Friday, February 27, 2009

I Trust "Bobby" Jindal With All My Heart

This rebuttal speech from Tuesday night is turning out to be a goldmine for the likes of me. You may recall this anecdote:

During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I'd never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: 'Well, I'm the Sheriff and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me!' I asked him: 'Sheriff, what's got you so mad?' He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the flood waters. The boats were all lined up ready to go - when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn't go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, 'Sheriff, that's ridiculous.' And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: 'Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!' Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.

The story is 100% true, except for the presence of Jindal. He didn't see that sheriff until several days later. Harry did tell the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats, but not while Jindal was there. And Jindal did say they could arrest him too, just not then.

Technically you could say the whole thing happened "during Katrina" if you define Katrina as including the multi-year aftermath of the storm. This would include last Tuesday, when Jindal delivered the rebuttal.

Why do Republicans keep trying to bamboozle us with such easily-fact-checked stories? It only makes them look like they don't respect the American people. Okay, I'm not being honest there myself. They OBVIOUSLY don't respect the American people. The American people are free to respond accordingly.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Secular Progressives Are Good News For Fox

Hannity wins! Hannity, in this case, representing ALL FoxTV Show hosts.

Conservative talk hosts, or at least those who anchor Fox News Channel's lineup, are enjoying a solid post-election bump.

Bill O'Reilly -- not a self-professed conservative, but clearly more antagonistic toward what he calls "secular-progressives" than any other political constituency -- was up 33% in February compared to the previous year, averaging 3.6 million viewers in just-issued Nielsen data. Sean Hannity -- an unapologetic pit bull for the right -- rose 38% (to nearly 2.8 million) now that he's shed former co-host Alan Colmes and, along with Rush Limbaugh, picked up the mantle for the GOP cause while proclaiming his radio show "conservatism in exile." And Fox has further burnished its openly conservative credentials with the addition of Glenn Beck -- one of the least sophisticated voices in the cable space, who started in January and has doubled his timeslot.

What bittersweet news this must be to Roger Ailes! He finally gets a conservative in the White House and the resulting epic fail drags down the ratings of his network. Then a liberal gets in, and he starts making money again. You just can't fearmonger unless your opponent is more powerful, I guess.

Republicans Don't Want The Real Bobby Jindal

I have just figured out why "Bobby" Jindal can't rise in the Republican Party, no matter how much they need him. Two quotes early in his response speech on Tuesday say it all. Quote 1:

Good evening. I’m Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.
Strictly speaking, he is Piyush Jindal. Bobby is his Americanized name, much like Barack Obama's American name is Barry. Obama didn't feel the need to run on "Barry" though. And we elected him anyway, even though his middle name is even worse. Quote 2:
Like the President’s father, my parents came to this country from a distant land.
Did that line strike you as a little, I dunno, fairy-taleish? Why not say, "...came to this country from India?" Because he worried that Republicans would be freaked out by that, especially after they spent the campaign whipping up xenophobia to defeat the half-Kenyan. So Piyush was forced to use the awkward "distant land" phrase instead. Which is unfortunate because it made him sound like he was pitching the whole speech to 5-year-olds.

It looks to me like the RNC is trying to sell Bobby Jindal as Barack Obama lite, which is a shame because he is perfectly marketable to Americans as full-bodied Piyush Jindal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dried-Up Old Skank Helen Thomas Accused of Insensitivity

Ah, the wildfire of Internet discourse. Around noon EST, Christina Bellantoni of the ultra-respected Washington Times twittered:

Bobby Jindal was 'pitiful,' Helen Thomas tells film crew, right before making a 'Slumdog Millionaire' crack
Man, did it catch on. headlined "The old witch Helen Thomas makes a ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ crack.” regarding Bobby Jindal"

Michelle Malkin's COMMENTERS (not Malkin herself): "So, did anyone in the room try pouring water on her?" "That is one ugly, ugly…woman?" "Someone needs to tell that skank to retire."

Further references to Ursula from the Little Mermaid and Ms. Thomas's advanced age can be found in other comment sections.

In any event, by the late afternoon when there was no confirmation of the quote, even by Bellantoni. "In re: lots of Thomas questions - I overheard taping by a film crew fr Barcelona, & didn't get exact quote and don't know when taping, sorry" So even Allahpundit is saying it probably didn't happen. So considering how many people used the alleged remark as a gleeful jumpin' off point for their own hateful comments, can we even say that Helen Thomas is the problem?

A Kind Word For Jindal

To be fair to Bobby Jindal and his response to the Obama speech, Amy Sullivan at Swampland points out that the response to State of the Union addresses almost always sucks:

Speakers from both parties suffer from the constraints of The Response, which is never a rebuttal of the State of the Union but rather a collection of partisan talking points unmoored from the speech that preceded it. With the president's words so fresh in listeners' minds, the responder often can't help but sound like either a liar or an idiot...Democrats gave their share of creepy responses over the past eight years--I can't be the only person still scarred by Nancy Pelosi's unblinking delivery in 2004.
I hear Jindal is actually an intelligent guy (some say "wonky") and we need more of them in Government, not less.

BTW, I know this wasn't a SOTU address, but it might as well have been.

More Non-Racism X

Local businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, who is black, said Tuesday she received the e-mail from (Los Alamitos) Mayor Dean Grose’s personal account on Sunday and wants a public apology...'As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin’-mayor — come on.' ”
The image, entitled NO EASTER EGG HUNT THIS YEAR:

H/T Wonkette, which adds "Honestly, these people need to be killed, all of them. This is what Eric Holder means when he speaks of the need for a frank discussion about racism in America."

The Speech Doesn't Need Me

I didn't watch either Obama's Speech or Jindal's reply last night (I'm rehearsing a play for the next six weeks, and besides nothing defines "political theatre" better than prepared speeches) so I won't offer up any opinions about it.

Though I hear Jindal didn't impress the Fox News people much.

Get thee behind me, pundits!

***Update*** Fox is gonna be in trouble now... Rush LIKES Bobby Jindal! I see a fistfight in the greenroom the next time Rushbo and Krauthammer are on a panel. Let's keep those cameraphones ready at all times.

Not Every Vice President Can Invent The Internet

Joe Biden is taking a little heat for a remark he made on the Early Show yesterday.

"You know, I'm embarrassed. Do you know the Web site number?" he asked an aide standing out of view. "I should have it in front of me and I don't. I'm actually embarrassed."

Biden, who seemed to indicate that he thought the Internet worked like a giant telephone, sounded an unusually Luddite note inside an administration often heralded for its mastery of the Web.
Well, I could note that all website addresses are also numbers:, but let's face it, nobody uses those. We use names, like, for example. So Joe Biden is a luddite. Unlike Ted Stevens, at least he isn't a luddite IN CHARGE of the internet, but it's still pretty embarassing.

I'm guessing he has people who do his googling for him, so it ain't no crisis people.

The Conventional Wisdom, Wrong Again

I'm blogging less today because I just spent half my lunch hour bicycling over to Quiznos to pick up my free 5" sub. Now I'm back, enjoying it with a soda (provided by my employer) and it occurs to me: free sandwich, free drink, and I didn't even pay for gas.

There is such a thing as a free lunch.

Tomorrow on my lunch hour, I'm going to go downtown and fight city hall.

Quote of The Day

"...I oppose the stimulus because I thought it was poorly drafted. But to come up at this moment in history with a stale "government is the problem," "we can't trust the federal government" - it's just a disaster for the Republican Party. "

-David Brooks

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Knew There Was A Bias!

Indiana University looked into media bias:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A visual analysis of television presidential campaign coverage from 1992 to 2004 suggests that the three television broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- favored Republicans in each election, according to two Indiana University professors in a new book.

..."We don't think this is journalists conspiring to favor Republicans. We think they're just so beat up and tired of being accused of a liberal bias that they unknowingly give Republicans the benefit in coverage," said Grabe, who also is a research associate in political science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. "It's self-censorship that journalists might be imposing on themselves."
Of course, EDUCATION is liberally biased, and this comes from a University. You should really assume anything that comes out of any university is a liberal lie. Including meteorology and medical science. (Incidentally, check this out if you're interested in computer forensic science) And William Kristol, he came out of a university. Don't trust him.

Heels in the Ground, Head In The Sand

It looks like Republicans are again playing to the base and don't mind losing the rest of us. First of all, here's what the rest of us think.

WaPo/ABC News: 73 percent say Obama is “trying to compromise with the Republican leaders in Congress” while just 34 percent believe Republican leaders are trying to compromise with Obama.

NYT/CBS News: 74 percent think Obama is “trying to work with Republicans in Congress” while just 31 percent think Republicans in Congress are trying to work with Obama.

Fox News/Opinion Dynamics: 68 percent believe that Obama “has sincerely tried to reach out to Republicans and be bipartisan” while only 33 percent believe Republicans have “sincerely tried to be helpful to Barack Obama and be bipartisan.”
And if you're a Republican, you're looking at all these results and saying "Message received!" They're going to be running on that. They're viewing it as a plus that they defied popular programs championed by a popular president.

It could work too. After all, Obama is one of a handful of senators who voted against the popular Iraq war, and it carried him to victory. The key, of course, is how the stimulus looks in 2010 and 2012. If we're not better off enough by then, Repubs could pick up some seats again. If there's enough improvement, there'll probably be historic supermajorities for Democrats.

Something else to consider though is whether Repubs are perceived as wanting a return to power MORE THAN responsible governance. Historically the latter is what always saved them, but I'm not so sure they'll be able to use that frame this time, because they're not offering any alternatives to the stimulus package.

Mind you, they will get votes out of this, but the hard right base is not enough to generate serious numbers. Even when Karl Rove was working his magic and neutralizing the independent vote, the best he could manage was a bare minimum majority.

By the way, I keep hearing that one of Bobby Jindal's claims to fame is that he participated in an exorcism. Again, great for the base, not so great to the rest of us. He and Sarah Palin are the party's brightest hopes right now. I won't wish them luck, but I do hope the campaigns shape up exactly the way they want them to.

Waving, Not Drowning

This is a quick call to my pals on the right.

I've been reading your stuff, and I'm starting to think you're not crazy - the Stimulus bill is mostly bad news. And I'm resenting the Democrats for it. So let me know your plan instead. If it makes sense, I'll vote for you in 2010.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Watching the stimulus debate this weekend (why is it still going on, by the way?) I was taken by an observation: Republicans don't want to spend money, ANY money, to improve the lives of Americans. Which is valid. I can see the free-market alternative to that, though I don't think it's the cure-all that the rhetoric would suggest.

However, how do you reconcile this to the willingness to keep pouring American money into Iraq? We went in there, as I understand the story nowadays, to save the Iraquis from a brutal dictator. And we want to stay in there past the SOF agreement to save them from terrorists and the Taliban.

Republicans, it seems, love Iraqi Muslims but hate Christian Americans.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Let The Groundswell Begin!

Kathryn Lopez attempts to cut down on death threats and hate mail by suggesting the ticket of Sarah (Guys...and Gals!) Palin and Rick (Poor People are Losers!) Santelli. And people keep telling me they're not interested in President Palin. Come on guys, this is a ticket the WHOLE COUNTRY can get behind. As long as they're either rich or part of "real America."

(h/t Wonkette)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The 100-Year Long Con

If you can get past the excessive partisan language you might enjoy this blog entry over at The Opinion Mill. It turns out that the way the Iraq war was sold to Americans isn't all that dissimilar to the classic spanish prisoner con. It goes like this: we need a little investment from you now to free X (usually X is a foreign potentate or a huge sum of money in a bank) and you'll reap the benefits down the line.

In this case, if we invade Iraq and wrestle it from Saddam Hussein, it will result in cheaper oil and a democratized middle east free from terrorist despots.

Of course this was the story they fed us after the "they can kill us all in 45 minutes and we have to kill them first" story didn't pan out, when we discovered that they couldn't kill us under any circumstances. I don't know if there's a corresponding con for that - sounds like mob protection money to me. "You got a nice nation here... it'd be a shame if someone roughed it up."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hope For Comics Who Can't Find a Handle On the President

At last, the Obama Code is broken!

"The beef, assuming it's in a port wine reduction, sounds, uh, amazing, but on the other hand, given that the chicken is, ah, locally grown, I'd be eager to try it."
This is the result of a careful study of Obama sentence structure by Garth Risk Hallberg at The Millions. Can this be the thing that finally gives our floundering national monolog community a template to ridicule the previously untouchable president?

(h/t Boing Boing)

I Declare This One Not Racist

Though I admit it's pretty suspicious without the context. Al Sharpton insists that the Monkey = Obama.

Grasping at straws, Al. New York was abuzz with the weird tabloid story of a real monkey that had run amok in the city and which had to be put down by cops. Clearly, this is that monkey. In fact, given the context, even though I disagree with the premise (crazy monkey = congressional Democrats) the joke is funny.

I have spoken.

Taken By Propaganda

I am swimming in the same waters as Warner Todd Huston today. He has posted about the forthcoming WATCHMEN movie, fretting about the unheroic qualities of the the lead characters. As it happens, I am about to the do same about another movie, but at least I've SEEN it. (Note: apologies to WTH; he never claimed to be writing about the movie, but the graphic novel)

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD! Among them the revelation that Fox is finally using the movie division to push Rupert Murdoch's worldview onto us.

TAKEN, starring Liam Neeson as an estranged father who will do anything to save his teenaged daughter from an Albanian white slave ring in France. I caught this Monday afternoon and the audience applauded at the end, so it's clearly a crowd pleaser. In his quest Neeson kills around twelve people (torturing one to death) and shoots an innocent woman in the arm to force her corrupt husband to talk. France is depicted as decadent and creepy. I left the theatre with a nagging question on my mind, and sure enough, when I took the trouble to look it up, I was right.

It's a Fox release.

Just as Fox TV's 24 exists both as entertainment and a shorthand legal argument for Justice Scalia to explain why torture is a handy tool to have in your bag, TAKEN is a way to make you think, "well given the right circumstances I guess I'd hook some guy up to a lamp cord." I wrote elsewhere about the phenomenon of "movie morality", a screenwriting convention that generates sympathy for the hero. If someone does wrong and is punished for it somehow, the audience is satisfied. Even if they're struck by lightening or they choke on a hunk of meat, something bad has to happen to them.

Neeson is not punished for torturing here, so what gives?

I'm spitballing here, so bear with me. I think Neeson is given the DEATH WISH exemption to the movie morality rule here. In this loophole, if the character does terrible things in the service of punishing characters who have done even worse things, it's cool. The guy Neeson hooks up to electricity is part of a ring of villains who kidnap young girls, drug them, and sell them into prostitution. He's got it comin', and someone's gotta do it.

Even so, Neeson does two incredibly gratuitous things here which put him into flawed anti-hero territory as far as I'm concerned. The first one is this guy above - Neeson tortures information out of a guy, then keeps torturing him anyway. Considering that he's on the clock, this is both villainous and a waste of precious time. Secondly, he shoots this woman as a way of dragging information out of her husband. An innocent woman who clearly has done nothing wrong. He mitigates the act by asking her husband to apologize when she regains conciousness. But I cannot reconcile this act with movie morality. There were alternatives to shooting the innocent woman, among them taking the husband into another room and shooting him.

That second one is what fascinates me about this movie, because it's so clearly bad propaganda that I'm wondering if the filmmakers threw it in as a slap in the face to the producers. There's precedent for this too: Roman Polanski's FRANTIC, in which another American chases around France to rescue a female he loves, ends with a gratuitous long take of a garbage truck driving away, as if taking this commercial populist merde with it.

So this is why I think TAKEN is a propaganda movie, because it goes out of its way to violate the movie morality rule and yet keep the hero likable. It's trying to negate the rule by making the immoral actions themselves palatable. Creepy. Making a movie like this is so counter-intuative, releasing it takes a Triumph of the Will.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Still No Proof Of Why Everybody Hates Congress ***Updated***

Over at Where Are My Keys I've been engaged in a serial argument about those low congressional poll numbers. Since 2006 they've been pretty bad, squarely between the Bush low approvals and the Cheney deep-trench-low approvals. But why?

I have maintained that the Democrat-led congress has been blocked from any action by obstructionist Republicans, while WAMK maintains people disapprove of the Democrat attempts to pass their crazy laws, and are rooting for the Republicans to stop them.

So Gallup takes a poll this week, and here's the result.

See, look at that uptick there, right after the Stimulus Bill passed. What does it mean? Either people are pleased to finally see the Democrats accomplish something, or they're grateful for the Republicans valiant efforts to stop them. How can we know who the public is rooting for? HOW?

Just kidding. Polls don't prove anything.


My learned sparring partner comments below: completely misread the second chart.

The graph doesn't show how people feel about the performance of the Parties, it's showing how people who AFFILIATE themselves with those parties feel about the job of Congress.

I could chide him for claiming to read my mind, but he's absolutely right, that's what I was thinking. So let's look again. Seems to me the responses of the Democrats and Republicans are predictable and not an indicator. Democrats like Congress more because they won the budget fight, Republicans like Congress less (only slightly less, that's interesting) because they lost. Independents like Congress more, but that doesn't prove anything for reasons stated before.

I suppose if you're some right wing thinkers you can take this to prove that most Americans hate congress more, because Democrats comprise the far radical left and Independents comprise the far left, and most of the country is center right. So the Republican graph represents 75% of the country. Can't argue with ya there, straw man.

Next In Line To Apologize to Rush

Pat Robertson and Jeb Bush. Time's a wastin, boys!

Man Up! ***Update***

Republican Congressmen who voted against the stimulus bill are now in the perfect position register the ultimate protest. Since distributing these federal funds is so bad for the country, they can REFUSE THOSE FUNDS FOR THEIR DISTRICTS. If the Senators who voted against the bill are Republicans, they could save a little trouble and simply refuse the money for their whole states.

This is an obvious win/win. They will get votes by refusing that tainted stimulus money, and they can even make up the funding shortfall by cutting taxes.

You are seldom handed such an easy choice, Republicans! Stick to your guns! Show those other states that SOME representatives have principals!

***Update*** Publius points out in the comments that congressmen cannot refuse money that's offered in the stimulus, but they can speak out against it. Much like Republican Senator Kit Bond is doing.

Last week, Bond led a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing an amendment to help provide needy families affordable housing. Bond’s amendment provides $2 billion to fund low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) projects that have been stalled by the financial credit crisis. As part of the Democrats’ spending bill now signed into law, the Senate unanimously accepted Bond’s provision. […]

This provision will have a real impact in Missouri, especially for low-income, working families in need of safe and affordable housing. … Bond’s amendment will save more than 700 housing units and create 3,000 new jobs in Missouri.
The fact that he voted against the bill shouldn't diminish his ability to take credit for the stimulus it provides. Though since (as we were often told) no Republican was allowed to participate in the writing of the bill, I'm a little confused about how he got that provision in there. Jedi mind trick maybe?

The Root Of The Problem

One could assume that liberals would blame the current economic woes on the conservatives, and visa versa. Even I didn't expect this though: a conservative blames the whole mess on TWO LIBERALS. Talk about narrowing down!

JD Hayworth: No, I'll tell you what was bad. The sneak attack on our economy, the dress rehearsal of Indy bank, when Chuck Schumer helped get that started and the guy in the background George Soros manipulating all the currency.
Chris Matthews: What?
JD Hayworth: You want to keep that going?
Chris Matthews: You mean the economic situation we faced right now...JD you can talk fast but I don't know what you're talking about.

Emphasis mine, in case you missed it. I can't get the video here at work, so click on the link above for the clip.

Incredibly, JD Hayworth doesn't go for the safe choice. I've said the economy is too big for one man, even the president, to ruin; but if you want to blame the 2008 crash on anyone, why not Clinton? I have this image now of Hayworth walking out to his car, noticing he has a flat, and raising his fist to the skies: "SOROS!!!!!"

Maybe Chris Matthews has some skill for bringing this kind of nuttiness out of Republicans. Remember Michelle Bachman? Maybe people will say anything in hopes that he will stop spitting on them. I would, God knows. Maybe there is a use for torture after all, as long as you aren't shooting for accuracy.

Fairness Doctrine

*shrug* It isn't worth the trouble.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Early, But It Looks Like Karl Rove Was Right

During the waning years of the Bush presidency, some were saying that history would view him as the worst president ever. No no, Karl Rove replied, historians will view the president much more favorably. I'm paraphrasing.

C-SPAN has surveyed some historians and while it's true that Bush has only been out of office for a month, he's not ranked as the worst president ever. In fact, at #36 he's seventh worst. He mops up the floor with Buchanan and Harding.

Interestingly, in 2000 Clinton came in at #21 and is now up to #15, so I should probably keep my mouth shut for another 9 years before I start gloating.

(h/t Wonkette)

Republicans Hate Our American Traditions

I was just listening to a clip of Boehner complaining that no one had time to read the stimulus bill before it was voted into law. Meanwhile, over at Where Are My Keys there is a groundswell of outrage that even though the bill was sold as an emergency, President Obama isn't signing it today!

It's President's Day, on which we honor Washington and Lincoln, our two most beloved Presidents. Sure, we could defile their memories by treating it as just another day to conduct business on...


We could use the day to read the Stimulus Bill! Maybe one could start with a word search, looking for a single instance of the words "mouse" "mice" or "Las Vegas." For fun you could find the part where it makes you give up your guns.

Or you could spend the day demanding that our President ignore our national heritage and rush out to sign a bill that you've spent the month reviling. You're free to do either. This is America!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Word Of Advice To Our Fine Representatives

The stimulus package passed in Congress today with no Republican votes.

Had you guys voted yesterday before even negotiating with Republicans, it would have passed with no Republican votes.

Stop negotiating.

I'm just kidding actually, because the gesture might buy a little sympathy in the Senate. I doubt it seriously, but by the end of the day we'll see if I'm wrong. They're sure going out of their way to avoid a deal though, aren't they?

I was on vacation in Mexico with my ex once, and a guy tried to sell her a pair of sandals for $10. "I'll give you $3.00," she said. He refused, and she thanked him and started to walk away. "Wait!" he cried, and sold her the sandals, probably turning a $2.50 profit on them.

Congressional Republicans, in the same role, would be up to their ears in unsold sandals. This isn't just a metaphor either; if the economy tanks, a lot of them will have to sell sandals in their spare time to supplement their government incomes. When the sales day is done they'll go on TV and blame the shoppers for their stubborness.

We Are All Joe Biden Now

Yeah, no, Glenn. I’m not gonna, look, I’m not going to soft pedal this with you. I’m not going to try to blow smoke either. The reality of it is, you are absolutely right. You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point.

-- Michael Steele, On the Glenn Beck show

It's A Scream

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Conditional Past Tense

Well, it looks like the stimulus package will pass and Obama will probably sign it on Monday. This kind of reminds me of the weeks running up to the election, when it was obvious that Obama would win and the only thing that kept one from celebrating (or complaining) was the matter of waiting for him to win. It was a fait accompli which hadn't actually been accompli.

So, I'm going to write about this as though it has actually happened. If by Tuesday it goes down in flames, consider these remarks void.

To quote They Might Be Giants again, "no one in this world ever gets what they want, and that is beautiful." The interested party whose vision this bill most represents is President Obama. He wanted a little something for everyone - tax cuts, social programs, infrastructure spending. The Republicans and Democrats were pushing for extremist ideological items and one by one those got knocked off. In the end, everybody gave up something and was furious that they gave up too much.

Which is, of course, exactly how lawmaking is supposed to work in this country. If you allow the system to work, it will homogenize and centerize America's laws. This is great for national stability, even though it is frustrating as hell. Indeed, the Constitution is a document written by young men to mimic the tastes of old men. Shout out to the founding fathers, yo! Nice work there. I'm looking forward to more of this kind of lawmaking over the next, uh, several years.

What the hell, let's say it: if Palin's on the ticket in 2012, the next eight. Real America may love her, but it turns out only about 30% of America is real. Weird!

Here's what I see in the coming three months - every time there is bad economic news, Republicans will grab a few headlines by saying that it's because the stimulus packaged passed. After that if things pick up as expected, they'll stop bringing it up and instead focus on how awful Nancy Pelosi is.

Since I'm making predictions I want to point to a model of how bipartisanship is going to work over the next few years. See this post from yesterday? A lefty will say a kind word about someone on the right, and the right will respond with terrible insults about someone on the left. Because you know, the pressure's off. It's pretty much how the stimulus debate played out, after all. Well, when you guys act that way, I'll do my best not to scold and patronize. After all, the polite thing to do is to keep those kinds of opinions to oneself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I didn't see the recent Obama Town Hall, but I hear some stir was created when a homeless woman pled for help.

Henrietta Hughes — a petite, elderly, African-American woman living out of her car — asked Obama for help. “I have an urgent need,” Hughes said. “We need something more than the vehicle and parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom, please help.” Obama then walked over and hugged her, saying that he was “going to do everything we can.”
Help has indeed stepped forward in the form of Chene Thompson, who is the wife of Florida Representative Nick Tompson. Nick is a Republican.

“Basically, I offered Ms. Hughes and her son the opportunity to stay in my home rent free, for as long as they need to,” said Thompson. “I’m not a millionaire, I’m not rich, but this is what I can do for someone if they need it.”
This is an example, seriously, of Republicans walking the walk. Rather than pushing for public money to help Hughes, a private citizen steps in and offers charity. While I think it's an extreme way to deal with homelessness, I sincerely admire the gesture.

(h/t Think Progress)

Quote of The Day

"TMBG have appeared on Conan (O'Brian's show) more than ANY OTHER ROCK BAND. Ponder that, you much more successful bands!"

- They Might Be Giants Email newsletter

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Press Conference Fun! ***Update***

I have to confess, I seldom listen to Barack Obama's speeches and I don't rush to tune into his press conferences. Dude just isn't as entertaining as the last two presidents.

But I caught the end of last night's presser, just because. As usual, cool rational answers in complete sentences. And he will actually answer a question most of the time, though he's a sucker for a long preamble. And he's up three grade levels from the last President!

Notable at this conference were three liberally-biased reporters, that is reporters with obvious, glaring liberal biases. He even took questions from two of them. The oddballs were Sam Stein from the Huffington Post (took a question) and Ed Schultz, a Talk Radio host from Air America (didn't take a question) and of course, room fixture Helen Thomas. You can conclude that this is the beginning of the end of bipartisonship, that Obama is going to fill the room with his own Jeff Gannons; but I'm thinking differently here. Yesterday was the day that Obama disappointed liberals everywhere with the announcement that he wasn't going to persue any troublesome war crimes charges against the previous administration. Perhaps he was hoping for an angry question, so he could show the Limbaughies that he was their President too.

One question he DID dodge, interestingly, was Helen Thomas'. I don't have the transcript in front of me but it was along the lines of "Do you know of any middle-eastern states that have nuclear weapons". Obama didn't say, because officially we don't know that Isreal has them. If we did, they'd probably have to be open to inspections like Iraq and North Korea. Policy is they MIGHT have nuclear weapons.

So kudos to Helen Thomas, who shows no sign of stopping being a troublemaker just because Bush isn't president any more.

***Update*** Sam Stein asked a question about the war crimes thing, but the response was so measured ("We should prosecute crimes, and I'll look into this one, but I'm inclined not to dwell on the past") that I had simply forgotten it. Oh, and I missed it, but Obama took another question from Fox News.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Good Idea:

Today, President Obama hosted a town hall meeting in Elkhart, IN — which faces the nation’s fastest-rising unemployment rate — to promote his recovery and reinvestment plan. As the Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin notes, Obama traveled to relatively unfriendly territory: Obama lost the county to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 44 percent to 56 percent. Despite that fact, the White House did not screen its audience, who had the chance to ask the president questions:
No prescreening for ideology! It's almost as if the President was willing to listen to criticism and be a leader to ALL the people, not just the ones who like him!

Bad Idea:

In federal court today, the Obama administration signaled it would uphold the Bush administration’s state secrets position in a lawsuit regarding Bush’s use of extraordinary rendition. Five men who say they were victims of extraordinary rendition — including current Guantanamo detainee and torture victim Binyam Mohamed — sued, but the case was thrown out last year after Bush declared it to be a matter of state secrets.
I can't help but think this has less to do with how dangerous these people are to the world (we could only benefit from information about that getting out) than how dangerous they are to the previous administration. Call it professional courtesy towards Bush. Good sportsmanship to a fault. Yes, I'm only guessing here, but what else can I do?

(h/t to Think Progress)

The Nightmares Return

This one isn't political.

Last night I was awoken by a nightmare. I've been having a lot of nightmares lately, and I can't for the life of me put my finger on why. I'm not especially troubled by anything, except I must be. My subconcious is trying to tell me something, I guess.

So in the dream, I was back at my old job running a movie theatre. I was in the theatre business a long, long time. How long? I started lying on my resumes and saying it was "about ten years." Actually it was more than twice that. Anyway, I showed up at work on a weekday, and my assistant manager wasn't there, and the concession attendants weren't there. It was just me and a line of customers. I had to sell them snacks, and at the same time I had to be up there threading the projectors and starting the shows on time, and I had to catch the ones coming in and tear their tickets.

It's only a slightly worse scenario than the one that happened to me almost every week at that Godforsaken gig. No matter what I was trying to do, there was always something else that I was supposed to be doing at the same time, and the clock was running.

I woke up, mercifully, and then tried to get back to sleep but couldn't because of all the residual anxiety. Eventually I got another half hour before the alarm clock went off, but during that sleep I found myself in a different movie theatre. At least I wasn't working in that one, but I think I was trying to get a different job so the anxiety was the same.

Far as I know (far as anyone can know, nowadays) my waking job is secure, and if it isn't I have enough liquid cash to keep me in food and shelter for quite a while. Weird then. And why the hell don't I dream about my two years in the mortgage business? That's EVERYONE'S nightmare.

Don't Worry, It's Not How They Feel About The Bill Itself

Attention Republicans, you have another winner on your hands! Just like Terry Schiavo, Tire Gauges and negative campaigning, your handling of the stimulus bill debate is driving up your numbers!

PRINCETON, NJ -- The American public gives President Barack Obama a strong 67% approval rating for the way in which he is handling the government's efforts to pass an economic stimulus bill, while the Democrats and, in particular, the Republicans in Congress receive much lower approval ratings of 48% and 31%, respectively.

Perhaps I should have pointed out it's driving up your disapproval numbers, but I don't do nuance.

(h/t Wonkette)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years."

- John Cole (and the great thing about this quote is, it applies from either side)

Obama Scandals To Date

Hat Tip to Gawker, which collects all the Obama scandals in one place! I'm reposting to show that I'm not afraid of 'em.

For the record: Rod Blagojevich, One appointed tax cheat, two withdrawn tax cheats, one withdrawn financial scandal, is Michelle pregnant?, Jon Favreau caught groping a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emmanuel's basement apartment not properly zoned, and some office romance that I hadn't even heard of.

I feel betrayed! Because all of this stuff really, really matters. If only there had ever been a scandal involving a Republican, maybe it wouldn't look so bad.

I'm Not 100% Down With Nadya Suleman

First of all, the idea that I'm even weighing in on Octo-Mom is creeping me out. What do I care? I have no right to tell a woman how many kids she should have. I myself have none, so I'm taking up some of the slack for her I guess. Leave Nadya alone!

Having said that, allow me to contradict myself.

A single unemployed woman should probably cap her mothering impulses a little earlier than at 14 children. Often corporate sponsors step in with multiple births to provide goods and services, but there's certainly no guarantee. How the hell is she going to pay for everything? One worries. There are diapers and shelter and of course, like in any livestock situation, the possibility of epidemics if one kid gets sick.

And one person raising fourteen children can't be the optimal ratio. She could be married, or get a couple of lesbians to move in. Whatever. Those kids need more parents.

There's been a lot of right-wing chatter about this (and left-wing chatter as well). The right wing seems to favor Nadya's position, and given that it will almost inevitably result in welfare and medicare claims I was a little mystified by this. Then it occurred to me: not only did Nadya choose to not have an abortion, but since the birth was the result of in-vitero fertilization, she didn't even have sex! I think that last one is the think that makes her a hero. Plus if I'm not mistaken, she's an ultra-fertile white woman, so John Gibson can say she's doing her part to keep the other guys from taking over.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Again, There is No Longer Any Such Thing As Racism in America

Per Wonkette:

Meet Florida’s state committeewoman Carol Carter, “a hard-working, loyal Republican for many years.” This loyal Republican, Carol Carter, forwarded a whimsical email to her loyal Republican colleagues around Tampa Bay about the very convenient ability of many black people to travel to Washington D.C. for Obama’s inauguration, despite the fact that many blacks drowned when Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans.

From: Carol Carter
Friday, January 30, 9:30 AM
Subject: FW: Amazing!

I’m confused

How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn’t get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?
I'd recommend reading the whole post for the tangy sarcasm surrounding Carter's funny and totally unracist letter.

Obama Back In My Good Graces

A couple of days ago, I took WMK and Red State at their words (and the far-left liberal Los Angeles times, though note I'm being snarky and ironic with that designation) when they said that Obama had signed an executive order allowing the practice of extraordinary rendition. It's possible (in fact probable) that the LA Times and Red State were mistaken.

"Sec. 6. Construction with Other Laws. Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal "stalking" statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture. Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties."
So the notion that Obama is going to allow renditions is based on the premise that he agrees with the Bush administration about how to interpret the Geneva conventions. After all, Red State knows that no one could POSSIBLY disagree with Bush about that.

Hilzoy in the the Washington Monthly attempts to figure out how the LA Times got this idea in the first place.
The Times cites "Current and former U.S. intelligence officials" in support of its thesis. I don't take the statements of former administration officials as evidence of anything in this regard, since they would not be privy to the Obama administration's thinking. Moreover, there have been a whole lot of "former administration officials" wandering around saying that once Obama got into office and saw how tough things really were, he would be forced to adopt their policies, only to discover that -- surprise, surprise! -- he doesn't. I don't see much reason to take their opinions as probative this time.

The author of the Times article...defines "rendition" as "secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States." It's not clear whether he knows that rendition includes perfectly normal things like extradition.
I have to remember that the right is pretty good at shaping the narrative, and they're not exactly scrupulous about fact-checking what they throw into the echo chamber. Memo to self - always assume it's a lie first.

Let The Big Guy Do The Talking

We can't delay, and we can't go back to the same, worn-out ideas that led us here in the first place. In the last few days we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read, but you'd be very familiar with, because you've been hearing them the last ten years -- maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems, that government doesn't have a role to play, that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough. That we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They have taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars. And they have brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now it is time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.

B. Hussein Obama

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Simple Solution to a Simple Proposal

President Obama today announced a plan: if a company accepts TARP funds, it must limit executive pay to $500k a year plus stock options that cannot be redeemed until the funds are paid back.

It’s “a nightmare for any financial institution,” CNBC host Joe Kernen proclaimed this morning, while Fox Business host Alexis Glick said it was evidence of Obama being “a little anti-business.” Others insisted that the “draconian” caps would drive the “best and the brightest” away from Wall Street and that Obama’s anger over executive bonuses was misplaced:

“That is pretty draconian — $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus.” [James F. Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates]

“If I didn’t pay [bonuses], the people were going to go. … These people didn’t choose to cure cancer. These people didn’t choose to do public service work…These people chose to make money.” [Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric]
Well, of course there is another option, which is to not seek TARP funds. Fair enough, eh? That's not really anti-business, that's free-market capitalism. If this really does cause a brain drain and drives talented CEOs out of the field, we should recall these are the CEOs who put us in this predicament in the first place. Supporting genius isn't enough - we have to distinguish between it and EVIL genius.

Incidentally, this is a choice Obama made himself a year ago, when he refused public financing for his campaign. Interesting. You can't argue with the results, though the situations probably aren't analogous.

An Endorsement:

This week (and as far as I know, until the end of time) my local public radio station is running its pledge drive. You know what that means - 5 minutes of something you like bracketed by 15 minutes of cheerful badgering for cash. I rely on KCRW to provide music during my morning shift, because they play stuff nobody else will, and most of it is pretty damn good.

So until the horror of the pledge drive passes, I'm burdening our company's network with the stream from They inhabit an especially weird corner of the music world: the stuff your parents listened to in the sixties that you couldn't stand then. For example, a moment ago it was an orchestral arrangement of STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT. Now, it's some groovy party music which is almost certainly backing to a love-in scene from a Don Knotts movie.

They worship this stuff.

Also frequently you can hear Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood collaborations, lugubrious French pop songs, Rat Pack live recordings, and studio-musician sitar instrumentals of rock and roll tunes. It's a reminder that "easy listening" is anything but.

There is a weird aesthetic to this kind of anonymous material, because as dubious as the results are there's no denying that a lot of talented people working at the top of their game put it together. You can appreciate the craft that goes into a Ferrante and Teicher album even if you are apalled that the cut is called KUNG FU SOUL BROTHER.

I'm especially partial to a show on Monday nights called THE KITSCH NICHE, hosted by a guy named Strike. It's a kind of distilled, concentrated version of Luxuria, with the addition of kid's story records and a "blue" segment of quaintly shocking sex records, back in the day when that meant something. That segment would be considered Not Safe For Work if I turned it up loud enough for other people to hear. But the truth is, the whole stream is NSFW because if people realized how unhip I truly am, they'd have me committed.

What do people who didn't grow up when these things were produced think of it? Is it just some alien blur to them? Or is it all some form of Martin Denny exotica to their fresh ears?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I Crack Myself Up

A remark I made regarding Obama's rendition policy: can look at this as a violation of human dignity -- or you can look at it as bipartison outreach! Glass half full, dude.
Ah, politics. It makes strange bedfellows, eh?

The Younger, Hipper Me

Courtesy my former girlfriend Genie, a shot of me circa 1979. Before I had learned to express emotions of any kind.

My hair pretty much always looked like that, except when I was foolish enough to try to make it do something else.

Wow, That Was Some Brief Honeymoon

Oh man, Obama has disappointed me! He signed an executive order approving extrordinary renditions. Given other policy statements, these renditions would be without torture which takes the sting off it greatly, but it's hard to see any of the Bush bizarro-world policies kept in place. I don't like it.

Hey, maybe Rush will approve of this! Maybe this will be enough for him to throw his weight behind the President. Of course that wasn't a personal remark about Rush. How could you think that?

Meanwhile, Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name from consideration for Health and Human services secretary. Daschle had some back-tax problems and thought it best to keep out of the arena, since we already went through that with Geithner. I'd like to see more of this kind of thing. After eight years of the the President refusing to back down on any one who was loyal, no matter how inappropriate the choice, it's refreshing to see people thrown so quickly under the bus.

I guess the takeaway from this all is that the Obama presidency isn't going to make Washington DC the shining city on the hill, but at least it will be a dirty city on a hill instead of a filthy corrupt torture-endorsing crony-laden city in a cesspool. Fingers crossed.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Our Discontent

Six more weeks, says Phil.

Return To Sender

Let's just throw this out there... if we're looking for Government services to cut, why not start with the post office? Sure it's been useful for hundreds of years, but lately it's an anachronism. Everything it does can be replicated by private enterprise at the the same cost. In fact, the USPS operates like a private company only with unusally binding regulation.

Allow UPS or FedEx to carry letters and junk mail and I bet you and I wouldn't even notice the difference. But it would be one less thing on the plate of Congress. As they struggle now to decide whether to allow one less delivery day a week instead of more important business, wouldn't it be great if a CEO could say, "We're not turning a profit on 6 day a week delivery. Let's do 5. Or let's do 6 in urban areas and 5 in the farmlands."

Letter carrying is especially a practice which is screaming for reform, because private enterprise in the form of the phone companies has already taken over 95% of that business. (The figure isn't researched, but it's probably around that.) Between e-mail and faxes, who writes letters nowadays? Even this blog takes the place of a circular, which I might have mailed to you in the old days if I didn't want to just stand on the corner and pass it out.

So long USPS, and thanks for all the stamps.