Monday, June 30, 2008

Beware The Tyson Agenda!

Hilarious. The American Family Assn. tries to make a “moral values” point, and instead gets bitten on the ass by its own bigotry. God surely does have a sense of humor.

Via’s War Room:
Some far-right sites that subscribe to the Associated Press feed, for example, will use auto-correct to change "Democratic Party" to "Democrat Party." This, of course, is because they have the temperament of children.

But the American Family Association's OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon one step further with its AP articles. The far-right group replaces the word "gay" in the articles with the word "homosexual." I'm not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy.

The problem, of course, is that "gay" does not always mean what the AFA wants it to mean. My friend Kyle at Right Wing Watch reported this morning that sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend. The AFA ran the story, but only after the auto-correct had "fixed" the article.

That means -- you guessed it -- the track star was renamed "Tyson Homosexual." The headline on the piece read, "Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials."

The article, before it was corrected, was even funnier:

Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.

His wind-aided 9.85 seconds was a fairly cut-and-dry performance compared to what happened a day earlier. On Saturday, Homosexual misjudged the finish in his opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American record that had stood since 1999. [...]

Homosexual didn't get off to a particularly strong start in the first semifinal, but by the halfway mark he had established a comfortable lead.... Asked how he felt, Homosexual said: "A little fatigued."

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Deadbeat McCains Default On Calif. Tax Bill

They haven’t paid taxes in four years on their California condo--must be nice. Wish I had that deal. I wonder how long the city of Nashville would let me stay in my house if I didn’t pay the property taxes on it?

Huffington Post has the goods:
Newsweek is set to publish a highly embarrassing report on Sen. John McCain, revealing that the McCains have failed to pay taxes on their beach-front condo in La Jolla, California, for the last four years and are currently in default, The Huffington Post has learned.

Under California law, once a residential property is in default for five years, it can be sold at a tax sale to recover the unpaid taxes for the taxpayers.

The McCains own at least seven homes through a variety of trusts and corporations controlled by Cindy McCain.

Meanwhile, let's not forget McCain's tax-free disability pension. Taxes, schmaxes! They’re for the little people!

And this is the guy we’re supposed to trust with our economic policy? This is the guy who’s going to enforce fiscal discipline and end pork barrel spending? He can’t even keep his own financial house in order!


Cue the phony outrage over how Newsweek got tipped off to this story in 5 ... 4... 3...

Bobby Jindal? Really?

When I read that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is supposedly McCain’s top VP pick, I just want to say:

Really? Pretty please? Can we have Bobby Jindal as McCain’s running mate? Because having Jindal on the ticket would effectively nullify virtually every single argument the right has made against Barack Obama. As much as Fox News is trying to smear Obama as "foreign, suspicious, and scary," you have to wonder how Jindal couldn't be all those things, too.

Read Jindal’s Wikipedia bio and then tell me I’m not right.

They say Obama is too young and inexperienced; Jindal is even younger and even less experienced! He’s just 37 years old (to Obama’s 47). He served just four years as a Congressman, and is in his first year as governor of Louisiana. Obama had 7 years in the Illinois state legislature, and has been a U.S. Senator for the past three. That's 10 years of experience to Jindal's five.

The right has tried to smear Obama as a “secret Muslim,” but Jindal was an actual practicing Hindu until converting to Catholicism in high school. His parents are Hindu! Not that I have a problem with that, mind you; but the righties sure seem to, or they wouldn’t keep bringing up Obama’s non-existent “Muslim background.”

Meanwhile, the righties love to bring up Obama’s scary black pastor. But Jindal participated in an honest-to-God exorcism, which he claims cured a woman’s cancer. I mean, that’s just freaky!

And that’s just looking at the superficialities, which is all the media seems to concern itself with, anyway.

Yesterday, anti-government wackadoodle Grover Norquist called Obama “John Kerry with a tan”. Hey Grover--check out Jindal! He's even darker-skinned than Obama! Again, I don't have a problem with it, but those conservatives who keep throwing Obama's race out like it's a negative should. I mean, if that's their reason for saying Obama can't be president, surely it's a reason Jindal shouldn't be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, right? Unless it's just another case of IOKIYAR, of course. Nah, they'd never do that.

Plus, Jindal is funny looking. He is, look at him!

You know, McCain is pretty dang old, and you can tell this campaign has been hard on him. He's aged visibly during this campaign, and I really question his physical fitness to fulfill the duties of President. His health is an issue, I don’t care how many times he trots his poor aging mother before the television cameras. You can just look at him and see it. So, a Jindal as Veep could matter.

But if all of Obama’s supposed negatives are a positive in Jindal, doesn’t that just show how phony and shallow all of the arguments against a President Obama really are? Doesn't that just prove that the only problem they have with Obama is that he's a Democrat? That it's all just partisan hackery? Sure it does.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Swift Boat Smearmonger Won’t Pay Up

Of course he won’t! That election is over! The lies served their purpose, and now it’s time to move on, folks! I mean my God, we all knew it wasn’t true! That’s the point of these smear campaigns--they don’t have to be true!

A Vegas gambling expert counts himself among those questioning Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens' refusal to pay $1 million to Swift boat veterans who claim they won Pickens' challenge to disprove political claims he made in 2004.


Pickens' wager originated when he offered $1 million to anyone who could find falsities in the claims made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group he had financially supported during the 2004 presidential election. He issued the challenge during a November 2007 dinner for the American Spectator magazine.

But whether Pickens had offered the monetary reward for falsities found in the campaign as a whole or just in the televised ads came into question when Kerry himself answered the call, offering to meet Pickens and provide him with information that Kerry said would debunk the allegations.

Pickens refused to meet with the Massachusetts senator because, as his spokesperson Jay Rosser told, "none of the material Kerry or the crewmen provided was germane to the ads."

Wow, is this like how the White House refused to open the EPA’s e-mail so it could claim no knowledge that greenhouse gases are pollutants? Is “la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” the best the conservative movement can offer? How ... how ... sad. But back to our story:

But when Pickens was sent a letter and photocopies of evidence supporting Kerry's military record by veterans last week, it was yet again not enough to seal the deal.

"[Pickens] sent us a brief letter back saying the same thing [that he said to Kerry]," Del Sanudsky, a Swift boat veteran who served alongside Kerry in Vietnam, told 

In the June 25 letter sent from Pickens to Sanudsky, Pickens thanks the veterans for their research but still denies any obligation to pay them the $1 million.


"We have 11 different falsehoods that the [Swift Boat Veterans for Truth] came out with in 2004. We have documents, videos, editorials and depositions not just by my boat crew but other eyewitnesses who were involved in the operations."

Sanudsky added that while his group has come up with "everything Pickens asked Kerry for in November," it has all been for nothing.

Quit yer complainin’! That was last election, I tell you! There’s a new Swift Boat smear coming out targeting Barack Obama, this one has something to do with bizarre kerning on a Hawaiian birth certificate or some such. Which is strange, since John McCain is the guy who wasn’t born in the United States.

Of course there's no more substance to this bizarre smear than there was to the Kerry attacks. But that won't stop partisan moneybags like Nashville’s own Lee Beaman from ponying up for this sleazeball campaign, too. Just like they did the Swift Boat smearmongers. Hey, ends justify the means! It doesn't matter which gutter they have to swim in, as long as we can keep Republicans in power.

As good a reason to boycott Beaman Automotive as any, in my book. I know I bought my Toyota hybrid elsewhere. Suck on it, Lee Beaman.

Hell Freezes, I Thank The NRA

Why? Because they just took away the trusty old standby argument they’ve used against every Democratic candidate since forever:

“They’re gonna take away our guns!!!”

Well, no we’re not. We can’t. Even if we wanted to (which we don't). The Supreme Court just said we can’t. Thank you, NRA and SCOTUS! They've trotted out that ridiculous “they’re gonna take away my gun” nonsense so many times, it's become like kissing babies and eating barbecue: an expected part of every campaign.

It’s even resulted in ridiculous moments of Democratic pandering like this one:

So thank the heavens we will no longer be subjected to that tired old warhorse. We won't have to see pictures of Barack Obama trotting through a Midwestern field in a brand-new LL Bean hunting jacket, or wearing hunter orange at some Florida hunting reserve. Democrats don't do that type of pandering very well, it always rings false--whether it is or not. Chalk that up to another label conservatives stuck us with, despite the fact that there are plenty of Democratic sportsmen and women who love their guns.

Now we don't have to worry about defending ourselves against the stereotype of the anti-gun liberal. It was never true anyway, but now it doesn't matter. Thank goodness that's over! Whew. Now we just have to say, "hey, even if we wanted to, we can't. End of discussion." The point is moot.

That fear-mongering talking point that’s been a standby of every single election since forever? Kiss it goodbye, GOP. It has been effectively retired. I guess that just leaves you with God and gay-hate to hammer your base into the polls from now on, eh? Too bad for you those don’t seem to be working so well lately.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How's That For A Nashville Welcome

I heard through that most reliable of gossip mills--the supermarket--that Cher has moved to Nashville. Don't know if that's true or not, but she was definitely harassed here this week, in what has to be strangest stalking incident I've ever read:
Cher harassed at Nashville club, man is arrested

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Nashville man has been charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication after he repeatedly harassed Cher at the famed honky-tonk Tootsies Orchid Lounge.

Police say 36-year-old Calvin Hutton Houghland tried to make contact with Cher early Wednesday morning and was asked to leave the club. He complied, police said, but returned a short time later and grabbed Cher by the waist as the singer-actress sat in a roped-off area of the lounge.

Houghland was escorted from the bar, but returned again. When security blocked his attempts to approach the singer, Houghland called police to say he'd been assaulted.

Police say Cher declined to prosecute but Houghland asked to be arrested.

Houghland failed a self-requested field sobriety test. His bond was set at $3,000.

I'm wondering if this "self-requested" stuff is police blotter snark, and thinking the exchange went something like this:

Cops: Sir, how much have you been drinking?

Houghland: You callin' me drunk? I ain't drunk! I just want to meet the lady! Give me a breath test, I'll prove it!

Cops: Sir, you're going to have to leave the premises right now, or we'll arrest you.

Houghland: Fine! Arrest me! See if I care!

Of course, this is all just the fertile imagination of a writer who should be working on her project due Saturday.

As for Cher moving to Nashville, well, if it's true, she joins a growing list of entertainers that call this town home. Welcome one and all.


McCain’s Secret Meetings: Shhhh!!!

What’s with all the secret meetings John McCain is holding these days? I guess that’s all part of running for president. But his secret calendar is filled with representatives of groups that are polar opposites of one another; often even mortal enemies.

For instance, there’s McCain’s secret meeting with the Log Cabin Republicans:
GayPatriot has exclusively learned that presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Senator John McCain held a personal meeting with the head of the national gay Republicans organization, the Log Cabin Republicans.   Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon confirmed his meeting with Senator McCain earlier today.


Based on published news reports, the meeting with Senator McCain would be the first between any national-level gay Republicans and a Republican Presidental nominee since “The Texas 12″ met with then-Governor George W. Bush in 2000.  Since his first election to the White House, President Bush has never met with anyone representing Log Cabin Republicans or any other American gay organizations.

That’s nice. I wonder if the Log Cabin Republicans are tired of being kicked in the teeth by the RNC yet? I hope they aren’t expecting John McCain to be any more welcoming than George W. Bush was. Remember: the GOP tent still contains a large number of anti-gay wackadoodles, and McCain needs to lick their boots, too.

In fact, McCain has held a secret meeting with Rev. Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life the wackadoodle who called Micahel Schiavo a murderer and supports "bishops who make pro-choice politicians’ communion into a political football.”

And then there’s McCain’s secret meeting with Hispanics in which he supposedly promised a “pathway to citizenship” for immigrants:

John McCain assured Hispanic leaders he would push through Congress legislation to overhaul federal immigration laws if elected, several people who attended a private meeting with the candidate said Thursday.

Democrats questioned why the Arizona senator held the meeting late Wednesday night in Chicago. But supporters who were in the room denied that McCain held the closed-door session out of fear of offending conservatives, many of whom want him to take a harder line on immigration.

My, how mavericky! I wonder what McCain is--or isn’t--promising to the Log Cabin Republicans and Rev. Pavone?

There’s more:

On Sunday, Sen. John McCain took a meeting with an hold hand -- his 2000 strategist, Mike Murphy.


Sources with close, but indirect knowledge of the meeting say that campaign manager Rick Davis, who does not get along with Mr. Murphy, was not aware of the meeting in advance. That's one reason why the meeting took place in McCain's Arlington townhouse.

He's even holding meetings in secret from his own campaign manager? That's mavericky!

So many secret meetings! I am getting confused. Is he a maverick or some kind of undercover operator? How can we trust a candidate who will meet with these different interest groups, but only in secret? Why doesn’t he want us to know he’s talking with them?

It’s all very strange. And mavericky! But very strange. Seems like someone is getting played here. Noted one Republican who was at the secret Hispanic meeting:

"He's one John McCain in front of white Republicans. And he's a different John McCain in front of Hispanics," complained Rosanna Pulido, a Hispanic and conservative Republican who attended the meeting.

Hey, media: when does mavericky become hypocrisy?

Just wondering.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Supreme Court Hands ExxonMobil A Big Payday

The U.S. Supreme Court’s death penalty ruling will probably grab all the headlines, but let’s not overlook this mulit-billion dollar payday they handed ExxonMobil today:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday also cut the $2.5 billion punitive damages award in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to $500 million.

The court ruled that victims of the worst oil spill in U.S. history may collect punitive damages from Exxon Mobil Corp., but not as much as a federal appeals court determined.

Justice David Souter wrote for the court that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses, about $500 million compensation.

Exxon asked the high court to reject the punitive damages judgment, saying it already has spent $3.4 billion in response to the accident that fouled 1,200 miles of Alaska coastline.

A jury decided Exxon should pay $5 billion in punitive damages. A federal appeals court cut that verdict in half.

And the SCOTUS cut that verdict even further.

If there were any doubt about the corporate-friendly stance of the U.S. Supreme Court, this should put it to rest. It’s been 19 years since the ExxonValdez disaster, which destroyed the livelihood of thousands. And the SCOTUS just handed the people of Alaska a big “fuck you,” while ExxonMobil earned $1,300 per second in 2007.

Is anyone surprised? Of course not:

Steve Smith, a 69-year-old Cordova fisherman, worries that big business will prevail.

"I really wonder, what do you do if you don't get a just decision out of the Supreme Court," he said on his boat Prince William. "I mean, there's no other court to take it to. What do you got left, really? Anarchy?"

Well, that’s one alternative.

Elections have consequences. A President Al Gore or President John Kerry would not have put Samuel Alito or John Roberts on the SCOTUS.

Something to keep in mind.

I Know I Am But So Are You

James Dobson cracks me up. His attack on Barack Obama is so impossibly shallow, and so obviously self-serving, that I just have to laugh.

Take, for example, this quote:
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

Oh, really? You don’t say! Dr. James "gays will destroy the earth” Dobson says Obama is distorting the Bible to support his own worldview? That’s abso-freaking-hilarious. The irony is just killing me.

Well, I guess the doctor is the expert! Oh, wait. He’s not. He has a degree in child development, not theology. He never went to seminary or divinity school. Basically his views on religion are as colored by his politics as are mine.

Imagine that.

Who’d have thought the Bible could be used to support a variety of political and social viewpoints?! Maybe that's why it's not a good idea to use the Bible as a political hammer, ya think?

I’ve written a lot about religion here, and the phony morality of people like James Dobson. It bears remembering that James Dobson hates being ignored, and his pending irrelevance has caused him to stamp his foot in frustration.

It’s his ego doing the talking, and I for one hope he keeps it up. Dobson and Pat Robertson are both right-wing wackadoodles with dwindling influence over the American political scene. Writes former colleague Frank Schaeffer:

As a result of his power grabs and bullying of other evangelicals, not to mention his telling people how to vote and pointing them to the failed W, Dobson & Co. have zero credibility with a growing number of otherwise conservative evangelicals who happen--this year--to be looking favorably at Senator Obama's holistic Christian-based world view. Unlike Dobson they like Obama's theology just fine.

All that was missing to put the frosting on the Obama cake was for Dobson to attack him. For Obama to win all he needs to do is peel off a chunk of heretofore solid evangelical Republican votes. Dobson just handed Obama those votes.

Thanks, Dr. Dobson! Keep it up!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Get E-mail

The following is from New York Times reporter Andrew Kramer, in response to a letter I wrote him referencing his article about Iraq oil deals:
Thank you for your note. I appreciate your concerns that U.S. energy policy shaped the decision to go to war. And today Iraq's great resources are surely a factor in deciding the outcome. One idea that might get lost in the debate, however, is the obligation we have to the Iraqi people to prevent wider chaos and more suffering. Being right about the faulty decision to enter Iraq doesn't mean the American Left can be wrong about what should be done now. Along with claiming to be in the right, the left should take a very hard look at the consequences of early withdrawal. And frankly, anger at the misleading steps of the soon-to-be past administration should not cloud the judgment. Following through on the project of building a democracy in Iraq is perhaps the best possible outcome we could hope for. If we do that, the Iraqis can always come back later and vote down the oil contracts that were concluded now, between unequal partners.

Thank you for your interest,


Apparently Mr. Kramer still thinks there’s a pony under all that manure we’ve been shoveling in Iraq. Maybe he’s worried if American troops leave Iraq the country will dissolve into sectarian violence, Sunni against Shia, blowing each other up.

Oh, wait.

Never mind.

Look, I used to buy into that whole “Pottery Barn” nonsense, that we had an “obligation” to fix the mess we created. But then I realized: we are the problem! We are the shard inside a festering wound, and the only way for healing to begin is to remove the foreign object.

There is no “building democracy” with a gun pointed in your face, Mr. Kramer. There will be no peace as long as we are occupying that country. The Iraqi government will always be viewed as illegitimate, and our motives will always be questioned. America needs to step away from Iraq now, because no good has or will come from our presence there. I don’t care how many schools we paint, it doesn’t make up for the nearly 100,000 civilians killed since the invasion.

No, Mr. Kramer; you and the rest of the media elites peddling this false “we have an obligation to bring democracy” line are dead wrong. Future generations of Americans will be paying for this $3 trillion war. And what do we have to show for it? Nothing--except maybe some oil contracts for ExxonMobil. I’m sure the Chinese will enjoy using up all that oil Exxon is planning to sell them.

Bring the U.S. troops home now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Look Black In Anger

Jeeez. Imagine if a Democrat had said this! The pearl clutching! The gasps of horror! Every news broadcast would be devoted to this unpatriotic display of pure avarice. Why, I daresay the entire media establishment would be calling for the smelling salts!

But no, it wasn’t a Democrat, it was John McCain’s already controversial advisor, Charlie Black:
FRESNO, Calif. — A top adviser to John McCain said another terrorist attack on U.S. soil would be a "big advantage" for the Republican presidential candidate, drawing a sharp rebuke Monday from both the presumed GOP nominee and Democrat Barack Obama.

Charlie Black, already in the spotlight for his past lobbying work, is quoted in the upcoming July 7 edition of Fortune magazine as saying such an attack "certainly would be a big advantage to him." Black said Monday he regretted the comment.

Black is also quoted as saying the "unfortunate event" of the assassination of former Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 "helped us."

I last wrote about Charlie Black in this post. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Charlie Black lies awake at night praying for another terrorist attack on the homeland; his lobbying clients have included Blackwater USA and Ahmed Chalabi --both of which profited really well after the last terror attack on America, no?

And then Josh Marshall uncovered this interesting tidbit about Mr. Black from 2005:

As we know now from the LATimes and the NYTimes, the Pentagon is paying an outfit called the Lincoln Group to plant phony stories in the Iraqi press about just how well things are going in Iraq.

But while the DOD is hiring the Lincoln Group, the Lincoln is subcontracting the work to BKSH, the PR firm run by Republican uber-operative and spinmeister Charlie Black.

Oh, sweet! John McCain hired an expert in planting phony stories in the press to advise his campaign.

Good to know.

Now, a word to our media elites: look deep into your hearts and tell me this kind of thing would not have completely dominated the news cycle for the rest of the week had this statement come from someone on the Obama campaign. I mean good lord, you people milked the "terrorist fist bump" for days. I'm even hearing criticism about Michelle Obama's "frequent choice of sleeveless dresses at official moments." I realize in your mythical universe--the one you created, completely devoid of facts--Republicans supposedly "own" national security. Btu that doesn't mean they should not be called to answer for the stupid crap they say.

Chickenhawk Squawk

Is this chutzpa or what? William Kristol has the nerve to criticize’s “Alex” ad with this jaw-dropping assertion:
The MoveOn ad is unapologetic in its selfishness, and barely disguised in its disdain for those who have chosen to serve — and its contempt for those parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving. The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past.

"And the sole responsibility of others."

Calling Operation Yellow Elephant! Let's get that list of Republican chickenhawks who thought military service was "the sole responsibility of others."

Why is that William Kristol’s name I see? Yes it is.

Hey, Mr. Kristol: here's a steaming cup of STFU with your name on it.

(More on Kristol’s intellectual bankruptcy here.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Major League Bummer Department

My favorite Nashville restaurant has closed:
To all the family and friends of the Green Hills Grille,

It is a with a heavy heart that we must inform you that after 18 years of service we will be closing as of today. Over the past two decades, we have loved participating and serving this area. You have all been like family to us. Thank you all so much for the memories.

Sincerely, the Green Hills Grille Family

Apparently they are a victim of the poor economy. The Scene reports that Specialty Restaurant Development has filed for bankruptcy and closed both the Nashville and Knoxville restaurants.

I practically lived at that place over the past 10 years. We weren't wild about the new location at the Green Hills Mall because, frankly, mall parking sucks and I hate eating at the mall. We were fond of the old location adjacent to Noshville and Bread & Co. But we were still regulars.

Guess we've had our last plate of strawberry shortcake.


TN Unemployment Up

May unemployment figures are out and it’s not good news for Tennessee:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The number of unemployed people in Tennessee jumped by 30,800 in May, a 19 percent increase over the previous month, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday.

The state's unemployment rate jumped from 5.5 percent in April to 6.4 percent in May, nearly a full percentage point above the national rate.

Someone alert the real estate and homebuilders associations. They keep insisting the Tennessee economy is rainbows and lollipops, and they can’t understand why the real estate market is tanking.

As Atrios says, facts are stupid things.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mission Accomplished!


Jennifer Johnson of WSMV just sold this deal as "cheap gas for Tennesseans--eventually!"

Just shoot me now.
No one could have anticipated this:
Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back

BAGHDAD — Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

I bet you didn’t know that Saddam Hussein threw Western oil companies out of Iraq 36 years ago, did you? I didn’t either. Funny how these things never really came up in the run-up to war. But I digress.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.

The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.

The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry, and the offers prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including companies in Russia, China and India. The contracts, which would run for one to two years and are relatively small by industry standards, would nonetheless give the companies an advantage in bidding on future contracts in a country that many experts consider to be the best hope for a large-scale increase in oil production.

Isn’t that special! The four largest Western oil companies are preparing to sign no-bid contracts in Iraq, bringing them back to a position they had 36 years ago. Is that some long-range planning or what!

This is an interesting turn of events, since the last time an American oil company was signing deals in Iraq, the Bush-connected Hunt Oil of Dallas, the Bush Administration was none too happy that the news had leaked out, since it would undermine the Iraqi government’s attempts to write an oil revenue sharing law. President Bush himself claimed to “know nothing about the deal,” but hey, he always claims to know nothing about everything so that’s no surprise.

This deal certainly looks bad, since critics of the American invasion have said all along that the occupation of Iraq is and always has been about the oil. Well, duh.

For their part, the oil companies claim they are “helping Iraq rebuild its decrepit oil industry.” It’s a humanitarian gesture! They get nothing out of it, nothing at all!

Er, except this:

The first oil contracts for the majors in Iraq are exceptional for the oil industry.

They include a provision that could allow the companies to reap large profits at today’s prices: the ministry and companies are negotiating payment in oil rather than cash.

Mission accomplished! Heckuva job, Bushie!

Look, if invading and occupying Iraq to secure their oil reserves for Western oil companies is part of our energy security policy, then why didn’t they just tell us that? Why not be honest about it? Why tell us our soldiers are dying for some big cause like spreading Democracy across the Middle East, or fighting terorrism? That’s obviously bullshit.

And I have to wonder if this timely announcement, coming as Americans are feeling the tightest gasoline pinch in decades, wasn’t somehow intentional. Americans are more likely to support invading a foreign country to secure their oil when gas is at $4.50 a gallon than at $1.50 a gallon.

Anyway, this proves that we DFH's on the left were right all along: we're in Iraq for oil, and you wingnuts who bought the administration line about mushroom clouds and mobile weapons labs were all a bunch of chumps. You do not deserve to be listened to about anything ever again. Yes, I am talking to you, William Kristol, and you Fred Hiatt, and all of the Little Green Snotballs and Johnny Assrocket and all the rest of you Kool-Aid drinkers. You were fed lies by the Administration, hey we all were, but you were the idiots who believed them.

And God help us if you and your cohorts in the GOP are ever allowed near the reins of power again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

John McCain said WHAT?

Hilarious video. Probably not safe for work, unless you have the earbuds in, or turn the volume way down.

(By the way, if you're wondering if it's true ... sadly, yes.)

How The Cookie Crumbles

Far be it from me to come to Cindy McCain’s defense but this crap about her stealing cookie recipes is starting to piss me off. Yeah, sure, it was funny the first time, but now it’s getting annoying. As if Cindy McCain--or any woman worth her salt--should have at her fingertips an amazing, unique cookie recipe or she’ll be banished from the halls of American womanhood! What is this, an episode of “Leave It To Beaver” or something?


Hey, Family Circle magazine: can we dispense with your stupid presidential bake-off and all of the stereotypes about women that it implies? Yes, I know Bill Clinton was included in the recipe contest this year--which just shows how lame the whole premise is to begin with. Does anyone really believe that Bill Clinton sits around the house in Chappaqua baking oatmeal cookies? I think not.

I don’t care if you’re Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain or Jane Doe, American women today lead busy, complicated lives, and cookie-baking isn’t exactly high on the priority list. How many of us get recipes from the back of the chocolate chip package? Hello!

We live in a cut-and-slice world. So next time Family Circle asks a professional woman to share her favorite cookie recipe, my vote will go to the one who uses the pre-packaged dough found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

Mr. Smith Went To Washington

... And got fired for questioning KBR’s accounting:
WASHINGTON — The Army official who managed the Pentagon’s largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.

The official, Charles M. Smith, was the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the first two years of the war. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Smith said that he was forced from his job in 2004 after informing KBR officials that the Army would impose escalating financial penalties if they failed to improve their chaotic Iraqi operations.

Army auditors had determined that KBR lacked credible data or records for more than $1 billion in spending, so Mr. Smith refused to sign off on the payments to the company. “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify,” he said in an interview. “Ultimately, the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that.”

But he was suddenly replaced, he said, and his successors — after taking the unusual step of hiring an outside contractor to consider KBR’s claims — approved most of the payments he had tried to block.

Wow. So the Pentagon official in charge of oversight was fired for .... oversight!

According to a story in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle, Mr. Smith was right to question KBR’s charges:

KBR overcharged the U.S. Navy for providing meals to workers and service personnel in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to a Pentagon audit.


"The Navy paid approximately $4.1 million for meals and services we calculate should have cost $1.7 million, more than a $2.3 million difference," said the audit, signed by Assistant Inspector General for Acquisition Management Richard Jolliffe.

KBR paid for 227,500 meals over a 34-day period, yet the subcontractors served only 113,654, fewer than half, and the remaining meals were discarded, the audit said. It recommended the Navy demand a refund from KBR of at least $1.4 million.

The overcharges were one element of mismanagement by Houston-based KBR, of three Navy contracts valued at $229 million for cleanup and restoration of Navy facilities damaged after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Katrina in 2005, the audit said.

Altogether, the audit requested that the Navy seek refunds of at least $8.5 million for "inappropriate" payments to KBR.

But wait, I thought the private sector did everything so much cheaper/faster/better/shinier/happier than the government! Oh no, there goes another piece of conservative wisdom down the toilet.

KBR’s performance has been stormy, to say the least. There’s the unsafe electrical wiring they provided troops. They failed to take action when female employees were gang-raped, and covered up the story later. They even dodged social security and medicare taxes. Of course they did! Taxes are for the little people!

In any real world, KBR would have been put out of business long ago for these and a hundred other misdeeds. But because of their strong connections to Vice President Cheney, they keep racking up the government contracts and profits have tripled.

It’s wingnut welfare at its finest. Your tax dollars at work: going straight into KBR’s pockets. Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get Yer Racist Campaign Gear Here! Vol. 2

The Texas Republican Party is hawking this button at its state convention. I think Texas Republicans are teched in the haid--but I think we all knew that already.

Here's a tip to you guys: this is why you're having trouble wooing African Americans and other minorities to your all-white boys' club:
At the start of the Bush years, the Republican National Committee — in tandem with the White House — vowed to usher in a new era of GOP minority outreach. As George W. Bush winds down his presidency, Republicans are now on the verge of going six — and probably more — years without an African-American governor, senator or House member.

That’s the longest such streak since the 1980s.

I can't imagine why!

(Via Sadly, No!)

Buyer’s Market

I’ve heard of incentives but this is ridiculous :
To get prospective buyers through the door — you can’t appreciate the hardwood floors, or the two fireplaces, or the waterfall or the pool if you don’t at least get through the door — the Garcias are ready to sweeten the deal.

“We will give two round-trip tickets to anywhere Southwest flies and a box seat for 4 at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA, to anyone whose recommendations lead to a direct sale of this house,” Priscilla Partridge, Garcia’s wife, wrote in an e-mail to friends and acquaintances on Monday. She did not respond to The Tennessean’s request for an interview.

Her Realtor, Mara Thompson of Zeitlin & Co., said more and more sellers are turning to incentives. She’s seen people offer cars, a year of free gasoline, cruise vacation package and even — in the case of one $2.2 million home currently for sale in Green Hills — college tuition for the buyer’s children.

“A lot of people are doing it,” Thompson said. “With the market as it is today, I think people are just trying to be a bit creative.”

I’ve said all along that the Nashville real estate market is imploding. There’s literally a forest of “for sale” signs sprouting in Green Hills--and no, it doesn’t replace the actual forest that developers destroyed to build these homes.

But what do I know? In Sunday’s Tennessean, we heard from Michael Arnold, president of the Home Builders Association of Middle Tennessee, who offered this “clap louder” perspective:

What we are seeing here is a strong and resilient local economy that is bucking the national trend in several key areas, the first being in job growth. Unlike a significant portion of the rest of the country, Middle Tennessee is showing great strength in its job market. In fact, Middle Tennessee has accounted for more than 40 percent of all new jobs across the state in the period between April of 2007 and April of this year.

Huzzah! All is well! But why, oh why, are there so many “for sale” signs everywhere?

Unfortunately, first-time buyers, move–ups and retirees alike are being deterred from taking this crucial step by the national headlines that run in our local media. This waiting-to-buy syndrome is what is affecting our local market, unlike the aforementioned markets that have significant economic problems to blame for their current situations.

Damn you, liberal media! It's always your fault!!!

Of course, I've written before about our local media's valiant efforts to paint a happy face on the local real estate market.

Look, the economy is sucking everywhere. Nashville doesn't have magic fairy dust sprinkled over it making it immune from the same forces that affect everyone else. Pretending otherwise just makes real estate folks look lame and frankly a little bit desperate.

Here's a hint: I don't think an "incentive" to pay for someone's college education is the sign of a strong real estate market. Good for people thinking creatively and all, but if you need help paying for your kid's college education, maybe you shouldn't be buying a $2.2 million home. Just a thought.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hey, Cristi Adkins! Vol. 2

[UPDTE]: And Sean Braisted has this hilarious tidbit on Clinton for McCainer Paula Abeles. Comedy gold, I tell ya!


You’re STILL a moron! Someone posting as Cristi Adkins, in comments:
Why do Obama cult members think that if we don't vote for their messiah we're 'GOP' spies? I think you give the GOP a little too much credit.

Step out of the box, be a little more creative and try to stop attacking Clinton supporters. 

Follow us over to

Uh... maybe we think you’re GOP spies because you’re telling us to vote for the Republican? Ya think?

Look, I was a John Edwards supporter. After he dropped out, I said I was fine with either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama. But now we’ve got these idiots like Cristi Adkins telling us that if they can’t have Hillary Clinton, the Republican is the next-best candidate. Which, to a hard-core Democrat like myself, makes me really, really, really, really glad that Sen. Clinton isn’t the nominee! If she’s, you know, just like the Republican, well I think I’ll vote for the real Democrat! Thank you!

But, alas, there is more to the story:

The Republican National Committee appears ready to roll out the red carpet for Hillary Clinton supporters, over a newly-registered internet domain

Though the web address does not yet go anywhere, the RNC registered the domain name on May 15, according to whois data from the registrar Network Solutions. That was nine days after Clinton's disappointing showing in the North Carolina primary, which prompted NBC's Tim Russert to declare the race effectively over for Clinton.

An e-mail to two RNC officials about their plans went unanswered Thursday.

The Republicans appear to be capitalizing on the bitter disappointment, anger and disillusionment that Clinton supporters are feeling right now. Much of it is on display on the web in the comments section on both Clinton's website, as well as that of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

Oh, noes!!! Cristi Adkins, you’re so busted!

(h/t to blatham in comments)

Nope, No Demonstrations Here

If you listened to the American news media, you’d think no one showed up to protest President Bush on his farewell tour of Europe. Bush's "lame duck" status, and a warming of attitudes toward the hated American president, have been credited.

From the “liberal” NPR:
Anti-Bush Animosity Waning

In scheduling what is expected to be his farewell visit, President Bush did not stick to countries where he'd be guaranteed cheers. Instead, he went to Germany, Italy, France and Britain — the capitals of "old Europe." Yet President Bush has seen little evidence of animosity or protest.
Oh, really? Maybe this has something to do with it:
Anti-war protest erupts in violence with 25 arrested during Bush visit

AN ANTI-WAR demonstration held yesterday to coincide with George Bush's farewell tour of London descended into violent clashes between protesters and police.

What began as a peaceful demonstration in Parliament Square yesterday afternoon flared into scuffles as protesters tried to force their way past blockades on to Whitehall.

The road was sealed off by police as the US president met the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, at Downing Street last night.

One protester, Suzanna Wylie, 29, was left bleeding from a head injury after being hit by a baton. She had been linking arms with protesters at the front of the crowd, trying to stop demonstrators surging forward.

She said: "I've been on lots of demonstrations before and every one of the Stop the War demonstrations has been peaceful.

"This time because Bush is here, specifically because Bush is here, because of his own security arrangements, they won't let us demonstrate. If they let us demonstrate, there would have been none of this."

And then there’s this:

British police say up to 2,500 people show up to protest Bush and 25 arrested

LONDON — Up to 2,500 demonstrators held a boisterous rally in London's Parliament Square on Sunday as U.S. President George W. Bush dined with his British counterpart nearby.

Protesters blew their whistles, banged their drums, and voiced their opposition to the so-called "War on Terror."

A few pelted officers with placards and tried to breach a police cordon set up to block them from getting near Downing Street, where Bush arrived for a private dinner with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Demonstrators chanted "Bush - terrorist" only about 300 metres away from where the president and prime minister were eating.

And then there’s this:

George Bush in Britain: Police investigate anti-war protests

Police today will begin an investigation into protests against the US president, George Bush, that turned violent after clashes between officers and demonstrators.

Scotland Yard said 10 police officers suffered minor injuries during a demonstration in Parliament Square yesterday, while Bush met Gordon Brown a few hundred yards away at Downing Street.
Protesters blamed the authorities for not allowing a letter to be handed to Downing Street. The trouble began after a few cans and placards were lobbed over police lines.

"This was very predictable," said Stop the War. "If they had allowed us to deliver our letters of protests to Downing Street, as we had asked, none of this would have happened."

Way to go, U.S. media! Don’t let facts stand in the way of a good story fantasy. President Bush and his war: still hated, all around the world.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

John McCain, More Of The Same

Hilarious video from MAD TV that I happened to catch on last night's repeat episode:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hey, Cristi Adkins!

This video is for you and the other "If I can't have Hillary I'm voting Republican" party poopers out there. And you call yourself a nurse, too? I think you're a moron.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Get Yer Racist Campaign Gear Here!

And I thought the Hillary Nutcracker was bad!

Some clowns out of Salt Lake City, Utah are selling this Obama sock monkey doll:
Prop him up, pose him, squeeze him. Take him with you everywhere you go.

Fall in love with your chosen candidate all over again.

Show your support and take action on your passion today.

Huh? What the hell kind of toy is this?

I think it goes without saying that this “monkey” toy plays on reprehensible racial stereotypes. Is it intentional? I don’t know. I’ve been to Salt Lake City, it is the whitest place in America. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Bless their hearts.

In related news, rumor has it they tried to market a John McCain doll last year but it was recalled.

(h/t, ThinkProgress)

Friday Foot Blogging

A Nashville pedicure in Venice.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let The Double Standard Begin!

Oh, my. The pearl clutching from our Media Elite over the resignation of Jim Johnson from the Obama campaign! It’s astounding!

Take, for example, Gail Collins’ piece at today’s New York Times:
Barack Obama is having the first postprimary crisis, a moment in which the only conceivable response is: what was he thinking?


Talk about unnecessary disasters. It’s like having your career ruined because you invited the wrong person to host a party in honor of your nephew’s godparents.

Gentle spirits may decide that it’s a good thing that the Obama campaign is getting this sort of thing out of the way early. Crueler ones may note that at least they can’t blame this one on Hillary.

Rather than falling into complete depression at such an early point in the game, let’s work under the assumption that the people involved were so tired that they didn’t know what they were doing.

Dear God! What did Jim Johnson do?

You’d think he’d been arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer.

Or indicted for fraud and extortion! Or was a lobbyist for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home of Osama Bin Laden and 15 of the 17 9/11 hijackers. Or was a lobbyist for Blackwater USA, and foreign dictators like the presidents of Somalia, Nigeria and Zaire.

Or defended child slavery as a lobbyist for the United Arab Emirates.

I could go on, but what’s the point? Johnson resigned because as former (unpaid) head of Fannie Mae, there were concerns he’d get pulled into the scandal surrounding Countrywide’s sucky loans. The GOP claims he got favorable treatment from Countrywide’s CEO. Heh. I thought that was SOP over at the GOP.

Johnson's wrongdoing is merely alleged, and yet get a load of the McCain campaign’s nervy statement:

 "By entrusting this process to a man who has now been forced to step down because of questionable loans, the American people have reason to question the judgment of a candidate who has shown he will only make the right call when under pressure from the news media.  America can't afford a president who flip-flops on key questions in the course of 24 hours. That's not change we can believe in." —McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds

Uh, yeah. Let’s see. How many people have resigned from your campaign for questionable behavior? One after being indicted? One after getting arrested?

Yes, please, let’s make this campaign about ethics. This should be really fun.

And as for Gail Collins and the rest of the punditry: I have a steaming cup of STFU for you people. I will not accept another election where the media lets the Republican candidate get away with murder while demanding the Democrats be saints.

I Get Phone Calls

Including this robocall, yesterday:
Please help Metro Councilman Eric Crafton make English the official language of city government in Nashville. He needs to collect 15,000 signed petitions by August 15 to put a referendum on the ballot to let the voters decide if they want their government to operate in English, or pay for their government to operate in languages ranging from Spanish to Arabic.

OMG. Let’s count the wingnut dog whistles in that one, shall we?

Taxpayers funding government operations in languages ranging from Spanish to Arabic? Oh, noes! The terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming! And they can talk to our police officers and ER workers!

I just came from a week in Scandinavia, where everyone spoke English. The bank ATM machines all offer a choice of languages, including the native Norwegian (or Swedish), French and English. The sky did not fall. A great chasm did not appear and swallow Stockholm whole. They are thriving.

I don’t know what’s worse, Eric Crafton continuing to flog this dead horse legislation or his obvious fearmongering tactics to manipulate public opinion.

Get over yourself, Eric Crafton. America is a melting pot. Multiple languages have always existed here. Deal with it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, Marsha!!

Seems Rep. Marsha Blackburn is in a bit of hot water:
WASHINGTON — A watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a Germantown constituent have filed a formal complaint against U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn's campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.

Barbara Kaye Ginsberg, 68, a retired homemaker and a resident of the 7th Congressional District since 1977, jointly filed the complaint citing "serious violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act."

Whoopsie-daisy! The specifics:

The CREW complaint notes that, in April, Blackburn's campaign acknowledged more than $440,000 in unreported or incorrectly reported receipts and expenditures.

It also noted that press accounts had reported the campaign had failed to report a $1,000 contribution in 2004 from Friends of Duke Cunningham, the committee of the former California congressman now serving time for bribery. The CREW complaint notes that the Cunningham committee contribution was finally reported on April 16 of this year.

CREW is asking for an investigation and audit of the campaign's finances.

West Rogers Strategic, the public relations firm that represents Blackburn's opponent, Tom Leatherwood, in the Aug. 7 Republican primary election, has done its own review of the Blackburn campaign filings and notes that they failed to report $121,779 to Blackburn's daughter, son-in-law and his political consultancy firm.

"Based on the revised reports," WestRogers says in a memo, "total funds paid to Paul Ketchel, Mary Morgan Ketchel, Political Concepts and MK Consulting total $400,438."

Nepotism is best when it stays in the family!

For their part, the Blackburn campaign says the complaint is “merit less” [sic] and CREW is a “liberal partisan group.”

Yeah, whatever. Maybe if your house weren’t in such a mess there wouldn’t be any dirt for folks to find, eh?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

I never thought I’d see the day ....

Meanwhile, look what your Republican Senators have done:
Republicans Block Extra Taxes On Oil Companies

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America's anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.


Separately, Democrats also failed to get Republican support for a proposal to extend tax breaks for wind, solar and other alternative energy development, and for the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. The tax breaks have either expired or are scheduled to end this year.


The windfall profits bill would have imposed a 25 percent tax on profits over what would be determined "reasonable" when compared to profits several years ago. The oil companies could have avoided the tax if they invested the money in alternative energy projects or refinery expansion. It also would have rescinded oil company tax breaks — worth $17 billion over the next 10 years — with the revenue to be used for tax incentives to producers of wind, solar and other alternative energy sources as well as for energy conservation.

The legislation also would:

_Require traders to put up more collateral in the energy futures markets and open the way for federal regulation of traders who are based in the United States but use foreign trading platforms. The measures are designed to reduce market speculation.

_Make oil and gas price gouging a federal crime, with stiff penalties of up to $5 million during a presidentially declared energy emergency.

_Authorize the Justice Department to bring charges of price fixing against countries that belong to the OPEC oil cartel.

Way to go, GOP! Thanks for being so responsive to Americans in need. The wingnut welfare gravy train chugs on!

Public Land, Public Resources

A conversation over at Eschaton yesterday prompted me to do a little research into Norway’s State Petroleum Fund.

Norway is the world’s third-largest oil producer, pumping crude out of the North Sea since the 1960s. Instead of allowing just a privileged few to profit from this national resource, Norway takes the approach that the oil belongs to all Norwegians. So, oil profits are placed in a state fund, and the proceeds benefit every citizen:
Parliament created the oil fund in 1990, but the state had its first budget surplus only in 1995. Until then, oil income was used to pay down Norway's staggering foreign debt from the tough years before North Sea riches could be exploited. A substantial amount of the profits from the exploitation of a resource that is viewed as belonging to all Norwegians, not just the current generation, is invested in foreign stocks and bonds. The state-owned fund guards against spending too freely on public sector services in boom years so as not to lay off droves of state workers when the economy goes bust.

The Petroleum Fund is an instrument designed to prevent Norway's substantial oil profits from being taken too rapidly into the economy. State bank officials and government leaders believe that dispersing oil revenues directly would overheat the Norwegian economy and suppress private sector growth. Their view is that the resource rent collected from the sale of their natural wealth of oil should be conserved.

From the perspective of some, Norway focuses more on how to administer and distribute the assets already acquired than on how new value is to be created. There are generous benefits for both men and women of eight weeks' vacation, liberal sick leave and day care that is reliable and inexpensive. Three-year maternity leaves, broad part-time opportunities and creative application of telecommuting help keep women in the work force. State assistance to single mothers is so generous that there is no need for a father's income.

According to the U.S. State Department, Norway’s State Petroleum Fund exceeded $388 billion by the end of December 2007.

This approach contrasts sharply with the American model, in which corporations like ExxonMobil and Chevron bear the investment burden, then post record profits with little benefit to anyone else. In the case where resources like oil and natural gas are pulled out of public land which belongs to everyone, this strikes me as rather unfair.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that America nationalize its oil companies. I don’t think it would ever fly here, the American public is far too allergic to the notion of “nationalized” anything to even consider it.

But it certainly brings up an issue seldom raised in debates over resources on public lands, where so much mining and drilling takes place. This stuff is supposed to belong to all of us, but when oil and gas leases are given to private corporations, they’re the only ones who profit. Heck, half the time these leases are given out virtually royalty-free.

Let’s take ANWR as an example. Pretend for a moment that ANWR doesn’t contain a mere six month supply of oil. Let’s pretend the resources are so vast that it would keep America awash in oil for years and years. This is public land--it’s a National Wildlife Refuge that belongs to every American, not just ExxonMobil. If we allow the destruction of this wilderness to extract oil and gas, shouldn’t we get something more out of it besides $4/gallon at the Mapco?

The Norwegian way would be to have the government sell the oil and use the profits first to pay off the national debt, then pay for such benefits as healthcare, low-cost childcare, and a free college education, and finally the rest is invested to hedge against some future day when the economy turns south, the oil runs out, etc. That way a citizenry accustomed to free education and healthcare won’t suddenly find itself in dire straits, and an economy which contains a large number of government employees won’t suddenly be laying off thousands of workers.

The American way is far different. Sell the leases (or, if you’re the Bush Administration, give your industry buddies a $10 billion break then lie to Congress about it.) The CEO of ExxonMobil gets $22 million a year and regular Americans, whose oil they are stealing pumping, get nothing.

No free healthcare. No affordable child care. No free education. But CEO Rex Tillerson and his family can now afford to buy these things.

I’m so happy for them.

I realize that the Norwegian way would never work in America. We’re just too different, psychologically and constitutionally. But I do think the current system is inequitable. Raising the royalty rate to 16.7 percent from 12.5 percent of oil and gas sales isn’t enough, not when net profits are in the tens of billions of dollars each quarter.

I don’t like the idea of a “windfall profits tax,” that strikes me as rather silly when all we need to do is get the oil companies to pay us what these leases are worth.

And then I’d like to know where this money is going. It’s certainly not going to the Interior Dept.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dumb Idea Du Jour

Toll roads.

I don’t in principal object to the idea of toll roads, if the intent is to encourage, say, car pooling. But as a means of financing new road construction? Dumb idea!

For one thing, toll roads are costly to operate. You have to pay for staff, toll stations, equipment, etc. By the time you pay the operating costs, there’s not enough left over for road building. Unless, of course, your toll is so high, or your traffic so heavy, that no one uses the dang thing anyway.

Secondly, the Tennessee state law permitting toll roads only applies to new roadways. We aren’t talking about a toll on I-40. So I just question how much traffic these new roads will get?

Look, there’s a reason toll roads have fallen out of favor. I don’t think they make economic sense as a money-generator. I understand that costs are going up and revenues are going down but for crying out loud, do we really need all of these new roads?

Here’s a radical thought for Sen. Diane Black and the other toll road boosters: I know it would be really cool to have a bridge named after you, but why don’t we first worry about paying for these projects? If the money isn’t there, then how about putting the project on hold until we can pay for it? So your constituents “want ... a more direct commute to Nashville.” Suck it up. And if “I-65 is at capacity,” maybe we could encourage people to double up instead of clogging the roads with one-person SUVs.

Just a thought.

Tis The Season For Dirty Tricks!

And so soon, too! Seems right wing bloggers have fallen on their fainting couches for an anti-Semitic post they discovered on the Obama website. Which is kinda funny, since it appears one of their own put it there to begin with. Ha ha. That’s so cute.

This is reminiscent of so many other GOP dirty tricks. I immediately thought of this local story from 2004:
A nasty flyer has turned up in Tennessee politics which depicts a handicapped athlete running on a track with George Bush's face pasted on.

The text reads:

Voting for Bush is Like Running in the Special Olympics -- Even if You Win, You're Still Retarded.

The Traditional Values Coalition and other right wing operations in the South jumped on this fast alleging that Tennessee Democrat Craig Fitzhugh's office, which shares space with the Kerry/Edwards Campaign, was distributing this flyer.


What has been reported is that these flyers were left in a trash can in Fitzhugh's office. No one on Fitzhugh's staff or among campaign volunteers saw that these flyers had been deposited by anyone in the garbage. Shortly after some unknown individual dropped the flyers in the trash can, another individual came into the office and found the flyers in Fitzhugh's trash -- and then made this public.


I guess we’ll know the presidential campaign has really begun in earnest when serial victim Phil Parlock appears on the scene.

Of course, all of this is amateur stuff compared to Karl Rove, who bugged his own office in 1991 then went screaming for the waaaahmbulance. Still, that hasn’t stopped right-wing bloggers like our own Six Meat Buffet from falling for it.


Yank That Leash

I wonder how conservatives ever got elected before evangelical voters were manipulated to the polls by election-year ploys like this one:
Measure that could ban abortion on November ballot

DENVER — Whether the state constitution should define life as beginning at fertilization will be up to Colorado voters in November.

And unlike other ballot initiatives, it appears it will head to the ballot without having to go through the courts.

The Secretary of State's Office on Thursday certified that Peyton resident Kristi Burton collected more than enough signatures to put her Personhood Amendment to a statewide vote.

The newly renamed Amendment 48, which opponents fear could be used to ban abortions and is likely to make Colorado a national battleground, is the third citizens initiative to qualify for the ballot this year.


Protect Families Protect Choices Coalition spokeswoman Crystal Clinkenbeard said Thursday the organization doesn't plan to sue over Amendment 48, Instead, it will work to defeat it at the polls, she said.

Colorado is one of the Western states pundits say could swing to the Democrats in the presidential election, so it’s predictable that a piece of wingnut candy has found its way onto the November ballot. Conventional wisdom holds that pro-life evangelical voters who wouldn’t bother to show up at the polls for John McCain will make the effort for a pro-life amendment. The hope is that they’ll check the box for the Republican candidate while they’re there.

That could backfire, though, as BeliefNet’s interview with Mark DeMoss illustrates:

Barack Obama is trying hard to win evangelical voters. Does that effort stand a chance?

If one third of white evangelicals voted for Bill Clinton the second time, at the height of Monica Lewinsky mess—that’s a statistic I didn’t believe at first but I double and triple checked it—I would not be surprised if that many or more voted for Barack Obama in this election. You’re seeing some movement among evangelicals as the term [evangelical] has become more pejorative. There’s a reaction among some evangelicals to swing out to the left in an effort to prove that evangelicals are really not that right wing. There’s some concern that maybe Republicans haven’t done that well. And there’s this fascination with Barack Obama. So I will not be surprised if he gets one third of the evangelical vote. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 40-percent.

In fact, a good bit has been written about young evangelicals swinging to Obama. The rules have changed with this election; the old GOP playbook no longer applies. The Bush-era political tactic of using Christian voters for political gain has backfired. You can’t give people hugs and kisses in person, then refer to them as “nuts” behind their back, and not expect to suffer the consequences.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Don’t Tell Michelle Malkin...

... but these things are all over Scandinavia. Here's a bunch at a tourist stand that also sold Swedish flags, baseball caps, and those fake Viking helmets with yellow braids attached.

Oh, the horror!

And here's one worn by an actual Scandinavian! At the airport! How did she ever make it through security?

I wonder if these people are ever embarrassed by the crap they start up? I'm increasingly convinced they do it just to prove they can.

Newsweek got it right:
Let's face it, the real danger here is not the girly scarf charged with being a kaffiyeh, or that jihadists are purportedly using Dunkin' Donuts as a backdoor into America's malleable consciousness. It's that the cries of a few commentators indulging in the worst form of racial stereotyping—and their demonization of an entire culture—was enough to spook a giant corporation.

Of course, Dunkin' Donuts has been kowtowing to the wingnut fringe ever since the nuts got in a tizzy over "anti-God quotes" on a Starbucks cup.

Stop the silliness. Please.

Friday, June 6, 2008

AccuWeather Could Ruin Your Vacation

AccuWeather sucks. Like, big time sucks. They’re always wrong, and I know this because they are the weather information widget on my Mac and I consult them a lot. I don’t know why I bother, since they have the worst weather information on the internets.

So when it came time for my Scandinavian vacation, I sent my friend AccuWeather’s forecast for the cities on our itinerary, with the codicil that “they are notoriously wrong.” Sure enough, Scandinavia is in the midst of a heat wave, which AccuWeather failed to predict. It was 85 degrees today; AccuWeather had forecast a high of 68. In fact, it’s been about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than what AccuWeather had forecast for our entire trip.

They were not only wrong, they could have ruined my vacation if I hadn’t ignored their advice and packed for much warmer weather. (Sadly, my friend did not, which is why we were shopping our first day in Oslo and she fell and tore a ligament in her ankle. But, that was a few threads a go ).

I only bring this up because I’m remembering AccuWeather once had a friend in the U.S. Senate who tried to subject us all to the sucky information coming from AccuWeather.

From the Memory Hole:
The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.


But Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, said the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector.

"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Myers, whose company is based in State College, Pa. Instead, he said, "It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing forecasts of 'warm and sunny.'"

Er, yeah. Like your company has done so much better? You nearly ruined my vacation.

This bill was such an appallingly bad idea that bloggers and columnists couldn’t understand why Santorum was dumb enough to think it would fly in the first place. Maybe, as Slate writer Timothy Noah observed:

...[T]he common denominator to contemporary conservative thought isn't ideology at all, but rather, the crude imperative for big government to shovel as many special privileges as possible to big corporations. Adam Smith would be appalled.

Well put.

Vacation ends tomorrow; regular blogging should resume not long after.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Get The Message?

Interesting display at the airport Duty Free in Bergen, Norway. And you thought those Surgeon General's warnings on U.S. cigarette packages were annoying!

(As always, click on the pic for a larger view.)

Interstingly, there are no such warnings on alcohol packaging. Hmmm...

Of course, Europeans love their cigarettes. Just about everyone here smokes. With the government offering such gold-standard healthcare over here, I had expected to find a little more aggressive anti-smoking legislation. No smoking in restaurants and other public places is a rather recent phenomenon here, but it does exist--unlike places like France, where I expect a smoking ban would spark another revolution.

Sign Of The Times

Will GM kill its Hummer line?
Today, General Motors announced that it will be closing four truck and SUV plants in North America and may discontinue its Hummer line, citing the slumping sales of large vehicles brought on by high oil prices. Sales of the Hummer were down 61 percent last month, and May was also the first month in which cars outsold the Ford F-series truck since 1992. In place of the Hummer, GM CEO Rick Wagoner announced that the GM board has approved production of a new small automobile and a new electric car. As CBS reported, Wagoner “said the change in the U.S. market to smaller vehicles likely is permanent.”

No one could have anticipated this!

Two of the plants that GM is closing are foreign: one in Canada and one in Mexico. Production of the new automobiles will be U.S.-based, in a plant to open in Ohio in 2010. As long as GM lives up to its promises, this looks like good news all around.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Socialized Medicine Saved My Vacation

I didn’t plan on getting a first-hand look at Norway’s healthcare system my first day on vacation, but that’s what happened after my traveling companion tripped on a circular stairway and pulled a ligament on our first night in Oslo. (And no, alcohol was not involved -- but shopping and jet lag definitely were factors).

My friend was naturally upset, not only from pain but also at the prospect of having ruined our vacation. I was naturally concerned as I watched her ankle first turn a shade of green, then purple, that I didn’t know possible for human flesh this side of gangrene. This was a serious injury, I knew, and it required professional medical care.

We taxied to a “legevakta” -- an accident-emergency clinic. Start to finish, door-to-door, the entire process took two hours. That included getting checked in, waiting for the doctor, X-rays, treatment, getting a prescription filled, and the taxi back to our hotel. The doctor was very professional and patient; she gave us thorough instructions on followup care, gave my friend a set of crutches and a prescription for pain and inflammation, the clinic called us a cab, and we were on our way. The fee for all of this wonderful service?


This was stunning, since in every other regard, Norway is extremely expensive. Outrageously expensive. My salad at lunch was $30. You could easily drop $50 on a 15-minute cab ride. Heck, it costs $1 to use the public toilet at the warf. But for X-rays, medical treatment, a set of crutches, and an ace bandage, we were charged nothing. In fact, the doctor casually told us we could drop the crutches off at another clinic in Bergen (our next vacation stop), if we happen to be near one.

As for the prescription, it cost just $6 for 21 tablets.

This is amazing to me, since the entire experience would have been so much more expensive and traumatic in the U.S. I’ve been to ER’s and the doc-in-a-box in Nashville, and I’ve never been in and out in two hours. I’m also charged for every single thing: crutches, ace bandage, even the freaking bag of ice --plus another $30 for medication.

While it may be a factor, I don’t think this awesome free healthcare is the main reason everything else here is so expensive. I blame our sucky U.S. dollar for most of that, and also the fact that so much of what one buys in Norway must be imported from elsewhere. Scandinavia has always been extremely expensive (the rule of thumb that the further south in Europe one travels, the less expensive it gets, is still true). Locals I've talked to say they pay into the system with their taxes and that makes healthcare more equitable and affordable for everyone, not just the wealthy. This just makes sense. Whether you have cancer or just a sprained ankle, no one should have to forego healthcare because they can’t afford it.

America, get with the program. Figure it out, already. The system we have is just insane, and it’s entirely unworkable. It’s never made sense to me that the profit motive is institutionally part of our healthcare system. No one should profit off of someone else’s need for medical treatment. That’s just wrong. And more importantly: it isn’t working!

It’s time to change what isn’t working for something that does work. Socialized medicine has been proven to work, and in so many other places around the world, too. Plus, it saved my vacation.