Monday, August 31, 2009

Who Hates America Again?


Blue Cross, Red Shield

A lot of those right-wing talking points about the health reform bill cite problems that we're dealing with now with insurance. Republicans are asking us to get furious at the idea of health care rationing, government meddling in Medicare (?!), long waits in emergency rooms and doctor's offices.

So I'm wondering - what is the plan for fixing all this stuff when the reform plan crashes in flames? I mean, there's a hungry mob out there now that hates (HATES!!!!!!) the idea of health care rationing, and when they realize they're still stuck with Cigna deciding that their cancer treatments will cut into executive golf vacations, someone is gonna get hurt. What's the backup plan? Who's gonna fix the problem? Can't be Democrats, because Republicans would block their efforts. When it dawns on people that the only thing stopping us from getting our money's worth from the insurance companies is a phalanx of certain elected officials, then you're gonna see some really angry town halls.

And may I suggest that "deregulation" may not be the most popular answer in this case?

Friday, August 28, 2009

More Non-Racism: We Never SAID it Would Be All Black People

Somehow, the impression comes across anyway.

Easy Pickin's

John McCain could be the Senate’s new Ted Kennedy

Despised by the Republican base? Mission accomplished long ago, Cynthia!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Great Moments in Push-Polling

h/t Think Progress. You know, some say that health care reform could result in the government taking your bibles! Does that concern you?

Michael Steele Is Comedy Gold

The Health Care Debate Is Actually Quite Sanguine

I've been hearing a lot about this and things like it - hate crimes against Democrats are actually all caused by Democrats disguising themselves as Republicans. You have the swastikas painted on a congressperson's headquarters, for example, or certain people shouting out nazi slogans at town hall meetings. All Democrats, makin' the Republicans look bad!

This is a fascinating talking point in light of the other one, that Americans are furious about health care reform. If it's all Democrats who are doing the shouting and vandalizing to make the Republicans look angry, then obviously NO ONE is furious. So let's get on with it and write a bill with the public option, shall we? Since nobody minds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy, Dead at 77

I should have had something prepared for this. He was someone whose biggest skill was facilitating bipartisan solutions to problems, and that is a a thing that will be sorely missed. Yes, he had plenty of detractors and was no stranger to controversy, but the man was dedicated to making American politics better. Aloha sir.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let's Not Look Back

FVP Richard Cheney has been lobbying the White House to unclassify memos which prove that torture yeilded valuable information from terror suspects, back when we were still doing that. Here they are!

Surprise number 1: They don't prove that the valuable information came from torture.

The first document, issued by the CIA in July 2004 is about the interrogation of 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and whom, the newly released CIA Inspector General report on torture details, had his children’s lives threatened by an interrogator. None of that abuse is referred to in the publicly released version of the July 2004 document. Instead, we learn from the July 2004 document that not only did the man known as “KSM” largely provide intelligence about “historical plots” pulled off from al-Qaeda, a fair amount of the knowledge he imparted to his interrogators came from his “rolodex” — that is, what intelligence experts call “pocket litter,” or the telling documentation found on someone’s person when captured.
Surprise number 2: Cheney says that they prove it anyway.

This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002. The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States.
You may note that he avoids directly saying the TORTURE brought out the information, just that the people we tortured were the ones who gave us information. Distinction without a difference, if you regard torture as no big deal.

As a movie geek (news about that is a-comin', but let's not tangentalize) I can't help but think of Star Wars (A New Hope) or Marathon Man, or really, every single damn American movie up to 2004, in which the heroes were easy to spot because they were the ones who DIDN'T torture. The ones who torture are Nazis or stormtroopers. I know, I know, pre 9/11 thinking.

Monday, August 24, 2009

You've Only Got The Symptoms, You Haven't Got The Whole Disease

This post will serve as an explanation of why I didn't post on Friday, and as a splendid anecdote, and as a pitch to Larry David.

Thursday morning I got this call from my glamorous friend Alexis, who has connections. She asked me if I wanted to be on the guest list of a red carpet event at a club in Beverly Hills. I thought, I haven't gotten out much this week because I'm battling low-grade flu symptoms (minor sore throat, slight dizziness, diminished energy) and I like the club, so what the hell, I accepted.

When I got there I went straight to the bar for my usual red wine or beer. But when I got there, there was a brand spankin' new Rob Roy waiting there. A guy had ordered it, then realized what he REALLY wanted was a Roy Rogers, so the guy and the bartender offered it to me for free. Which was a hard deal to pass up, because there was no cover charge AND a free drink, right?

It was a so-so event, but I met this very interesting woman, a German singer cum* film director, and we left early for cheap Thai Food. At about 1:00am I put in my car to drive her to the Metro Station, because she's from Germany and doesn't like to drive if she can avoid it. As I'm pulling out from the restaurant, I noticed the reflection of the front of my car in the plate glass window, and I thought, I can't turn on the headlights now because it will blind those guys eating Pho noodles, so I made a mental note to turn them on when I hit the street.

Which I realized I had forgotten to do when I was stopped by police just before the freeway.

You might be ahead of me at this point - they asked me to step out of the car and ran a series of field sobriety tests on me. And my balance isn't optimal under any circumstances (I stopped trying to do Pilates because I kept falling over) but with a slight flu it was even worse. Plus the test where they have you follow a pencil with your eyes was made worse by my lazy eye. The police put the cuffs on me and I watched from the back of a black 'n' white as they called a cab for my new German friend.

(Incidentally, one of the questions they asked me during the tests was "what's in a Rob Roy"? I had to tell them honestly, I don't know. I think I heard it's not scotch, which is fascinating considering Rob Roy is the most famous Scottsman who hasn't played James Bond.)

It was 2:20 by the time they put the breathalyzer into my mouth and though they don't tell you the results, they did allow that I was remarkably un-drunk. Which is no surprise considering I hadn't had a sip of alcohol past 9:00pm. The police then put me back into the black'n'white (still in cuffs; it's policy) and drove me back to my car. I thanked them for being thorough professionals and told them as unpleasant as the whole adventure was, I'd rather they arrested me by mistake then let real drunk people drive. And I got home around 3:15, almost 5 hours past my normal bedtime.

Note to Dr. Gates - just cooperate next time!

Anyway, I'm chalking it up to a new experience and happily, my record remains clean. But Friday afternoon I was so destroyed by lack of sleep that I couldn't form thoughts even coherent enough for this blog. Yeah, I worked anyway, because I literally CAN do that job in my sleep. And probably with both hands tied behind my back, though we didn't have to explore THAT option.

Oh, and the Rob Roy? Meh. I prefer Pinot Noir.

* It's Latin! Look it up!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Letter From The Next Republican President

Am I airing the views of the other side or just too lazy to write my own comedy? You decide! Hat tip, of course, to Wonkette.

from Kristen Atkinson <[REDACTED]>
date Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 3:26 AM
subject my story

Dear Wonkette editors,

I posted a very serious article recently in about witchcraft in the White House, and later realized that your website had made a farce out of it. I saw that your staff and readers made a lot of extremely cruel comments about me and my story. Why are you people so rude? Does anybody take anything seriously anymore?

Do you really, truly, seriously think it is OK for a president to use a forged birth certificate? Do you actually believe it is appropriate for a man who was raised a Muslim to pretend he is a Christian and go to a church for 20 years with an anti-American preacher? Do you really want a president who was brainwashed by communists since he was a child, up through university, to hate America to be our president? Do you think that it is fine if a family member of the president defiles the White House with voodoo? Don’t you know what fate could befall our nation as a result of allowing Satanic forces to gather over the White House?

After 8 years of a president sent by God to lead the American people and rescue us from the horrors of 911 and Islamo-fascists, it now boils down to this? How incredibly tragic. You folks don’t really seem to understand the extreme peril that our nation confronts. Stop making fun of me. Take off your blinders! Wake up!

Respectfully, Kristen

To backwards-quote Led Zeppelin: Oh here's to my sweet satan!

No Halfway Measures

I've spent a lot of time lately accusing my online pals of being disingenuous (I do love that word) in their arguments against health care reform. You don't believe these things you're saying, I tell them.

It's wrong to tell people what they think. Better to just take them at their word.

So in the spirit of understanding, I'm going to assume these are all genuine principals and not insane talking points you're concerned with. I'd like to help out Republicans and make suggestions for their next social programs to fight.

THE POST OFFICE - The post office has been a huge drain on our tax dollars for long enough! And allowing it to continue has crippled UPS and FedEx. The post office maintains an unfair monopoly on mailboxes, thus forbidding any material to be delivered to peoples homes. If we allow the government to carry mail, it could read your personal information.

THE ARMED FORCES - the government has no business providing for the common defense. Mercenaries are more efficient, and an army composed entirely of them could support itself with the spoils of war! In fact, it could turn a tidy profit. The very idea of people having to "serve" their country is just a code word for socialism. You know who else had armies? Hitler!

LAW ENFORCEMENT - Oh sure, you liberals HATED the police in the sixties, but now you just love them! This is another program that is burdened by bureaucracy and red tape. If you privatize the police force, they can determine what is a crime and what isn't, and use prison labor to generate profits. If big government is allowed to run the police, they next thing you know they'll make LAWS, which violates YOUR personal freedoms!

GOVERNMENT - experiments in privatizing this industry through lobbyists has proven quite successful so far.

You're welcome. And don't forget, if we're allowed to pass a public option, the bill says all the American doctors will be fired and replaced with illegal Mexican doctors!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Hated Public Option

Courtesy of the Rasmussen people:

Just 34% of voters nationwide support the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats if the so-called “public option” is removed. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 57% oppose the plan if it doesn't include a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers.

Last week, Rasmussen Reports tracking found that support for the Congressional plan was at 42%.

While the tracking question did not specifically mention the public option, it referred to the bill proposed by the president and congressional Democrats now working its way through Congress. All of the congressional committees that had passed reform legislation included a government health insurance plan. Therefore, it is reasonable to compare those results with the current polling to measure the potential impact of dropping the public option.

The most dramatic impact is a sharp decline in enthusiastic support. Without the public option, only nine percent (9%) Strongly support the legislation. The earlier poll found 26% Strongly in favor of it.
Italics mine. This is great news or bad news, depending on whether Congress is acting to please the voters or the special interest groups. I hope they want to please the voters, because all the insurance campaign money in the world won't get you reelected if voters hate you.

Quote of The Day

As you stand there with a picture of the President defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.

- Rep. Barney Frank

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Aesthetic Reconsideration of TOMMY (1975)



Guns, No Guns. Whatever.

...As far as I can tell, it has happened twice. Last week in New Hampshire, a gentleman had a gun strapped to his thigh. And yesterday a dozen gun-rights activists carried some weapons at an Arizona event. It was all perfectly legal and the Secret Service was hardly worked up about it.

I believe in gun rights, but I also think sporting guns at what are supposed to be peaceful, democratic protests sends the wrong message. But from what I've seen so far, I can't get super worked up over it, either.

-Jonah Goldberg

Yeah, I'm with Jonah. A dozen people showing up to a debate packing heat, or a guy hanging around Presidential appearances with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder may send the wrong message. Me, I am choosing to get super worked up over it. Then again, it's not like they're wearing T-Shirts critical of the president. Maybe we should cut these heavily-armed patriots a li'l slack, huh?

More On The Glengary Leads

If you look at the comments in yesterday's post about Republicans selling stupid ideas well, you'll see that even the most ardent supporters of these ideas equate them with the idea that Bush was behind 9/11. I mean hey, even I didn't go that far. It was a gimmee from my readers.

Why So Socialist, Part II

Finally, a break in the case!

The picture should look familar to you.

Bored during his winter school break, Firas Alkhateeb, a senior history major at the University of Illinois, crafted the picture of Obama with the recognizable clown makeup using Adobe's Photoshop software.

Alkhateeb had been tinkering with the program to improve the looks of photos he had taken on his clunky Kodak camera. The Joker project was his grandest undertaking yet. Using a tutorial he'd found online about how to "Jokerize" portraits, he downloaded the October 23 Time Magazine cover of Obama and began digitally painting over it.

Four or five hours later, he happily had his product.

..."I abstained from voting in November," he wrote in an e-mail. "Living in Illinois, my vote means close to nothing as there was no chance Obama would not win the state." If he had to choose a politician to support, Alkhateeb said, it would be Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

"I think he's definitely doing better than Bush was," Alkhateeb said of Obama. Alkhateeb's views on foreign relations align with the Democrats, he said, while he prefers Republican ideals on domestic issues...Alkhateeb's assessment of Obama: "In terms of domestic policy, I don't think he's really doing much good for the country right now," he said. "We don't have to 'hero worship' the guy.

Regardless, Alkhateeb does agree with the Obama "Hope" artist about "socialism" being the wrong caption for the Joker image. "It really doesn't make any sense to me at all," he said. "To accuse him of being a socialist is really ... immature. First of all, who said being a socialist is evil?"
As I suspected, the SOCIALISM portion was completely disconnected from the visual. What I didn't divine was that the artist so revered by the right was both a sufferer of Bush Derangement Syndrome AND a Kucinich supporter. And let's face it, at this point Firas Alkhateeb is the next shining star of the Republican Party and will probably win the nomination in 2012, so you guys brace yourselves.

Mr Novak

Robert Novak, dead at 78. Hard-working reporter, made a few especially controversial choices towards the end there. Journalism is poorer for his loss.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Always Be Closing ***Updated***

A thought provoking entry over at Where Are My Keys:

Liberals in D.C. are either lawyers or activists that have made it to the big time. Conservatives have mainly a business background.

Conservatives know how to take an idea, run a few focus groups, determine if an idea is viable, develop a plan, "sell" the idea, put the right people in place, begin implemantation of the plan, determine strentghs and weaknesses of the plan, make modifications, keep an eye on expenses, and run a successful operation.
His point is that Republicans are better at selling than Democrats. Which I have to admit is correct, as clearly evidenced by the Health Care PR disaster that we're slogging around in right now.

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility (fweeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!) and it's probably good to now and then look at what's moving off the shelves in the RedState Grocery:

28% of Republicans believe that President Obama wasn't born in America and an additional 30% aren't sure.

35% of people believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

57% of Republicans believe that (or are "not sure" that) "the health care reform plan being considered by President Obama and Congress creates “death panels” which have the authority to subjectively determine whether or not a gravely ill or injured person should receive health care based on their “level of productivity in society”.

It looks like 11% believe Obama is Muslim. Roughly.

My point is, why not sell something that is actually worth something? Why throw this weight behind such racist nonsense? Speaking of which, here's an underserved market for you:

"...And non-white viewers really don’t like Fox. Only 5 percent of African-Americans, 11 percent of Hispanics, and 8 percent of other minorities consider the network reliable, while a majority of every one of those groups trusts CNN and sizable pluralities trust MSNBC."
But hey, if you start catering to that market you're just cannibalizing your existing share, eh?

***Update*** I wouldn't have included this sentence but WAMK in the comments below is fighting pretty hard for it: The stupid American people buy Republican crazy paranoid lies even over the crazy paranoid lies of celebrities they're more aware of. I'm not sure why he would want something like that out there, but hey, I aim to please.

The Iron Fist In the Sequined Vest

Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will participate in the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars,” facing off against pop singer Aaron Carter, actress Melissa Joan Hart, and former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin. According to DeLay spokesperson Shannon Flaherty, “Anyone who’s seen him on the dance floor at convention parties or weddings knows he’s going to surprise a lot of people — and in a good way. "
I bet he wins the season too - not because he's a better dancer, but because the other dancers will be waylaid with mysterious arm-twist injuries.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Aesthetic Theory Concerning 80's Pop Vocals

Today is the anniversary of Woodstock. Shout out to anyone who played that gig AND is still alive! Who'd have seen that coming, huh?

Personally I've been listening to more of the rock of
the eighties lately. As an amateur pop music historian, I can identify the period as having two prominent elements: excessive use of synthesizers, and a peculiar vocal style that can't quite be pinned down but is instantly recognizable. It's this cartoonish, hiccup-y yelp, best illustrated by Ric Ocasak of the Cars, or David Byrne of Talking Heads or Cindy Lauper, not really of anything but she just Wants To Have Fun.

This kind of vocal was all over hit records for a while and when you think of it, it's a really odd element to have caught on so thoroughly. I could see one band getting lucky with that, then maybe a copycat band grabbing a piece of the action, but there were like 15 bands working that side of the street. How, I yelp, could this have happened?

Here's how. Yes it was a weird and unique style of singing. But at the same time is was familiar enough to sell records, because those vocal tics were the punctuation of pop vocals since the fifties. Buddy Holly used to hiccup in his vocals. Julie London or Peggy Lee would sing too low for their range now and then. Everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Brian Ferry would sing a line too high. You already had a lifetime of hearing people sing like that.

It sounded fresh because you weren't used to having it be the whole song. It's like going to a fancy restaurant and being served a parsley salad. Sounds crazy but in the right hands it could be pretty tasty.

Alas, nobody wants to eat parsley salad forever. The novelty wears off and you start ordering the cobb again. The next thing you know, parley is back where it belongs, on top of the steak tartar or attempting an embarrassing live duet with The Dresden Dolls. Wait, that's not parsley, that's Lene Lovitch.

That's right, the whole post was an excuse to write the last sentence.

Meyers-Briggs Results Scare Me To Death

So on Facebook I took a Meyers-Briggs Personality test. This isn't the first time - I took one when I was married. However, I was unhappy then, and I figured my more recent cheerful outlook would yield different results than INTP.

Result: INTP.

You seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests you. You are theoretical and abstract, and are interested more in ideas than in social interaction. You are quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. You have an unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in your area of interest. You are skeptical, sometimes critical, and always analytical.

Okay, I guess that's me in a nutshell. I was hoping I'd be a little more extroverted by now! Here, though, is the creepy part.

Famous people with your same INTP personality include: Socrates, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Rick Moranis, Meryl Streep, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the Olsen Twins.

The Olsen Twins? Oh hell, I'm dooooooooomed!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another Crack At The Political Ad Problem

A while back I floated the idea of banning political ads on TV, because it's the single biggest eater of money in political campaigns (and consequently the reason why politicians have to rely on special interest donations to get elected) and because the issues are never adequately covered in 30 second spots. And I admitted that banning is an imperfect solution because there are obvious free speech problems.

So okay, I've taken the bill into committee and come back with a watered down compromise: Allow television advertising, but no political ad can be less than 15 minutes in length.

What are the advantages? The most obvious one is that it prevents the advertiser from picking a single lie and jamming it into your cranium every hour all day long. Instead, at worst a political advertiser (this would be for people AND propositions) could attempt to get 15 minutes a day in prime time, and even if they repeated the single lie in that slot, most people would note the message and switch channels after a few minutes. Probably in order to hold your attention the slot would have to go into detail, which is fine because there is nothing in politics that can be summed up in 30 seconds. 15 minutes is inadequate too of course, but it's a start.

And since there is practically nothing on American TV that starts or ends on the 15-minute mark, programmers would probably book a slot of two ads, hopefully opposing. Or one advertiser would buy the full half hour. Or a whole hour, in Obama's case. Yes, I'm talking about infomercial programming here. And this is another reason why this compromise is easier to swallow than my original plan: it doesn't yank a huge revenue stream from the TV industry. Also a half hour of television shouldn't be any more expensive than 8 minutes of it. Typically that's how much commercial time a network sells, and they could charge half that because they don't have to support the expense of that troublesome sitcom that they put between the ads.

You could argue that this would be bad for ratings, but if it's a choice between ACCORDING TO JIM and competing bond measures, I'm flipping a coin.

The main problem with this compromise is that it doesn't save enough money. At first. But honestly, this kind of advertising wouldn't be nearly as effective (i.e. wouldn't sucker as many potential voters) and therefore would gradually be dropped in favor of internet advertising, which is at least cheaper. Again, at first. But in the big picture, probably a lot of people who vote now wouldn't be bothered to next time? Is this bad? Not if it's birthers. Not if it's people who think Bush was behind 9/11. It's just like the stock bubble - most of the problems were caused by people investing who had no idea what they were doing. You should know a little before you vote.

Okay, so that's that idea out there. Anybody have anything to add?

Friday, August 14, 2009

And You Can See How Great That Is For The Economy

Income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression, according to a recently updated paper by University of California, Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez. The paper, which covers data through 2007, points to a staggering, unprecedented disparity in American incomes. On his blog, Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the numbers "truly amazing."

Though income inequality has been growing for some time, the paper paints a stark, disturbing portrait of wealth distribution in America. Saez calculates that in 2007 the top .01 percent of American earners took home 6 percent of total U.S. wages, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000.

As of 2007, the top decile of American earners, Saez writes, pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages, a level that's "higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the 'roaring" 1920s.'"
Which is not to say that we shouldn't keep cutting their taxes, of course.

You Scratch My Back, I'll F*ck You In The *ss

It's another health care post, but this time perhaps its a lesson in why bi-partisanship can't work nowadays.

British MP Daniel Hannon helped out his American Conservative brethren:

A Kent Conservative Euro MP has sparked an international war of words after saying he would not wish the NHS on any country.

He claimed people in America get much better treatment.

Daniel Hannan made his comments during a television interview in America, which he is visiting. Plans by President Obama to shake-up the health care system in the USA have sparked a major political row there.
Oddly, perhaps because the death panels there are inefficient and allow too many Britains to live, there has been what they call con-TROV-ersy.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham has even accused Mr Hannan of being "unpatriotic" for daring to "slag off" a British national institution in the "foreign media".

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has recorded a video message to the American people defending the NHS and accusing Mr Hannan of "misrepresentation".

But the MEP's comments have also touched a raw nerve with the Tory leadership, who have done so much in recent years to portray the party as a true friend of the NHS.

Conservative leader David Cameron has had to go into full damage limitation mode - dismissing Mr Hannan as a man with "eccentric views about some things".
And it's lead to Tories publically endorsing the unthinkable to retain their popularity.

The Tory leader refused to comment directly on a report in The Guardian that ministerial pay could be cut by up to 25% under a Tory administration.

But he told the BBC ministers would have to "take a lead" in bringing down the overall cost of government.
So looka that! You offer those American Republican scorpions a ride on your back across the river, and they just sting you; as you both sink to your doom they shrug and say "What did you expect, man? I'm a scorpion." Ask Tony Blair about this some time. He was pals with Clinton and the nation loved him, then he was pals with Bush and nowadays he can't leave the house without a Popemobile.

I Was For The Death Panels Before I Was Against Them

Amy Sullivan does a little research.

"The covered services are: evaluating the beneficiary's need for pain and symptom management, including the individual's need for hospice care; counseling the beneficiary with respect to end-of-life issues and care options, and advising the beneficiary regarding advanced care planning." The only difference between the 2003 provision and the infamous Section 1233 that threatens the very future and moral sanctity of the Republic is that the first applied only to terminally ill patients. Section 1233 would expand funding so that people could voluntarily receive counseling before they become terminally ill.

So either Republicans were for death panels in 2003 before turning against them now--or they're lying about end-of-life counseling in order to frighten the bejeezus out of their fellow citizens and defeat health reform by any means necessary. Which is it, Mr. Grassley ("Yea," 2003)?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guilt By Association

3:15 PM PDT, August 13, 2009

WESTWOOD -- A man accused of making threats against the White House led officers on a wild freeway chase that ended in a standoff outside the Federal Building.

The man was wanted on various local warrants, says police Sgt. Kevin Lowe.

His is also wanted for questioning by the Secret Service as part of a federal inquiry into threats against the White House, says Lowe.

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says the suspect made a threat but would not give details.

Police have not publicly identified him.

But the Daily Breeze is reporting that the red Volkswagon Beetle is registered to Joe Moshe, a resident in the 8300 block of Creighton Avenue.
You know who designed the Volkswagon? HITLER.

More Advice To Democratic Congresspeople

This whole "an attempt to kill your grandparents" thing is a problem. Though clearly it's based on a misinterpretation of one of the potential provisions in the law, probably the best thing to do would be to remove it. In fact, maybe we can put something in its place, like:

Under no circumstances will anyone over 65 be allowed to discuss treatment options with their doctors.

Clear and unambiguous. We could call it the Grassley Amendment! No matter what happens with this reform bill, there's enough people spooked by the notion that we outta put it out there in the current law.

Hey, it's not my idea, it's Sarah Palin's.

Advice to Democratic Congressmen

By September you will have solicted public opinion on the health care bills. I'd like to help you read those opinions.

It's a choice between the ones who agree with you, who are largely keeping silent; and they ones who are screaming incoherently, or enraged by things that aren't even in the bill, or are threatening to kill you. May I suggest that those last opinions can be sensibly ignored? If someone said "I think we should reconsider rolling back the tax cuts as a way to pay for the bill," you should pay attention to that. If they said "Obama isn't a citizen! Socialism! The tree of liberty!" then you shouldn't pay attention. Well, you should look into beefing up security.

Otherwise ask your Republican colleagues if they have any suggestions. Take their stony silence as a no and vote for Canadian-style health care.

CNN Makes A Surprising Editorial Decision

I like this.

TVNewser has learned, and a CNN spokesperson confirms, that in his morning editorial meeting today, CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein asked his show producers to avoid booking talk radio hosts. "Complex issues require world class reporting," Klein is quoted as saying, adding that talk radio hosts too often add to the noise, and that what they say is "all too predictable."
Yes it means that Stephanie Miller stops getting airtime on CNN, but let's face it, liberal talk show hosts are outnumbered by "conservative" ones by a 5 to 1 ratio. And even if you think it's dead even, talk show hosts are the unacknowleged beards of their parties. They're entertainers! What they say isn't meant to inform! Whether it's "they want to kill all the old people!" or "they want to kill all the poor people!" it's still a chance to float a talking point without having your party accountable.

Presumably CNN is either giving up interviewing people or they are going to interview official spokesmen and bloggers. The bloggers would seem to be the same problem as talk show hosts, but they're not nearly as slick and therefore easier to see through. Not to mention a hell of a lot cheaper to book.

Anyway, your hunger for talk show hosts can still be sated on the other two networks, you know, the ones everyone knows are biased.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All's Well That Ends In PayPal Donations

Kenneth Gladney was attacked on the evening of August 6, 2009 at Rep. Russ Carnahan's town hall meeting in South St. Louis County. Kenneth was approached by an SEIU representative as Kenneth was offering "Don't Tread on Me" flags to those exiting the gathering. The SEIU representative demanded to know why a black man was handing out these flags. The SEIU member used a racial slur against Kenneth, then punched him in the face. Kenneth fell to the ground. Another SEIU member yelled racial epithets at Kenneth as he kicked him in the head and back. Kenneth was also attacked by one other male SEIU member and a woman. The three men were clearly SEIU members, as they were wearing T-shirts with the SEIU logo.

Kenneth was beaten badly. One assailant fled on foot; three others were arrested. Kenneth was admitted to the hospital, where he was treated for his numerous injuries. Kenneth was merely expressing his freedom of speech by handing out the flags. He in no way provoked any argument or altercation, as evidenced by the fact that three of his assailants were arrested.

We hope that Kenneth fully recovers from his injuries; however, he is in pain at this time. This was a truly senseless hate crime.

Kenneth subscribes to no particular political party. He prefers to think of himself as an independent. He is calling on the SEIU, Representative Carnahan, and President Obama to condemn the racist, violent actions of these union members.

Kenneth thanks everyone for their outpouring of support and well wishes. After he recovers from his injuries, Kenneth plans to travel across the country to promote "Project Liberty," a new educational program designed to teach America's youth about their fundamental rights under the Constitution.

To Kenneth, this is not about Left versus Right nor Democrats versus Republicans. This cause is about personal liberties and freedom of speech. Project Liberty will sweep across this great nation to unite people for the common cause of protecting our individual liberties.

Kenneth wants to make it clear that he is not funded by any special interest group or political party. Kenneth vows never to accept funds from any of these sources. Project Liberty is "people-powered." As with any endeavor of this magnitude, there are costs associated with this. If you would like to help defray these costs in this fight for liberty, stand up with Kenneth and donate today.

I am Kenneth Gladney. You are Kenneth Gladney, Remember, we all are Kenneth Gladney.

"Liberty knows no race, sex, creed, or color. You see, liberty
is for us all. It was given to us by our Creator." -- Kenneth

Moving On: Human/Animal Hybrids

I'm taking a break from screaming back in the health care debate because the other day, I was free-associating on my bike commute home and somehow I came to the subject of Human/Animal hybrids. Those who oppose them are pretty convinced that such creatures must never be allowed.

Not so fast, man-creature!

Back in the days when I used to read books, I was a fan of Cordwainer Smith, whose short stories and novel about a future universe with a repeating cast of characters and history entralled me. Many of his best characters are human/animal hybrids, and they're noble, put-upon beings. Relegated to a permanent underclass of minimum-wage labor despite being superior to us both physically and intellectually, the dog-people and cat-folk are often depicted fighting for the basic rights that you and I already enjoy. Obviously the seeds of this oppression are being sown today, even though the stories take place 24,000 years from now.

I'd also recommend LIVES OF THE MONSTER DOGS, a 1997 novel by Kristen Bakis which is as haunting as it is enjoyable. From the NY Times Review:

Ms. Bakis's characters are strange hybrids of man and beast, genetically engineered in the late 20th century by the acolytes of a 19th-century Prussian madman, whose warped dream it was to produce a killer race of ''dog soldiers.'' Dressed in vintage military jackets with shiny buttons, these creatures walk upright and speak with the aid of mechanical voice synthesizers. Many wear spectacles or perch pince-nez atop their cold, wet noses. All have prosthetic hands, the brutality of whose surgical attachment they conceal under elegant gloves.
Bakis pulls it off somehow.

Read this stuff. Human/Animal hybrids are actually not so bad. Don't be so governed by fear, sheeple!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dotting The I's, Crossing The T's

"I wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high quality treatment without which I would not have survived." ---Stephen Hawking, August 11, 2009

For a reason that Hawking brought this up, see this post from yesterday. Note that the quote has been "corrected" out of existence from the Investors Business Daily website.

What Obama is Lying About, Insurance-Wise

When the President says that insurance has nothing to fear from a public option, that's a lie and he knows it. And here is why.

Let's say you have insurance through your employer (let's say you're employed, for that matter) and the public option becomes available. Let's further say that the public plan isn't entirely self-supporting, that it will also require some tax money to keep it afloat. In fact, I believe that so far, the President and CBO have said as much.

You as a consumer will therefore be in a position to either pay for your private insurance and MAYBE some taxes. At the moment the plan is to raise the money by rolling back those millionaire cuts, which means most of us won't be affected. Let's say the public and private plan cost the consumer exactly the same amount of money.

In this scenario, AIG can relax. All things being equal, people who have AIG will hold on to AIG. That is, until they change jobs. If they're out of work for a while they'll probably switch to the public plan IF it costs less than what AIG charges for coverage without employer subsidies.

Of course, the real problem is that employers may choose to stop offering insurance. After all it's a huge drain on the bottom line and makes them less competitive with foreign companies. It's the equivilent of a huge tax to businesses and if they see a way out, they'll probably take it.

So AIG (yes, AIG is standing in for all the health insurance here) will be forced to slash its prices to compete, and to maintain their margins they'd have to reduce coverage. More likely they'd opt to get out of the business all together and leave the headaches to Uncle Sam. Voila! Single payer!

So yeah, the insurance industry is facing serious trouble by the question even being raised here. But all the other American businesses stand to benefit. I can't see the downside to this. And there is still homeowner's and auto and life insurance to keep AIG afloat. Kaiser Permanente, my current supplier of health, would be screwed and that's a shame because I'm someone who actually likes KP. But the reason I like them is because they are run like I want the government plan to be run - integrated, networked and with limited, sensible choices. So as far as I'm concerned, either one is fine with me.

Constructive Debate

I mean, it's just free speech and all. You say you like a public option for health care, I send a length of rope to your office. Why are you Nazi traitors trying to silence us?

Don't forget to check out the video!

Message Creep ***Updated***

Here's the link that links to some links and sublinks.

A cynic might say that the difference between Gates and Gladney is their political affiliation
If you don't read Michelle Malkin you may not be aware of Kenneth Gladney who was involved in a scuffle at a town hall meeting. Depending on who you read he was either knocked to the ground or savagely beaten to a pulp (a delayed-action pulp because he was walking around immediately after the event but he's in a wheelchair now) by union thugs. A cynic might say that he was actually worked over by RNC operatives after the event, with his permission.

This whole incident is a sign that Karl Rove has retired, because he'd have managed the message a lot better. For starters, Gladney, who is African-American, is talking about pressing hate-crime charges. So if he was beaten because he was black, then he wasn't beaten because he was against health care, right? And why was he beaten, instead of any of the other African-Americans attending? Perhaps the Republicans think that that they are one of the minorities covered under Hate Crime law; sadly, you have to arrange that sort of thing in advance. If it ain't in the law now, you can't put it in for Gladney. Planning, people!

More to the point, check this out.
Gladney did not address Saturday's crowd of about 200 people. His attorney, David Brown, however, read a prepared statement Gladney wrote. "A few nights ago there was an assault on my liberty, and on yours, too." Brown read. "This should never happen in this country."

Supporters cheered. Brown finished by telling the crowd that Gladney is accepting donations toward his medical expenses. Gladney told reporters he was recently laid off and has no health insurance.
Is this really what Republicans want? As system where your health care is dependent on the kindess of strangers?

***Update***: And a hilarious update at that. From the Washington Independent:

I just got off the phone with David Brian Brown, the St. Louis, Mo., lawyer who has appeared with Kenneth Gladney, the black man who claims he was beaten up by a bunch of Service Employees International Union members outside a town hall meeting in St. Louis. Gladney says he was just there innocently selling Gadsden flags — those flags with the coiled snake that say “Don’t Tread On Me” and became symbols of the recent GOP Tea Party protests... as Daily Kos diarist KevinNYC points out in his play-by-play of the event, there’s a big white guy in a white polo shirt yelling — “they attacked him!” The guy on the video looks strikingly like his lawyer, David Brown, who now says he was a witness to the event, so he can’t officially represent Gladney.

When I asked Brown, who was in a car with Gladney on their way to see Brown’s brother, who is going to be Gladney’s official lawyer, Brown said that there’s been lots of misinformation floating around online about this case.

For one, Brown said, contrary to recent reports... Gladney wasn’t laid off and has health insurance. “He’s just unemployed,” says Brown, and “has insurance through his wife.”

Although Brown initially identified Gladney as “a friend,” when I asked him what line of work Gladney is in, he had to go ask Gladney about that before he could report back to me that about a year ago, Gladney worked for an optical store. Brown said he thinks Gladney’s wife is a social worker, but he’s really not sure.

Meanwhile, though Gladney appears to be just fine in the video right after he was supposedly beaten up, he showed up the next day at a tea party event in a wheelchair. At the event, Bill Hennessy, the organizer of the St. Louis tea parties, asked the crowd to donate money to Gladney to help him pay for his injuries, despite the fact that he now says he has insurance. When I asked Brown about this, he said: “Well, who doesn’t need a donation? If people want to give him a donation because he’s injured and unemployed, that’s up to them.” Brown said Gladney has raised about $1,100 in donations so far.
So to summarize, Hennessy was, um, mistaken when he asked for donations to pay for Gladney's medical treatment. And Brown is Gladney's friend but he doesn't really know what Gladney or his wife does for a living. In any event he's not his lawyer. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that Brown works for the RNC and concocted this whole publicity stunt on the spot, except I just did.

(h/t to WAMK for pointing me to the WI link)

Monday, August 10, 2009

This May Be A Flawed Argument

“People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

-Investors Business Daily, h/t Jay Bookman

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Act Like You Know What You're Doing

I just auditioned for a show (hey, it keeps me off the streets) and as I was leaving someone asked me how I did. And I realized, there is no good simple answer to that question.

The problems are legion. First of all because its an audition, I can't judge how I did. I don't make the decision, the director does. And she's judging me not just on how lame an actor I am (not very, thank you) but how bad I would be in the part. And even then, whether there is someone who is less bad.

So the "get on with it then" answer would be to "how do YOU think you did?" I wish I knew! I wasn't watching me. And I was trying to not pay attention to how I was doing, because you just come off as unnatural when that happens. So my answer for today is somewhere between brilliant and Keanu Reeves. Can't narrow it down further. Can't access the data.

This must be why it's acceptable to wish someone luck in showbiz by hoping they break a leg.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Why So Socialist?

This poster is said by some to be popping up all over Los Angeles. Personally I live in Los Angeles and I've only seen it on the web. And when I look for pictures of it they're all this one. But hey, I'm not writing about it to question its authenticity. I'm questioning its effectiveness.

My problem with it is that it is one gag too many.

I can get that its a parody of Shepard Fairey's famous HOPE poster. If it was just Obama, primary colors, and the word SOCIALISM under it, it would be effective parody. I'd disagree with the sentiment, but I'd understand it. And if it was the Obama as the Joker with no word under it, or VILLAIN, same thing. But you can't equate Obama with socialism AND the Joker. The Joker was an anarchist. In fact, when you think about it - wants to destroy Gotham, won't offer a valid reason for it, only bent on destruction - RUSH LIMBAUGH is the joker.

A blogger named Candace tried to explain it to me this way: "The poster of Mr. Obama in Joker Face is witty. The wit specifically is this: "It was a big Joke, this presidency. And you all bought it. I'm a Joker." It's a poignant aim at some very disturbing behavior by this administration: Promise one thing, but deliver another." That just doesn't feel right to me. The right isn't responding to this because they think that the Joker promises one thing and delivers another.

What does make sense to me, I think, is the Glenn-Beck-Like abject terror of Obama. Obama is like the Joker because the right sees him as a really really scary sociopath. It certainly fits in with these images:

And the right is returning to its more conservative roots, which are by definition to fear and oppose change. This is comforting. Admittedly it's manifesting in childish ways but ultimately we get the useful Republican party we always had - fighting government spending and the opposing expansion of bureaucracy. While I wish it hadn't happened at one of the few times in history where massive government spending is a good idea, I'm glad to see the tendency returning. Besides, no one is listening to them anyway.

The Crawl of Justice

Man, THIS sure took a long time.

Former Louisiana congressman William Jefferson was convicted Wednesday of bribery schemes aimed at enriching him and his family in a trial that featured a freezer full of foil-wrapped cash in alleged bribe money.

A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., after five days of deliberation, convicted Mr. Jefferson, a Democrat whom voters ousted last year, of 11 of 16 counts. The charges included bribery, money laundering and racketeering.
But at least it resulted in a conviction, which is pretty rare for Louisiana politics. Extra demerits to Jefferson for keeping the bribe money in a way that made for good metaphors.

By the way, for Warner Todd: The Wall Street Journal mentions that Jefferson is a Democrat, but all the way down in the second paragraph. Plus they fail to add, "just like all those thievin' Democrat party folk."

Are There Any Dinosaurs Who AREN'T Tax Cheats?

A federal judge has cleared the way for the government's seizure of a creationism theme park in Pensacola owned by a couple convicted of tax fraud.

A ruling by U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers states that the nine properties that make up Dinosaur Adventure Land as well as two bank accounts associated with the park will be used to satisfy $430,400 owed to the federal government.

Kent Hovind, who founded the park and a ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, is serving 10 years in federal prison for failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $470,000 in employee taxes.
See, it's not just Obama appointees!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

More Non-Racism: "The President Is A Nagger"

The sign is located along Main Street in Glencoe at the Eagle Hill Armoury gun store.

The sign reads, "Obama complains Americans are fat, police act stupid, U.S.A. is a bully, the president is a nagger." However, at some point over the weekend, the last word was changed to be a racial slur.

...Roach is keeping the sign up and said he won't re-write the message even if it could be changed again.

"We installed security cameras now," Roach said. "If somebody fools with it we're going to be happy to prosecute them."

I'm sure you will sir, and I'm as shocked as you are that someone would get it in their head to do such a thing. Where do people get ideas like that?

Obamitler Wasting Government Money on Secret Service Details

Here's another example of that Anti-Christ Obama jacking up the government expenses!

Since Mr Obama took office, the rate of threats against the president has increased 400 per cent from the 3,000 a year or so under President George W. Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service.
Some threats to Mr Obama, whose Secret Service codename is Renegade, have been publicised, including an alleged plot by white supremacists in Tennessee late last year to rob a gun store, shoot 88 black people, decapitate another 14 and then assassinate the first black president in American history.

Most however, are kept under wraps because the Secret Service fears that revealing details of them would only increase the number of copycat attempts. Although most threats are not credible, each one has to be investigated meticulously.
And I don't need to remind you that every one of these investigations has a chilling effect on FREE SPEECH! Well, at least the very popular George W. Bush forestalled the expense problem. It might have been even worse.
The Secret Service has increasingly cut corners after it was absorbed by the new Homeland Security Department under Mr Bush.
The fault for these death threats rightly belong to Obama, who arrogantly ran for President in the first place. How DARE you sir! Now look what you made them do!

Yet Another Example of How Obamessiah is Destroying American Business

The Cash For Clunkers program is a total failure! Look at this unexpected consequence!

Some auto dealers are running short of new cars even as the Senate is poised to join the House in adding $2 billion to the government's cash-for-clunkers program, which could sell another 500,000 vehicles.

...Dealers say they're running low on some models, especially small ones sought after in the clunkers program. The brightening economy and automakers' production cuts also have kept inventories tight.

"I'd buy another 300 Civics tonight," says Brian Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda and Acura in Woodside, N.Y. Dealer Adam Lee says he would normally have 150 new cars on the lot at his family's Lee Toyota in Topsham, Maine. On Tuesday, he had 14.
This program is depleting our nation's precious supply of cars! What are the big three supposed to do now, employ people to build more? They can't afford that! We're in a RECESSION! Besides, if auto workers are unemployed, they should get off their lazy butts and get jobs. Auto companies shouldn't be forced by the government to employ people and sell things. It's socialism!

Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now. Say, put a couple of wheels on this thing and it would make a good racer!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Rasmussen Daily Poll: A Closer Look

I know some people who practically cream their jeans when they see this:

It's down a point since yesterday! Obama is trending down! By 2010, he will lose to Sarah Palin, zero to 100!

I'm a little bugged by this particular poll, and finally someone has articulated what's wrong with it (and right with it) better than I. Eric Kleefield at TPMDC looks closer.

...The thing to remember is that this is not simply subtracting all the respondents who disapprove of President Obama from the people who approve. Instead, Rasmussen takes the numbers who strongly approve or disapprove, and then performs this math. As of today, that index number is -10, compared to an overall rating of +1 in Rasmussen's daily tracker.

It would seem at first glance that this number can skew negative -- that is, the people who disapprove of a president are inherently more likely to feel strongly about it, compared to a certain level of lukewarm support for a president. For example, the 2004 exit poll put George W. Bush's strong approval at 33%, to strong disapproval of 34%. But his overall approval was 53% to disapproval at 46%, and he was re-elected 51%-48%.

I asked three prominent polling experts about this, and they all lambasted it.

...Rasmussen has a working hypothesis that these numbers could be an important indicator in the lower-turnout midterm elections of 2010, when intensity of feeling can genuinely matter. "I know the intensity by the time we get to 2012 won't matter as much as the overall number. What I don't know, and what we're unsure of, is what it does in 2010," said Rasmussen. "Clearly, if the President's numbers are down from where they are now, whether you mean overall or the index, it's going to be more difficult for Democrats to do well in the midterms. And I don't know, but I suspect, that if the intensity gap is strong it will hurt them. It definitely hurt the Republicans in 2006."

For now, Rasmussen said the usefulness of the strong approval-disapproval index could become more apparent over the coming recess. Members of Congress will go home and hear a lot from constituents who are heavily in favor of Obama's proposals, or heavily against them. "They're probably not gonna hear from people in August who are kind of lukewarm," he said. "Now I'm not saying whether that's a healthy dynamic, but I'm saying people who are more passionate get heard more."
I'm mostly struck by that George Bush number - he was running a negative one when he was reelected. This chart is essentially a poll of extremists. It's like asking gourmets what the most popular dinner is - you'll reach a conclusion that it's escargot, and yet hamburger sales figures will say otherwise.

On the other hand, if our representatives don't read more conventional polls, they will indeed reach the conclusions that Rasmussen does. However, most polls ARE conventional. So we shall see.

Monday, August 03, 2009


I had occasion this weekend to get a free tarot card reading from someone who makes a living doing that. It was amazingly accurate - I mean, she got me exactly right except my age, which she had about ten years too low. But she knew I was smart, and didn't have a girlfriend right now, and was sometimes shy. Who'd have thought that a deck of cards could tell so much?

Not me, that's for sure.

No, really, I don't think they did. Obviously the cards had nothing to do with it. I don't know if there is such a thing as psychic ability, but if there is it's not a marketable skill. However, the ability to convince someone you are psychic based on a little idle chit chat during shuffling and watching people's reactions as you throw out guesses about them -- that's golden. It isn't recognized enough what a feat that is. I believe it takes a kind of genius.

By the way, all of the guesses I mentioned in that first paragraph - I was at a singles party for people ages 40 and over. The best part for me is that she still pegged me at 35 years old, so I must be looking awfully young lately.

The 29-Percenter Report

Look, it's true that I am more likely to support Obama than not support him in most instances but I'll drop him like a hot potato if he taps my phones or finds a way to make abortions illegal again. I doubt these people will ever turn and support his efforts. I mean, it's one thing to demonize politicians, but few are willing to be that literal about it.

Similarly, I'm not expecting to see a lot of give from the birthers. I'm betting a lot of them are thrilled to learn that a Kenyan Certificate of Live Birth has been uncovered for B. Hussein Obama. Will it bother them that there was no Republic of Kenya until three years after Obama was born? That even Little Green Footballs AND Karl Rove say it's probably a forgery? I'm predicting not.

Honest, what are these guys expecting to acheive? It looks like Obama is going to go the way of Clinton, a decent President whose approval ratings just kept climbing because his opposition was so bat s***-crazy obnoxious. Say.... maybe Obama killed Vince Foster? Mary Jo Kopekne? Sky's the limit, boys!