenger with a good PR operation might be able to educate them. One can hope anyway and maybe the Dems could build a strong enough organization out here to get rid of crazy Virginia Foxx too.

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