Saturday, January 31, 2009

It’s Just The Free Hand Of The Market

Goodbye, Pajamas Media, hello angry, out of work bloggers:
We free marketers aren’t complaining that the business model failed. We’re upset (well, I am, at least) that the outfit was run into the ground by those who, to this day, can’t even articulate what it is they hope PJM to become, and who wasted the talents of a lot of popular average Joes in order to pay marquee names to post choppy versions of already syndicated columns — all in a complete 180 from what we were told PJM was about when we signed on.

ZOMG, the "popular average Joes" have a beef with management? Hilarious! Hey, maybe you guys should form a union.

Not only have you been bitch-slapped by the free hand of the market, you've been screwed by a conservative elite who only give a crap about "popular average Joes" when they can be trotted out as stage props to bolster the GOPs phony-baloney populist message. You've been had, and the sad part is, you don't even know it.

Paging Joe The Plumber! Hey, is he back from Gaza yet?

He Was Framed, I Tell Ya! Framed!

Apologies to Molly Bish and family but this is a hilarious news blooper:

The WTF Blanket

Jim Voorhies sent me this because I made fun of the Snuggie during Christmas.

It's absolutely hilarious.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Deep Freeze

Dear Sen. Mitch McConnell:

I know your most pressing concern right now is bringing African American and Hispanic voters into the GOP fold. But in case it has escaped your notice, the state of Kentucky is experiencing an emergency prompted by this week’s winter storm.

A winter storm isn't all that unusual in January in this part of the world; unfortunately for the people of Kentucky, especially those in the western part of the state, the area’s infrastructure hasn’t been up to the task:
A majority of residents in the counties farthest west have been without electricity for at least 48 hours, and some are facing as much as two more weeks without it. Phone and power lines are strewn about in McCracken County with many utility poles lying in pieces.

Customers with AT&T cell phone service — who happen to be the majority in the region — haven't been able to get signals consistently since early Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, the state's adjutant general, said AT&T reported as many as 220 of its cell sites and a slew of its circuits were down mostly because of power outages.

The electric companies in Western Kentucky are particularly overwhelmed.

Virtually everyone in Calloway County remained out of power Thursday, said Judge-Executive Larry Elkins.

"The problem is a major feed line into the county — a major transmission line — is broken," he said. "Once we get that main transmission line repaired, then we can find out where the smaller problems are. And that's still a huge number."

I’m sure it’s a great comfort to the Congress Critters of Kentucky that their constituents will never know they just voted against funding for infrastructure improvements, and are now spending their time hand-wringing over how to bring the Republican Party back from the brink of obsolescence.

Meanwhile, Mr. Beale and I are trying to figure out how to get ahold of our friends and relatives in Trigg and Caldwell counties. A friend who had to make the trip into Nashville yesterday “for supplies” told us the area “looks like a war zone.” People can’t get gasoline because the pumps are electricity-powered, cell phone and traditional phone service are both down, roads are still iced over, and it’s a giant mess.

But don’t worry, folks. Your Congress Critters seem to think that tax cuts will solve all of those problems. After all, they’ve worked so well in the past.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Only In Utah

I don’t understand Utah. Let some gays in California get married and it's the end of the world as we know it, but they don’t have a problem holding a funeral for a toilet:
On Friday at 10 a.m., the Carl's Jr. restaurant in Centerville will have a "moment of silence" for the potty that was destroyed last week when a patron's handgun fell out of the holster and fired as he was hitching up his pants.


Employees at the restaurant, 385 N. 800 West, will hand out bottles of Kaboom® Bowl Blaster toilet cleaner to the first 50 funeral attendees, he said, as "it was the toilet's favorite."


Y’all in Utah need to get out more. Just sayin’ ...

Swampland: Late To The Party

Over at Time’s Swampland blog, Amy Sullivan finally gets around to telling people to “chill out” over the family planning provisions of the stimulus bill.

She writes:
Republicans: The provision would have allowed states to cover family planning services--but not abortion--that they already cover for low-income women who don't otherwise qualify for Medicaid, just without first requiring states to obtain a waiver from the federal government. That's it. It wouldn't have permitted new services to be included under "family planning." It wouldn't have required states to cover anything or anyone that they didn't want to. It just would have allowed them to do what they're already doing without first going through the red tape of obtaining a waiver.

Gee, thanks Amy. Glad to finally see that posted somewhere other than a lefty blog. Even if you only got around to doing it at 4 pm Thursday.

When the vote was yesterday.

Seems to me this would have been good information to have on the Time blog a few days ago. Like, maybe, Monday? You know, when the Republicans were getting the vapors and the Democrats were afraid that the Republicans wouldn’t support the bill with that icky female plumbing stuff in it. So they caved, like always, and took it out.

And then the House voted on the bill and no Republicans supported it anyway. Yesterday.

What took you so long?

Sullivan writes:

In the end, this week's fight came down to symbolism. Republicans thought they could paint the stimulus bill as a gift to "the abortion industry" when in fact the provision changes virtually nothing about current law.

Yeah, some of us were talking about that on Monday.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me nuts when Old Media tries to do New Media. They still don’t get it. The damage has been done, the discussion has been closed. Pointing out Republican hypocrisy and Democratic ineptitude now comes a little too late to be useful.

GOP Priorities


Aunt B. has more. To fully appreciate the truly Orwellian nature of this bill, you must read her post, now.


Tennessee’s jobless rate is nearly 8%, we have an environmental disaster in the east part of the state and retirees losing promised healthcare benefits, we have Tennessee’s higher education system facing budget cuts, and what is the priority for Evangelical Christian Republican Paul Stanley of Memphis?

Senator Stanley wants to know what’s happening in your bedroom. I bring you *SB 0078 , filed today at the state legislature:
Adoption - Prohibits any individual who is cohabitating in a sexual relationship outside of a marriage that is valid under the constitution and laws of this state from adopting a minor. - Amends TCA Title 36 and Title 49.

In other words, it bans adoptions by gays and lesbians and anyone else who is unmarried and living with a partner.

Hey, Paul Stanley: it’s none of your business what people do in their bedrooms.

Shame on you. Shame on you! What a horrid little man.

I’ll have more to say about this later but right now I wanted to let people know that with all the important issues facing the people of Tennessee, the one that Paul Stanley wants to tackle is preventing unmarried folks from adopting children.

Pass the popcorn, this is going to get interesting.


Talk about your security breaches: A New Zealand man bought a used MP3 player for $15 only to discover it came with 60 pages of sensitive U.S. military data:
The files Ogle found on the MP3 player contain the names and personal details of US soldiers, including some who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are no details on exactly how many personal records are contained within the documents (most of which date back to 2005), but they also have information on mission briefings and equipment deployment.

This incident is probably not the worst breach of military data in recent memory. [...] Still, Ogle's situation is a bit bizarre in that no one knows how or why this sensitive information was stored on an iPod, or how that MP3 player slipped out to a used hardware vendor. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), some of the phone numbers from the MP3 player's records still work, and the identified individuals indeed picked up on the other end.

"The more I look at it, the more I see and the less I think I should be [seeing]," Mr Ogle told ABC. He says he will hand the player over to the US Defense Department should it ever ask.

WTF? You mean, they haven't asked?

For the past eight years the Bush Administration used “national security” as the excuse for all sorts of bizarre decisions, from refusing to strengthen federal whistleblower protections to censoring a quote from the Supreme Court to--I shit you not--withholding transcripts of a World Trade Organization agreement related to online gaming.

Yet military secrets are stored on an iPod and its sold for $15 to some schlub in New Zealand who just wanted to listen to some tunes.


Going Postal

There was a lot in the national media yesterday about the U.S. Postal Service’s suggestion that they may cut a day of service:
Postmaster General John E. Potter, in testimony before a Senate subcommittee, warned of a possible worst-case scenario: eliminating the requirement to deliver mail six days a week to every address in America.

Worst-case? Really? Heck, I can’t believe they haven’t already cut service back to four days a week. In fact, I’m quite certain the only reason they have not curtailed service is because of pressure from some interest group like the Direct Marketing Assn.

Hey, I’m all for it. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, just bring my mail two days a week, okay? Not that I think that will keep the Postal Service from raising postage rates every six months but I get very little that is useful in my mailbox anymore. So you can just quit bringing this stuff, alright?

I’m on every “do not mail” and non-solicitation list there is, I even registered with Catalog Choice. And still, the majority of my mail is crap addressed to “resident” that goes straight from my mailbox to the recycling bin. Coupons, catalogs, mortgage re-fi offers, donation pitches from the Democratic Party and various non-profits, none of it anything I need to see today or any day. Everything important in my life, from a communication standpoint, happens online. No wonder the Postal Service is in financial trouble. They are obsolete.

The NBC Nightly News presented this story as if it were the end of an era, a grand American tradition gone the way of vinyl record albums and Burma Shave signs. Pfft. I’m not nostalgic for stuff that doesn’t work any more. I’m more concerned about Starbucks’ plan to only sell decaf before noon.

Can that be right? Who drinks decaf in the morning fer chrissakes? If I drink caffeine after 2 pm I’m up all night. Now where am I going to go for a decaf latte at 3 pm?

I simply can't muster any sympathy for the Post Office. Yes, the Pony Express was a great thing to learn about when I was in Junior High. But we get our mail over the internet now. Time to roll with the changes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Serious People

Dick Armey tells Joan Walsh “I am so damn glad you could never be my wife” because she has the temerity to call him on his bullshit.

I feel very sorry for Dick Armey’s wife right now:

Accountability, It’s Such A Lovely Word

I’m glad that GOP moneybags Lee Beaman’s extremist political views are finally getting some attention. Some of us have been on Beaman’s tail for years. I can’t tell you how many progressives in Nashville I’ve urged not to buy their new hybrids from Beaman. Seems the wealthy wackadoodle profiting handsomely from hybrid-loving liberals is the Tennessee’s GOPs best kept secret.

Anyway, I thought I’d take this opportunity to remind folks of another favorite Beaman cause: fighting Governor Bredesen’s “bunker” project.
Beaman has bankrolled a group, Tennesseans for Accountability in Government (TAG), that was created to battle the project, and it has held press conferences and blitzed the media with releases castigating the Bredesens, who insist the 13,000-square-foot entertainment annex, called Conservation Hall, is needed to host parties and other large gatherings.

According to the City Paper, in fact, Beaman sank $30-$40,000 into that lost cause. And that doesn’t include the additional $18,000 he paid donated to organizations and politicians who coincidentally attacked the project immediately after.

Yet another losing cause Lee Beaman sank his money into. Far be it from me to give fiscal advice to anyone, but the adage “a fool and his money are soon parted” seems appropriate here.

Anyway, now that Republicans are in charge of state government, I wonder if we'll be hearing much from TAG. I'm thinking .... not.

Hello, EPA? Tennessee Calling

This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard:
Tennessee Congressmen Zach Wamp and Lincoln Davis are hoping to bail out TVA by asking for a $25 million federal welfare package to subsidize cleanup of the agency's recent toxic ash spill.

The two congressmen want the money to come from President Obama's stimulus package, a Rooseveltian public projects scheme designed to beef up the economy. But while bailouts are all the rage these days--and the congressmen are only trying to help TVA customers, who'll pick up the tab for the agency's negligence--the move looks suspiciously like pork. Simply having the feds pick up the tab won't create any new jobs.

I’ll ignore Kotz’ ridiculous assertion that all federal spending is somehow “welfare” or “pork.” What I don’t get is why the Kingston coal ash site is not eligible for Superfund emergency response funds. That’s what the fund is for: to cleanup after emergencies,

such as fires, train derailments, and floods, involving the release of hazardous substances.

I also don’t understand this letter I received from Sen. Bob Corker:

I have talked directly with Roane County Mayor Mike Farmer and TVA CEO Tom Kilgore and assured all involved that I will support appropriate measures at the federal level, however I am opposed to spending federal taxpayer money to support cleanup efforts at Kingston. There's been an effort through the years to cause TVA to be a self-standing entity, to have a corporate-like board and to run independently.  I think when we start seeking federal dollars to deal with TVA, we start a process of unwinding something that took several years to put in place. In meetings with TVA though, I have asked for and received assurance from them that they will make every effort possible to limit the burden on TVA ratepayers and ensure that those affected by this incident are taken care of and their homes, property, and livelihoods restored.

Oh, well, I’m sure that everything will be okay, then.

I don’t know what TVA’s “ self-standing,” “corporate-like” structure has to do with the need to protect the environment and the health of those who depend on the air, water and soil in the affected area. Superfund does not distinguish between toxic pollution caused by “corporate” or “government” entities. Tennessee’s Superfund sites include both.

I admit to being a little out of the loop on the current status of the Superfund. Originally the guiding principal of the Superfund was "the polluter pays." I know over the years some of the country’s biggest polluters have tried to roll back the Superfund legislation, and I recall the tax on toxic chemicals which partially funded the program was eliminated back in the ‘90s. I read that the fund is now paid for out of government appropriations, instead of the “polluter pays” rule that had been the program’s hallmark. I’m sure eight years of an industry-friendly EPA under the mismanagement of tools like Stephen Johnson hasn’t helped. But the program is still in existence.

Why can’t the people of East Tennessee make use of it? Why are our representatives in Congress not working with the EPA to ensure this happens?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eric Crafton: Liar


In comments, nm correctly points out that Crafton is technically being weaselly, though not necessarily lying.

I feel so bad now.

No, not really.

It appears when I called Eric Crafton a "serial embellisher” I was being too kind.

Because Eric Crafton is a liar. He lied to the media and he lied to the people of Nashville. On January 19 he said this:
Crafton said the majority of the donors supporting his side of the campaign are private individuals. He said he has only raised about $50,000 to $60,000.

Today we learn this:

Nashville English First raised $89,722.76 for its campaign, according to campaign financial disclosures released today.

Of that, ProEnglish of Arlington, Va., contributed $82,500. A second donor, Nashville businessman Lee Beaman, gave $6,000, meaning two donors funded more than 98 percent of Nashville English First's campaign.

So, not the majority of donors after all. Not even close. And not $50-$60,000.

Eric Crafton, you flat-out lied. Did you think we wouldn’t find out? Did you think we wouldn’t care? Did you not care?

What else have you lied about, Councilman Crafton?

Jon Crisp is also, quite possibly, a liar. In July he said this:

Roughly 46,000 postcards have been sent altogether now at a cost of around $18,000, according to Crisp. Most of that, Crisp says, has come from Crafton himself, who gave around $5,000 of his own money to his campaign.

However, Crafton's name does not appear on any of the financial disclosure forms. I'm giving Crisp a pass, because it's quite possible Crafton lied to him, too.

The people of Nashville and the entire Metro Council is now put on notice: Eric Crafton is an established liar. Nothing he says can be trusted.

Memory Hole, “Bipartisan” Edition

Bipartisanship, Tennessee Republican style:
At a stop in Nashville today, Lankford says congress has become too polarized and he’d like to work in a bi-partisan fashion. But he says that only goes so far.

“Well I’d certainly like to work with any of them that work with our ideology. I’m not willing to compromise our values and to me, unfortunately, that is what Lincoln has done. He’ll talk about his values and he’ll say for instance, ‘I’m pro-life,’ but he goes to Washington and votes for Nancy Pelosi which totally knocks him out of the ability to push that agenda.”


Look, I’m all for “bipartisanship” as long as everyone remembers that we saw precious little of it over the past eight years, when the Republicans basically told Democrats to suck on it since they are in charge.

That’s fine, but now there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s got a big ol’ mess to clean up, thanks to that very same “bipartisan” posse that is calling for the whaaaaambulance today. Look, you lost. We’ll work with any of you all who will work with our ideology. And you don’t even have to call it “bipartisanship,” how ’bout that? You can call it learning from the failed policies of the past.

Mack is right. Dems wouldn’t be called “spineless” if they didn’t act that way all the time. Come on, guys. You really did get a fucking mandate.

Yet Another Reason To Hate Lee Beaman

I’ve been boycotting Nashville auto magnate Lee Beaman for years, ever since I learned he gave a few thousand dollars to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Now every time I see a Toyota Prius with that little “Beaman” emblem I cringe.

I just can't imagine giving one penny to a man who so freely opens his ample wallet to such heinous wingnut causes as the Presidential Coalition LLC (organized to Swift Boat Hillary Clinton), the Swift Boat Veterans smearmongers, and now, surprise surprise, passing English Only:
Nashville English First raised $89,722.76 for its campaign, according to campaign financial disclosures released today.

Of that, ProEnglish of Arlington, Va., contributed $82,500. A second donor, Nashville businessman Lee Beaman, gave $6,000, meaning two donors funded more than 98 percent of Nashville English First's campaign.

Way to go Lee Beaman! Now you’ve joined forces with a group identified as a hate group.

By the way, this certainly reaffirms my belief that English Only was supported by the local Republican Party merely as a way to generate a mailing list of registered wingnut voters in Davidson County and get an outside group to pay for it.

You know, I’ve been a loyal Toyota customer for about 20 years, but I bought my last car from Alexander in Franklin. I have no idea what that guy’s politics is down there, frankly I don’t care. But I do know he isn’t financing divisive political battles on the local and national stage.

Lee Beaman: bad for Nashville.

Culture Wars & Birth Control

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. All I can think is that the entire Republican Party has gone insane because once again we’re seeing the same failed “culture war” argument of the past election repeated, as Republicans flail around trying to attack a popular Democratic president.

Yesterday on MSNBC Pat Buchanan said that in church on Sunday morning, his pastor spoke about the “new culture war.”

“Democrats want to use taxpayer money to fund overseas abortions,” he said.

Well, that’s a grossly inaccurate way of describing what’s really happening, which is lifting the global gag rule, a policy loved by Republicans and reviled by women’s rights groups.

Now Republicans are spreading the lie that the stimulus will spend hundreds of millions on contraceptives. I wrote about this yesterday, noting that the program Pelosi wants to expand was created by a Republican president and supported by Republican governors. But when you don’t have any policy ideas of your own, flogging the culture wars are a sure-fire way to fool the media.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the government spending millions on contraceptives for low income women. If you don’t like abortion, then the best way to stop that is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

But what this proposal really does is simply expand the number of states eligible to use Medicaid funds for birth control services for low income women.

And for some reason conservatives still think women’s access to birth control is controversial or unpopular.

Folks, 62,000 jobs were lost yesterday. You really want to argue over women’s access to birth control? I’d say working women feel like they need birth control now more than ever.

Of course, the AP is reporting that Obama is considering dumping the proposal.

Big mistake. HUGE mistake. Women should not be thrown under the bus. I’ve already written the White House (and you can do so here, or call (202) 456-1111).

Birth control is not controversial. It’s needed, especially in times of economic distress. Bowing to the idiot conservatives who think they have pushed the right culture war button is the wrong thing to do. And I think it's wholly unnecessary.

Monday, January 26, 2009

They Were For It Before They Were Against It


Heh. Turns out one of the "reporters" peddling this phony outrage has already been forced to issue a correction. I think Media Matters is correct: the GOP is just hoping that contraception will be as much of a political hot potato for Obama as gays in the military was for Clinton.

Kinda shows how out of touch they are, but then these days, what doesn't?

Josh Marshall blows the lid off of the phony outrage peddled by some on the right over Nancy Pelosi’s family planning program:
First of all, the family-planning program that Pelosi supports expanding in the stimulus bill was created in 1972 under the leadership of Republican president Richard Nixon.

What's being proposed is an expansion in the number of states that can use Medicaid money, with a federal match, to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies. Of the 26 states that already have Medicaid waivers for family planning, eight are led by Republican governors (AL, FL, MS, SC, CA, LA, MN and RI -- a ninth, MO, had a GOP governor until this past November). If this policy is truly a taxpayer gift to "the abortion industry," as John Boehner and House Republicans claim, where are the GOP governors promising to end the program in their states?

Additionally, the process of obtaining a waiver for Medicaid family-planning coverage is extremely cumbersome. A letter written by Wisconsin health regulators in 2007 noted that some states have had to wait for as long as two years before their request was approved. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that eliminating the waiver requirement would save states $400 million over 10 years.

The “liberal” media repeating Republican talking points .... no one could have anticipated that.

End Of An Error


Goodbye New York Times, hello Washington Post.

Your liberal media: still not liberal.
William Kristol is gone from the New York Times.

The thing is, this clown never should have been hired to begin with. His columns were riddled with embarrassing errors, even in his very first piece.

Look, it’s fine to offer a conservative opinion in your op-ed pages but what is up with hiring political operatives for this task? Folks like Kristol have drunk so much Kool-Aid, they are deeply in the tank for the GOP, rendering their “opinion” nothing more than RNC talking points. That’s not reality-based opinion, that’s media spin:
Such willful blurring of the line between journalists and political partisans has consequences. One is the shock—even outrage—that results when a journalist has the temerity to behave like one. Recall the uproar when CNN’s Brown challenged Tucker Bounds, McCain’s spokesman, to provide an example of a decision Sarah Palin had made in her role as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. The McCain camp had held up this experience as evidence of her readiness for the vice presidency, and when Brown asked Bounds to back up that claim, he either could not or would not—and Brown wouldn’t let it go. Bounds cried foul, suggesting she was somehow out of line. Hmmm. Tenacity and an adversarial tone. That does seem suspicious. In the days following that exchange, there was far too much serious discussion of Bounds’s ridiculous charge.

The Brown-Bounds dustup was an early salvo in the McCain campaign’s full-throated deployment of the well-worn media-bashing strategy—a strategy that benefits when everyone (from Nick Kristof to Bill Kristol to the anonymous blogger on the partisan site Daily Kos who spread a rumor that Palin’s newborn son actually belonged to Palin’s seventeen-year-old daughter Bristol) is mashed together under the banner of The Media. Serious news outlets do themselves—and the rest of us—no favors by encouraging this distorted understanding of what they do and why.

I’m no fan of Nick Kristof but as the CJR pointed out in December, Kristol,

writing once a week since January, has had five published corrections for errors of fact in his column; the former, [Kristof] writing twice a week in that same period, has had no published corrections but did take the extraordinary step of using an entire column to apologize to Steven J. Hatfill, the scientist who was named (and recently exonerated) by the government as the leading suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks; in 2002, Kristof had written columns urging closer scrutiny of the then-anonymous “person of interest” who turned out to be Hatfill.

Let’s hope the New York Times learned a valuable lesson from its failed Kristol experiment and quit blurring the lines between political operatives and journalists.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Memo To The GOP

Hey, John Boehner!

You guys lost.


Two years in a row.

So maybe, you know, there’s been something wrong with the way you’ve been doing things for the past 8 years. Especially since you had both houses of Congress and the White House until 2006.

So you can quite stamping your little feet and whining about stuff like this:
“Right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of this package and all of the spending in this package, we don’t think it’s going to work,” the House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And so if it’s the plan that I see today, put me down in the no column.”

While the plan can potentially pass the Democrat-dominated House without Republican support, it will continue to face opposition when it comes before the Senate, said Senator John McCain of Arizona, speaking on “Fox News Sunday.” At least two Republicans will need to approve the bill for a filibuster-proof majority vote of 60.

Senator McCain, who lost the presidential election to Mr. Obama in November, said that he planned to vote no unless the bill were changed.

“We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there’ll be no new taxes,” Mr. McCain said. “We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes.”

McCain ran on making the Bush tax cuts permanent--those tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans--and he lost. Clearly Americans are smart enough to know that it’s time for John McCain’s friends to start toting their share of the load, because “trickle down” never does seem to make it much further than a pool of the privileged.

Furthermore, none of you idiots gave a damn about “spending” on things like the Iraq War and Guantanamo Bay. Every time Bush had his hand out for more money for war you were happy to sign the blank check.

So I have a steaming cup of STFU for the Republican Party right now.

A few weeks ago I started to work on a post about the New Deal and then put it aside. But now would be a good time to post a few of those salient points.

• Number one: In a recent op-ed piece, Nobel-prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman reiterated the point that dollar-for-dollar, tax cuts do not stimulate the economy as well as government investment:

The Romer-Bernstein report acknowledges that “a dollar of infrastructure spending is more effective in creating jobs than a dollar of tax cuts.”

I realize this will initiate brays of protest from the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute folks who keep touting the idea that tax cuts are the best way to stimulate the economy. The fact is, those people have been in charge during this economic crisis, they were in charge during the Reagan years, and it seems to me every time they are put in charge and give their wealthy buddies big tax cuts, all we’re left with is a ruined economy which a Democrat has to try to save.

So, let’s ignore the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the AEI for a while, shall we?

• Number Two: The GOP talking point that the New Deal failed and it was really World War II that saved America’s economic bacon is laughable rewrite of history. For one thing, it overlooks the fact that when America entered WWII, President Roosevelt took over the entire American production system, retrofitting American factories for a war footing, and putting American consumers on strict rationing. It was a nationalized production system that would strike terror in the hearts of conservatives today.

It’s hard to imagine that amount of government intervention and control over production and consumption under any circumstance other than the needs of war. So if that’s your idea of what pulled America out of the Great Depression, fine -- but you’re giving a ringing endorsement to the greatest government intervention in private enterprise in American history.

• Number Three: Adam Cohen attacks the GOP talking point that the New Deal failed with this point:

The anti-New Deal line is wrong as a matter of economics. F.D.R.’s spending programs did help the economy and created millions of new jobs. The problem, we now know, is not that F.D.R. spent too much priming the pump, but rather that he spent too little. It was his decision to cut back on spending on New Deal programs that brought about a nasty recession in 1937-38.

The second problem is that the criticism overlooks the relief Roosevelt’s programs brought to millions. When F.D.R. took office, unemployment was 25 percent, and families were losing their homes, living in shantytowns, even fighting one another for food at garbage dumps.

The difference that the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration and other New Deal public works programs made in people’s lives is incalculable. Congressional Republicans say Mr. Obama’s stimulus will cost too much, and that over time the economy will cure itself. When critics raised the same objections to F.D.R.’s programs, his relief administrator, Harry Hopkins, had a ready answer: “People don’t eat in the long run. They eat every day.”

I’ve heard that same “over time” remark from modern-day conservatives: “We’ll muddle through somehow, we always have,” is what one conservative told me.

I’d say that remark comes from someone who is not facing the reality of being evicted because they are three months behind on their rent and they just lost their job last week. I got a call from a lady last week who told me that story; she was calling me because of my work with a non-profit that assists the working poor. There are thousands like her. So no, “muddle through somehow” doesn’t cut it for this lady and millions like her.

Anyway, I bring this all up as a reminder to the Democrats in Congress that they were sent a clear message in the last two elections. We want change. We need new policies. We do not need to listen to the same tired voices yammer the same tired lines about the need for “making the tax cuts permanent.” We’ve been hearing that for years.

The Republicans had their chance. Their policies failed. They drove this nation into a ditch. It’s time to do something new.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sweet Charity

Remember when the McCain campaign promised Sarah Palin’s $180,000 designer wardrobe would be donated to charity?

Conservative website now reports the clothes remain at Republican National Committee headquarters, stuffed in trash bags.

That sounds about right. When it comes to charity and dealing with the poor, the RNC doesn’t have the best track record, does it?

Greetings From New York City

Yes, I'm in that bain bane of Eric Crafton's existence, New York City. Foreign languages abound. Last night we caught a Tony Award-winning musical, "In The Heights," which celebrates the ethnic diversity that has always made this country unique and strong. Today we'll hit Chinatown--it is, after all, Chinese New Year--a place awash in foreign language sights, signs and sounds. If the Eric Craftons of this world had their way, there would be no Chinatown, no Little Italy, no Spanish Harlem, no Germantown.

Viva our diversity.

Posting will be light today, but hopefully I"ll be able to throw up some pictures.

Friday, January 23, 2009


It seems a few members of Bush's entourage had an extra helping of sour grapes on the flight from Andrews AFB to Texas:
The Bush team had worked assiduously to make the transition smooth for incoming President Obama and stayed out of the way as he used the post-election period to take leadership of the economy even before being sworn in. And now, as far as some of them were concerned, the new president had used his inaugural lectern to give the back of the hand to a predecessor who had been nothing but gracious to him.

Yes it was particularly gracious how the White House accommodated the Obamas two weeks before the inauguration, ensuring Blair House was available to them instead of housing a partner in war crimes in town to receive a Presidential Medal.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

I guess they can't believe Obama isn't more grateful for the extra huge helping of turd stew Bush left for the incoming administration to clean up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

English Only Fails

Not only fails, but fails big: 57% to 43%, according to the local news.

Nashville, forgive me. I doubted you. I said you’d pass this lame ordinance. You surprised me yet again. I humbly apologize.

Eric Crafton, did you get the message? Drop this ridiculous campaign now. We don’t want it.

The people have spoken. Satisfied?

Why Does Bob Corker Hate Workers?

I know I’ve been on record saying I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Sen. Bob Corker. But since the November elections he’s been one huge disappointment after another.

First there was his slap in the face to union workers, then his bizarre statement on Obama’s global climate change advisor, and now I learn he voted against cloture on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

The reason, according to this statement, is that an amendment put forward by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas failed:
“There is a delicate balance that must be met between protecting individuals from discrimination in the workplace and ensuring claims are filed and investigated in a timely manner. The Lilly Ledbetter bill without this amendment, however, is unfair to both the party being discriminated against and the employer facing a discrimination lawsuit. It would effectively eliminate the statute of limitations that sets a reasonable time frame for filing a complaint and would allow anyone – without limitation – to file a claim against an employer who may feel affected by the discrimination of another employee. Furthermore, passing Lilly Ledbetter will congest our court system, meaning cases with merit will be harder to detect from the frivolous suits that will inevitably occur.”

The Hutchison amendment failed by a vote of 40-55 causing Corker to oppose passage of S.181.
Umm ... okay, that’s just the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Eliminating a 180-day time limit was the whole point of the bill. S.181 was crafted to basically correct a Supreme Court decision imposing ridiculous statutory limitations on pay discrimination cases:
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision denying Ledbetter's complaint, ruled that a worker must file a claim within 180 days of the initial decision to pay a worker less, even if the worker did not discover the pay disparity until years later.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act basically extends that period. Attaching a 180-day statute of limitations onto a bill designed to remove a 180-day statute of limitations strikes me as dishonest.

From the National Women’s Law Center:

“The Hutchison amendment weakens pay discrimination law, rather than restoring it to where it has been for decades.  It does not reinstate the longstanding principle that employees may challenge each discriminatory paycheck they receive.

“The Ledbetter decision created a draconian rule that employees have 180 days from the time of their first discriminatory paycheck to file a formal government complaint and otherwise forfeit their rights to receive equal pay for equal work.  The 180-day clock runs even where the employee wants to try to work it out with the employer or if the discriminatory pay persists or becomes worse over months or years. The Hutchison amendment leaves this unfair and unacceptable rule in place, with just one very limited exception – the 180 days could be extended only if the employee can prove that she did not have and ‘should not have been expected to have’ a reasonable suspicion of any discrimination.

“Instead of helping Lilly Ledbetter and employees like her to challenge their rights to equal pay, the Hutchison amendment would impose additional burdens on the victims of pay discrimination to prove a negative: that they had no reason to have known about the discrimination.  And it would give the employer a free ride to continue the pay discrimination and shortchange their employees.  This is an especially cruel blow when women only earn about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.”

Honestly, if Corker doesn’t like the idea of employees suing for pay discrimination, why not just vote against the bill entirely? Why come up with those bogus “pro small business” excuses?

Are you afraid of looking like you’re in favor of pay discrimination? Or, perhaps, that you’re willing to put the needs of profit-making corporations over those of workers?

Well, if the shoe fits.

Fortunately, the cloture motion passed overwhelmingly and the bill will likely pass this evening. But probably not with Bob Corker’s vote.

And Now A Word From Our Redneck Faction

Shorter Linda Wheeler:
All immigrants are illegal, and all illegals are lazy slobs. All except for that nice lawyer feller, who knows better than to speak Mexican.


Linda Wheeler is this city’s worst nightmare. I pray Nashville appeals to the better angels of its nature.

Miami Says: Just Vote No

Nathan Moore , one of the many conservatives opposed to Eric Crafton’s English Only bill, posted this piece of advice from Miami yesterday:
Obviously, the good folks in Nashville didn't ask for our opinion. We'd be remiss, however, not to say that we've been there and done that -- and we didn't like it. Dade County, as it was then known, enacted an English-only ordinance in 1980. It quickly became a source of endless legal headaches, heated community debate, political embarrassment and bureaucratic wrangling. Finally, it was repealed in 1993, to near-universal relief.

It is fitting that Miami should serve as a testing-ground because this is one of the most diverse communities in the country, often the first to experience the changes that eventually reach other places. In 1980, the human tide of Mariel rattled Miami and Dade County, undermining two decades of progress in absorbing smaller waves of Cuban migration. The English-only law was a reaction to the shock of Mariel.

This bears a little examination. Reactionary legislation such as this is always a response to some crisis, and the Mariel boatlift was indeed that. That was when Fidel Castro basically gave Cubans a one-time ticket to America for anyone who so desired, including prisoners and mental health patients. Wiki says 125,000 Cubans arrived in Miami over a six month period.

That kind of concentrated immigrant wave is bound to overwhelm the city economy, city services and create resentment. Human nature being what it is, it’s no surprise that the response in Miami was to circle the wagons and pass laws like English Only.

But that’s not Nashville. What “crisis” are we responding to? Yes, immigration has increased here, as it has across much of the Southeast. But certainly not of the level of a massive Mariel wave.

The new immigrants in Nashville, especially those of Hispanic origins, have provided cheap labor for our once-booming housing market. It seems to me that Nashville has absorbed these new arrivals fairly well. I’m not seeing the crisis here. The only reason anyone would think Nashville needs English Only is out of pure meanness.

Continuing on with Miami’s example:

What happened next made matters worse. There were lawsuits and legal challenges from the federal government over issues such as bilingual ballots. Civil libertarians argued that linguistic restrictions violated the equal-protection clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment.

Mass-transit schedules were printed only in English. Doctors at the public hospital were forbidden to give Haitian mothers a brochure in Creole about caring for their infants. Bilingual signs at the zoo were permitted to remain, but when a new section opened up, the signs had to be English-only (until private funding was found).

That's the kind of nonsense that English-only laws engender. Nashville is a welcoming and inclusive community. Why trade that renown for a reputation as a center of xenophobia? The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, whose members foresee the damage this can create, is an outspoken opponent of this measure.

If the objective is to get immigrants to learn English, there are any number of better ways to do that without alienating the growing immigrant, largely Hispanic, community. Their numbers in cities like Nashville and Atlanta have been growing for the last few years.

It makes little sense for a community to rely on language or ethnicity to forge the bonds of unity. Miami's experience has been that new arrivals strengthen us, not make us weaker. They should be welcomed, not rebuffed. We are a people with forebears from other lands whose offspring have enriched our past and our present, and ensure our common future. For evidence, look no further than our newly inaugurated 44th president, Barack Obama.

Indeed. As I wrote two days ago, it is inconceivable to me that two days after we inaugurated the son of an African immigrant to the highest office in the land we would put up a sign saying “immigrants not welcome.”

The nation is moving forward in one direction. Nashville must go with it, or be left behind.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

There ARE Do-overs, Presidential Oath Of Office Edition

Yes, the silly season is still in full force:
Obama Takes His Oath of Office Again

President Obama took the oath of office -- again -- on Wednesday, out of an abundance of caution, a White House official said.

"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time," said White House Counsel Greg Craig in a statement early Wednesday night.

Well I’m sure that’s a huge relief to the tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists who have been up all night worred about yesterday’s constitutional crisis.

Okay, now that we’ve corrected Roberts’ fuck-up can we get on with more important things?

Another Bush Era Symbol Crumbles

Yesterday Clear Channel announced it will lay off 9% of its workforce. While this is definitely bad news for the 1,850 people who have lost their jobs, this has to be good news for media consumers.

At its height, the behemoth known as Clear Channel had its fingerprints on a wide swath of media and entertainment. At one point or another they’ve had a virtual monopoly on concert promotion and radio broadcasting; owned large chunks of the outdoor advertising market (everything from billboards to ads on top of taxi cabs); and even owned television stations.

Many of these divisions have now been spun off into independent companies, but in its heydey Clear Channel was able to use its monopoly to wield tremendous influence.

Most famously, after 9/11 the company issued a playlist fatwa on a wide list of songs it deemed “lyrically questionable.” Everything from Van Halen’s “Jump” to Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to Cat Stevens’ entire catalogue were yanked from the air. When some Clear Channel stations joined in the Dixie Chicks blacklist in 2003, no one was surprised.

Censorship extended to the outdoor advertising division, with Clear Channel banning an anti-war billboard in Times Square, anti Wal-mart billboards, and ads promoting Harry Shearer’s satirical CD.

Inside the music business, touring artists chafed at the power wielded by Clear Channel’s live concert division. Competing concert promoters found their artists banned from Clear Channel’s local radio stations. Artists could no longer shop around for the best concert promotion deal in a region; it was go with Clear Channel or be frozen out of the market on the air and on tour. Clear Channel put its competitors out of business, or bought them outright.

Last July Clear Channel was purchased by Bain Capital (Mitt Romney’s company) and Thomas H. Lee Partners. Several media outlets are reporting that this is only the first round of layoffs.

When the dust clears, I hope what we’ll have is a more diverse media landscape, offering a wider variety of choices.

Authoritarianism, especially where the media is concerned, is just bad for business.

Maybe Not Always So Peaceful

At War Room, we get a comparison of this peaceful transfer of power and the last one:
In 2001, protesters at the site took over risers intended for ticket-holders there to support the new president; the ticket-holders themselves mostly went elsewhere. And when Bush drove down Pennsylvania Ave. after he was sworn in, the motorcade had to spend much of the route at full speed to avoid a hail of boos. Today, I saw no protesters at the site, and the risers looked well-used. And everyone along the parade route was happy, celebrating. I heard one woman say to her child, "We did overcome."

I have friends who were at the 2001 inauguration for the protests, and so I heard first-hand about what happened, long before the rest of the world got clued in via Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” three and a half years later.

What really struck me about 2001 wasn’t the fact that there were protests--after the contentious, challenged election, that was expected. But the fact that our media didn’t cover them at all shocked me.

I still to this day do not understand why the media failed to do its job on that January day. Maybe they were afraid that coverage would spark nationwide protests (and I'm not sure why that is supposed to be a bad thing). Maybe they thought it was more “patriotic” to try to “bring the country together.” I don’t know. I do know that it is not the job of the media to be patriotic, spark protests, be unifiers, make the president legitimate or illegitimate or any of those things.

Their job is to cover the news. News was made in 2001. They ignored it.

Those Wacky Kids

San Francisco’s famous Bush Street got a makeover yesterday.


English Under Attack!!!!!!!!


Laura Creekmore puts it simply:
it is hard to make a case for a charter change undone by its own exceptions.

And it is even harder still when Crafton's only legitimate example to date--New York City--implemented its current policy precisely because existing policy conflicted with Federal law.

Crafton's still got nothin' ....
Yes that’s right! According to English Eric Crafton, the English language is under attack! Run for your lives!!!!

And as proof of this he brings us examples of California state legislators, oops I mean Oregon firefighters, sorry, I mean New York City services which he says by law must be provided in “up to seven languages .... at enormous cost to taxpayers.”

Oh, New York, how could you! First you allowed 9/11 to happen and now this!

(BTW, I am still waiting for the example of "English under attack" here in Nashville. Apparently Crafton still doesn't have one ....)

Of course, Crafton doesn’t give any specifics as to which services he’s talking about. This could be yet another Fox News fantasy, which he’s become fond of repeating without any fact-checking. So I am left to assume that he’s talking about the Equal Access To Human Services Act of 2003, aka Intro 38A.

It provides foreign language assistance for those seeking Medicaid, food stamps and similar forms of welfare assistance. The law was expanded this year with Executive Order 120 to include a broader range of government services, provided in the six most common languages found in New York City.

Eric Crafton, do you really want immigrant children denied food stamps or medical care because their families are not yet proficient in English?


Shame on you. For shame. Eric Crafton, what do you have against brown babies?

An overview of the 2003 law, citing 2000 census figures, states:

One in four New Yorkers, over two million people, are limited English proficient (LEP).

Wow, that’s a lot of people -- and that was five years ago. Nashville’s entire "Combined Stastistical Area”--that’s Metro Nashville and the ring counties--contains fewer people than the limited English proficient residents of New York.

One might almost think New York City was some kind of melting pot or something. Weird.

But let me go on:

Hundreds of thousands of families eligible for public assistance have historically been unable to fully access services. The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), which is responsible for administering government benefits such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, and welfare, was found to be in violation of Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act in 1999, but the agency failed to take corrective action.

Wow, so there’s like a federal law requiring equal access to government services for all?

And as some Nashville bloggers have calculated, violating Title VI puts us at risk of losing over $276,000 in federal monies that are tied to Title VI?

So why are we having this metro-wide referendum again?

And as for that “enormous cost” New York taxpayers must shoulder? Well, maybe not quite so much:

The mayor refused to be specific about how much the services will cost, saying only that it was a “relatively small” amount given the size of the city’s budget. He added: “This executive order will make our city more accessible, while helping us become the most inclusive municipal government in the nation.”

“The fundamental basis of government is its interaction with its citizens,” the mayor said before signing the executive order at City Hall on Tuesday. “If people don’t know what we do, don’t know what they should do, what the law requires them to do, don’t know how to get services, all the money that we’re spending providing those services, providing those laws, is meaningless.”

The order requires that agencies translate essential public documents, pamphlets and forms in the six languages. But its reach is broader, as it allows for the use of a telephone-based service that can link immigrants with interpreters who speak Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and dozens of others less-common languages.

A telephone-based service? Like the ones metropolitan areas around the country already use, like, say, Language Line, which I’ve already mentioned in previous posts?

So in other words, cities don’t have to keep one Urdu-proficient staff person on salary, twiddling his/her thumbs until the rare once-every-three-years occasion that an Urdu translator is needed. They simply pay for this service when they need it.

So, compliance is not so hard after all, is it?

I’m starting to think that this “English under attack” thing really isn’t amounting to very much.

Eric Crafton is going to have to do a lot better than this.

It is inconceivable to me that two days after the nation swore in its first African American president, ushering in a brand new day in our country's race relations, that Nashville would take this regressive step. Eric Crafton is out of touch with the direction this nation is moving. Nashville does not need to go with him.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Nashville, Tennesse, 4 pm, January 20, 2009:

Constitutional Crisis!


And no, it doesn't appear to be a joke. Wallace went so far as to opine that it will go to the courts.

Sorry, Roger.
Just saw this on Twitter:
chris wallace: i'm not sure obama is actually the president, based on the oath being said wrong.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha .....

Steeped in denial, Chris Wallace and Fox News reach further into unreality. They just can’t help themselves!

Time to put away the childish things, fellas.

A New White House

... and a new website, which now includes a blog.

Check it out, they want to hear from you.

And There Was Much Rejoicing Around The Land

It’s a bright new day for America. The crowds packing the National Mall are truly something to behold. I don't ever recall a presidential inauguration like this one, but of course that's because there has never been a presidential inauguration like this one.

The feeling of excitement, anticipation, yes I hate to say it, hope that is in the air today is palpable. Even at Centennial Hospital, where I spent this morning for my yearly ounce of prevention, had every television tuned to CNN and the inauguration. And every eye in the waiting room was glued to the set.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is in a wheelchair and Pappy Bush is walking with a cane.

Irony has returned.

Time to turn the page, America. Get ready for a brand new day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

They Just Don’t Get It

Once again, for the gray-matter impaired:

It is not “racist” to speak English, or require English proficiency. This is America. We speak English here. That is no secret.

It IS racist to by law prohibit the use of any other languages to better communicate with people. We are a nation of immigrants. It is divisive and exclusive. It can even be dangerous. And it is completely, wholely unnecessary.

The “War On English” is a farce. Not one of Eric Crafton’s examples of “English under attack” has held up to scrutiny. They’ve all been misrepresentations of actual law or outright lies.

And now Crafton is afraid to reveal his funding sources because he’s afraid of death threats? I’m calling bullshit on that one. Crafty Crafton’s racist money stream is more like it.

So all of you yahoos calling me a racist for not offering my blog in Tagalog need to get a clue. That's not what English Only says. English Only says I can't offer my blog in Tagalog (and yes, this is an analogy. I realize the referendum has nothing to do with my actual blog, since I am not a part of Metro government.)

If you don’t understand what the argument is about, you shouldn’t be opening your mouths.

Cold As Ice

President Bush never took advice, and I knew some day he’d pay the price. And that happened in 2006 when Stephen Colbert appeared at the White House Correspondents Assn. Dinner.

I believe that moment galvanized us on the left like no other. Finally, after all the lies, the torture, the Katrina-sized fuck-ups, someone finally had the balls to call Bush and his Beltway media enablers on their shit. To their faces. With humor.

It was a moment I will never forget. Mr. Beale and I just stared at the television and said “oh. my. God.” over and over again.

Bush closed the door and left the world behind. It took a comedian to bust it wide open again. I think this was the first time Beltway insiders and White House sycophants saw the depth of the anger we on the left had toward the President and the media that failed to do their jobs. They couldn’t hide from it and even though they later claimed Colbert’s act bombed, he started a movement which can’t be underestimated.

Things started to turn around after that. Democrats won the November mid-terms, and the left was able to push back in a way we’d been unable to do before. Thank you, Stephen Colbert.

April, 2006: President Bush sits in stunned silence as he’s roasted by Stephen Colbert:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Crafton Bogus Language Hysteria, Oregon Division

Once again, Eric Crafton picks on a favorite punching bag of the wingnut right: “liberal” Oregon. And once again, his allegations, culled from Fox News, are just ... well, wrong.

The homepage of Crafton’s English Only website prominently displays this Fox News clip about an Oregon state rule requiring firefighters for the Dept. of Foresty be bi-lingual. Crew bosses are even being “laid off or demoted” because of the rule, warned the Fox News anchor.

Oregon’s ABC affiliate, KATU, interviewed this Oregon firefighter on the rule:
Jaime Pickering, a squad boss overseeing 20 firefighters, says the rule means "job losses for Americans. The white people."

Ah yes, you just can't hide the bigotry of the English Only crowd. Hate to break it to you, Mr. Pickering, but Americans come in all sorts of colors.

According to Fox News and KATU, the rule, which applies to contractors not state employees, was enacted because there were so few firefighters in the state, contractors were hiring people from out of state who do not speak English. The state thought it was a good idea to require crew bosses to speak both English and the language of their firefighters, hence the rule.

I guess Eric Crafton hopes this will push some "war on English" fear buttons. But, as with so much that one hears on Fox News or coming out of Crafton’s mouth, it’s all wrong.

From the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website, under “Contracting for Wildland Firefighters”:

English is the language of wildland firefighting.  It is the national standard.  It is spoken in briefings and on two-way radios, and is the language of operating plans, reports and other documents.

Hispanic and Native American contract crews have operated in the west with bilingual leadership since the 1960s.
The number of Hispanic crews in the Northwest has increased markedly in recent years. A count of Spanish surnames on crew rosters suggests that about 85 percent of current contract firefighters are of Hispanic descent. This rough estimate doesn’t indicate how many crew members speak English.
There is no contract requirement that supervisors on contract crews speak any language other than English. There is a requirement that supervisors be able to communicate with the workers for whom they are responsible. This is essential to ensure that all personnel are made aware of safety hazards that can develop quickly in firefighting.
Consequently, if private companies elect to hire crew members who do not speak English, those supervisors must be bilingual or multilingual.


Public agencies have not found it necessary to require all frontline crew members to speak English. Bilingual supervision has proved successful in ensuring adequate crew safety and performance.
Due to the nature of the work, English proficiency is required for direct employment by ODF.
No ODF employees have been fired or demoted because of any language requirement; there is no requirement other than English proficiency for agency employees.

Once again, Fox News and Eric Crafton are wrong wrong wrong.

Hoping to scare Nashvillians into passing their pet referendum, Crafton & crew have resorted to fear mongering and outright lies. Way to keep it classy, guys.

Gitmo Going Out Of Business Sale

From SNL last night. Hilarious:

Another Bush Accomplishment

A nuclear North Korea:
North Korea Says It Has ‘Weaponized’ Plutonium

SEOUL, South Korea — The North Korean military declared an “all-out confrontational posture” against South Korea on Saturday as an American scholar said North Korean officials told him they had “weaponized” enough plutonium for roughly four or five nuclear bombs.

American intelligence officials have previously estimated that the North had harvested enough fuel for six or more bombs, although it has never been clear whether the North constructed the weapons. The scholar, Selig S. Harrison, said the officials had not defined what “weaponized” meant, but the implication was that they had built nuclear arms.

And this:

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea placed more soldiers at frontier guard posts and told its fishermen to refrain from sailing near North Korean waters on Sunday, a day after the North Korean military declared an “all-out confrontational posture” against the South and threatened a naval clash.

Oh goodie. Let’s just give everyone and I do mean everyone a nuclear bomb. From peaceful Costa Rica, which doesn’t even have a military, to saber-rattling Iran. Maybe if everyone had a nuclear bomb, we’d all be too afraid to use them and they’d lose their power.

I’m not serious, of course, but look at the world in 2009 compared to 2000: we have the same unrest between Israel and Palestine. We have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now tensions in Asia marked by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the North Korean dictator. We have Russia waging a resource war on its neighbors. We have the United States failing in a plot to overthrow the Iranian government. We have Western nations joining energy-starved developing economies in China and India to wage resource wars in Africa.

The world is truly a mess.

Heckuva job, Bushie.

No Way Out

Everywhere he turned, he hurt someone. And nothing he could say would change the things he’s done.

We trusted him, and he let us down.

November 2005: A flaw in Bush’s exit strategy in China:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

At Least He’s Picking On New York For A Change

The Nashville Scene points us to Eric Crafton’s fear-mongering radio ad:
It begins with strains of "America the Beautiful."

"America. One nation, under God, indivisible-until now." The ad goes on to say that English is "under attack" It cites examples of government services in New York City being offered in multiple languages, and presents the amendment as a way of preventing the same thing from happening in Nashville.

English is "under attack"? Really? The--pardon the pun--lingua franca of global commerce is "under attack"? Is he nuts?

Am I the only one picking up a "War On Christmas" vibe here?

Personally, I don’t see what anyone loses by offering government services in multiple languages. But so what. That’s New York City. Again, I ask: of what relevance is it to us here in Nashville what they do in New York City?

New York is America’s most populous, diverse city. Walk down any street in New York and you will hear a variety of languages spoken all around you. It’s the home of the freaking United Nations. Maybe multi-lingual government services are needed in New York. Who cares? In case Eric Crafton hasn’t noticed, Nashville is not New York. Trust me, we aren’t even close.

If the whole language war thing were truly an issue for us here in Nashville, Crafton wouldn’t have to keep trotting out examples of how they do things in California and New York. He’d cite some examples right here at home. The fact that he can’t seem to find any that would muster the proper amount of outrage tells me this really is only an issue in Crafton’s mind.

Of course, by picking on coastal metropolitan areas like New York City and Oakland, this campaign hits some nice "coastal elite" hot buttons. He could easily pick on some small towns in Texas, which I suggested earlier, but that doesn't push the same social and cultural buttons. I'm sure that worked very well in some of the smaller communities where the English Only movement has found success.

But Nashville isn't Culpeper, Virginia. We're the "third coast." I question how well the big city-vs-small town message resonates here. Indeed, I question how well it works at all these days. It certainly seemed to cause a big push-back in the last election when the GOP tried to use it.

Anyway, as Crafton's campaign gets increasingly squirrelly, he's starting to remind me of Bill O'Reilly, picking up factually-flawed stories from WorldNet Daily and repeating the juicy bits, promoting the idea there is a "war" going on that only he and a handful of anti-immigrant crusaders can see.

It's all very strange.

The Joker

People talked about him, said he was doing wrong. But he didn’t worry, no, no. He was right here at home.

He sure didn’t want to hurt no one.

March 26, 2004: Bush jokes about not finding WMD’s in Iraq:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Your Tax Dollars At Work, Sex Ed Edition

When we said Washington was filled with a bunch of clowns, we weren’t kidding. The latest to feed at the abstinence-only gravy train is Derek Dye, “comedic juggler” who’s also a “certified abstinence educator,” which turns out to be as bogus as “life coaching.” (With all due respect to the life coaches out there, I just don’t get what you people do ...)
Thanks to George W. Bush and a complicit Congress, we currently spend $1.5 billion a year to fund abstinence-only until marriage sex education in our public schools. And yes, that money goes to people like Derek Dye, as he is employed by the Elizabeth New Life Center that received a $800,000 CBAE grant in 2007 to promote abstinence until marriage. His qualifications? A “Bachelor of Fun Arts” from Barnum Bailey Clown College, and an abstinence educator certification that can be purchased for $50.

ThinkProgress has a YouTube clip of Dye’s act. His basic message seems to be, if you have sex before you’re married, smoke, drink or use drugs, your life will be ruined. And balancing a ladder on his chin and juggling machetes is supposed to illustrate that somehow.

I don’t get it. This message is supposed to be stronger than raging teenage hormones? Get real, people.

The New Face Of “Clean Coal”


Vis Kathryn S in comments, how could I forget Frosty The Coal Man?


How to tell your PR campaign is floundering: they unveil an insanely stupid cartoon mascot :

Oh wow, that’s so kewl. Put a pair of sunglasses on a lump of coal and we can forget about all the billions of gallons of coal ash sludge that destroyed a big chunk of Kingston, Tennessee.

They must think we’re really, really stupid.


Vis Kathryn S in comments, how could I forget Frosty The Coal Man?

Memories, Light The Corners Of My Mind

I missed President’s Bush’s speech last night, which Joan Walsh called “delusional and self-indulgent.” I was out, but had I been home I’m sure I would have avoided it anyway.

I’m tired of hearing the president’s misty water-colored memories of an America of the past seven years that exists only in his own mind. I don’t need him to remind us--again--how he “kept us safe” for the past seven years. Tell that to the five dead and 17 injured in the 2001 anthrax attacks. Tell that to the 1,800+ killed and thousands more displaced in Hurricane Katrina. Tell that to the 4,225+ U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, or the estimated 1000,000 wounded.

So from now until inauguration day, I’m going to offer my own little trip down memory lane, to ensure time won’t rewrite every line. Yes, it’s the laughter we will remember.

And if we had the chance to do it all again tell me, would we? Dear Lord, I hope not.

August 31, 2003: Bush drops Barney on a broiling-hot Texas runway: (check out the look of horror on the children's faces)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How To Read My Blog In 9 Languages

As suggested by commenter babel, my blog is now available in nine different languages simply by clicking on the appropriate flag at right.

It took me all of 10 seconds to find the java script on the 'net and add it to my html.


P.S. For the Google-impaired, if the language you seek is not there or the flag widget doesn't work, even more translations are available at Babelfish.

Are There Answers In The Money?

Well this isn’t exactly a surprise:
Nashville voters may have to wait until after the Jan. 22 English Only special election to find out how the Nashville English First group has funded its controversial referendum campaign.

Leaders with the English Only referendum movement to make English the official language of Metro government would not say if they intended to file the group’s financial disclosure statement by today’s deadline when reached by the The City Paper this week.

In fact, according to Davidson County Election Commission employees, a representative from Nashville English First inquired about what the penalty would be if the committee missed the filing deadline.

Gee, I wonder what they’re hiding? Something so distasteful that they’re afraid financial disclosure would hurt support for their measure, perhaps? Funding from one of the many anti-immigrant hate groups, perhaps?

Or a certain political party, maybe?

It would be irresponsible not to speculate. After all, we already know English Only received $20,000 and legal assistance from one-man nativist machine John Tanton, a noted bigot and anti-Catholic who once warned that high Latino birth rates meant they would soon outbreed whites, causing all sorts of other horrors.

So what is Crafton's group afraid of? What are they hiding? It’s got to be really, really bad or they wouldn’t take the risk of looking like they’re hiding something. Which is how they look right now. But we won’t know ... until it’s too late.

Here’s something I don’t hear mentioned much in the English Only debate: Where is this rash of council meetings, commission meetings, board memos, etc. that are taking place in a foreign language? Near as I can tell the only time a foreign language was spoken at Metro Council it was Crafton himself speaking in Japanese in his now-famous fear-mongering stunt. I’ve been to plenty of council meetings, planning commission meetings, zoning hearings, etc. English has always been spoken every time.

To the best of my knowledge, federal law already requires that translators be provided for emergency services and in court, something very easily accommodated through the miracle of private enterprise via a company like Language Line Services.

Critics have said the entire savings per year to Metro would be $3,100, and yet we’re paying ten times that amount on the special election. This just doesn’t add up.

I’m just not seeing the urgency. This was a tough sell for Crafton from the get-go, and I’m just really puzzled as to why he decided to put this forward and put his reputation on the line to begin with. None of it makes sense, and I wonder if the financial disclosure wouldn’t clear some of this mystery up.

The only town I’ve been able to find where Spanish is used in official business is tiny El Cenizo, Texas, on the Texas-Mexico border. CNN’s Ed Lavandera visited a couple of years ago and learned most residents are bi-lingual, but Spanish is their first language. So council meeting agendas are offered in both English and Spanish, and the meetings are conducted in Spanish. The result has been increased community participation by town citizens and an improved quality of life in El Cenizo:

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Reyes says this was nothing more than a dusty border outpost until 1999, but, now, with the city and its people speaking the same language, streets are paved. There's a police force and a fire station.

REYES: Well, there's like good, positive things happening. And you get to that with the support and the collaboration of the residents that reside in this..


LAVANDERA (on camera): And do you think that happened because city business here is conducted in Spanish?

REYES: That's right. You know, we speak their language.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Most of El Cenizo's residents are Mexican-Americans here legally. Reyes says, since city council meetings are conducted in Spanish, more people participate.

(on camera): What do you say to those people who say, you know, by God, this is the United States; you need to speak English?


JUAN ALEJANDRO, EL CENIZO, TEXAS, POLICE CHIEF: And, if people get upset by it, then so be it. So be it. Get upset, because you're not here. You're not in this situation, and you're not helping us.

LAVANDERA: People here like to joke that the official language should be Spanglish, a little bit of both languages, so everyone can understand.

I’m sure this just horrifies the Eric Craftons of the world but here’s a heads-up: Nashville is not El Cenizo, Texas, nor is it Oakland, California. What do we care how they do things elsewhere? We’re not them. We’re not a border town populated predominantly by Mexican immigrants, or a city populated by Chinese immigrants. There just isn’t a big problem here.

Why’d you do it, Eric? Why?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Democrats At Work, National Edition

This is what happens when Democrats are in charge. Via Josh Marshall:
With No Bush Veto Threat, Six Republicans Switch From 'No' to 'Yes' on SCHIP

By Elana Schor - January 14, 2009, 3:42PM

The House just passed a $33 billion reauthorization and expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a.k.a. SCHIP, the legislation that Democrats tried in vain to expand last year only to meet with two vetoes from George Bush.

But now that Bush is gone, and there's no more president to protect, it seems that a few Republicans feel they're ready to support children's health care. Comparing today's House vote count to the roll-call vote in 2007, when Democrats came within about 13 votes of overriding Bush's veto. (There was another override vote that year, and a second in 2008, with similar near-miss outcomes.)

GOP Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL), Mike Rogers (AL), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), and Thaddeus McCotter (MI) -- a member of Republican leadership who got picketed over his previous votes on SCHIP -- all voted yes today after voting against expanding the health care program under Bush.

What happened, guys? Was it Obama's post-partisan outreach that did it for you?

Maybe someone reminded them that children were once fetuses.

Even better, this was passed without Michelle Malkin snooping through anyone’s trash cans.

Tennessee House Dems Are On The Map

Yesterday’s power-play maneuver by House Democrats has caught some national attention. National bloggers like Salon’s War Room, Wonkette, Eschaton, and Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic are covering the news.

Can Drudge be far behind?

Aw, just kidding. Drudge doesn't cover any news that makes Republicans look bad if he can help it. And we know the national press doesn't cover anything unless they see it in Drudge. So there you go.

All in all, however, it’s a nice change, since Tennessee politics usually hits the news for all of the wrong reasons. I'm remembering lots of teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling after the November election, lots of "what did we do wrong" self-analysis. And to come back with a big move like this certainly reasserts the notion that the Tennessee Democratic Party is not defunct.

Anyway, SoBe sends a high-five to the Tennessee Democratic caucus. Nice move, folks. To the Tennessee GOP I say: take your "mandate" and stuff it.

Nobody Could Have Anticipated, TVA Edition

Over at Grist, Peter B. Meyer wonders why TVA didn’t anticipate the coal ash spill.

Meyer’s piece is a little wonky but basically what I think he’s saying is that the cost-benefit analysis approach to projects like, say, repairing a coal ash retention pond is flawed, because it fails to take into consideration all of the possible costs and outcomes, as so many of them are unknowable to begin with. Instead, they just look at the likely costs and outcomes. And in today’s world of advanced technology, likely is not sufficient. Accidents--devastating ones--are the new “normal.” They are not exceptional events.

In other words: shit happens.

I sorta touched on this here, when I mentioned TVA going the low-budget spit-and-a-prayer route to fix the leaky Kingston ash pond, instead of opting for the $25 million “global fix.” As a result of this judgment error, they are at least $100 million in the hole, people have lost their homes, the environment is destroyed, etc, etc.

Meyer writes of TVA’s decision:
So, that tells us the TVA figured the probability of a spill multiplied by the likely cost to clean up was less than $25 million in current dollars in 2003.

They were badly wrong. Why?

The expected value calculation appears to have assigned a zero probability to a spill as massive as the one that occurred. That's as if you carried an umbrella in the rain even though you might melt if you got wet, and assigned a zero probability to the possibility of high winds or hail. That's not rational.

Assigning that zero likelihood also meant that there was no serious effort to calculate the cost of such a massive failure.

With all due respect to Peter Meyer, I think he is being awfully charitable here. I find it difficult to believe that engineers never considered the possibility that the Kingston dam would completely fail, especially after it was already leaking. I also find it hard to believe that someone, somewhere, never put pencil to paper and figured out what cost that kind of devastation would rack up.

I think something else was happening. I think a bunch of bureaucrats--probably in Knoxville HQ or Chattanooga, and probably a few folks in Washington D.C., too--thought it would be better to keep their fingers crossed and whisper the magic incantation they hoped would keep chaos at bay. They knew better, alright. They just hoped they wouldn’t be left in the hot seat when the shit hit the fan.

Isn’t that the way it’s been across virtually every sector of American life for the past ten to fifteen years? Just cross your fingers and hope the piper doesn’t come calling. Keep borrowing money and hope the creditors don’t catch up to you. Keep giving loans to people you know are bad risks, and hope that doesn’t blow up in your face.

Keep putting off repairing levees in New Orleans and hope “the big one” doesn’t come. Keep ignoring PDB’s warning of a domestic terrorist attack. Keep making gas-guzzling highway hogs and hope rising gas prices never come. Keep building bigger McMansions and hope people still have the cheap credit to buy them.

That’s worked so well for us, hasn’t it? “No one could have anticipated” has become our national punchline.

I don’t see why TVA should be any different from the rest of us. And if TVA has been living this way, then you’d better believe your local power utility has been doing the same.