Monday, May 31, 2010

Why is George Will on my teevee?

I admit that some 35 years ago, I kind of liked George Will. He was a young, ridiculously earnest conservative and yeah I was young too. I thought he was so cute in that signature bow tie. But my youthful infatuation faded decades ago, along with Will's acuity. Yet, every single blessed Sunday, he is on the bobbleheads spewing some absurd nonsense, a revered pundit of The Village who reassures them weekly that the conventional wisdom still holds. Small wonder our political discourse is so stupid.

Steve Benen flags Will's latest inanity. Seems Mr. Will thinks "President Obama is 'being unfairly blamed' for the response to the BP oil spill disaster." However, he's very happy that this is happening to our president because it "just strikes at the narrative of competence." Yes, Georgie boy has jumped on the "ZOMG, Obama has failed to stop the gusher in the Gulf so this proves the government can't do anything right" meme.

Steve has the perfect response to Will and the rest of the media desperately trying to give this narrative legs.
Here's an idea for assignment editors: publish a piece with specific steps federal officials should take but haven't. Because at this point, unless we can fix the leak with useless media palaver, there's not much point to the breathless speculation, nebulous criticism, and finger-pointing.
Sadly, I doubt they'll take that message to heart. Have a bad feeling we'll be listening to this sort of meaningless drivel for many weeks to come.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Obama Fail Watch: Day 37

Slow news cycles breed inane punditry. Looking at the latest twist in the media narrative I see some half-hearted efforts to revive the failed Obama's Katrina meme and the beginnings of the new stenographic, GOP friendly story line -- Obama's failure to personally stop the damn gusher is proof positive the government can't do anything right. His presidency is doomed. John Cole catches the latest attempt to stick that meme, and responds with the rant that was raging in my head. This graf sums it up.
I’m all for constructive criticism, but flailing around over things that no one can control is just driving me nuts. Why hasn’t Obama done more to stop the leak? I dunno. Why didn’t Obama do more to save John Murtha and Dennis Hopper! Why won’t he wave his magic fucking wand and bring world peace! Why is unemployment at 10%? Why are we all going to die one day!

Because sometimes things don’t have solutions or answers, you losers. Try acting like you are a little older than five for a change.
Really. Read it all. It's not the exact words I would use, but he captures my reaction to the internets today, perfectly. No mas. Adding, por favor.

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Bobblespeak

Posting has been light because my brother and his family are in town from Alaska. Haven't seen them in 14 years so I've been spending as much time as possible with them while they're here. Had a great time today. We all went to breakfast and then hung out at Dad's watching the birds at the feeders. And even better, a family of wrens starting moving into one of the bird houses. Very exciting. They've been up there for years and this is the first time any birds actually used one.

In any event, it's the holiday weekend and news is slow anyway. Best thing on the internets today, and every Sunday really, is Culture of Truth's Bobblehead Translations. He watches the Sunday morning shows, so you don't have to and interprets what they're really saying with uncanny accuracy. Loved this bit from Meet the Press. Dancing Dave is interviewing a BP exec.
Gregory: when will we learn that your next effort has failed?

Dudley: we should confirm our next failure in about seven days

Gregory: how much oil are you spilling into the Gulf?

Dudley: somewhere between A Motherfucking Lot and a Giant Shitload

Gregory: why so slow?

Dudley: we don’t want to make things worse

Gregory: worse? How could things be worse?

Dudley: our next move will crack the earth’s crust and unleash the minions of satan from the depths of hell

Gregory: it seems you are incompetent idiots who ruined America and had no plan at all

Dudley: no we had a plan to deny everything – it worked great until the oil washed up on shore

Gregory: did you lie to everyone

Dudley: look we’re frustrated too – did you know oil is very slippery?!?

Gregory: I did actually

Dudley: ooh look at the big brain on Greggers

Gregory: should BP CEO Tony Heyward resign for destroying his company and a regional economy

Dudley: Tony Heyward is doing an awesome job dodging responsibility for wrecking thousands of lives.
Read it all the link and bookmark it. He's there every Sunday.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Big protest in Arizona, media MIA

Any time 3 or more tea party people show up in a public place the media swarms in with wall to wall coverage and ponders on the message sent by these "real" Americans. But I'm told thousands showed up in Arizona today to march in protest of the Arizona's "show me your papers" law and as far as I know, not one cable network showed up to tell the story.


Guess this crowd is too "colorful" to cover. [photo]

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Top Kill not working to stop oil gusher

Apparently BP is going through the motions as a PR effort, but it's rather apparent that both the top kill and junk shot remedies failed to stop the gusher in the Gulf. Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out why none of the experts working on solutions have considered this old method using oil eating microbes instead of the highly toxic dispersants.



I have no idea whether the person who posted this video is legit, but a quick google tells me bioremediation of this sort is long established science and it appears it's environmentally safe. So why are they using highly toxic chemicals whose long term effects haven't been proven yet? The cynic in me suspects it has something to do with money.

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Mother Earth is screaming

The natural disasters just don't stop. Thinking our planet is trying to tell us something. Sudden volcanic eruptions in Central and South America.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Newt slithers back on Nazi comparisons

Shameless self-promoter Newt Gingrich has been riding the circuit promoting his new book and presuambly setting the framework for a potential 2012 try at the GOP nomination, but he may have gone too far. Newt was forced to slither back on his Obama-Nazi analogies in the face of fairly united outrage, even on the right. Apparently there is a limit to what even the most rabid Obama haters will accept in rhetorical excesses when it comes to the Holocaust.

Gingrich hasn't exactly apologized for his untoward remarks but he has at least said "there isn’t an 'equivalence' between 'totalitarian regimes and the secular-socialist left.'" One critic he spoke to suggests this means in the future, "he will no longer be making comparisons between Democrats and Nazis." It will be interesting to see how long he holds to it. I suspect he'll just find new ways to express the same sentiment to accompany his empty catch phrase. I mean what the hell is secular-socialism anyway?

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Glenn Beck hits new low

Just when you think Glenn Beck can't possibly sink any lower in the slime pool he wallows in every day, the vile scum-sucker sinks to a new low. He spent a significant portion of his radio show today mocking Malia Obama's intelligence. He and his cohort on the show engaged in a dialogue, pretending to reenact a conversation between our President and his youngest daughter.

What kind of person viciously attacks an eleven old child? I'm increasingly convinced the man should be involutarily commited to an insane asylum. This goes so far beyond self-promotional attention whoring into socially destructive behavior, one can only surmise Beck has completely lost his hold on reality and presents a real danger to civil society.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hypocrisy, thy name is Malkin

I mostly ignore both Malkin and Sarah Palin but the opening graf on this post is remarkable in its breathtaking hypocrisy. Without a trace of irony, Malkin, the prime purveyor of ginned up outrage, who really did stalk a 12 year old boy and his family, going so far as to peer in their windows to ascertain the composition of their kitchen counters, says:
You've no doubt read about the Palin family's snoopy new neighbor, author Joe McGinniss, who has rented a house 15 feet from the Palins' backyard to conduct binocular-aided research for his Random House book.
Of course, the only one who has posted any pictures so far is Palin herself, who raced to show the world a shot of McGinniss, with his back turned to her, minding his own business. There's no evidence he's done anything untoward. His only "crime" was to rent the house next door. You might think if the Palins were so worried about their privacy, they could have rented it themselves to keep it empty. Instead they immediately put up an ugly fence. And of course the usual suspects have taken up the cause with Greta and Beck at Fox leading the charge from the right flank to attack McGinniss for doing his job. Crooks and Liars has the backstory and much more.

Meanwhile, Todd immediately slapped up an ugly fence, as you can see from the photo above posted by Greta. Nothing else at the post, so you don't have to give her any hits. And is it me, or is there a weird angle at the bottom of it on the left. It almost looks like they left a low opening at the bottom. Maybe they're hoping to get a shot of McGinniss on his belly peering through? Just crazy.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sestak story is not a scandal

The media obsession with Sestak isn't even a story. I mean, really. How shocking. A politician gets offered a deal to drop out of a race. I'm sure that's never happened before. And the journalists know that all they're doing is feeding the GOP's fake outrage but they're in so deep now, they can't seem to admit it. You know that's true when a usually reasonable journo has to explain at the end of a piece why he based the whole thing on a fake analogy.

I'm actually surprised John Dickerson ran with this and tried to equate it with the dissembling that went on around the Plame leak. Not even close to the same. Sadly, he's not the only one playing steno for the GOPers.

This non-scandal should have been nothing more than fodder for the Village cocktail party crowd. It's not even interesting. I seriously doubt most of America gives a flying leap about it.

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Praying - really

I'm not a particularly religious person but I am literally praying that the top kill strategy will work today to seal that gusher in the Gulf. They're trying it even as write this.

I think I may not be the only one. Seeing a remarkable dearth of jokes about the name of the procedure and let's face it, "top kill" kind of begs for some snark.

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Red flags at Deepwater Horizon

The slow motion devastation in the Gulf weighs on me like a two ton backpack. Reports of the ongoing damage crush my spirit. But then I read about the negligence that caused the explosion and I'm filled with a white hot fury born of fear and frustration. The NYT reports:
In the hours before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded last month in the Gulf of Mexico, there were strong warning signs that something was terribly wrong with the well, according to a Congressional committee that was briefed on the accident by executives from BP.
It's increasingly clear that this was an avoidable accident caused by decisions made to protect a few million out of billions of dollars of profit. And my anger increases ten-fold when I see BP's CEO strutting along an oil-soaked beach, ordering Americans to be removed from public land, as if it was his own private fiefdom.

I'm riveted in horror as I grasp the long term implications of the damage and like everyone, I want to scream, "Do something. End this nightmare." And then I'm crushed with grief and fear as I realize no one knows how to make it end. Whatever their motives, surely no one wants this disaster to continue. But they really just don't know how to end it because they never believed it would happen. It seemed to them to be so far-fetched a possibility that they didn't develop a serious plan. And I'm not sure there's enough money in world to compensate the victims. Ultimately, the victims will be all of us.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Internet Issues

My internet service has down since yesterday afternoon. They're telling me it will be out until tomorrow at 4:30. Just affecting this regional network leaving some 9,000 people without internets. They offered to give me free dial-up for 20 hours and then charge me two bucks an hour for it after that. Kind of rip-off since the repair time is expected to be over 24 hours. One might think they would give it to you for as long as the high-speed is down for free since I'm paying for service I'm not getting. Jeesh. Anyway, figured out how to post in the interim but it's a little dicey so posting is likely to be light.

Meanwhile, I just deleted the google adsense ads. What a rip-off. I hated the ads I was getting for the most part and never could figure out how they determined the pay anyway. It seems the amount that shows in your account isn't real. I know I checked a couple of months ago and it was just over a hundred bucks. Checked today and it was down to eighty.

Then the form to cancel the account wouldn't load and there is no way to contact an actual person apparently. All their help pages lead to forums that don't quite answer your question. It looks like you don't get money unless you hit $100 bucks anyway. I'm not going to mess with it anymore. It's not worth the time. Just deleted the code and chalking it up to experience. They essentially just got over a year of free advertising from me. I wouldn't suggest any small bloggers enter into into a deal with them.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

What's the point of the dispersants anyway?

Maybe I'm missing something here but I've been wondering for a few days now what is the point of using dispersants? Initally we were told that it would break up the oil and make it easier to skim it off the top. It doesn't seem that they recovered much of it that way. And the chemicals are much more toxic than the oil itself. As far as I can tell, dispersants don't do much of anything but make the oil less visible.

They didn't stop the oil from spreading, instead the oil sank out of sight, under the water where it can't be easily tracked. It certainly didn't stop it from washing up on the beach. And now that oil/dispersant stew is many times more toxic than pure crude would be, endangering the clean-up crews even more. It looks to me like its main value is in hiding the true amount of oil being spewed out of the gusher. In other words, its more of a PR tool than a clean-up aid. Wondering why its use was ever authorized.

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The scary thing is, they're all clueless

The big problem with BP's gusher in the Gulf, and what no one will admit, is nobody really knows what to do about it. Head honcho of the Coast Guard, Thad Allen has this to say last week.
"We're dealing with something that's more complicated than any spill I've ever dealt with," Allen told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. "The national system did not contemplate that we would have to do all of this at once."
Deep water drilling is relatively new technology and the oil industry underplayed the risks when they pitched for permits. Not that our government didn't willingly swallow that snake oil. Under the Bush administration, MMS worked with the oil corps offering monetary incentives and lax regulatory oversight to jumpstart the drilling.

Worst case scenarios were theorectical and now that the reality crashed into the computer models, they're trying to hide the wreckage. From the beginning, the workers were coerced into joining the cover-up and our government appears to be more interesting in assisting it than exposing the negligence. I really don't want to be hearing we should trust the industry on blind faith considering BP's long record of screwing up by costing costs.

Instead of calling them out as criminals, a Coast Guard spokesman told the media today that "BP is our friend." No, they're not. They're more interested in protecting their image than our environment. But that aside, if anybody has a clue on how to end this nightmare, now is the time for the Obama administration to demonstrate some of the promised transparency. This is a disaster that affects every single person on the planet. If they do have a clue on how to deal with it, then tell us what it is. Otherwise we can assume there really is no plan.

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Show me the bootprint

I know I'm usually about two degrees away from being a total Obamabot, but he's losing me on his handling of the gusher in the Gulf. And no, I don't mean because he's not doing enough to plug the leak. I don't think he or his administration can do more about it short of taking over the operation themselves and that would leave the taxpayer paying the costs instead of BP. What's bugging me is that Obama is enabling BP's cover up and PR efforts to minimize the scope this disaster.

We have law enforcement from the Coast Guard to the local sheriffs barring on site media access to public lands, "because BP says so." MoJo's Mac McClelland reports workers aren't being allowed to speak to the press and BP is lying to them about what they're dealing with, telling them it's just "red tide, dishwashing-liquid runoff, or mud." These workers are already becoming seriously ill and will probably suffer permanent adverse health effects.

InteriorSec Salazar says he's frustrated that BP isn't meeting its deadlines. His director of the U.S. Geological Survey says "We want to stop polluting the ocean, and we want to kill this well." All well and good, but it increasingly appears BP is more interesting in saving the oil than capping the gusher.

Echoing Obama, Salazar promises "to keep our boot on the neck" of BP but I'm not seeing the bootprint. The general public doesn't appear to be grasping how serious a disaster this is or there would be more outrage. This would be a good time for Obama to use his rhetorical gift to build public pressure that would force BP to own this mess and explain why it's taking so long to fix it.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Armchair Traveler


Between the ongoing disaster in the Gulf and the textbook massacre in Texas and all the other depressing news of the last week, figure we use a little mental health break. So how about an art links only post for a Sunday?

My big media tweep, New Media Jim is tradmed photog who tweets candid pix from his trips. He just went to China with Hillary Clinton and this was my favorite picture of Shanghai. So surreal.

And my twitpal hudsonette has been posting up a storm of fabulous art links. Really like this photo gallery. Jeff Brouws Americana.

My friend Ina is a terrific artist and is having an Art Auction of her 100 protraits series. Bidding starts @ $1each (+postage, where applies). Bidding ends 31 May.

Almost didn't click through to the end on this one because I didn't like the first couple that much, but it got more interesting as I went on. 10 abandoned places around the world.

Loved these Eames chairs painted by street artists.

I'm a pushover for good sunset pix The post photo of a Sedona sunset comes from Uncucumbered at this site as well.

Thought this one was going to be about clothes but they're very cool graphics. Britain's Mid-Century Female Designers.

This was my favorite of the week. One year in 60 seconds.

But this came in a close second. These little robots are so cute. Hexapod: Best of Dance 2010.

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Divide and Conquer

Expect the right wing noise machine to go into overdrive today. The GOP snagged the seat in Hawaii's special election yesterday. I imagine the media narrative will seize on the voter discontent angle, and proclaim this a great victory for the Republicans, but it's only a placeholder election. The winner has to run again in November and a look at the final tally doesn't exactly suggest a GOP resurgence. Djou won with 39.7 percent of the vote with the two Democrats splitting the rest with 31 percent and 27.8 percent. Pretty clear that if it was two man contest, the GOPer would have been creamed.

As it is, I'm not so sure this isn't a blessing in disguise. One expects Djou will hew to the crazy party line inside the Beltway and this win will ultimately act as an object lesson in what returning to GOP governance would look like. It's likely to be not that pretty at all.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Avoid the Press

Rand Paul, after only two days, is apparently quite blistered by the heat of the national media klieg lights. After a series of increasingly disastrous interviews, he seems to be taking a page out of the Sarah Palin playbook. That being, if you're bombing in your unscripted appearances, avoid the press at all costs. Citing the candidate's exhaustion and previous commitments, his campaign announced late yesterday Rand is cancelling his Meet the Press interview that was scheduled for this Sunday. This makes him only the third person to cancel in the history of the show.

Funny. One might have thought that they knew his schedule before they accepted the MTP request on Wednesday. And, if he's flagging after only two days of interviews, how is he going to last through five more months of campaigning? Perhaps he's planning to go full Palin and only snipe at his opponents make public remarks through Twitter and Facebook?

On a related note, Maddow is showing her class by actually defending Rand on her blog, pointing out that some media have wrongly portrayed his remarks by using out of context quotes. Her post also features a short and amusing video commentary by Jay Smooth, whom I assume is somebody famous who I don't recognize because I'm so out of touch with pop culture.

Also, tangentially related, I love these fake Barack Obama Facebook feeds, and this is a good one that touches on Rand among other current events of the past week.

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Kevin Costner's real life Waterworld

Well, the movie may have been rather awful, but I'm loving Kevin Costner's real life rescue mission in the Gulf. About 15 years ago Costner invested in a new technology aimed at cleaning up oil spills in the ocean. Now some $24 million later, he is offering the use of it to BP and the corporation appears to be ready to accept the offer. Costner is heading to the Gulf Coast with "six of his massive, stainless steel centrifugal oil separators next week." The separators basically spin the polluted water, separating the oil out and returning 99% pure water to the sea. In theory they could "potentially clean 2 million gallons of oil water a day."

The Gulf coast states are already fighting to be the first site for the trial run. I'm really hoping it works. For one thing, it would be good to see Costner get a return on his investment since he's stuck with it all these years and hasn't made a dime on the project. And of course ending this slow motion nightmare before it permanently damages the fragile wetlands would be a welcome relief. Also, as an added side benefit, it would blast a huge hole through the persistent right wing narrative about self-absorbed Hollywood types who are destroying society. Triple win.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Rand Paul: Accidents Happen

Rand Paul is on a roll. Today he stepped into it again, saying President Obama's criticism of British Petroleum's negligence was un-American, because you know, it's all part of the blame game and gosh, sometimes accidents just happen. Watching the slow motion trainwreck of his attempts to walk back his earlier remarks on civil rights, guess he should know about accidents. He's accidentally creating a huge media fixation every time he "clarifies" his remarks. And one wonders what he would do if say his defective water heater blew up and burned down his house. Would he just shrug and say don't worry about it because accidents happen?

As Greg Sargent points out, Rand's biggest problem is he keeps trying to spin the reaction to his remarks into mere partisan sniping. His argument seems to be, using his own words against him constitutes some kind of liberal attack. He won't just unequivocally come out and answer yes or no questions, with a few words. And everytime he "explains" what he meant with this bizarre dancing around the questions, he adds some new thought that adds fuel to the media frenzy. His handlers might want to tell him that brevity is the soul of political survival.

Of course, for all I know, since his candidacy rests on tea party support, maybe it's a brilliant strategy. Certainly, he's not saying anything that I haven't heard from the tea party types in the comment section at the DetNews.

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Happy Birthday PacMan

Nobody getting any work done today. Google celebrates Pac-Man's 30th anniversary with its first interactive logo. Click on the logo to play. I used to like the game and would play it if there wasn't a pinball machine around. Admit I tried the interactive logo. I'm still not good at the game though, so no danger of wasting too much time...

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Scary Olympic mascots unveiled

The new Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, made their debut yesterday.


Unbelievably, they are the result of endless focus groups and many months of study. Apparently they're supposed to so delight the kiddies that they will badger their parents to give money to the Olympic committee, or something like that. I'm thinking the kids will be crying to go home if they get a look at them, but what do I know? I'm old now. [Graphic via deadspin]

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Small business boom

Republicans and tea party types keep claiming Obama's policies are killing small businesses. A new study proves that to be yet another lie. In fact there have been more new business starts in 2009 than there has been in 14 years.

The only reason they aren't contributing more to job creation is the banksters are too busy holding on to their bucks to pay their own obscene bonuses and still aren't lending to small entrepreneurs. Wonder if the new financial reform bill is addressing that problem?

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Maddow mashes Rand Paul - Updated

Rand Paul is the wunderkid of the primaries on Tuesday, after winning his race and fully embracing the Tea Party with a big, sloppy, wet kiss. Yesterday morning was the first time I ever heard him speak when I saw clips of his victory speech. He struck me as very weird, kind of robotic, though most people see it as arrogance.

In any event, he is already knee deep in controversy. He made remarks in several interviews about not supporting the Civil Rights Act within the context of private business. In other words, he apparently believes that the government shouldn't force a restaurant owner to let "undesirables" sit at their lunch counters. He made the mistake of appearing on Rachel Maddow last night to defend his remarks. She, of course, politely made mincemeat of him.

Hard to see how he's ever going to win the general, but I'm told it's possible in Kentucky. I'll believe it when I see it.

Update: As expected, everybody is talking about this today. As always, there's a mixed reaction with some defending his position and some who are outraged. Meanwhile, Rand Paul is trying to refine and walk back the remarks.

I'm kind of with Ezra on this. I'm not so sure I'm ready to indict Rand as a pure racist, however there's no doubt the man is a wackadoodle extremist. But what I find most surprising is I just saw the first poll out shows he has a strong lead against the Democrat. Thinking it's unlikely to hold, but then again, I'm told Kentucky isn't like other places. Never been there myself.

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Free Stuff

Not sure how much this is worth now that Rupert Murdoch got his paws on it, but the Wall Street Journal took down its paywall for the day. Entire site is free for your perusal.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Says it all

"Instant folk art for Rand Paul" via Maddow Blog.



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The decline of the Democrats has been highly exaggerated - Updated

So the tea partiers are purging the GOP of anything resembling a reasonable Republican and installing the most extreme of the panderers to their tantrums in primaries. I suppose that could honestly be called an anti-incumbent backlash. There's no question the TPs have taken over the Republican party. But these candidates are going to have to run in the general. The barometer of how that will work for them is in the special elections. So how have GOPers been doing in those special elections?

Well in PA, the Democrat easily trounced the Republican. Despite all the polling that showed a close race, Critz won with a vote of 53-45 percent in a district that went for McCain in 08. Granted Critz ran as an hardcore pro-gun, anti-choice conservative coming out against the health care reform bill (but not for repealing it), however, given the choice between a nearly identical platform from the GOPer, they went with the Dem.

Also useful to remember that "there have been seven special elections for U.S. House seats since the president's inauguration 16 months ago: NY20, IL5, CA32, CA10, NY23, FL19, and PA12. Democrats have won all seven." Probably too soon to be writing the Democratic Party's obit.

Update: I'm not going to say much more about this since it will be well covered, but these two posts are worth reading. This was not a referendum on Obama and a surprisingly good analysis from Politico, noticing the Republicans aren't doing that well really. Relying solely on trashing Reid, Pelosi and Obama isn't going to work.

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Everything is good news for Republicans

It's the day after the primary and the media narrative is unsurprising. ZOMG, the tea party is ascendent. It's an indictment of President Obama. He's doomed. The Democrats are going to be wiped out in November. None of which of course is necessarily true, but let's not let the inconvenient facts get in the way of an easy analysis.

Mark Ambinder has the best take I saw so far this morning:
Fox News is as much a part of the Republican establishment as Mitch McConnell is. No, the Tea Partiers and conservatives, or Tea Party conservatives, are protesting what's getting done, versus what's not getting done. The more success President Obama seems to be having, the angrier the Tea Party becomes. I do not think this is a coincidence. What is true: the Tea Party movement is now firmly yoked to the Republican Party's near-term future.
And of course the TPs are going to tout this as a huge victory for them, which I'm expecting will encourage them to amp up the crazy over the next few months. Also, most of the media fail to mention that the Democrats in Kentucky received more votes than Rand Paul, even in a low turnout election with unenthusiastic Democratic voters. Apparently the media is too busy mourning the end of Specter's career to notice. I heard that Tweety was practically in tears over it last night.

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Very sad milestone

Of course it was inevitable that the numbers would rise after they escalated the deployments to Afghanistan. We've now passed 1000 dead troops in Afghanistan. We really need to get out of there.

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Really Bad Example

This is how they teach math in the south
A Jefferson County teacher picked the wrong example when he used as­sassinating President Bar­ack Obama as a way to teach angles to his geome­try students.

"He was talking about angles and said, 'If you're in this building, you would need to take this angle to shoot the president,' " said Joseph Brown, a senior in the geometry class.
He's been interviewed by the Secret Service and deemed not to be a threat to the president. Just another dangerous idiot teaching the children. Kind of explains why most of the tea party crazies come from the south.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No love for Iran sanctions

What's the difference between old media and new media? No really. I don't know anymore. I'm asking. I'm so old I remember when blogs were going to pave the way for a new focus on hard news, but I look at Memeorandum and the deal the White House brokered on new Iran sanctions looks like a pretty "big f**king deal" to me. I mean there was all kinds of predicting going on proclaiming Obama was never going to get a deal for sanctions after Iran offered to sell its uranium. But they got "Britain, France, Russia and China — the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council — plus Germany," to sign on.

After hundreds of blogs about Obama bowing and predicting his low key diplomacy approach to foreign policy was going to fail, or not, here's proof positive that statesmanship works where thuggery didn't, and no one is talking about it.

So what was the big buzz on the important blogs today, you ask? Blumenthal's Vietnam war slip-up and snark about Souder's affair. In other words, gossip and instant outrage... Sad.

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Slow motion nightmare in the Gulf

Well it's official. BP's giant oil slick has been caught in the Loop Current and reports of tar balls on Key West beaches are coming in. So far there doesn't appear to be a whole lot of oil involved but no one really knows what's going to happen next or how bad it will get before they manage to cap the well. Assuming they ever do.

At this point I'm more freaking out about the long term effects of using the toxic chemical dispersant than I am about the oil. I'm old enough to remember when they thought DDT was a miracle pesticide and look how that turned out. Agent Orange was supposed to be safe. DU weapons are supposed to be safe. GM seeds and Monsanto herbicides are supposed to be safe. There's a price to paid for using all of them, but it takes so long for the bill to come due and for the ill effects on humans to manifest in symptoms, it's hard to get people to see the cause and effect.

I suppose we'll have to wait until the planet is completely ruined for human habitation before the majority of the public understands the urgency. There are days I really do think we're doomed.

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Souder resigns to spend more time with his family values

My interest in Mark Souder dates back to when I was blogging strictly for drug policy reform and even then there few bigger liars than him among the prohibitionists. Of course, he is also one of the biggest social conservatives in the House, pontificating at great length about family values and pushing the abstinence only approach to birth control. Happy to have lived long enough to see him get the payback for his hypocrisy. He announced today he's resigning his office because he got caught having an affair with a staffer.

Oddly, the scandal didn't take hold until now. He just survived a contested primary on the claim the allegations were just a smear tactic. One wonders what happened since then to change his mind. But in any event he's gone now and the Congress will be better off for it.

The biggest surprise to me is that he actually resigned. Most of the GOPers on this list who were caught up in sexual hanky panky stick it out. Anyway, if you care for a little schadenfreude with your coffee, you might want to watch his testimony on abstinence before Congress. Apparently there's another video on the subject where his lover appears as his interviewer. Expect that youtube will surface soon.  Sorry, Souder's alleged mistress is the one introducing him in the video at the last link.

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Transocean dumps their assets

This reminds me of the Law and Order episode I saw last night. Three guys cooked up a scheme to get rid of their assets so they could get divorced and not have to give their wives any money. It seems Transocean has a similar plan. Not they admit they're on the hook for damages on the sunken rig.
Transocean has passionately argued that they don’t share financial responsibility for the disaster. A clause in a contract they had with BP says that the oil company is obligated to pay for any environmental damage, even though Transocean actually owned the rig. BP was leasing the rig from Transocean at the time of the accident.
But just in case the courts don't agree, they disbursed some one billion in profits to their shareholders this week. Shameless.

But the main reason I'm linking to this is John Cole posted video of the 60 Minutes segment at the end of this post. I happened to catch it. Powerful piece but it will piss you off.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear Media: It's not just about you

I'm getting a bit tired of this complaint from the White House press corps. Oh the audacity! President Obama holds a signing for a Freedom of the Press bill and doesn't take any questions from the White House pool. It never seems to occur to them there might be a reason for that.

It's not that I don't empathize with the press corps position. As I often say, I'm become fond of many of them since I got to know them through twitter. I get that they have a job to do, but they don't seem to acknowledge that so does Obama and questions take up his time, which is pretty valuable and in great demand.

Furthermore, let's be realistic here. Chances are no one was going to ask a question about the bill. Much more likely that they would ask about Kagan being gay or Iran's latest move to sell uranium. I know the reporters have to answer to producers who are looking for soundbytes, but one stray wrong word from Obama could end up being the "controversy" of the week and take up the president's time on some frivolous side issue. In other words, there's two sides to this equation.

And if you think I'm overstating the problem, I have two words for you. Beer Summit. That presser was supposed to be about the health care reform bill. Nobody talked about health care reform at all, for at least a week after the last question at the presser. Everybody talked about racism. And beer. A lot. So while I do think Obama has a responsibility to answer to the media and undergo public scrutiny, I can also see why he would want to have some control over the timing of it.

And in this particular case, I'm on Obama's side. This bill was as much, if not more, to honor Daniel Pearl as it was to acknowledge freedom of the press. It would have been disrespectful to the Pearl family to allow it to turn into a media circus.

Adding this is why I love Ken Bazinet. He clearly understands that there is a time and a place to bitch about Obama's lack of access and this wasn't one of them.

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The Fashion Police

If we're to believe the pundits, apparently an ugly shirt has ruined the career of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and destroyed his political party too. Granted, it is an extraordinarily ugly shirt, but come on, who among us hasn't been guilty of wearing some hideous outfit at least once? Hell, I hope no one ever takes a photo of me when I've put off going to the laundramat for too long...

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Not just a river in Egypt

Apparently Britt Hume thinks if you can't see the oil on the beach, then it's not really there. A notion he stole from Limbaugh and sadly his loyal Fox viewers will probably adopt.

Of course, because of the tons of dispersants they dumped on it, millions of gallons of crude are roiling below the surface and no one knows what the long term effect on the subsea ecosystem will be. Meanwhile computer models show some oil has entered the Loop Current, sending it toward the Keys and "the third largest barrier reef in the world."

I hope I'm wrong, but I have a feeling that these chemicals are going to enter the food chain and years from now, the scientists will figure out this containment methodology caused genetic harm to humans and the sea life.

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There's a reason he's named after a lizard

I'm so old I remember when mentioning Nazi and the President in the same breath was enough to get you barred from respectable discourse. Of course, that was when Bush was president. Now that a Democrat holds the office, it's perfectly acceptable.

The worst part is my Dad thinks Newt is a swell guy.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

No quick fix for BP's Gusher in the Gulf

I'm hearing they might have successfully captured the leaking oil from the sunken BP rig. Their first attempt at this "big straw" didn't work so well, but here's hoping second time is a charm. Of course, that only addresses the oil slick on top of the water and even more disturbing is the oil under the water.
Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.
And the worst case scenario on all that loose oil is damned frightening. Apparently if it gets into the mangrove swamps, we're effectively talking a forever oil spill. And I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that cronyism played a role in which dispersant was used. BP went with the least effective, most toxic product to keep the money in the "family."

On the bright side, if they do they do manage to cap this leak, maybe this irritating meme about the Obama administration not doing enough to deal with the gusher will disappear from the media narrative. I mean, how much more could they have done?

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Stupid journalism tricks

While it's true I've become fond of some in the White House Press Corps, Chip Reid is not on that list. Why, you ask? Stupid horserace/hesaid-shesaid pieces like this.
The defensive tone was clear right from the top of his remarks today when he said: "The potential devastation to the Gulf Coast, its economy, and its people require us to CONTINUE our RELENTLESS efforts to stop the leak and contain the damage." (Emphasis added.)

And who can blame him. The potential political downside to a disaster is huge. Just ask George Bush. The White House, and most who have closely compared the responses, say this spill has little similarity to Katrina.
So in other words, "most people" aren't making the comparison, hard as the media tried to make this "Obama's Katrina." But Chip hasn't given up hope on that meme.
This disaster is going to play out over a very long time, and as it gets worse there certainly will be efforts by others -- out of frustration over lost livelihoods and environmental damage, and for purely political purposes -- who will try to shift blame to the administration.

And eventually some of it may stick. The president is already working hard to make sure that doesn't happen.
Yeah Chip, "some" lazy excuses for journalists will try to make that crude stick to POTUS, but the only one that will end up looking oily is Chip himself. It's so obvious that they're just trying to punish the White House for not showing their supremely entitled, gatekeeper selves the proper deference. I swear, sometimes I think "reporters" like Reid are a greater danger to civil society than the terrorists.

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Orwell Laughed

I guess the Orwellian slogan for this one would be, "Direct elections = Tyranny. It seems a faction of the Tea Party wants to abolish the 17th amendment and allow the states to appoint senators instead of having the people elect them. Oh, they have their reasons:
The "Repeal The 17th" movement is a vocal part of the overall tea party structure. Supporters of the plan say that ending the public vote for Senators would give the states more power to protect their own interests in Washington (and of course, give all of us "more liberty" in the process.)
What part of appoint don't they get, I wonder? So instead of the voters deciding who gets to serve in DC, their local Bubbas will pick one of their drinking buddies? What could go wrong with that?

But they're serious. The TPs are vetting candidates with questionaires asking for their stance on this one. Some initially voiced approval, but then claimed they checked the wrong box on the questionaires. This didn't make the TPs happy. At least one candidate in Idaho lost the TP endorsement over it.

However, not all GOPers are running away from the extremism. The guy who beat Bob Bennett in Utah maintains support for it and "Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has actually put forward legislation that would repeal the amendment." This is so stupid I suppose I should have titled this one, "Darwin Laughed," but I thought that might be too mean. I want to believe that most of the TPs who support this insanity probably don't understand how it would work in real life.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Local politics is small

Busy day. Went to the multi-county Democratic convention. Some overlap from the county convention I went to about a month ago, but a lot of new faces too. Everybody still pretty much knew each other. But I arrived as an observer and got drafted as delegate half way through for some votes. It's a lot different here than up north. The rules seem to be less strict, even a bit stretchable, but not beyond the breaking point.

Meanwhile, I'm just wild about Billy Kennedy. He was the keynote speaker, which is why I went in the first place. Not that he really needs the support in that venue. The Democrats love him. He rountinely gets standing ovations. More importantly, he's got the right creds and positions to win over the indys and I'm guessing some good percentage of GOPers too. It's just a matter of getting his message out there.



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Friday, May 14, 2010

Houston, we have an image problem

As the cancelled convention notices keep rolling in, Arizona's Governor Brewer is working on "rebranding" the state as a tourist destination. She's shocked to learn that so many Americans are offended by the thinly disguised bigotry of their new fascist law that they wouldn't want to hold events in her state. Rumor has it the new slogan will be, "Visit Lovely Arizona: We're not Nazis -- Really."

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My name is Libby Spencer...

...and I approve this campaign message. No you can't have the keys back, in fact we aren't going to let you drive ever again.

Also approving this development, "President Obama today signed legislation eliminating automatic pay raise for Congress in October - the start of FY'11."

And you know if this was the Bush administration all the bobbleheads would be discussing the President's meteoric rise in approval ratings. But it's the Obama admin so a jump to 52% approval and a drop to 41% disapproval probably won't even be mentioned on the nightly news in passing.

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If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.

Well it's Friday afternoon and I have a bunch of just for fun links saved up so here goes:

Of course, BP's Gusher in the Gulf isn't really funny but I have to admit that Colbert's Oil Cleanup Randomizer made me smile for the first time since this tragedy occurred.

Haven't actually watched this because HuffPo takes ten minutes to load on this computer, but I'm told this is a short, helpful video on how to fix your Facebook privacy settings.

I love these mushrooms. Have only found them growing wild a couple of times. Morel hunting with the 'Mushroom King.

Warning, this one is time suck but I couldn't stop watching this slideshow. Cool advertising.

Also love old car ads. Here's a extensive archive of vintage American car brochures.

A new blog that feeds my endless love of the Big Apple. Daily photographs of NYC.

Even more stunning photographs for armchair travelers in an easy to view format. - exploration photography.

Awesome shot, Eiffel Tower Lightning Strike.

Even more incredible, Extraordinary pictures taken inches away from wild predators, really big ones.

And this was interesting, there are two words in this picture - whichever word you see first will tell you something about yourself.

[hat tips to expatina, hudsonette and EiffelTowerpics. Post title Lewis Carroll quote. ]

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POTUS is pissed - Updated 2X

Still waiting for video but Obama's presser on BP's Gusher in the Gulf is getting rave reviews. Word has it he was livid behind the scenes and they say he was visibly angry on camera this afternoon.
Turning his wrath directly at BP, Halliburton and other companies with roles in the leak, Obama curtly dismissed their testimony before Congress earlier this week as "a ridiculous spectacle."[...]

"The system failed, and it failed badly," he said outside the White House.

"For that, there's enough responsibility to go around, and all parties should be willing to accept it. That includes, by the way the federal government."
He went on to attack the cozy cronyism between the government agencies and the oil corporations, is calling for a complete overhaul of MMS, ordering safety inspections of all existing rigs and a hold on any new drilling under existing permits.

Good to hear he's showing a little emotion for a change. Will update with the video when it becomes available on youtube.

Update: Still no video, but I changed the link to my pal Ken Bazinet's post at the NY Daily News because I liked his rendering better and McClatchy has the full text of his remarks.

Update Two: White House has finally put up the archived video. I can't embed it but you can view the presser here.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Can we arrest someone yet?

The news about BP's Gusher in the Gulf just keeps getting more depressing and it's increasingly clear this was a case of gross negligence:
"In the days after an oil well spun out of control in the Gulf of Mexico, BP engineers tried to activate a huge piece of underwater safety equipment but failed because the device had been so altered that diagrams BP got from the equipment's owner didn't match the supposedly failsafe device's configuration, congressional investigators said Wednesday."
And much as I hate to link to WaPo, they have a whole list of other construction safety violations that could have prevented this tragedy had they only followed proper procedures. I have much more at my DetNews post if you have the stomach for it.

Ultimately this was a clear case of corporate greed and government cronyism that put profit ahead of public safety. Meanwhile millions of lives will be ruined and almost incomprehensible environmental damage will linger on along the Gulf coast for over a generation. I can't even think of a punishment that would be fitting for this crime. Maybe making them live on a lifeboat in the middle of that mess until it's cleaned up.

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A pox on both their houses

This idiotic editorial in WaPo is getting some attention today. Following the mandated template that the establishment media can't criticize Republicans without drawing a parallel to the Democrats, even if it's bogus, it addresses the ongoing purge going on within the GOP via Tea Party purity tests.

Steve Benen has it covered, so I'll just reiterate that purging Bennett in Utah for failing to conform 100% to the Tea Party demands for ideological lockstep is not really the same as challenging Blanche Lincoln for repeatedly thwarting the Democratic platform in order to please her corporate benefactors. It's not like Lincoln just made a couple of disfavored votes or that the votes she cast were actually in furtherance of good governance. She was effectively almost a member of the opposing party. And as Steve points out, if we were really doing a purge there would have been a whole lot more Blue Dogs targeted and more support for progressive candidates instead of the usual machine picked centrists.

Hell, I only wish we could have a good purge on our side but Democrats mostly kick their progressive dissenters to the curb, they don't pander to them as the GOPers do to the tea party extremists.

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Brawl over bookkeeping in NYC anti-terror funds

Yes the White House cut NYC's funding for anti-terror measures but the lost money was then distributed through different channels. In fact, NYC ended up with a 24% increase in funding over what they received from the Bush administration. They racked up some $245 million in grants, which apparently represents about 1/3 of the total grants distributed.

Not that will stop the usual gasbags from wailing about the cuts without noting the overall gains. It's no wonder our electorate is so uninformed. It's a full time job to keep track of the spin and the lies. Most people don't have the temperment or the time for it.

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Our liberal media - really!

The conservatives have at least a thirty year jump on us, having opted for media control over activism while the Democrats embraced the opposite approach, but it looks like that balance is finally starting to change. Via former Editor & Publisher honcho Greg Mitchell's new blog at The Nation, Media Fix, has a great daily feature destined to become the new mandatory first read of the morning. Today's Morning Daybook has a wealth of encouraging links.

Oliver Willis and the blogger/Twitter king Shoq have started a new site called National Confidential that can only be described as a liberal version of the Drudge Report. The page still needs a little work to pretty it up some but it's a perfect mock-up of Drudge, only with better links. I loved it. Check it out for yourself.

Another newly launched site also shows great promise, the fine folks at Free Press give us Media Fail featuring numerous instances submitted and voted on by their readers.

Also be sure to click over to Greg's morning daybook to catch this video of a "Great Lewis Black bit on 'The Daily Show' last night on Glenn Beck's 'Nazi Tourette's' syndrome (he makes more Nazi references than the History Channel) as we see Glenn link everyone from Al Gore to ACORN to Hitler."

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trippin' the gay bombastic

Hope I live to see the day when someone's sexual orientation ceases to be a topic of public speculation. It won't be today. The speculation finally hit the establishment media when Ben Smith posted a "defense" of Elena Kagan's hetero creds and I see on Twitter that the bobbleheads are taking it up on the TV tonight. I checked in with James Joyner hoping to find a level headed response from the right. I didn't find it.
Does it matter? I think so. Sexual orientation is at least as much a part of one’s identity as race, ethnicity, and religion — all of which we openly talk about with Supreme Court nominees. Few of us care about a nominee’s sex life, per se, which is surely none of our business. But to the extent it shapes a person’s worldview, it’s a reasonable topic of conversation.
I don't think we do openly talk about religion and race and ethnicity only comes up when the nominee isn't lily white as near as I can recall. In any event, sexuality is a complicated aspect of the human psyche and isn't material at all. As I said at Joyner's place.
The problem isn't whether she's gay, it's whether someone's sex life is anyone's business assuming they're not rapists or pedophiles. Wonder if you think it would be appropriate for a prospective employer to question you about your sexual habits? Do you think they're material to your ability to do your job? Assuming you're hetero, there's many flavors of that. Should everyone be required to describe their favored sexual pratices before employment? The speculation is ridiculous and her orientation is unwarranted and immaterial.
I don't buy that it's an identity issue either. One response I got asked what if she has to rule on gay marriage? So what? Aren't the hetero justices also going to have a natural bias? And what about porn? Lots of porn cases come up. Should the Justices all be required to disclose their porn viewing habits? Roberts looks to me like a guy who might be into bondage, as so many Republicans seem to be and Alito looks like a guy who might enjoy strip clubs. Anybody questioning their ability to be impartial?

Which is the point of course. Everyone is shaped by their life choices and experience and these hearings focus on way too much personal history and demands for predictions on theorectical decisions. The only question that's material is do they have the ability to interpret the law fairly despite their personal views and connections. And of course the body of their public writings is fair game. The rest is bullshit.

The focus on Kagan's sexual preference arises out of prurient curioisty from apparently sexually repressed observers. Furthermore it's rooted in thinly veiled sexism. The same people who think Sarah Palin's overt sexy ditziness is cute simply can't believe an accomplished, somewhat overweight, rather plain woman with short hair could possibly be straight. Sad commentary on our politics and our society.

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Our Prima Donna Press

I'm more than a little tired of hearing about how the Obama administration is "breaking protocol" by cutting the White House press corps out of the loop and failing to make themselves available at the beck and call of the reporters. I mean, who wrote that protocol? I recall reading a piece about Nixon in China some time ago where the reporters only figured out he was having an important meeting because one of them happened to see him leaving. They literally chased him down the streets. Now the WHPC whines at length about Obama having the audacity to go to his kid's soccer game without informing them first so they could tag along.

Today's hissy fit is about the White House allowing Kagan to do a video in her own words.
"It appears that Solicitor General Kagan did an interview yesterday right after the president's announcement," said a reporter. "You've now posted that on the White House Web site. Who did the interview? And can I have one?"

"I think it's -- I think it's on the website if you want to see it," responded Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Soon after, the reporter can be heard saying, an edge in her voice, "So a White House staffer interviewing her."

Gibbs says yes, and the reporter asks if Kagan would like to do another interview.

"She has -- she's not told me that, no," replied Gibbs, prompting the reporter to respond, "Tell her we're deeply frustrated." [...]

"This White House has taken its use of the web to a new level with this move," said CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer. "The ultimate unfiltered message. Kagan 'in her own words' without anyone else's words."
In other words, they're pissed because they don't get to set the narrative. What's wrong with her telling her own story without some soundbyte addicted journo looking to throw some irrelevant "gotcha" question at her? I wouldn't mind the complaints if they were actually asking good questions, but those seem to be far and few between and aren't generally being thrown out by the folks in the front row that get to ask the bulk of them. And does anyone recall all the pre-hearing interviews that Roberts and Alito gave or the press complaints about the lack of them? Me neither.

Besides, it's not like they hold everyone to the same standard. They simply didn't show this level of disrespect or skepticism towards the Bush administration and how about insisting Sarah Palin actually make on the record remarks instead of their breathlessly reporting every tweet and Facebook posting as news? Don't recall any complaints about her "controlling the message" and she jerks them around like puppets on a string. I'd have a lot more sympathy for the lack of access if they showed some consistency in their criticism and actually asked meaningful questions when they get it.

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Good Riddance

Another incumbent goes down in a primary. Democrat Alan Mollohan loses his seat after 28 years. I'm not crying over it. With the anti-incumbent fever running high, we have to expect a certain number of losses on both sides and from what little I know about the guy, I think he was pretty corrupt, as most of them are after a few terms inside the Beltway bubble.

Can't say I'm thrilled with the winner. The guy has Blue Dog written all over him and in a statement after the results were declared said, "the outcome is a referendum on President Barack Obama and his policies, from bailouts of banks and takeovers of car companies to health care reform," all of which he came out against. John Cole, who lives in WV has more and says the GOPer is probably not too crazy.

Thinking we might be better off losing this one to the GOP altogether but in any event, getting rid of an entrenched establishment guy like Mollohan strikes me as good in the long term, no matter how it plays for the Dems in the immediate future.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Broad brush bigotry

The myth that all Mexicans are lazy illegal immigrants who only come here for the social services and to commit crimes has been around for very long time but since the GOP went all in on winning elections based on drumming up fear of "the other" with wedge issue politics, it's become much worse. You see it in the horrible Arizona "show us your papers" law but this mindset isn't only found in the southern states on the border. This poisonous fruit of conservative Republican race baiting has spread all over the country. Even in Washington State:
A Seattle freelance videographer recently captured a local cop kicking a man in the head while prone on the ground and using ethnic slurs:

The Police Department disclosed Friday that it has launched an internal investigation into the incident, in which the gang detective, Shandy Cobane, can be heard on video telling a man lying on a concrete sidewalk, "I'm going to beat the [expletive] Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?"
The cop would have got away with it except for the videographer that happened to be on the scene. The guy wasn't even guilty, but that shouldn't matter. Even a criminal doesn't deserve that kind of unnecessary violence. Too many cops have become little more than violent thugs who take out their sadistic inclinations on the public. And it's not just because of the race baiting. You can also blame the war on some drugs for over-equipping them via forfeiture money and the issuance of tasers as standard equipment that allowed them to use "non-lethal" force instead of dialogue to defuse tense situations. Further there's no much incentive to behave since they so rarely get held accountable.

It's not that aren't any good and caring cops, but the thugs seems to be growing in their ranks and no one calls them out. Our LEOs have morphed over the years from public servants to becoming almost as much a menace to civil society as the criminals themselves. In the end we're less safe if the general population fears both equally.

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Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

The crazy just never stops in the south. I'm actually a liberal who supports gun rights, but Jeebus, is nothing sacred? This strikes me as a taking gun rights to the extreme limit.
Louisiana state Rep. Henry Burns (R) has introduced a bill in the Louisiana House that would allow churches to institute a "security plan" enabling congregants with concealed weapons permits to carry guns into churches and temples.

According to a Burns spokesperson, "we buy fire extinguishers in case there's a fire," and allowing churchgoers to carry concealed is just the "final stage of security" for places of worship.
What kind of threat do they think they face? Unless they allow liberals or say an abortion doctor in their congregation, and most of them don't, who is threatening them? If anything they're the ones who threaten those who disagree with them. With my politics, I certainly wouldn't want to attend services where the crazy cons are packing concealed heat.

I won't be surprised if the bill passes though. Burns says he "believes he has the votes" and notes Arkansas passed a similar bill already. God can't rapture up these people soon enough for me.

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Bye Bye Burr?

This is heartening. I've been pretty much staying out of the Democratic primary on this one since I'm happy to support either candidate, but the good news is both Dem opponents are polling well against Burr. Burr still is holding a slight edge but it's early yet and as the article notes, "Burr is now in a weaker position than Elizabeth Dole was at the same point in the election cycle two years ago."

The anti-incumbent fever sweeping the south is a double edged sword since of course some Dems may fall too, but they're mostly Blue Dogs anyway and getting rid of the worst of the GOPers would be worth it.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

The GOPers must be crazy

Tea Party insanity syndrome now reaching epidemic levels. In normally moderate Maine the GOP convention threw out the nominally sane platform and replaced it with flatout crazy.
The official platform for the Republican Party of Maine is now a mix of right-wing fringe policies, libertarian buzzwords and outright conspiracy theories.

The document calls for the elimination of the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, demands an investigation of "collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth," suggests the adoption of "Austrian Economics," declares that "'Freedom of Religion' does not mean 'freedom from religion'" (which I guess makes atheism illegal), insists that "healthcare is not a right," calls for the abrogation of the "UN Treaty on Rights of the Child" and the "Law Of The Sea Treaty" and declares that we must resist "efforts to create a one world government."

It also contains favorable mentions of both the Tea Party and Ron Paul.
The only thing missing is the birtherism. The remaining burning question is will Snowe be shoveled out of the party like Bennet in Utah for a few weak attempts at good governance?

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Kagan for the Court

Not unexpectedly, Elena Kagan was announced as Obama's nominee for SCOTUS. I don't really have much of an opinion on it. I gave up on reading the tea leaves about prospective justices around the time the eminent domain case Kelo was decided. It was the supposed liberal judges that supported that ill-advised decision. I'm of the mind that you can't really predict what they're going to do ahead of time. That kind of power changes people.

That being said, I've pulled out a few links from the mass reactions that seem useful. Media Matters has Myths and falsehoods about Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination. Newshoggers flags The Ten Biggest Issues Elena Kagan Will Face and Swampland has a good roundup of first reactions among the bobblehead crowd.

Needless to say Glenn Greenwald is not thrilled but his reaction was pretty subdued considering his pre-emptive attempts to derail the nomination before it ever got off the ground. But he's right in that it's pretty much over except for the voting. As he said on Twitter, "The Right will attack and smear Kagan for political gain, but make no serious effort to defeat her nomination." Neither will most progressives or Democrats put up much of a fight.

Which isn't to say there won't be much blogviating in days to come. And as expected, her rumored sexual orientation will be discussed at length. For myself at this point, I'm finding the most heartening news is she's a Mets fan. Someone who joins me in cheering for the underdog team can't be all bad.

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Good for something government

Krugman is worth reading today on the lessons of the BP leak in the Gulf. This is the quote of the day:
Yet antigovernment ideology remains all too prevalent, despite the havoc it has wrought. In fact, it has been making a comeback with the rise of the Tea Party movement. If there’s any silver lining to the disaster in the gulf, it is that it may serve as a wake-up call, a reminder that we need politicians who believe in good government, because there are some jobs only the government can do.
I've been trying to drive this point home to my tea party readers at DetNews for a long time now. Bitching about government "theft" of "their money" fails to recognize the benefits of the spending. Not like there's no money wasted or that there aren't any stupid laws or regulations, but to condemn the whole entity on the basis of its flaws is kind of like saying you should ban all motorized transportation because they break down sometimes.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

In search of a better media

Frank Rich has a good column today about the failure of our establishment media. Constrasting their coverage between the nerdprom, a/k/a/ White House Correspondent's Dinner and the breaking news story of the Times Square bomber that coincided with it, he rightly points out they have degenerated to the point where they're more interested in talking about themselves than they are in covering the news. Indeed, it often seems to me they've come to believe they are the news and the newsmakers.

Of course it's not about delivering facts anymore, it's all about the 30 second soundbytes that are easy to cover and provide endless opportunities for them to speculate about who will win the cycle. Goddess forbid they delve into the facts, since we all know facts have a liberal bias and they live in fear of that label. As Rich points out, this is how our politics has devolved into a destructive spin cycle based on lies. It's true when he says, "...politicians become more convinced than ever that they can get away with almost any tall tale," since they pay no price for lying.

But that aside, the whole spectacle of the nerdprom was embarrassing and disheartening. I mean red carpet arrivals for press awards? Really? And they're were so busy in their excited tweeting about their encounters with B-list celebrities, a breaking news story wasn't even registering on their radar. Rich sums it nicely.
As we venerate the heroic street vendors who gave America its reality check last weekend, we should remember that they were the first to report what was happening in Times Square and that those covering and attending the White House Correspondents Dinner were the last.
Yet they still blame those dirty hippie bloggers for killing their livelihood. Clueless.

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Going for the crazy in Utah

I predicted the anti-incumbent backlash in 2004 through 08 but it apparently took until this round to infect the electorate. And I have to admit I didn't really expect it to go viral on the GOP side. I thought it would be progressives that kicked out the establishment Democrats. But it's 18-year GOP incumbent Bob Bennett who got the hook in Utah during their nominating convention.

I'm seeing this played in some places on the internets as a tea party victory, but the winner wasn't the FreedomWorks endorsed candidate Mike Lee. Unknown entrepreneur Tim Bridgewater got the nod. But I guess since the TP crowd came out solidly against Bennett, it could still viewed as a victory of sorts for them.

One thing is clear. Bennett is a very conservative Republican. It appears his only sin was voting for the Bush sponsored TARP bill and sort of working on a bi-partisan health care reform bill that never saw the light of day in the Senate. Apparently straying even an inch off the path of ignorance based outrage is enough to get blackballed by the TEAheads.

The bad news here is even though I'm told Utah has a very weird system for nominating that easily allows a bunch of red-faced ideologues to take control of the process, the lesson the GOP is going to take away from this is pander harder to the TPs. Thinking the crazy we've seen coming from the GOPers so far is going to seem sane in comparison to the months leading into November. Not sure how much more I can take but if your tolerance is high, there's plenty to be found on Memeorandum.

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BP containment funnel fails

Damn. I was really hoping this would work, but the containment box that was supposed to enclose the leak at the sunken BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig failed when it turned into a methane crystal generator almost as soon as it was lowered into the sea. It's now sitting on the seabed some distance from the still gushing oil leak while they try to figure out what to do next.

Meanwhile, I hear tar balls are starting to wash up on the beach in Alabama. I'd like to shove them down Rush Limbaugh's throat the next time he makes a "joke" about how this isn't really a big deal.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

The deficit elephant in the room

I've been thinking about this for the last few months. It's good to see DefSec Gates address wasteful military spending. He takes on all the sacred cows inside the Pentagon including medical benefits and so-called overhead, but I think the big money is in unnecessary equipment.
“For example, should we really be up in arms over a temporary projected shortfall of about 100 Navy and Marine strike fighters relative to the number of carrier wings, when America’s military possesses more than 3,200 tactical combat aircraft of all kinds?” Gates asked in a reference to the congressional push to buy more Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets.

“Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?”

Gates said that those are the kind of questions that the government should be asking and consequently finding an answer in order “to have a balanced military portfolio geared to real world requirements and a defense budget that is fiscally and politically sustainable over time.”
Of course, Congress pushes these procurements to deliver the home district pork. Their constituents who benefit from the spending don't care if it's necessary to national security. It's integral to their economic security. Many of those constituents are the same ones who loudly wail about spending on social programs for "lazy people" who aren't lucky enough to get jobs that depend directly or indirectly on that unnecessary spending.

Gates is right. It will take a ton of courage and political will to make those cuts. Sadly I don't think they're going to find it inside the Beltway. Certainly not before 2012.

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Death toll begins in the Gulf of Mexico

BP's oil slick is now larger than Maryland. Small for a state maybe, but pretty damn large for a disaster area and the devastation is just beginning. Already rare sea creatures and endangered birds are dying or being found covered with oil. Dolphins are being seen coughing as they emerge from within the slick and sharks are swimming in weird patterns. And sea turtles are washing up dead on the beaches. Wonder if this little guy is going to make it.



The next casualty will be the Gulf Coast fishing industry. Officials have reportedly "shut down additional fishing grounds." Have a bad feeling this was be the last time they do that. Just heartbreaking.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day in the little city so I'm off for a stroll to the folks place but here's some more links I didn't get around to posting earlier.

Really good news here. The FCC is making a move to overhaul Regulation of Internet Lines to protect net neutrality.

I lost the link to a great photo of Dick Cheney visiting with the Saudi Prince but our pal The Garlic has the top ten reasons Cheney may have been there.

In case you missed it, this was the buzz a few days ago. PressSec Gibbs epic smackdown of Fox over their bizarre decision to interview Heckuva Job Brownie about the Obama admin's response to the BP explosion.

This was funny. It appears to be an old quote from the election that I assume is from that new book that's out. Still holds true. Obama about McCain.

I didn't get around to watching this yet but it got rave reviews. Last week's episode of This Week featuring interviews with BP's Lamar McKay, Secretarys Napolitano and Salazar, and I'm told a killer roundtable that almost made George Will cry. And here's the Polifact check on McKay.

To end on a happier note, this Tom Tomorrow cartoon was brilliant. If more businesses operated like Goldman Sachs.

And Mark Knoller is really a great photographer. Loved this shot. The Rose Garden in full bloom today.

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They knew and they did nothing -- except cheat

One of the big conservative memes I've been pushing back against for the last couple of days is that the BP spill was some isolated and unforeseeable event. The NYT weighs in today with more proof that this isn't true at all. In fact they've been warning about the lack of redundant BOPs for at least the last decade. And this is telling:
Agency records show that from 2001 to 2007, there were 1,443 serious drilling accidents in offshore operations, leading to 41 deaths, 302 injuries and 356 oil spills. Yet the federal agency continues to allow the oil industry largely to police itself, saying that the best technical experts work for industry, not for the government.
Meanwhile, this whistleblower says "cheating on tests for blowout preventers is widespread in the industry." They do it because they'll do anything to keep the rigs drilling since even a minor shutdown for repairs can cost around a million bucks. These people are monsters. They care about nothing except money -- in their own pockets.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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