Saturday, July 31, 2010

Obama versus Bush tax cuts

Almost missed this one. Those wacky liberals at the Wall Street Journal provided some context to the Bush tax cuts spin. The chart says it all.


Via Bob Cesca who points out "it appears as if keeping the Bush tax cuts in place would force people earning $60-150,000 to pay slightly more." I'm guessing that's about the top range of income of most of the tea party protesters. Not they'll ever comprehend it, or believe it unless they see it on Fox. Which they won't.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Freedom of religion

I confess I haven't followed the mosque at Ground Zero story that closely until today. I assumed it was going to be just another shiny distraction for the usual hatemongering wingnuts and would die out on its own. Sadly I was wrong. I see, in a grim illustration of how far our media has fallen, the NYT is pimping the ADL's thinly veiled bigotry this morning.

So we have yet another colossal tradmed fail in merely reporting the bigots' commentary and it's once again the bloggers who provide the context. To start, there's already a mosque a block away from the proposed site of the new one. It's been there since 1970. Also the new site is not even a mosque, it's a cultural center.

And J Street nails an important point:
What better ammunition to feed the Osama bin Ladens of the world and their claim of anti-Muslim bias in the United States as they seek to whip up global jihad than to hold this proposal for a Muslim religious center to a different and tougher standard than other religious institutions would be.
Like free speech, when you deny religious freedom to one religion, it endangers that freedom for all religions. This should be obvious. Not sure why it's not.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Social Security

You know I don't really believe in polls but I've seen these results in enough places that it's worth noting a majority of Americans think we should "fix" Social Security by taxing the rich. And the President might want to notice that the proposals being floated by his Catfood Commission are extremely unpopular, as they were in 2005 when Bush tried to "reform" the program.

And in contrast to most of our political disagreements, this is one issue where many Republicans agree with the "socialist" left.

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Hate mail for Arizona judge

I'm so old I remember when the media was tut-tutting about the uncivil left because they drop the f bomb so often and how really polite the wingnuts were because they didn't. Of course back then, the teapot Republicans were getting everything they wanted from George Bush. They were arrogant winners then and now they're really mean losers
David Gonzales, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona, says U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has received thousands of phone calls and e-mails since her preliminary injunction Wednesday that put key provisions of the state's immigration law on hold.

Gonzales says some of the messages sent to Bolton are positive, but others are "from people venting and who have expressed their displeasure in a perverted way."
Since she's a woman, it doesn't take much imagination to predict what they're saying. But not to worry. I'm told by the media these are just fringe nutjobs and not representative of the right. Also, any similarities between their speech and Glenn Beck or Limbaugh's rhetoric is strictly coincidental.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Make them talk Harry - Part Two

The Republicans successfully blocked a vote on the small business loan bill today because they didn't get their amendment to extend the tax breaks. And here's Harry Reid playing courtier to them.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he would work with Republicans today to seek a compromise on amendments to the measure. The legislation was aimed at easing terms for loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, providing $12 billion in tax breaks and issuing grants to states to provide business loans.
Brilliant. Negotiate amendments to weaken the bill and then they won't vote for it anyway. That always works so well.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Make them talk Harry

Slow news day and the internets are especially annoying. Best thing I've read is E.J. Dionne's op-ed on the GOP tax cuts. He doesn't say much about those that we didn't already know, but this point on our broken Senate is worth reiterating.
When our republic was created, the population ratio between the largest and smallest state was 13 to 1. Now, it's 68 to 1. Because of the abuse of the filibuster, 41 senators representing less than 11 percent of the nation's population can, in principle, block action supported by 59 senators representing more than 89 percent of our population. And you wonder why it's so hard to get anything done in Washington?
Not just in prinicple but in practice. Continuously. But I still blame Harry Reid for allowing it to happen. Everytime the GOPers throw up their filibuster threat, I read that he's going to negotiate more amendments to weaken bills instead of standing his ground and making them actually filibuster. If made he them stand at the podium and talk where the public could watch on CSPAN, I'm pretty sure this tactic would lose its luster.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Sherrod to sue Breitbart

I suspect on some level this will probably please the attention seeking cretin, but I'm happy to see Shirley Sherrod fighting back against Breitbart's smear.
Ousted USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, the Associated Press reports.

Sherrod made the announcement Thursday in San Diego at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention.
I see Dave Weigel is already calling it a "silly suit" which I assume reflects his right wing pals' take, but bet they're expecting her to sue for defamation. However, that's not the only approach. As a lawyer I follow on Twitter points out, "The woman lost her job as the result of a fraudulent attack. Those are legitimate contract claims."

Whatever the chances of success, I hope she goes through with it. The discovery process should be fascinating.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Small progress on war funding votes

It's true the supplemental war funding bill passed yesterday with a majority of Democratic support, but it's the best vote on war funding we've had since these stupid occupations started.
In the House vote, 148 Democrats and 160 Republicans backed the war spending, but 102 Democrats joined 12 Republicans in opposing the measure. Last year, 32 Democrats opposed a similar midyear spending bill. Among those voting against the bill on Tuesday was Representative David R. Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat and the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the panel responsible for the measure.

Some of the Democratic opposition stemmed from the decision by party leaders to strip from the bill money that had been included in the original House version to help address the weak economy at home, including funds to help preserve teachers’ jobs. But some of those voting against it said they were influenced by the leaked documents, which highlight the American military’s struggles in Afghanistan and support claims that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service were helping the Taliban.
Don't know why the Democrats didn't force the GOP's hand and instead stripped out the domestic funding for the states. I imagine there was some White House pressure involved since Obama is cleary set on maintaining this loser policy for another Friedman Unit or two. But I find it somewhat curious that some claim they voted against it based on the Wikileak revelations.

Since I still haven't seen much of anything in those documents that wasn't already in the public record, it suggests to me that our Congresspeople really are as clueless as the most low-info voters out there. If it doesn't help solidify their seat, they don't really pay attention. Describes what's wrong with our political class in a nutshell.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Little oil spills add up to big trouble

They don't get the press that the big gusher did, but little oil accidents happen all the time. Yesterday there was a mini-gusher in the Gulf, set off when a tugboat struck an inactive oil well. The tug captain says the rig was lit as required. Even more remarkable, when you look at the photos, is to see just how close to marshland that the rig was allowed to drill.

Also yesterday, in Michigan, crews were working to contain a million gallon spill in the Kalamazoo River that was caused by a leak in a pipeline built in the late 60s. These sort of equipment failures happen with alarming regularity as the pipelines age and the oil companies fail to properly maintain them.

One can only hope that if the Congress manages to resurrect some form of an energy bill that addresses the oil industry in the fall, they institute some meaningful penalities for this sort of negligence.

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Gulf Gusher: Oil out of sight, out of mind

A funny thing happened on the way to cleaning up the Gulf. The oil has disappeared from the surface of the sea. The big danger now is that investigating the long term effects of the spill will lose it urgency as it also disappears from the public consciousness. This is somewhat hopeful:
And understanding the effects of the spill on the shorelines that were hit, including Louisiana’s coastal marshes, is expected to occupy scientists for years. Fishermen along the coast are deeply skeptical of any declarations of success, expressing concern about the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants used to combat the spill and of the submerged oil, particularly on shrimp and crab larvae that are the foundation of future fishing seasons.
Scientists have discovered the oil didn't sink all the way to the sea floor. And already, some are suggesting Mother Nature is doing her job by taking care of the oil for us. But I see little mention in the current coverage about the effects of the dispersants. The dispersants are invisible and also broke up the oil into invisible plumes below the surface. But just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.

Furthermore, no one really knows what the long term health effects of exposure to the dispersants will have on human health and the food chain from the sea. Mark my words, ten or more years from now, they'll be studying some mysterious ailments concentrated in Gulf shore residents.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

They come to praise Breitbart, not bury him

With the right wing wurlizter blasting the the internets with feeble, yet vicious attacks on Shirley Sherrod I suppose it should come as no surprise that the Republicans are embracing the race-baiter.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has a party fundraising event coming up in August that is scheduled to feature a very special guest: Conservative media activist Andrew Breitbart, according to a copy of the invitation exclusively obtained by TPM.

The fundraising event, billed as an "Election Countdown," will take place from August 12-14 in Beverly Hills, California, and will also feature other politicians such as California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and Nevada Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Sandoval. Steele and Breitbart are scheduled to co-headline a welcome reception on the first evening, August 12.
Thinking the predictions for a GOP sweep in November are highly exaggerrated. Looking likely to me they're on track to overplay the race baiting before the elections.

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Andrew Breitbart - Terrorist Lover

This is why I love the internets. Thinking someone could do a truly brilliant version with cutaways to make the editing less noticeable but still, a good start and very funny.



[Via Republic of Moronia.]

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Monday, July 26, 2010

If they have nothing to hide...

Shorter Mitch McConnell: This is no time for transparency in political advocacy. If we pass the Disclose Act everybody will know our grassroots organizations are front groups for billionaires.

Longer at DetNews.

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Wikileaks is no Ellsberg - Updated

I've been out all day so I'm just getting around to the Wikileaks story. From what I've seen so far, I just can't get that excited by what I've seen billed as "a bombshell." I have to agree with ProPublica, this is not the Pentagon Papers.
In terms of important disclosures, it's not even close, with the historical importance of today's documents [5] likely to be relatively minor, and that of the Pentagon Papers enormous. [...]

There are many reasons for the differences between these two troves of documents, but perhaps the most important is that today's documents provide a "ground-level" view of the war, while the Pentagon Papers offered a classic "top-down" perspective. Wars are fought on the ground, and the perspective such a view provides can be invaluable. But many of a war's key secrets, especially in political terms, are generated at the top.
All I've seen so far is about tactics and it's not like we don't know this stuff is happening all the time. Call me when they uncover some executive level secrets on policy.

Update: Daniel Ellsberg agrees with me: "However, the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers on Afghanistan – top secret papers relating to policy – had yet to be leaked, he said."

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hot and cool

Third day in a row it's been in the 90s in the apartment and it's not cooling off much at night so I'm off to find a cooling center. But here's some links if you're cool and bored.

This is probably too obvious: 2010 Is Hottest Year So Far in recorded history of weather.

And now for the cool stuff. If you have any interest in Netroots Nation, coolest coverage and it's short, was Roy Edroso's Hunter Thompsonesque cranky posts.

Tom Tomorrow. Also cranky but always cool. Retirement is for losers.

I may the only one who thinks this is cool. Modern day jousting. (yes, in armor, w/ lances and on horses).

Love his work. Maxfield Parrish: Art and Illustrations.

And love his too. A weekly Edward Hopper painting.

Not sure if this was in Paris, but got the link from Eiffel Tower pics. I never get tired of fireworks. Very cool animation of a very big show.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter the world's largest maze.

And a stunning photo of Machu Picchu, Peru.

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Taxing my brain

Slow news day. It looks like the Democrats are committed to ending Bush era tax breaks for the rich and are hoping to use it to pummel the GOPers with in November. That is except for the usual attention whores Blue Dogs.

I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn somebody figured out the Roberts Court is the most conservative, ever. Actually the shock is someone said it out loud. Round-up of what passes for news today at that link. Most interesting item is speculation that Chelsea Clinton's wedding could cost $2 million. I'd be more impressed if they fooled everybody and secretly eloped.

And I hate to jump on the crazy con bandwagon here but this does seem to be tone deaf. I understand why John Kerry would berth his brand new $7mil yacht in Newport, RI instead of Massachusetts, over and beyond the tax dodge, especially if he charters it out. But it surely is more than a little rude for him to have bought it from New Zealand boatbuilders instead of using an American company. Great way to turn New England boatbuilders into teapot Republicans.
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Really Important Point and Click Activisim

This is the most important point and click activism I've ever posted. At least to me personally, since I have a chance to rid my district of the horribly embarrassing Virginia Foxx in Congress.

Billy Kennedy is a real grassroots candidate and he's not a Blue Dog. He's a working man who could make a real difference in Congress. DCCC won't help him because he's not part of the machine. If he wins this DFA contest it's worth 30K and a lot of volunteer hours for him. This is important because this is a really Republican district and also relatively poor financially so it's difficult much money in small donations.

I asked you to vote in the preliminary round. This is final round and Billy is close to winning. Just needs a couple of hundred of votes to make this happen. Final round ends at midnight tonight. So please, take a moment and vote for Billy Kennedy as the the DFA Allstar. You don't have to live in his district to vote. Thanks.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dirty Rotten Anonymous Bloggers

Building a bit on the post below, in pondering their shock over the Sherrod scamdal, two CNN hosts fingered the real culprits.
CNN's Kyra Phillips and John Roberts spent a good five minutes yesterday expressing serious concern over what they called “the dark side” of the Internet: the plague of “anonymous bloggers” who are “a bunch of cowards” for not putting their names...
Yes, those vile bloggers need an ethics checker, a gatekeeper who will protect them from being tempted into running with half-baked rumors and insane conspiracy theories. Somehow they never circled around to noticing they were all just played for useful fools by a guy whose name they know.

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Breitbart lies, Media dies

It's unsurprising Andrew Breitbart, the far right's Cretin in Chief, is unrepentant about the Sherrod character assassination. Even after being exposed as a fraud, he wins. He got fluffed by the major media who gave him a huge forum to further spread his slime. He makes his living exploiting a gullible fan base who eagerly feed on the carnage of his butchered videos. This is not new. This was great for his business.

There is plenty of blame to go around here, but the biggest perps are not only letting themselves off the hook, they're actively covering up their crime.
But certain media outlets have played the story and the political ramifications for the Obama administration (and there are questions to be answered) as if they sprang out of the ether. There's a continuing rush to talk about effect, and very little desire to talk about cause — the steaming pile of misinformation delivered on a platter by one individual with a giant ax to grind.
Yes, the White House and the NAACP screwed it up. They admitted their mistake and tried to rectify it. But the media amplified theirs by failing to pursue the obvious narrative. Breitbart is a serial liar. It's not like they don't know he "snookered them" on the ACORN fraud. Instead they joined Andy in taking his pseudo-prostitute's advice.
"Above all, attack, attack, attack," Giles said. "Never defend."
And pretend you're just innocent bystanders who are shocked -- just shocked -- at how such an awful event could happen.

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The Decline and Fall of the Middle Class

It's been obvious for a long time that globalization is killing the US middle class. The "free trade" that was sold as a way to raise the sorry plight of third world workers has instead dragged the American working class down at an alarming rate.

This of course has been very good for the profit margins of the multinational corporations and the politicians who feed off them, but for the average working person it's an ongoing disaster. The article at the link lists 22 eye-opening and alarming statistics that includes:

* 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

*66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

*As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

*The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

* The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

This isn't going to stop as long as corporations have no disincentive to move their operations to countries where they can get the work done for $20 a week instead of $20 an hour. Meanwhile the average top exec is now making 300-500 times more than his average employee.

Already over 40% of the currently employed can only get low paying, no benefit, service jobs. If nothing is done to stop it this only get worse. But my con critics tell me Paul Krugman is shrill, which makes all liberal facts suspect, so there's nothing to worry about.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

If Republicans regain a majority

Paul Krugman runs down the revisions the GOP is currently making to the history of the Bush era. Read it all if you need the review but here's the point:
Again, Republicans aren’t trying to rescue George W. Bush’s reputation for sentimental reasons; they’re trying to clear the way for a return to Bush policies. And this carries a message for anyone hoping that the next time Republicans are in power, they’ll behave differently. If you believe that they’ve learned something — say, about fiscal prudence or the importance of effective regulation — you’re kidding yourself. You might as well face it: they’re addicted to Bush.
Also this:
And subpoenas and endless witch hunts. It will be the Clinton years all over again, only worse because now there's Fox and the rest of the wingnut wurlizter on the internets to amplify the crazy. Not to mention their stenos in the establishment media.

I won't shed any tears over losing a few Blue Dogs, but it's going to get ugly if Republicans really do take back majorities. Not going to panic yet though. I seem to recall hearing about the great GOP victories of 06 and 08 practically right up to election day.

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Where's the context Mr. Knoller?

Thanks to Twitter, I've become quite fond of Mark Knoller. He's such a big old cuddly bear of a guy and so endearingly geeky with his obsession for statistics. Which makes this hissy post so disappointing. He does steno for the GOPers, excusing their lame excuse that they wouldn't vote for a UI extension because it wasn't paid for and then suggests that Obama is the hypocrite:
But Republicans were quick to remind Mr. Obama what he said after signing a previous extension of unemployment benefits on November 6th of last year.

"Now, it's important to note that the bill I signed will not add to our deficit. It is fully paid for, and so it is fiscally responsible," he said.

So eight months ago, he said paying for the benefits was the right thing to do, but now he sees no need to do so.
Well Mark, where's the context on how many times GOPers passed unpaid for emergency spending, including unemployment extensions under their own watch? Strange that a numbers guy would fail to mention that.

It so happens I watched the briefing where he asked that question. Gibbs was abrupt with him and shut him right down, but Mark wasn't exactly respectful when he asked the question either. In fact, he was pretty damn confrontational. Very disappointed Mark would let his personal gripes result in such a obviously partisan post.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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The rich got richer...

The Bush tax cuts resulted in zero job growth in the 00s. You of course know this already, but I need the graphic for an ongoing series at the DetNews.


[via John Cole]

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

What did we learn?

I've been caught in this weird inertia for the last couple of days, watching the unfolding spectacle we'll call the Sherrod story. Or should that be the Sherrod sorry? Or sorry Sherrod? Lord knows she deserved the apologies she got and is owed the ones she didn't.

Whatever. Here's what I learned from this "teachable moment" -- may the phrase die in a fire and never be resurrected. Andrew Breitbart is a soulless thug. Fox News is a menace to civilized society. The majority of our establishment media are the most wilfully unself-aware in the history of civilization. Oh wait. I already knew that.

What I learned was if Obama would only use his awesome power as the first black president and point out that Breitbart and Fox News are lying, race baiting scum, this would end racism and destroy the far right noise machine. Also, for all its usefulness in some ways, Twitter can be a limitless petri dish for breeding instant outrage and misdirected hysteria.

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RIP Planet Earth

Well it's official. The Senate Climate Bill is dead. It's been a year of record breaking heat but the GOP, climate change deniers and cowardly Democrats won't lift a finger to address the slow motion destruction of our ecosystem from carbon based energy.

The House did their job but the Senate will now only address a very narrow slate of issues related to off shore drilling and "tightening energy efficiency standards." Meanwhile the noose of global warming will continue to tighten around the throat of our planet and our progeny will be the ones choking on our politicans' failure to take responsibility for the damage we do daily to our environment.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thinking

Not posting. The internets are melting in the heat. Been consumed with watching the Sherrod debacle unfold. All I have to say so far, I said at DetNews this morning.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our stupid discourse

There are days when I just feel like giving up. Yesterday the WaPo broke an important story about the huge expansion of our intelligence agencies. These agencies are so secretive no one really knows what they're doing and they're spending boatloads of tax dollars on them. It's not even clear they're useful for national security. In fact, the evidence suggests they're not.

But what was the top clicked story at WaPo yesterday? Sarah Palin said something stupid -- again. On Twitter. And Twitter was abuzz with snarkery over Sarah. Mocking hashtags proliferated faster than breeding rabbits. Almost no one was talking about the surveillance story. Just shoot me.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Perfect

I can't think of a better summation



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When Intelligence is Stupid

Worth breaking the WaPo embargo for is part one of a new series investigating our intelligence agencies, or more specifically the explosion of agencies and money sunk into our intelligence appartus since the 9/11 attacks. The stats are sobering:
Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
More expansion is still being authorized under the Obama adminstration but it clearly isn't making our counter-terrorism efforts any more effective. In fact the evidence suggests it's having an adverse effect with the information overload, interagency turf wars and failure to share intelligence making the whole operation fairly useless.

None of this is particularly surprising. The only real question I have at the moment is why did the WaPo wait until a Democratic president was elected to start investigating? Seems to me this investigation, while it's good, would have been a whole lot more useful a few years ago before it grew to this proportion.

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Modern day koan

If Sarah Palin said something stupid on Twitter and no one talked about refudiated it, would it still make a sound?

Adding, I can't help thinking that the rush to snark every time the woman posts is what is keeping her in the spotlight. Seems like a lot of people who bitch about how the media makes her every tweet and facebook update a major story are the first to rush to post the most clever putdowns every time she surfaces. If I was a big blogger I would organize an ignore and unfollow Palin week. Just as an experiment. I'm willing to bet that if every person who only follows her to mock her did that, her numbers would drop astronomically.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Time waits for no one

Too hot and the news is too stupid for blogging this afternoon so clearing out some of my saved links.

A picture gallery, Rock stars then and now. Quite a few look better as they aged. Others not so much.

One who never got the chance to get old. Watched this three times already. Jimi performing in 1967. The Wind Cries Mary.

Pix and short bios, the seductive Women of Film Noir. Still love a lot of the films from those days better than the contemporary stuff. I like plot and character development better than special effects.

At first glance this doesn't look that appealing, but once you start clicking the links, you could get lost for hours at this 50- year anniversary site of the 60s.

Older boomers that reverted to simpler living. I clicked on this for the details on the tiny little house but ended up watching the whole set of Second Chance videos.

These aren't old, but it's a interesting twist on the age old practice of graffitti. In London they're discovering mysterious doings at construction sites. I call it Sandalism.

And this photo is just beautiful and intriguing. Not sure what it is, but as hudsonette said in the tweet I got it from, "Looks like the Air Force has been up to something."

[photo]

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Salon slaps down WaPo ombudsman

Few things irritate me more than when *serious* newspapers cave into wingnut whining about the "lamestream media's failure" to cover one of their ginned up, phony outrages. And here comes the WaPo's Andrew Alexander to grovel in apology for failing to promote the Black Panther non-story. Joan Walsh doesn't hold back in this brilliant slap at his stupidity. Well worth enduring the odious black screen pop-up to read in full.

Here's a clip to tempt you in:
If he's going to chide the Post, Alexander should be criticizing its failure to debunk the story, not to hype it. In fact, the ombudsman notes that the Post actually covered the NBPP developments in three stories in 2009, but only one this year, published last week, focused on the latest right-wing firestorm. And indeed, the Post embarrassed itself in that story, but not the way Alexander implies. It was first headlined with the breathless " 2008 voter-intimidation case against New Black Panthers a political bombshell," which was later changed to "2008 voter-intimidation case against New Black Panthers riles the right," when someone realized there was no "political bombshell" in the trumped-up charges against Obama. (Alexander didn't mention the headline rewrite in his screed today.) Sadly, features editor Kevin Merida gave Alexander a mea culpa, terming the controversy "significant," and saying he wished The Post had covered it sooner. Ugh. [...]

It's the job of editors at big papers like the Post to expose those lies, and the movement behind them – not to flagellate themselves for not saying "How high?" when right-wing media watchdogs say "Jump!" Andrew Alexander botched his job today.
Especially pathetic since the narrative has already been so thoroughly debunked at this point.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Corporations join GOP in sabotaging recovery

I have a new conspiracy theory. I did a longer post at DetNews, but let me just recap briefly for you high denominator readers who don't need detailed explanations.

So "nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash" and the money keeps rolling in. But they're sitting on it. Any capital investments they're making are apparently happening overseas. But this is the key quote:
A survey last month of more than 1,000 chief financial officers by Duke University and CFO magazine showed that nearly 60 percent of those executives don't expect to bring their employment back to pre-recession levels until 2012 or later -- even though they're projecting a 12 percent rise in earnings and a 9 percent boost in capital spending over the next year.
Interesting timing don't you think? Republicans want to keep giving them mega-tax breaks and an economic recovery won't help GOPers at the ballot box. Economy won't recover without job creation. Since they suffer no meaningful penalty for it, seems to me the incentive for sabotaging the recovery is rather clear.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Quote of the Day

Kevin Drum finds it.
From Rep. David Obey (D–Wisc.), soon to retire after 40 years in Congress, on his biggest regret:

I think our biggest failure collectively has been our failure to stop the ripoff of the middle class by the economic elite of this country, and this is not just something that happened because of the forces of the market.
I agree with Kevin that for all the Obama administration has acheived, it's barely chipped the system. But I'd add that I think people look too much to the executive office to fix it.

The President certainly has a role in advocating for change and maybe Obama hasn't deployed his rhetorical power enough but when I review the events, I'm seeing the problem as largely resting in our Senate. The House has done a lot these last 18 or so months but their work has been subverted time and time again by the entrenched prima donnas using the archaic rules of their privileged little club to waste time in furtherance of their own interests. [via Steve Hynd]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Talk to me

Low posting yesterday because I had a blinding headache I just couldn't shake. Thinking it's the pollen count. Air is pretty murky. But it seems to have abated so a quick cruise through the morning news turns up a few worthwhile quick reads.

Kevin Drum takes on GOP fairy tales about what's being falsely billed by the far right spin machine as "the biggest tax increase in history."
So that's the case. Letting Bush's tax cuts for the rich expire affects only a tiny number of small businesses; it doesn't affect them very much; and it generates revenues of $678 billion. If the only thing you care about is keeping taxes low for rich people, you won't be convinced. For the rest of us, it's a no-brainer.
Gail Collins takes on hypocrisy in the Village generally and in the GOP specifically with an especially good column today. [h/t USLib] This was my favorite line:
Great idea. I think I speak for us all when I say that there is absolutely nothing I would like better than additional talking in the Senate. It always seems to make things better.
And this is why John Scalzi gets book contracts. If you can read this without tearing up, your name is probably Dick Cheney and you no longer have a pulse. Goodbye to Kodi.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

If Republicans win back the House

The GOPers are feeling so cocksure they're going to win their majority back they're not even pretending to care about anything except their Big Business base. The vote on the Financial Reg bill was barely over before they were calling for a repeal. Today, they took it to the next level with Boehner calling for a moratorium on all new Federal regulations for a year.

This brilliant plan came out of the GOP-Big Business confab they had this morning where complaints like this were aired by their cronies.
"Whether it's OSHA, EPA, Wage and Hour," Danner said, "they see all those as new costs and new hindrances to them as a business owner."

Marlene Colucci of the American Hotel and Lodging Association complained that "auditors can come in, look at your workplace, and if they find, let's say, an OSHA violation, then they can go and find what other violations might exist."
Yes, that's right. They want all worker protections and environmental safeguards to be abolished. In other words, it would be just like resurrecting the Bush regime all over again. Only worse.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Well of course the Tea Party is racist - Updated

I'm not really getting the ongoing obsession of the left with proving the Tea Party is racist. I'm sure many of these angry white people can boast they do too have black friends which proves they're not, but the racism inherent in the movement has been obvious from day one. I think the point has been well established by now so what's the point of harping on it? I mean, even if you got them to admit they have racists in their ranks, is that going to end racism? I think not. I don't think it marginalizes them as much as it solidifies their sense of shared victimhood. I certainly think it energizes them more than discourages them.

What is going to discourage them is losing at the ballot box. Although in some ways, I think they have a better success rate than liberals in primary challenges, every time they lose a race, it chips away a little at their delusion that they're a majority. Thinking they'll die out when it becomes clear that all that noise isn't really getting them anywhere. That being said, this bit from the ABC News piece is hilarious.

Harvard historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore said the Tea Party's mixed results in the primaries speak to the current disequilibrium in U.S. politics.

"I actually think it's not a political movement and I think it's important to recognize that," said Lepore ... "People subscribe to it essentially because of beliefs, not so much ideas but beliefs -- about the nature of the world and about the relationship between the past, the present and the future. ... In many ways it defies description."
No it doesn't. These are just a bunch of angry white people who don't really understand how the government works nor comprehend that in allowing their puppetmasters to manipulate them into misinformed outrage, they're fighting against their own self interest. [graphic via]

Update: What I was saying about energizing them? I rest my case.

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Mainstreaming Hatemongers - Updated

WTH is the tradmed thinking? Hatemongering wingnut Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugs, who is so crazy that she makes Michelle Malkin and Atilla the Hun look moderate, is being given a microphone to broadcast her anti-Islam bashing by the major TV networks. MSNBC, CNN, NBC Nightly News and of course Fox are presenting her as an expert qualified to speak on policy.

Apparently, this is because she's the leader of a group called Stop Islamization of America. She describes it's mission "as being based on the beliefs that 'Islam should be westernized, that America should not be Islamisized. We don't believe in Mosque-ing the workplace. We don't believe in introducing Muslim prayer into public schools.'"

Not that any of that is actually happening but that's the sanest stuff she says. For just a small slice of her really crazy spewings, check the link. It becomes clearer every day that the media is a bigger perp than the far right in fostering the insanity currently consuming our society.

Update: Well MSNBC apparently figured out this was a bad idea. They cancelled her Hardball appearance.

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This boat don't float

I love when this stuff happens. Construction at the World Trade Center site unearths an archeological find.
By Wednesday, the outlines made it plain: a 30-foot length of a wood-hulled vessel had been discovered about 20 to 30 feet below street level on the World Trade Center site, the first such large-scale archaeological find along the Manhattan waterfront since 1982, when an 18th-century cargo ship came to light at 175 Water Street.

The area under excavation, between Liberty and Cedar Streets, had not been dug out for the original trade center. The vessel, presumably dating from the mid- to late 1700s, was evidently undisturbed more than 200 years.
Not quite as cool as digging up, say, dinosaur bones or the lost city of Atlantis, but still an interesting find. Sadly, it's apparently going to dissolve quickly into dust now that they've exposed it to the open air.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

GOPers in LaLa Land

As a case on point for the study I posted about earlier, the Republican party has officially agreed that tax cuts are free and never need to be paid for. Not only that, wilfully ignoring all empirical evidence to the contrary, they adamantly claim that the Bush tax cuts created a "vibrant economy." That's their story and they're sticking with it while our country slowly slides into the abyss of third world status.

It's making Ezra sad. It's making me sad too.

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Facts don't crack cognitive dissonance

If democracy depends on an informed electorate, we're in deep trouble. I've often wondered why it's so impossible to get through to my conservative friends and readers even when presenting the most irrefutable evidence. It really can't be just ignorance and stupidity. I know a lot of otherwise intelligent and accomplished people who hold incomprehensively wrong-headed notions about politics. Sadly, it seems the explanation is, facts don't matter, particulary when it comes to politics. Indeed, the more mistaken a person is, the more doggedly they will hold onto the wrong-headed notions when confronted with the truth.

It's apparently a subconscious defense mechanism. This is why their heads don't explode from an overload of cognitive dissonance. The mind simply refuses to process the conflicting information in order to avoid the necessity of admitting they were wrong. It appears we really are doomed and I don't think I mean that ironically this time.

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Meme of the Day

This one has started to make the rounds. Which writer do you write like? I plugged in posts from The Impolitic, the DetNews and Last One Speaks and got Stephen King, Dan Brown and Kurt Vonnegut respectively.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They saved the system...

It's been far too long since I linked to one of my favorite writers who happens to blog. Lance Mannion has an exquisite post on the economy. Just a couple of quotes:
President Obama and the Democrats set out to save the system and succeeded.

Unfortunately for them.

People don’t like the system.

In fact they hate it.


The system is set up to make a few people rich while keeping enough of the rest of us fed, clothed, and sheltered, and relatively healthy so that we’re in a condition show up for work no matter how miserable that work is.

People understand this about the system: In it they matter only in so far as they are productive, and productivity is measured by how much an individual contributes to making rich people richer.

And how gorgeous is this? The words and the insight.
Economies are exchanges of more than money. They are exchanges of trust, support, comfort, aid, advice, concern, and even love.
Seriously, read the whole thing at the link above. Or even better, start of the top of his blog. Lance is on his annual vacation to the Cape and his posts from there are always really fun. You'll feel good after reading him. I promise. [h/t Newshoggers]

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Fox Judge Says Indict Bush and Cheney

You do have to wonder how long Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano is going to get to keep his job after giving this interview where he just trashes Bush and Cheney. Here's the best part.
Nader: What's the sanction for President Bush and Vice President Cheney?

Napolitano: There's been no sanction except what history will say about them.

Nader: What should be the sanctions?

Napolitano: They should have been indicted. They absolutely should have been indicted for torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrants. I'd like to say they should be indicted for lying but believe it or not, unless you're under oath, lying is not a crime. At least not an indictable crime. It's a moral crime.
Of course they will never be indicted in a court of law. But it's good to see them called to account in the court of public opinion, albeit far too late to do any good.

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Billboard Wars

Seems to an increase in ideological billboards in the last few months. This is my new favorite.

Not sure if it's real or a photoshop since I found it on Facebook and it appears to be moving around the internets by email. But either way, I love it.
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Relentless GOP hypocrisy

No great surprise in Eric Cantor's gross hypocrisy in taking credit for a job fair, made possible by some $52 million in stimulus money that he voted against and relentlessly claims didn't create any jobs. I'm expecting to get another email from the DCCC in a couple of days "alerting" me to it. But Cantor is far from the only GOPer taking credit for Democratic bills that they voted against en masse. What I want to know is why the establishment Dems aren't out there every time pushing that narrative into the big media news cycle instead of waiting around for the bloggers to do all the pushback.

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GOP touts deficit raising tax cuts with no offsets

Shorter GOP as voiced by John Kyl: Republicans can't possibly support deficit spending that benefits the working class or extends the social safety net. However, tax cuts for the wealthy don't ever need to be paid for in advance. Eric Cantor agrees wholeheartedly.

As Ezra points out, "Back in the real world, tax cuts and spending increases have the exact same affect on the budget deficit. This sort of comment is how you tell people who care about the deficit apart from people who are interested in exploiting fears of the deficit to shrink the size of government."

And Steve Benen thinks it's a lousy message to be sending to Americans. I agree of course, but sadly the people in the GOP base probably won't see it that way. Not even with pictures like this:

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Democrats doing it wrong - Updated

While I appreciate that the Dems finally decided to fight back against the GOPers I wish they would create their own fresh approach instead of trying to ape the stale GOP tactics. I got an email from DSCC this week. They called it a rant. It was a pitch for money using recycled outrage about Vitter's aide and Sharron Angle's lemonade remark that alreadly burned out on Twitter a couple of days previously. It's the sort of pitch that would probably work for the GOP base, but the Dems don't seem to realize that this is not their audience. Nobody is going to give them money because GOPers said something stupid to prove they're hypocrites. We already know that and don't see the Democrats doing anything to stop them. If they want money and support from liberals they have to deliver something stronger than the weak tea that fuels FreedomWorks.

While the left is prone to get as hyped up over the latest shiny outrage as anyone, it's merely a momentary distraction to pass the time while we're waiting for the Democratic Party to do something of substance. Unlike the GOP base, we know that Hawaii is a state and actually understand how government works -- or doesn't. And no one has forgotten the eight years of excuses during the Bush adminstration for their failure to hold the GOP in check and promote a more liberal agenda. They told us they needed a bigger majority to get anything done. We gave them one and they still didn't deliver much, especially in the Senate.

Why on earth the DSCC thinks we're going to give them more support and money when they failed to deliver strong, meaningful changes to policy is beyond me.

Update: Today the DCCC emails me for money, trying to scare me with Glenn Beck's university, Karl Rove's fundraising prowess and whatever stupid thing Newt Gingrich is doing this week. Dear Dems. I know what the GOP is doing. You want my support tell me what you're doing to stop them. For crying out loud, show us the game plan. Obviously, just electing more of the same Democrats isn't changing anything.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wanted: Better messaging

Atrios schools the White House and I agree with Krugman, it's good enough to steal.
So let’s say Obama’s people have correctly deduced that there’s no chance in hell of getting anything through Congress. They have two basic options. First, they could get on the teevee every day and say, “This is my plan to help. Republicans in Congress won’t pass it.” They could hold rallies in Maine. Allies could run ads. At least people would know who is for and who is against…and just what it was that people are for or against.
Or they could send Axelrod to the Sunday bobbleheads to have him mumble some milquetoast platitudes about maybe trying to get Congress to do something. As Krugman said:
I have no idea what they’re thinking. It would be one thing if polls suggested a tolerable outcome in November, so that playing it safe could possibly make sense as a political strategy. But that’s not the way it is; and it’s hard to see what possible motivation there is for pulling punches. ...
Sadly, thinking the motivation has a lot more to do with corporate threats than it does with the public interest. And a misguided focus on fuzzy centrism when the times call for brutal clarity of vision.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Twain in his own words

If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. ~Mark Twain
I love Mark Twain. I've had that quote on the sidebar since I opened up this blog, so I'm really looking forward to the release of his new unexpurgated autobiography. Think it's going to be great:
Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary. Though the autobiography also contains its share of homespun tales, some of its observations about American life are so acerbic — at one point Twain refers to American soldiers as “uniformed assassins” — that his heirs and editors, as well as the writer himself, feared they would damage his reputation if not withheld.

“From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out,” Twain instructed them in 1906. “There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.”
Of course, I have no budget for book buying these days, but the library will get it eventually and in any event, I'm glad I lived long enough to read it in it's unabridged glory. [graphic]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Actual Journalism - Jones Act Edition

From CNBC. I seriously would never have predicted... I'm sensing a trend here. Milbank yesterday. As I recall there was an AP fact check article that did very well a very few weeks ago. Jake Tapper adopting fact checking for his stint on the Sunday bobblehead show This Week at ABC. It appears our tradmed is discovering fact checks=ratings. I'm willing to break any and all of my personal embargoes to encourage more of this:



Of course, we still have a long way to go before this little trend becomes the norm. Via Digby who also caught Tweety promoting the fiction that his program somehow reflects the voice of ordinary Americans. Which of course is just a Village conceit. [For those who don't know the genesis of the Village reference.]

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It's the income inequality, stupid

I'm not an economics wonk but this seems so obvious that you have to wonder why the geniuses who set policy don't get it, or at least don't take some action, any action at all, to counteract it. I mean really. It's so clearly about income inequality.
The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Robert Reich puts it in more context. After decades of narrowing the income gap, the policy swung in favor of the wealthy again and we have this:
By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.

Each of America's two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following these twin peaks—in 1929 and 2008. This is no mere coincidence. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing.
Again, so obvious, so why isn't it being addressed in some practical manner?

Meanwhile, via John Cole and interesting piece by James K. Galbraith that does a step by step analysis of how the 2008 meltdown happened that is simple enough for a tea party conservative to understand. Not that you'll ever get them to accept the facts. Their capacity for denial appears to have no limit.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Going to their heads

This isn't something I expected to say today. Dana Milbank did good and you should read his column. No, really:
Brewer's mindlessness about headlessness is just one of the immigration falsehoods being spread by Arizona politicians. Border violence on the rise? Phoenix becoming the world's No. 2 kidnapping capital? Illegal immigrants responsible for most police killings? The majority of those crossing the border are drug mules? All wrong.
It gets even better as it goes on. Of course, it will never penetrate the public discourse as long as the star boys like Jake Tapper and Chuck Todd ignore it. But good for Dana for bringing it up. Wish he would write like that every day.

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It's hard to believe...

...How incredibly complicated it is to get a crummy, part time job at the KMart. I don't quite remember the process I went through back then, but I'm sure it wasn't this difficult when I got the job working for Ma Bell as telephone operator back when I was eighteen. I do remember it was kind of fun job. They still used corded switchboards back then.

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Wealthy walk away from mortgage obligations in droves

I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that wealthy people are walking away from underwater mortgages in far greater numbers those "other" people who only got their homes because ACORN bribed Barney Frank to force Fannie and Freddie to give them mortgages or whatever the current conservative narrative is about the 08 meltdown these days. And of course it was "them" and not the unmitigated greed of the wealthy class that caused the meltdown.

Not that anything will ever dislodge that myth among the conservative cultists, but for the fact based among us, NYT's latest study shows one in seven mortgage holders in the million+ range are in default while only one in twelve in low end mortgages are deliquent. This, of course, may have something to do with the fact that the high end crowd is walking away from second homes and investment properties. And even among pure investors, "The delinquency rate on investment homes where the original mortgage was more than $1 million is now 23 percent. For cheaper investment homes, it is about 10 percent."

Of course, it's not that the wealthy can't afford to keep up the payments, they're walking away because they've already drained the equity out of these investment properties and aren't getting any return anymore. But hey, it's good to be rich. If a man steals a loaf of bread because he's hungry, they call him a thief. If he is able to steal millions because he's well connected, they call him a good businessman.

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Demagoguery is killing the GOP

Former South Carolina Congressman, Republican Bob Inglis tells the AP a "poisonous "demagoguery" threatens the party's long-term credibility."
"I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading," he said. "What it takes to lead is to say, 'You know, that's just not right.'"

Inglis said the rhetoric also distracts from the real problems that politicians should be trying to resolve, such as budget deficits and energy security.
Once the GOP had quite a few sensible Republicans like this, but not in the age of Palinsanity and Beckamania. Inglis, a 12 year incumbent, was soundly defeated in his primary by the tea party purgers who follow those pied pipers of wilful ignorance and self-destructive delusion.

Now the GOP belongs to idiots like Tennesee Sen. Bob Corker who is demanding that President Obama and the Democrats pledge to do nothing until Republicans are back in power.
"I think one of the great things the administration can do to cause people to settle down is to say, absolutely, that they would oppose any great activity in a lame-duck session," Corker said during an appearance on CNBC.
What a great idea. They can just hang around and earn their six figure salaries by passing bullshit resolutions or maybe devote their time to investigating steroids in sports again. You know, the important stuff, because Lord knows this country doesn't have any other serious problems that need immediate attention.

[Thanks to Mike Finnigan for the link.]

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Please let this trend grow

Citing financial considerations, McClatchy is discontinuing polling for the foreseeable future. The article goes on to say that it's a growing trend in newsrooms as they struggle with costs.

The death of the daily poll blitz can't come soon enough for me. The data is too easily manipulated and polling has become such a big business that there's just too damn many polls with conflicting results -- depending on who commissions them -- for them to have any real value anymore. Not that it stops our idiot politicians from giving them way too much weight in making policy decisions.

In a 24/7 news cycle, the temperment of the public changes hourly on some days. Mass panic based on unfounded rumors is easily induced and the real facts never get as much traction. Eliminating polling altogether would go a long way towards bringing some cool-headed reality back into our discourse. [via pwire]

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Coddling Conservatives

I'm not familiar with Octavia Nasr's work, but I'm told she's very good at her job so it's really irritating that CNN fired her for one tweet that said something nice about a Hezbollah sheikh who died recently. Given the limits of 140 characters, she simply said she respected him. She explained later the tweet was in reference to his pioneering "on 'woman's rights,' and warning Muslim men against abusing their wives."

This is especially galling coming from the same people who defended the hire of RedStates' Erick son of Erick, a cretin who called a SCOTUS justice a "goatfucking child molester" and suggested scaring off census workers with firearms. Not to mention they regularly give a parade of crazy cons air time and allow them to trash liberals and lie their heads off.

But that's not all in the legacy media's gamebook this week. Markos is banned from appearing on MSNBC because he hurt Joe Scarborough's feelings on Twitter. MorningJoe is possibly the most offensive major media commentator on Twitter and is ridiculously thin-skinned. It would take less time to count how many people he hasn't blocked for hurting his precious fees fees than it would to count the number he's blocked for the most mild criticisms of his inane tweets.

Furthermore, Greg Sargent points out that MSNBC's defense of allowing Joe Scar to blackball Kos is very thin when you consider the attacks Liz Cheney made against their much higher rated hosts Keith Olbermann and Tweety Matthews.

And, of course, this also comes shortly after the WaPo fired Dave Weigel for emails he sent to a private listserv that was hacked and nevermind their other hack columnist who made a series of impossibly lame videos, including one where he effectively called Hillary Clinton a mad bitch and still has his job. As Atrios often says, "Our liberal media. Still not liberal."

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hypocritic Oaf

This is so classic. A Missouri farmer put up a trailer along a freeway in Missouri with the words:
Are you a Producer or Parasite
Democrats – Party of Parasites

Jungerman said he put up the sign to protest people who pay no taxes, but, “Always have their hand out for whatever the government will give them” in social programs.
As it turns out, Farmer Jungerman knows a thing or two about government handouts. He's received over a million bucks in federal crop subsidies. But of course that's different.

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Vote for Billy Kennedy

Billy is in the running for an endorsement from Democracy for America. If he wins the prize it means some serious cash and a lot of volunteer hours to get out the vote. It only takes a half a minute to vote for Billy Kennedy for the DFA Grassroots Allstar. It could really help him win against Virginia Foxx and really help me get rid of that embarrassment of a Congressperson.

Please take a moment and vote. Thanks

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Dear future generations

I'm so sorry that we let these people ruin our planet. I wish I knew how to stop them.

The news from the Gulf just gets more depressing. Even frightening. Today we learn of a new environmental threat.
More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one — not industry, not government — is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Circumstantial evidence indicates some at least probably are leaking already or could repressurize and blow their seals at any time. Meanwhile, an "all-star team of top oceanographers, chemists, engineers and other scientists" are ready and able to conduct an independent investigation on the effects of BP's big gusher and are not getting any support to do this critical study.
"In my mind the really important thing is where are the toxic components going, and what are they killing?" he said. What's coming out of the well is not one homogeneous substance, he explained. Some components of oil and gas are highly toxic and carcinogenic, while others are relatively benign, and the components react differently to the elements.

So some of the key questions, Leifer said, are: "Where in the water column are the more dangerous components of the oil going? And therefore what is the most likely effect going to be on the part of the ecosystem they are acting with? And if that part of the ecosystem is destroyed, is there a cascading effect?"
Important questions to answer, so why the delay? One might think that neither BP nor our government wants us to know the full extent of the probably irreparable damage to our ecosystem. I think I'm ready to start calling this criminal negligence by everyone involved.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Smokestack Lightning

Thinking it's time for a little mental health break. Title of the post from one of my all time favorite songs by one of my all time favorite artists, Howlin' Wolf.

The Impossible Cool. Great photo of Jimi Hendrix.

This was fascinating. What one family eats in one week, from around the world, in pictures.

John McCain explains his position on climate change in 8 seconds.

Very rare video footage of Mahatma Gandhi being interviewed.

Looking for a vacation read? A big metalist of summer reading lists.

Armchair traveling. The Library of Congress: Taking the Waters in La Bella Italia.

Some great photos of the NYC firework show, here, here, here, here and my favorite here. Think that one looks like giant dandelions.

And if you don't recognize that dashing duo on the mini-golf links, it's Cyndi Lauper and PeeWee Herman. Would have loved to join that game.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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No freedom of the press in the Gulf

I get impatient with people who deride President Obama for "not doing more to stop the gusher" in the Gulf. I'm convinced that nobody knows how to stop it and Obama is clearly not ignoring it. It strikes me that people are just expressing misdirected anger out of fear and a sense of their own helplessness. However, Glenzilla finds the right target for our fury, government complicity in media suppression. This is rather stunning.
McClelland also described how BP has virtually bought entire Police Departments which now do its bidding: "One parish has 57 extra shifts per week that they are devoting entirely to, basically, BP security detail, and BP is paying the sheriff's office."
The incidents of media harrassment continue to pile up. A freelance photographer taking pictures for a joint PBS' Frontline and ProPublica on BP's other safety violations, such as their refinery in Texas that "spewed tens of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the skies" two weeks before the company's rig in the Gulf collapsed," was detained and harrassed even though he was doing his work on public land.

The Coast Guard just issued new rules on media access that threaten to jail reporters for up to 3 years, along with imposing hefty fines for doing their job and informing the public. The justification, as always, is public safety and prevention of terrorism. I have to agree with Glenn. It smells more like a cover-up and it veers disturbingly close to police state tactics. [via QL]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Are we too cool?

With the intense heat wave blanketing the northeast, this is probably not the best day to bring this up but a very interesting article on how air conditioning changed America suggests that if we hadn't adopted AC so wholeheartedly, southern Republicans may never have gained the political power they've seen rise since the 1960s. And this factoid surprised me.
Americans now use as much electricity to power our A.C. as the entire continent of Africa uses for, well, everything.
It's a Catch-22 loop. The more we chill our interior air, the more we contribute to global warming, the more we need the AC. Also, the trend towards central air expends enormous amounts of energy cooling the buildings but only a tiny amount actually cools our bodies.

For myself, I haven't turned on the AC in my apartment out of economic necessity but I've never much liked it. Even when I could afford to turn it on at will, I only turned in on briefly. As far as I'm concerned, if you need a sweater to stay indoors in the summer, it's probably set too low.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Not just oil

Corporate capialism is killing us. The ongoing tragedy of the gusher in the Gulf has diminished the focus on climate change, which is still getting worse and threatens the health of the oceans just as much as the oil pollution.
A sobering new report warns that the oceans face a "fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation" not seen in millions of years as greenhouse gases and climate change already have affected temperature, acidity, sea and oxygen levels, the food chain and possibly major currents that could alter global weather.
According the article the next generations will be facing major extinction events. Our great, great grandchildren probably won't remember a time when fish came from the ocean. By then they might not even be able to set foot in it. Meanwhile the multinational corporations fund the denialists instead of putting money into solutions. I suppose they figure they'll find a way to cash in on the misery once the planet is ruined.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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BP well prepared for oil spill -- lawsuits

BP's ability to deal with the ecological effects of its runaway gusher in the Gulf is murky at best, but its priorities are crystal clear. From nearly the moment the rig exploded, the corporation moved at lightning speed to prepare for potential lawsuits. The prospects for the victims are dismal.
The fight against the oil company is likely to take decades.

"Exxon has shown you can stiff those you hurt and tie them up in court for 21 years and nothing bad happens to you," he said. "You hope BP won't do that."
One always hopes but expectations are low. All multinational corporations follow the same well established strategy. As one Florida crabber who has been fighting a lawsuit from past hurricane damage put it, "It's like it's cheaper to pay their attorneys and fight in court than paying the money to people they hurt and doing the right thing."

Sadly, this is true. If they admit liability, their exposure is much larger than it is if they can wear down the plaintiffs with large claims to discourage the smaller claimants from suing at all.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

So you want to reduce the deficit

While the "fiscal conservatives" always look first to the social safety net when looking for "excessive" spending to cut, they miss the most obvious target -- corporate welfare. Like the billions in tax subsidies to Big Oil.
According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.

And for many small and midsize oil companies, the tax on capital investments is so low that it is more than eliminated by various credits. These companies' returns on those investments are often higher after taxes than before.
As Steve quotes at the link, these aren't incentives, they're pure giveaways to an industry that regularly enjoys some of the biggest profit margins on the planet and whose executives take home multi-million dollar annual salaries. But the fiscal cons won't tread on that sacred ground any more than they would consider taking one penny from the bloated Pentagon budget.

No, according to the "experts," none of whom will ever have to depend on the safety net to survive, it's the lazy poor and old people who are the problem. In their world cuts to "entitlements" are the answer. We must destroy Social Securty to save it. But as Atrios so adroitly puts it, "The catfood commission is not about 'saving social security,' it's about stealing from a regressive tax so that rich people don't have to pay more in taxes."

If these guys on the commission weren't so obscenely rich and well connected, they would be locked up as dangerous sociopaths for that mindset.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Happy Independence Day

Well even though freedom ain't quite what it used to be, this is still a great country and there's always hope we can save it all over again from the corporate demons that threaten its soul. And speaking of soul, I always wished this was our national anthem.



Leon Russell did a nice cover of this one too. For the traditionalists who prefer the current anthem, take your pick. Via Doug J, a really nice rendition by Marvin Gaye or the 60s classic from Jimi Hendrix.

Also, in honor of the holiday, fun interactive google logo today. Enjoy your celebrations and be careful shooting off those fireworks.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hannity kicked off Utah radio

I'm glad I lived long enough to see Sean Hannity get his comeuppance.
The last KSL broadcast of the Sean Hannity show will air on October 1, 2010.

The announcement comes after speculation that Hannity's on-air style was not in line with Deseret Media Company's mission statement that calls for civility and other ethical stances.
Station says they're going to focus on unique local content. But I'm hoping this is really the first signs that hatemongering isn't selling like it used to. With Glenn Beck's TV ratings also dropping like a stone, that may not be such a farfetched notion.

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Leave Michael Steele ALOOOOOOOONE

Michael Steele sparked up an otherwise slow Independence Day weekend with his latest tirade against President Obama. Liz Cheney joins the growing chorus of neocons calling for his resignation. That's the last thing I want to see. He gives great blog fodder.

The weird thing is, he's mostly right. Not about it being "Obama's war of choice" of course. It's not even a war, it's an occupation and even the most blinkered wingnut hasn't forgotten who invaded the country in the first place. Which isn't to say that Obama doesn't own the current wrongheaded strategy and misguided justifications for staying there, but really Steele can be so clueless. You might think by now he would realize he's on record as having called Afghanistan, "A War We Have To Win" and who could forget the whole "dithering" narrative the GOPers pushed for days on end?

But Steele is so right that Afghanistan is a losing cause, and no one could win a land war there. I've been saying that myself since before Bush invaded. However, Steele is probably thinking more like we should bomb the place into glass ashtrays and then get out and me, I just want us to leave. Yesterday.

As for the DNC's leadfooted response to Steele's remarks, I have to agree with those who thought it was just awful. Accusing war dissenters of hating the troops and wanting the US to fail is not what I had in mind when I wished for the Dems to push back harder against GOP memes. It was lame when the GOPers used it against the anti-war activists and it still is lame and entirely wrong. Adopting that meme doesn't give me much hope that the Obama administration is getting a clue about what's wrong with being there.

Anyway, if you somehow missed the video, here it is. One can only hope that the left wing critics of the DNC response made the Dems think about the strategy, at least a little.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Glenn Beck's newest brainchild - Beck University

Just when you thought Beck couldn't get any more out there, I give you Beck University. I hear his TV ratings have been crashing, so maybe he's hoping this new gimmick will draw some new viewers, or maybe it's just a marketing schtick for his "extreme insider" subscriptions or a ploy to give his widely panned novel a boost in what I've heard are rather limp sales. Or maybe he's just gone off the deep end and really believes he's the messiah, chosen to save humanity from those horridly liberal, Marxist, communist, fascist, socialist academics.

Crooks and Liars has the details on this new, on-line bastion of higher learning where the principles of Faith, Hope and Charity will lovingly taught by the likes of such brilliant minds as the guy who rewrote the textbooks in Texas to conform with the true conservative version and evangelical theology. Wonkette has the syllabus.

Hey it's the holiday weekend. Thought we all could use a laugh. Or at least a smirk.

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Nature or nuture

It been way too long since I linked to one of my favorite bloggers, Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings. He has a really thought provoking post about the state of our society and our political discourse and wonders if it's cultural or human nature. It reminds me of the nature or nuture arguments of decades ago about "what is wrong with our children."

As then, I think the answer is a little bit of both. How to solve the problems, of course, still eludes us.

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Inside the sausage factory

This NYT profile about Tony Podesta, owner of the hottest lobbying firm in the Village, is a inside look at how little has changed with a Democratic majority.
For lobbyists, the Obama legislative agenda has been a veritable full-employment program, with 2,500 working just on financial regulation alone.

The results are often buried deep in the fine print.
As Podesta points out, the hotter the rhetoric Obama employs against the evil influence of lobbyists, the better it is for his business. It implies a power Podesta claims he doesn't have. Of course he also claims that the fact his brother is a White House insider doesn't help him at all. He doesn't do access. Yeah right. It's all about access in that town.

It's easy to forget that it doesn't really matter which party is in office because in the end, the multinational corporations own everything, including, or maybe I should say especially, the government. Not sure how to solve it but I keep thinking if we could eliminate that fine print from the legislation, it would be a good start.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Don't go in the water

The thing about the Gulf gusher is even if you can't see the toxins, and with the tons of dispersants used on the oil, you can't, swimming in the Gulf is risky.
This week, health officials in Escambia County, Fla., which includes Pensacola Beach, reported that about 400 people claimed they felt sick after visiting the beach and swimming in the Gulf.
There aren't any existing tests to assess the risk. The local politicians and health boards are under the pressure to try and save the tourist season, so it's in their interest to minimize the safety issues, but the long term effects of the invisible dispersants are unknown. The biggest clue we have is that after 20 years, almost every Exxon Valdez clean-up worker is dead at the average age of 51 years old. Probably safe enough to walk on the beach, but I sure wouldn't go in the water myself. Better to stick to the hotel pool.

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The New Maverick in the Village

In a way it's true, now that McCain has leapt headfirst into cracked teapot politics, he is kind of the heir to the Maverick title at the moment. And while I'm no fan of Lindsey Graham or his politics, this long profile in the NYT magazine presented him in a way that does make him seem almost likeable. I was especially fond of this vignette:
On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was “very, very contentious,” he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: “ ‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’ . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.”
And I have to admit, this endeared him to me a lot.
The row house on Capitol Hill that Graham purchased in 1998 is sparsely adorned, says a friend, “with early college-reject furniture” that was in fact left behind by the previous owner. It took months for Graham to realize that someone had stolen a TV of his, since it was in his kitchen, which he never uses.
I still don't have "grown-up" furniture and while I have been spending a bit more time in my kitchen than he does lately, I can so relate. I've never used more than two burners on my stove for decades and I've been in this new place for six months now. When I moved in I broke out two pots, a frying pan and a colander. The rest of my cooking utensils are still packed.

Anyway, it's an interesting piece. Worth a read in full.

[ So embarrassing to have to ask. Please help if you can]

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