Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pants On Fire!!!!

Dang! Guess who showed up at the Nashville Predators game tonight! OUR TEAM!

We played our big conference rival the Detroit Red Wings, who lead the conference with 88 points and are third in the NHL overall. Let’s just say the Predators turned the Red Wings into so much cat food. It was all over in the first ten eleven minutes of the game when we scored five points.

By games’ end the scoreboard read 8-0, Pekka Rinne had a shutout and Preds captain Jason Arnott had scored a hat trick.

Way to go, Predators!!!

Barack Obama Picks Gov. Sebelius For HHS

So that means Gov. Bredesen is out for certain:
WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has decided to nominate Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services and will formally announce the decision at a White House ceremony on Monday, a U.S. official said on Saturday.

Whew, dodged that bullet.

I didn't think Bredesen was a serious pick, considering the ill-will and bad press generated by his TennCare debacle. Glad to know it's official, though.

Dumbass Conservative Legislation Du Jour

Maybe Utah will ban that horrid Tom Cruise movie “Cocktail” while they’re at it:
Senate Panel Approves Hiding Restaurant Bartenders

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah Senate committee has approved a bill that would hide the preparation of alcoholic drinks behind 10-foot-high walls in restaurants and make it illegal to appear drunk.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, says Senate Bill 187 is intended to eliminate anything resembling a bar in restaurants.

His measure also would redefine what it means to be intoxicated in Utah, gutting a Utah Supreme Court ruling that said simply being a drunk is not a crime. Under Valentine's bill, it would be illegal for anyone to look like they are drunk.

The bill passed unanimously on Friday. It will now be debated on the Senate floor.

Oh, Utah. Please, don’t ever change. I’d lose all of my best material! You’re already the country’s biggest consumer of porn. And now you want to treat your bartenders like sweatshop workers, while denying customers the time-honored therapy of pouring one's heart out while knocking back the shots. Who do you think you're fooling, anyway? Everyone knows you're just like the rest of us, so get off your high horse.

Of course, I’ll be shocked if this bill makes it anywhere near law. For one thing, making it illegal to “appear drunk” doesn’t pass my constitutional sniff test, it’s too subjective. That pretense could be used to round up anyone.

But really, these laws meant to restrict alcohol consumption are never very successful, are they? Back when I lived in rural Kentucky we had to drive 40 minutes across the state line into Tennessee to get to the nearest beer. Naturally because it was such a hassle, we bought our beer by the case, not the six pack. I definitely drank more than I would have otherwise.

Similarly, back in the ‘80s I went to Salt Lake City with a friend and ordered a mixed drink at a restaurant, for the sheer experience. Back then the rules were a little different: the server brought you a glass and your mixer; you had to go outside the restaurant to a window to buy one of those little bottles of booze like you used to get on airplanes. Needless to say, I got sloshed, since there was more alochol in that airplane-sized bottle than would ordinarily have been poured into a mixed drink.

Prohibition of otherwise legal substances simply doesn’t work, people. Just get over it.

Then again, as with so much conservative legislation, I'm not sure the intent really is to prevent a behavior. I think it's to punish it. I don't think anyone in rural Kentucky really cared that we drank beer because heck, they were all drinking too. The point was to punish us for doing it, by making us take an hour and a half out of the day and schlep across the state line to make our purchase.

And I really don't get the point of that. That's just a mean-spirited way of looking at the law.

Being A Corporation Means Never Having To Clean Up Your Messes

This news would be very encouraging, if it actually makes it through the budget process, which I doubt. Obama plans to bring back the Superfund tax:
The EPA budget proposal would restore excise taxes on oil and chemical producers to replenish the Superfund Trust Fund for hazardous-waste cleanup. The Superfund tax, which expired in 1995, would be reinstated sometime after 2011 “after the economy recovers,” according to the budget request. It would raise an estimated $6.6 billion by 2014.

But why stop at oil and chemical producers? What about the waste created by large agribusiness, such as last year’s 10,000 gallon hog waste spill?

What about Cargill’s salt ponds on the Napa River and San Francisco Bay, which is waste from their sea salt extraction operation? Reclamation has become a hot button as conservatives falsely claim that the money is "pork" to benefit marsh mice. That’s incredibly dishonest. It’s to clean up Cargill’s mess.

If you’ve ever flown into San Francisco International Airport you can see these things from the air. It’s thousands of acres of toxic waste. (Photographer David Sanger has some beautiful pictures--do check them out.)

Instead of cleaning up their mess, Cargill wants to profit from selling it to the government. And conservatives are giving them cover.

Congress passed the Superfund bill in 1980. From Wiki:

Approximately 70% of Superfund cleanup activities historically have been paid for by parties responsible (PRPs) for the cleanup of contamination. The only time cleanup costs are not borne by the responsible party is when that party either can not be found or is unable to pay for the cleanup. For those sites, the Superfund law originally paid for toxic waste cleanups through a tax on petroleum and chemical industries. The chemical and petroleum fees were intended to provide incentives to use less toxic substances. Over five years, $1.6 billion was collected, and the tax went to a trust fund for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. The last full fiscal year in which the Department of the Treasury collected the tax was FY1995.

Let’s see, what happened in 1995? Someone remind me? Oh yeah, the faux-populist “Gingrich Revolution,” better known as no corporation left behind.

At the end of FY1996, the invested trust fund balance was $6.0 billion. This fund was exhausted by the end of FY2003; since that time funding for these orphan shares has been appropriated by Congress out of general revenues.

Yes, why make polluting corporations clean up the messes they make, let’s foist that off on the taxpayers. Honk if I’m paying to clean up your toxic waste spill.

Anyway, one of the best things about having a Democrat in the White House is that we’re finally seeing some attention paid to environmental regulations. Let’s hope this stuff makes it through the budget process.

Caturday Quinnie Pants


Quinn got a new onesie! As you can see, he is not amused. A little pissed off, actually.

In truth, he’s sorta embarrassed.



But he’s taking it all in good humor. Poor fella.

(For those of you who don’t know the story of Quinn and why he wears pants, read here. Pants must be worn until his allergy clears, which we’ve now learned can take up to a year.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

And The Winner Is......

[UPDATE]:

Order yours here.

---------------------

From the brilliant minds at Liberadio:


Suck on it, Tennessee Republicans!

Great American Pity Party

In honor of today’s Great American Pity Tea Party, I thought now would be a good time to ask some questions.

For starters, columnist Gail Collins asks:
How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to places like Alaska and Louisiana. Which is fine, as long as we don’t have to hear their governors bragging about how the folks who elected them want to keep their tax money to themselves. Of course they do! That’s because they’re living off ours.

Indeed. By the same token, there’s something really performance-arty about a bunch of high-paid conservative pundits like Michelle Malkin organizing protests to defend the status quo which the popular vote rejected in an election just three months ago.

This is what happens when your party is completely devoid of ideas. All we hear from the right is the usual crying and moaning about taxes and government waste. Puh-leeze. President Bush lost $12 billion in Iraq, and not one of you assholes shed a tear. Cold, hard cash, shrink-wrapped in stacks of $100 bills, then flown into Iraq on C-130s, where they vanished. *Poof.*

$12 billion, gone. That's a lot of marsh mice.

So don’t cry to me about government waste, no one believes you give a damn.

Collins writes:

The waste argument is a perpetual winner because there will always be some.

Well, duh. It’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Of course there will always be waste, it’s how the universe rolls. But there’s entropy and then there’s, you know, incompetence.

It certainly hasn’t escaped my notice that the folks rallying to protest the President’s economic stimulus today are the same folks who were on the side of incompetence lo these many years. I see absolutely no reason why anyone should listen to them now.

Meanwhile, the new revolution has already hit a bumpy patch. The Pittsburgh event was cancelled because of rain, prompting one organizer to scold:

Look, maybe you are afraid of water. But just so you know, over 200 years ago when the real Tea Party happened, a bunch of really pale ethnically British colonists dressed up like Indians and threw the King’s tea into the harbor. They could have died.

A revolution that gets called on account of rain isn't much of a revolution.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Farewell, American Artisan

Another Nashville institution is closing its doors: I’ve just received word that American Artisan will close at the end of March after 38 years in Nashville.

This is very sad to me, as American Artisan is a Nashville treasure. I remember visiting the store on Harding way back in the ‘80s and seeing folk art by Howard Finster for sale. Owner Nancy Saturn says she’s closing because of her age, not the economy, and she will continue to hold the American Artisan Festival in Centennial Park. But ... whaaaah!

I’m sure this has been covered by the local media--it has, right?--but this is the first I’ve heard of it. And I am very sad. I've always loved visiting the store and seeing the wonderful hand-crafted items available there. Many a wedding gift has been bought there as well.

American Artisan, you will be missed.

Honk If You’re Stupid Enough To Buy This BS Campaign

ACK directs readers to the Tennessee Republican Party’s new bumper sticker:

This just begs to be parodied. I solicited some ideas from a few friends who were more than up to the challenge. To wit:

• "Honk if you took a big bonus just before the government bailed out your worthless company."--Hecate

• "Honk if you paid for your bankers' cocaine" -- MasterD, damn yankee

• "Honk if you're sorry the Republicans didn't get to put your social security into the stock market." -- rootless-e

• "Honk you're driving on a taxpayer funded highway."-- Libby

• "Honk If You Think my Uterus Belongs to You"--Culture of Truth

• "Have your driver honk if I've been paying your taxes for you."--minusp

• "Honk if you want Bush back."--(anti-noise-pollution sticker)--Dirk Gently

And the winner is .... (drum roll, please!):

• "Honk if you're going to the job fair." --Duane V

Thank you, folks! See you on the taxpayer-funded superhighway to hell, where we won’t even have a handbasket to smooth the ride.

Post your own bumper sticker in comments ...

Coming To A Restaurant Near You, Just You Wait

I’m talking about deep-fried pizza:
As the Pizza Snobz owner dips two frozen slices of cheese pizza into a thin batter he developed from a YouTube recipe, he says, ''My batter is thin because that's the way we (Barker, his wife, Morgan, and partner Louis Perry) like it. Otherwise, the pizza gets too bready and heavy.”

Just, no. No, no, no.

It gets worse:

He plunges our slices, still dripping batter, into the hot fat. An 11-year-old who's also waiting for a slice tells us, ''I like deep-fried pizza because it's crispy all over but soft inside, like a French fry.'' She adds, ''I sprinkle it with a little powdered sugar. That's good, too.''

Good lord, there’s so much wrong with this. Where do I start? There’s the frozen pizza part. There’s the battered-and-deep-fried part. There’s the powdered sugar part. And then there’s the recipe found on YouTube part.

I can’t believe these people aren’t Southerners.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Future Is Here & Its Name Is Bobby Jindal

No, not really. But David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network thinks so. He’s got a man-crush and its name is Bobby Jindal:
Bobby Jindal is going to be a star. Correct that. He is a star already. His star turn came tonight when the Lousiiana [sic] Governor gave the Republican response to President Obama's speech tonight. Can anybody say 2012?

Can you? Can you feel the Jindal-mentum? Huh? CAN YOU? I’M TALKING TO YOU!

It gets better:

In Jindal, the GOP has a new fresh face who is ridiculously bright, very convincing and folksy. He's a little bit of everything. You see it's all about how you package it. It's all about how you are defined as a candidate. Jindal has the advantage of being a guy who has huge upside in the way he's defined. By being a different sort of looking Republican, he has a built in advantage already in a party looking to redefine itself. It molds perfectly together.

Whoa there, cowboy. What do you mean by “different sort of looking Republican”? You mean ... not white? Or just ... a really goofy grin and big ears?

I’m thinking he means “not white.” But as I said before, if the Republican Party wants to redefine itself, it will need to do more than change the color of the person talking. They need to put to rest their tired old “government is the problem not the solution” script. And based on Jindal's performance last night, that doesn't seem to be happening.

Meanwhile, the free hand of the market doesn't think Jindal 2012 is a good investment after last night's speech.

Ooops.

Zombie Marsh Mice STILL Won’t Die

Sean Hannity is a fool:
HANNITY: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You know and I know that Nancy Pelosi's district, that these marshlands to help save the mouse, that's where that money's going. This railway for Harry Reid, these all-terrain vehicle trails, they're in the bill, Congressman. We're spending $1.3 trillion of our kids' money. Why?

SESTAK: Sean, I just don't want to mislead the public. Those words are not in the bill. Number two: We're --

HANNITY: But the money is earmarked for it.

SESTAK: No, there are not, Sean. Number two --

HANNITY: You sound like Bill Clinton.

SESTAK: No, I'm just telling you what the facts are, 'cause I've read every word of the bill.

HANNITY: "I did not have sex with that woman." They -- that is where the money is going, Congressman. Be straight with the American people.

Hilarious. Sean Hannity gets pounded with facts and runs out of the room screetching “Bill Clinton! Bill Clinton!” It's comedy gold, I tell ya.

One more time: there is no money in the stimulus for salt marsh mice. The $30 million is for five wetlands projects around the state of California that will clean up industrial waste sites and provide flood control. If you've ever seen a wetlands restoration project then you will know it involves lots of bulldozers, tractors, and other heavy machinery. It involves dredging, excavating, drainage construction, building jetties and bridges and berms. It creates jobs.

And yes, it restores habitat for endangered species like salt marsh mice. It bears remembering that the salt marsh mouse has been on the Endangered Species List since 1970. It is, in fact, U.S. law that the government protect it and restore its habitat.

Maybe we should stick Cargill with the bill, since they are one of the companies that left the salt ponds to begin with. Free hand of the market and all that.

Jindal's Speech Bombed

[UPDATE]:

Sean Braisted has posted this video clip from David Brooks. He calls Jindal's speech "insane" and "a disaster for the Republican Party." And that was when he was being nice.

Oh, dear.

-------------------------------------------

Near as I can tell, we are all in agreement that Bobby Jindal’s “response” to Barack Obama’s speech last night was a big dud.

From conservative commentators at Fox News :
BRIT HUME: “The speech read a lot better than it sounded. This was not Bobby Jindal’s greatest oratorical moment.”

NINA EASTON: “The delivery was not exactly terrific.”

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: “Jindal didn’t have a chance. He follows Obama, who in making speeches, is in a league of his own. He’s in a Reagan-esque league. … [Jindal] tried the best he could.”

JUAN WILLIAMS: “It came off as amateurish, and even the tempo in which he spoke was sing-songy. He was telling stories that seemed very simplistic and almost childish.”

Our own Six Meat Buffet:

(walk on stage like there’s a stick up his ass but that he doesn’t mind it so much)

Opening line:  “What an amazing thing we watched!  A black guy.  Goshdarnit, that’s terrific!  Let’s all give ourselves a hand!

*smattering of disjointed applause*

I am also like Barack Obama!

(insert standard boilerplate Republican pap about Washington not being the answer and trusting people to think for themselves)

Ouch. And that’s from the conservatives.

I did think Jindal spoke like he was reading to a kindergarten class. I found it very bizarre that he would tell the story of how he came to America as an anchor baby as a “pre-existing condition,” a neat reminder to us all that America's insurance-based healthcare sucks.

And then to point to a Republican president’s botched Katrina response as an example of how government doesn’t work was, well, surreal. Hey, Governor: you could have thrown in there our botched hunt for Osama bin Laden, our botched Iraq invasion and rebuilding effort, our botched oversight of the mortgage industry, last year’s botched “economic stimulus” where everyone got a check and promptly socked it away under their mattresses.

What do all of these things have in common?

Oh yeah, they were the grand ideas of your party. Heh.

I’d say if Jindal is the GOPs great hope for 2012 the party is in deeper shit than even they imagined. In fact, Jindal has been targeted from inside his own party:

I'm surprised that a few comments on my post about Bobby Jindal as the new face of Christian conservatism allege that he's got ancestral Muslim roots, in addition to the acknowledged Hinduism of his Indian born parents. Remind you of any other recent rumor campaigns against promising young minority politicians?

What's surprising is that some of the comments appear to be from pro-Sarah Palin conservatives. They're a likely preview of what a Jindal primary faceoff with Palin or another Christian conservative might look like, with both vying for conservative Christian support.

It’s Palin v. Jindal, folks! Get yer tickets and grab the popcorn!

Anyone surprised by this has clearly forgotten the racists who supported Sarah Palin during the presidential campaign. You think they’re going to rally behind someone like Bobby Jindal? Get real.

The GOP can throw all of the brown faces out there it wants. That doesn’t change the fact that there’s a huge racist faction within the Republican Party. Until they acknowledge it and deal with it, it won’t be going away.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Revisionist History Alert

Hilarious. Tea Party Protests coming to a village near you.

Since it’s coming from Pajamas TV, let’s rephrase that: coming to a village idiot near you.

I guess these folks think the Boston Tea Party was some kind of populist uprising against the government.

It was not.

It was a populist uprising against a corporation. It was against the British East India Company, which enjoyed great influence with and access to the British Parliament--so much so, in fact, that they received a TAX CUT that effectively priced the colonists out of the tea market.

But, this being Pajamas TV, and this being wingnuts, they are clueless. How very sad ... and amusing.

I couldn’t say it better than this fella:
Thus, I’m saddened to reveal: most of us don’t know the real story of the Boston Tea Party. As it turns out, what’s really fundamental about being an American is not so much a hatred of taxes (though we don’t have to like them, either) as it is a hatred of corporatism, corporate cronyism in our government, and tax policies which benefit the rich and powerful over the Everyman, or the local American. Early American patriots were inspired toward their exceptional act of independence primarily in resistance to their lack of representation in contrast to the power of a big business lobby.

I’m not surprised that “the Pajamas TV team including Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, and Joe Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber)” would be too clueless to know their American history. Facts are stupid things, remember?

You people are tools.

Democrats Don’t Vote Republican Either. End of Discussion.

The Bill Freeman saga continues with this revelation via Jeff Woods:
Well, here's something else for Freeman to explain. A check of election records shows he voted in the '02 and '06 Republican primaries. We're guessing he voted for his buddy Van Hilleary in '02 and for his buddy Bob Corker in '06. These votes undercut Freeman's contention that his contributions to these Republicans was strictly mercenary. Freeman hasn't called us back yet to comment.

Okay, let’s look at this one for a minute. We all know people from the other side of the aisle who voted Democratic this time out when the Republican Party became the party of war, torture, religious nutballs, economic crisis and George W. Bush. Hey, welcome to my big tent. Glad to have you. Hope you stay.

We all know people who consider themselves “independents” who swing both ways politically. These are the people who say they vote the candidate and the issues, not the party. Good for you. That ain’t me, but you have my admiration.

But here’s the thing: neither of these people become party treasurer! They are not party apparatchiks. They do not suddenly decide to marry one of the parties they had previously only dated.

I can appreciate the sentiment of someone like Left Wing Cracker who says we should welcome “Reagan Democrats.” Well, Reagan is dead. Bill Freeman is not a “Reagan Democrat.” According to his voting record, he’s a Van Hilleary Democrat. A Bob Corker Democrat. And you've to spin yourself silly trying to explain that one.

Bill Freeman has a right to his political beliefs (even if they are cravenly self-serving ones) but for crying out loud he does not deserve a job with the Party. You know, it’s starting to look like he’s not even a mercenary skank lacking the political finesse to spin it better, as Pete Kotz phrased it.

He’s a fence-sitter. He doesn’t know what he is. Hey, there are a lot of people like that in the electorate, but I repeat: they do not work for the state party as treasurer.

And, Bill Freeman, neither should you.

Oscar Hate

If you wondered what Sean Penn was referring to Sunday night when he mentioned “the signs of hatred” seen on the way into the Oscars, apparently the Phelps cult was out in full force with this:



Love the pic of Obama with the horns. It's almost a parody.

Since Phelps and his daughter were denied entry into the UK this week, I guess they had an opening on their Intolerance Tour. I only wish the media had covered this. The Phelps cult is so reprehensible, their message so repulsive, that I think they do more to swing people away from gay-hate than to win recruits to their cause.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Guess The Rich Are Different

TNDP Treasurer Bill Freeman explains his donations to the Republican Party:
Freeman also provided more details about his largest GOP contribution. "In 2004, my neighbor hosted a fundraiser for President Bush," Freeman says. "My son wanted to meet the President, so I gave $10,000 for two tickets.  My motivation was not to help the GOP, it was to give my son the opportunity to meet the President of the United States.  But, looking at the mess the Bush Administration has created in our country and around the world - this is not a decision I would repeat if I had to do over again."

Wow. How much more clueless can you get? Tell me, when was your big epiphany that the Republican Party was screwing up the country?

Hey Mr. Freeman, at the same time you were throwing away your spare $10G so junior could shake hands with a man I’d only want to meet if I could tell him to go fuck himself, I was busting my ass for the Tennessee Democratic Party every single weekend to elect John Kerry. I went door to door in some of Nashville’s roughest housing projects, registering voters and talking about the Democratic ticket. I set up voter registration tables every Saturday. I burned up my cell phone minutes phone banking. Why? Because I'm a Democrat and when you see your country being destroyed by a party who treats the Constitution like toilet paper, you don't sit back on the sidelines. You get involved.

Oh, by the way: I hosted house parties too -- not at the $5,000 a ticket level, of course. I think one event raised about $7,000 total though, and we were mighty proud of ourselves. Glad to know all of that work was wiped away by a quick stroke of your pen so your kid could meet the president.

Hey, Bill Freeman: Fuck you.

TNDP won’t get one more dime from me as long as you’re raising the funds.

Democrats Do Not Donate $ To Republicans. End Of Discussion.

This goes for Tennessee Gubernatorial candidate Ward Cammack as well as TNDP Treasurer Bill Freeman.

Call it a litmus test if you will, I don’t care. I can understand the concept of “pro life Democrats,” I can understand Democrats who are “fiscal hawks,” I can make room in my big tent for Democrats who are hawkish in foreign policy areas and pro-gun. I may not agree with these things but I can understand it.

But if you’re giving thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns and the Republican Party, then you are pitching for the other team. Ward Cammack, you will not get my support for governor. And Bill Freeman, if these stories about you giving $10,000 to the RNC and whatnot pan out, I call on you to resign your position in the Tennessee Democratic Party.

You gave money to torture. You gave money to invading a country that was not a threat to us. You gave money to tax cuts for the wealthy while the economy spiraled into its current abyss. You gave money to cronyism and incompetence that resulted in the Hurricane Katrina disaster. There is absolutely no excuse for this.

Pick a side, people. It shouldn’t be all that hard. Not after the past eight brutal years of Republican misdeeds.

More from Newscoma, Steve Ross and Aunt B.

Zombie Mice Won’t Die

Zombie marsh mice are brought back to life in Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s otherwise intriguing piece on partisanship in Washington. Stolberg ruined it with this:
Besides, there are political gains to be made by standing tough. Mr. Gingrich sees the stimulus bill as his party’s ticket to a revival in 2010, as Republicans decry what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh-mouse preservation. “You can imagine the fun people will have with that,” he said.

Yes. Imagine the fun.

Never mind that it wasn’t true. Never mind that there was no money for marsh mice in the stimulus bill. Ever.

Nice of Ms. Stolberg to point that out in her piece. Oh, wait. She didn’t!

This is why the New York Times is not exactly “liberal.” Just another sucky news outlet peddling right wing talking points, straight from the lips of Newt Gingrich.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jesus Is On The Flash Drive, Tell Him What You Want

Certain Christians crack me up. In particular, the kind of people who think their religion should be taken very, very seriously and then come along with a gew-gaw marketed like this:
Keeping your faith close to you shouldn't have to be a challenge.

That's why we've created the Bible Cross, a brand new way to hear the Bible at home or on the go. It's a USB memory stick that contains digitally recorded audio of renowned actor, the Voice of the Bible, Alexander Scourby reading the entire unabridged King James Bible, both New and Old Testaments. That's 72 hours of Bible Study, in one respectfully attractive package.

Only the Amazing Bible Cross lets you put the entire audio Bible on your MP3 player or iPod®, hassle-free!

Each Bible Cross comes with special software to help you transfer the audio Bible onto your iPhone®, iPod®, or MP3 player. Now this may sound a little technical, but it's actually very simple - put the Bible Cross in your computer's USB slot, double click on the software, and away you go!

There's nothing quite like it! Bible Cross makes a great gift for someone you love, and is perfect for Church groups and Bible study classes.

In today's busy world, it's hard to find the time to study the Bible every day. But with the Bible Cross, you can play the audio Bible when you do other things, whether it's at work or at home, whenever you're by the computer. Need to listen on the go? Bring the wearable Bible Cross with you, or simply transfer the audio Bible to your iPod®. Then you can listen while you walk, jog, or even play golf!

That’s hilarious. Someone made a cross-shaped cover for a flashdrive and suddenly it’s the neatest thing since the glow in the dark cross necklace. You know, I'd be a much better Christian if I didn't have to lug that big heavy book around with me everywhere. Thank heavens for the Bible Cross because there's nothing quite like it!

I love it when Christians go to market. Folks: you don't need a lot of stuff to be close to God. You don't need gadgets and symbols to be a person of faith. And a wearable flash drive won't help you find more time to study the Bible. That's something you have to do all on your own.

(h/t, Sojourners)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Memory Hole, Tennessee & Guns Edition

With the Republicans in control of the Tennessee legislature, we've got a rash of wingnutty bills hitting the floor, including one to allow concealed weapons in restaurants as long as they close at 11 pm.

This strikes me as ridiculous, but anyone who knows me knows I'm not a Second Amendment fan. I think allowing ownership of firearms for the purposes of a state militia is one thing, but when we allow any old asshole to carry a concealed weapon "to protect me and my family" we're giving vigilantism the status of a state militia. I don't like guns and I don't trust most people who own them. I think you need to be super-responsible if you're going to own a weapon. You need to be trained in its use and you need to keep it locked up and out of reach of every asshole who'd like to play with it. Too few people meet that standard, IMHO.

I don't get why people need weapons, to be honest. I don't in general have much in common with folks who live in fear all the time, that's a worldview very alien to me. That said, here's a clip from the Colbert Report back when Doug Jackson wanted to allow guns in bars:

Friday, February 20, 2009

FGF, Reefer Madness Edition

Saw this over at Rising Hegemon today. There are no words.

Seriously. I don’t know what to say. Enjoy, kids:

The War Of Ideas

I ran across an interesting article from Robert Parry that offers a general history of the rise of the right-wing media infrastructure.

It certainly explains why those of us on the left say the media is not liberal, and hasn’t been for a long time. And he closes with a warning:
In the next year, there could be a surge of shuttered newspapers and others teetering on bankruptcy, including such important regional papers as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News. Even the strongest papers are likely to survive only in a much reduced form, with fewer reporters and bureaus.

Some critics may feel that the MSM brought this fate down on itself by betraying its responsibility to inform the American people as fully and fairly as possible. There may even be a sense of schadenfreude, the German word for deriving pleasure from someone else’s misfortune.

But there also should be alarm bells going off among American progressives and liberals. As the MSM declines, the right-wing media is likely to grow even more powerful.

The media is certainly changing and with the economy in the toilet, ad revenue is going to plummet even further. Newspapers depend on big advertisers like car dealerships and department store chains like Macy’s, neither of which are doing well in this climate.

But I’m not sure I agree with Parry’s conclusion that right-wing media will fill the void. For one thing, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is bleeding money right along with the rest of them; his overseas holdings like Sky Network are also hurting financially. The Moonie-owned Washington Times has never been profitable. Bad times have hit all sectors of the media, regardless of political ideology.

Furthermore, I still think people are tired of the partisan sniping. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think the average American really has the stomach for more Bill O’Reilly/Rush Limbaugh-style bloviating. Certainly there will always be a segment of the population that enjoys that stuff, but I think it will always be a minority.

As daily newspapers decline and the internet grows in influence, we’ve seen the appearance of a new model, an internet-newspaper hybrid embodied by Politico. Politico, like Drudge, thrives on Washington gossip and tawdry “gotcha” items that ricochet, rapid-fire, around the blogs and cable news: Sarah Palin’s six-figure wardrobe, Obama’s “association” with a 60s radical, and the like.

This is “politics-light,” not policy. It focuses on the cult of celebrity that surrounds certain political figures but seldom addresses any topics of real substance. These stories rarely affect the daily lives of most Americans, but it’s a lot more interesting to cover non-stories like the phony battle between Obama and Rush or an entirely media-generated controversy over a political cartoon than look at the differing approaches to solving our economic crisis.

I’ve long said that a focus on tabloid-style gossip is the real reason for Fox News’ success. Right-wing ideology is just the icing on the cake at Fox; if you’ve ever watched Fox News you’d know that the majority of their broadcasts focus on silly celebrity tales and "man bites dog" stories pulled from the Enquirer. Sure people would rather focus on performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball than wonder why a secular dictator in Iraq who had collaborated with the United States named Saddam Hussein would ever fall in with an anti-American religious fundamentalist like Osama bin Laden. They just know we were attacked by some Muslims from that part of the world “over there”, and hey, Iraq or Saudi Arabia, what’s the difference? Isn’t it all the same? And oh look, shiny-sparkly Brangelina thingie over there.

The stupid still rules over at cable news. What's interesting is that the mainstream media’s focus on the trivial at the expense of the substantive seems to be guiding even new media models like Politico. To me this is the real threat. We can fight the right-wing media machine. It’s far more difficult to fight the stupid and the lazy.

(h/t, ThresherK in comments)

War On Christmas, Southern Beale Style

Believe it or not, there are still people in my neighborhood who have Christmas wreaths on their doors and Christmas lights on their homes. Quite a few, in fact. I don't ever remember seeing this much Christmas decor up so late into the new year.

Come on, people. You know who you are. Time to take the Christmas crap down, already. Have you looked at a calendar lately? It's near March Madness, fer crying out loud.

Take the Christmas stuff down or I'm going to start taking some names. And yes, those single candle lights in the window thingies count.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Zombie Mice Must Die

Geez, people. For the ten thousandth time: there is no money in the stimulus bill for salt marsh mice! Cripes. That lie has been debunked fifty ways to Thursday and Republicans are still trotting it out. And the corporate media--predictable outlets like Fox News, but also so-called “liberal media” places like CNN and MSNBC--dutifully repeat the talking point.

Here it is again, out of the mouth of Ken Spain, NRCC spokesman, as he tries to explain how Republicans aren’t hypocrites for taking money from a stimulus package they so vigorously opposed:
"We would like to thank the DCCC for circulating these comments. They are proof-positive that Republicans stood willing and ready to support commonsense measures in the stimulus package until Nancy Pelosi unfortunately chose to undercut President Obama's message of bipartisanship by including absurd pork-barrel spending projects such as millions to protect a mouse in the San Francisco Bay, golf carts for government bureaucrats, and STD prevention funds. Republicans said 'yes' to a true stimulus package, but unanimously said 'no' to putting the politics of pork before the needs of the middle class," said Spain.

Yeesh. Ken Spain knows better, I’m sure he does.

For those who have been living in a hole, here’s how the lie started:

The tale began Wednesday, when Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent an e-mail to reporters and political leaders that noted Republican staff members have been asking federal agencies how they would spend the stimulus money.

"One response? Thirty million dollars for wetland restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area — including work to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse," wrote Steel.

The Washington Times then wrote a story citing Steel and claiming that $30 million for the mouse project is contained in the bill. The paper suggested the money was put there by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. Blogger Matt Drudge, whose Web site receives 26 million hits a day, posted a link to that story.

So the Washington Times fabricates a story and Drudge pushes it onto the cable news media. Count me not shocked.

Even Michael Steel, the guy who started the whole thing, said the Washington Times’ story was wrong:

"There is no language in the bill that says this money will go to this project," Steel told the San Jose Mercury News. "There are large pots of money in the bill that go to various agencies. One of those agencies said the salt marsh harvest mouse project is something we'd do if you gave us the money."

Well, not quite. For the record, the wetlands where the salt marsh supposedly lives is not even in Pelosi’s district--The Times made up the Pelosi “pork” connection and the $30 million figure is not for one project but five around the state:

The conservancy's wish list included five major ongoing wetlands restoration projects totaling nearly 4,000 acres, said civil engineer Steve Ritchie, a Coastal Conservancy staff member who helped draw it up. And the federal Army Corps of Engineers included all five projects on its own list of possible ways to spend stimulus money.

The projects, which range from Napa County to Silicon Valley, involve moving levees, creating islands and converting former industrial salt ponds back to marshes. Each could begin by year's end and would benefit dozens of species, including salmon, steelhead trout, ducks, egrets, and yes, the endangered mouse, Ritchie said.

The work also would provide increased flood protection to homes and businesses around San Francisco Bay, he said. In 2003, the Bush administration endorsed and helped fund the largest of the projects, the purchase of former Cargill salt ponds for wetlands restoration.

One of the most frustrating things about our current discourse, as a wise person recently pointed out, is that discussions about policy inevitably disintegrate into arguments over whose facts are right.

This is why we’ll never have bipartisanship. We don’t just have different policy approaches, we occupy different worlds. There’s no meeting in the middle when you can’t agree on where you’re starting from.

And yes, I blame the media for not doing its job. The Tennessean lets Terry Frank pull facts out of her ass (such as heterosexual couples have “fidelity rates of 75-90 percent.”) The Washington Post prints David Ignatius’ fabrication that there’s a Social Security crisis. Religious attack groups continue to peddle the lie that a provision in the stimulus bill banned religious activity at school facilities and Fox News repeats the lie as if it were fact.

Steve Benen hit the nail on the head this morning while discussing another zombie lie that refuses to die: the whole phony Obama-American flag thing. While discussing the Washington Times’ latest piece on this non-story and how it’s been picked up by Drudge and others, Benen writes:

It seems we've reached a point in which pseudo-journalists create pseudo-news content for the sole purpose of drawing the attention of people like Drudge, Allen, and the people behind The Note. Indeed, they've apparently learned quite well exactly what works -- publish a news-free article about the president and flags, and wait for the chatter.

Publishing news-free articles about Nancy Pelosi and marsh mice works, too.

What A Difference Some Money Makes

[UPDATE 2]:

And they've caved: Gov. Mark Sanford of S.C. now says he will take some StimBill money after all.

-----------------------------------

[UPDATE]:

Well, at least one Tennessee Republican wants Gov. Bredesen to refuse StimBill funds. Of course, this strikes me as an empty gesture, since there's no way in hell our Democratic governor will do any such thing. Still, the political theater is amusing:
House Democrats held a press conference today to spank Rep. Brian Kelsey for sponsoring a resolution calling on the governor to reject the federal stimulus largesse. In the House this morning, Kelsey asked for co-sponsors. His evil twin, Rep. Stacey Campfield, rushed over to sign the resolution, but everyone else stared at Kelsey like he just touched down in a flying saucer.

House Democratic leader Gary Odom said the governor should accommodate Kelsey by denying stimulus cash to Kelsey's ritzy Germantown district. "We're going to communicate that to our governor," Odom said, struggling to keep a straight face. "We have many areas of this state, rural and urban, that are facing very difficult times. We certainly should not spend any money in any legislator's district when that legislator stands up and says they don't need it."

[...]

A reporter mentioned that even Rep. Beth Harwell, a moderate Republican from Green Hills, raised questions yesterday about whether the state should accept all the stimulus money. That sparked a lot of Democratic outrage about rich people and gated communities and Starbucks shops.

Hey, Beth Harwell: I live in Green Hills and I have a steaming cup of STFU with your name on it. I know of at least one "shovel ready" sidewalk construction project that got axed for lack of funds.

-----------------------------------

This is cute. A whole host of Republicans who campaigned against the stimulus package are now extolling its virtues as they plan to spend their share of the windfall.

That was entirely predictable. I guess the GOP saw opposing the economic stimulus as a win-win. They got to pretend to be all fiscally concerned, and now they get to reap the benefits of the package--benefits they denied existed when they were making their impassioned floor speeches against the bill in the first place. The only thing that's bizarre is that the Democrats didn't see this one coming.

I’m not saying these states shouldn’t get any share of the money but good lord, it’s pretty bizarre to hear folks like Kit Bond talking about all the jobs and housing the bill will create when last week they were calling it the worst boondoggle in the history of the Republic.

This must be a huge disappointment to the rank-and-file, like this fella who Tweeted:

With Sarah, Govs. Jindal, Sanford, etc., the next step should be a co-ordinated state-led refusenik action against HR1

Ha! Good luck with that. “Sarah” is looking at a $1.5 billion budget shortfall in Alaska, or haven’t you heard? Seems “Jindal, Sanford, etc.”--those Republican governors who said they’d say “thanks but no thanks” to the stimulus money--are by and large rethinking that idea:

• Sarah Palin of Alaska said the state is ready to accept the money for construction projects, but she is sharply critical of other spending on social programs. One could say something about a bridge, but it's too easy.

• Bobby Jindal of Louisiana says he is applying some serious scrutiny: "We'll have to review each program, each new dollar to make sure that we understand what are the conditions, what are the strings and see whether it's beneficial for Louisiana to use those dollars."

• Rick Perry of Texas previously co-authored an op-ed piece with Sanford in the Wall St. Journal, standing with him against the bill. But now Perry says he's examining the money to see how much he'll take, depending on the strings attached: "We need the freedom to pick and choose."

Seems it's not the money they have an issue with now, it's any "strings" that might be attached. Because heaven forbid the federal government should put any guidelines on how the money it is giving states for the specific purpose of stimulating the economy is spent.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Early Spring

Leaves! Buds! Flowers!

In February!!

Yikes!!!!

Today while walking the dogs in 70+ degree sunshine I noticed that spring has arrived early to Middle Tennessee. These pictures are from my garden. While it's not unusual to see forsythia popping out in February, I don't ever remember tree leaves budding out so soon. I can only hope everything survives the inevitable March cold snap.



Sarah Palin’s Bad Week

Woopsie-daisy. Gov. Sarah Palin just learned she has to pay back taxes “on thousands of dollars in expense money she received while living at her Wasilla home.” Ouch!

It’s funny because I know this really conservative guy who said he voted for John McCain because while he hated McCain, he really liked Sarah Palin. But this guy was also in an uproar over the whole Tom Daschle tax mess, really pissed off about it. He said he was going to write his “U.S. senator” Jim Cooper.

Brick to forehead, please.

Anyway, it's fine to rake Daschle and Geithner over the coals for their tax problems, force Daschle to withdraw his name from a cabinet position, and all that. No one is above paying taxes, folks! But cue outrage over media coverage of Sarah Palin's tax mess as more liberal hypocrisy in five ... four ... three .... Wow. that didn't take long (check the comments).

Between this and daughter Bristol’s surprise Fox News interview where the kid stated the obvious about abstinence, it appears the Governor is having a tough time, post-election.

Check out this hypersensitivity at an Alaska state senate retreat:
Accompanied by a retinue of advisers, she took a seat at one end of a conference table and listened passively as Gary Stevens, the president of the Alaska Senate, a former college history professor and a low-key Republican with a reputation for congeniality, expressed delight at her presence.

Would the governor, a smiling Stevens asked, like to share some of her plans and proposals for the coming legislative session?

Palin looked around the room and paused, according to several senators present. "I feel like you guys are always trying to put me on the spot," she said finally, as the room became silent.

Dang, and Katie Couric wasn’t even anywhere nearby.

Perhaps Palin is a little oversensitive because of this:

The rapid decline of oil prices has left the state in a looming budget crisis and a late-entrant in the national recession. And that could have political repercussions for the former Republican vice presidential hopeful, who has signaled an interest in a 2012 presidential run but must stay visible in the Lower 48 to be successful.

[...]

Oil accounts for as much as 90 percent of state revenues. So the plunge of North Slope crude from an all-time high of $144.59 per barrel last July threatens to give the state an estimated budget shortfall of up to $1.5 billion in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Palin bills herself as a fiscal conservative and has called for reducing state spending by $268 million in this budget year, but lawmakers and others say these aren't reductions at all and do nothing to curtail spending. For example, the bulk of that sum -- $200 million -- is unspent tax credits for companies investing in oil and gas development that are being returned to the treasury.

We all knew that Gov. Palin’s “Alaska miracle” was built on a whole mess of false assumptions which no one in the national media ever bothered to address.

No one could have predicted this. Oh, wait. Never mind.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tweeting The Stimulus Bill

Some interesting and amusing things on Twitter’s economic stimulus thread. Such as:
lmor: RT @JTTallman: There goes my generations financial security, don't really know what the crowd is cheering about!!

Dude, you’re just now noticing the deficit? Who do you think paid for all the cheering for Bush’s tax cuts and the war in Iraq? Don’t you guys remember? Deficits don’t matter! "Reagan proved it.”

And this:

DDoutel: @Adrigonzo that's why my family is converting all investments to gold coin.

That was a great idea ... a few years ago. Remember: buy low, sell high. Gold is high now.

Look, you can whine and bitch and moan all you want, and I'm in there with you to a point. But facts are facts. Bill Clinton left us with a budget surplus, which George W. Bush squandered on his vanity war and tax cuts. We’re now in an economic mess as a result and unfortunately it looks like we're going to have to dig ourselves into a deeper fiscal hole in order to dig our way out.

I don't like it either but when I was complaining about the budget deficit back when unemployment was only 4% and our banks were still solvent, you were telling me that deficits don't matter:

Which brings us to the economic level. The deficits that Bush ran up in the years in which the country was teetering on the verge of a serious recession had the beneficial effect of righting the economy. In that sense, deficits not only didn't matter, but were a force for economic good.

Gosh, I forgot: deficits don't matter when it's Republicans doing the deficiting.

Look, no one--no one--is buying this sudden concern with fiscal responsibility from you guys. It’s been non-existent for the past eight years.

Deficits do matter. But at a certain point they matter less than other factors, like employment and productivity. Right now people need jobs. We'll have to worry about the deficit mess later. And it's all. your. fault.

"Majority, Here We Come!"

SNL's skit about the politically tone-deaf and disconnected Republican caucus was just brilliant. Someone must have hidden a mic in John Boehner's office. Enjoy :

Why Are Gas Prices Going Up Again?

Oil prices are falling, demand is down, and gas prices are still going back up. What gives?

Blame the refiners, not the fact that we aren’t “drilling here, drilling now,” says USA Today:
A big reason for the disparity: refiners. Beset by weak consumer demand and losses on gasoline sales, oil refiners have scaled back production since late December. The average utilization rate at U.S. refineries was 81.5% as of Feb. 6, the lowest in 17 years, not including hurricane-related slowdowns, according to the Energy Information Administration. As recently as early December, refineries were running at 87.4% of capacity.

Refineries typically shut some units for maintenance this time of year. But many are trimming output because demand is anemic. That tends to rile consumers who view low gas prices as a small silver lining in a dismal economy. But go easy on the poor refiner, analysts say.

"If you're losing money on something and you're producing at 90%, you're going to cut back," says OPIS chief oil analyst Tom Kloza.

"If there's no demand, … there's really not a whole lot of point to making extra gasoline," says Bill Day, spokesman for Valero, the largest independent U.S. refiner.

And as oil prices drop, the poor, beleaguered refineries will increase their profit margin by earning more on every gallon they do refine. Nice.

Of course, if there’s no demand, it doesn’t make any sense to drill any more oil that won’t get refined, either. And if oil prices keep dropping, it doesn’t make sense to drill in some of these off-shore areas where it’s so much more expensive to drill.

I’ve written dozens of blog posts about how lowering demand lowers gas prices more immediately than ridiculous ideas like opening up ANWR to oil drilling. But “Drill Here, Drill Now” was all an election year ploy anyway, designed to rally the base, raise money and grab headlines. It was completely dishonest, since the oil companies are already sitting on gazillions of oil leases they have no intention of tapping. It was dishonest, everyone knew it was dishonest, except for the morons who slapped “Drill Here, Drill Now” stickers on their SUV bumpers. You know who you are.

Anyway, now that demand has dropped to the point where refineries are cutting back on production, perhaps we’ve reached a kind of steady-state at $2/gallon. Refineries certainly don't have an interest in seeing that price drop or they'd up their capacity.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rebranding The Religious Right

Apparently the “religious right” is looking to rebrand itself:
However, several politically conservative evangelicals said in interviews that they do not want to be identified with the "Religious Right," "Christian Right," "Moral Majority," or other phrases still thrown around in journalism and academia.

"There is an ongoing battle for the vocabulary of our debate," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values. "It amazes me how often in public discourse really pejorative phrases are used, like the 'American Taliban,' 'fundamentalists,' 'Christian fascists,' and 'extreme Religious Right.' "

Amazing. I wonder why that is? Hmmm ...

But I digress:

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for Focus on the Family, said that when writers include terms like "Religious Right" and "fundamentalist," they can create negative impressions.

"Terms like 'Religious Right' have been traditionally used in a pejorative way to suggest extremism," Schneeberger said. "The phrase 'socially conservative evangelicals' is not very exciting, but that's certainly the way to do it."

I wonder if Schneeberger gets that it’s not the use of the term Religious Right by journalists that creates the negative impressions but the actions of those people these journalists are writing about.

And it always amazes me that the Religious Right tries to present itself as some kind of majority--dare I say it, a Moral Majority?--and then acts offended when their crackpot ideas about women, birth control, gays, science, etc. are held up for ridicule. If this group was anything close to a "majority" their ideas wouldn't be viewed as radical and their self-identifiers wouldn't become pejoratives.

And why do they care? Christianity has always been a counter-cultural movement. They should revel in being a fringe minority. That's the point. Be mocked for Jesus, and wear it as a badge of pride. Blessed are those who are persecuted ... Blessed are you when people insult you. Don't you guys read that part of the Bible?

Furthermore, while a cumbersome phrase like 'socially conservative evangelicals' may (temporarily at least) be more palatable to the folks at Focus on the Family, it seems to exile Bill Donohue, Raymond Burke, and the rest of the non-evangelical socially conservative zealots from their freaky little club. Suck on it, Catholic League! You're not invited to the party!

Well, good luck with the reframing, folks. I know it helped a lot of Southern Baptist churches to drop the "Baptist" from their name--at least until people got to know them better. Once again, focusing on the image and not the content, a favorite conservative strategy, has lead to predictable, superficial results. Just be who you are and be proud of it.

Here’s a little ditty that I stumbled across in your honor. And a warning: this is not safe for work, so keep the volume down low or the earbuds in place:



(h/t, ThinkProgress.)

Told You So

Interesting. Those of us worrying about the economy five, six and even seven years ago were right:
Last week the Federal Reserve released the results of the latest Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial report on the assets and liabilities of American households. The bottom line is that there has been basically no wealth creation at all since the turn of the millennium: the net worth of the average American household, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 2001.

At one level this should come as no surprise. For most of the last decade America was a nation of borrowers and spenders, not savers. The personal savings rate dropped from 9 percent in the 1980s to 5 percent in the 1990s, to just 0.6 percent from 2005 to 2007, and household debt grew much faster than personal income. Why should we have expected our net worth to go up?

Yet until very recently Americans believed they were getting richer, because they received statements saying that their houses and stock portfolios were appreciating in value faster than their debts were increasing. And if the belief of many Americans that they could count on capital gains forever sounds na├»ve, it’s worth remembering just how many influential voices — notably in right-leaning publications like The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and National Review — promoted that belief, and ridiculed those who worried about low savings and high levels of debt.

Then reality struck, and it turned out that the worriers had been right all along. The surge in asset values had been an illusion — but the surge in debt had been all too real.

For this is a broad-based mess. Everyone talks about the problems of the banks, which are indeed in even worse shape than the rest of the system. But the banks aren’t the only players with too much debt and too few assets; the same description applies to the private sector as a whole.

This is why I get so frustrated at people like Bob Corker calling the economic stimulus package a “disaster” because it doesn’t address the credit crunch. What he’s really saying is we should go back to the glorious Bush years when banks handed out credit to anyone and everyone, and we all lived in a house of cards built on debt, hoping we’d never have to pay the piper. That worked so well for us.

In June 2005, Americans stopped saving. Yes, U.S. savings rate reached zero percent in 2005 and no one in our Republican-led government had a problem with that. No one thought it might be a bad idea for people to rely on the increasing value of their homes to provide a retirement “nest egg.”

No one thought the real estate market would crumble, which was inevitable when you saw who banks were giving mortgage loans to. Our current economic crisis was entirely, 100% predictable, and quite a few of us were sounding the alarm bells way back in 2005 and even earlier about this. But we were outshouted by a conservative leadership that told us to spend, spend, spend, even if we didn’t have the money, because the pie would always get higher.

And now we see how well this irresponsible behavior served the country. The answer: not very well.

So excuse me Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain and Sen. Corker and everyone else on the right if I don’t want to hear you whining that the economic stimulus wasn’t “bipartisan.” And that goes for WTVF-Channel 5, who repeated the same lie on this morning’s local news cast.

“Bipartisan” does not mean that the majority acts like the minority party. It certainly didn’t when the Republicans were in the majority. The Republicans held together, and now they whine they want “bipartisanship”? Give me a fucking break.

Your side of the aisle fucked it up way back in 2005, and all you want to do is go back to some kind of fantasy bubble where people keep spending instead of saving and our economy is propped up on a bunch of toothpicks that crumble at the first ripple. That’s not leadership, that’s denial.

Steeped in denial is no way to run an economy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

They Were Against Them Before They Were For Them

If you haven’t heard of the National Review’s "Best Conservative Movies of the last 25 Years" list, well children, gather ’round. It’s a pathetic attempt to boost subscriptions while letting the geeks in the Republican haircuts and Bible bags know that you, too, can be one of the cool kids.

No. No you can’t.

Like the National Review’s Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs list, it’s a rather shallow thing, focusing on superficialities while completely ignoring the meaning behind these films and songs. It’s as if they have no idea that music and film are art forms which are viewed on more than just a two-dimensional level.

Which is so typical: one thing we’ve learned about conservatives is that they are about as deep as a creek bed in August and as tone deaf as cats in heat. Self-analysis is not their forte, thus they present Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” as a “conservative” movie because it “evoke(s) the worst aspects of the modern megastate,” completely oblivious to the fact that filmmaker Gilliam himself believes (via Glenn Greenwald)
the very authoritarian horrors depicted by the film are the exact ones ushered in by the U.S. Government over the last eight years.

The poor dears. For years the conservative movement has tried desperately to prove their ideology has some kind of cultural relevance beyond the tiny clique of like-minded souls sequestered away in their alternate universe so aptly named "The Corner." Meanwhile, the rest of us just scratch our heads in puzzlement.

Anyway, showing how pointless it all is--how lame--is this post over at the Rude Pundit comparing the National Review’s current top conservative films with their original reviews of the films culled from the archives. It’s hilarious. For example:

Groundhog Day: "Yet why should poor Rita be forced to relive this miserable day just to give Phil a chance to evolve from crafty Casanova into selfless swain?...This sexual shell game, these moral tergiversations, attest to the film's queasily exploitative values. In the end, all is contrivance..." John Simon, April 12, 1993.

United 93: "[R]eal art, especially art that takes on events whose wounds are still unhealed, needs to do more than stir up strong emotions in its audience. United 93 buys its power cheaply." Russ Douthat, May 22, 2006.

Team America: World Police: "The movie is not a clear success, being too crude, for one thing. (By 'crude,' I don’t mean dirty, which it is, to a revolting extent. I mean not clever enough.) In truth, the movie, slam-bang and brief as it is, is a little dull." Jay Nordlinger, November 8, 2004.

It’s funny to see conservatives try to participate in the cultural discourse when they are so culturally tone-deaf. By its very definition, conservative is about maintaining the status quo, preserving existing institutions, anti-change, not moving forward into a bold new future. Most conservative ideology is in response to a fear of change.

Pop culture, on the other hand, is a constantly evolving, shifting thing, on the forward edge of the bubble called change. Pop culture responds quickly to social change; it's how we had movies about divorce back in 1937, and racism in 1959. The two seem diametrically opposed, which I guess is why when conservatives do pop culture, they do it very badly (“American Carol,” anyone?) This is why conservatives hate Hollywood, because they are on opposite ends of the cultural spectrum.

So why the constant need for approval? You just want to ask, What the hell, anyway? You guys hate Hollywood. Why are you looking to Hollywood for validation?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bong Hits For Michael

I had a lot of fun running in this morning’s Nashville Predators Fang-tastic 5k, along with a gazillion other folks who braved the cold and wind. It was a great turnout and the course was nice and easy.

But when it comes to hockey promotions, I have to say this one by the Predators’ minor league affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, cracked me up. It’s in honor of Olympic swimmer/pot smoker Michael Phelps and called Don’t Be Like Mike Night:
All fans who are graduates of a DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) can get into the game for just $2 by bringing their DARE graduation certificate to the Admirals’ office or the Bradley Center box office. In addition, anyone with the name Michael, Phelps, Mary Jane, Cheech, Chong, Weed (Wied) or anyone who has won an Olympic Gold Medal can also get their ticket for only $2.

[...]

The Ads will also be giving away a weed wacker, courtesy of National Ace Hardware, that will be signed by the team and if the Admirals score with 4:20 left on the clock in any period one lucky fan will win a season ticket for the 2009-10 season. The number 420 is often known as the police code for illegal drug use.

Plus, to ensure that no one ends up in the same predicament as Michael Phelps, the team will provide a document shredder at the DigiCopy Information Table outside section 225 so fans can bring any embarrassing or incriminating photos to be destroyed.

Hilarious. Glad to see some folks have a sense of humor about this stuff. The pearl clutching over Phelps' bong hits have been way over the top.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Economic Stimulation: Terror Yes, Weatherization No

Via Atrios I was directed to this story today:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Critics of the $790 billion economic stimulus program are not really balking over caulking: They just don't think pouring substantially more money into home weatherization will give a quick kick to the reeling economy.

There's billions of additional dollars for weatherizing modest-income homes in the sweeping stimulus legislation that Congress hopes to get to President Barack Obama's desk, perhaps as early as this weekend.

Obama wants a sevenfold jump in the number of homes weatherized each year -- from about 140,000 to 1 million households.

But critics argue that much of the new money -- something that will end up in the range of $2.9 billion to $6.2 billion in the stimulus measure -- will be chewed up by the sheer cost of implementing the program and training people to carry it out.

Training? Implementation? Pffft. Doesn’t anyone remember this?

Ridge to join Home Depot board

[...]

Ridge is quite familiar with home-improvement projects. He was instrumental in a short-lived run on duct tape in early 2003, when he encouraged Americans to turn to the sticky substance and plastic sheeting as protection against terrorists using chemical and/or biological agents.

The move, which drew criticism from many corners, motivated many across the country to stock up -- to the extent that some retailers reported widespread shortages.

Both Home Depot and rival Lowe's Cos. (LOW:17.98, -0.55, -3.0%) were among the big beneficiaries of the buying binge. Home Depot, in fact, went so far as to set up special Homeland Security displays nears it entrances to tout sales of duct tape, plastic sheeting, batteries and bottled water, among other safe-room supplies.

Amazing. Seems fear stimulates the economy really well, and no one needs any “special training” to “implement” a home “safe room” program.

Honestly, our media is so stupid. No, scratch that: they think we are. I'm sick of hearing from "critics" who nine times out of 10 are the same people who've been wrong about everything else for the past eight years.

A REAL Feel Good--And Look Good--Friday

I have to confess, NBC’s The Biggest Loser is perhaps my biggest guilty pleasure where TV is concerned. I have a love-hate relationship with the show: I love the workouts and watching people struggle to get healthy, dealing with their issues and eventually falling in love with their new selves. I love watching the transformations.

But I absolutely hate the super-cheesy product placement ads dropped like giant turds through each episode: Trainer Bob telling his house that, “research shows if you chew Wrigley’s Extra SugarFree Gum it can curb your cravings for sweets!” or Jillian recommending a BRITA water filter instead of bottled or tap water.

It’s really bad, NBC. I just have to say, you guys could be a tad more subtle. Fortunately through the miracle of TiVo, I record each episode and fast-forward past all the sponsorship crap.

But anyway, I just learned that TBL will hold a casting call here in Nashville on February 28 at the Wildhorse Saloon, from 10 am-5 pm. First come, first-served. They are looking for guest trainers as well as contestants.

The show only deals with the truly obese -- anyone who needs to lose 20 or even 50 pounds won’t make the cut. But if you or a loved one fit in the former category and would like to get healthy on national television, with a shot at winning some money, check it out. You can download an application and find out all the details here.

So What’s The Real Reason Judd Reneged On The Commerce Sec’y Post?

I dunno about you but the fact that Republican Senator Judd Gregg says he won’t run for re-election in 2010 has me donning my tinfoil hat. I’m wondering if this has anything to do with his sudden recollection that he has policy differences with the Obama Administration:
WASHINGTON — An ex-aide to Commerce Secretary nominee Judd Gregg is under investigation for allegedly taking baseball and hockey tickets from a lobbyist in exchange for legislative favors.

I know, this is an old story. And by the way, it was more than $10,000 worth of tickets, meals and drinks, we’ve learned. Those must have been some primo seats.

I just can’t help but wonder if Sen. Gregg’s involvement extends beyond what we already know about his crooked aide. It’s awfully weird that Judd just suddenly remembered that he’s a Republican and Obama’s a Democrat and on issues of commerce and economic policy there are, you know, differences. Palm to forehead, dude.

In the infamous words of Peggy Noonan: Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.

Then again, Andrew Sullivan might be onto something here:

It gets clearer. When Judd Gregg approached the Obama administration to see if he could be a part of it, he was assuming that his own party wasn't going to adopt a policy of total warfare against the newly elected president in a time of enormous economic peril. Between that moment and the current all-out ideological assault on Obama, his position became untenable. His recusal on the stimulus package provoked fury at home (check out the comments here) and dyspepsia among the GOP who are intent on responding to an open hand with a clenched fist.

This is true. While bloggers such as myself might bemoan the folly of bipartisanship in this “post-partisan” world, the Democrats don’t seem to be of that mindset. Now that the Republicans are circling the wagons, any politician sleeping with what the Republicans clearly perceive as the enemy will be viewed as a traitor to the party and treated as such. Any dirty laundry in Gregg's closet would be aired for all the country to see.

As Tennessee Republicans know, they will eat their own.

Anyway, good riddance. It was a stupid idea to begin with.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Misplaced Outrage

The Henrietta Hughes case has sparked some predictable “outrage” from the right. Hughes, of course, is the woman who reached out to President Obama at his Ft. Myers town hall meeting with this compelling story:
"I have an urgent need, unemployment and homelessness, a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in," she said. "The housing authority has two years' waiting lists, and we need something more than the vehicle and the parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help."

Those who can’t believe someone like Henrietta Hughes can’t get into public housing should check out this “No Vacancy” sign I saw in front of the public housing development on Nashville’s 12th Avenue South this morning. Public housing, full up? No one could have predicted that (cue sarcasm).

In fact, the “compassionate conservatism” directed at Ms. Hughes and her family from the far right wing has been downright vicious. Nashville’s own blathering idiot Steve Gill called her a mooch and sniped:

As we suspected, Henrietta has a long history of living on the taxpayers dime. And her son was apparently so inept that he managed to get fired from a GOVERNMENT job. That's hard to do. And it appears that the pair have been in and out of government housing for years...as far back as 1984?!?! It appears that they even had trouble during the CLINTON years!

Apparently it’s inconceivable to Gill that decades of “welfare reform” and Republican YOYO (You’re On Your Own) policies would fail to lift some people out of poverty. Apparently it’s impossible to believe that when you say you want to “cut government waste” and are in favor of “small government” that this actually means government workers are laid off.

Michelle Malkin is even more clueless:

Since one of our commenters doesn’t understand the point of publishing this information, here’s the point:

The White House and the press are holding up this woman and her son as symbols of how the economic downturn has rendered people homeless and jobless.

Mrs. Hughes and her son have been jobless and receiving government assistance since at least 2004.

Yes...? And your point is ...?

Over at the RiehlWorld we get this:

I have no idea why Henrietta Hughes may be homeless today. Unfortunate events happen to us all. My only point is, her troubles and need for public assistance seem to precede the current economic crisis and likely go back years.

Again, your point is ...?

Look, we aren't the ones who have been steeped in denial over the declining American economy for the past few years, telling people there is no recession, and that such talk is merely partisan negativity from the anti-American left suffering from "Bush Derangement Syndrome."

Poor dears, they think this all started in November. The idea that we've been fucked for years is all brand new to them. They forget John Edwards’ “two Americas” speech from 2004, which Hugh Hewitt derided thusly:

JOHN EDWARDS had one thing right: There are two Americas. But he botched the description of the line dividing these Americas--not surprising given that, after all these months and all that trial lawyer cash, he managed only to win the Democratic primary in South Carolina, which is like a Republican winning only the GOP primary in Washington, D.C.

The dividing line between Americans runs between those who are serious about the world and the nation and those who are silly on these subjects.

See, there was no economic divide in America. There was a divide between silly and serious. Now they are forced to criticize a homeless family for suffering economically for years. How could this happen when everyone knows things were going so well under George Bush!

The far right has been out of touch with mainstream America for years, because they willingly snacked on a steady diet of Bush Administration fairy dust, which made the world look all shiny-sparkly. These differing worldviews were exemplified in the 2004 campaign ads:

WASHINGTON — John Kerry is campaigning on the state of the economy. So is George W. Bush. But they sound as if they're running for the presidency on different planets.

In one of his Internet ads, Kerry's economy is a dusty road, empty except for tumbleweeds. "Bushville, USA," as it's labeled, is a place where jobs are vanishing, personal bankruptcies are up and median family income is falling. A banjo plunks as an unseen horse snorts. The mercury on a thermometer that measures the "misery index" rises so high that the glass shatters.

In one of his TV ads, Bush's economy is a bustling Main Street USA. A smiling butcher opens his shop, entrepreneurs shake hands on a deal made possible by tax cuts, and young women study at a computer and in a lab for the skills "to fill the new jobs of the 21st century." Orchestral music swells.

After eight years of denying that the Bush economy left millions of people behind, they are now outraged to learn that the Bush economy indeed left millions of people behind. And they still want to blame the victims.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hey Lamar! Spending IS Stimulating, Ya Moron

Lamar Alexander doesn’t get it. But John Aravosis does:
It doesn't matter what the money is spent on, in principle, IF the money is spent in a way that fills the demand gap. Meaning, if you hire a million workers to help clean up the national mall, you are not just getting a service (mall clean up), you are creating jobs (for the cleaners, the cleaning company that hires and manages them, new federal employees hired to oversee the project, the hot dog vendors on the mall, the guys who rent the port-a-potties, the taxi drivers who have to shepherd the people to the mall, the gas stations that sell gasoline to the employees who drive to the mall, the local city government that sees increased metro ridership, and income, as a result of the new employees heading to work, the accounting firm that handles the employees' paychecks, the health insurance company that handles their benefits, the accountants that handle their tax returns, and even the Wall Street bad-guys who handle their retirement accounts. Those previously unemployed or underemployed workers now have a greater hope for the future, with more money in their pocket and a job, and with a little luck, being more financially secure, they are more likely to themselves spend more money on goods and services in the future.

Similarly, over at Eschaton this morning there was a nice conversation about how spending on the arts stimulates the economy. Simply put: if you’re going to put on a show (or make a movie) you need to hire carpenters, painters, electricians, caterers, printers, truck drivers, not to mention all of the supplies these trades use, etc. This should be a no-brainer, but because conservatives view things like the arts as trivial, they refuse to believe there is any benefit to investing in them. These are the same people who live in towns like Nashville and Brentwood, who benefit each day from the stimulating effect on the local economy of the country music and contemporary Christian/gospel music industries. Go figure.

While it’s possible that arts spending may not, dollar for dollar, be as stimulating as, say, building a new highway, the $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts that was taken out of the stimulus bill is not anywhere comparable to the funds devoted to bricks-and-mortar infrastucture projects in the bill. In fact, according to Ben Adler:

Unfortunately, $50 million is an awfully small amount: it is 1/600 of the $30 billion allotted for roads and bridges.

So quite your whining, rightards. It’s not like the money is all going to Derek Dye The Abstinence Clown. It would be amusing to hear conservatives whine about their favorite bugaboo, the NEA, except that it’s such a tired argument that I’m surprised and frustrated that anyone still buys into that nonsense anymore. It’s clearly one of those hot buttons the righties like to push when they need to get their base into a foamy-mouthed tizzy. And it still works, like the good zombie lie it is.

Adler goes on:

The money for artistic projects is almost by definition ready to be injected into the economy. It may take years to draw up a plan for a highway, obtain the right of way and fend off legal challenges before the bulldozers start rolling. But to buy a canvass and some paintbrushes, or even some metal for a public sculpture, is comparatively straightforward. That puts quick money into the pockets of the companies that build, sell and ship those artistic materials as well.

"The money goes straight into the economy," says Janet Echelman, a sculptor whose giant metallic nets have revitalized public parks and downtowns from Texas to Portugal. "I pay two full-time assistants in my studio, plus consultants who are architects, engineers, and landscape architects, as well as lighting designers. A very large portion goes into fabrication, which is funding workers at a steel factory." Echelman currently has a commission from Phoenix to build a centerpiece for a new downtown park that may face funding shortfalls. There are "shovel-ready" arts projects like hers throughout the country.

I’m not advocating a huge investment in the arts here, but I am saying that the whining is way out of kilter with the facts.

Just more ignorance being unleashed on Americans through a clueless media that parrots conservative talking points without bothering to dig a little deeper.