Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teach Those Sluts A Lesson

We don’t need no stinkin’ Stupak Amendment when doctors are inexplicably refusing to treat women who have had previous abortions all on their own:
I want to focus, however, on one particularly disturbing obstacle that was mentioned in city after city: doctors refusing to care for women who have had abortions. Mind you, these are not doctors refusing to perform abortions. What we heard, in three separate communities, was that there are doctors who refuse to perform routine post-abortion check-ups or even to provide care for completely unrelated ailments to women who previously had abortions. What’s worse, in two instances we heard that these doctors were some of the few who were accepting Medicaid patients at all – meaning that poor women would have to face greater obstacles to receive needed medical care. In one instance, we heard of a doctor throwing a patient’s medical records on the ground and storming out after he learned she had had an abortion.

Hey, what could be more “pro life” than refusing to give medical treatment to someone because you disapprove of something they did in the past? I wonder what would happen if a woman showed up and proved she was sufficiently sorry? Would you treat her then?

Look, most of us women know that the whole anti-choice movement is really about making women feel bad for being sluts. That’s it in a nutshell. Any doctor who turns a female patient away because she had an abortion is pretty much trying to make her pay. It’s a punitive thing. And to those people I say: Fuck You.

Nobody Could Have Anticipated, v. 1,018

[UPDATE] 2: A perfect example of what Ruth and I talk about when it comes to listening to the wrong people. The same Wall Street assholes who caused this problem continue to perpetuate free market fairy tales and now their widdew feewings are hurt. Aw I have a sad. Wait, I don't. Fuck off. I've already squandered enough of my retirement money listening to you idiots.


[UPDATE]: Via Atrios is this must-read post from Ruth Calvo about the right's stranglehold on the nation's economic policy. Belief in such fairy tales as "trickle down" and the "Laffer curve" and the ability of tax cuts to create jobs and other myths continues in our nation's business press and Washington, all evidence to the contrary.

Go read the post....


Really? Really? Ten years of this shit and we’re still hearing the same tired excuses from Washington?

Nobody could have anticipated that Bush and the Republican Party shredded the economy with spending on wars and big tax cuts to the wealthy? (... and deregulation, and the casino mentality on Wall Street, etc. etc.)

Are you fucking serious, Robert Gibbs? Yes, let’s step back to January and February 2009 for a second. Remember all of the phony-baloney Republican hand-wringing over zombie marsh mice?

Remember all of the phony-baloney "pork” Republicans claimed was in the stimulus? If I knew the bill stank in February 2009, why didn’t you? Why didn’t you fight for something better? Something that would really work? Something that wouldn't put us where we are today, with midterm elections around the corner and people still out of jobs, which means a lot of Democratic Congress Critters may be out of a job. You needed to go big or go home and it looks like you chose go home. Why?

Look, I don’t expect Robert Gibbs or anyone in Washington D.C. to read my shitty little blog but for chrisssakes aren’t you people reading Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winner in Economics? Don’t you read the Huffington Post? Don’t you read Matt Yglesias? Or Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, who said even at $900 billion (the final bill was far smaller), the stimulus would be too small?

Who the fuck were you people listening to? John Boehner? Fox News? Rush Limbaugh?

This is why I’m pissed off. When are we going to stop listening to the same people who have been consistently wrong about everything since forever?


Monday, August 30, 2010

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Or STFU

Arson is suspected at the Murfreesboro mosque construction site because, you know, construction machinery doesn’t just torch itself.

So Newt Gingrich, Charles Krauthammer and the rest of you yahoos who contend you aren’t Islamophobes, you just don’t want those people worshipping on our hallowed ground! ... I just have two words: pony up.

Come to Tennessee and embrace the mosque in Murfreesboro. We’re hundreds of miles from Ground Zero. This ain’t hallowed ground, it’s Rutherford County.

Come tonight for the candlelight vigil sponsored by Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom. There will be TV cameras there. I know that's important to you.

Tell your rage-filled minions that Muslims have a right to worship in America, not just legally and Constitutionally but morally, as well. Control your hateful rabble before some innocent person gets hurt. You will have blood on your hands if this escalates. I will blame you for stoking a torch and pitchfork mob.

And when you’ve finished embracing the Muslims in Tennessee you can go to Jacksonville, Florida, where a pipe bomb was found at a mosque. And then take it to Arlington, Texas, where a mosque playground was set on fire. And then take it to Madera, California.

If your beef is really about how special Ground Zero is, fine. You should be the biggest supporters of Islamic community centers and houses of worship in the rest of the nation.

That you stay silent is very, very telling. It's all the proof we need supporting our contention that you’re just hateful bigots stoking fear among your ignorant followers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Liberal Media’s Guide To Covering A Tea Party

1- Shamelessly promote the event for days in advance, including repeating event organizer’s wildly inflated claims about expected attendance and completely unsubstantiated claims that any unsavory elements at previous rallies is the doing of dastardly “Democrat” activists.

2- Use the event to again ponder “who is the Tea Party?” while observing that despite organizers’ claim for racial diversity, those in attendance are “overwhelmingly white.” (Extra points for ignoring irony of main speaker’s claim that nation has “walked in darkness for too long.”)

3- Cover every possible aspect of the rally, including the media’s coverage of the rally.

4- Finally report actual attendance, without noting it is far less than organizers’ claims.

5- Continue to discuss, ad nauseum, the rally’s impact on upcoming elections, including lame online survey.

6- Rinse. Repeat.

Look, I don’t want to get into the particulars of Whitestock or the ridiculous carnival it represents or how offensive it is that a bunch of white people would gather to reclaim some civil rights they never lost. What I want people to remember is that hundreds of thousands of people marched against the Iraq War in 2003--part of a global action I might add--and it got barely a passing mention by the mainstream press. There were no days of coverage leading up to the event, all-day coverage during the event, interviews of people at the event, followed days of analysis post-event. Not even a lame online survey asking your opinion of the event. There was nothing.

For this I will never, ever forgive the national news media nor will I ever again trust it. My message to the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN and the rest is this: At a time when the nation needed you people to do your job, when it really mattered, when peoples’ lives were at stake, you guys bailed on us. And now, in some kind of pathetic attempt to appear “not liberal” you cover every fart and burp issuing forth from conservative partisans, when it’s completely irrelevant to the grand scheme of things. We are not talking life and death here. We are not sending hundreds of thousands of our kids into battle. We’re talking some whiny-assed titty babies pissed they lost an election to a black man.

Shame on you.

The Gentleman Will Sit! The Gentleman Is Correct In Sitting!

Norm Ormstein has a column on reforming the filibuster that I think is a must-read.

Time was, a filibuster meant Senators reading from Betty Crocker and the Encyclopaedia Britannica for hours on end. These days the rules have changed and we no longer have real filibusters, we only have threats of filibusters. I never understood why that was. Ormstein explains:
Senate rules put the onus on the majority for ending a debate, regardless of how frivolous the filibuster might be.

If the majority leader wants to end a debate, he or she first calls for unanimous consent for cloture, basically a voice vote from all the senators present in the chamber. But if even one member of the filibustering minority is present to object to the motion, the majority leader has to hold a roll call vote. If the majority leader can’t round up the necessary 60 votes, the debate continues.

OH. Ormstein suggests a tweak, force the fillibustering party round up its votes instead of the other way around:

For starters, the Senate could replace the majority’s responsibility to end debate with the minority’s responsibility to keep it going. It would work like this: for the first four weeks of debate, the Senate would operate under the old rules, in which the majority has to find enough senators to vote for cloture. Once that time has elapsed, the debate would automatically end unless the minority could assemble 40 senators to continue it.

That sounds fine but personally, I think if the minority party wants to filibuster legislation then they by God should work for it. And if that means reading from Aunt Martha’s Cookbook or the Oxford English Dictionary or the collected works of Wikipedia, so be it. Ormstein seems to agree, and I think it’s well past time that the Senate did that. Enough with this obstruction; the filibuster may be useful to protect the minority’s voice but it shouldn’t be wielded like a cudgel because some assholes want to “break” the president.

And this is basically what I told the DSCC when their fundraiser called my house to ask for a ludicrously insane donation. As I always do when they call I say no thanks, I’ll support individual candidates or organizations but not the party because the party doesn’t deserve it. They got a huge mandate in the last two elections and failed to act on it. They offered weak, watered down legislation and their lame excuse is that they had to because they lacked a filibuster-proof majority? Well then fix the filibuster, you idiots! End of story.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mixed Message

Bless their hearts, the Ron Paul Sign Brigade is back in business. However, just a tip: you guys might want to consider your message placement a little more carefully. I'm confused: are you for Ron Paul in 2012, or trying to stop him?

Aren't You Forgetting Someone?

We caught Bill Haslam's new TV ad this morning. Good lord but the folksy aw-shucks "I'm just an ordinary hayseeed" voiceover is annoyingly condescending. But I digress. Here's the ad and tell me if you think it's odd that the father of Haslam's Democratic rival is mentioned but one certain income-tax loving Republican governor is not:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why We Suck

What Jonathan Bernstein said:
Democrats and their supporters, I would think, shouldn't be talking about "expiring tax cuts."  They should be talking about Republican tax increases, passed by Republicans in 2001 and 2003, and scheduled to go into effect soon.  And then, instead of talking about "extending" GOP tax cuts, the Democrats should be talking about the Democratic tax cuts, or the Obama tax cuts, that they want to pass.  You know, to replace the Republican-passed tax increase.

That’s exactly right. Democrats suck at framing, we all know this, and the whole “extending tax cuts” thing just plays into the existing frame of Republicans as tax decreasers, Democrats as tax increasers. Even though it’s not reality, we all know what matters isn’t what’s true but what feels true.

I’ve played into the “extend the tax cuts” narrative too, we all have, and that’s because we don’t have a George Soros-funded, hierarchical, institutionalized establishment organization drilling talking points into peoples' heads until we become like politi-Zombies robotically repeating the same phrase on every talk show until it's thoroughly drilled into the collective unconscious.

Instead, my e-mail inbox is filled with a dozen different messages from a dozen different groups all day, every day. We don’t have that laser-focused, cult mind-set. Because we are not an organized political party. We are Democrats.

Earlier this week I talked about how language slants polls. The fact that we are talking about the “Ground Zero Mosque” instead of the “Park51 project promoting moderate Islam” is no accident. Of course, one phrase is clunky and unwieldy; the other is generates an emotional response that is good for TV ratings.

Bernstein says these issues don’t matter and are merely "annoying” and “sloppy.” I disagree. I think it matters a lot because these things shape the media narrative and the media narrative shapes public opinion.

None of this is new, of course. We’ve been talking about this since George Lakoff told us not to think of an elephant. That was, what, six years ago? What’s annoying and sloppy is that we’re still ceding the discourse to the right wing spin machine. We're still on defense. That we still don’t have a better mechanism for presenting our arguments to the public.

And that is why we suck.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's Republican Rules

Welcome Crooks & Liars!


I love it when Republicans have hissy fits over people like Charlie Rangel yet their own crooks--cough*cough*Rick Scott*cough*cough--always wear Teflon.

So now Rick Scott is Florida’s Republican candidate for Governor. How is this possible? How did the hustler who let the largest healthcare fraud case in U.S. history go on right under his nose, who left Nashville’s Columbia/HCA in such tatters that they had to change the company’s name, who escaped with a $10 million golden parachute, manage to sell enough free market snake oil to make people forget he’s (in my opinion) a big, fat crook?

Only in Florida and only in the Republican Party. How can Democrats get that deal? If Mark Sanford can hike the Appalachian Trail with his South American mistress and not have to resign the governorship, then so can Eliot Spitzer. Oh I forgot, there’s always a higher standard for Democrats. IOKIYAR.

Even more amazing are all the Freepers claiming Scott was brought up on “trumped up charges,” which totally makes sense when you remember that a) Rick Scott actually wasn't brought up on any charges, and b) Columbia/HCA paid $1.7 billion -- yes that’s right, billion with a “B” -- in penalties and fines and pled guilty to various criminal charges. Sure, corporations would rather plead guilty and pay nearly $2 billion to make “trumped up” charges go away. Man you guys are pathetic.

So this week I hear a lot of folks wondering why Rick Scott is not in jail. Why wasn't he charged with any crimes, anyway? Good question. For that you can thank President Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno. Last year one of my readers posted a link to an interview with Reno (or maybe it was a news conference transcript, I don't remember) where she said something to the effect of, "Scott’s public humiliation was punishment enough." I can’t find the link now to save my life, and losing all of my old comments to the demise of Haloscan didn't help.

That Reno let Scott go always stunk to high heaven to me. Remember: Scott and Reno are both from Florida. Janet Reno ran for governor of Florida in 2002 but lost the nomination to Bill McBride. Bill McBride is married to Alex Sink, who is currently running for governor of Florida against .... Rick Scott. You know, Florida politics looks like one of our Kentucky family trees: no branches.

Anyway, Rick Scott was supposedly chastened by his "ordeal" and public humiliation. Oh wait, maybe not:
The man leading the Governor's race on the Republican side was deposed just days before he got into the Governor's race in one case and accused of medicare fraud by a former doctor.

Now Rick Scott is refusing to answer questions about the case against his current company.


Scott went on to call the ploy desperate and "Chicago style politics" but refused multiple times to release his testimony in the case. He's also been accused by a former doctor at Solantic of Medicare fraud and that case is now in the hands of the FDLE. No charges have been brought. Wednesday was supposed to be the final debate, and the only one to be broadcast statewide. Scott decided to skip that final debate. Bill McCollum will be here in Orlando today for the forum anyway.

Of course, we all saw Scott subpoenaed at a press conference.

I remember when politicians tainted by an ethics cloud were forced to set aside their political ambitions. Nowadays it's part of a Republican candidate's resume -- even for Vice President of the United States. Hmm.

I remember when Ronald Reagan was first labeled "Teflon Ron" way back in 1984. After more than 25 years of this, I guess we're just supposed to accept that Republicans are made of rubber and Democrats are made of glue.

Tennessee Laughingstocks

The Daily Show covers Tennessee's own mosque-troversy. I don't know who this crazy lady is who says you can find out all sorts of things on the internet but someone needs to tell her that just because it's on the internet, it doesn't mean it's true. If that were the case then I'd be freaking out about the Great George W. Bush Alien Coverups of 2007.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tennessee No Evil
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today In Teh Gaiiiii

Ken Mehlman is finally out of the closet:
Former Republican National Committee chairman and Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman has announced publicly that he is gay, CBS News chief political consultant and politics editor for The Atlantic Marc Ambinder reports.

"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," Mehlman said. "Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago, but I didn't."

Ah well, glad you got that weight off your shoulders.

Still waiting for Larry Craig to come out of the closet though....

Ain’t No Stopping The Green Train

NOTE: Blogger is being hiccupy again today, esp. in regards to comments. They have 10 minutes to get their shit together before I move this blog to WordPress. Sick of the BS.


Via the awesome mistermix at Balloon Juice comes some good news for a change.

Namely: Suck it Big Oil and King Coal. We don’t need your lying cheating cold deadbeating, two timing double dealing mean mistreating polluting energy source!
Analysts at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore Labs have run the numbers on the US energy use in 2009, and come up with similar results to those obtained when examining the country's carbon emissions: energy use is dropping at a pace that is faster than would be expected based on the slowing economy alone. Even better, the growth in renewable energy, coupled with increased use of natural gas, is displacing significant amounts of coal.


According to the Livermore analysts, both economics and higher-efficiency appliances and vehicles helped push down the energy use last year, dropping consumption from 2008's 99 Quads. Coal and petroleum use both declined significantly (coal was down by 10 percent), with more efficient vehicles accounting for much of the latter. Lowered electricity use accounted for much of coal's drop, as did displacement by natural gas. But total natural gas use also dropped, at least in part because solar, hydro, and geothermal power all increased slightly, and wind power increased significantly. It's now at 0.7 Quads, and on pace to clear a full Quad within the next couple of years.

Renewables and nuclear are now supplying nearly 17 percent of the country's annual supply of energy, a fraction that's likely to grow if current trends continue. And most indications are that the trends will continue. The US auto fleet's fuel efficiency is slated to rise over the next several years, and the Obama administration is pushing to approve further wind and solar projects.

Sluggish demand for oil is prompting oil companies to sell or shutter their refineries, as well. The energy transformation is happening, Cap and Trade or no.

I've been meaning to do an update on the Beale household's great solar experiment. Haven't had time to pour pore through the numbers but I will say this: during the hottest most miserable summer I can remember, at a time when we had two extra people living in our house (our friends from India), we still have not paid an electric bill since March. And March's bill was, if I recall correctly, something in the neighborhood of $30.

(Tip of the cowboy hat to the late great Harlan Howard and his cowriter Kostas and the amazing Patty Loveless, who is a coal country girl and is actively trying to end the heinous practice of mountaintop removal mining from whence we get coal).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Isn't She Lovely

This lovely black & yellow Argiope aurantia spider has taken up residence in my garden, no doubt a granddaughter or great-granddaughter of the argiopes who used to build webs right across the walkway. Every year save last year we had argiope spiders in this area of the garden. I don't know what happened last year, but I missed them.

I've read that the Argiope aurantia is also called a "writing spider" because of the zig-zag writing on their webs. As a writer I find that just, well, perfect! This one built her web with a camouflage backdrop of black-eyed susans. Very smart, methinks.

As my readers no doubt know, organic gardening and organic/healthy cooking are my two great passions. One reason I love organic gardening is so I can watch creatures like this one. Soon a tiny spider resembling a wisp of dead grass will make a home on the outer edges of her web. This will be the male. He will make her big and fat, she will eat him, and then she will lay eggs. Ain't love grand.

Anyway, my interest in organic gardening has led me to find less toxic solutions to the usual problems which plague us here in Tennessee, notably mosquitoes, chiggers, poison ivy, etc. etc. I love an argiope spider but I really hate getting covered in chigger bites just walking around my garden in the morning. Plus we have pets, and a koi pond, and I don't want to freak out about what I'm spraying on my herbs and vegetables that end up on the dinner table. So here are my two favorite products (and no, I'm not receiving one penny to endorse this stuff. They really work):

• Garlic Barrier -- This stuff works great on mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas and just general garden pests. It's made of garlic so your garden smells like an Italian restaurant for about three hours but the smell does dissipate. The only problem is that you need to spray everything about once a month or so, but I guess that's true of any product. However, it seems to repel the stuff you don't want and not bother the stuff you DO want.

Nature’s Avenger Organic Weed Killer Herbicide -- The irony of an "organic herbicide" notwithstanding, let me tell you: this stuff rocks! It smells like oranges and when they say it works fast, trust me, they mean it. Shake it up, spray it, and in a few hours your weeds are shriveling.

It's the perfect organic alternative to RoundUp, which is made by Monsanto, which everyone knows is evil. But even if Monsanto weren't evil and RoundUp wasn't an endocrine disruptor in mice and a cause of genetic damage in small critters (and who knows, maybe big ones too), I'd still recommend Avenger because, to repeat: it rocks. So, that's today's organic gardening tip.

• Bat Guano -- I don't buy a lot of fertilizer because when you have a koi pond your filter gives you a lot of lovely nutrient-rich pond sludge which is the best fertilizer I know. But I decided to give the bat guano a try on my shrubs and, well, holy smokes! My shrubs have taken off like a rocket ship. Also, I didn't have enough for my entire hedgerow, and you can really see which shrubs got the bat guano and which ones didn't.

Anyway, I'm not getting anything for recommending this stuff or linking to Arbico Organics which is the online catalog I use. I'm sure you can find this stuff in a lot of places online.

The View From Ground Zero Today

Russell Simmons lives across the street from Ground Zero. Here's what he did to his apartment windows:

Meanwhile the media seems bent on taking its cue from a crazy lady whose last big claim to fame was announcing President Obama is Malcom X's love child. Well, that and her famous crush on John Bolton.

I remember a time when people like that were gently ushered away from the microphone and sent on a long cruise somewhere for their "nerves." Today's modern Republican Party hands them a Fox News microphone and the national news media decides there must be something to it because, well, they're on Fox News!

Crazy world we live in.

By the way, Leviticus 19:18 referenced in Simmons' window? It reads:
18 " 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Gotta love how religious conservatives always overlook just those parts of Leviticus that are inconvenient to their politics.

Scary Thought, That


The upcoming do-nothing Congress, via John Cole & ThinkProgress.

Yeah Vote Republican so that they can sit on their asses until 2012.


The DNC would like to remind you that elections have consequences. And one consequence of November could be Speaker of the House John Boehner:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Holy Crap I’m In The Wrong Line Of Work

I don’t know why Republicans claim to be fiscally responsible when they do stuff like this:
“It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for favorable coverage, says one Republican campaign operative. A GOP blogger-for-hire estimates that “at least half the bloggers that are out there” on the Republican side “are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.”

In California, where former eBay executive Meg Whitman beat businessman Steve Poizner in a bitterly fought primary battle in the campaign for governor, it sometimes seemed as if there was a bidding war for bloggers.

One pro-Poizner blogger, Aaron Park, was discovered to be a paid consultant to the Poizner campaign while writing for Red County, a conservative blog about California politics. Red County founder Chip Hanlon threw Park off the site upon discovering his affiliation, which had not been disclosed.


But while Red County’s Hanlon expressed outrage at Park’s pay-for-blogging scheme, questions arose about his own editorial independence when it emerged that Red County itself had been taking money from the Whitman campaign.

In December of 2009, Red County received $20,000 from the Meg Whitman campaign, which has sent the site $15,000 a month since then.

The money is ostensibly for advertising, yet by conventional measures the numbers don’t add up. According to Quantcast, Red County reaches around 125,000 unique viewers per month. Two new media industry experts confirmed that, given such a readership, Whitman’s ad purchase is “ridiculously” expensive, surpassing the going market rate for such ads by 1,000 percent or more.

On the Republican side of the aisle, political campaigns are just one big gravy train, meanwhile George Soros still hasn’t sent me a fucking check. Dang.

Meanwhile, lefties can’t even get Democrats to advertise on liberal blogs. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this picture?

Obviously we’ve all known for years that some conservative bloggers are on the GOP dole; it’s also been rumored that the Republican Party and conservative organizations pay people to comment on blogs. I haven’t been able to verify if that’s true; of course a big chunk of my comment spam is paid commercial crap, selling jewelry and casino vacations and other nonsense. It stands to reason that conservative organizations would do likewise.

Anyway, $15,000 a month? Holy crap. Compare that to the $3 to $5 per 300-500 word article sweatshop pay which according to Craigslist, MediaBistro, Demand Studios, etc. is the going rate. So while right-wing Christian billionaire Phillip Anschutz’s Examiner.com throws a few pennies in writers’ tin cups, apparently we should all go straight to GOP candidates and rake in the big bucks.

Where’s The Osama Bin Laden Tape?

Because with crap like this, you know that’s exactly where we’re headed:

Finally, a patriot has cracked that dastardly Obama's secret code!

I mean, it’s really a shame the Republicans don’t have the White House any more and can’t gin up any pre-election “terra terra terra” fear porn. Poor dears. Ginning up anti-Muslim fear is the next best thing, especially when the president of the United States is a Muslim!!!11!!!11!!! ZOMG!!!!

How awfully inventive. Transparent, but inventive.

As Frank Rich observed yesterday, the whole Park51 fauxtroversy is so obviously manufactured, the only thing more appalling is that so few media figures have hit the LexisNexis data base to begin with (and Rich gives proper credit where it's due to Salon.com’s Justin Elliott for doing just that).

One wonders why CNN or The Today Show or Brian Williams or anyone else on the TeeVee hasn't reported any of these facts which Rich mentions in his column:
In the five months after The Times’s initial account there were no newspaper articles on the project at all. It was only in May of this year that the Rupert Murdoch axis of demagoguery revved up, jettisoning Ingraham’s benign take for a New York Post jihad. The paper’s inspiration was a rabidly anti-Islam blogger best known for claiming that Obama was Malcolm X’s illegitimate son. Soon the rest of the Murdoch empire and its political allies piled on, promoting the incendiary libel that the “radical Islamists” behind the “ground zero mosque” were tantamount either to neo-Nazis in Skokie (according to a Wall Street Journal columnist) or actual Nazis (per Newt Gingrich).

These patriots have never attacked the routine Muslim worship services at another site of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon. Their sudden concern for ground zero is suspect to those of us who actually live in New York. All but 12 Republicans in the House voted against health benefits for 9/11 responders just last month. Though many of these ground-zero watchdogs partied at the 2004 G.O.P. convention in New York exploiting 9/11, none of them protested that a fellow Republican, the former New York governor George Pataki, so bollixed up the management of the World Trade Center site that nine years on it still lacks any finished buildings, let alone a permanent memorial.

(By Ingraham he does indeed mean Laura Ingraham. You can watch said "benign take" here.) The controversy started with Murdoch’s propaganda outfit? I’m shocked! CNN and the rest of the media simply repeat the Republican Party talking points? Still shocked! No, I’m not, actually. It was to be expected, because we have an election in a few months and this shit happens every time we have an election in a few months.

So now we have anti-Muslim fear suddenly front page news all across the nation. What a coinky-dinky that we also suddenly have that tired, oft-debunked “Obama is a Muslim” story also suddenly front page news all across the nation.

And I’m sure in a few weeks we’ll have “rumors” of some kind of Al Qaeda/Osama Bin Laden tape which Jerome Corsi suddenly found in a dark cave somewhere. Right next to Obama's Kenyan birth certificate, of course.

Because there’s one thing I know about the Republican Party: they love to recycle old ideas. Scaring the pants off of people has been their winning strategy for years. So we have “Muslims are scary” and “Obama is a Muslim.” All we need to wrap this package up with a bow is “... and they want to kill you, SEE?”

About That Privatizing Social Security Thing ...


Ooops. Stay out of the bond market, too. Jars buried in the back yard are looking better already.


Yesterday’s New York Times had a front page story about “small investors” fleeing the stock market to the tune of $33.12 billion through July. The article quotes analysts as saying the average American investor has “lost their appetite for risk” and also suggests this:
And the flight from stocks may also be driven by households that are no longer able to tap into home equity for cash and may simply need the money to pay for ordinary expenses.

I’m sure that’s a big factor, as are the wild up and down swings we’ve seen in the past few years which have in fact soured people on the whole risk thing.

Apparently Joe and Jane Investor is rethinking how their IRA and 401(k) contributions are invested. Equities are too risky, too unstable, too prone to losing their value in a matter of seconds due to some stock traders’ “fat fingers” or a fart in Greece that reverberates around the global exchanges. These facts alone should give anyone advocating privatizing Social Security (AHEM, Republicans) pause. Similarly, insofar as the risk and instability of the market have been caused by things beyond anyone’s control let alone ability to predict, it should give anyone advocating repealing Wall Street reform (AHEM, Republicans) pause as well.

Democrats: don’t listen to the spin, listen to the facts. Small investors have pulled $33.12 billion out of the stock market this year alone (and in fact the “average investor” began fleeing the market way back in 2007). There is a reason.

Personally I’m more and more convinced that all of this automated electronic trading has turned the stock market into a rigged game with loaded dice and the casino always wins.

Remember the May 6 ”flash crash”, originally blamed on a trader’s “fat fingers”? Yeah, right:

Recently we posted a required reading analysis by Nanex in which the market trading analytics firm presented irrefutable evidence of quote stuffing by HFT algorithms in tens of stocks, in which thousands of cancelled quotes would reappear each second with a definitive periodicity and regularity, around the time of the May 6 flash crash. Aside from the fact that it is illegal to indicate a quote without a trade intent, this form of quote stuffing is in fact manipulative when conducted by HFT repeaters in specific "shapes" as it actually moves the NBBO actively higher or lower, in cases pushing the bid/offer range up to 10% higher without even one trade ever having occurred, simply by masking a big block order which other algos interpret as bid interest and pull all offers progressively or step function higher (or vice versa, although we have rarely if ever seen the walking down of a stock over the past 18 months).


Today, courtesy of Nanex we demonstrate that this type of illegal stock manipulation continues rampant to this very day, and the SEC still fails to acknowledge that it is precisely the HFT market participants that persist in destabilizing stock prices, which have given up responding to fundamentals and merely move up or down based on quote stuffing interventions by those who plead innocence and claim to only be providing liquidity. Well take a look at the millions in fake, and thus illegal, bids demonstrated below and tell us just how any of this manipulation is "providing liquidity" - the second the patterns break, the algos responsible for the churn pattern disappear, thus eliminating numerous levels of so called bid liquidity below the NBBO: break enough patterns and you have another flash crash as the market once again goes bidless.

Whew. And if that sounds like a bunch of gobbledy-gook to you, here’s the concept repated in plain English:

They say high-speed traders could have been trying to outwit one another’s computers with blizzards of buy and sell orders that were never meant to be filled. These superfast traders might even have been trying to clog exchanges to outflank other investors.

It’s the same casino mentality that allowed oil futures broker Steven Noel Perkins to single-handedly spike the global price of oil in a weekend binge of booze and bets on Brent crude futures. It’s the short sales and algo trading and all of the rest of the unregulated hedge fund BS over which Joe and Jane Investor has no understanding let alone control.

So when yesterday’s New York Times mildly posits this:

The notion that stocks tend to be safe and profitable investments over time seems to have been dented...

I’m thinking, Um, yeah. Understatement, much? Maybe what’s killed the notion of stocks as “safe and profitable investments” is the way the markets are now completely manipulated by computerized trading and other mumbo jumbo I can’t even wrap my head around.

A favorite bromide of the investment world is that “over time, the stock market outperforms other investments.” Maybe that was once true but this isn’t your father’s stock market. Back in the good ol’ days we didn’t have high-frequency traders and flash trades and computer algorithms running the show. Volatile is the new normal and it looks like a bunch of Wall Street assholes have turned the marketplace into a freewheeling ride on the roulette wheel.

So no wonder the average investor says no thanks to a rigged game. And when it comes to putting our safety net in that volatile casino? Not just no but HELL no. Those of you who want to put your economic future in the hands of a few untrustworthy, unregulated market manipulators whose best interest is not yours can still do so. But to gamble away the security we all share that way? Irresponsible.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

But What’s His Position On Gold-Fringed Flags?

New York Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who has Tea Party support, tells AP his novel ideas about dealing with the poor:
NEW YORK — Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino said he would transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they would work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in "personal hygiene."


Asked at the meeting how he would achieve those savings, Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would do work for the state — "military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service," he said — while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors.

"Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we'll teach people how to earn their check. We'll teach them personal hygiene ... the personal things they don't get when they come from dysfunctional homes," Paladino said.

Hmm, putting welfare recipients in state prisons, well that's a novel approach. But come to think of it, Carl, I think we kind of already do that. Certainly our prisons could just as easily be filled with rich real estate developer assholes, but somehow when they’re caught doing something wrong they rarely suffer the consequences. I wonder why that is? Oh well, let’s not worry our pretty little heads about inequities like that, instead let’s have another big gulp of Kool Aid and tell ourselves the reason people are on welfare is because they are dirty, lazy, and don’t know how to work. Not, you know, because there aren’t any fucking jobs out there!

Jeeeezus this Tea Party stupidity is not just offensive it’s criminal. Meanwhile, some facts for Mr. Paladino:

New York, like other states, receives a federal block grant to provide cash and other forms of welfare to very low-income residents. Federal law already requires welfare recipients to do some form of work to receive benefits.

New York's welfare rolls have grown slightly during the recession, while food stamp eligibility has almost doubled, according to the state.

Well, at least Paladino is trying. At least he’s got an idea, heinous though it may be. The rest of the Republican Party doesn’t even have that.

ADDING ... as I stated in comments, outside the prison nonsense and the hygiene instruction and other ignorant BS, what Paladino is suggesting is a classic "Big Government," Rooseveltian, WPA-style idea. I'm trying to imagine what Tea Partiers and Paladino-types would say if President Obama suggested the government pay people to work. Which is exactly what their beef was with the Recovery Act -- that it created government jobs, which somehow are not "real" jobs. There seems to be a bit of a cognitive disconnect here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shall We Play A Game?

Via Brad Blog, it seems some of you wacky kids with your mad computer skillz were able to hack a Sequoia touch-screen voting machine. Behold, the ballot is replaced with a game of Pac-man, all without breaking the anti-hacking "tamper-evident" seals. Hmm...

By the way, just wondering how many of my readers are old enough to know what the title of this post refers to. No cheating on the Great Gazoogle!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can We Have Some Perspective Please?

Oy vey, here we go again. Yet another stupid poll claiming something ridiculous so everyone can call for the fainting couches:
Nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Obama is Muslim...

This has liberals very upset; I’ve seen it discussed on the blogs and heard it mentioned on various liberal talk radio stations, always with an air of “oh my GOD can you believe this?” No one seems to remember that back in April that is precisely how many Americans said they supported the Tea Party. What a coinky-dinky.

I wonder if people would be so upset if the story were phrased another way. How about:

More than four out five people, or 82 percent, know President Obama is not Muslim...

Not quite as alarming, is it?

Remember when “four out of five” dentists recommended sugar free gum for their patients? You thought that fifth dentist was a crackpot, right? Well, he/she was. If you Google ”4 out of 5” you find out a lot of interesting stuff. Four out of 5 people want solar panels on their homes. Four out of five one-dollar bills in Chicago carried traces of cocaine. Four out of 5 phones will have GPS by the end of next year.

I don’t know why people are so fascinated by any of this crap except that it’s a symptom of that ”procedural voyeurism” I wrote about last month.

C'mon people.

[UPDATE]: FreakOut Nation has a similar perspective on
the media's reporting of Obama's approval numbers, which despite "plummeting" are nevertheless the best for this point in a presidential term since Eisenhower. Hmm....

I, Too, Demand My Constitutional Right To A Syndicated Radio Show & Other Thoughts

Constitutional scholar Sarah Palin tells Dr. Laura to not retreat, reload!

Which should make today a fun one on the internets.

Meanwhile, as the nation focuses on the circus sideshow, Nashville is preparing for a repeat of its floods of three and a half months ago. Hopefully we won’t be looking at our fourth 100-year flood in 40 years. Climate change, much? The New York Times connects the dots (although some of us did that a few months ago):
Dr. Meehl, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told me in an interview that the “fairly small” average warming in the earth’s temperature, about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, can be expected to lead to “much more noticeable changes in the extremes” of heat and cold.

“Physically, you’d expect to see more record heat events and fewer record cold events,” he said. “That’s what we are seeing.”
For those intimidated by scientific papers, a simpler write-up on the issue can be found here. And Dr. Meehl is also on YouTube talking about the findings of his research.

Here’s the video:

Conservatives who deny climate change are a lot like Sarah Palin discussing the Constitution: they do it with very little real understanding of the subject matter, lots of false assumptions and politically-motivated finger pointing, and a hefty dose of oil industry backing. They don’t need to prove anything, just sow enough doubt in peoples’ minds that it undermines any real effort to change anything so we can keep sucking on the bones of dead dinosaurs.

Hmm ... maybe the Constitution really does guarantee me a right to a nationally-syndicated radio show! In which case, my first program can be about climate change.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spin Control

Our discourse is so warped, jaded and spun that we sometimes can’t even see the spinning wheel behind the bias. Such was my thought when I linked to Athenae’s post rewriting Liz Sidoti yesterday , and such is my thought as I read Eugene Robinson on the New York mosque issue today.

The money quote:
A CNN poll showed that 68 percent of Americans opposed a plan by "a group of Muslims in the U.S." to build "a mosque" two blocks from the World Trade Center site. I wonder what the results might look like if pollsters had phrased the question differently -- if they had asked, say, whether "a group of Americans" should be allowed to build "a center promoting moderate, peaceful Islam."

Yes, one wonders, doesn’t one? CNN didn’t phrase the question that way, though. They took the Republican talking point--ZOMG! A mosque! Near Ground Zero!--and used that as the basis of their poll. They reinforced the prevailing narrative which came straight out of Frank Luntz’s Little Shoppe Of Bullshit. We see this time and time again with issues as serious as war and healthcare policy or as silly as a “beer summit” and Lindsay Lohan’s jail time.

Public opinion polls are for the most part meaningless drivel which allow the news media to pretend to cover an issue without actually covering it. They can cover the spin, not the facts. It’s laziness disguised as crack journalism.

Here’s an interesting thought:

So now, whenever I see the results of a poll that pretends to speak for the “majority” of Americans, I wonder how that poll question could have been framed differently to achieve a completely opposite result.

When I read “88% of Americans don’t like their government,” I wonder what the results would be for a poll that asked, “Would you prefer to live in a country without roads, schools, laws, police and pollution controls?”

When I see “80 percent like the insurance they have now,” I picture a poll asking, “Do you want an insurance plan that raises its rates without warning, decides what illnesses can and cannot be covered and can cut off your coverage at any time?”

We don’t see polls like that, of course. But next time you read of a CNN (or USA Today or any other poll), you might, just for shits and giggles, rewrite the poll questions in your head.

Because The GOP Just Can’t Piss Off Enough People

(This post in honor of the 19th Amendment, ratified 90 years ago today ....)

Apparently not content to simply offend African Americans, Latinos and Muslims, the GOP has decided to go for the home run and piss off women, as well.

Via Mother Jones we have the Minnesota GOP telling people to vote Republican because their chicks are hotter than those hairy bull dyke “dogs” who are the “Democrat” women. No, I’m not making this up, you can watch the video for yourself:

Minnesota GOP webmaster Randy Brown said of the video:
"[I]ts only intention was to bring a smile to a few peoples faces, and possibly irritate a few others. Is it fair? Does that matter? It wasn't intended to be fair. It was intended to be funny."

Yeah, cuz I tell you, we women think it’s hilarious when we are judged by how we look (or how well we are photoshopped), not the content of our character or what’s in our brains.

Vote GOP. Because they will always treat you like an object. Winning slogan, guys.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obama Dollars

[UPDATE]: Welcome to Dowling Duncan followers. To my non-American readers, please know that this post is dripping with sarcasm. The American political situation being what it is, you should know that our conservatives suffer from Black President Derangement Syndrome, coupled with idol worship of Ronald Reagan, whom they have been unable to get on the American money for decades. So, no "whinging" just snark.

This ought to generate sufficient outrage among the Teanuts to shove that New York mosque story off the front pages:
That brings us to the imagery, and here Dowling Duncan hatched a curious concept: Images directly relate to the value of each note -- and offer insight into America’s heritage, to boot. So since Obama is the nation’s first black president, he’s the face of the one-dollar bill.

ZOMG Obama on the one-dollar bill? When Reagan isn’t even on our money yet??!!!! Well what do you expect from a bunch of tea-drinking fancy pants Limeys and what the fuck are they doing messing with our money, anyway? Trying to make it look like that candy-colored Monopoly money they use in Yurp?


Well, everyone can relax. It’s part of the Dollar ReDe$ign competition. But Dowling Duncan’s Obama idea has the most votes so far .... you never know!

Liberal Media Still Not Liberal


Liberal media is not liberal and FOX News is not fair & balanced:
Fox parent News Corp. donates $1 million to Republican Governors' Association

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) this year, Bloomberg reported. The company owns Fox News and the New York Post. (You can see the full IRS filing here.)

Athenae is being far too kind when she says Liz Sidoti's hit piece is "laziness instead of bias."

No, it's bias. Donuts with sprinkles, anyone?

McCain's moderators, the AP's Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti, greeted McCain with a box of Dunkin' Donuts. "We spend quite a bit of time with you on the back of the Straight Talk Express asking you questions, and what we've decided to do today was invite everyone else along on the ride," Sidoti explained. "We even brought you your favorite treat."

McCain opened the offering. "Oh, yes, with sprinkles!" he said.

Sidoti passed him a cup. "A little coffee with a little cream and a little sugar," she said.

So no, when Liz Sidoti pens such an obviously slanted piece of political "analysis" of the shiny-sparkly distraction du jour, it's helpful to remember that in Sidoti's view, it's always good news for Republicans.

Crickets For Pakistan

I’m a little shocked and surprised that despite the growing humanitarian crisis in Pakistan, the disaster there hasn’t dominated our news cycle in the same way crises in other nations have. Where are the telethons and Twibbons and nightly stories of daring rescues and calls for massive aid to the flood-ravaged country? I wonder how many Americans even know there is a flood disaster occurring in Pakistan right now?

Things in Pakistan are dire, to say the least:
It's a race against time to get food, clean water and medicine to these desperate victims. An estimated 20-million Pakistanis have been affected by flooding -- equal to the entire population of Australia. One fifth of the country is under water.

The U.S. has provided emergency aid but I’ve been surprised that there hasn’t been more awareness among the general public. Pakistan is supposed to be our big ally over there; hearts and minds, people. Hearts and minds.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Calling Bullshit

Today I caught several morning news stenographers anchors breathlessly reporting the latest political “controversy,” which is President Obama’s statement about that mosque thingie in downtown Manhattan. I’ve already written about the mosque here, written about how there’s already a mosque near Ground Zero, it’s been there since before 9/11, blah blah. I’ve since learned there are also a bunch of synagogues and a bunch of churches in that area, plus porn shops and lord knows what else on this so-called “hallowed ground.” The entire thing is so blatantly manufactured in the Frank Luntz Little Shoppe Of Bullshit that you’d have to be truly braindead or a member of the American media to take any of it seriously.

Anyway, the GOP wants to make this an election issue, which is how you know it’s utter bullshit because everyone knows the only election issue worth paying attention to right now is the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs. But of course the GOP says “jump” and the media asks “how high?”

Seriously, I can’t take another election season dominated by silly, emotional, unimportant issues. The media needs to wake the fuck up and stop hurting America. No one gives a crap about a mosque in New York City. How do I know this? I know this because the GOP is trying to make it an election issue. If people really cared, they wouldn’t be flogging this dead horse all the way to the November finish line.

And why do they do this? Because they have absolutely no fucking clue what to do about jobs, the tanking economy, and the rest of the huge mess they left the nation in. If they had a fucking clue they wouldn’t be trying to distract your attention with the shiny-sparkly mosque thingie over there. They’d be presenting their bold plan to kickstart our economy and create jobs. Unfortunately, their sad little plan is more tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation, plus another war in the Middle East for good measure -- the same crap that got us into this mess.

So: different year, same old crap. But dear American media, just because the GOP is having one of its periodic hissy fits, that doesn’t mean you guys need to play along. Seriously, there’s something about having a Democrat in the White House that sets our media off. They’ve got “Democratic President Derangement Syndrome.” Suddenly perfectly ordinary things that presidents do and say -- like, oh, I dunno, maybe defending the First Amendment and defending the rights of private property owners -- are deemed very odd and “controversial.”

It’s very puzzling.

Pullitzer to the reporter with the cojones to point out that the GOP wouldn’t be making an election issue out of a stupid issue like this if they weren’t so desperately bereft of any real ideas on how to solve America's problems.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Your Country Is Addicted To Cheap Labor

There is so much wrong with this scenario I don’t even know where to start.

How about starting with the human rights violations:
SMYRNA — A Mexican guest worker says a landscaping company with Tennessee state contracts and a federal stimulus loan guarantee held him and fellow workers like indentured servants, confiscating their passports and subjecting them to constant surveillance by managers who were often armed.

Hilario Razura Jimenez said in an interview that he was rescued from Vanderbilt Landscaping’s company housing Wednesday night by staff from the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity. He waited until everyone else was asleep before sneaking out at about midnight, he said. Staff with the New Orleans-based nonprofit were in touch with him by text message and drove out to pick him up.

Alliance executive director Saket Soni said company officials last week put another worker on a bus back to Mexico when they learned that he had been talking with their group.

A person who answered the phone at the company on Thursday said he would not comment on the allegations and refused to give his name. The company, which has $2.4 million in state Transportation Department contracts and a $900,000 a stimulus loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has offices in Smyrna and Mason.

Jimenez said he has come to the U.S. on an H2B guestworker visa twice before. Both times the pay and conditions were exploitative, but he came again because he was desperate.

Oh my God. It's the John Pickle Company all over again! We never learn, do we?

Hey America, wake up. You want to know where your jobs went? They went into the pockets of the Greed Machine, “small businesses” that would rather exploit cheap labor provided by desperate people from foreign countries than pay you a living wage you can use to send your kids to college.

This is what’s wrong with America, people. This is what happens when you “privatize” public jobs. This is exactly what will happen when all of those Metro school custodians are fired and Metro contracts out its landscaping and custodial services. Who will get those jobs? Not hard working Americans, but hard working foreigners, who because they are desperate will work for peanuts and live in substandard, slave-house conditions.

The State of Tennesseee is using taxpayer money to pay foreign workers, when there are plenty of people in this state who need the work. And don't you know as soon as someone suggests that the state not hire companies who use foreign labor we'll hear all of that screeching and squawking about the "free hand of the market." You know what? The free hand of the market can bite me. Hell, it's biting you.

Oh, and I'm calling bullshit on this:

A Nashville Union leader also brought up the issue of taking jobs from American workers. The Vanderbilts said they ran ads in newspapers in Nashville and Memphis for three weeks. They said they did 70 interviews, and said most of the applicants decided the work was too hard.

I'm not buying that. That just reeks of Rush Limbaugh "the unemployed are lazy" white privilege elitism. Try paying people what they are worth, then you'll get some takers. This is life in a "right to work" state: right to work? Bullshit. Right to see your job go to desperate "guest" workers, more like.

A bunch of greedy, selfish bastards have sold the notion that legally exploiting desperate Mexicans is somehow better than paying Americans a decent wage to do the same job. I know it really sucks that companies like Vanderbilt Landscaping can't legally exploit American workers, gosh I have a sad for you. Poor, pitiful "small business" that you are, I know we're all supposed to worship at the altar of the "small businessman" these days, you're American heroes you really are. Except when you're not, like when you exploit foreigners to boost your profits, just because you can. Hey, fuck you.

How many times do I have to say it? We are cheap labor addicts. When will Democrats wake up and say, enough already? Time to support American workers?

This is why I have been opposed to “guest worker” programs every time they are proposed, be it from George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Guest worker programs are simply institutionalized cheap labor. We refuse to pay what things are worth so we’ll just create a permanent underclass to toil in the sun for us, meanwhile millions of Americans need work but we’ll just say they’re lazy and be done with it.

Pay no attention to the giant elephant in the room. The problem is not “undocumented workers” or “illegal immigration” or “organized labor.” The problem, as always, is greed. Slave labor in the interest of corporate profits is not just fine and dandy.

This pisses me off more than you can begin to believe. We need a national living wage law. Now. Pay people what they are worth.

(h/t, Joe Powell at KnoxViews)

Jumping The Shark

Eugene Robinson points out what we Lefties have been saying for some time: the Republican Party has gone batshit insane.
The Republican Party's candidate for governor of Colorado believes that bicycle paths are "part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty." The party's Senate candidate in Nevada wants to privatize Medicare and Social Security -- and has called for the United States to withdraw from the U.N., though not because of the bicycle conspiracy. And the GOP's Senate candidate in Connecticut once climbed into a professional wrestling ring and kicked a man in the crotch.

Who slipped the crazy juice into the Republican Party Kool-Aid? Every time I hear a new crazy conspiracy theory from the far right -- Sarah Palin’s death panels, or Michelle Bachmann’s FEMA camps -- I think, “this one, surely, we can ignore, right? Nobody will take this one seriously?” And then it’s Topic A on the Sunday morning bobblehead shows.

So let’s talk Terror Babies. Apparently the theory originated with Texas Republican state legislator Rep. Debbie Riddle and has a believer in Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, R-Crazytown. Gohmert is a birther, so it's no surprise he bought this tall tale.

The idea is that Islamic terrorist groups are impregnating women and sending them to the U.S. on tourist visas to have their babies here so they will be born U.S. citizens. The women and their infants then return to their home countries, where they raise their children to be America-hating terrorists. Twenty years later these America-hating young people sail across our borders as U.S. citizens, whereupon they wreak havoc upon the homeland.

Umm ... yeah. I think I saw that movie already. It stars Angelina Jolie and she totally kicks ass!

Seriously, are you people smoking crack? Send pregnant women over here to birth terror babies? Why on earth would any terrorist go to all that bother? They could just leave the pregnant women at home and send their America-hating spawn over to here on tourist visas -- skip the middle woman. And guess what: they don’t even need to wait 20 years! They can do it right now!


Someone grab an extra large box of Adult Depends, Republicans all across Texas are wetting themselves as you read this. What a bunch of Nervous Nellies.

If you haven’t yet watched this video of an incredulous Anderson Cooper trying to get Gohmert to substantiate his “terror babies” conspiracy theory, you are in for a treat:

Seriously, Democrats? You're losing to these people? The Republican Party has gone off the deep end, spouting some of the craziest crap this side of Alex Jones' Prison Planet. All you folks need to do is sit back and look like the sanest people in the room. Unfortunately, too few Democrats have stood up and called bullshit when they saw it; maybe, like me, they didn't believe "birtherism" and "death panels" and "FEMA camps" and "Obama is a secret Muslim" would be taken seriously. You guys need to learn what I've learned: nothing is too crazy for America these days. Time to play some hardball.

Anyway, with both the GOP and Democratic Party polling high “unfavorable opinion” numbers, I wonder if that won’t mean voter apathy for the midterms, especially among independents?

In which case, the Democrats better plan on engaging their base, if it’s not too late already. A sane energy and climate bill might be a good place to start.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Concerned Women Concerned About Stupid Things

Today’s New York Times has a story about a new emergency contraceptive called ella, which has the morality scolds at the Concerned Women of America very, well, concerned.

Why? Since doctors are still debating exactly how the pill works (it appears to prevent ovulation by blocking progesterone, thus preventing conception. And there goes the pro-lifers’ “this pill is exactly the same as murdering babies!” argument), they’ve come up with a unique new reason to be concerned:
Ms. Wright warned that men might slip ella to unsuspecting women, and she said testing so far was not adequate to establish whether it was safe.

Hmm. Thinking back to when I was single and looking for love in all the wrong places, I have to say the fear that men might slip an emergency contraceptive into my cocktail was the least of my worries. As for the safety issue, that is not an issue on which the Concerned Women have any credibility, seeing as how they have a history of touting phony studies falsely linking abortion to breast cancer, teen sex to depression, gays to all manner of social ills, etc. etc. Not to mention the whole "evolution is a liberal plot to kill Jesus" thing.

Thanks for your Concern. Duly noted.

The Return Of The Lock Box

You have got to be fucking kidding me. I remember Al Gore being roundly mocked for his “lock box” mantra -- to the point where he parodied himself on Saturday Night Live. And now we have Sharon Angle bringing it back:
"The real Social Security solutions are to stop Harry Reid from raiding the Social Security trust fund," Angle said in the ad.

"I'd like to save Social Security by locking the lock box, putting the money back into the trust fund so the government can no longer raid our retirement," she says, echoing former Vice President Al Gore's "lock box" comments that earned him ridicule in 2000.

Let me guess: in 10 years you guys will be in favor of carbon offsets to battle the crisis that is global climate change, right?


Friday, August 13, 2010

No You Cannot Be Racist Assholes. Deal With It

Dr. Laura is the latest in a long line of conservative personalities who are really just pissed off they can’t be intolerant assholes:
On Tuesday’s show, Schlessinger repeated the N-word several times after a caller, identified as Jade, asked if the word was offensive. “Black guys say it all the time,” Schlessinger, who never directed the word at the caller, said. When the woman objected, Schlessinger commented: “Oh, then I guess you don’t watch HBO or listen to any black comedians.”

Dr. Laura has since been forced to apologize for her repeated use of the N word on the air.

This is a really big issue for conservatives. It is, indeed, how Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and the rest of the right wing talkers gained their fame, by tapping into this nascent feeling among a large number of people that they should be allowed to say whatever racist, bigoted, rude, obnoxious thing they want and suffer no consequences.

It’s the whole “PC” war all over again. They just never got over it, never wanted to accept the fact that white America is no longer the gatekeeper to American culture. Whites have to share a seat at the table with other races, other sexual orientations, other genders. Maybe the N word was used more commonly in the 1960s but so were separate water fountains and segregated movie theaters. If you can't connect those two then you really are beyond help.

I just never understood why people are confused about this. The argument that African Americans use the N word to refer to themselves is completely specious. So what? I can call myself a fat ass all day long, I might even let a family member get away with calling me fat ass, but that doesn’t mean I want someone I don’t know coming up to me and saying, “pardon me, fat ass,” or “hey fat ass, do you know what time it is?” (Disclaimer: I am not equating "fat ass" with "nigger," and am well aware of the institutionalized oppression the latter term represents versus the former. Analogies by definition are inelegant.)

Seriously, this is hard for you people to understand? I have lesbian friends who refer to themselves as “dykes” and you will even hear phrases like “dyke drama”; I know gay men who use the word “queen.” That doesn’t mean they will take kindly to a straight person calling them dykes and queens on talk radio.

Just because some Latinos may use the word “vato,” that doesn’t mean everyone should. Context, people, context. Words can have two meanings. Words can be friendly or derogatory, depending on how they are used and who uses them. When in doubt, don’t. This stuff isn’t that hard, folks.

Look, we have free speech in this country, so say whatever you want. But if it’s offensive to people, then expect to be called on it. And no, you can’t whine and bitch and moan when they do. You just look like bigger assholes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We Are All Steven Slater

When Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater became a folk hero for his “I’m outta here” routine I thought: yeah, that sounds about right. The inevitable backlash notwithstanding, it seems Slater has tapped into the general malaise which has gripped not just our nation but the entire globe.

We are not happy campers. Polls show Republicans as despised as Democrats, climate change is baking us alive, the global economy still sucks ...if the planet had an escape hatch, who among us wouldn’t want to hit it and slide out of this mess?

I imagine that such feelings are what prompted the Pilgrims to leave the Old World for the New, and what pushed the early pioneers to head west. There’s a kind of desperation in the act, a sense that anything is better than this. Beam us up, Scotty.

Here’s the thing: while it’s nice to indulge in such fantasies, it’s also a little irresponsible. To quote my favorite Eagles song, there is no more new frontier; we have got to make it here.

We have to solve our problems, people; no one else can do it for us. We have no escape hatch from our world, from our lives, from our national crises du jour.

Why don't we roll up our sleeves and get to work?

Morning Commute

Look what I saw on my way to the office this morning:

I'm lucky enough to have a morning "commute" that is basically a stroll through my garden...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And They Said It Couldn’t Be Done

Yet another round of corporate whining, moaning and fear mongering over a very simple consumer protection proves unfounded:
Only three commercial flights among the thousands that operated nationwide in June sat on the ground loaded with passengers for three hours or longer, the Obama administration said Tuesday, touting the impact of a new consumer-protection rule that threatens stiff fines against airlines for excessive tarmac delays.


Nationally, the three United flights stranded on June 18 marked a sharp drop in long tarmac delays from the same month last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In June 2009, 268 flights nationwide were delayed at airports for at least three hours, according to the department's Air Travel Consumer Report.

The report also found there was no increase in the rate of canceled flights in June compared with the same month last year. Airlines canceled 1.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights.

Some aviation experts have predicted that, faced with the possibility of multimillion-dollar fines for every seriously delayed plane, airlines would implement wholesale cancellations in poor weather well before the three-hour tarmac limit, inconveniencing the flying public more deeply than by waiting out long flight delays and eventually taking off.

Ah, yes. “Some aviation experts.” Remember them? Like this one?

But wait! If a flight is canceled, then the fine is void. Too bad no one can see the future to know what will happen next. Just kidding. We know exactly what will happen next.

So let's just go ahead and make this an official announcement: Starting in April, every flight that is delayed more than three hours in the United States of America is canceled. The flight that was delayed for the rainstorm that shows signs of clearing at 2 hours and 55 minutes? Canceled. The flight delayed for a repair that will take 3 hours and 4 minutes? Canceled.

Hmm, amazingly none of that happened! Shocking, I know. Here's another "expert":

The potential price for violating the rule means that in the short term, many domestic airlines will likely act “with an abundance of caution,” says Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor Flights, and that planes sitting on the tarmac getting too “close to the three-hour bubble will [return to the gate] and be cancelled,” he says.

But my favorite is the “Out of Control Policy Blog” which always tells us free market fairies will sail in to solve every problem, right after they tell us there really isn’t a problem of course, just some whiny hippies who want to be pampered with glasses of chardonnay and plates of truffle oil-coated tofu. After repeating the same tripe about airlines cancelling each and every flight that even hinted at being three hours on the tarmac, he suggested the same tired “solutions” of “competition” and pointed out how the airlines which treat their passengers like crap suffer “big reputational penalties.” Oh noes, that's gotta hurt!

This last part was priceless:

In short, the feds should butt out, and let competition, pricing, and airport-airline cooperation continue developing workable solutions.

What these folks don't seem to understand is that "competition" is meaningless in an era of unrestrained monopolies and corporate consolidation (and no free-marketeer has ever come out in favor of government regulation of monopolies). In the last two years alone we've seen Delta and Northwest merge, and Continental and United merge. This has prompted industry observers to speculate that American Airlines, no longer the big player, will have to merge with another carrier (US Airways, which merged with America West in 2005, is often named as a likely partner. I think I need a scorecard!).

All of which means to say, when I fly somewhere, which is a few times a year, 90% of the time I have very little choice over which carrier I use. My decision is largely made for me by my destination because airlines have signed agreements with airports. Beyond that, my decision is made by my schedule and price. Never do I think, "Gee, now which carrier got negative press this year?"

But beyond that, I love these people who keep trying to tell us that free market fairies will protect consumers, even though the entire reason we are having a debate about something is because there is a problem, which means the free market fairies have not protected consumers. You know what protects consumers? The government telling them if they don't do the right thing they will get slapped with a big, fat fine. Problem solved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Very Unprofessional


What Olbermann said.



Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) calls for Robert Gibbs to resign.

Dems are in disarray, as usual. News flash: This is how we roll. I don't know why the White House thought liberals would be more like the rubberstamp Republibots who defended the Bush/Cheney torture & war show.

Maybe they thought we'd be like those idiots who were silent when the Patriot Act was signed and warrantless wiretap deals were signed, and then when a Democrat enters the White House they suddenly rediscover civil liberties. You know, those folks with the "silent no more" signs and their tricorn hats with the tea bags dangling off the corners? Hey it's not our fault you guys were silent during the Bush/Cheney years when your jobs were shipped overseas and your civil liberties were taken away. "Silent no more," maybe, but you're still hypocrites.

C'mon. That's not who we are. When we liberals smell bullshit we speak out, no matter which party it's coming from. It's kinda what I love about us. We have integrity. You don't like it? Try not selling us bullshit and telling us it's filet mignon. Sure I'd have loved some Canadian-style healthcare, but I understand why we wouldn't get it. Thing is, you never even tried. And no, thank you very fucking much, but I won't be happy with a healthcare "reform" that demands I buy insurance from a private, for-profit industry which has not shown itself interested in my health at all, but rather my wallet. Without any kind of non-profit, public option, what you have given us is a bailout of the insurance industry--the one industry which least needs it.

You don't like me pointing this out? Fuck you.

Quit telling me to clap louder. Instead, try listening to us for a change. You might learn something.



I'd say the Democratic National Committee picked the wrong day to call and ask me for $1,000.

I'd also say this was a completely bone-headed move in an election cycle marked by a pronounced enthusiasm gap.

Dear Democrats: I have just one question for you guys. Are you trying to fuck up the next election? Because you're sure acting like it.

One Thing We Liberals Could Do Better

Liberals are always asking how can we make our voices heard, why aren’t we out rallying in the streets like, say, the Tea Partiers (lack of major corporate money and backing by a major cable news network are to blame there, IMHO), why don't Democrats in Congress pander to their base the way Republicans do, etc. etc.

There’s obvious disagreement over how we can best utilize our time and organizing skills (and many folks disagreed with me when I said this was not helpful.)

One thing we could definitely do better is engage our elected representatives when they are back home during things like the August recess. We could fill up the town hall meetings with liberals and challenge people like Lamar Alexander when they spout obvious bullshit like this:
“Finally, part of the way this bill is paid for is through almost $10 billion of permanent tax increases on multinational corporations that would have the effect of driving jobs overseas. Just one more action by the Democratic majority and this administration in the middle of a recession, at a time of near 10 percent unemployment for the nation, that makes it harder to create new jobs in the United States.”

Well look who finally woke up and realized jobs are going overseas! Where ya been, buckaroo? Jobs have been going overseas for years. During the entire time you've been in the U.S. Senate. All of your sucking up to corporations hasn't stemmed the tide of greedy, cheap-labor loving corporations and all of your votes for NAFTA and CAFTA and every other free trade legislation has only sped up the exodus. Thanks for playing.

Corporate tax rates are the lowest in U.S. history. Meanwhile Republicans already nixed a bill that would aid sick 9/11 emergency responders because it was paid for by closing a corporate tax loophole that allows U.S. corporations to operate offshore, tax-free.

Umm ... Senator, I think keeping crap like that and all of the other corporate tax loopholes on the books does more to ship jobs overseas than keeping teachers employed so the American workforce is educated. Just sayin’.

We’re losing ground to the rest of the world, fast. Today MoveOn is holding rallies across the country to protest corporate influence in our government. Yes, there’s a rally planned for Nashville.

But I’ve also heard (though I have found nothing confirming this) that there is going to be a town hall meeting where Senator Alexander will address the teacher aid bill. I don’t know where it is or when it is. Maybe it doesn’t exist. Anyone else hear this? Regardless, I'd rather MoveOn send people to an event like this (if it is indeed happening, or another event of its kind) than gathering on a street corner for yet another rally that will once again be ignored by the media. Again, just sayin’.

Anyway, we need to find a better way to present our issues.


As I mentioned in my earlier posts, right before we went out of town we were adopted by two adorable kittens. One kitten is still adorable; the other is the spawn of Satan:

Yesterday morning I stumbled downstairs at 5:30 a.m. for my morning jolt of caffeine to find the house a veritable crime scene. As in: blood splattered everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. It looked like someone had a “Psycho” moment while we were fast asleep.

I was able to track down the source of the bloodbath: our poor kitty Como, who is declawed and basically defenseless (he came to us that way, we would never do such a thing). He had two deep lacerations on his front leg. The culprit? I’m quite sure it’s Etta, the psycho kitten who now rules our house with an iron paw. She’s a thug, streetwise and fearless. And she will. cut. you. up.

Free to good home: adorable white kitten. Possibly demon possessed. Spayed, has all shots. Needs exorcism.