Archive for June, 2008

Still More Random B&W Photoblogging

Some more random B&W photos:

Watering Can

Coworker’s watering can.

Restaurant Chairs 1

Some chairs in the al fresco portion of a restaurant.

June 30th, 2008 at 06:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Monday Media Blogging

Creepy Robot Doll Head yearns to be human!

YouTube Preview Image

Kind of tragic and sad, really.  And creepy.

June 30th, 2008 at 12:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Lieberman Looks Back To The Future

Shorter Joe Lieberman:

When the terrorists hit us in 2009, we need to have a president who is willing to seize unprecedented unconstitutional powers for his own and his party’s gain, and John McCain is that man.

That is what “keeping us safe” has become code for, isn’t it?

4 comments June 30th, 2008 at 09:05am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Elections,Lieberman,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

Random B&W Downtown Photoblogging

Just some more random photos from downtown Pittsburgh:

Partial Building Circle

Building Reflection 16

Store Lock

June 29th, 2008 at 12:06pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

B&W Construction Photoblogging

A couple of construction photos from Dahntahn:

Downtown Construction 2

Downtown Construction 3

June 28th, 2008 at 10:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Vacation

Vacation.  I will be on it.  For the next two weeks.  So posting will be very light, probably just photoblogging and the regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday features, with the occasional quickie when mood and opportunity converge.

2 comments June 28th, 2008 at 09:44am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

Too Good To Be True

This has to be parody.  Has to be:

[C]heck out who introduced/sponsored the latest version of the Constitutional Marriage Amendment:

110th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. J. RES. 43

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

JUNE 25, 2008

Mr. WICKER (for himself, Mr. VITTER, Mr. CRAIG, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. INHOFE, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. ALLARD, Mr. THUNE, and Mr. SHELBY) introduced the following joint resolution; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

JOINT RESOLUTION

(…)

Section 1. This article may be cited as the Marriage Protection Amendment.

Section 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

Wow.  Just wow.  I guess I can kind of see the logic, though.  As long as the gays can’t get married, straight marriages will be stronger, and thus better able to withstand the occasional indiscretion.

Like, say, cavorting with hookers while wearing a diaper, or using foot signals to pick up guys in the men’s room.  As long as the gays can’t get married, that stuff is a-okay with the missus, but if gays and lesbians start getting hitched, well… watch your back.

June 27th, 2008 at 09:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Politics,Republicans,Teh Gay,Wankers

Promising, If True

I’m not a real big fan of Harry Reid’s, but I have to say I like the sound of this (subscription only):

Since then, Reid has regularly kept the Senate operating over recesses. Additionally, he has made plain that he no longer plans to confirm any partisan Bush nominee whose appointment would tip the balance of a particular board or association to the GOP, and whose term stretches beyond the president’s tenure.

That should have been his policy all along, really.  It’s at the end of a story about Reid making a deal to confirm a whole bunch of nominees (both Republican and Democrat) to the SEC, Federal Reserve Board Of Governors, FEMA, State, DOJ, and various ambassadorships.  But I’m glad to see that he’s finally putting some limits on how much damage the lame duck can inflict past January 2009.

June 27th, 2008 at 08:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Republicans

Art Container Photoblogging

These were actually taken before the arts festival opened for the day, at which point all the cargo containers are opened to reveal mini art galleries. But to me, the containers themselves are much more interesting.

Art Container 1

Art Container 3

Art Container 5

3 comments June 27th, 2008 at 11:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote is from The Ninth Configuration, a very surreal movie set in a sort of asylum for insane soldiers, starring Stacy Keach and written and directed by William Peter Blatty (based on his own novel):

Listen, I know my rights – I wanna see my urologist.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats…

I think the shadowy and mysterious Codename B. is winning.

June 27th, 2008 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

B&W Creepy Carousel Photoblogging

Some photos from a carousel thingy at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. When will these people learn that elephants and merry-go-rounds don’t mix???

Creepy Elephant 1

Not only is it creepy, but it’s not really functional, either. I don’t see any way a kid could sit on that, unless it’s, like, a fetus. The CAUTION tape really adds to the whole overall kid-friendly vibe.

Creepy Elephant 3

…A gecko fetus.

Posh Carousel

Ah, here’s the seating. Surprisingly cushy-looking, really.

June 26th, 2008 at 08:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Great Moments In Negative Campaigning

Well. Dick Zimmer, Frank Lautenberg’s Republican Senate opponent, has hit back hard against Lautenberg’s vote against cloture on the awful FISA “compromise”:

Press Release

LAUTENBERG VOTES TO TAKE AWAY TOOLS TO TRACK DOWN TERRORISTS

By ZimmerforSenate – June 26, 2008 – 12:49pm

Tags: DICK ZIMMER, U.S. Senate, Frank Lautenberg,Top Story: Breaking,
Release Date: Jun 26 2008

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:”"; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}

Now, I know there’s a lot of opaque political jargon in this statement, but I’m going to take a stab at unpacking some of the highlights:

o Frank Lautenberg pretends to be a normal person, but is actually a serial liar.

o Frank Lautenberg wants to tell us how to behave, and define what style clothes we can wear, and what kind of tables we can eat off of.

o Frank Lautenberg is frequently a no-show for important floor votes. (Either that, or he’s an absentee parent; like I said, this political jargon can be pretty tricky.)

o Frank Lautenberg padded his resume with bogus achievements (or, alternatively, is padding his campaign funds with cash from from questionable sources).

o Frank Lautenberg hates widows, orphans, and families.

o Frank Lautenberg is so imperious and bloodthirsty that he’s like a modern-day version of an ancient Roman.

o Frank Lautenberg is a tool of shadowy Far Eastern interests who want to subjugate the US and force us to speak their language.

I look forward to seeing Lautenberg respond to these allegations, hopefully in the same kind of highly charged political language.

(h/t Blue Jersey)

June 26th, 2008 at 06:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Quotes,Republicans

Even Bill Gates Hates Microsoft!

This is great.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Microsoft blogger found an e-mail from Bill Gates to the rest of Microsoft senior management from 2003, complaining about the awful design and total unusability of Windows and the Microsoft website.  Some highlights:

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues.

(…)

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack … so I went to Microsoft.com. They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

(…)

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying – where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

(…)

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

(…)

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night — why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

(…)

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.

What an absolute mess.

(…)

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven’t run Moviemaker and I haven’t got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don’t you just love that root certificate message?)

On the one hand, I think it’s great that Bill Gates has the same kind of awful, frustrating experiences with Microsoft that the rest of us Windows users do (shut it, Mac & Linux people).  On the other hand, it’s pretty pathetic that five years later hardly anything has changed.

(h/t Engadget)

4 comments June 26th, 2008 at 11:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

Dispatches From Bizarro World

Today’s installment is from one of Bizarro World’s leading citizens, Rush Limbaugh:

You want to know why the Republicans are willing to say, “Screw you,” to 30 percent or more of their voters and yet Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, “Have your way with me,” for 10 percent and 2 percent of the population [black people and gays]?

(…)

There is an answer to your — basic question is, “Why don’t the Democrats say, ‘To hell with you, you wacko nuts in the base,’ like Republicans do?”

(…)

The — there’s a complicated answer to this… but one of the simple answers that will require some elaboration is that a lot of money is coming from these kooks — and I’m not talking about just the blacks — I’m talking about a whole kook-fringe base because George Soros is running it… and they need the money.

(…)

…[T]he Republican Party, especially as currently constituted, is doing its best to deemphasize the importance or the influence of the traditional conservative base, which is not just the so-called evangelical Christian Right or the pro-lifers or whatever. But you have all kinds of people in the Republican base that are conservatives, from values conservatives, social conservatives, even fiscal economic conservatives. Conservatism has been the base of the Republican Party and because the conservative base does include pro-lifers and because many of them are from the South, there are many in the Northeastern corridors of power in the Republican Party who are embarrassed to be in the party with those people.

(…)

…[T]he politically active gay community on the left is worth a lot of money. These people send the Democrats more money than you can possibly imagine. A lot of it from Hollywood, and the arts and entertainment. They’re not — money — you know, key number one, you might be saying, well, don’t the pro-lifers donate a lot of money to the Republicans? Yeah. Yeah, they do. But it still embarrasses them. It still embarrasses a lot of the country club Rockefeller types.

The Democrats — what are they embarrassed about? They’re not embarrassed about anything. The Democrats have never set any standards for themselves. As far as they’re concerned, everybody’s a victim, even on their side. So, I mean, yeah, these victims are just fighting to be heard. Fighting for their rights, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The conservative rights — conservative right is viewed as trying to deny people rights, blah, blah, blah, you see.

But in addition to the money aspect of this — and don’t forget, the left-wing base is not even talked about by Mickey Edwards there — is the anti-war kook fringe. And it is huge. From MoveOn.org to Think Progress to My Base Book — whatever these things, these things — well, maybe not MySpace or Face, whatever it is. But, there are so many of these 527 groups out there that are just raising money left and right and the Democrats are scared to death if these people take their money and go away or go to a third party or what have you. And so they will cater to them left and right.

Wow.  That almost makes me wish I lived in Rush Limbaugh’s universe, where Democrats bend over backwards (or, if you’re Rush, forwards) for their progressive base while Republicans tell conservatives to get lost.  Because George Soros and the Hollywood gay community give progressives such a huge money advantage over conservatives, who only have the world of corporations and ultra-rich people to draw from.  Those poor conservatives, they can never get a seat at the table, and progressives are in control of everything.

Which is why the Democratic Congress allows the Iraqupation to continue, and is inches away from passing a FISA revision which gives Dubya all the spying powers and unaccountability for past spying crimes he could have ever wanted.

But other than the clueless reference to “My Base Book,” I think my favorite bit is the part about how huge the “anti-war kook fringe” is.  Well, yeah, it’s huge – about 60-70% of the country are anti-war kooks now.  And they are so totally calling the shots, too.

1 comment June 26th, 2008 at 07:09am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Reality-Proof Democrats

So I’m reading Chris Dodd’s brilliant statement about why the FISA “compromise” is unacceptable, and how it’s just one of the many symptoms of the Bush administration’s fundamental lawlessness, and I’m having this depressing thought:

Dodd makes a very eloquent, comprehensive, and compelling argument against the FISA bill, and… no-one cares.  I doubt that he convinced even one Democratic senator to join the paltry 15 who voted against cloture, and obviously no Republicans.  The merits of Dodd’s arguments were simply irrelevant in the face of political calculation, party loyalty, and corporate money.  There was literally nothing that he could have said to sway any of them.

And that’s what saddens me: This sense that the merits don’t matter, because hardly anyone in Congress is making decisions based on them.  Dodd is pouring his heart out, and his esteemed colleagues are looking at their watches or playing with their Blackberries, saying, “Yeah, that’s great, Chris – can we get on with servicing our corporate bosses now?”

Most dispiriting of all, that group includes our presidential nominee, who couldn’t be bothered to vote, and who has already said that he will vote for the “compromise” whether immunity has been stripped from it or not (he says he’ll work to strip it, but there’s no way he can succeed).  I don’t know whether Obama’s feeling insecure about his national security credentials as compared to McCain’s, or if he’s beholden to telecom contributions, or if he simply doesn’t want Nominee Obama to mess up President Obama’s chances at extraordinary powers, but it doesn’t really matter.  None of those reasons is an excuse for Obama’s pathetic failure to lead on something this important.

And I’m not going to give one whit of credit to anyone who voted for cloture and then votes against the bill so they can grandstand about how awful it is.  “This bill is a grave threat to our constitutional liberties and the rule of law… but I felt that it deserved an up-or-down vote” is spectacularly bad messaging.

I’m going to be pissed and resentful about this for months, and refuse to give time or money to the Obama campaign.  Way to depress your base in a presidential election year, geniuses.

1 comment June 25th, 2008 at 10:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Dodd,Obama,Politics,Terrorism,Wankers

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

For those of you who think farming is all fun and games:

(By Steve Dunlop)

A 48-inch grasshopper chewed its way through an acre of corn before farmer Barry Gissler drew a bead on the creature with his 30-30 rifle – and shot it dead!

Now university experts are studying the 23-pound insect’s carcass in hopes of finding out where it came from and why it grew so big.

(…)

Gissler shot the gigantic grasshopper on March 15.  Oddly enough, he had seen the insect perched on the seat of his tractor three days earlier but was tired after working his fields and thought his mind was playing tricks.

“The next afternoon I noticed something had been eating my corn plants and set out to find it,” said Gissler, who lives 15 miles south of Reefton, New Zealand.

“A few minutes later I saw the hopper clinging to a stalk and I don’t mind telling you that I just about jumped out of my pants.

“But this time I knew my mind wasn’t playing tricks.  The damn thing spit a full quart of ‘tobacco’ juice and hit me square in the face.”

(…)

The next morning he resumed the hunt and found the creature polishing off a cornstalk on the west end of his field.

“My mongrel dog took off after him but the hopper knocked him flat on his butt with another salvo of juice,” said Gissler.

“For the split second he was distracted I aimed and shot.  He never knew what hit him.”

The farmer took the insect to the local agriculture office where agents referred him to [insect specialist Robert] Scholl.

The bug expert is already conducting tests on the carcass but says it will be weeks or possibly even months before results are in.

“It’s imperative that we find out what made the grasshopper grow so big and if there are others like him,” said Scholl.

“It’s all we can do to keep regular insects from eating all our crops right now.

“A breed like this could turn the tide in their favor once and for all.”

We’re all doomed.  Doomed!

June 25th, 2008 at 06:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

More Random Urban Photoblogging

Just some more random themeless photos.  Next batch will be much weirder, and a little creepy.

Nail Extensions

Nail extensions, or the world’s tackiest sushi?

Rose Turtle

That is one strange-looking rose.

Gutted Window

Window in a gutted building.

June 25th, 2008 at 11:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Return On Investment

If you can afford it, bribing a congresscritter is just about the best deal there is.  As Politico and MAPLight report, our Democratic congresscritters sold us out on FISA, thus saving the telecoms millions and millions of dollars in liabilities, for a mere pittance – an average of less than $10,000 over three years, and a maximum of $29,500.

This happens time and time again: Senators and Representatives give away thousands, even millions on the dollar to industries for comparatively tiny amounts of campaign cash, or even some smoozing and a golf trip.  I mean, if you’re going to let yourself be bribed, at least don’t sell yourself so cheaply.

Of course, the underlying problem is, it’s not their money they’re giving away, it’s ours.  It’s akin to someone selling your car for $200 – it’s a terrible deal for you, but a great deal for them.  Unfortunately, I can’t think of any way to remedy this without creating perverse incentives that might make matters worse.

Sure, you could tie their pay to the budget surplus/deficit somehow, but we’d just end up with sky-high tax rates and no services.  Plus most congresscritters have other sources of income that dwarf their government salaries, so maybe the incentives/disincentives should apply to their campaign funding instead.  That would certainly get their attention, but then we’re back to the perverse incentives again.

If anyone has any ideas on how to give our politicians some “skin in the game” so that when they give away our money, they’re also giving away their money, I’m all ears.

June 25th, 2008 at 07:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Wankers

Siegelman Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

Okay, read this (it’s too long to excerpt, but it’s incredible stuff) and then try to tell me that the Bush administration, and the GOP in general, aren’t completely, utterly, totally corrupt.

In addition to the baldness of the corruption, I was also struck by the sheer meanspiritedness of it.  It wasn’t enough to simply sideline their opponents; they had to punish and humiliate them, too.  Charming, lovely people, these Republicans.

June 24th, 2008 at 10:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

How To Tell When Your Brand Is In The Toilet

YouTube Preview Image

This is really pathetic.  If they weren’t such wankers, I’d almost feel sorry for them:

Yup, Dino Rossi’s refusal to identify himself as a “Republican” is so transparently ridiculous that even FOX News is calling his bullshit.

Rossi dismisses the criticism by claiming he used the GOP moniker four years ago (new campaign slogan: “Deceiving voters since 2004″), though that’s not how he identified himself in the voters pamphlet last time around….

Makes you wish Rossi were a straight shooter like Republican GOP Party unaffiliated Insurance Commissioner candidate Curtis Fackler, the chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party, who publicly frets about folks who “won’t vote for a Republican no matter what.”

“And we wanted to get around that,” he frankly told FOX News.

Yes, whatever you do, don’t admit that you’re actually Republicans.  Their esprit d ecorps is trés impressive.

(I suppose he could always go with the “Washington For Rossi Party”…)

June 24th, 2008 at 09:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans

Random Eccentric Photoblogging

Some very slightly peculiar photos from Dahntahn:

Red Pump

It’s red, in case you were wondering.

Window Toad

Frog or toad? I’m going with toad, on account of the ugliness.

Chomp Phone

Actually a bit of a self-portrait, but I’m wearing camouflage, so as to be harder to see.

June 24th, 2008 at 11:36am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Richard Cohen, Conventional Wisdom Machine

Ya gotta love Broderella’s Padawan apprentice, Richard Cohen – his ability to uncritically regurgitate conventional wisdom/Republican talking points is truly impressive:

In some recent magazine articles, I and certain of my colleagues have been accused of being soft on McCain, forgiving him his flips, his flops and his mostly conservative ideology. I do not plead guilty to this charge, because, over the years, the man’s imperfections have not escaped my keen eye. But, for the record, let’s recapitulate: McCain has either reversed himself or significantly amended his positions on immigration, tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign spending (as it applies to use of his wife’s corporate airplane) and, most recently, offshore drilling. In the more distant past, he has denounced then embraced certain ministers of medieval views and changed his mind about the Confederate flag, which flies by state sanction in South Carolina only, I suspect, to provide Republican candidates with a chance to choose tradition over common decency. There, I’ve said it all.

But here is the difference between McCain and Obama — and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It’s not just that he’s been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It’s also — and more important — that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This — not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express — is what commends him to so many journalists.

Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don’t know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain’s decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. In fact, there is scant evidence the Illinois senator takes positions that challenge his base or otherwise threaten him politically. That’s why his reversal on campaign financing and his transparently false justification of it matter more than similar acts by McCain.

Wow.  So Cohen lists a whole bunch of McCain’s flip-flops that show him to be completely devoid of honor or principles, and then proceeds to rave about McCain’s honor and principles and how we know that there are some lines he will not cross.  I suppose that may be true – for instance, he would probably not feed his wife and daughters to hungry sharks to pick up sympathy votes – but the lines that he has been willing to cross, like war, torture, habeas corpus, warrantless wiretapping, depriving servicemen of education and leave time, are all bad enough that they should disqualify him from the presidency.

As for Cohen’s statement about Obama not taking positions that challenge his base… has he been paying any attention at all?  Did he not notice Obama coming out in favor of the FISA compromise that his base absolutely despises?  I can go along with the “or otherwise threaten him politically” part, but I would add the word “knowingly” in there somewhere.  I think his cave-in on FISA does hurt him politically with his base – it’s sucked a lot of enthusiasm out of all but his most die-hard supporters – but I don’t think that was part of his calculation.  So it may have pissed off his base, but it sure as hell was not an act of political courage – quite the opposite, in fact.

Still, as shameless and spineless a triangulator as Obama may be, McCain has repeatedly shown himself to be far, far worse and far, far more dangerous.  And Cohen is a dishonest ass for pretending otherwise.

(h/t bmaz)

1 comment June 24th, 2008 at 07:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Media,Politics,Wankers

The More Things Change…

Over three years ago, I was urging Democrats to lay some groundwork to ensure that Republicans couldn’t turn a terrorist attack or other disaster (this was several months before Katrina) into an undeserved political windfall:

Another thing that the Democrats must keep in mind is the very high probability that Republican policies will lead to a financial or terrorist-inflicted disaster. An electoral scandal and constitutional crisis is also a possibility: I believe there are limits to just how large a margin election “gaming” and fraud can cover up without leaving behind a gun too smoky for the media to ignore. What happens if that threshold is exceeded, at least to the point where the election outcome is severely in doubt? What mechanisms do we have for resolving such a situation?

In theory, Democrats should be able to capitalize on any of these negative outcomes, as they can all be laid clearly at the doorstep of the Republicans. In reality, they would be pilloried by the Republicans and the media for opportunistically “politicizing” a national tragedy.

Therefore, what I’m advocating is that the Democrats get out in front and periodically raise a big stink (and for the love of God, don’t capitulate!) about the various ways that the 100% Republican-controlled government has made us vulnerable…

(…)

[M]y point is that the Democrats need to be vocal about these issues in advance, so that everyone knows where they stand before the unthinkable occurs. It’s very easy to denounce terrorist attacks or stock market crashes after they happen, and both sides of the aisle will be doing exactly that. But the Democrats will be on the record as having warned of disaster, while the Republicans will be on record as steamrolling and shouting them down. This will give the Democrats standing and credibility to point the finger of blame after the fact.

(…)

Am I rooting for catastrophe? Of course not. I think it is highly probable, if not inevitable, but I desperately hope to be proven wrong.

What I am rooting for is that the Democrats will not let the Republicans get away with saying, “Well, these things happen, no-one could have seen it coming, we must all pull together now and do whatever we say,” as they did after 9/11. They must be held accountable for their willful refusal to protect America from harm.

Well, here we are three years later, and (as I predicted in that same post), the Democrats haven’t really gotten that message across, much to RJ Eskow’s dismay (and mine):

I’ve been privately warning Democrats for some time that Obama and the party need emergency preparedness plans. Major events between now and November could change the course of the election – especially a U.S. strike on Iran, or a terror attack against Americans at home or abroad.

We’re not seeing any signs of such plans. Not that we should -except that one outcome would be to explain now why Americans are much less safe as the result of GOP policies.

If it seems crass to weigh political considerations in the face of war or tragedy, remember that the future safety of civilians here and elsewhere will be greatly affected by this election. And they – the Republicans – are certainly thinking politically. When McCain’s chief political advisor, lobbyist Charlie Black, said yesterday that a terror attack “would be a big advantage for him, his biggest mistake was excessive honesty. That’s one of the few imaginable scenarios that could lead to a McCain victory in November.

(…)

So what should Obama and the Democrats be doing about these two possibilities? Some of their planning should be invisible – for the speeches that Obama might gave, the surrogates (military and otherwise) that would appear on Democrats’ behalf. But we should be seeing some groundwork being laid now, and we’re not.  So, what should be happening?

[Main bullet points only - check out Eskow's post for the meat behind them]

Guanatanamo and Abu Ghraib should be described as Bush-created “terrorist factories.”

Democrats should explain that torture is un-American, that it breeds terrorists — and that it doesn’t help catch bad guys.

If we surrender our freedoms, the terrorists win.

…Democrats owe it to themselves – and more importantly, to the nation – to start telling the real story immediately. There should be no equivocation and no calculation.

Their motto should be: Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and do what’s right in the meantime.

I still believe that something terrible is going to happen, that the Republicans’ criminal mismanagement of, well, everything, has made it inevitable.  Indeed, some pretty terrible things have already happened, like Katrina and the subprime meltdown.  But when the next terrible thing happens, if Democrats haven’t already shown (or, better yet, tried to fix) how the Republicans have left us vulnerable, they will be unable to fight off the Republicans’ this-is-why-you-need-a-strong-daddy narrative.

(h/t Elliott)

June 23rd, 2008 at 09:56pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Iran,McCain,Obama,Politics,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture

This Just In: Don Imus Still Racist

Lovely:

Wolf: “Defensive back Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, recently signed by the Cowboys. Here’s a guy suspended all of 2007 following a shooting in a Vegas night club.”

Imus: “Well, stuff happens. You’re in a night club, for God’s sake. What do you think’s gonna happen in a night club? People are drinking and doing drugs, there are women there, and people have guns. So, there, go ahead.”

Wolf: “He’s also been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.”

Imus: “What color is he?”

Wolf: “He’s African-American.”

Imus: “Well, there you go. Now we know.”

Yeah, putting him back on the air was a brilliant move.  He totally learned his lesson and stuff.

(h/t Jason Rosenbaum)

June 23rd, 2008 at 06:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Racism,Wankers

The Return Of Random Urban Photoblogging

More random photos with no theme whatsoever:

Green Dumpster 3

Yes, it’s a sexy green dumpster. Hubba hubba!

Saksworkers

Saksworkers.

Building Reflection 13

Some nice distorted reflections-within reflections.

June 23rd, 2008 at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Monday Media Blogging

Just because:

YouTube Preview Image

It’s raining men, yeah!

June 23rd, 2008 at 07:10am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Dubya Doesn’t Care About The Constitution Or Terrorism

In case y’all needed any more proof that Dubya’s assertions of unilateral authority have absolutely nothing to do with fighting terrorism:

Ten months after Congress passed a law establishing a White House coordinator for preventing nuclear terrorism, President Bush has no plans to create the high-level post any time soon, according to the National Security Council.

The provision – suggested by leading members of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – was contained in 2007 legislation designed to improve homeland defenses. Congress passed it by a wide margin, with bipartisan support.

Some congressional leaders said Bush’s failure to fill the job nearly a year later marks an outright evasion of the law, and called on the president to fill the position swiftly, even though his administration has only seven months left in office.

(…)

The White House opposed creating the position from the start. In a January 2007 letter to Congress – six months before the law was adopted – the Bush administration wrote that the appointment of a nuclear antiterrorism chief “is unnecessary given extensive coordination and synchronization mechanisms that now exist within the executive branch,” citing a 2006 strategy document that lays out the responsibilities of numerous government departments.

But in the past, Bush has tried to bypass provisions of laws he disagrees with by issuing “signing statements,” documents singling out those parts of statutes that White House lawyers advised would infringe on his constitutional powers as chief of the government’s executive branch. Bush has used this practice more than any prior president.

This time, however, the White House seems to be ignoring the nuclear terrorism coordinator requirement not for constitutional reasons but simply because the administration thinks it is a bad idea. It is a stance some legal scholars called an even more blatant disregard of the checks and balances on presidential power.

(…)

National security analysts have long advocated for a top presidential adviser focused solely on organizing the government to prevent terrorists from acquiring catastrophic weapons, such as a nuclear device, a radioactive “dirty bomb,” or biological agents. They contend that the current arrangement – in which that responsibility is spread across the Departments of Energy, Defense, State, and Homeland Security – is not fully integrated and has gaps in preparedness.

(…)

Advocates say the post is needed now more than ever, pointing to growing evidence – documented by international intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency – that terrorist groups are actively seeking nuclear or radiological weapons and the know-how to make them.

Meanwhile, a government-funded report released this month concluded that some of the current efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism are not fully coordinated.

I’m amazed that President Strong Terrorist Fighter can’t even be bothered to appoint someone to guard against the very kind of attack that he spent his entire presidency scaremongering about.  Not only did he not appoint a Nukular Terror Czar of his own volition, he has ignored Congress’s legal directive to do so.

Does anyone still believe that he’s insisting on the need for carte blanche wiretapping to prevent terrorist attacks?  I wonder how many Arabic/Daro/Pashto translators he has working on all those wiretaps of supposed Muslim terrorists…

(h/t dakine)

June 22nd, 2008 at 02:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Terrorism,Wankers

The Joys Of Minimum Coverage

Well, this is vile but unsurprising:

Unlike the heavily regulated group insurance market, advocates say the individual insurance market is rife with “junk insurance” policies that provide minimum benefits, such as hospital-only coverage, and don’t set limits on out-of-pocket expenses.

Advocates say it’s often impossible to determine what a plan does or doesn’t cover, and some consumers – like Mary McCurnin and Ron Bednar of Rancho Cordova – find out too late after they run up thousands of dollars in medical costs.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s Senate Bill 1522, which is sponsored by the consumer advocacy coalition Health Access California, would standardize the individual insurance market and limit out-of-pocket expenses.

Health plans would be split into five tiers to allow consumers to compare prices and better understand what they were buying.

(…)

Health Access cites families like McCurnin and Bednar, self-employed graphic designers, who purchased a policy from Mid-West National Life Insurance Company of Tennessee.

McCurnin and Bednar said they paid a monthly premium of $600 for what they thought was comprehensive coverage. But in 2002, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and he had open-heart surgery, they learned otherwise.

Their plan covered only 10 percent of his hospitalization, and the company rescinded her coverage because she didn’t disclose on her application that she was given a prescription for an anti-depressant years ago that she never filled.

With more than $250,000 in medical bills, the couple filed for bankruptcy protection and now face the loss of their home.

“Health insurance companies will do everything they can not to cover you,” McCurnin said. “Having good (individual) health insurance is a myth.”

Donna Ledbetter, a spokeswoman for Mid-West National Life Insurance, said federal law prohibits the company from commenting on the case.

“(But) we are confident that defined-benefit health plans have a place in the insurance market and provide value to those who would otherwise have no coverage at all,” Ledbetter said.

Nicole Kasabian Evans, a spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Plans, said SB 1522 will increase health care costs and the ranks of the uninsured.

“By making health plan products fit within narrow boxes with strict benefit requirements, this bill could take lower-cost options off the table for consumers,” Evans said.

Yes, because every American should be entitled to pay $600 for health insurance that doesn’t actually cover anything and can be summarily withdrawn for the merest technicality.  I don’t know what we would do if the government took that privilege away from us.

And here I thought that the point of health insurance was not for the sole purpose of allowing you to say that you have health insurance (i.e., those godawful “minimum coverage” car insurance commercials that seem to air every fifteen minutes), but so that you could actually get medical care without going bankrupt.  Silly me.

As a side note, one of my first thoughts when Hillary and Obama started talking about using “mandates” to impose universal healthcare rather than making it available through single-payer, was that it would create a huge market for just exactly this kind of bogus “junk insurance.”  Everyone can say that they’re insured, Democratic president gets to say that they’ve given us universal healthcare, insurance companies collect billions of additional dollars without having to provide any actual coverage – everybody wins!

(h/t Elliott)

1 comment June 22nd, 2008 at 01:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Healthcare

Don’t Hold Your Breath, Russ.

I love Russ Feingold.  He’s one of the few congresscritters out there that I have any faith in to consistently do the right thing, and he’s not afraid to call out politicians of either party when they thumb their noses at the Constitution.  Alas, I don’t think he’s going to get much satisfaction here:

Many Americans rightly expect that the new president will abide by the law. But we can’t take that for granted. Americans deserve a guarantee from the next president that the abuses we’ve witnessed over the past eight years won’t happen again. The 44th president of the United States, whoever he is, must renounce the Bush administration’s abuses of executive power and make clear that his administration will uphold the rule of law.

It’s possible that they might say it, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that either McCain or Obama will mean it.  McCain has consistently supported the Bush administration’s stance on both carte blanche wiretapping and the abolition of habeas corpus, while Obama just came out in favor of the latest FISA “compromise” which gives the telecoms retroactive immunity if they can jump over a matchbox, offering only a vague assurance that he will “work” to remove it from the Senate version.

It appears that President Bush has pulled off the unthinkable: By portraying the Constitution as the terrorist’s best friend, he has turned it into just as much of an enemy as al Qaeda – for both parties.  I guess the Constitution hates us for our freedoms.

June 22nd, 2008 at 12:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,McCain,Obama

Spammerhead

And now, because I can’t find anything to write about this Saturday… it’s more comment spam!

sustain stony Vicky prick?rewound …

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efficient reflex:taster limitation executions …

canonicalized pummel abjured access:cram …

cabbages Kimberly enable appending controversy:…

inches repeat cufflink:presentation parametric bushwhack,…

situationally baseman spine braver pager capital …

pitilessly fielders invoke …

graduations:foggily retinue!outcomes.Somerville …

I especially like the baseball ones about the situationally baseman and the pitilessly fielders.

June 21st, 2008 at 06:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Spamoptikon

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