Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Creationism And Climate Change Denial

GOP Games

This is why I never send money to political parties.  If I think a particular candidate is worthy, I'll contribute directly.


Privatizing certain things is a good idea. Building roads, dams, bridges, etc. Some operations within other government departments. Maintenance or Concessions and other people businesses in parks; subcontractors for a variety of services where it makes good fiscal or fiduciary sense.

One place privatization is NEVER a good idea is Law Enforcement. This might as well be a story about the Sheriff of Nottingham.


The creative spelling used by Tea Baggers on their protest signs.
See it all right here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Windy and little cold today, but at least it stopped rainin'.

The lady Cardinal was too shy to pose for me - maybe another time.

These Changes

I worried that the bust in Michigan (Hutaree Militia) could be seen as another Waco; with all the usual sturm und drang from the drama queens on "conservative" Clown Radio.  But one aspect is emerging that I find pretty interesting: this Hutaree outfit is considered by most of the 'militia community' as a bunch of nuts.  Let's try to set aside the patent Pot-Meets-Kettle  and just consider the fact that the other militias dislike the Hutarees to the point they've been working with the Feds to help nail these freaks.

Let that one soak in for a bit.

Now suppose for just a moment that Obama pulled the trigger on this particular bunch of coconuts because it's a perfect setup for him to sink a wide-open 3-pointer from way downtown.

1) he bags a dangerous group determined to attack us; demonstrating that law enforcement is sometimes the best way to combat terrorism - no matter where that terrorist threat originates. (and BTW, these asshats ARE terrorists)

2) he co-opts the 'militia movement' by enlisting their help - which kinda takes them away from the Repubs and brings them back over to the side of law and order...

3) ...which means that at least some of these other militia groups will help - purposefully or otherwise - but will help to "re-legitimize The Government".

Look for signs of fracture within the militia movement.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Was That A Shot?

I can't believe I missed such a ripe opportunity.

Included in the Healthcare Reform Bill is a new tax on indoor tanning salons.  Do you think that's an attempt by evil Democrats to make John Boehner pay for the whole thing himself?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Slouching Towards Oblivion

False Equivalence

After several incidents of vandalism, and some spitting and verbal attacks, etc (all of which I think were intended as open threats of real violence even if the actions weren't intentionally incited by Repub rhetoric), our own Eric Cantor went to the press with 'news' that his office had also been 'attacked', so of course, it's all even and nobody should blame the Repubs for fomenting violent actions against their political opponents.

Let's take a little gander at what the Richmond Police Dept posted on their website about this 'attack':

The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism at the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., Richmond, Virginia. A first floor window was struck by a bullet at approximately 1 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23. The building, which has several tenants including an office used by Congressman Eric Cantor, was unoccupied at the time.

A Richmond Police detective was assigned to the case. A preliminary investigation shows that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room, which is used occasionally for meetings by the congressman.

The Richmond Police Department is sharing information about the incident with appropriate law enforcement agencies.

At this time there are no suspects.
Posted by RPD at 12:21 PM

According to James (804-646-0607), a Media Relations guy at The Richmond Police Dept, investigators now believe the damage to the building was due to "random gunfire".

There was no attack.

I've had a lot of difficulty tracking down the building's management, who owns it, etc.  It does appear to be a very modest place in the general vicinity of downtown Richmond.   The building's tenants include a political consulting firm (Marcus & Allen), and a direct mail operation (Creative Direct, LLC, owned by Marcus & Allen).  It's probable that Cantor maintains some kind of 'presence' in that space (most likely as a client), but it's certainly not where Mr Cantor hangs out, since his Richmond office is actually several miles to the northwest of where the incident took place.

A couple of guesses: 
1) The Marcus & Allen bunch is part of the Old Boy Network; providing operatives and support services to the Repub machinery, while getting some nice paychecks courtesy of the rubes out there sending in their nickels and dimes.
2) They saw a decent opportunity to offset some of the PR damage the Repubs were taking because of their wingnuts by portraying a mere coincidence as an equivalency.

Just sayin'


I guess the pendulum swings. I bailed on the Dems in the late 70's because they were veering too sharply left. I split from the Repubs in the late 80's because they were lurching badly to the right.

Here's a look at the continuing erosion in the numbers of Likely Voters who are willing to self-describe as Repub.

I suspect there are many reasons, but I think it has an awful lot to do with the Drama Queen rhetoric that Repubs seem totally enthralled with. People are starting to get hip to their tricks.

One small point: the upturn for the Dems doesn't equal the downturn for the Repubs; and since there's also a bit of a dip in Independent totals, I think it means some people are just walking away from the Repubs. Short-term, it should mean Repubs get spanked on Election Day, but longer-term, if the Dems can't attract significant numbers of disaffected Repubs, then Repubs can regroup and come back once they get their shit together (aka: getting your wingnuts under control).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

From Society of HR Mgmt

It's a mixed bag - lots of gloom and doom from the usual Repub suspects, and lots of wait-n-see from the analysts, and lots of No-Really-It's-Gonna-Work-We'll-Fix-It-Later from the Dems.

Employer Mandate?

Go Sit In The Corner

Repubs like to declare loudly and often that they're the party with all the respect for the US Military. They're the ones who "listen to the commanders on the ground". They have a respect for the uniform that Dems just don't get.

With a few simple words — "I would have to object" — Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina derailed a Senate Armed Services hearing today in which generals had traveled from Korea and Hawaii to testify about the Pentagon's needs for the next year.

Repubs also have a tendency to claim they have a better understanding of (and a greater aversion to) "government waste". Does it just not occur to these knuckleheads that scheduling a meeting that requires 3 FLAG OFFICERS to come in from Nebraska and Hawaii and Korea, and then canceling it without hearing from the Brass Hats - that this is practically the definition of government waste!?!

What's more troubling is that this is a continuing pattern, so I've suspected for a while that they do some of these things on purpose. They thwart certain efforts that should make things work a little more smoothly, and then down the road somewhere, they point back to the mess they helped to create, and they say, "See? I told ya - it's all fucked up." And, "I guess I'd better stay on a while and try to protect ya'll from that bad ol' gummint."

These people have no soul and no honor.

Read more: From McClatchy.

Today's Quote

"Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate.  But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian," - Mitt Romney, April 11, 2006. (hat tip to Sully)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Warriors

What Reform Means For You

Follow this link, answer a couple of questions and see what happens.

On What Just Happened

Some analysis of What Just Happened.

Some things to remember - like Cenk says, the bill addresses some of the worst aspects of Healthcare Insurance Coverage, but does precious little about the root causes. One thing Cenk doesn't mention is that if you attack Big Insurance and Big Pharma and Big BioMed, then you're attacking the people who work for those companies. The suits in the executive suites aren't going to sacrifice themselves in this battle. They're gonna put their workers on the line first; workers who have hopes and dreams and kids and mortgages and Voter Registration Cards.

Also, Dems who wanna gloat need to be ever-mindful of the simple fact that SCOTUS gave the hammer to Big Corporate in the Citizens United decision. I'd like to believe the current meme - that Repubs are in deep denial mode; they're in total disarray; that they're indulging in wishful thinking, probably just to put on a brave face for the party faithful; but I know for a stone fact that it's always a bad idea to underestimate the opponent.

What Just Happened

1) Children cannot be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. (adults included starting in 2014)

2) Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will get tax credits covering up to 50% of employee premiums.

3) Seniors will get a rebate to fill the so-called "donut hole" in Medicare drug coverage, which severely limits prescription medication coverage expenditures over $2,700. As of next year, 50 percent of the donut hole will be filled.

4) Children can stay on their parents' plan until they turn 27.

5) Lifetime caps on the amount of insurance an individual can have will be banned. (Annual caps will be limited, and banned in 2014)

6) A temporary high-risk pool will be set up to cover adults with pre-existing conditions. Healthcare Exchanges will eliminate the need for that program in 2014.

7) New plans must cover checkups and other preventative care without co-pays. All plans will be affected by 2018.

8) Insurance companies can no longer cut someone when he or she gets sick.

9) Insurers must now reveal how much money is spent on overhead.

10) Any new plan must now implement an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.

11) Tanning Salon Tax - this tax will impose a ten percent tax on indoor tanning services. This tax, which replaced the proposed tax on cosmetic surgery, would be effective for services on or after July 1, 2010.

12) New screening procedures will be implemented to help eliminate health insurance fraud and waste.

13) Medicare payment protections will be extended to small rural hospitals and other health care facilities that have a small number of Medicare patients.

14) Non-profit Blue Cross organizations will be required to maintain a medical loss ratio -- money spent on procedures versus money coming in -- of 85 percent or higher to take advantage of IRS tax benefits.

15) Chain restaurants will be required to provide a "nutrient content disclosure statement" alongside their items. Expect to see calories listed both on in-store and drive-through menus of fast-food restaurants sometime soon.

16) The bill establishes a temporary program for companies that provide early retiree health benefits for those ages 55‐64 in order to help reduce the often-expensive cost of that coverage.

17) The Secretary of Health and Human Services will set up a new Web site to make it easy for Americans in any state to seek out affordable health insurance options The site will also include helpful information for small businesses.

18) A two‐year temporary credit (up to a maximum of $1 billion) is in the bill to encourage investment in new therapies for the prevention and treatement of diseases.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Whatever Will We Do?

The handwringing over at is really fun to watch right now.  This post is classic.  And there's quite a little spat that breaks out in the comments.  It gets to be a real hoot about 1/3 of the way down when the poster (Neil Stevens) gets into it with a reader AKA'd as eastbaylarry.

It could be interesting - especially so if Erick Erickson continues what looks like an attempt to widen the Republicans' appeal (I assume to attract the ever-elusive Independent Voter), while at the some time narrowing the party's identity by chasing out The Birthers and The Nullifiers, etc.

David Frum

The guy pretzles himself in a big way.  From his blog. 

This is a guy who's done his share of throwing fuel on the partisan fire - going as far towards the logical extreme as anybody else - and here he is saying, "Gosh, why's everybody so pissed off all the time?"

But just when I think he's gonna say something reasonable (like, maybe this won't be so bad - maybe we should wait and see), he goes back over the top and jumps straight into Blame-The-Media-No-Matter-What mode.  Except, now, he's blaming the Conservative Bias of The Media(?)  WTF?  I'm having a hard time remembering the last time I heard any of these guys even acknowledge the existence of Conservative Media.

I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.

I'd sure like to see somebody pick up on this.  It's just possible we're seeing a Bill Buckley moment here.

Bring The Stupid

I Just Had To

Too funny not to.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Break Free

The more we spend on oil, the more money the bad guys get to spend on attacking us.

If you oppose efforts to move away from fossil fuels (ie: clean energy legislation, carbon tax/cap-and-trade, etc), then you're supporting a status quo that makes it more probable that we will be attacked.

If we take more steps that dry up some more of their sources of funding (like NOT sending so much money to the Saudis), then assholes like al-Qaeda get fewer dollars they can use to buy things to blow shit up. Get it?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One More

A relatively new favorite, written by Yann Tiersen

Happy Vernal Equinox, Everybody!

Just a great tune for any random Saturday, but on a day when the year seems to teeter between falling back into winter or stumbling forward into spring, there's a nice bitter sweet vibe to this.

Gaming The System

It's hard for me to imagine they're not teaching this in Business School now. This looks like a near-classic example of a 'turnaround' - taking a negative and selling it as a positive; or in this case, defining your competitor's action as a negative and using it to bolster your own image by portraying yourself as the underdog.

This really looks like UPS is trying to level out the playing field by lobbying for a change in regulations so that all the package delivery entities come under the same set of labor laws. But we've got this website ( complete with a parody of UPS's white board guy using all the negative buzzwords - bailout, monopoly, etc - trying to whip up a little counter-frenzy against UPS's efforts. BTW: who owns Why, FedX of course.

They all talk about healthy competition and fairness, but when it comes time to nut up or shut up, they're looking for cover behind whatever politician they can get at a discount.

These people have no soul and no honor.

To play this video you need to install a more recent version of the Adobe Flash Player.Xspot by Mixpo

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lax, Brah!

The Lukester at this year's pre-season tournament.

Majority Now

Caveat: It's a little semantic, but I've never liked the popular notion of "Majority Rules". In a democracy the majority decides the question at hand; the decision of the majority carries the day. But in a democracy, nobody 'rules' anything or anybody at any time.

Also, I think it's important to remember that we've seen some bad shit going on because of Majority Rules. Jim Crow for one example. And let's not forget that the most popular car in the world in 1971 was the Ford Pinto.

Just because you can get 51% to go along with your idea doesn't necessarily mean your idea is a good one.

That said, here's a pretty good one from Mark Fiore:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who Speaks For "The Church"?

Catholic nuns urge passage of Obama's health bill
WASHINGTON — Catholic nuns are urging Congress to pass President Barack Obama's health care plan, in an unusual public break with bishops who say it would subsidize abortion.
Some 60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns Wednesday sent lawmakers a letter urging them to pass the Senate health care bill. It contains restrictions on abortion funding that the bishops say don't go far enough.
The letter says that "despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions." The letter says the legislation also will help support pregnant women and "this is the real pro-life stance."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hooda Thunk It

This is Dick Armey? The guy who "oops-ed" on Barney Frank's name, calling him Barney Fag? This is that guy?

That Magnificent Bastard

Alan Grayson, in response to Sarah Palin's appearance at a Lincoln Day fund raiser in Grayson's district; when Palin told the crowd she'd like to take a few shots at Grayson, but she didn't want to say anything that her daughter Piper shouldn't hear.  This is always a good way to avoid the simple truth that you're just not quick enough to come up with anything good that can then go on network TV.  Or was she admitting she's really a potty-mouth?

Grayson knows a good opening when he sees it, and he shot back, saying that he was impressed she was able to fit his entire name on her hand.

"I look forward to an honest debate with Governor Palin on the issues, in the unlikely event that she ever learns anything about them," Grayson said. His campaign added that "[s]cientists are studying Sarah Palin's travel between Alaska and Florida carefully. They hope to learn more about the flight patterns of that elusive migratory species, the wild Alaskan dingbat."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Climate Change

Here on the east coast, we're just coming out of a tough winter.  And of course, some folks have had lots of fun ridiculing Al Gore because of it. (the guy practically invites abuse - it would be rude to deny him)  Anyway, aside from the Politics of Schtoopid, there's an attitude here that seems to get people thinking a) whatever is happening here is happening everywhere; and b) whatever is happening here is all that matters, because the East Coast of the USA is the center of the universe and everybody secretly wishes they were us.

In the meantime, some interesting things were actually taking place up there in Canuckistan.  Here's that story.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Smartly Sexy

If there's anything hotter than a smart chick being smart, it hasn't been discovered yet. Wouldn't it be nice if we got this kind of programming on TV instead of crap like Judge Judy and Jersey Shore?

God And Country

The 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco says the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance is OK because it's a patriotic thing and not a religious thing.  Fine.  But the ruling itself is a nice bit of hair-splitting - aimed at mollifying both sides rather than trying to get to a point of Settled Law - and so it's mostly bullshit.

I'm conservative, so I think first and foremost, that there's no way I'm going to hold myself liable to taking a Loyalty Oath.

Second, even if I go along with this crap, I much prefer the original.

Third, I have no allegiance for bed sheets or underwear or upholstery, so I intend never to pledge my allegiance to a flag.  The ideal itself is what's important - not the symbol.

Finally, if I ever feel the need, I'll recite my own version:
"I pledge allegiance to The United States of America. One nation; indivisible; with liberty and justice for all."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Cost Of "Living"

"Healthcare Reform" right now is all about "reforming" the way we do the insurance part of it.  I've been thinking the process has to deal with 2 main parts - the cost of insurance, and the cost of care itself.  Now I think we're looking at breaking it down a little further and directing the effort first at getting as many people covered as possible, and then taking another look at what it all costs so we can start trying to figure out ways to push down on those costs.

Here's a look at what's been happening to the premiums we pay if we get insurance thru our employers:

Quote For The Day

The Mustache of Understanding gets one right.

“Message from America to the Israeli government: Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And right now, you’re driving drunk. You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality. Call us when you’re serious. We need to focus on building our country.”  Tom Friedman - NYT

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ahh - Now I Get It

I've had a nagging suspicion for a while now that we weren't seeing quite the whole picture of how our economy was changing over the last 15-20 years.  Turns out it's mostly because we haven't been measuring (or reporting) things like Productivity very well.  And actually, you could make a decent case that while our fearless leaders have known about this all along, they've steadfastly refused to explain it to us clearly - instead, we just get the usual happy-talk about how great everything is and if you're not able to participate, then you must be doing something wrong.

Above all, if offshoring has been driving much of our supposed productivity gains, then the case for complete free trade begins to erode. If often such policies simply increase corporate profits at the expense of American workers, with no gains in true productivity, then they don’t necessarily strengthen the national economy.

The Op-Ed piece homes in on the disconnect between stagnating wages and the big increase in productivity that we keep hearing is supposed to drive up a worker's earnings.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hold The Testosterone Please

Mike Mullen continues to say things that could prove dangerous to his career and reputation.

First, he criticized DADT a while back - right there in front of a Senate committee and everything - and now this.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday evening that there are limits to American military power and diplomatic efforts must be just as important if not more so. But despite recognition of this, the military has become the default for American foreign policy.

Limits to our power!?!  Diplomacy!?!  How long before the wingnuts start to go after Mullen and his boss, Bob Gates for being appeasers, and soft on terrorism?  Also, I'm guessing that once the campaign against them starts, whenever Limbaugh or Cluster Fox refers to either of them, they'll be identified as "Obama's".  ie: Obama's Sec'y of Defense Bob Gates...or Obama's top military adviser Adm Mullen.  That way, the rubes can conveniently ignore the facts and concentrate on misspelling their protest signs. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Taibbi On Healthcare Reform

As much as Obamacare sucks, though, the alternative is even worse. For one thing, the defeat of Obama's health care initiative would set a decisive precedent: that even a transcendently popular new president armed with a congressional supermonopoly is forbidden to so much as put a regulatory finger on an organized, politically connected industry. For another thing, Obama's pukish bungling of health care may achieve what previously seemed impossible: exhuming the syphilitic corpse of George W. Bush's Republican Party, and, shit, who knows, maybe eight years of President Sarah Palin.

Read it all here.

Bring The Stupid

Yeah, it's a cheap shot.  Guess what?  Don't care.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crock Of The Week

"Science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves" -Richard Feynman

A Free Market Economy

One of the problems with any "system" is that when we see something that works for some things, we assume (even insist) that it'll work for everything.

High Country News has a good piece on the unintended consequences of our reliance on Private Sector solutions to certain Law Enforcement and Public Health problems.

The drug industry is the second-largest source of foreign currency in Mexico, just behind oil. It earns somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion a year -- no one really knows, including the people in the industry. It also creates enormous numbers of jobs in the U.S.: We spend billions a year on narcs, maintain the world's largest prison industry, which is absolutely dependent on the intake of drug felons, and we have about 20,000 agents on the border who feed off drug importation. The rehab industry is also a source of a large number of jobs since many well-heeled defendants pick mandatory treatment over prison. Many county and local police departments now get fat off of RICO suits based on drug offenses.

Once we made it profitable for some people to fight "The War On Drugs", it didn't take long for them to figure out that it's not in their best interests to win it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ten Years Of Hell

Read this from Nieman Watchdog.

Despite catastrophic events, it is folly to expect the suffering of millions and an onslaught of inconsistent facts to wipe out an economic theory whose tenets were and still are so convenient for so many powerful economic interests. At present the defenders of the efficient market hypothesis are engaged in trying to pin the cause of the financial crisis on the government. (If the financial crisis was the result of government policies, then one could still plausibly claim the market to be rational, efficient, etc.) Their targets include the mortgage practices of the quasi-government lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, the low interest rates of the Federal Reserve, and a pessimistic speech by President George W. Bush. The problem with this “blame-the-government” approach is the disproportion between these purported causes and economic effects. As Paul Krugman noted,

“[N]one of the proposed evil deeds of policy makers were remotely large enough to cause problems of this magnitude unless markets vastly overreacted. That is, you have to start by assuming wildly dysfunctional markets before you can blame the government for the crisis; and if markets are that dysfunctional, who needs the government to create a mess?”