Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tea Party: Don't blame us

The biggest Tea Party group organized a rally in DC today. About 200 hapless diehards gathered on the lawn, with the media adding to the "throng" at about one for every two protesters. They want Amurka to know, nothing is the Tea Party's fault:
“If it does shut down, just remember: It’s the government’s fault. It’s Congress’s fault,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, the rally organizer.
And by Congress, she means Democrats. Meanwhile the tens of protesters chanted, “Cut it or shut it” and “We want less.” There were also repeated demands from the assembled "to defund the healthcare law, Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio."

Dave Weigel posts the seminal photo of the occasion. Hear Fox covered it live, excusing the pathetic turnout on the weather. But that's what they said about the tens of thousands that spent weeks demonstrating for workers rights in front of the Wisconsin statehouse during blizzards and sub-zero weather. Oh wait...

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Sacrifice for thee, but not for Tea Party

I'm surprised to see this today, what with the establishment media breathlessly awaiting the latest Tea Party protest in DC over the spending cuts, but good for ABC for pointing out Tea Party hypocrisy on agricultural subsidies:
While the majority of American farmers receive no government money at all, at least 23 current members of congress or their families have received government money for their farms -- combining for more than $12 million since 1995 according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. [...]

In 2009 alone, government farm subsidies totaled more than $16 billion. They totaled almost a quarter of a trillion dollars over the last 15 years.
Yet they don't seem to be on the Tea Party hit list and only one of the recipients was willing to unequivocally state he would abolish them altogether.

It's far from a complete list, but SoBeale gives us the lowdown on her state's TP beneficiary and reminds me that Michelle Bachmann is also on that list.

This subsidy program ceased being a safety net for small farmers long ago. In fact, the bulk of agricultural subsidies go to corporations and many receive money who are not even actually farming the land. Indeed, even George Bush tried to eliminate them, but the "fiscally concerned" Congresscreatures of the corn belt block won't let them go. Guessing the 10% who collect 74% of the subsidies are big campaign funders.

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The world according to Tea Party Republicans

Well, yesterday we saw the House leadership declare a plan to unconstitutionally pass a law with a sham bill. Forgot to ask what constitutional authority it was being filed under. Today in another show of Tea Party brilliance, PA's freshman Rep. Tom Marino, bemoans the Libya action and asks:
"The bottom line is I wish the president would have told us, talked to Congress about what is the plan. Is there a plan? Is the mission to take Gadhafi out?" Mr. Marino asked.... "Where does it stop?" he said. "Do we go into Africa next? I don't want to sound callous or cold, but this could go on indefinitely around the world."
This guy, who was swept into office by Tea Party fever, has a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Guess they didn't test his ability to read a map first. These are now "the adults" in charge? Heaven help us.

Update: Marino also sits on the House subcommittee on issues related to African foreign policy.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Cursed crumbs of hope

Being a lifelong big picture pragmatist with a great store of patience and a deep well of empathy, it takes a lot to piss me off. Our President managed to do it in the last few weeks from caving on spending cuts against the poor to dropping bombs on Libya. But then Obama throws out this peace offering.
In a statement of administration policy Wednesday, the White House said the president's "senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill" if the legislation "would not safeguard the ability of railroad and airline workers to decide whether or not they would be represented by a union based upon a majority of the ballots cast in an election."
Yes, I know we're being played. I've noticed a distinct pattern in the Obama presidency, where he hosts a huge formal banquet for the plutocracy and then throws "the left" a bone. It doesn't really satisfy the hunger for progressive leadership, but neither can I forget that we wouldn't even get that little scrap from a Republican president.

So, what to do... ?

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The GOPers must be crazy

The Republicans are obviously worried they won't be able to shift the blame for a government shutdown onto the Democrats, so here comes The Government Shutdown Prevention Act. This little hat trick is supposed to be considered on Friday.
The bill would make H.R. 1 law if the Senate fails to pass a measure “before April 6” to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. H.R. 1, which passed the House but has gone nowhere in the Senate, would fund the government through the end of September and seeks to cut $61 billion in spending.
This was actually voted down in the Senate already the House and as most of us know, the House can't just pass a law all by itself.

Cantor, who has been in office long enough to know this isn't legally binding, says the ploy will prove the GOPers are serious. Seriously crazy is more like it. But they'll be able to say they voted for the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, and hope like hell the rubes will buy it. Might not even be that bad a bet. As long as it looks like it pisses off liberals, the 27%ers will likely love it.

Every day, I keep remembering my friend, who counseled sitting out 2010 to teach the Dems a lesson, asking how much damage could the crazy cons do in two years. It's only been three months...

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Confused conservatives

This Atlantic piece doesn't tell us anything we don't know already. Poor, uneducated, religious, blue collar workers self-identify as conservatives. They fiercely support an ideology that is designed to keep them poor, stupid and under the thumb of the wealth holders.

What would be interesting would be to see how the numbers have changed over the years in relation to media consolidation and the decline of fact-based journalism. Because it's not that these people are genetically stupid. They believe the lies because the media allows the lies to not only go unchallenged, but reports them as if they're equivalent to facts. This is particularly true among the elderly who believe it's illegal to lie on the teevee and those who don't use the internet to fact check.

And of course, self-identify is the key word here. Because many studies also show that when presented with policy choices, the so-called conservatives actually support liberal policies. As long as you don't tell them it's liberal. Truth is most of these self professed conservatives don't really understand the ideology or the ultimate goals of the professional shills who make a very good living by lying to them. It's more like they're saying we are not liberals, because liberals are fascistmarxistcommunists, so we must be cons. Sadly, the con is on them, to the detriment of all.

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Tomorrow, tomorrow

One of my favorite art forms is the political cartoon. Sadly, they're disappearing as publishers cut costs and multimedia shorts take over the internets. Sadly, one of the best of the artists won't be renewed at his last remaining big site, but happily Tom Tomorrow has a new gig that may yet save the medium.
I’ve had an extraordinary run at Salon, and it has been a fantastic platform, which I have been privileged to share with many talented contributors over the years. But as Blinky notes in this week’s farewell cartoon, I’ve been there for about a million years in internet time. My contract was up for renewal at the end this month, and I was feeling vaguely ready for a change, when I was approached by Markos Moulitsas with an intriguing offer — the chance to not only publish my own work on the Daily Kos, but to serve as the site’s Comics Editor, to help create an entirely new space online for political cartoons.
His farewell cartoon at Salon is here. Looking forward to watching the Kos project develop.

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Can't win the game on defense alone

The media narrative lately has been about how the Democrats are losing the debate over spending cuts. Of course they are, because as always, they're playing defense and going for GOP lite instead of taking the offense and actually fighting back. Steve Benen summarizes the Democrat's problem:
In 1995, when the Gingrich-led Republicans confronted the Clinton White House, the president had a mantra he'd repeat endlessly -- it was called M2E2. Clinton would say he's prepared to negotiate with Republicans, but wasn't prepared to go along with deep cuts to "Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment," four popular measures voters didn't want to see slashed.

In 2011, Dems never quite got around to picking their own M2E2. Criticisms of the GOP plan have been all over the map, made more complicated by the fact that Democrats themselves have been far too quick to buy into the dubious notion that Americans actually want a focus on the deficit instead of the economy.
And he offers up the obvious solution:
If I'm a Democratic strategist, I would have recommended a couple of things. First, pick a handful of the most jarring cuts in the GOP plan, and repeat them ad nauseum. Ideally, they'd be cuts most Americans would find offensive -- "Republicans want to slash funding for education, medical research, job training, and homeland security. We think that's irresponsible." Say this over and over again, and sooner or later, folks will start to know that the GOP wants to cut education, medical research, job training, and homeland security.

Second, turn the GOP line around and start calling the cuts what they are: job killing. There are multiple independent analyses -- from Macroeconomic Advisers, Ben Bernanke, Moody's Analytics, Economic Policy Institute, and others -- all saying that the Republican plan would cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs. John Boehner gift-wrapped this by saying, "So be it" when asked about the GOP plan to deliberately make unemployment worse.
It couldn't be more obvious. Change the narrative. Austerity cuts kill jobs. Austerity cuts kill economic recovery and will cause another recession. And for the love of all that is holy, why aren't the Dems proposing a job creation bill and daring the GOPers to vote against it?

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ZOMG, Dems fighting back

I don't know. Maybe I'm misreading the tone of Jennifer's post but I'm not seeing this as a bad thing. If Dems are coordinating a message to fight the extreme GOP spending cuts, I'm all for it.
After thanking his colleagues ... who are facing off against the House Republicans over how to cut spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. “I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”
It's called politics. Good Lord. Luntz is delivering talking points to the GOP every day. I'm with Schumer's spokesguy. In contrast to Luntz, who spins lies, Chuck didn't say anything that wasn't true. The Tea Party is out of control, the cuts are extreme and would do more harm than good. This is what I elected Democrats to do.

Frankly I want them to go farther. If this deal falls through, I want them to take a much harder line. Take back every spending proposal they made to social safety net programs and propose a job creation program as the other, clearly definable choice.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Serious people cut fuel assistance

No one could have predicted the GOPers would trick the Democrats into negotiating a raft of cruel budget cuts that the voters would hate and then, at the 11th hour, renege on the "grand bargain." Thus will the GOPers try to lay the impending government shutdown on the Dems. It might even work. And even if it doesn't the millions of Americans who would suffer under the Dems proposed cuts will be pissed off which will please the GOPers base. Nothing energizes them more than pissing off liberals.

Of course, everyone outside The Village bubble saw this coming from day one. The obvious strategy for the Dems would have been to fight like hell against the GOPers proposed cuts because they will kill jobs and hurt Americans. But since the hippies suggested it, it can't be taken seriously, no matter how well it would work.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Where's the long form?

By now you already know that Donald Trump is running for President and has decided to make the Birthers his base. He's spent the last couple of weeks making the bobblehead rounds and expressing serious concerns about President Obama's failure to produce a birth document that satisfies his criteria for authencity. And to show how easy this is to do, with great fanfare, he released his own "official" birth certificate to some wingnut site.

Except, it wasn't Trump's legal birth certificate. It was just a birth notice from the hospital, which coincidentally is the beneficiary of Trump's largess today.

And where's the sworn affidavits from the doctors and nurses with all the minute details of his delivery? Surely they would remember such an important event as the birth of The Donald.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama Speaks

I watched Obama's speech about Libya at the laundramat. I was the only one watching. It was nice enough but felt more directed to an international audience than me. I didn't find it comforting. Probably would have liked it better if all that talk about acting on our higher humanitarian impluses wasn't being made against the backdrop of bi-partisan agreements to cut vital humanitarian assistance to millions of Americans here.

And couldn't fail to notice that he carefully avoided giving an end date for our involvement. Gargh...

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Rearview mirror

I'm so old I remember when the GOPers assured us corporate tax cuts would pave the road to riches for everybody. My car is still stuck in the same rut it was then but McClatchy tells me what's driving corporate profits:
Corporate profits grew 36.8 percent in 2010, the biggest gain since 1950, according to Friday's latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. No sign could be more clear that U.S. companies see the so-called Great Recession in the rearview mirror.
The article flags the "extort more work out of fewer employees under the threat of layoffs" that's fueling their economic vehicle. But it missed the obvious tax connection to corporate profits:

"...the share of U.S. taxes paid by corporations has fallen from 30 percent of federal revenue in the 1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009."

Surely allowing them to "keep more of their money" must have had some effect. See also, corporate welfare subsidies that never seem to get on the "cut government spending" list.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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RIP Len Weinglass

I almost missed this obit:
Leonard Weinglass, a crusading lawyer who championed radical and liberal causes and clients in some of the most controversial trials of the 1960s and '70s, including the Chicago 7 and Pentagon Papers cases, died Wednesday in New York City. He was 77.
I worked with Len as a minor player on the defense team for Amy Carter and Abbie Hoffman in the CIA on Trial case back in 87. Very nice man and brilliant defense lawyer. Very sad. Great loss to civil rights activism. RIP.

[Via Avedon who always has a bunch of other stuff worth reading.]

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Poor little KBros

Glenzilla does his usual fine job of deconstructing the Koch Brothers latest whine about being "wrongly indicted" in the court of public opinion. However, I have to agree with John Cole that Glenn gets a little off-track with this graf:
I'm not someone who sees the Koch Brothers as some sort of unique threat. ...Every political movement needs demons lurking behind every problem -- the more hidden and omnipotent the better -- and the Koch Brothers now serve the same function for the Left as George Soros long served for the Right: the bogeymen who motivate the loyalists and on whom everything bad, including political losses, can be blamed.
Of course, the KBros aren't the only villians in this set piece and Glenn has a point in that the focus on them, deserved or not, invites the analogy. But as John replies:
A couple of things. First, this reads like the “both sides do it” nonsense that Glenn should realize has corrupted so much of our national debate. The fundamental difference between the two is the Koch brothers spend huge sums of cash to help enrich themselves, and then they throw a token few dollars for “libertarian” principles. Soros, on the other hand, spends millions of dollars on programs that help all Americans.

That is a fundamental difference.
I'd add Soros does it all over the world. His Open Society projects work to empower the poor and disenfranchised. Koch brothers strive mightily for the opposite goal. And as far as I know, Soros is not buying politicians outright as the KBros are.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose

Major riot in London. That's the sensationalized tabloid account in The Daily Mail and then there's the far superior, riveting eyewitness account from Laurie Penny at The New Statesman.

As too often happens, a few hot-headed hooligans ruin the peaceful protest planned by the rest. And it's the organizers of the peaceful resistance that get arrested. Do read it all but this graf strikes me as the best summation of what is going on.
A large number of young people in Britain have become radicalised in a hurry, and not all of their energies are properly directed, explaining in part the confusion on the streets yesterday. Among their number, however, are many principled, determined and peaceful groups working to affect change and build resistance in any way they can.
This appears to be the dynamic behind what is going on worldwide right now in all these citizen uprisings. The working people have finally had enough of "shared sacrifice" where they do all the sacrificing while the oligarchy reaps all the rewards. I'm reminded of this old piece in The Atlantic, The Quiet Coup:
Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or—here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique—the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large.
We're not quite yet at the place where the oligarchs are ready to accept that "some within the elite have to lose out before recovery can begin." But it feels like we're getting closer every day. [hat tip Jason Leopold]

[Thanks to DougJ for kindly linking.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Pro-worker protests march on in America

Wonder when the media will start treating this as a citizens movement instead of implying it's union astroturfing. Yet another pro-worker protest, in California.
Thousands of union leaders and workers marched through the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, vowing and shouting that they would fight for organized labor in California after recent union setbacks in Wisconsin and other states. [...]

"An injury to one is an injury to all!" he shouted, and warned that similar policies could be instituted in cash-strapped California.

"This is more than just about union-busting, this is about busting the middle class, and this is about future elections as well," Mahlon told KCAL-TV after the speech.
Yes, it's a class war, started very long ago by the wealthy. Good to see the people fighting back at last. [hat tip Moonbootica]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ezra and Matthew and Dave, Oh My!

The new Brat Pack? Isn't that what they used to call the stable of up and coming young actors who were the sons and daughters of Hollywood celebs? Not a bad analogy I guess. Klein, Yglesis and Weiglel are the cute young superstars of DC these days. And maybe they are a little self-satisfied. They have right to be. They cracked the narrative at a young age and their celebrity derives from real talent, sharp wit and long hours of hard work.

The link is to a fluffly profile piece in the LifeStyle section. Am I the last one to know Ezra is engaged to Anne Lowrey at Slate?

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Die faster lazy poor people

Dear Florida Voters: If you elect a guy who defrauds Medicare he going to keep gaming the system. Hence, Republican governor Rick Scott's latest scheme:
Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers. The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations. [...]

The majority of Medicaid patients receive care through private companies and HMOs, but under Florida's bill such firms would end up having vast new authority over the program, with great leeway to limit access to services or reduce benefits. The bill would also put a hard cap on the amount of money that these managed care companies could spend on Medicaid, which advocates say could particularly harm disabled and elderly patients who require costlier long-term care.
In other words, the "die quickly" health care plan. Like the person who waited four months to get a biopsy on a throat cancer because of the convoluted HMO authorization requirements.

Also, Scott just "signed an executive order requiring random drug testing of many state employees and applicants for state jobs" and is pushing for a bill to require drug testing of welfare applicants. I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that Solantic is also in the business of drug testing. But his spokesmen claim there's no conflict of interest.

I never cease to be amazed at how "the voters" can't seem to remember for more than ten minutes that if you give Republicans power, they will use it to enrich only themselves at the taxpayers' expense.

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When the ocean glows

The public focus on the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan seems to be diminishing somewhat with everything else going on in the world competing for our attention. But it's a greater threat to our continued existence than all the bombs in Libya. Via mistermix, this latest radioactive reading is disturbing:
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Saturday that iodine 131 in excess of 1,250 times regulated standards was found in seawater collected 330 meters south of a plant water outlet at 8:30 AM on Friday.
That's up dramatically from 146.9 times regulated standards on Wednesday. But the agency assures us "that as seawater is dispersed by ocean currents the contamination level will decline." But it won't disappear. It will just spread across the oceans and mix in with the spilled oil and toxic dispersants and the enormous islands of molecular plastic waste. There will come a time when future generations won't be able to set foot in the water, much less eat the fish.

There are days I hope the Mayans are right. We, meaning the human race, don't deserve to live on this planet if we can't take proper care of it.

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Lost in America

Bob Herbert is leaving the New York Times. Rather abruptly, I might add. Herbert's last column is today. He's leaving with what might be his best column ever. Do read it all, but this graf sums up so much:
The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.
Herbert was a weird columnist. I don't entirely disagree with the many who complained his work was predictable to the point of being boring. That's because he was stating facts and stats most of us already know and his academic style didn't lend itself to the jazzy analogies so beloved by the left. But the poor and disenfranchised had no stronger or respected voice speaking for them. Thinking it's a greater loss than many realize. One that will become more apparent over time.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

America's Worst Sheriff - An ongoing series

The poster boy for pure thuggery, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio brings new meaning to the word "overkill" this week. Apparently hoping to become the next reality show phenom on the idiot box, he's teamed up with Steven Seagal on the low-budget TV series "Lawman."

Yeah, I thought Seagal was dead too but he's very much alive and apparently trying to make a comeback as an action figure. Together, the pair of hapless lawmen made a big bust this week. They rumbled into a residential neighborhood with dozens of SWAT team cops, armored vehicles and a for real army tank. They blew out the windows of the home, swarmed the property and rolled that tank, which was carrying Segal, right over a wall into the yard.

These intrepid law enforcers were there to serve a warrant. And what heinous criminal did they catch? A single guy who was alone in the house, unarmed and sleeping. A guy who has no history of weapons possession and whose prior criminal record appears to consist of a single conviction for attending a cockfight. The warrant was for suspicion of staging a cockfight. So you can see why they needed the enormous manpower.

Not clear on how they'll make the charge stick. Arpaio and his gang immediately terminated 135 chickens to eliminate this dire threat to society. And you know, dead chickens can't testify...

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Newt goes for the incoherent defense

Deleting his old silly tweets won't solve his larger problems. In his latest attempt to explain his complete aboutface on Libya, Newt keeps digging that hole deeper.

Newt a couple of weeks ago:
GINGRICH: All we have to say is that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable, and we’re intervening. And we don’t have to send troops, all we have to do is suppress his air force, which we can do in minutes. And then we have to say, publicly, that he is gone, that the military should switch sides now. … The fact there’s no more Libya air power, and the fact that the United States has come out decisively for replacing him, I suspect the military will dump him.
Newt yesterday:
GINGRICH: If they’re serious about protecting civilians, you can’t do that from the air. Gadaffi is going to use light infantry, he’s going to use his secret police. He’s going to be in the cities, he’s going to be inside buildings. Your not going to be able to do that with air power. This is a fundamental mistake. And I think is a typical politician’s over-reliance on air power.
And Newt is showing a typical GOP reliance on saying what he thinks the audience wants to hear, no matter how contradictory or nonsenical.

Of course he is far from the only one. There's a whole raft of hypocritical GOPers taking 180 degree turns in their position on the Libya "intervention." It used to be sort of joke, but it's the new reality now. The GOP's entire platform really can be summed up with, "Whatever Obama, (or the Democratic party), does is bad and we're against it. Even if we initially recommended the policy."

Addendum: In the second link, Michigan Rep. Candice Miller is misidentified as a Democrat. I tweeted Jon Karl who was listed an a co-author of the piece when I noticed it this morning. No response and no correction so far. Be interesting to see if they ever fix it.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Newt scrubs his tweets

Having realized he is not aware of all internet traditions, particularly the annoying propensity of bloggers with archives to recall his past statements, Newt Gingrich deleted all his tweets before July 2010. Guess he also isn't aware that nothing ever really dies on the internets. I'm willing to bet there's a lot more screencaps than just the Easter candy porn.

Some enterprising blogger will dig up the goofy stuff, which everyone will read to see what he was hiding. Then the days, if not months, long snark competitions shall commence. And I'll laugh. But probably not because it's funny.

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Wild horses, couldn't drag me away

When the GOPers speak of dark horse candidates the names you hear are Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie, all of whom adamantly deny any interest in being drafted. However, apparently feeling fully experienced at governance after a few weeks in the Senate, Rand Paul is ready to saddle up for a 2012 run. It all depends on if his Daddy decides to go for the roses one more time.

Meanwhile, embracing his inner wild stallion, Donald Trump gallops after the Birther vote, arguing on The View that Obama must produce that long form slip.

Of course, there is an actual dark horse Republican candidate already. Sadly, he's having a bit of trouble attracting the big bettors. Being the first declared gay Republican candidate for President apparently doesn't have quite the cachet one might expect. Really hoping they're forced to allow him into the debates.

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Lily Livered of the Field

The GOP has a problem. The 2012 silly season is overdue for a start, but most of their potential candidates are still playing it coy and refuse to officially declare. Tea Party darling, Michelle Bachman came close today and her recent tour schedule in early primary states certainly quacks like a crackpot candidacy, but she can't quite find the guts to make it official.
"I'm in for 2012 in that I want to be a part of the conversation in making sure that President Obama only serves one term, not two, because I want to make sure that we get someone who's going to be making the country work again. That's what I'm in for," Bachmann said.

"But I haven't made a decision yet to announce, obviously, if I'm a candidate or not, but I'm in for the conversation."
Romney is out chasing money but is playing the same game. Newt has come the closest but his "big announcement" was creating an exploratory committee to explore whether he wants to officially start an exploratory committee. This may explain part of their reticence:
Most of the big time donors who have given to past GOP presidential candidates are still sitting on the sidelines, further exemplifying the uncertainty surrounding the Republican primary. A USA Today report this week showed that only about 60 of the 530 large donors, or “bundlers,” who raised money for Republican nominee John McCain in 2008 have given to any of the potential 2012 candidates.

...About a third of these people support Romney, the operative said, but much of the rest of the group is waiting for an alternative candidate to emerge.
It seems none of the apparent contenders are likely to pass the Tea Party purity tests, nor are they really exciting the base. And with only five weeks to go, it appears the current big GOP names are afraid to attend the first official debate.
Conversations with Republican operatives this week suggest that there is deep skepticism in the camps of several potential candidates about jumping into a televised debate so soon after getting into the race.
The bulk of the field appears to prefer a fashionably late arrival to the games, a la Fred Thompson. And of course, no one has forgotten that Sarah Palin managed to successfully avoid media exposure for most of her VP candidacy. But both Thompson and Palin were ultimately harmed when the media klieglights illuminated their true vacuity.

Judging from the mutterings about a late arrival dark horse candidate and Rove's interesting observation that it's never too late to declare until December, I'm guessing the GOPers are hoping to avoid an intercine bloodbath for as long as possible and then wage their campaign with a Citizen United enabled attack ad blitz at the very end.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Newt slithers on Libya

The amphibian who would be president is appalled. Appalled I tell you, because President Obama authorized the no-fly action against Libya. Of course, a mere 16 days ago he was appalled because Obama didn't go all cowboy and bomb the bejeebers out of Gadhafi to enforce a no-fly zone, international consensus be damned.

Not that Today Show host Matt Lauer noticed. He let Gingrich's flip flop on Libya go unchallenged. I'm thinking Lauer maybe didn't even know. Just like the 27%ers that keep Newt's gravy train running with donations to fight the imaginary liberal menace to the real 'Murkin way of life.

The difference is, Lauer is supposed to know and the 27%ers are getting fleeced because Lauer isn't doing his job to inform them.

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Tyrant in a teapot

I didn't follow the gubernatorial race in Maine that closely at the time, so I don't know what platform current Gov. LePage ran on, but I'm pretty sure he didn't run on the promise of becoming the state's interior decorator. Talk about petty tyranny.
AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting Maine's labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor.

Acting labor chief Laura Boyett emailed staff Tuesday about the mural's pending removal, as well as another administration directive to rename several department conference rooms that carry the names of pro-labor icons such as Cesar Chavez.
Another room is named after Frances Perkins, a Maine native, who was the U.S. labor secretary under FDR. "The governor claims the 'one-sided decor' is not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals and cites complaints made some unnamed businesspeople proving this artwork is "hostile to business." Not clear on what that means. Are there businesses that wouldn't locate in Maine because of a piece of art in a government building that most people would never see? I'm willing to bet most people walk by without even looking at it.
The mural was erected in 2008 following a jury selection by the Maine Arts Commission and a $60,000 federal grant. Judy Taylor, the artist from Seal Cove, said Tuesday that her piece was never meant to be political, simply a depiction of Maine's labor history.

The 11-panel piece depicts several moments, including the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston, "Rosie the Riveter" at Bath Iron Works, and the paper mill workers' strike of 1986 in Jay.
Of course, such ridiculous petty tyranny isn't that surprising, considering LePage was the Tea Party candidate who already has a long history of bizarre public tantrums in his short tenure.

Tea Party governance in action. No policy decision is too stupid as long as it pisses off liberals. Which also sums up the new Republican Destructionism overall.

[Big thanks to Michael JW Stickings of The Reaction for linking in from Mike's Blog Round Up.]

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crap Sandwich

Answering Atrios' question:
what was that movie called? that black comedy with george HW Bush's son as president? that was pretty funny

the bit where the financial system completely destroyed itself under his watch was maybe a bit of a stretch

and the epilogue where all the bank ceos kept their jobs under the new Dem president was beyond absurd. still funny tho!
I almost died laughing...

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Now, watch this drive...

I'm not a big fan of Ed but he really nails the stupid wingnut narrative going around lately about, "ZOMG, Obama is playing golf in a time a war?"



Also, too. Hannity is such a tool. [hat tip OTOOLEFAN]

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Blogging delay

Just damn. Been struggling with writer's block all day and doing research for my next hit on Gov. Snyder. Just getting ready to get to it and I got the call from work. Gotta go in. Need the money too much to say no. Be back late.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

No-fly over country

I don't want to talk about this mess in Libya. Not seeing much difference between enforcing a no-fly zone and Bush's flypaper theory. Both end up with a lot messy dead bodies to deal with, or more likely ignore. I am grateful to hear our soldiers won't be on the ground, but I'm not sure I believe it. Iraq was supposed to be just a few short surgical strikes too, as I recall. You remember. Shock and Awe. Mission Accomplished.

And then there's the cost. Twitter tells me, "110 Tomahawk Missiles fired into Libya. $1 million per missile. That's $110 million.Or double the amount just cut from NPR." For one afternoon. So where the hell are the oh so fiscally concerned conservatives? Capt. Fogg may have a clue. From a few days ago:
In the case of those now slamming Obama for not already having launched a military operation in support of Libyan rebels, those amateur Generals may well be more expert in prostitution than military operations, because if the President does decide to send in the bombers and fighters he'll surely be chastised as thoroughly as he was for hesitating -- and by the same people. For Republicans, of course, it would be a crime to make their base pay a dime for this, a sin to let NPR have a penny, but when it comes to another war, there will always be billions left to borrow and squeeze out of the serfs.
It's all too obvious, this is going to be another war for oil. As SoBeale says today, because our other wars are going so well? She imagines a future where alternative energy is a real policy goal of our Very Serious People. And sure it can't happen overnight. It might cost more in the short run, but hey you have to start somewhere. And this is the quote of the day on that:
The point is, we don't need to have the entire puzzle figured out to start putting the first pieces together.
And speaking of oil, funny how the establishment media hasn't mentioned this catch by SoBeale. There's a mysterious 100 mile long oil slick in the Gulf. Spring breakers finding oil still washing up on shore all over the place. Nothing to see here.

So let's not develop green energy and pin our kid's future to a toxic fossil fuel that is rapidly being depleted. Hell, by the time it runs out, the planet will probably be uninhabitable anyway and we can die with all that extra money in our pockets.

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Speak with Conviction

News is too depressing so a little mental health break. I don't have any luck embedding Vimeo vids, but for language lovers, click over and watch Speak with Conviction, an illustrated graphical poem that literally made me laugh out loud -- several times. Perfect summation of our social dialogue these days and a very important message besides.

Hope this link works even for non-FB users. Too funny graphic. How much I've thought about what I would do in a disaster.

I'll drink to that... "The bi-partisan BEER bill would give a tax break to an industry we all love -- microbreweries."

Fun photo gallery of Lego Star Wars and other action movies.

Never much felt the call to travel to India, but I would like to see this incredible Hindu architecture in real life.

Love that dirty water. Nice shot of afternoon sun on the Charles at the Mass Ave Bridge.

These are always great. Winning images from National Wildlife's 2010 photo competition.

Didn't actually look at this because my old 'puter won't download panaromas, but sounds very cool. First ever panoramic view of entire Sun from NASA's Stereo mission.

[Hat tips to Dependable Renegade, hudsonette and Stephen Banks.]

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GOP Values - Part One

I'm very late in starting this but in the interests of archiving the history of Republican values in practice I've decided to try to do a regular series of linky posts to keep track of it all. The aim is to create a guide for future reference. Figuring a lot of commentary isn't really necessary. This stuff speaks for itself. So part one begins today:

Kansas GOPer, state Rep. Virgil Peck says it might be a good idea to control illegal immigration with gunmen shooting from helicopters, the same way they deal with feral pigs. After the public outrage, he claims he was "just joking." Ha. Ha.

In New Hampshire, a doddering 92 year old state House Rep. resigned after his "joke" about sending the mentally ill on a one-way trip to Siberia caused an uproar. "He also said population growth and mental illness could be controlled with eugenics, a form of genetic engineering commonly associated with Hitler's Germany." He was "just joking" too. Regular laugh riot.

Florida GOP golden boy now in DC, David Rivera under investigation for earlier financial fraud while serving in state government.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is examining Rivera’s financial dealings prior to arriving in Congress. Investigators are reportedly examining what role if any then-state Rep. Rivera played in helping to secure a more than $500,000 consulting contract for a firm controlled by his mother and godmother.

The Miami Herald reported last month that investigators were also looking into Rivera’s relationship with political consultant Esther Nuhfer, who has reportedly received more than $800,000 from Rivera’s campaigns since 2006, and who took in $250,000 from Rivera’s aborted 2010 state Senate candidacy.
Failed New York candidate, millionaire Carl Paladino reneges on his campaign debts, screwing many of the people who worked on trying to get him elected.

This story never really got legs, but one of the Wisconsin statehouse GOPers is living out of his district, with a very young mistress, according to his wife. He's one of the Republicans eligible for recall

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

No. No. No. No. No. Not Happy

Been off-line most of the day. Come home and read the news. Not liking this. Just damn. We're in another war?
BENGHAZI, Libya — A coalition of American and European forces bombed Libyan targets by air and sea Saturday in the first phase of a military campaign to drive Moammar Gadhafi from power.

French warplanes fired the first shots in the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war, destroying government tanks and armored vehicles in the region of the rebels' eastern stronghold, Benghazi. Hours later, British and U.S. warships and submarines launched more than 110 Tomahawk missiles against Gadhafi's air defenses around the capital Tripoli and the western city of Misrata, which has been besieged by Gadhafi's forces, Pentagon officials said.
Obama says we won't send group troops. Good news as far as strategy goes, but small comfort. Everybody knows our air power can annihilate any country in short order. We're still in another fucking war, dammit. Not what I voted for.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Let them eat pie charts

Corporate CEOs to "the people." What recession?
CEO bonuses at 50 major corporations jumped a median of 30.5%, the biggest gain in at least three years, according to a study of the first batch of corporate CEO pay disclosures by consulting firm Hay Group for The Wall Street Journal. [...]

Corporate directors said the sharp upturn was a sign of improved profits. Net income at the 50 companies increased a median of 19.4%.
And all those greedy working class types who want jobs. Ha ha! Let them eat pie charts.

[Graphic via Avedon, original here.]

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No cakewalk for Walker's union busting bill

Here's a bright spot in the dismal mess Gov. Walker created in Wisconsin. The rollout of his union busting bill is delayed.
Madison -- Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order Friday, barring the publication of a controversial new law that would sharply curtail collective bargaining for public employees.

Sumi’s order will prevent Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law until she can rule on the merits of the case. Dane County Ismael Ozanne is seeking to block the law because he says a legislative committee violated the state’s open meetings law.

Sumi said Ozanne was likely to succeed on the merits.
To be clear, Judge Sumi is not judging the merits of the law itself, but only the violation of the open meeting law. Still, the publishing delay is a victory for the pro-worker side.

Walker's puppet legislature will most probably win in the end. It seems unlikely the law itself will be quashed permanently, though one might hope the recall efforts could put the fear of the electorate into the GOPers. But either way, it is good to see liberals fighting back and not backing down, not matter what the odds.

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Where are the jobs?

We hear about structural problems with the economy but it seems to be the real structural dysfunction is located on Capitol Hill in DC. Frankly my dears, our legislators just don't give a damn about the "little people." Doctor Krugman explains:
Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are still trying to get some kind of action. But no jobs bills have been introduced in Congress, no job-creation plans have been advanced by the White House and all the policy focus seems to be on spending cuts.

So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.
It doesn't have to be this way. The Democratic party has once again allowed the GOPers to set the narrative when they should be pushing more stimulus spending to put people back to work. They should be asking the same question every day that the GOPers used to beat them with in 2010. Where are the jobs?

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day


My favorite holiday though I won't be celebrating today since I have a night shift at work. But to mark the occassion, a little limerick in honor of one my favorite Irishmen who often quoted this old Irish saying:

On St. Paddy's Day join in the mirth.
Drink all night without thought for the girth.
You're not drunk on your ass,
till you're clutching the grass,
to stop falling off the face of the earth.

(Yes, I know the meter is not quite right, but it was the only way to get the adage in.)

[Image credit - www.jewelbiz.com]

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Pure Loyalty

Stories like this just make me sob in empathy for these poor critters:



Story here but since YahooNews links are so notorious for rotting in a short time, I'll post the English translation of the voiceover exchange between the two reporters in the clip (translation courtesy of Toshiyuki Kitamura):
We are in Arahama area. Looks like there is a dog. There is a dog. He looks tired and dirty. He must have been caught in the tsunami. He looks very dirty.

He has a collar. He must be someone's pet. He has a silver collar. He is shaking. He seems very afraid.

Oh, there is another dog. I wonder if he is dead.

Where?

Right there. There is another dog right next to the one sitting down. He is not moving. I wonder. I wonder if he is alright.

The dog is protecting him.

Yes. He is protecting the dog. That is why he did not want us to approach them. He was trying to keep us at bay.

I can't watch this. This is a very difficult to watch.

Oh. Look. He is moving. He is alive. I am so happy to see that he is alive.
Yes! Yes! He is alive.

He looks to be weakened. We need to them to be rescued soon. We really want them rescued soon.

Oh good. He's getting up.

It is amazing how they survived the tremendous earthquake and tsunami. It's just amazing that they survived through this all.
Happy ending too. The dogs have been rescued since the footage aired, and are both receiving veterinary care. They're in separate places though. I do hope they'll reunite them once the sick one recovers.

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Are there no workhouses?

Just when you think they've hit rock bottom, the GOPers dig to a new low:
Newly minted Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said in a lecture posted to his YouTube channel that Congressional laws banning child labor are forbidden by the US Constitution.
Well I guess you could call this the GOP's first attempt at actual job creation.

Via Woody, the man of a thousand blogs. I'm stealing this comment from Rick on his Facebook page as the best response: "We musn't deny our citizens the opportunity to "bootstrap" it. Welfare is demeaning, and only encourages laziness. Our children don't need hand outs, they need hand tools."

Really. Maybe we could get them little pickaxes and send them into the coal mines... [photo via]

[Big thanks to Comrade DougJ, the man of a thousand nyms, for the very kind link.]

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Happy Anniversary PZ

A belated congratulations to PZ Myers celelbrating his 31st wedding anniversary yesterday. Just go read his post where he contrasts his moral values with Newt Gingrich.

Oh okay, I'll give you one line.
It's a strange situation where the political party with more ex-wives than candidates, that houses and defends a disturbingly amoral network of fundamentalist operators is regarded as the protector of the sanctity of the family.
Trust me. Read the rest.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's at stake in the workers' rights fights

This is the most cogent analysis of the Wisconsin power grab and "what it all means" for the future that I've seen yet. As an added bonus it has a very interesting analogy to the health reform fight. Seriously, read it all but this graf really gets to the gist of what's at stake:
While it might seem that the current battle in Wisconsin is just an extension of a now three-decades long piffle between liberals and conservatives, it's more than that. Current Wisconsin events, even if many of the players don't realize it, is a core fight over what America is. It's the latest battle in a protracted fight in maybe the most important ideological state in America's post-Revolution political history. It's the fight for the "Wisconsin Idea," which in part called for the states" laboratory of democracy" to create "well-constructed legislation aimed at benefiting the greatest number of people." One of the primary movers of the Wisconsin Idea was state icon and progressive architect "Fighting" Bob La Follette. La Follette was the politician kids dream about being before they meet their first lobbyist with a wad of cash. As governor, he backed a workers' comp program, women's suffrage and a minimum wage. If you are a wage earner today in America, you owe Bob La Follette. As state governor he "repaired" the state budget deficit with a moderate tax on corporations.
For the record, while I think the analogy to health reform works, it's not really analogous because it accepts the so-called "ramming through" of that bill which happened after well over a year of debate and hearings and such. It wasn't enacted through procedural trickery in the first three months the Dems held the majority. [via SoBeale]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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More frightening than a tsunami - Updated

Scarier than the potential nuclear holocaust that threatens to engulf Japan. This is today's GOP on climate change:
Thirty-one Republicans on the House Energy And Commerce Committee -- the entire Republican contingent on the panel -- declined on Tuesday to vote in support of the very idea that climate change exists.
Every. Single. GOPer. On the committee. No doubt to pander to their science scorning base.

Meanwhile, as if the people in Japan haven't suffered enough, the tsunami ravaged northeast of the island is now being bombarded with heavy snow, further complicating search efforts. [via AlertNet]

Update: I see the entire committee, including the three Democrats, "unanimously voted in favor of the Upton-Inhofe bill to repeal the EPA’s scientific endangerment finding on greenhouse pollution." How the hell do you "repeal" a scientific study? Shouldn't that be ignore? And it's pretty obvious why:
The 31 Republicans and three Democrats who voted in favor of H.R. 910 have received a grand total of $343,750 from Koch Industries, an average of more than $10,000 each. Freshman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Koch’s special man in Congress, tips the scales at $79,500.
This is your Congress, hooked on Koch money. [Via Dan of Pruning Shears who is tweeting the protest actions in Ohio today.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News. Note I've been blogging the odious Snyder budget and the protests there for the last few days.]

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What's Luntz got to do with it?

Buried at the bottom of this article on the GOP's turnabout on sanctions against the Democrats was this interesting aside. Governor Walker released his calendar from January and February and it showed an unusual meeting with the GOP's chief spin doctor:
The calendar showed he met with national political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz on Feb. 23. That was at the height of the conflict at the Capitol over Walker's union bargaining measure and the morning after the governor took a call from a blogger posing as the conservative billionaire David Koch.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie confirmed the meeting took place but emphasized it was not held to discuss the fake Koch call.
I'm inclined to believe it wasn't necessarily about the prank call. I expect it was scheduled prior to that and was a consult on how to spin Walker's shameless power grab more positively in light of the rising anger among the voters.

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Wisconsin GOPers walk back on contempt enforcement

The Rpublican majority in the Wisconsin Senate announced they wouldn't enforce the various punishments they concocted against Democrats who fled the state to prevent Walker's destruction of public unions. This comes one day after they vowed to strip Wisconsin Democratic Senators of voting privileges. However, it apparently hasn't taken effect yet.

The vote to rescind the punishments was passed 3-0 by Republicans only. The Democrats on the committee weren't allowed to vote on it. "The vote was conducted via a ballot circulated to committee members, rather than at a meeting of the committee." So as always, with GOPers, watch they do, not what they say.

Wisconsin's GOPers also voted to rescind their juvenile restrictions on Democratic staffers. These included: Limiting the staffers' access to copy machines, having the Republican majority leader approve the staffers' time sheets, and placing the staffers under the supervision of GOP senators.

One wonders how those sanctions were even legal in the first place. But in any event, it doesn't look like they'll be holding hands and singing Kumbaya together in the Madison statehouse anytime soon.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Republican Destructionism in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin GOPers seem to have really misread their "mandate" from the 2010 elections. I'm pretty sure nobody asked them to destroy democracy completely by instituting one party rule:
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald wrote this afternoon in an email to his caucus that Senate Dems remain in contempt of the Senate and will not be allowed to vote in committees despite returning from their out-of-state boycott of the budget repair bill vote.

Dems are allowed to show up, offer amendments, even vote, but their votes won't be counted. Words fail.

On a related note, I hope they keep it up. It's providing a huge boost to Wisconsin recall efforts:
...Dems have now collected over 45 percent of the signatures necessary to hold recall elections for eight GOP state senators, the Wisconsin Democratic Party tells me.

Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from rougly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.
Via Doug Hill who rightly remarks turning over the Senate there would be huge for the progressive movement. The more the GOPers overreach, the more likely it looks to happen. So, go GOPers. Keep it up. Won't last long.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Xenophobic much?

Incredible. GOP not even trying to hide their hatred of "the other" at all anymore. In fact, obviously terrified by the ever increasing demands for "conservative" purity coming from the Tea Party crazies, they're ramping it up to the max.
Republicans in both the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would declare English the official language of the United States and require the development of English language testing guidelines for those applying for U.S. citizenship.

The English Language Unity Act would set out a new chapter in U.S. code that imposes an obligation on U.S. officials to "preserve and enhance the role of English as the official language of the Federal Government."
And does this sound like an actual government takeover of private policy to you?
The bill also says English language requirements and workplace policies in the public and private sectors "shall be presumptively consistent with the Laws of the United States."
But this is my favorite part:
"We need to encourage assimilation of all legal immigrants in each generation," said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the House sponsor of H.R. 997, the companion bill. "A nation divided by language cannot pull together as effectively as a people."
Tell that to the millions of first generation Italian, German, Polish, Asian and other immigrants who still don't have command of the English language after three generations of residency. Make proficiency a condition of employment and you might as well shut down every Chinatown district in America.

But that's really who they're targeting here, is it? Como se dice, mi casa es su casa en ingles?

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Communication Breakdown

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual State of the News Media report, "cable news viewership for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News fell substantially in 2010 -- 13.7 percent in aggregate for a sharper decline than any other sector. Broadcast news, which has experienced declining viewership for years, was down another 3.4 percent in 2010."

Looking at the breakdowns, MSNBC lost the least viewers and Fox lost the most, but people are tuning out overall. Clearly, the very serious pundits aren't reading the message correctly:
"What [the audience erosion] suggests is that we may have reached a peak in cable news viewership," says Amy S. Mitchell, Deputy Director for the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. "It's not that people are not watching cable, they're just not turning to news as much."
Wrong Amy. It's that "news" programs aren't delivering news anymore and the on-air, smug punditry has become simply insufferable for the most part. People are getting their news from the internet and you can bet a lot of them are turning to foreign outlets where the news is at least marginally more informative.

But this explains a lot about why the US establishment media is so useless:

...The PEJ study also found that revenue for almost every sector of the news media bounced back after a dismal year in 2009, when the financial crisis was still roiling the industry.

According to the study, "revenues for each of the cable news channels were projected to increase in 2010 a total of 10.7 percent across the three networks: Fox grew 17 percent to $1.5 billion, CNN and HLN 5 percent to $1.2 billion, and MSNBC was up 7 percent to $383 million."

Additionally, CNBC, which charges premium boasts affluent viewers command premium CPM (cost per thousand) rates, raked in an estimated $723 million in 2010, an increase of 9 percent year to year and nearly double what MSNBC pulled in.
Thnking... What was different about 2010? Couldn't be the influx of cash for trash ads thanks to Citizen United is influencing coverage, could it?

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MSM is MIA on Main St. Movement

For the last two years the establishment media has treated the Tea Party like the biggest thing since sliced white bread. Every time three or more people, bespangled with teabags, carrying misspelled signs bemoaning imaginary assaults on "their freedoms" assembled, the media was there -- 24/7 -- with cameras rolling on a continous loop. But the biggest, most sustained gathering of Americans fighting against real infringements on long held rights has been mainly ignored.

And it's not just in Wisconsin. Citizens have amassed in public protests in Ohio, Indiana, DC, and Florida, to name a few and the media issues their trademark collective yawn. They prefer to discuss serial fabulist James O'Keefe's latest deceptively edited hit piece -- at great length. And even when they do cover the protests, they slant to story to make the protesters the villians.

This is what happens when you have six rich white guys in control of the information delivery system. Nothing is going to change until we break up the media monopolies.

[Big thanks to Maha for the kind link.]

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

So long and thanks for all the trips

He expanded the minds of many in the generation we now call boomers.
Owsley Stanley, famous for producing and distributing his own homemade LSD, literally by the bucketful, is dead
. Frankly, I didn't think he was still alive but sorry to hear he died, especially so tragically in an auto accident.

Purple Owsley, and its sucessor batches under different names was so pure, its name was invoked with reverence and it's ingestion considered almost a religious sacrament among those of us who sought the fringe edges of pure consciousness in those days. He was the heartbeat of peace and love in the 60s, before the opportunists and charlatans co-opted the hippie movement.

Rest in peace.

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Obama: The New Torture President

I've cut President Obama a lot of slack over many things that put "the left" into an uproar. I didn't expect him to be a liberal president. I understand the difficulty of balancing competing interests. But the one thing, the only thing, I expected him to do was to uncategorically reject the Bush legacy of torture. So this, Mr President, is not just wrong. It's evil.:
P.J. Crowley, the state department spokesman, stepped down Sunday after saying publicly that treatment of Wikileaks suspect Pfc. Bradley Manning in military detention has been “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” [...]

The remark by Mr. Crowley last week to a small audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, first reported by the blogger Philippa Thomas, was rejected by none other than President Obama at a press conference on Friday. Mr. Obama said that he had been assured the treatment of Private Manning was “appropriate and are meeting our basic standards.”
No Mr. President. It is most certainly not “appropriate" or in the slightest "meeting our basic standards.” I don't care what Manning did wrong. Crowley was only telling the truth. America does not torture. Or at least it didn't until Bush became president. And now you blithely excuse and enable it. There aren't sufficient words in our language to express my disgust and disappointment.

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No where to run to

My heart is breaking for Japan. It's not enough that they suffered through a series of mega-quakes, a giant tsunami and apparently facing multiple meltdowns of their nuclear power plants in the north. Now, a volcano is erupting in southern Japan.

Can hardly imagine how horribly frightening it must be to be stuck on that island right now. And hearing there's a chance of more mega-quakes. The first one is said to have moved the entire main island at least 8 feet and changed the earth's axis by four inches.

It's enough to make you wonder if the Mayans were right after all...

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Atlantis Found

Having a great affection for fairy tales and fantasy fiction generally, the lost city of Atlantis has always fascinated me. I would love to see them find it in my lifetime. This is the most credible possibility I've seen so far:
"It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about," said Freund, a University of Hartford, Connecticut, professor who lead an international team searching for the true site of Atlantis.

To solve the age-old mystery, the team used a satellite photo of a suspected submerged city to find the site just north of Cadiz, Spain. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed dominion known as Atlantis.
The thinking is it was wiped out by a huge tsunami and the remaining survivors fled inland to build mirror cities in its image. Wish I had toured those when I was in Spain back in the 90s.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Workers still rocking Wisconsin

Cons in my circle were cheering the GOP bum's rush of Walker's bill and proclaiming the end of the protest movement. Wishful thinking. Bless the workers of Wisconsin for leading the way, even as the media studiously ignores or minimizes the uprising. This is what fighting for democracy looks like.


Photo via and another shot here. You'll notice there's not room for lawn chairs. And they've been there every day, through sun and snow storms.

Not seeing much coverage from the corporate media. I guess it doesn't fit the narrative of real Murkins. But twitter tells me there are about 100-150K literally surrounding the Capitol in Madison. Peacefully chanting. Recall!

Can't help but think if the Tea Party had managed to sustain a three week long protest like this, the "lamestream media" would be doing 24/7 live feeds.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Bachmann NOT smarter than a Fifth Grader

When it comes to the eternal question -- lying or stupid -- it's often difficult to decide. Mostly it seems a combination of both. Easier to decide here. Pretty sure Michelle Bachmann is just stupid.
"What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty," Bachmann told the audience. "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.
Well, to be fair, there is a city called Concord in New Hampshire. Lexington too.

I want to laugh, but it's not really a joke. It would be more amusing if the media wasn't treating her like a viable candidate for a 2012 presidential run.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Hit them where it hurts -- in the wallet

Various conservatives are declaring game over in the Wisconsin standoff with the signing of Walker's union busting bill, but they're dreaming. This was only the first skirmish. The unions have a billion dollar ace up their sleeve. That being the union funds that are currently invested with M&I Bank, the largest bank in the state and Walker's second biggest campaign contributor -- after the Koch brothers. Ironically these are mostly pension funds.

Workers have begun organizing a “Move Your Money Campaign” against M&I Bank...
"It’s good to remind these corporations that there are risks as well as profits involved in supporting right-wing political campaigns,” says Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “Unions must use their economic power to fight for labor rights."
And that's just in Wisconsin. In the aggregate, if everyone banded together:
With over $6 trillion of workers' money in retirement plans, pension funds, profit-sharing and stock plans and union reserve funds, workers have the ability to reshape the economy and political priorities of the economic elite.
Union money has in effect been supporting these banksters, who are in turn spending it to abrogate workers rights. That could, and should, change.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Nuclear Meltdown at Japanese Power Plant - Updated

Continuing my on-going debate with those who still want to claim nuclear energy is "clean" and/or somehow "worth the risk" as commenter Mule Breath alleges in comments to my earlier post, we can only hope this worst case scenario isn't coming true before our eyes:

A March 12 explosion at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan, appears to have caused a reactor meltdown. [...]

And so now the question is simple: Did the floor of the containment vessel crack? If not, the situation can still be salvaged by somehow re-containing the nuclear core. But if the floor has cracked, it is highly likely that the melting fuel will burn through the floor of the containment system and enter the ground. This has never happened before but has always been the nightmare scenario for a nuclear power event — in this scenario, containment goes from being merely dangerous, time consuming and expensive to nearly impossible.
Hoping this early report is overstating the problem, because if it's not, the long term implications are likely to be really horrible for Japan and probably the whole earth.

Update: NYT reporting the explosion, but downplaying the damage to the containment system. So maybe, it's not as bad as it sounded in the first piece. Let's hope...

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wisconsin GOPer's Bait and Switch

The GOPers in Wisconsin allegedly removed the spending provisions from Walker's union busting "budget" bill so that it could be passed with a bare majority, meaning they didn't need any Democrats present in the chamber to ram the beastly thing through. But a funny thing happened on the way back to the Assembly. The provision allowing the Koch brothers to buy the state's power companies was reinserted in the final version.

Thinking this slimy trick should add some weight to the legal challenges. In a sane world it would be grounds to impeach the whole lot of them, including the Governor, for wilfully defrauding the taxpayers.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Atomic Tsunami

I just had the weirdest conversation with a nominally liberal friend on Twitter. I hear the news about evacuations around the nuke facility in Japan.
Japanese officials early Saturday expanded the area around a crippled nuclear power plant subject to emergency evacuation, as radiation levels inside the facility were reported to have surged and operators struggled to keep the plant’s cooling system operating on battery power.
So I posted to the effect that this should end the false notion that nuclear energy is "clean." He tweeted me back, basically saying I was making too big a deal of it because other energy sources also suffer industrial accidents and cause pollution. As if the long term effects of a nuclear plant meltdown is in any way analogous. Besides, I've never understood how an energy source that produces toxic waste which remains lethal for centuries could ever be considered clean.

Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers for the victims of this disaster.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin GOPers ram through union busting bill

Using the procedural trickery Republicans are famous for, the Wisconsin Senate stripped out the budget aspects of Gov. Walker's contentious "budget repair bill" and passed just the union busting portion in a lightning fast vote.
“In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin,” said Mark Miller, the leader of the Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois on Feb. 17 to block just such a vote from occurring. “Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.”
Actually, the public committee meeting lasted all of five minutes. They're not even bothering to try to hide their true agenda anymore. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald admitted it was about destroying unions in order to advance their 2012 plan to defeat President Obama.

Meanwhile, a reported 7,000 protesters re-occupied the State House. The usual wingnut bloggers are claiming that the protesters locked the doors with steel handcuffs. However, the eyewitness accounts I was seeing on twitter last night said it was the State Police who were doing that in order to keep more people out. Notably, the state police were called in because the local, and I assume Capitol, police refused to disburse the crowd and instead joined the protest. Also saw a rumor that the Mayor of Madison had joined the protesters.

GOPers apparently think they were being very clever. It remains to be seen who will get the last laugh. I expect the recall efforts will gain some significant steam now.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Infidelity is the new patriotism

Well he didn't put it in those exact words, but apparently testing if he can whitewash his serial adultery for a White House run, Newt effectively claims patriotism made him cheat on his wives:
"There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate," said Gingrich.
Might not be that easy. As David Frum points out:
It’s not the infidelity. It’s the arrogance, hypocrisy, and – most horrifying to women voters – the cruelty.

Anyone can dump one sick wife. Gingrich dumped two.
Two terminally ill wives, I might add. But that's not even the worst part for me. An image of a naked Newt having illicit sex is now stuck in my head and I can't shake it. Ewww...

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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The new King of Crazy

Rep. Peter King is about to launch his House Homeland Security hearings into the alleged threat of radicalized Muslims in America, or as I like to call it, the latest in insane McCarthyesque witch hunts. I suppose I should have titled the post, the new King of making me crazy. To start, there's the usual GOP hypocrisy. King was a huge supporter of I.R.A. terrorism in the UK. In the mid-80s "he declared, 'If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.'”

And the whole premise of his hearings is based on purely fabricated data.
Most pernicious, he has claimed that American Muslims have generally refused to cooperate with law enforcement agencies on terrorism cases. He has cited no evidence for this, either, but a study issued last month by Duke University and the University of North Carolina found just the opposite. The American Muslim community has been the single largest source of tips that have brought terror suspects to the attention of authorities, the study found. (It also found that the number of American Muslims found or suspected to be part of terror operations dropped substantially in 2010.)
It's the pure opportunism that really rankles. His pandering to bigots puts us in real danger solely to benefit his own ambitions. As the editorial put it, "His refusal to tone down the provocation despite widespread opposition suggests that he is far more interested in exploiting ethnic misunderstanding than in trying to heal it."

Meanwhile, The Caucus wonders if Obama can avoid the issue:
[T]he new team at the White House seems eager to keep Mr. Obama at a distance from the debate, perhaps mindful that offhand commentary by the president during the first half of his term drew the White House into media frenzies that proved difficult to exit quickly.
Not that difficult to figure out why:
And the intensity of the coverage at those moments says as much — if not more — about the news media as it does about Mr. Obama or the White House.
Yes. Yes it does. Wish someone could figure out a way to fix that problem. I'm thinking break up the corporate media monopolies and let journalists do their jobs again, instead of chasing ratings with gossip disguised as news. If anybody has a better solution, I'd love to hear it.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tonight we party, tomorrow we repent.

Fat Tuesday. Forgot to wear my Mardi Gras beads to work today. That's the closest I was going to get to living up to the post title this year.

Kind of wish I was in Nawlins, and kind of glad I'm not. Love the spectacle but not so fond of drunken crowds as I once was... But hey, it's Fat Tuesday, so some cajun music via Anne Laurie.



For those who are celebrating in the traditional fashion -- Laissez les bons temps rouler. Hope you took tomorrow off.
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Biofueling the future

This news is likely to be mostly unheard through the din of the daily gossip cycle. A breaktrough in biofuel development.
Today, the Department announced that a research team at our BioEnergy Science Center achieved yet another advance in the drive toward next generation biofuels: using a microbe to convert plant matter directly into isobutanol. Isobutanol can be burned in regular car engines with a heat value higher than ethanol and similar to gasoline. This is part of a broad portfolio of work the Department is doing to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and create new economic opportunities for rural America.

This announcement is yet another sign of the rapid progress we are making in developing the next generation of biofuels that can help reduce our oil dependence. This is a perfect example of the promising opportunity we have to create a major new industry based on bio-material such as wheat and rice straw, corn stover, lumber wastes, and plants specifically developed for bio-fuel production that require far less fertilizer and other energy inputs. But we must continue with an aggressive research and development effort.
Sounds good to me. Disempowers the oil cartels, less pollution, creates jobs in America. So naturally, if it's not alread on their cut list, I expect the GOPers will be fighting like demons at an exorcism to defund the research.

Update: I love the occasional synchronicity of the internets. Ruth is talking about fuel on this Fat Tuesday.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Ripple Out Economics

This is a refreshing find among the usual dismal daily news. A real liberal solution to unemployment. Disdaining the rush to jump on the ill-advised austerity train wreck, a "liberal think tank is calling on Congress to embrace a $382 billion stimulus plan to lower unemployment." The projected gains are impressive.
Officials with Demos told reporters on a conference call that their new stimulus plan would create 8.2 million government jobs over two years while lowering unemployment from 8.9 percent to 4.5 percent.
This looks like a great plan to me. While the GOP claim that the ARRA stimulus spending was a failure is entirely false, it was always clear that the plan relied too much on invisible tax breaks and preserving existing jobs. Which surely helped but what the White House, and the nation, needed was a highly visible job creation program with easily perceptible results, that put more of the unemployed back to work. From the summary, the Demos plan makes sense, economically and politically:
There is, in fact, a far less expensive way to create jobs than the strategies adopted so far to combat the Great Recession. This alternative approach doesn’t require us to wait for the economy to recover in order to put people back to work. It puts people back to work as a way of nourishing the recovery. It’s a strategy for producing a job-led recovery rather than the jobless recovery we have been experiencing so far.

The recovery strategy described in this report is conceptually simple: Create jobs for the unemployed directly and immediately in public employment programs that produce useful goods and services for the public’s benefit. What this does for the unemployed is obvious. They get decent work while they wait for the recession to run its course. But in addition to this direct job creation effect, the strategy can simultaneously deliver a fiscal stimulus to the economy that is comparable in its indirect job creation effect to the types of stimulus spending included in programs like the ARRA.
Now if we could just convince our self-absorbed, wussy Dems in Congress to run with it, instead of kowtowing to the false GOP deficit fearmongering, we'd be getting somewhere.

It would be an easy sell. Cheaper than the cost of the tax cuts for billionaires and would put money directly into the little guy's pocket. Those tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans would spend their paychecks with joy and gratitude. We can call it "ripple out economics."

It's not like the hippies haven't been saying this for the last two years. Create a real jobs program, a counterproposal that stands in clear contrast to the "job killing" agenda of the GOP and dare the Republicans to vote against it in the House. Push it through with the majority in the Senate. Do that and 2012 could be the biggest Democratic landslide election in the history of the United States.

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Broken, not broke

Our political system may be broken, possibly beyond repair, with full time campaigning having long ago superceded actual responsible governance, but as Bloomberg details today, the United States is most definitely not broke despite how many times Speaker Boehner repeats that false mantra like a broken record.

We know this to be true because the bond traders, who are routinely inserted into the narrative to scare us into acting against our own common good, aren't scared at all of US debt.
The U.S. today is able to borrow at historically low interest rates, paying 0.68 percent on a two-year note that it had to offer at 5.1 percent before the financial crisis began in 2007. Financial products that pay off if Uncle Sam defaults aren’t attracting unusual investor demand. And tax revenue as a percentage of the economy is at a 60-year low, meaning if the government needs to raise cash and can summon the political will, it could do so.
In fact, debt insurance stats make "U.S. government debt the fifth safest of 156 countries rated and less likely to suffer default than any major economy, including every member of the G20."

Being in debt is not the same as being broke, particularly when you have available sources of revenue that aren't being tapped. Like billionaires being taxed at ridiculously low rates, corporate tax loopholes you could fly a 747 through and government subsides to industries regularly reporting record breaking profit margin returns.

The only thing "broke" in America right now is our ruling political class who apparently have broken the last thread of their connection to reality in their endless quest for party dominance and the payola that comes with it.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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