Posts

Showing posts from February, 2010

The Wisdom Of Ron Paul(?)

The guy's mostly a nutball, but hey - even a blind hog roots up an acorn once in a while.

Healthcare Reform Summit

I didn't watch it on C-SPAN because I'm trying to be a little less obsessed with this shit, but of course, I caught a couple of reports on NPR and MSNBC in which (again, of course) the reporters drew false equivalencies, saying both Obama and Alexander "essentially had their facts right" when they made claims about what the CBO predicts concerning insurance premiums.  Claims that can't be more opposite from one another.

What the fuck?  Oh yeah - it's in the best interests of our Media Poodles to keep the fires stoked.  Controversy is important when the real point of the exercise is to sell ad time.

Bend Over And Grease Up

Blackwater and Cartman-gate.

There's a National Security Consortium hard at work, trying to make sure the spigot of tax dollars is never closed.  The DoD and Contractors and Congress Critters are the main players, but even in the kind of corrupt system that's evolved in the USA over the last 50 years - under which actual people are the last to be considered - we The People still have to take some responsibility for the corruption itself.  We can also stand up and call these assholes out.

Dems: Norman D. Dicks (WA)
Peter J. Visclosky (IN)
James P. Moran (VA)
Marcy Kaptur (OH)
Allen Boyd (FL)
Steven R. Rothman (NJ)
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA)
Maurice D. Hinchey (NY)
Carolyn C. Kilpratrick (MI)
David R. Obey (WI), Ex Officio
Repubs: C.W. Bill Young (FL)
Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (NJ)
Todd Tiahrt (KS)
Jack Kingston (GA)
Kay Granger (TX)
Harold Rogers (KY)
Jerry Lewis (CA), Ex Officio
Paul Juola, Subcommittee Clerk
Room H-149 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2847

Today's T-Shirt

Image

Word O' The Day

stealth abs

When your ripped six pack is covered by a thick layer of fat.
"This isn't a beer belly, it's my stealth abs. I just needed to avoid attracting too many ladies with my well defined stomach."

Sense Of Direction

Finding your way around a new place can be confusing and difficult. Here's some helpful advice offered recently in Vancouver by a local who was trying to help an American visitor.

"If you're seeing mountains, you're facing North. If your feet are wet, you're in the ocean and that`s West. If you've just had your car stolen, you're in Surrey, to the East. But if you see people without healthcare, waving handguns... you're back in the States."

Low Grade Corruption

Marco Rubio is among the new crop of Repub darlings, and he's pretty much all set to stomp Charlie Crist in the primary for Florida's senate race.  But now it's come out that Rubio used his GOP-issued credit card to pay for groceries and car repairs and a bunch of other personal expenses when he was Speaker of the  House in Florida's legislature.

Here's a quickie at TPM.com.

Of course, Rubio denounced the revelation as a desperate act of his political opponent, in that tried-n-true tactic of attacking the attacker - if you make a bold enough statement about what a dirty trick it was to reveal your corruption, then people will be likely to remember that part of the episode more than the feeble bullshit you sling trying to explain your actions.

Now really, we're talking about less than $14,000 over 4 years time.  Not a huge thing, but there're a couple of things about it that bug the crap outa me.

1) It's just too typical for a politician to feel entitled …

Grayson Stands His Ground

I haven't decided yet if Alan Grayson is really onto something, or if he's just another doofus with too much money.  Anyway, at least he seems to be saying what's on his mind and letting the chips fall.

It's interesting to hear about his brush with Blackwater, and then hear that he still thinks they're a bunch of dangerous buttheads.

Here's the story at TPM.com.

But I was thinkin' - remember back when the only people who had private armies were the bad guys in the Bond movies?  Just sayin'.

We Are So Fucked

Image
And here's some graphical representation of the concept (hat tip to Brother John).

Bring The Stupid

Here's a great little story via the Salt Lake Tribune.

Seems the Utah legislature decided they needed to make illegal abortions more illegal(?)

And here's the rub: if I suspect a woman intends to induce a spontaneous abortion (aka: miscarriage) to end her own pregnancy, and I report her to the cops; and the cops show up at her house to investigate, but she refuses to cooperate; don't the police have at least the implied authority to use deadly force in their attempt to compel her compliance with the law?

This is madness.

We Are So Fucked

Our "representatives" aren't elected by voters - they're elected by contributors.

Now that Obama is talking about trying to push a little harder to get Wall Street and The Big Banks to play by the rules, they're aligning against him; and against anybody who speaks out in favor of re-regulating.

In a previous post, I wondered why Repubs were sounding so confident of a resurgence, and I said then that it all sounded hollow.  It isn't.  The big money contributions are running 2-1 in favor of the Repubs.

Here's the story at WaPo today.  Oh well; it was nice to dream of things getting better.

Bring The Stupid

Politicians say and do some pretty dumb things.  I think it's usually just a function of having to walk a really thin line in an attempt to keep some voting faction or another happy while at the same time trying not to cause some other faction to back away.  Maybe it's always been that way, and maybe we're just becoming more aware of it.  Anyway, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Dumbass) is in a lot of trouble (petition demanding his resignation) for saying what was on his mind - (see story in Gainseville Times). He claims his comments were  "misconstrued", but reading the direct quotes, I'm thinkin' he really just let the truth about what he believes slip out.

And the truly unfortunate aspect is that the study he was citing may have had new info we should know about - but now it's all lost in the firestorm of protest.*  Don't get me wrong; I think the guy is at best borderline Taliban, and he oughta be thrown out on his ass.

I left a meesage for…

CPAC Straw Poll

I dunno what it means.  I've watched CPAC for a coupla years now, and I'm still of the mind that it's really just a Wingnut Circle Jerk.  It does have some merit of course, in that the factions get a chance to float their ideas and get some feedback, but I'm not convinced it represents a good snapshot of the GOP as a whole.  Anyway, it seems to have come as quite a surprise that Ron Paul stomped everybody so big.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul - 31 percent
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- 22 percent
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- 7 percent
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty - 6 percent
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich - 4 percent
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- 4 percent
Indiana Rep. Mike Pence - 5 percent
South Dakota Sen. John Thune -- 2 percent
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels -- 2 percent
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum -- 2 percent
Mississippi Gov. Hailey Barbour - 1 percent
Other - 5 percent
Undecided - 6 percent

That Guy With The Glasses

CPAC

I'm listening to the Webcast of CPAC, and there's a panel on now pissin' and moanin' about how the conservative philosophy isn't properly represented on the US college campus today - that the conservative academic is an outcast; even an oppressed minority.

They use a lot a of rather belligerent rhetoric too.

I'm wondering a couple of things:
1) are you guys demanding a kind of Affirmative Action thing?
2) in the market place of ideas, over time, isn't the low number of conservative academics actually an indication that a majority of people aren't buying what you're peddling?

Just sayin'.

Income Disparity

Image
I don't begrudge anybody's wealth.  Having had the privilege of making large dollars once upon a time, I know for a cold fact that not everybody earns every dollar they get, so ya gotta try not to be too much of an asshole about it - but mostly, it doesn't matter how you get it; if it's legal and within an ethical framework, then OK.

The problems come from the tendency for wealth (and the power that goes with it) to accumulate and be concentrated in the hands of an ever-decreasing number of people/families/businesses.  And the concentration always comes at the expense of the "middle and lower" classes.  BTW: it's hard to believe we still have to argue about, and worry over the separation and distinctions between "classes of people", but hey - there it is.

Anyway over time, more and more wealth belongs to fewer and fewer people in the "upper classes"; while more and more people in the "lower classes" get less and less.  And th…

Atta Boy, Nicky

Image

We Are So Fucked

So WellPoint in California decided to postpone their 30+% increase in premiums because there was quite a bit of backlash (ie:outrage across the land), but guess what?  The Blues of Michigan are planning to announce an increase of up to 56%, and Anthem in Maine is asking the insurance regulators for a 23% pop.

Timing is everything - these guys are pushing up the premiums for what I think are probably some logical "business" reasons.
1) They believe they've beaten back the parts of the reform effort that push them into "competing" harder against one another - or against the government.

2) They figure that whatever piece-of-crap makes it outa the US Congress, it'll carry an  Individual Mandate, and in return, they'll have to accept all comers so they're trying to boost the revenue now in order to deal with the losses later.  (Ya gotta remember; the mandate carries the guaranty that tax dollars will be available to help buy insurance for people who ca…

The Mount Vernon Statement

I was watching the live feed from CPAC yesterday and a bunch of the speakers mentioned The Mount Vernon Statement as if it was some kind of amazing document imbued with magical properties; capable of transforming the US into some kind of glittering utopia.

Here it is (see it in all it's splendor):


The Mount Vernon Statement Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government. These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and…

Try A Little Tenderness

We Are So Fucked

News outa California has Well Point ready to raise their rates by as much as 39%. They say the cost of healthcare is jumping up big - it takes a lot to keep somebody in a hospital bed; younger people choose to spend their paychecks on something other than health insurance; people who get laid off can't afford insurance; so the pool of insured people shrinks, and on average, gets older and sicker and cost the insurer more (duh).

So what do we need to do? Let's raise taxes on the middle class. That's what's happening, guys. Say it any way you wanna say it, but the system of mostly private; under-regulated mini-monopolies behaves like any unelected bureaucracy behaves when it's not really accountable to anybody. The Executive Committee takes a look at the marketing numbers, and they decide you've got a few extra bucks that you're currently spending on movies or weekend hobbies or whatever; and they decide you'll prob'ly sit still for an increase in…

Celebrating Religious Differences

Taoism: Shit happens

Hinduism: This shit happened before.

Islam: If shit happens, take a hostage.

Buddhism: When shit happens, is it really shit?

7th Day Adventist: Shit happens on Saturday.

Protestantism: Shit won't happen if I just work harder.

Catholicism: If shit happens, I deserve it.

Jehovah's Witness: Knock, knock,  "Shit happens".

Judaism: Why does this shit happen to me?

Hare Krishna: Shit happens, Rama Rama Ding Dong - here, have a flower.

Atheism: No shit.

Televangelism: Send more shit.

Rastafarian: We should smoke this shit.

Dodge Charger Commercial & Response

If the Opposition Party in Congress could make their SOTU responses like this, we might have a chance to get somewhere.
First the ad that ran during Super Bowl, then the response:


A Quickie

Off the top of my head.  Looking at some polling numbers that have Repub Voters ranking their "Leaders" for 2012 (Romney-14%, Palin-11%, McCain-7%, Brown-4%), and wondering if it means anything.  Here's what I came up with:

The first thing that popped into my brain was, how the hell did Scott Brown get in there!?!  But then, I remembered the narrative built up around their successes in special elections - Governors in VA & NJ, and then the race for Teddy's Senate seat.  The repubs were all running around trying to convince us that they were "sweeping towards a Republican resurgence of epic proportion!".  Remember that?  Now, kinda outa the blue, we get Repub Voters tagging Scott Brown as a major force?  I'm thinking the whole 'resurgence' is hollow.  There's a feeling of wishful thinking about it - like they really don't have anything but the rhetoric to hold onto - hoping against hope that somebody will ride in and rescue them from …

The Big Storm III

Image
Some of my posts about this last round of snow storms have been out of order.  Here's one that's no exception to that.

The big storm started fairly early Thursday Feb 4, and continued thru about midnite Friday Feb 5.  On Saturday the 6th, a plow had managed to make one pass on our road, so we dug out the Durango, thinking we'd do a little sightseeing and bop into town for something to eat.

Fifty yards from our driveway:






















































Using a couple of bow saws, we hacked thru this one and two others blocking the road.

We did make it into town, but the only places open were a 7-11 and a McDonalds.  More than happy to score a couple of cheese burgers at the time.

What Are Your 10 Commandments?

Mike’s 10 Commandments

1) Think and speak of God in your own way and allow others to do the same.

2) Be true to the ideal, not the symbol.

3) Never ask a favor of anyone who will hold you indebted to him for it.

4) Spend part of every day thinking about nothing in particular.

5) Honor those who love you unconditionally; and try to make yourself worthy of it.

6) Never kill indiscriminately; and always with respect.

7) Breaking your promise hurts you more than the one you made the promise to.

8) Know the difference between want and need; and always earn what you get.

9) Lying creates a false representation of reality that can’t be sustained.

10) Make your own decisions about who you are and how you live.

Econometrics

It's hard for me to figure out which numbers (or groups of numbers) I should be watching for indications of what's really happening in the economy.  I'd like to come up with some kind of Metrics Basket to look at.  Any suggestions?

Here're a few from Calculated Risk today:
1) Unemployment Claims ticked down a tiny bit.
2) Home Foreclosures were down some in January, but still 15% above Jan09.
3) A brand new one out of UCLA's Anderson Sch of Mgmt (tracking diesel fuel consumption) shows a scary dip in their numbers.

I dunno.

The Big Storm III

No school again today.  Albemarle Cnty Schools have been closed for 9 out of the last 10 days.  The tentative plan is that the year has been extended to June 17; and there's a possibility that seniors will have to be in class for a few days after they actually graduate June 5.

It seems a little silly until you figure the school system can't afford not to collect the bucks they get for having as many kids in class as possible for the full 180-day calendar.

When In Doubt...

...just make some shit up.
Military Tribunals (and access to them in some circumstances) have existed in the US for a couple of centuries. And what makes Crowley think BushCo would've hesitated to send Reid to Gitmo if they tho't it would help them get a conviction?

Or you can smear by innuendo "is Abdulmuhtallab cooperating because he got a plea bargain?"

These people have no soul and no honor.

the Big Storm III

The Big Storm III

I've also figured out how to embed the video from Vimeo (it's really easy).
Winter 2009-10 #2 from Mike Roberts on Vimeo.

Video Link

Blogspot has a really crappy video utility, so I've started putting the movies up on Vimeo.

Here's the link: Vimeo Link

eg:
Winter 2009-10 #1 from Mike Roberts on Vimeo.

The Big Storm III

Image
The latest Big Storm didn't quite measure up.  Looks like we got 2-3 inches over night, tho' there was some pretty good wind, which is supposed to continue thru today and tomorrow.  So the probability of losing power again is still high.

Green Solutions

The greener you make it, the happier the economy gets.

The Big Storm III

Image
The destruction of the forest:

The Big Storm III

Image
The view from the Master Bath window.

The Big Storm III

Got power back at about 530 yesterday evening.  Of course, this was less than 10 hours after I scored one of the last 3 generators at Lowe's - they got a short shipment of a couple dozen in at 7, opened the store at 730 and were sold out by 10.  But I don't care.  I'm so fucking tired of this Post-Apocalypse bullshit I could spit bricks thru a car door.

The phones came back maybe 15 minutes ago, so I needed to grab some webtime and post some of this before the next storm starts in earnest.  The phone issue has been very annoying.  Losing the land line is bad enough, but the power outage also took out our local cell tower, so communications has been difficult as well.

It's already been flurrying a bit off and on all morning.  Forecasters are saying we'll get 4-8 more inches tonite.  Given the sorry state of the grid to begin with, and the simple fact that lots of trees are bent and damaged and ready to go, it shouldn't take much to put us back to where we were …

The Big Storm II

As of about 1:30 pm Saturday Feb 6:
It's been snowing since yesterday at about daybreak. 
Lost power at 6:30 last night.
Probably close to 20 inches on the ground so far, expecting another 3 or 4 through tonight at about 10.

I bought a second power inverter last week, so this time we can run the WiFi and one laptop, the phones and the TV and satellite receiver.

If the official total snowfall is over 18 inches, it sets the record for most snow in a season.

All for now.

Into The Lions' Den Again

I posted earlier about Obama going to the Repub Retreat and suggested at the time that if Obama beat up on people at The Prayer Breakfast, we might get an idea of how the administration intends to navigate the various minefields left over from the last 30 years of partisan warfare.

I've seen some of the video (if you go looking for it, don't forget to include Hillary's remarks - as often as I find her grating and unpleasant, I think she's doing a really good job for us at State).  Anyway, The Big O had some pretty sharp and direct criticism for the Goddies, but he said it in a nice way.  It didn't sound a lot different than any sermon you might hear in any given church on any given Sunday.

So I'm left to believe he got thru to at least some of 'em.  Or maybe he's doing a kind of surgery - like he sees an unhealthy element in these groups of people who are otherwise decent folk, and he's trying to talk to the 'moderates' in a way that says &q…

Seat Belts

Because I just think it's a really good ad.

Curiouser About Mr O'Keefe

James O'Keefe is quite a piece of work.  Via the watchdogs at One People's Project, here's a new twist.

Reality Will Out

The wingers tho't they had the perfect gift in the way Obama approached the Undies Bomber.  Of course, ya gotta remember they count on us having short attention spans and even shorter memories.  Anyway, it was just amazing to hear them criticize Obama for how he handled it - especially the part about Mirandizing Abdulmutallab.

Take a look at this from The Washington Monthly.

Political hypocrisy knows no bounds when they're just trying to stay outa jail.

Call Their Bluff

Here's Sully's whole post today about politicians who're all style and no substance; and the Press Poodles who can't quite figure out what to do with all that airtime.

In my view, every single Republican who appears on cable or radio and who complains about the debt and rules out any tax hikes should be directly and specifically asked every single time what they propose to cut. Specifically. Every single time. Equally, every single Democrat who says they want to tackle the debt needs to be asked every single time which taxes they propose raising. Specifically. Every single time. If the journalist looks like an asshole, get over it. It is our job to look like assholes. We are professional assholes. We get paid to be rude. In order to expose the truth.

One reason this country is in a fiscal crisis is that journalists are not doing their job.

They chase ratings and politician "gets" more than they chase the truth. Why did it take the president to expose the Repub…

Demand Question Time

Obama did a good and right thing by standing up and taking the heat.  I think if we could  get a lot more of this, then we might begin to see something that more closely resembles the government we ought to have.  It's worth a try anyway.

Democracy requires participation. Spend 30 seconds filling in just 3 fields and let's see what happens.

http://demandquestiontime.com/

The KOS Poll

Here it is.

Sadly, The South shows up as looking pretty fuckin' stupid.

Ten Years Of Hell

From Allison Kilkenny at True/Slant:
She quotes extensively from a couple of sources that are definitely "left-leaning", but nonetheless make substantive points.
The people who committed the fraud that led to the collapse aren’t going to jail, the press is ignoring this fact, and that’s a bad thing.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are severely weakening the economy.

The U.S. has the greatest income inequality, highest per capita prison population and worst health conditions of all high-income countries, and yet the poor remain politically invisible domestically, and abroad.

And while Obama plans a budget freeze, economists are saying a second stimulus and increased entitlements are badly needed, which requires government understanding that deficits — in the short run — are a good thing.
Then she links to Dan Froomkin at Harvard's Nieman Watchdog (yeah, yeah it's Froomkin, but the guy still knows a few things, and we hafta relearn how to listen to guys who actually kno…

Tricksterism And Thuggery

Ok, so I posted about Lil Jimmy O'Keefe and his newest escapade in NoLa; and I wondered at the time who would come forward and help him out. Well, soo-prize, soo-prize, soo-prize. He suddenly and magically appears on Cluster Fox claiming he was only trying to help Sen Landrieu's constituents get the good government they deserve; and that getting busted and then charged with a few FEDERAL FELONIES was just a big misunderstanding. Gosh.


So now, I'm thinking this has become a national story with national press exposure, and it'll be harder to seat a jury that isn't at least partly aware of the politics involved; and that makes it harder to prosecute the crimes. Gosh, you don't suppose that's what Cluster Fox had in mind, do ya?

Next question: who's paying this guy? What're his means of support?

Into The Lions' Den Again

So Obama goes to the Repub Retreat and knocks 'em around so bad that Cluster Fox has to cut away from their live coverage.

Now he's planning to go to the National Prayer Breakfast, and the lefties are semi-indignant and saying he's lending credence to a bunch of fratfucks like The Family. Roll tape:


I'm interested to see if Obama will call these guys out too. He runs the risk of being labeled preachy, but he gets that from a lot of wingers anyway, so that's a wash. But he could score some real points with 'moderates and independents' who haven't paid much attention to these kinds of seriously sketchy power groups that operate in the shadows. It'd be good for all of us if he shines a nice bright light on The Family and it's direct ties to some really shitty things going on in politics. Could be fun.

But the real, real story here is probably that Obama is busily working behind the curtain - he's got all his guys on the phones, calling all…

The Spending Freeze

Image
Cutting the budget by demanding cuts in "discretionary spending" always sounds like a great idea until you realize you're not likely to find the biggest number of wasted dollars in the smallest of the budget items.


























I haven't looked at Obama's new budget proposal yet, but does anybody really believe there's gonna be a whole lotta change in the percentages?  So here's the basic layout in a package totaling $3.8 Trillion:

$906 Billion = Defense, DHS, VA
$790 Billion = Social Security
$418 Billion = Safety Net Programs
$760 Billion = Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP
$304 Million = Debt Service
--------------
$3,178,000,000,000.00 (subtotal)

$622 Billion is what we have left for everything else (Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Education, State, Justice, Transportation, Interior, HUD, Energy).  So go ahead - cut the crap out of it.  Don't just freeze it and not let it grow with inflation; cut it back by 10%.  No, let's cut it by 20%.  If that's all …

We Are So Fucked

We get a taste of things to come from a story in The Denver Post today.

In spite of the obvious to the contrary, this gives the Grover Norquists of the world another chance to spin it out as further 'evidence' that any and all government is worthless and should be discontinued.

Anatomy Of "The News"