Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Medal-Of-Freedom-Shaped Scar On Her Forehead

Look, none of this stuff matters, but did you ever notice that JK Rowling hasn't received a presidential medal of freedom for encouraging millions of young people to read, you know, books? No? Well, if you had, would you have wondered why? Yes? Good.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling missed out on a top honour because some US politicians believed she "encouraged witchcraft", it has been claimed.

Matt Latimer, former speech writer for President George W Bush, said that some members of his administration believed her books promoted sorcery.

As a result, she was never presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The claims appear in Latimer's new book called Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor.

He wrote that "narrow thinking" led White House officials to object to giving Rowling the civilian honour.
This story is mostly notable because it comes from the BBC, which explains why it's so prominently placed there - famous local girl denied award because of crazy American religious beliefs. It's a perfect storm to those guys. Still, considering this was the last time in history that kids will read books (now they're reading text messages) it seems a shame to have let the opportunity pass.

(cross-posted to HANG A LANTERN ON IT, my other blog.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Freedom Of Speech HAS to Include Death Threats, Right?

By now you have probably seen the video of school kids singing the praises of Barack Obama. Some have interpreted is as a creepy indoctrination of 5-year-olds that will result in them mindlessly voting for Obama in 2012; others believe it's meant to celebrate the election of our first African-American president. In any event, what does one make of this?

As critics of the video claimed it amounted to "indoctrination," the tension at B. Bernice Young Elementary School escalated to such a degree Thursday that the school was placed temporarily on lockdown after its principal received death threats over a YouTube video that showed nearly 20 children being taught songs lauding the president, though back-to-school night events continuing as planned Thursday night at the school.
A strongly worded letter to the principal would certainly be appropriate. But really, are the death threats necessary all the time? Can't we just find a school who can be talked into singing a song trashing Obama, and leave it at that? Yeah! That's it! RNC, get to work... upload a whole bunch of videos of kindergartners singing songs about how Obama is a socialist who is burdening future generations with debt because of problems that he created, and your numbers will go through the roof!

And you can focus on killing abortion doctors and census takers instead.


Our country's stood beside us People have sent us aid.
Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade.
Congress, Bush and FEMA People across our land
Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!

Read more at:

"Conspiracy" is Such An Ugly Word

Even when one of the ex-presidents who CAN talk uses it.

Problem is, a conspiracy kind of implies secrecy, which is an element that is necessarily lacking from a smear campaign. It's just darned innacurate. "Vast right-wing Orwellian rebranding" is better, or "vast right-wing mob incitement" would be fantastic, if they weren't so long and hard to spell. I'm going with "vast right-wing hate-mongering". Open to suggestions, people!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kenneth Gladney Abandoned By Republicans

Attention African Americans - remember when one of your own was savagely beaten by union members at a town hall meeting a couple of months ago? He's been disappeared!

Curiously, however, there is no record of charges being filed against Gladney’s alleged attackers. And Gladney’s Website is down, with this message replacing the content.

Unfortunately, this site is no longer available due to nonpayment on the part of Kenneth’s attorney, David Brown. The site will resume normal operation once payment is received.
He was just asking for a little donation money to pay for his medical bills, and some backup so he could safely file charges against his attackers - and you Republicans walk away? FROM A MAN IN A WHEELCHAIR? He's probably surrounded by AFL-CIO members holding pipes RIGHT NOW! I bet y'all took his pain medication too, and gave it to Delay so he could make it through the Dancing gig. Callous bastards.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Keeping On Message, Pound Pound Pound

Michael Steele, last week:

Proud Americans, black and white, fought for too long and too hard to have the claim of racism be used in such a cavalier fashion.
Steele yesterday:

I found that to be stunning, that the White House would send word to one of only two black governors in the country not to run for re-election. And it just raised a curious point for me. I think … Gov. Paterson’s numbers are about the same as Gov. Corzine’s numbers, yet the president was with Gov. Corzine.
See, isn't this just repetitive and boring?

Keeping On Message

I'm casting around this lunch hour for things to write about, and it's hard because unlike a lot of Pundits, I can't keep repeating the same talking points. It bores me. So rather than devote a whole post to anything let me just say this: most of it IS racism, and Obama didn't do Fox yesterday because it would have been a waste of precious time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beat Up A Guy, Then Criticize Him For Untidiness

Kevin Brady (Republican, TX) is furious at the poor level of service provided by Washington's Metro during the recent Tea Party protests.

“These individuals came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration,” Brady wrote. “These participants, whose tax dollars were used to create and maintain this public transit system, were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capital did not make a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit for them.”

A spokesman for Brady says that “there weren’t enough cars and there weren’t enough trains.” Brady tweeted as much from the Saturday march. “METRO did not prepare for Tea Party March! More stories. People couldn’t get on, missed start of march. I will demand answers from Metro,” he wrote on Twitter.

L'il extra background:

Back in July HR3288, a Transportation and HUD appropriations bill, came up for a vote. It included $150 million for emergency maintenance funding for the DC Metro.

Brady voted against it.
Good thing this came today when I didn't get enough sleep. I'm too tired to think up my OWN comedy.

And They Say There's Nothing Worthwhile On Fox News

More Non-Racism: The Real Racists

Michael Steele is currently on the I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I tour in response to Jimmy Carter's remark earlier this week, “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American.”

Proud Americans, black and white, fought for too long and too hard to have the claim of racism be used in such a cavalier fashion. Blind charges of racism, where none exist, not only are an affront to those who have suffered the effects of racism, but it weakens our efforts to address true acts of racism and makes them more difficult to overcome.
Michael Steele, writing for Politico

You know, I’m looking at cities around the country where black folk live. Now, you showed me the Congress with all these wonderful black Democrats and white Democrats. But I go to black neighborhoods that are run by those same Democrats. And you tell me where racism really exists.
Steele, on CNN

So, okay, it's the black people who are racist. What I'm wondering is, what makes them that way? Is that just something they're born with? Is it a character flaw that black people have?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Identity Crisis

Politics is kind of running around in circles today, so instead of complaining about that, I will complain about something else in my life that's running around in circles.

You may recall that I do a little acting now and then. My latest gig is a murder mystery, with two performances pending in the far-flung town of Glendora, over an hour's drive from my hovel. I basically got in without an audition, because they were having trouble casting the guy who gets killed and one of the other actors had worked with me before. So for the past several weeks I've been learning my lines and developing a dislikable attitude. Hell, if the AUDIENCE doesn't want to kill this guy in the first ten minutes, I'm not doing my job.

Monday I got this call from the producer. We go on in two weeks and the guy who's playing the detective (and romantic lead) was sidelined with a back injury, and he had no choice; he was going to play my part, and I was going to play the detective. So I went through the script and highlighted all the detective's lines, and was terrified to discover that he had 3 times as many. The nice thing about being killed in the first act is, you don't have to learn the 2nd and 3rd acts! But I went along with it 'cause the show must go on. I shaved off my beard, put together an outfit that a Texas Ranger in training might wear, and showed up for rehearsal Monday night.

This morning, the producer calls back. He decided he can't act AND produce, and he found another guy to play the detective, so I'm back as the victim. I have a week and a half to cultivate my beard.

(If you're within reach of the Glendora area, check out the VILLAGE BOOK SHOP on Glendora Ave for details.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Joe Wilson Has Apologized Enough

Which is to say, very little; and that's perfect for Democrats.

(The) Joe Wilson moment(was)a serious breach of decorum (in the U.S.) that served to underscore the exact point Obama had been making: we’d like to have a substantive contribution from Republicans, not the lying – his word – histrionic nihilism we’ve been seeing. Cue Joe Wilson with lying histrionics. Well done, Joe. It pissed people off, made a money-bomb for his opponent Ron Miller, and was similar to the way Dems (although certainly not Republicans) reacted to Sarah Palin’s acid floor speech at the convention on Sept 2, 2008. We saw the few Republicans who were in field offices last year motivated by Palin’s presence on the ticket but not McCain’s; we also saw many more people showing up to Obama offices in part galvanized by opposition to her sneering speech (and overall Palinosity).
Sean Quinn,

I couldn't have said it better myself, and I wish I had coined "Palinosity".

Ignore That Screaming Guy

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the worst U.S. recession since the 1930s has probably ended, while warning that growth may not be strong enough to quickly reduce the unemployment rate.

“Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point, it’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time,” Bernanke said today at the Brookings Institution in Washington, responding to questions after a speech.

The remarks are Bernanke’s most explicit statement that the contraction that began in December 2007 is over. They echoed comments yesterday by San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen and followed a report today showing retail sales rose last month by the most in three years, adding to evidence of a recovery.

“Unemployment will be slow to come down” if growth turns out to be “moderate” and not much more than the economy’s underlying potential, Bernanke said.

-Bloomberg News

Okay, so it seems to me that even if you believe that we'd be in exactly the same position right now with the stimulus, you can see how the coming spending on projects that require hiring would be helpful.

Teabaggers: I'm not asking you to stop screaming. This is America, and it's your right to speak out! However, it's my right to remember how wrong you've been so far and stop listening. And screaming while holding guns doesn't make me think you're righter.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the number was closer to 700,000.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Yes I remember it, but I have nothing fresh or interesting to say.

***Update*** But these guys do!

Republicans Arguing Against Themselves, Again

BillO: Why wouldn't the president say, let's let everybody compete. Let's let all the insurance companies compete nation wide and that will drive the price down...

Axelrod: Well first of all we have a system of state regulation, you know that of the insurance industry that makes that difficult. What we want is these individual market places. Some markets have competition, other markets don't.

BillO: The Feds can override the states...

Axelrod: Excuse me?

BillO: The Feds can override the states, you know that. You can make it so that all health insurance companies compete nationwide.

Axelrod: This is a historic moment with you calling for the feds overriding the states. I didn't realize you had that...

O'Reilly: Federal jurisdiction, you know federal jurisdiction takes precedence in almost every legislative area...

I had this very same discussion with MD a week or so ago. Why do these guy hate State's rights? And how do they think that allowing the big insurance companies to stomp out the regional ones will improve competition?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trickle Down to Nothin'

The Census Bureau's annual look at income and health coverage (based on surveys conducted in March) is out today. The rise in the poverty rate and in the percentage of Americans without health insurance got the headlines. But here's a fact that for ome reason the Census Bureau didn't emphasize: The median household income in 2008 was $50,303. The median household income in 1999, expressed in 2008 dollars, was $52,748.
h/t Justin Fox, Time Magazine

The Bush years were the trickling-downest trickle-down-economics years ever, yet all that deregulation and tax-cutting didn't lead to prosperity for the common guy. Who's surprised? Raise your hand, the one that you aren't using to write a resume for your second job.

The good news for Republicans is the median is bound to drop even more this year. If they can just wait a few months until we forget this report, they can blame it on Obama!

Great Scott, Mickey!

Forget about Obama's speech. Didn't see it. Instead, check this out!

NASA scientists have created an anti-gravity field that works at room temperature, which is a big Where's My Back to the Future Skateboard breakthrough. The only problem is that it only works on mice.

Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have created a superconducting magnet that generates enough energy to lift small animals off the floor. The magnet pushes the water inside the animals up, making them fly. The amazing fact is that it works at room temperature—not the ultra-cooled down environments typical of these magnets—and it's large enough to make rodents to levitate.
The problem with the mice is that they panic, so they have to be sedated to remain calm enough to stay aloft. So if we have a big enough magnet and a mellow enough person, say Matthew McConaughey, human levitation is achievable.

Speaking of levitation, "According to CNN the percentage of American supporting reform proposals went from 53% before the speech to 67% after the speech. In addition, 56% of viewers had a "very positive" reaction to the speech." It's true the results are skewed because there were many more Democrats than Republicans questioned, but let's assume that the Republicans all hated it before and still hated it. Eric Cantor spent the whole time sending emails on his Blackberry; the only Republican who was listening was Rep Joe Wilson. Speech wasn't for these guys, who believe that Obama can't even prove that he was born. Speech was for the people who are going to vote on the bill.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The High Road

I'm not going to mention this, because it would be relentless piling on and just because he's associated with a group, it doesn't mean the whole group is like this. Though if there were more scandals as un-exotic as this, the group would look a lot better than it does.

Zen and The Art of Interview

Megan McCain: You definitely must feel like you didn’t do anything wrong I mean to write a book and whatever like that’s how secure you are that this is something else?

Rod Blagojevich: Well that’s exactly right, Meghan.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Attention Children - The Speech Your Parents Don't Want You To Read

Actually, I can shorten the title to Your Parents Don't Want You To Read!

But here's the speech.

Since actions speak louder than words, here's what you can learn from your parents - fear ideas. Fear education. Fear black men. Actually, I can shorten that to fear.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Panels? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Panels

Like a lot of things that emerge from Republican Talking Points, the idea that the Democrat-sponsored Health Care bill will result in killing the elderly is rooted in a form of projection. As Jacob Weisberg points out in Slate last week, Republicans have done more to kill off the elderly than anyone.

Take the conservative push to privatize Social Security, which George W. Bush proposed and failed to get Congress to pass in 2005. Social Security has driven life expectancy up and death rates down since it was instituted. It has an especially pronounced impact on suicide rates for the elderly, which have declined 56 percent since 1930. Had Bush prevailed, we would now be undoing income security for the elderly. Those who gambled on the stock market and lost would be less able to afford medicine, food, and heating for their homes. In aggregate, they'd presumably die younger and commit suicide more often.

Republicans continue working to shorten and sadden the lives of the elderly in more oblique ways, too. One of President Obama's first official acts was to reverse Bush's executive order limiting government funding for stem-cell research, which remains the most promising avenue for new treatments of diseases that afflict the aged, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Clean-air legislation, which the Republicans defeated in 2002, has the potential to save 23,000 lives per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of those victims are elderly people, who suffer disproportionately from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses exacerbated by air pollution. Because emissions of carbon monoxide and such are merely a contributing factor, you can't name the individuals who have died because of this policy choice. But there are tens of thousands of people who would still be elderly today if Republicans didn't value the rights and campaign contributions of polluters more highly than their lives.
Weisberg also points out that the inheritance tax, which was co-written by Chuck Grassley to expire in 2010, will encourage old people who are worth more than a million to ALSO expire by the end of 2010. If they won't die on their own, there's gonna be a lot of relatives around to help 'em out.

It's tounge-in-cheek, scurrilous logic; but that's what those guys get for not arguing the bill on its merits in the first place.

Money In The Mouth Area

Problems, solutions: I know a lot of conservatives find it frustrating to argue with me, and I'm realizing now that a lot of the time, this is based on my not even knowing the facts. That is to say, I don't take for granted things like Obama is a socialist, Obama wasn't born in the United States (or even born), Iraq had WMDs and Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks.

Most conservatives take this stuff for granted, and I don't because I don't watch Fox News. I can't. I'm a single guy and I'm too cheap to pay for cable. Now as a liberal I could appeal to government to pay for my cable, but instead I'm asking you, the reader, to step up to the plate - pay for 6 months of cable for me and I promise to watch at least an hour of Fox News every day. It's only about 50 bucks a month, and since I blog you could consider it an investment for the good of society. It's just like the way you guys always buy meals for random poor people instead of voting to fund homeless shelters.

So, who's in? Email me so I can tell you where to send the checks.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Most Maps Have A Liberal Bias

But not those at Fox News! Did you know that many Egyptians aren't even AWARE that they're they only thing separating Iran and Syria? True story! Anyone who argues is spreading demoncrap lies!
(Wonkette, via Washington Independant)

I Have Seen The Future, and It Looks Like the Present

2010 is coming up. There are those that say dolphins will point the way toward the stars and Russians will mangle our idiomatic phrases in a charming way. Others insist that midterm congressional elections will result in a stunning landslide victory for Republicans, wiping out the Democrat majority.

Nate Silver hasn't weighed in on the dolphin question (nor have the dolphins, publicly) but he is of the opinion that the balance of power won't change much net year. He cites as evidence a couple of recent elections in California and Iowa. Well, see for yourself. And know it's just evidence, it's not proof. The proof will be coming on the first Wendesday in November a little over a year from now.