Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On The Very Bad Year

"Obama had a lousy year" - that's kinda the theme for 2013.  Bullshit, says I.

"The Left" - for want of a better descriptor - has acquired a kind of self esteem problem. God forbid they do or say anything that might leave them open to being criticized for supporting Obama even when he does something they don't agree with.

So we get lots of Obama slagging - Hippie Punching if you prefer.  The best way to inoculate yourself from being tagged as an ObamaBot is to shit on Obama's head whenever you get the chance.

Anyway - cutting to the chase:  Turns out that Obama's a politician who disappoints us once in a while.  Wow - now there's a revelation.

He's not the god-sent messiah everybody on "The Right" is saying everybody on "The Left" is saying he is.  But y'know, he is actually healing the sick (ACA) and he did manage to raise the dead (GM), so hey - maybe we should just chill a little and give him a hand now and then, and just wait to see if he's got something else up his sleeve for us.

We're still here; we've got another war winding down; we're not in default; the economy sputters a lot but it's moving in a generally upward direction (while the deficit continues downward); we have something that resembles an actual budget in place; and considering the Cocktail of Clusterfuck he has to deal with every fuckin' day, I think it's pretty remarkable the Prez still gets up every morning and heads into the office to see if he can get something done.

Here's to hoping for an even better year in 2014.




What It Ain't

This is not entitlement:








This is entitlement:








Putting The Lie To It

"Liberal Bias in the Media".  We hear it all the time, and once in a while, somebody comes up with something that should be considered proof that there's no such thing - that the truth is exactly the opposite - and still, we just can't seem to break thru.  I wonder why that is.

Here's a little chart from a post at MSNBC by Steve Benen:

The above chart shows every political figure who made 10 or more Sunday show appearances this year, with red columns representing Republicans and blue columns representing Democrats. For 2013, the race wasn’t especially close – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) easily came out on top, making 27 appearances this year. That works out to an average of one appearance every 1.9 weeks (or 2.25 Sunday show appearances a month, every month for a year).
And just in case you're inclined to think NBC is booking these guys in order to grill 'em a little - to hold their feet to the fire - uh uh.  Watch a few of these weekly circle jerks, and then try to tell me the main point of the enterprise isn't about coin-operated politicians selling us a box full of fog.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ray And Bonnie

Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? --Ray Charles and Bonnie Raitt



A year ago today.





Haiku You

The Rude Pundit has opened his annual(?) Kaiku Contest thingie - submit a Haiku and get it published on the interwebs!  Woohoo!

His example for today:

Soul-free GOP
Shits on the souls of Newtown,
Fellates NRA.


You can email your entries to: rudepundit@yahoo.com

One Day It Called To You

The Summer Wind --Sinatra





Thursday, December 26, 2013

Running A Little Contrary

The 12 Days After Christmas --Julia Murney



The first day after Christmas my true love and I had a fight.
And so I chopped the pear tree down and burned it just for spite.
Then with a single cartridge, I shot that blasted partridge,
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me.

The second day after Christmas, I pulled on the old rubber gloves.
And very gently wrung the necks of both the turtle doves,
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me.

The third day after Christmas, my mother caught the croup.
I had to use the three Frech hens to make some chicken soup.

The four calling birds were a big mistake, for their language was obscene.
The five gold rings were completely fake and they turned my fingers green .

The sixth day after Christmas, the six laying geese wouldn't lay.
I gave the whole darn gaggle to the A.S.P.C.A.

On the seventh day what a mess I found.
All seven of the swimming swans had drowned,
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me.

The eighth day after Christmas, before they could suspect,
I bundled up the eight maids a milking,
nine pipers piping,
ten ladies dancing,
'leven lords a leaping,
twelve drummers drumming - actually, I kept one of the drummers -
and sent them back collect.

I wrote my true love, "We are through, love",
and I said in so many words,
"Furthermore your Christmas gifts were for the birds!"

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Deep In The Heart Of Me

I've Got You Under My Skin --Sinatra (Live At The Sands)





Today's Quote

Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

-- James Madison to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822.

hat tip = Charlie Pierce

Happy Newtonmas, Everybody



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hurry Down The Chimney

Santa Baby --Eartha Kitt





Testify, Sistuh Pearl

A Five-Pound Box Of Money --Pearl Bailey





A Joyful Noise

This one's kind of a perennial post for me - just trying to encourage the bible thumpers to devote so much time to making spectacular music that they're left with little to spend mucking about in politics.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, everybody.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Today's Quote

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened." --Sir Winston Churchill

A Slightly Different Point Of View

Fuck Christmas --Eric Idle

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lost In The Shuffle

Way too many times, when we're busy sniping and ducking fire, we forget to look at what's actually happening.

WaPo:
Over at Health Affairs, Andrew Steinmetz, Ralph Muller, Steven Altschuler and Ezekiel Emanuel decided to see how health reform looked to hospital executives. They surveyed 74 C-Suite executives from institutions that, on average, employed 8,520 workers and saw annual revenues of $1.5 billion. The survey wasn't scientific by any means, but in a speculative conversation that's proceeding mostly by anecdote, these individuals have a better vantage point on the changes that health reform is making to actual health-care systems than virtually anyone else.
The results? Hospital executives think health reform is going to make the health care they deliver a whole lot better -- and a bit cheaper:
Fully 65 percent indicated that by 2020, they believe the healthcare system as a whole will be somewhat or significantly better than it is today. And when they were asked about their own institutions, the optimism was even more dramatic. Fully 93 percent predicted that the quality of care provided by their own health system would improve. This is probably related to efforts to diminish hospital acquired conditions, medication errors, and unnecessary re-admissions, as encouraged by financial penalties in the ACA.

These are the guys who make money on your being sick.  Not like the docs and nurses who mostly earn every penny trying to take care of us - an awful lot of these guys are cut-throat MBA types with no clinical background, who often speak of their patients as products, and who just as often believe they can't afford the luxury of having honest human emotions when it comes to the business of healthcare.

65% of 'em think healthcare in USAmerica Inc will be better under ACA.
91% think the cost aspects will improve.
And 93% are convinced that the quality of care at their own facilities will improve.

How can there possibly be any question as to why Repubs (and their Press Poodles) are constantly slagging Obama and "Gubmint Healthcare"?

A Bit Shocking

...cuz, when you think of "librul pinko-socialist utopia", you just automatically think - Utah(?)

From NationSwell, via Democratic Underground
Utah has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015. How’d they do it? The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment.
And did you catch the part about saving tax dollars?  Wow - turns out the sensible, business-like thing to do is to be generous and charitable.  Hoodathunkit!?!

So, when the clear-eyed rational tough-love austerians are talking about how "we just can't coddle these people because all we're doing by giving them handouts is teaching them to be dependent"? - well, now we have some more very good empirical evidence that they really are just being the short-sighted narrow-minded pricks we tho't they were in the first place.  Not that this particular bit of very good empirical evidence won't be lost on 'em, like it usually is.  To wit:
In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, only 36 percent of Americans reported having "a lot" of trust that information they get from scientists is accurate and reliable. Fifty-one percent said they trust that information only a little, and another 6 percent said they don't trust it at all.
Science journalists fared even worse in the poll. Only 12 percent of respondents said they had a lot of trust in journalists to get the facts right in their stories about scientific studies. Fifty-seven percent said they have a little bit of trust, while 26 percent said they don't trust journalists at all to accurately report on scientific studies.
So it's a complete crapshoot on whether we get our collective head out of our ass, but hey - there's never a bad time to throw some Carlin at ya:

Prison Break

I'm Dressin' Up Like Santa --Bob Rivers







Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sometimes Small Is Big

Sarah Jarosz via NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts
w/ fiddler Alex Hargreaves and cellist Nathaniel Smith





Today's Rant



Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer.

Happy Solstice

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas --Bob Evans

Friday, December 20, 2013

Today's Pix








What Comfort Can Be Found


Of all the aspects of religiousness that make my skin crawl, that's kinda the big'un - the fact that a "Christian" like Erick Erickson is comforted by the thought of other people suffering because they don't believe in his imaginary friends.

That's pretty fucked up right there.

hat tip = Little Green Footballs

God Love The Onion

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Meanwhile, Back At The Executive Mansion

From WaPo, via Richmond Times Dispatch:
Federal prosecutors told Gov. Bob McDonnell last week that he and his wife would be charged in connection with a gift scandal, but senior Justice Department officials delayed the decision after the McDonnells’ attorneys made a face-to-face appeal in Washington, according to people familiar with the case.
Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told the McDonnells’ legal teams that he planned to ask a grand jury to return an indictment no later than this past Monday, people familiar with the conversations said.

The governor and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, would have been charged with working together to illegally promote a struggling dietary supplement company in exchange for gifts and loans from its CEO, the people said.
The legal teams for Vaginal Bob and Lady McDonnell met with a Deputy USAG and got something of a reprieve.  Nobody's talking about it, but it could be just the usual delaying tactic of pleading for the indictments to be postponed until after McAuliffe's inauguration.  That way (per conventional wisdom), we can pretend that the stench of corruption is totally (and only) attached to these two people, and doesn't point directly at a political system that's growing into a full-blown institutionalized scheme of coin-operated politicians.

I'm not convinced yet that McAuliffe has what it takes, but it sure would be nice for him to start things off by declaring simply and straight out that taking the big bucks from the big donors doesn't mean he'll be manufacturing policies that are custom made to fit an agenda that has practically nothing to do with - and may well do some real harm to - the people who can't afford to make those high-dollar contributions.


And There Ya Have It

Richmond Times Dispatch:
On the final day of the statewide recount in the race for Virginia’s attorney general, Republican Mark D. Obenshain conceded to Democrat Mark R. Herring, the certified winner of the Nov. 5 election, ending what Obenshain called “a vigorous and hard-fought campaign.”
Herring’s victory gives Democrats all five statewide offices — governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the two U.S. Senate seats — for the first time since 1969.

“The recount is almost over, and in this contest it’s become apparent that our campaign is going to come up a few votes short,” Obenshain said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference at the state Capitol, his wife, Suzanne, and daughter Tucker by his side.
Herring ended Election Day with a margin of less than 120 votes, and the recount as of yesterday had him up by a little over 900.

Repubs have been very busy trying to "win" elections by making it harder for certain demographic segments to vote.  They can say whatever they want about how the new restrictions apply to everybody and so they're not discriminatory at all, but anybody with a lick of sense (and the tiniest inclination to look into it) knows that's a complete crockful o' shit.

Here's the takeaway that I suspect will be totally lost on "conservatives": Democracy works pretty well even when you try to fuck with it.  So, could ya please stop fucking with it now?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Government As Usual

Another step towards "making government run more like a business":


To amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to provide for the registration of marks consisting of a flag, coat of arms, or other official insignia of the United States or of any State or local government, and for other purposes. 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 

SECTION 1. REGISTRATION OF CERTAIN MARKS OF THE UNITED STATES AND STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. 

Section 2(b) of the Act entitled ``An Act to provide for the registration and protection of trademarks used in commerce, to carry out the provisions of certain international conventions, and for other purposes'', approved July 6, 1946 (commonly referred to as the ``Trademark Act of 1946''; 15 U.S.C. 1052(b)) is amended by inserting after ``simulation thereof'' the following: ``, except that this subsection shall not prevent the United States, or any State, municipality, county, political subdivision, or other governmental authority in the United States, from obtaining registration under this Act of any mark that consists of or comprises its own flag, coat of arms, or other official insignia''.

Designated HR3713, introduced by Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY08), and cosponsored by Ted Poe (R-TX02).

Cuz that's exactly what we need to spend tax dollars on - Gubmint Watchdogs to protect the viability of The Government Brand; to decide who does and who doesn't get to use Ol' Glory and in what way.  There's a fortune to be made by USAmerica Inc, simply by extracting licensing fees and royalties from anybody who wants to use anything "government-related" for any commercial purpose.  

This avid corporatizing is a sickness.  And it's especially offensive when we're ready to apply the empty and meaningless bullshit of Brand Value Marketing to government.

Here's a quick tho't - maybe we could concentrate on the substance of government, and stop obsessing over the fucking style.

hat tip = Irregular Times

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Today's Quote

Ann The Man Coulter

What she said:
“By the way, Republicans don’t have a problem with women. They have a problem with unmarried women who think, ‘No, we don’t need national defense, we need our birth control paid for.’ [...] And why? Because single women look at the government as their husbands. [They say] ‘Please provide for me, please take care of me.’”


Coulter is a single woman.  Coulter pisses on other single women for "being dependent on Government" - "please provide for me; please take care of me", etc.

If you substitute 'GOP' for 'government', then it becomes clear that Ms Coulter is slagging herself.

Just another self-loathing 'conservative' who hates herself for being who she is.

For any 'conservatives' out there who are starting to get wise to the Long Con that Repubs are running; who would like to get back to a better spot on the political spectrum; who just wanna be regular humans again?  First thing ya gotta do is get Ann Coulter's dick outa yer mouth.

hat tip = Addicting Info

Seriously Stoopid

From Little Green Footballs:
Kotaku reports that a Tea Party group in Florida posted a picture from the game Bioshock Infinite on their Facebook page.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, Bioshock Infinite is a game that takes place in a 1912 in a flying city by the name of Columbia. It’s run by a man who is a cross between Bryan Fischer and Pat Buchanan. The place is a racist, sexist theocracy. When I played the game it seriously creeped me out.
So these Tea Partiers took an image from what is essentially a condemnation of their stance and posted it as a serious display of their beliefs.
These are really stupid people.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blue Sunday



Gotta be a way to move forward, but it seems like somebody's always dragging us back.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Yes, West Virginia - There is A Santa Claus

Swedish Meatballs

By way of a piece by Charlie Pierce, here's a Reuters story pointing up one of the big problems with Privatized Schooling - something that everybody seems to understand -  except of course the boneheads making the decisions:
(Reuters) - When one of the biggest private education firms in Sweden went bankrupt earlier this year, it left 11,000 students in the lurch and made Stockholm rethink its pioneering market reform of the state schools system.
School shutdowns and deteriorating results have taken the shine off an education model admired and emulated around the world, in Britain in particular.
"I think we have had too much blind faith in that more private schools would guarantee greater educational quality," said Tomas Tobé, head of the parliament's education committee and spokesman on education for the ruling Moderate party.
In a country with the fastest growing economic inequality of any OECD nation, basic aspects of the deregulated school market are now being re-considered, raising questions over private sector involvement in other areas like health.
Two-decades into its free-market experiment, about a quarter of once staunchly Socialist Sweden's secondary school students now attend publically-funded but privately run schools, almost twice the global average.
--and here's Charlie's closing graph--
There is, of course, a lesson for the United States here, and very likely a lesson to which nobody will pay attention. If you allow a system in which public education is privatized so that some people can make a buck on it, then making a buck is going to become the primary raison d'etre of the system. (See also: health-care.) The more ungainly the scramble for profit, the less your educational system has to do with, you know, actually educating people.
If there are decent jobs in and around the school districts, then the neighborhoods improve.  Better neighborhoods make for better schools.  Better schools make for a better labor pool.  A better work force makes for a better economy, which makes for more jobs in local neighborhoods, and then... oooh, look - then it starts over; it's almost as if all those things are interconnected.

But wait - it's not like the "boneheads making the decisions" are really all that dumb.  They're very much aware of the probability for any given enterprise to fail, so then we're left to wonder - is this just a matter of blind corporate avarice driven by a narrow ideology, or are we looking at a concerted effort to beat people down?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

All Lies In Jest

The Boxer (cover) --Shawn Colvin and Allison Krauss




Another'n from Ms Krauss - Can't Find My Way Home (Blind Faith cover):





So, That Sucks

Some not very flattering things about KIPP (a charter school franchising scheme) are coming out.

From Schools Matter:
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Manhattan mother says her 5-year-old son was locked in a padded room at school, leaving the kindergartner so traumatized he had to go to the hospital.
Taneka Hall said the “safe-calm room” at KIPP Star Elementary School in Washington Heights is used while children are placed in “time-out.” But as CBS 2′s John Slattery reported, she believes the discipline is abusive.On Dec. 3, Hall’s son, Xavier, who has had behavioral problems, was put in the room — which is padded with a window in the door. The charter school would not provide CBS 2 with a photo of the room.
Hall said Xavier was in the room alone and grew more agitated.“So they put him in the safe room, and there in the safe room, he then peed on himself and didn’t allow any teachers to come inside, so they decided to call 911,” she said.
Xavier was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to be examined. The mother said the padded room, which he’d been in before, frightened him...
I don't know exactly what a really good teacher would or should do with a kid who's having a tough time getting a handle on certain of his internal impulses, but I think maybe locking him in a padded cell ain't it.

A 5-year-old.

In Solitary-Fucking-Confinement.

They say KIPP stands for Kids In Prison Program.  I guess now we know why they say that.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Replay

In the late 70s, when Carter and our beloved Critters in Congress decided to bail out Chrysler by guaranteeing over a billion dollars in loans, I was pretty sure we'd seen the last of that money and once again, we tax-payers; we producers; we the people would just have to eat it and move on.  I was wrong about that one.

When Obama said we needed to make the same kinda move with Detroit (specifically with GM) in 2009, prompting every "conservative" to fall on the floor writhing in apoplexy, my memories of being wrong about Chrysler helped me confirm for myself the simple fact that the GOP has lost its shit completely and that I was absolutely right to have left those blockheads in the dust.
The U.S. Treasury today announced that it has sold all of the remaining shares of General Motors (GM +1.82%) common stock, ending four-and-a-half years of government ownership.
Taxpayers recouped about $39 billion of the $50.1 billion pumped into GM in late 2008 and 2009 as the Bush and Obama administrations tried to save the car maker from collapse after years of mismanagement brought to a head by a crippling credit crisis and economic recession. The sale will put an end to restrictions on executive pay, which will help GM attract top talent, and could pave the way for new dividends or share repurchases, both of which would please investors.

Historians, economists and politicians will continue to debate whether the bailout was a good idea, but there was no disagreement Monday that it was good for this episode to be over.
“The President’s leadership in responding to the financial crisis helped stabilize the auto industry, and prevent another Great Depression. With the final sale of GM stock, this important chapter in our nation’s history is now closed,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
So if we hear anything about it at all, we'll hear about the $11 Billion it cost us.  We won't hear about the several hundred thousand jobs Americans didn't lose, and we won't hear about the (probably) hundreds of billions of dollars in saved &/or generated GDP, and we sure as fuck won't hear about "investment in American Industry".  We'll only hear about Gubmint Motors and how Obama's Secret Socialist Puppets on Wall Street (?) squandered all that money - which will conveniently make it just a tiny bit harder to remember how the GOP's Gov't Shutdown cost us close to $25 Billion while generating precisely dick in economic returns.

Some people.

And speaking of 'some people', did ya catch the bit about lifting the restrictions on GM Execs' pay?  Guess what happens next.

Sometimes, it's impossible to figure out who I'm s'posed to be mad at.  And I'm beginning to understand that that's kinda the whole fucking point.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Some Tunes

Snake Eyes --The Milk Carton Kids



swing low, swing low
for to carry me home
in fire the skies of red

my breath's gone cold
a kiss from the coal
a blanket of snow overhead

slow, holy roller
it's just rock and roll

hold your tears
where they've hung all these years
down from the heavens above

old snake eyes
you had better disguise
all that appears of thee

pray for love
from the heavens above
laid in the ashes below


And a Tiny Desk Concert via NPR:


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nice Try

I appreciate the attempts, but at some point this shit just ain't funny anymore.

Nerd Alert

WARNING:  
You are entering a Free-Ranging Science Area
Those choosing to remain ignorant must exit now.



Nerds are among my favorite people.  Because they know stuff.

Today's Pix









FauxRage Fatigue

If "conservatives" actually stopped pimping the War-On-Christmas, then what would we do without the annual Jon Stewart bit mocking them?

We used to get Christmas Specials on TV - Bob Hope and Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby and anybody else they could find who once upon a time had a tune in the Top 40 and who could still string a coupla heartbeats together.  Now we have this new holiday tradition: