Thursday, September 30, 2010

New role for James O'Keefe - Sexual Predator

By now you've heard about latest scandal surrounding Andy Breitbart's former wunderkid Jame's O'Keefe's failed attempt at sexually assaulting CNN's Abbie Boudreau. Today, O'Keefe's wingman, the aptly named Ben Wetmore took credit for wetdreaming up the game plan to intimidate and discredit Boudreau. And he's damn proud of it.

It was, of course, just an elaborate joke:
ESQ: People are accusing you of misogyny and worse. What did you hope to achieve?

BW: It was humor. There was a joke to it — James isn't a lothario of sexual conquest at all. It was going to be awkward, not sexually aggressive. It was meant to be outlandish and ridiculous. When you dissect and sterilize a joke, it's not funny anymore — when you read the transcript of an SNL skit, you're not going to laugh, but you do when it's performed. It seems one way in print, but the video would've looked very different.

I could get very anxious about whatever the blogs are saying, but it's entertaining. It adds a little spice to life. At the end of the day, this stuff is fun.
Right. On video, watching James lure a woman into a situation under false pretenses, where she's trapped on a boat plastered with erotic posters, and supplied with jars of condoms, sexual aids, and fuzzy handcuffs would have been hilarious. To psychopaths and misogynists.

Yet CNN, and the rest of the major media, intially spun this as prank and Bourdeau's post focused only on the lack of respect for her work. Me, the advantage of being "just a citizen blogger" is I got to call it a planned assault in a major metro newspaper. As I said there, what would anyone call it if their daughter, or sister, or wife was the intended victim?

Meanwhile, still left unasked and unanswered by the major media -- who paid for the boat?

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tea Party Epiphany

I'm tired of the endless Tea Party analyses and frankly, I've been running hot and cold on Matt Taibbi lately, but his Tea Party epiphany after going undercover in Kentucky is well worth a read in full. There's more colorful quotes but this one captures the essence.
That's because the Tea Party doesn't really care about issues — it's about something deep down and psychological, something that can't be answered by political compromise or fundamental changes in policy. At root, the Tea Party is nothing more than a them-versus-us thing. They know who they are, and they know who we are ("radical leftists" is the term they prefer), and they're coming for us on Election Day, no matter what we do — and, it would seem, no matter what their own leaders like Rand Paul do.
The one part that especially resonated with me was how every single tea party person claims to be the "exceptional" Republican that hated Bush and railed against excessive spending back when the GOPers were running up the deficit with unfunded wars and tax cuts for billionaires. I hear that every day from my own cadre of conservatives at DetNews.

Makes you wonder who actually voted for Bush in 04 then. Maybe they really did steal the election with the Diebolds?

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Quick quiz

Finally took the Pew religion quiz that's been making the rounds of the internets. Apparently atheists and agnostics score the highest on this one. The self-professed religious do quite poorly.

I scored 100% and only had to guess on one question. For the record, I'm not an atheist. I'm a pantheist. I believe in everything -- and nothing.

I've been an informal student of comparative religion for years. Belief systems fascinate me. I've come to believe that anything enough people believe in, becomes true. However, that doesn't necessarily make it real.

Addendum: My weird dylexia kicked in and I transposed real and true in the last two sentences. But I guess it kind of works either way.


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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to play the game

Spent too long on twitter this morning venting my frustration with our crummy choices for November. I know holding your nose and enabling the Dems won't advance a liberal agenda. But giving up and giving it back to the GOPers surely won't advance it either and will in fact set it back to square one. Or worse.

Maybe I'll do a post about it after work tonight, but for the moment Atrios posts another in a long series of similar suggestions that the Democrats routinely ignore.
The Puppies And Apple Pie Act

The sad thing is that Democrats are just really bad at playing this game. Find an idea that's simple, popular, and easy to sell. Spend six weeks talking about nothing else on the teevee. Then dare the Republicans to vote against it. If it doesn't pass, a few more people actually know that Republicans don't like puppies and apple pie. Wasting time trying to pass small things most people have no clue about is pointless.
It's so obvious that the Dems shouldn't need to be told. And of course, this is the root cause of the frustration on the left. Worse yet, DWT tells me the DCCC is promoting Blue Dogs and ignoring progressive candidates.

Which leaves me with my frustration. I want the DCCC to get a message. I want some Blue Dogs to lose. In fact, I want a lot of Blue Dogs to lose. But I'm sure I don't want the GOP to hold the gavel in either house of Congress. Fortunately, I have two good progressive candidates to vote for here. Worry about places that don't. Where do we draw the line without making it much worse?


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Monday, September 27, 2010

Meet the new boss

You probably heard that the head of CNN resigned suddenly last week. This depressing interview with the new boss, Ken Jautz, formerly the brains behind Headline News, doesn't inspire much hope that it's going to get any better.
Jautz talked about his biggest challenge -- boosting primetime ratings -- the importance of personalities and how TV news can be serious yet entertaining.
He's pinning his hopes on the "new and improved" pundits, Parker & Spitzer and Piers Morgan, who I think was a judge on some talent show, to bring the zing to their coverage. That bell you hear in the distance is the death knell for mainstream news as we once knew it.


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Filibuster reform still breathing

Here's a glimmer of good news in a otherwise dismal news cycle. I thought it was pretty much dead, but while it may be on life support, filibuster reform is still alive.
“It was already virtually certain that we would do something,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “The gridlock has been so frustrating already that the prospect of it getting worse only adds additional logic to try and help the filibuster problem … This is an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster that is completely out of conformity with the traditions of the Senate, and all we’re trying to do is to get it back to its traditional use … The question is about how we do it, not whether we do it.”
Whether anything will really come of this tough talk is another question, of course. The usual suspects, like alleged Democrat Ben Nelson, are against it, along with the GOPers who are against everything. In fact it appears it's pretty much the new kids in the club against the old guard, so I don't have much hope for any changes, but at least it's not DOA yet.

In any event, I'm glad to see the focus is on reform rather than killing it outright. I know a lot of people who think the filibuster is useless and should just be abolished, but I still think it would be better to figure out a way to prevent its current abuse and keep it as a means for the minority party to have a meaningful voice in the debate.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday reading

Slept in this morning and I have to work this afternoon so no time to blog. In the interim, here's a couple of links worth reading.

David Cay Johnston crunches the numbers and discovers the average taxpayer lost $21,000 in income during the Bush years.

A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.

A little known program of the Recovery Act that directly paid for tens of thousands of jobs is about to expire. GOPers will fight against refunding it. Eseentially, GOPers would rather put about a quarter of million people out of work for a campaign talking point than do what's right for the recovery.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mr. Colbert Goes to Washington - Updated

Stephen Colbert created a media obsession yesterday with his testimony to Congress on migrant labor. Of course, the usual outraged suspects in the GOP and their media arm Fox News is apoplectic over Colbert's perfomance. But let's not look back to 2005 when these same people thought it was just fine for a fiction writer, Michael Crichton, to offer "expert" testimony on climate disruption.

The Village media in general is just about as outraged at Colbert's "stunt." Chuck Todd announced on twitter that he was offended. Of course twitter immediately responded with a big FU Chuckie. You offend us too, you sorry excuse for a journalist. Meanwhile, public consensus seems to be Colbert brought attention to an important issue that the media wasn't covering anyway and so what if Colbert stayed in character and made a mockery of a process that is the very definition of a joke no matter who is is testifying? Jake Tapper appeared to think that this didn't so much bring attention to the issue as it did to Colbert and Congress personally.

Jake may deny he feels that way, since he conveyed the thought via a retweet, but as I asked him, did anybody in the tradmed air a report on the substance of Colbert's remarks instead of the optics of his appearance and the reaction of the perpetually outraged politicos? He ignored me of course, and in a way he is right. Because the media won't do their job and focus on more than the one-liner about gay Iowans, the issue probably won't get the attention it deserves.

But the onus isn't on Colbert. While it's true he did stay in character, he also gave some serious testimony that the media wilfully ignores. But that's the media failure, not Colbert's. And at least the issue is coming up peripherally to the shallow coverage. That's more than it had before.

Update: I guess google alerts must be pretty thorough. Can hardly believe he saw this post. Jake Tapper tweeted me and objected to my implication that he might agree with his retweets. He advises he didn't cover the story. Says he didn't answer my tweet because he was on the road and had no idea what the general coverage was and says he tweeted twice, one that liked Colbert's testimony and one that didn't. Here are the two retweets in question:
RT @DVNJr: Colbert stunt brought more attention to migrant worker issue than 1000 hearings would have. Who else testified today? Exactly.

RT @andylevy No, he didn't. He brought attention to Stephen Colbert and to Congress.
Maybe I'm misreading the retweets, but they both sound like they imply Colbert's testimony was a stunt. But to be fair, Jake very clearly states on his twitter profile that retweets are not to be read as agreement and he says he has no position on the testimony. I shouldn't have implied that he did.

On a separate note, I saw a tweet this morning that someone did a piece about how unemployed workers still won't work on the farm. Of course, I promptly lost the link, but it seems to indicate that Colbert's testimony may well generate some substantive coverage of the problem. So there's that...

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Mock Constitutional Convention

I'm on so many mailing lists I didn't sign up for, I often just delete without even looking at them so I almost missed this announcement. I probably did sign up for Larry Lessig and Jor Trippi's Fix Congress First, but the mail came in under a different addy. Anyway, Lessig and Mark McKinnon will be hosting a mock Constitutional convention at a Coffee Party meetup today from 10:30-4:30. It's probably too late to submit questions, but Lessig is giving a keynote at the beginning and you can watch live on line here.


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Fake Populists

I just saw a political ad last night on a local TV station sponsored by Americans for Job Security. I knew immediately it had to be a astroturf front group for some right wing operatives. Fell asleep thinking I should check it out this morning. And then this morning, in a moment of the kind of synchronicity I love about the internets, the NYT unearths an obscure, years old lawsuit from Alaska, that explains exactly who they are.
But after the mine’s supporters filed a complaint with the state, it became clear that what was depicted as grass-roots opposition was something else entirely: Americans for Job Security, investigators found, had helped create the illusion of a popular upwelling to shield the identity of a local financier who paid for most of the referendum campaign. More broadly, they said, far from being a national movement advocating a “pro-paycheck message,” the group is actually a front for a coterie of political operatives, devised to sidestep campaign disclosure rules.

“Americans for Job Security has no purpose other than to cover various money trails all over the country,” the staff of the Alaska Public Offices Commission said in a report last year. [...]

As for Mr. DeMaura, it turns out he is the sole employee of Americans for Job Security, a 25-year-old former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party who cut his political teeth as an undergraduate by starting an anti-Hillary Clinton Facebook page.
This group dances on the knife edge of illegal advocacy by reporting all its revenue as “membership dues.” But the membership dues aren't fixed. Members pay whatever amount they want to. In the Alaskan case, The guy who wanted to quash the mine so as to protect the bucolic splendor of his hunting camp "decided to join by giving $2 million in 'membership fees.'" The fees aren't assessed annually either and their alleged membership "fluctuates wildly" depending on whether it's an election year.

They could hardly be more brazen about skirting the law.
None have been more active than Americans for Job Security, which spent $6 million on ads during the primary season. This week, emboldened by the court ruling, the group paid close to $4 million more for ads directly attacking nine Democratic candidates for Congress. That made it among the first to abandon the old approach of running ads that stopped just short of explicitly urging voters to elect or reject individual candidates.
The court ruling they're speaking of here is of course, John Robert's SCOTUS ruling -- Citizens United. Which is a good reminder of why, no matter how bitter the disappointments or how ineffectual their governance, it's still better to elect the idiot Democrats. If Bush hadn't been re-elected in 04, SCOTUS would have been a very different court.

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I don't know why Roy Edroso hasn't been on my blogroll before now. He's one of my favorite bloggers. I keep thinking he's there but I guess I usually follow links to read him because when I went to look today, he wasn't on it. I swear I've added him at least three times. Maybe I keep forgetting to save the template change.

Anyway, he's on the blogroll now for sure and I recommend you bookmark him too. Nobody skewers the wingnuts so tastily as he does. And by the way, he gets two links because he updates his original blog, ALICU regularly and also has a big media blog, Runnin Scared at the Village Voice.


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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tiny teapot with a big megaphone

Adding some much needed context to so-called sweeping insurgency of disgruntled white, socially conservative, mostly Southern Republicans that have so captivated the tradmed, EJ Dionne asks, "Is the Tea Party one of the most successful scams in American political history?" As he points out
Do the math. For weeks now, our national political conversation has been driven by 86,441 voters and a margin of 5,548 votes. A bit of perspective: When John McCain lost in the 2008 presidential race, he received 59.9 million votes. [...]

But something is haywire in our media and our politics. Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian whose new book is "The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History," observed in an interview that there is a "hall of mirrors" effect created by the rise of "niche" opinion media. They magnify small movements into powerhouses, while old-fashioned journalism, which is supposed to put such movements in perspective, reacts to the same niche incentives.
As Dionne says, "the Tea Party constitutes a sliver of opinion on the extreme end of politics receiving attention out of all proportion with its numbers." And of course a big reason they get it is they're subsidized by big bucks Republicans behind the scenes who can hire high priced strategists to magnify their successes.

This underlies the frustration I expressed in my tired and cranky post yesterday. In retrospect, I was probably taking out my frustration with this unfairly skewed media blitz on progressives who are venting their own frustrations in whatever they feel will be most effective.

I'm still thinking about what's really bothering me about the tactics on the left these days. Maybe I'll write more about it later, but for the moment, Dionne echoes the main point I was trying to make in that post:
And where are the progressives? Sulking is not an alternative to organizing, and weary resignation is the first step toward capitulation. The Tea Party may be pulling a fast one on the country and the media. But if it has more audacity than everyone else, it will, I am sorry to say, deserve to get away with it.
Actually, I don't think he quite gets it. It's not that progs are sulking. They're fighting back. My worry is they're wasting ammo on the wrong targets and shooting wildly at that. So much of what I read coming from the left feels too destructive. I fear the GOPers benefit more from it than progressives do. But maybe I'm just spending too much time on twitter, the home of instant hysteria. Have to say this, via Atrios, strikes me as the sort of constructive criticism that helps. There's probably more of it out there than I'm seeing. At least I hope so.

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GOP pledges to wreck America

Republicans released their "new and improved" Contract with America, expanding the orginal 869 words written in 1994 to 21 pages of brilliant sloganery and retitled Pledge to America. The loyal, low info base will likely love the empty slogans and respond to the thinly veiled dog whistles to bigotry but as Ezra points out, the GOP may well come to regret the specific policy prescriptions and wish they had kept it a little shorter.
Their policy agenda is detailed and specific -- a decision they will almost certainly come to regret. Because when you get past the adjectives and soaring language, the talk of inalienable rights and constitutional guarantees, you're left with a set of hard promises that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, take health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people, create a level of policy uncertainty businesses have never previously known, and suck demand out of an economy that's already got too little of it.

You're also left with a difficult question: What, exactly, does the Republican Party believe? The document speaks constantly and eloquently of the dangers of debt -- but offers a raft of proposals that would sharply increase it. It says, in one paragraph, that the Republican Party will commit itself to "greater liberty" and then, in the next, that it will protect "traditional marriage." It says that "small business must have certainty that the rules won't change every few months" and then promises to change all the rules that the Obama administration has passed in recent months. It is a document with a clear theory of what has gone wrong -- debt, policy uncertainty, and too much government -- and a solid promise to make most of it worse.
Sadly, with an establishment media that is already "reporting" the promises without adding the context of the consequences of keeping them, the GOPers may well get away with this flagrant con job. One can only hope only those 23%ers will be fooled because this Pledge isn't a rescue manual, it's a disaster plan. And by disaster plan I mean, it's a blueprint for taking the disaster they created and making it bigger -- much bigger.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who's to blame?

You know I love Digby but she's just wrong here.
I'm not saying that if the GOP wasn't relentlessly attacking Obama that this woman would feel good about him. He hasn't been very successful at addressing her concerns and there are plenty of liberals who are critical of him as well. But even if he were able to allay her concerns about the economy and the future of the country, the exhaustion that comes from battling back these lunatics is what really takes its toll.
It's not battling the lunatics that's exhausting me. I don't let them bait me anymore. I'm exhausted by the annoyance of watching high profile progressives endlessly battle the lunatics over nonsense and bitch out the President and Democrats for what they haven't done instead of affirmatively promoting progressive policies. It's the negativity on the left that tiring me out.

I mean, how many times do we have to analyze just how racist, crazy or ill informed the conservatives are? How many angst ridden screeds of unsolicited advice to Obama on how to "energize" the base need to be written? Positive advances are virtually ignored by a certain subset of the big name "pro-left" bloggers in favor of rants that don't sound all that different from the Tea Party "can you hear me now" chest pounding to me.

As I said on twitter this morning, it may be fun and satisfying to mock the Tea Party, but they're kicking progressive ass in winning primaries. Seems to me running real progressives and actually winning some national level primaries on our side would energize the base just fine. We're not doing it and as I recall these same progs supported quite a few pretty conservative Dems just to get a Democratic majority in 06 and 08. But now it's Obama's fault because he can't get them to vote liberally?

A large part of this really is attributable to "it's the economy, stupid" but not all of it. Maybe it's time for the progressive left to quit snarking, stop their bitching about what can't be changed and start putting all that suppressed energy into organizing for better policy and better candidates, instead of blaming Obama for not clapping loud enough.

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Victory Mosque

Just when you thought the idiocy about the Park51 cultural center was dying out, a local NC candidate resurrects the stupid. Republican Renee Ellmers new campaign ad trots out the "no monuments to conquest" meme.

The cons often brought up the "victory mosque" in Cordoba, Spain at the height of the Ground Zero frenzy. One wonders how many even know what The Mezquita looks like. I've been there. It's one of the most gorgeous buildings I've ever had the good fortune to tour.

Spent half a day walking around inside. Not without reason is this listed as a sacred site.

Ironically, it was turned into a Catholic cathedral "by the Christian conquerors in the early 13th century." Not that the anti-Muslim bigots ever mention that part. Probably don't even know since I doubt Glenn Beck mentioned it to them.

And then there's the US Embassy in Baghdad. What is this really but the most hideous "monument to victory" ever built? Looks like a prison.

Also the largest, about the size of Vatican City, and the most expensive "victory monument" in the world. Definitely did not get our money's worth out of this monstrosity. And you can't even visit it to see what it looks like inside unless you have the "proper papers." But it's the Muslims who are arrogant victors?

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I finally got a link to my friend Ruth Calvo's blog at The Seminal. If you're not reading her regularly, you really should be. She's now on the blogroll at Atriots.
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Short little spans of attention...

In all my years on the internets I've noticed one thing. Conservatives are incapable of admitting they're wrong. About anything. Ever. But the one thing that never fails to astound is their ability to ignore the failure of their economic gurus even if it means supporting economic disaster. Today Krugman lists some of the many wrong predictions:
Suppose you had spent the last five years actually believing what you read from the usual suspects — the WSJ opinion pages, National Review, right-wing economists, etc.. Here’s what would have happened:

In 2006 you would have believed that there was no housing bubble.

In 2007 you would have believed that the troubles of subprime couldn’t possibly spread to the financial system as a whole.

In 2008 you would have believed that we weren’t in a recession — and that the failure of Lehman was unlikely to have bad consequences for the real economy.

In 2009 you would have believed that high inflation was just around the corner.

At the beginning of 2010 you would have believed that sky-high interest rates were just around the corner.
I did a similar post at DetNews recently and my Burkean believers in the comment section attacked the source, ignored the facts and still insist it's the Keynesians who are always wrong. For this crowd, no amount of verifiable facts matter. If a liberal says it, it's partisan spin, no matter how true it is. There really is no way to crack that kind of cognitive dissonance.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Overpaid incompetents

Hard to see why the Fed even bothered to issue this pointless statement today. Ezra has the shorter, but the shorter, shorter is: "The economy is in the tank. It's not getting better fast enough, proving we are complete failures at our job. But we're not going to do anything about it today. We'll think about doing something tomorrow. And by tomorrow we mean, not any time soon."

Wish we could fire these smug idiots and mandate that they work at a minimum wage slave labor job for a year or so. Maybe then they might feel motivated to the job they were hired to do.

Meanwhile the Senate once again proves its an entirely useless body. Harry let the GOPers and Blue Dogs derail the military appropriations bill, that included the DREAM Act and repeal of DADT, with another idle threat to filibuster. Shorter GOP: "If we can't delay the process indefinitely with a million useless amendments, we're not going to let anyone vote on it." So far not one Dem, incuding Harry, has thrown down the old GOP saw about how holding up military appropriations is tantamount to treason. Of course, forcing grumpy Gramps McCain to actually go through with his threatened filibuster is entirely out of the question.

Really, really sick of being "governed" by feckless morons. Maybe if we paid them according to results instead for just showing up and doing nothing, they would get something done.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The rage of the rich

The outrage of the wealthy who are mad as hell because the government is stealing their money for taxes seems to be the theme of the week. Today Krugman takes up the narrative and speaks to a point I made on twitter the other night.
You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence. It’s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but it’s also a matter of social pressure, since politicians spend a lot of time hanging out with the wealthy. So when the rich face the prospect of paying an extra 3 or 4 percent of their income in taxes, politicians feel their pain — feel it much more acutely, it’s clear, than they feel the pain of families who are losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes.

And when the tax fight is over, one way or another, you can be sure that the people currently defending the incomes of the elite will go back to demanding cuts in Social Security and aid to the unemployed. America must make hard choices, they’ll say; we all have to be willing to make sacrifices.

But when they say “we,” they mean “you.” Sacrifice is for the little people.
Of course they feel the pain of the wealth holders. Which GOPer said just the other day that the rich were "the hardest hit by the recession?" As I mentioned on twitter, is there a single Congresscreature who makes less than $250K a year? Most of them are in the top 1% themselves. Really, they have an inherent conflict of interest in even setting policy on taxes.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Rich Man's Tax Burden

The best read of the day is Brad DeLong's merciless shredding of yet another rich's guy lament about how taxes are ruining the lifestyle he so richly deserves. Start with Michael O'Hare's opening salvo and read them both in full, but here's the crux.
Professor Henderson's problem is that he thinks that he ought to be able to pay off student loans, contribute to retirement savings vehicles, build equity, drive new cars, live in a big expensive house, send his children to private school, and still have plenty of cash at the end of the month for the $200 restaurant meals, the $1000 a night resort hotel rooms, and the $75,000 automobiles. And even half a million dollars a year cannot be you all of that. [...]

And here is the dirty secret: Professor Henderson thinks that that is the way things should be because he knows people for whom that is the way it is.[...]

Instead, Mr. Henderson looks up. Of the 100 people richer than he is, fully ten have more than four times his income. And he knows of one person with 20 times his income. He knows who the really rich are, and they have ten times his income: They have not $450,000 a year. They have $4.5 million a year. And, to him, they are in a different world.

And so he is sad. He and his wife deserve to be successful. And he knows people who are successful. But he is not one of them--widening income inequality over the past generation has excluded him from the rich who truly have money.
Yes, income inequality has even hit that top 1% of earners. But he's not mad at the people above him on the ladder who padded their pockets at his expense. No, he blames the "lazy people" at the bottom who expect to live on such "undeserved" entitlements as Social Security that "his" tax dollars have to pay for. Break my heart.

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Sheriff Arpaio's office under investigation

This is actually an old story. Or at least the accusations are old, I remember reading about the allegations of corruptions back when the worst Sheriff in America was conducting this witch hunt:
Top officials in the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio used its anti-corruption unit to conduct politically motivated investigations, misled the public about a campaign fund that helped Arpaio win reelection and surveilled the Arizona lawman's campaign rivals, according to an internal memo from a high-ranking officer. [...]

The most significant part of the memo concerns a search warrant that Hendershott allegedly directed to be served on the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, with whom Arpaio, also a Republican, has been embroiled in a lengthy feud. Arpaio and an ally, former County Atty. Andrew Thomas, filed conflict-of-interest charges against two supervisors that were quickly dismissed by judges as legally unsound.

Those charges, and investigations of the judges and other critics that followed, are believed to be at the heart of the federal grand jury probe.

Munnell wrote that, since the anti-corruption unit was formed in 2007, "it has been the pattern and practice of this unit to conduct politically motivated investigations at the implicit direction of Hendershott."
Of course the down side is, looks like his number two man is going to be the sacrificial lamb and the evil Sheriff won't go down for it. One can be sure it didn't happen without his authorization. But good to see to see his department called out for it in some kind of official manner anyway.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

But did she play softball?

It's been a stupid, crazy day for me. Almost crazier than our political discourse which is so stupid today I barely feel like talking about it. But this Christine O'Donnell oppo hit is worth remarking on briefly.

She appeared frequently on Bill Maher's show in the 90s. He apparently really wants to be the one who scores an interview with her now that she abruptly cancelled on both "Face the Nation" and "Fox News Sunday, pleading a previous commitment to a church picnic. Seems likely that was related to Maher releasing this previously unaired clip of O'Donnell saying:

O'DONNELL: I dabbled into witchcraft -- I never joined a coven. But I did, I did. ... I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do. [...]

One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that. ... We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.
A self-professed 41 year old virgin on "one of" her "first dates with a witch?" As opposed to a warlock? If she was Democrat, or say a Democratic President's SCOTUS nominee, Tweety and Unka Pat would be making thinly veiled references to her sexual preference.

In any event, Maher says he has lots more video and he's going to keep releasing it piecemeal until O'Donnell agrees to appear on his show. I'm suddenly hooked on this soap opera. Pass the popcorn.

Update: To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with people who practice the Wiccan, or any other pagan, traditions. The reason is matters here of course, is that O'Donnell and her supporters put themselves forward as "more moral than thou" Christians.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Self-serving Senator from Indiana

Apparently not all retiring Senators care about doing the right thing on their way out the door. With "Democrats" like Evan Bayh who needs Republicans?

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) has adopted the Republican line when it comes to the Bush tax cuts, even though he likes to style himself as a deficit-hawk.

Today, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked Bayh about the poverty data, and whether there is a disconnect between the real economic pain that people are feeling and lawmakers squabbling over tax rates for the wealthy. Bayh agreed that there is a disconnect, but then concluded that the poverty increase means lawmakers should forget about “fairness and things like that” and cut taxes for the rich: [...]

Bayh conceded that the top two percent of earners doesn’t include many small businesses, but said that we should spend more than $800 billion to cut their taxes anyway, because “we want them doing more hiring, more investing, and at least hanging in there from a consumption standpoint.” However, according to a new study from Moody’s Analytics, the rich are more likely to save the money if their taxes are cut than spend it.
Of course, he falls into that top tier of income earners, that tax break will come in handy for Mr. Bayh in his retirement. The only good news here is he'll be gone by January.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big wind in Gotham City

Wow. I'm offline for a few hours and a tornado hits Brooklyn.

Crazy. Wonder how long its been since the last time a tornado hit greater Manhattan? More photos and video at the link.

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"Gee Brain, what do you want to try to do tonight?"

"The same thing we do every night Pinky. Try to take over the world! "
I've delberately avoided jumping on the O'Donnell snarkery. Frankly, I don't find it that damaging that Crazy Chrissie is anti-sex, doesn't believe in evolution and is against stem cell research. That's a pretty mainstream GOP position these days. But this cluelessness O'Donnell quote is just too good to pass up.
"They are -- they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they're already into this experiment."
Of course the closest they've come is to clone single brain cells, but hey there is evidence in her defense. The Brain, Mickey, Mighty Mouse, Speedy Gonzales and of course the venerable Topo Gigio are all very smart mice.

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Rove caves to far right crush

Well that didn't take long. After being trashed by everybody from Slime Princess Malkin to gasbag Rush Limbaugh yesterday for mentioning O'Donnell is a nutcase that is going to cost the GOP a win in Delaware, today Karl walked back his criticism and endorsed her. In fact he takes credit for raising campaign donations for her.

Could be that was the plan all along. Any time Rove does something out of character, I always suspect it's some kind of trick. Or maybe he's just a wuss and couldn't take the heat. But he was right the first time. Crazy Chrissie is a nut case and unlikely she'll get elected.


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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Much ado about not much - Updated

Everybody is doing the post-mortem on yesterday's primaries and unsurprisingly the buzz is about crazy Christine O'Donnell and the chaos in the GOP response to her win. Most interesting part of that is Rove is getting beat up by the purists and Rush is trashing him this morning on the radio for daring to mention on Hannity's show that Chrissie is --um-- batshit crazy.

Creepy Palladino in NY state not getting as much attention. I'd forgotten last night that he was the candidate that sent out the mass emails featuring overt racism and implied beastiality. Which kind of makes one wonder what really goes on in the barns of the conservatives' farms in upstate New York.

Also looks like the Palin-endorsed nutcake in New Hampshire is going to win. Forget his name already. Something French. Which is also kind of weird considering the same people who are voting for him invented Freedom Fries. Whatever.

Internets have to obsess over the instant minutia but in the end this is the real story on the primaries: Final tally: 417 Sens. & Reps. renominated, 7 lost (98% won). That includes Charlie Rangel who won his primary.

Apparently Democrats aren't any better in weeding out the corrupt than the Republicans are. Nothing really changes all that much.

Update: Got the New Hampshire thing wrong. French guy apparently lost by about 1,600 votes and he wasn't Palin's choice. The Snowflake Grifter endorsed the winner, who is apparently one of her "mama grizzly" girls. But her name still sounds kind of foreign. Ayotte. Sounds almost Arabic doesn't it?


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Tribalism in the 21st Century

I really should bookmark his page. I sometimes forget how much I like Mark Morford's work. He has a great post on Islamophobia today. Love this turn of the phrase:
The sentiment has since grown in fits and farts and boozy burps, fanned by Rush Limbaugh's moron Dittoheads, Glenn Beck's gullible simpletons, and of course, the Tea Party, perhaps the first significant political movement entirely dependent on our failing educational system to survive. Truly, the Tea Party might just be the dumbest gaggle of humans ever to rally around a nonsensical, as-yet-unstated worldview no one can quite spell out. Because they have no clue what the hell it is.

But they do know one thing. They are against a general Islamic takeover of America, Wal-Mart and NASCAR. They do not want their wives forced to wear a burka. They do not want to have to walk all the way to Mecca. Where is that, like, in Peru or something?
Don't be fooled by the quote. It's not really a TP bashing post. As he points out so eloquently, tribalism knows no boundaries.

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Couple of big wins for the crazies

Too funny, but not a joke. Crazy Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and kooky Pallidino in the NY gubernatorial win their GOP primaries. Changed everything.

Hearing Unka Karl is unhappy. Can't say I am. He created this monster and I'm wondering tonight if we're seeing the beginning of the karmic kickback.

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Sadly, wrong

This guy is a total asshat. I don't at all support his burning of the Koran at Atlas' Thugs hatefest but no way should he be fired from his job for it. Unless he walked off his job to attend, or was wearing his uniform when he did it, which doesn't appear to be the case, then in the context of the setting, his idiocy falls under protected political speech as far as I can see.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The power of ignore-ance

I don't give a flying leap what Dinesh D'Souza has to say about anything. Ever. And I'm probably one of ten people on the entire internets that isn't a huge Dave Weigel fan. It's not that I dislike Dave, I just don't find him as hot as everyone else seems to so I don't read him that often and I stopped following him on twitter. But he nails the liberal noise machine today.
And that's the answer to the "Why publish D'Souza?" question. It should be obvious by now that there is literally no conservative argument too "crazy" to be obsessed over by liberals. Every time a new one surfaces, they try to run it out of the mainstream by drawing extra attention to it.
This dynamic has been driving me crazy for a while now. The justification is "one must debunk the crazy with endless snark and/or analysis" in order to marginalize it but as a practical matter by deeming it sane enough to bother to debunk at length, it ends up widening its exposure and gives the Village media an excuse to put it on TV because "everyone is talking about it." Which ends up giving it more legitimacy, not less.

Not saying people should ignore the lies altogether, but can't help but think launching into a days long competition to see who can mock it most cleverly, or most thoroughly, isn't really helping. It still allows the nutcakes to drive the narrative. I'm guilty of this myself to some extent, but it strikes me it might be more helpful if we pushed our own narratives instead of constantly reacting to and reinforcing wingnut memes.

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Tea Party Takeover?

Maybe I'm just down because I can't kick this respiratory infection from hell, but I can't seem to muster up much excitement about the primaries today. Mostly, I'm just glad to see they're almost over so we can get on to the general. Going to be an interesting midterm with so many kooky Tea Party insurgents winning the GOP primaries. It appears their strategy is going to be to avoid the unfriendly "lame stream" media but if I know the DC press corps, I'm guessing they'll take that as an insult and do some oppo of their own in retaliation. And hell, maybe the Dems might even figure out how to shed some light on the extremists in the field via their own campaigns.

The only primary I'm at all interested in today is the certifiably crazy Christine O'Donnell in Delaware since so many hard core cons are fighting against her. Can't decide if they're geniuely scared or just playing some kind of reverse psychology here, but juding from how many establishment GOPers were kicked out this cycle, somehow I don't think the GOP strategists understood what they were unleashing when they ginned up those Tea Party tantrums in 09.

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Senate finally does something

The Senate Democrats finally got their act together and managed to snag a couple of GOPers to overcome GOP obstruction of the small business bill. We knew since last week that retiring Sen. George Voinovich was going to break ranks to help. And he made a brave statement about it:
In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support Republican efforts to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional amendments. Most of the proposed GOP amendments "didn't have anything to do with the bill" anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan "messaging."

"We don't have time for messaging," Voinovich said. "We don't have time anymore. This country is really hurting."
Unclear why GOP appointee George Lemieux of Florida got on board with some actual governance. Maybe he doesn't care about party loyalty since he's not running to keep the office, though he appears to be a career pol in general and this breach could hurt his future prospects. In any event, good for him for joining Voinovich in moving this tiny little bill forward. Cheers me up a bit to see the GOP's intractable obstructionism broken once in a while.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Outgoing Senator: "The public doesn't understand how it works"

Interesting interview with retiring GOP Senator Bob Bennett of Utah. He's the guy who was defeated in a Tea Party takeover at the nominating convention. His recollections of horsetrading in the past are revealing and worth a read but these are the best quotes:
I learned very, very firmly [then that] you don’t approach things around here the way you do other places.

The personal relationships of the egos in this place are such that you better be a whole lot more sensitive to them than I was on that occasion, or you pay a huge price.

Elections are won on slogans — or as Bob Woodward says, the symbols. Governing is very different. And governing goes forward on ideas. The Republican Party is short on ideas. They’re very long on slogans right now, but they’re short on ideas.

So I think the party is on the threshold of what everybody in the press will call a historic victory and we’re on the threshold of real problems if we don’t have a governing philosophy.
I remain unconvinced that the GOP is going to get as big a win as the polls are currently predicting but the point on sloganery is well taken. The GOP has consistently won on better slogans. For some reason liberals haven't been able to come up with bumpersticker length monikers that stick to the cons. Which reminds me of this piece I picked up at Avedon's place a while ago asking for new slogans. There's a liberal faction that's pushing "cheap labor conservatives," but while I don't hate it, it just doesn't quite do the trick I think. Thinking it's a little too long and requires a bit too much inside knowledge to resonate with the low info voter.

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"We run things"

Apparently Freedom Works staged another rally in DC this weekend. The crowd appears to be the usual mix of bussed in birthers, other assorted "ers", gun nuts and old overweight white people. Their numbers are shrinking but they're making up for it by hollering louder.
This crowd was not nearly as large as the one that marched last year, or the one at Mr. Beck’s rally. Ending up on the western slope of the Capitol, it stretched back, stopping just short of the National Mall. But in many ways the crowd was louder than the one that had amassed for Mr. Beck. He had asked people to leave signs at home; FreedomWorks encouraged people to bring their signs, and to get loud.
I have a number of these TP types in my comment section at the DetNews and this is a prevailing belief:
“We run things,” Ryan Hecker, a young Tea Party activist from Houston who conceived of the contract, told the crowd. “Not only should we be listened to, we should be shown deference.”
They believe this because the GOP and the media treat them as serious, instead of seriously deluded, people. Sometimes I wish we could throw the whole lot of these useful fools into the middle of Montana, or somewhere, and make them live by the rules of their dystopian blueprint for America. Would make a helluva reality show.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Newt Gingrich is a thug

In fact, Newt Gingrich has always been a heartless, soulless thug. But now Newt is a completely deranged, conscienceless thug. Yet he continues to get treated as a Very Serious Pundit by the establishment media and the doyennes of The Village.

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GOP can't wait to shut down the government

The Greek chorus of GOPers who are drooling over gaining enough seats to really screw up the country is growing. The lastest to join the choir is Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), the vice chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who wants to take us back to the golden days of the early 90s.
If Republicans take back the House, Westmoreland said, they would use their new majority to force a budget battle akin to the fight staged by former Speaker Newt Gingrich with President Clinton and shut down the federal government. Westmoreland cautioned that he was fully aware that such a move would close down hospitals for veterans and shut down National Parks. But, Westmoreland argued that taking down the government is worth “the pain” because health reform and government programs are like a “gangrene” that “need to be cleaned out”:
If government shuts down, we want you with us. We want you with us. We gotta have you because later on you all will call us and say look I didn’t get my check. Daddy can’t go to the VA. You know, the National Parks are closed. We need to be sure that you are with us because let me tell you this, all Americans need to understand. We need to understand this and I hope you can help share this analogy with people.
He then mutters something incomprehensible abut chain saw accidents and gangrene. I guess he means the vets that depend on the VA for care had better avoid chain saws so they can support his dastardly plan. And when he says we'll get calls about those missing checks, he's talking about Social Security checks and Medicare coverage. Maybe they could even shut down the federal courts and suppress those "activist" judges. Just brilliant.

The good news is, if this happened, chances are the GOP would really be done for at least another generation. The bad news is, in the interim, people would probably die. Every day I'm increasingly convinced these old GOPers have seriously cracked up and lost their minds completely.

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True American Hatriots

Sorry, I came from work and totally crashed yesterday. Slept almost 12 hours, so I'm a day late for this, but seriously, I'm ashamed to have to call these disgusting attenion whores my fellow Americans. Of course, I'm talking about Atlas Jugs and her band of Thugs who held an anti-Muslim demonstration at the Park-51 site yesterday. Pammy claims it was "a rally of remembrance" and "not a political event, it's a human rights event."

Yep, nothing says honor the dead like a hatefest in support of denying an entire class of Americans their right to practice their faith. And nothing political about this:
John Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, was expected to send a videotaped message of support to the anti-mosque rally, as was conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. Anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who advocates banning the Quran and taxing Muslim women who wear head scarves, plans to address the crowd in person, as do a handful of Republican congressional candidates who have made opposition to the mosque a centerpiece of their campaigns.
On the brighter side, the pro-tolerance activists responded with decorum and class.
More than 2,000 supporters of the project, waving candles and American flags, held a vigil near the proposed Islamic center's site Friday evening instead of Saturday, saying they wanted to avoid entangling the mosque controversy and the Sept. 11 observance.
One 9/11 family member who supports the building of Park51 posed a question to the Bigot Brigade. She said, "People have a right to free speech. But if they're talking about sensitivities to 9/11 families, why are they rallying and doing events on a day we should spend thinking about those we lost?"

Geller responded with, "All right Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up now." Okay, I made that up but I bet she was thinking it while flashing her tits at the camera crews.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Just Us

I missed the President's presser today, but I'm hearing it went very well. Of course the Park51 cultural center was brought up by Fox, and Obama gave the perfect answer. Read it all at the link, but this part really resonates:
The other reason it's important for us to remember that is because we've got millions of Muslim-Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They're going to school with our kids. They're our neighbors. They're our friends. They're our coworkers. And, you know, when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?

"I've got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan, in the uniform of the United States armed services. They're out there putting their lives on the line for us, and we've got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes: They are Americans. And we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don't differentiate between 'them' and 'us.' It's just 'us.'"
I made sort of the same point in a related post at DetNews this afternoon relative to the Twin Towers Muslim prayer room, a compelling story that should also be read in full. Ground Zero and the tragedy of Ground Zero belongs to everyone -- Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Shiks, Hindus, atheists and probably a dozen other religions among the 70 countries who lost their citizens there. No one has the sole claim to dictate who what happens in that space.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Practically my neighbor

They call this the Bible Belt and the evangelists make a big show of preaching on street corners and parading their piousness. But all too often I hear about ministers in these churches preaching hate against "the other" and barring those even of their own faith who don't conform to their purity tests from attending their services. This guy is especially egregious though.
This past Tuesday, the FBI arrested 26-year old Christian radical Justin Carl Moose in Concord, NC for “providing information to create explosives” to “blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic.” Through his conversations with an FBI informant and his Facebook page, Moose expressed virulent “anger at abortion doctors, President Barack Obama’s health care plan, and plans to build a mosque near ground zero in New York city.” He goes on to describe himself as “the Christian counterpart to Osama bin Laden” who “has learned a lot from the muslim terrorists and have no problem using their tactics.”
This "Christian" terrorist leaves less than an hour from me. In the course of the sting operation he gave explicit instructions to the FBI informant on how to carry out a murder spree. The scary part is, if you read the comment sections in the local media under any story having to do with religion, such as the county commissioners who wanted to open their meetings with Christian prayers only, you'll see this sort of hateful intolerance is bubbling under the surface all over the state. This guy is more blatant than most, but I doubt he's the only one willing to kill for Jesus. Just crazy.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thank you for not playing

Well, the breaking news on twitter even as I write this is that the idiot pastor in Florida has just called it off but one wonders if it has anything to do with the AP refusing to cover the Koran burning stunt. I see in the interim, Fox also announced they wouldn't cover it. And Jay Rosen has been turning down interview requests all day, refusing to feed the stupid media frenzy.

Of course, I pointed out that feeding the crazy was a bad idea two days ago. But no one listens to me. In any event, the damage is already done. Crazy guy got all the attention he wanted and now every Islamophobic nutcake in America will be hatching up ways to up the ante and get their fifteen minutes of fame too.

Meanwhile, I'm betting we'll see at least two more cycles "reporting" on "why did the crazy guy cancel the event." It's enough to make you wish for a missing white girl or a shark attack...

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Super PACs and the media

Welcome to the world of politics after Citizens United.
At least 25 “super PACS,” including one linked to Karl Rove, are fueling a surge in money for this year’s elections following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down limits on corporate campaign spending. [...]

The new super PACs emerge as spending is already surpassing past midterm elections. As of late last month, outside groups and the political parties had spent $150 million on ads, up $41 million from the same period in 2006, said Evan Tracey at Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group in Arlington, Virginia.
They spend this money mainly on TV ads to create faux controversy. TV media stars then pump up the faux outrage with their "reporting." Coincidence? I think not.

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NC Sheriffs want access to private medical info

Just brilliant. What could go wrong?
Sheriffs in North Carolina want access to state computer records identifying anyone with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances. [...]

The state sheriff's association pushed the idea Tuesday, saying the move would help them make drug arrests and curb a growing problem of prescription drug abuse. But patient advocates say opening up people's medicine cabinets to law enforcement would deal a devastating blow to privacy rights.[...]

Sheriffs made their pitch Tuesday to a legislative health care committee looking for ways to confront prescription drug abuse. Local sheriffs said that more people in their counties die of accidental overdoses than from homicides.
So how would giving the cops access to pain med patients' medical records prevent accidental ODs, one wonders? Would they stake out the homes to see if the lights go on at night? Do hourly checks on their state of consciousness by phone? Don't see how that excuse could be any more bogus.

Sheriffs also say the access would help them go after those who are "abusing the system." Which is a code word for fishing for legitimate pain patients, and the doctors who prescribe for them, whom they can shake down for forfeiture property which has become a large source of LEO income over the last decade or so. Just ask Richard Paey or the pain management physicians who have been jailed or driven out of practice.

Medical records are private for a reason and the potential for breach of that privacy via loose use of access by local sheriffs certainly outweighs any alleged potential benefit of giving it to them.


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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Seeing stars

Been a brutal couple of days at the sucky big box store job and I just got home today so a little linkfest of odd stuff.

My pal Roy Edroso got a shoutout from Tom Tomorrow in this cartoon. That's as good as getting a Pulitizer in the blogosphere.

Geek heaven. A gallery of DragonCon costumes.

Didn't get around to watching this yet, but I heard Alfred Hitchcock in on of them. Seven must-watch What's My Line episodes. I loved that show.

My friend Kevin drives a truck for a living and I love this picture. This is sort of place I want to visit when I travel because I'm a geography geek too I guess. Standing in 3 states.

And I haven't tried this yet either, but I want to keep it in mind for when the Muse deserts me. From my friend Misha on twitter: "If you need a right brain infusion (creativity) press your right nostril shut and breathe through your left nostril for 5 minutes."

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Don't count Dem losses before they hatch

The hysteria on the internets about the November elections is getting to me. I've decided to laugh at it instead of letting me annoy me. All this "ZOMG the GOP is going to win big" wailing or chestpounding, depending on one's affiliation, is sort of comical. It's like almost no one has an attention span longer than ten minutes. I mean am I the only one that remembers around this time in 08 polls were showing McCain either leading or really doing well in the polls? It's a fool's game to predict outcomes more than four weeks away from the election. Anything can happen and some inconsequential event, or even important event, can change everything in an instant.

But even if somehow, the Tea Party crazies manage to win some seats, or even a majority this November, in the long run, this will be good for liberals. Some part of me hopes they do win, because once they're in office and the real life effects of their insane rhetoric manifests, it will be the biggest disaster ever and apparently the low info voters need the reminder. Though that's likely to destroy me personally, since I'm already living on the fringe edge of homelessness, the crazies will be marginalized for generations and that will be good for everyone in the years to come.

But I'm not betting on the big GOP sweep just yet. People say a lot of things and polls are so over-weighted these days as to be meaningless. As my favorite pundit Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over, till it's over." That's never been more true.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Restoring Truthiness 10-10-10

In response to the ridiculous Beckfest last week, a new movement has arisen to support a Restoring Truthiness Rally.
A grassroots campaign has begun to get Stephen Colbert to hold a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to counter Glenn Beck's recent "Restoring Honor" event. The would-be rally has been dubbed "Restoring Truthiness" and was inspired by a recent post on Reddit, where a young woman wondered if the only way to point out the absurdity of the Tea Party's rally would be if Colbert mirrored it with his own "Colbert Nation."

Now with its own website and Facebook group with over 8,000 members, the call for Colbert to hold a rally is spreading through the Internet like wildfire. Aside from being a satire of Beck's rally, the petition claims the rally is necessary because, "Recently our nation has suffered a truthiness drain."
Who knows if that will go anywhere or just be a flash in the pan meme, but I love the poster.

Meanwhile, this One Nation Rally on 10-2-10 is the real deal. I'm unlikely to be able to join the march myself, but it would be great to see a big turnout of DFHs and other liberal types if only to prove our side can do more than just throw up endless snarky mockery in response to the Tea Party.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]


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Infrastructure spending

The news has been full of stories all week about how the Democrats and Obama wouldn't be asking for any additional spending for job creation, and would be going for tax cuts only, but today, I assume based on advance copies of his remarks, Obama is going for infrastructure spending after all.
President Obama on Monday is to call for as much as $50 billion in government spending to start up a long-term public works plan emphasizing transportation projects – roads, rail and airport runways – over the next six years.
Of course, asking for it and getting it are two different things.
Mr. Obama will lay out the plan, which is intended to promote the creation of construction jobs over the coming year and beyond, during a trip to Milwaukee on Monday afternoon, where he will observe Labor Day by attending a union festival. It would require Congressional approval, as it envisions extending and revising a broad transportation policy bill that is usually renewed every five years or so, but has been stalled in Congress.
It's not likely the Congress will suddenly become a model of efficiency and common sense and will start passing bills before November. Still it's a fight worth having and if they play the optics right for a change, it will really highlight how the GOP/Blue Dog obstructionisim is hurting the recovery. So there's that.

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It's a free concert man...

Still down with this horrible respiratory thing, but improving slightly on some days. Was sitting at the computer last night while this live band played at the neighbor's party. Sound was perfect. Band was so good I walked over to get their name. Never saw them. With my ususal good timing, they went on break just as I got there, but talked to some guests on the sidewalk. Looked him up this morning. Thought he was going to be an old black man by his sound. Instead, I discovered he's a young white kid.

More about him at his web site.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Quote of the Day

From a friend on Facebook, this pretty much sums up my personal credo.
If you can't fix it with duct tape, you haven't used enough yet.
Seriously, there's nothing it can't do.
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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Tea Party at the barbershop - Updated

Although I don't go to the barber, I find myself in similar situations to this many times here in the south. I don't usually steal a whole post, but this is too good to excerpt and I link enough to John that I don't think he'll mind if I steal this one outright.
Just got back from getting my haircut. I go to a barbershop where it is mostly old-timers, and I’m not exaggerating when I state that I am routinely the only person this side of 70 in the waiting room, and it goes without saying they are all white. There was a long line today of about 5 men, so I got to hear all sorts of things about the country I did not know.

One gentleman went on an extended rant about the economy and the country. Did you know that “If Obama had his way we would all be on welfare, and who knows who would pay for it when that happens? This country is just getting worse and worse every day. Things are so lopsided now with Obama taking over everything.” And on and on and on he went, and I just sat there and bit my lip.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and when he said “You can’t even pray anymore. Christians get stopped from praying, but Muslims get to pray,” I lost it.

“When was the last time someone stopped you from praying,” I asked.

He seemed startled- “Me, never. But they…”

I cut him off- “And when was the last time anyone stopped anyone you know from praying?”

“Well, I don’t personally know of anyone…”

“So who exactly is stopping people from praying?”

And then he went on a rant about saying the Declaration of Independence at the Jefferson “monument.” I just rolled my eyes and kept to myself.

I made a vow, though. In the interest of politeness, I’ve ignored this stuff in public before. I figure I will do my ranting online. But not any more. Any time I am confronted with this nonsense in the future, I am aggressively and publicly challenging these idiots. I can’t take it any more. The damage Rupert Murdoch and those like him have done to this country needs to be countered.
I also have too often remained silent, probably more out of fear of being sucker punched than politeness, but while I probably won't be as aggressive as John, I'm also going to push back more, no matter what the price. I don't see any other way to counter the lies.

Much more always worth reading at Balloon Juice.

Update: Southern Beale riffs off the same post and the comment thread is awesome.
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Tony Blair attacked at book signing

The man known as Bush's Poodle, Tony Blair wrote a book. Apparently he excused his warmongering and lying his country into war which didn't sit well with the anti-war crowd in the UK. He thought that having a book signing in Ireland would be an easy gig on account of his work in bringing peace to that island. He was wrong.
Violent skirmishes broke out between protesters and police at the first public signing for Tony Blair's memoirs, with shoes and eggs hurled at the former prime minister.
If you read the whole thing, you'll see it was quite a melee. A lot of people laughing at this on the internets this morning. Me, I never find violence funny, even if it's deserved, but it's good to see the warmongers called to account in the court of public opinion anyway.


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Friday, September 03, 2010

The Social Security "Crisis"

This via Kevin Hayden is brilliant. In 2037, I expect I'll probably be dead. But assuming every single person lives to at least 92 years old, here's the scenario worth thinking about.
In 2037, the oldest baby boomers will be 92 years old. They will have been collecting Social Security benefits in full for 27 years. Those benefit payments will have added $0 to the federal budget deficit.

In 2037, the youngest baby boomers will be 72 years old. They will have been collecting Social Security benefits in full for seven years. Those benefit payments will have added $0 to the federal budget deficit.
Read the whole thing for the brilliant punch line. It's short but so acutely on target.
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Krugman is shrill

Obama is supposed to give a pep talk on the economy next week. Doesn't look too encouraging to me. Instead of going bold with a demand for a big stimulus that will be spent outright on jobs, the rumor mill is saying it's going to be tax cuts. Which the GOP will vote against anyway. Krugman tells Obama to fight because it's the right thing to do.
But politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. The economic theory behind the Obama stimulus has passed the test of recent events with flying colors; unfortunately, Mr. Obama, for whatever reason — yes, I’m aware that there were political constraints — initially offered a plan that was much too cautious given the scale of the economy’s problems.
As Kruman says, the President has the facts and it is a fight worth having. Even though he would likely lose the fight, it would draw a clear line between the party's positions and it's a fight for good policy, which might actually cheer up "the base" whatever that's supposed to be these days.

This was also a great point he made in his post.
Oh, and don’t tell me that Germany proves that austerity, not stimulus, is the way to go. Germany actually did quite a lot of stimulus — the austerity is all in the future. Also, it never had a housing bubble that burst. And with all that, German G.D.P. is still further below its precrisis peak than American G.D.P. True, Germany has done better in terms of employment — but that’s because strong unions and government policy have prevented American-style mass layoffs.
How about that? Stong unions and good government policy protect domestic jobs. What a concept. Too bad the Democrats can't grasp it. Too busy dancing to the GOP narrative to notice I guess. Sometimes they remind me of that pathetic old drunk in the old Westerns that dances around the bullets the bad gunman guy shoots around his feet.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sheriff Joe Arpaio sued by US DoJ

One bright spot in the news today. Our government is suing Joe Arpaio, Arizona's King Cretin and the worst sheriff in the world.
Reporting from Denver — The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday sued a controversial and popular Arizona sheriff, alleging that his department was refusing to cooperate with an investigation into whether it discriminated against Latinos while trying to catch illegal immigrants.

The Justice Department said that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the first local law enforcement official in 30 years to refuse to provide documents in a federal civil rights inquiry. The federal government could withhold $113 million in funding from Maricopa County if Arpaio can't produce records demonstrating that he avoids racial discrimination.
Of course, he can't produce those records because his whole life's work has revolved around discrimination against Latinos.

Meanwhile, he's painting himself as a victim of a politically motivated witch hunt and swears he'll never cooperate. What the hell. He's gotten away with giving the justice system a finger many times before. I dream of the day when someone figures out how to clap his vile butt in the same jail as the victims of his sadistic vendettas.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]


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The largest chemical experiment in history

No one talks much about BP's gusher in the Gulf now that they capped the well, but this latest development is just horrifying.
Even as BP and US government officials continue to declare the oil spill over at Mississippi Canyon 252 and the cleanup operation an unqualified success, for the first time blood tests on sickened humans have shown signs of exposure to high levels of toxic chemicals related to crude oil and dispersants. Some of the individuals tested have not been on the beaches, were not involved in any cleanup operations or in the Gulf water -- they simply live along the Gulf Coast.
This is a must read, not just to get the full scope of the health impact, but also for the history of the petro industry's intimdiation of doctors who dare treat their victims.

This is an Agent Orange style time bomb that will be killing people for years to come and chances are good that no one will be held accountable because so few medical personnel are willing to risk their careers and even their freedom in order to chronicle the illnesses. Seriously, one doctor was wrongly convicted of robbing a bank in order to stop his work.

Apparently what's needed is an independent medical team under the protection of the government. Considering our government's complicity in allowing the disperants to be deployed in the first place, I don't have much hope that will happen. Tragic.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Another oil rig explodes - Updated

Just great. Getting ready to shut down the puter and see this breaking news. Another oil rig just exploded in the Gulf. No deaths. It was a small rig in shallow water so not as big a disaster as the BP one, but still. How many accidents before we get serious about investing in alternate energy?

Update: One day before the explosion from the company that owns the rig.
“I have been in the oil and gas industry for 40 years, and this administration is trying to break us,” said Barbara Dianne Hagood, senior landman for Mariner Energy, a small company. “The moratorium they imposed is going to be a financial disaster for the gulf coast, gulf coast employees and gulf coast residents.”

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
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No blogs today

Working again this afternoon and still feeling like hell. Trying to rest a bit before I have to go in. Maybe I'll have something to say when I get home tonight, but not sure I'll have the energy. Meanwhile, I have a pretty scathing comeback for my new glibertarian co-blogger at DetNews up at the link below.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Murkowski Concedes

More proof that polling and predictive punditry is useless. Despite glowing assurances Murkowski was going to win the GOP Senate nom in Alaska, Tea Party nutcake Miller took the prize. I don't have much to say about this. Think Wonkette has the best take.
But anyway! Congratulations Alaska, you voted for the guy who has promised to stop all federal spending, forever.

You know what this means for Alaska, which is literally the welfare state, right? It means Alaska will become an enormous icy death colony inhabited only by stray boys and cats — a terrible land ruled by Sarah Palin and her inbred descendants and terrorized by roaming scooter armies of Glenn Beck lepers. It means Alaska will finally have “honor,” and Sarah Palin finally has a “win” right there in the state she occasionally visits between television appearances and hair appointments. God Bless you Joe Miller, amen.
I'm not surprised at how well the TP candidates are doing in the primaries. GOP clearly underestimated the depth of their low info constituents anger when they riled them up last year over health care reform. Guess they expected the anger to turn only against Dems. Certainly don't think they expected the purity tests. Question now is will Murkowski voters actually come out and vote for this nutcase or just stay home?

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
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Return moral citizens to office

Granted this guy probably doesn't stand a chance of winning, but more proof that the Tea Party is really just far right Republicans in funny hats.
Eric W. Deaton, a Constitution Party candidate for U.S. Senate, was indicted Tuesday, Aug. 31, for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, according to Greg Flannagan, spokesman for Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr.

Deaton said he has Tea Party backing. His website lists endorsements from Liberty Candidates, Mansfield Tea Party and Akron Tea Party, along with a national group called Vote Family Values.

A poster pictured on his website says he supports fiscal responsibility, balanced and centered government, honoring founding principles. The poster also says, “Return moral citizens to office.”
Innocent until proven guilty of course, but who would be surprised if he was convicted?

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
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I want this Obama back

Just about two years ago, Obama made a speech that gave us hope. Here's what Keving Drum said:

Absolutely right. Tonight Obama made a start on a campaign that's based not just on talking points (though there will be plenty of those), but on a sustained assault on modern conservatism and a sustained defense of modern liberalism.

But it was only a start. He needs to keep pressing both halves of that game plan, even if it means occasionally saying some hard things. If he takes a few chances and does that, though, he'll not only win, he'll win with a public behind him that's actively sold on a genuinely liberal agenda. This is why conservatives have so far been apoplectic about his speech tonight: if he continues down this road, and wins, they know that he'll leave movement conservatism in tatters. He is, at least potentially, the most dangerous politician they've ever faced.
But then he decided to go all bi-partisan on us instead. If we could turn back time...

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
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