Archive for January, 2009

Sentences I Wish I’d Never Read

From Bill Madden’s NY Daily News column on Joe Torre’s tell-all book about the Yankees:

Up front, I must say it’s a compelling read, even if Yankee trainer Steve Donohue rubbing Roger Clemens’ testicles with extra hot liniment before every start was probably more information than I needed to know.

GAH!

Jebus, Roger can’t even rub his own testicles with extra hot liniment, he has to have “people” to do that for him?  Ah, the life of a pampered super-rich batshit insane pro athlete.

3 comments January 31st, 2009 at 06:07pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Media,Quotes,Sports,Weirdness

Dubya’s Self-Fulfilling Tax Prophecy

Yet another reminder of why my hatred for George W. Bush is virtually limitless:

He said this over and over during the 2004 campaign. His team must have thought it was a mighty clever talking point. It was so much fun to see the President of the United States, with control over the IRS, helpfully explain that the rich evade taxes and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

7/14/2004 THE PRESIDENT: …People need to be aware of this talk out of Washington, D.C. that says, oh, don’t worry, we’re just going to tax the rich. That’s not the way it works in the tax code. The big rich dodge taxes, anyway. It’s companies like this who end up paying more taxes.
8/3/2004 THE PRESIDENT: …He said, tax the rich. You’ve heard that before haven’t you? You know what that means. The rich dodge and you pay.
8/13/2004 THE PRESIDENT:…I’ll give you one other thought. Let me just leave you with one other thought about taxing the rich. You know how that works. A lot of the rich are able to get accountants, so they don’t — they’re able to dodge. You’ve seen it before. We’re going to tax the rich, and then they figure out how not to get taxed.
8/28/2004 THE PRESIDENT: …Every time they say, tax the rich, the rich dodge and you pay.
9/1/2004 THE PRESIDENT: …You know what it means, tax the rich. It means the rich dodge and you get stuck with the bill.
9/3/2004 THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, we’ve heard that before, haven’t we? First of all, you can’t raise enough money by taxing the rich to support all his programs. Secondly, the rich figure out a way to dodge it, and you get stuck with the bill.
9/7/2004 THE PRESIDENT:Yes. Oh, don’t worry, we’ll tax the rich. Well, that’s why the rich hire accountants and lawyers. They dodge, you pay…
10/11/2004 THE PRESIDENT: …Something else about taxing the rich — the rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason, to dodge the tax bill and stick you with it.

This is the same guy who eliminated half of the IRS lawyers who audit the rich, and went after the middle class more often with audits and scrutiny.

In other words, the state of affairs which he used as a pathetic excuse to not raise upper-income taxes was one which he himself perpetuated.  And you know, if he really was sincere about the wealthy’s ability to dodge taxes, then why not raise upper-bracket tax rates and reap the public-relations bonanza, secure in the knowledge that no-one who matters would ever actually take a hit?

What an evil, dishonest man.

1 comment January 31st, 2009 at 04:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Republicans,Wankers

Wingnut Welfare Reform

World's Smallest Violin

Oh, what a terrible depressing shame:

As the end of the first quarter approaches and we near the production phase of Pajamas TV, we will continue to build our emphasis in this area. As a result we have decided to wind down the Pajamas Media Blogger and advertising network effective March 31, 2009. The PJM portal and the XPressBlogs will continue as is.

Since our ad relationship continues for the time being, you should note that in order to be paid for the 1st quarter of 2009, you must leave the current Pajamas ads up until 12:01AM April 1. We will be sending you information in mid-March on removing the ads. As of April 1, 2009, you will be free to arrange syndication or re-sale deals.

We thank you very much for participating during the formative years of Pajamas Media and we look forward to working with you in other ways. One of those is, of course, Pajamas TV. If you have any ideas in that regard, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our best wishes in the new year and again our deepest gratitude for your participation in Pajamas Media.

Sincerely,

Roger L. Simon

CEO, Pajamas Media

What this means is that as of April 1, I am officially out of work. So save going to a pay model, this site will likely have to shut down.

Small price to pay for helping PJM pick up an audience and credibility during its “formative years.”

It’s so unfair!  All those bloggers who shilled for the party of self-reliance and personal responsibility now have to go out and find actual jobs!  Oh, the indignity!

If only they had a sugardaddy like Soros who would support them through thick and thin like us lucky ducky liberals do.  (Yes, they actually believe that.)

5 comments January 31st, 2009 at 02:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Republicans,Wankers

Admission Of Failure

Dean Baker is not happy with the vague “officials say” reporting of the Washington Post, but I’m more pissed off about this part here:

At one point, it even is so polite to tell us that the administration doesn’t want to limit executive compensation as part of getting welfare from taxpayers because “officials” are worried that such limits would discourage banks from participating.

(…)

Who cares if some banks don’t participate in getting handouts? Citibank, Bank of America, and many other major banks have no choice. They will go bankrupt without assistance. If some banks actually can get by without the government’s assistance, why would we want to force it on them?

If their toxic assets have really frozen lending, although not actually jeopardized their solvency, then the shareholders would have a great lawsuit against any bank executive who refused to act in the interest of the shareholders in order to preserve their own high pay. Such instances would presumably be rare, but could nonetheless provide a great source of free entertainment to a nation suffering through a severe downturn.

In short, there is good reason to believe that the Obama administration is trying to slip hundreds of billions of dollars to bank shareholders and their top management. The Washington Post seems to be helping.

It was bad enough when the Bush administration crippled the executive compensation limits in the bailout; it’s even more infuriating to read that the Obama administration wants to do the exact same thing.

Look, a request for TARP funds should be viewed as an admission of failure, and failed executives should be rewarded as such.  If they don’t want to take our money, then they can either earn their fat paychecks by trying to muddle their banks out of trouble without outside aid, or they can take an even bigger pay cut when their banks fold or fire their sorry, unable-to-manage-risk asses.

And for opportunistic banks that don’t actually need TARP funds but want them anyway, bringing in all that free money will look a lot less attractive to senior management when it means a pay cut instead of a raise.

There needs to be enough of a disincentive so that only the most desperate banks seek TARP bailout money, and I can think of few disincentives better than pay cuts.  Make the CEOs have to actually pay for our money.

January 31st, 2009 at 01:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Obama,Wankers

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote is from the science-fiction book I am currently reading, River Of Blue Fire, the second volume of Tad Williams’ Otherland series:

NETFEED/NEWS: Pilker Calls for New Legislative House

VO: The Reverend Daniel Pilker, leader of the fundamentalist group Kingdom Now, is suing the United States, demanding that a fourth house of legislature be formed.

PILKER: “We have a House of Representatives, an Industrial Senate.  We have every kind of special interest group that there is making their voices heard.  But where is the representation for God-fearing Americans?  Until there is a Religious Senate as well, which can make and interpret laws specifically with God in mind, then a large part of the American people will remain disenfranchised in their own country…”

See, even in the future the religious right will wail about how powerless and oppressed they are.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s wee kittens:

YouTube Preview Image

Aww…

January 30th, 2009 at 06:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Cuteness,Friday Quote & Cat Blogging,Monday Media Blogging

And Now, Your Moment Of Awesome.

My only sorrow is that this was not captured on video:

A builder scared off a potential robber by running at him dressed as the Norse god Thor.

The terrified intruder leapt from a first floor window to escape Torvald Alexander, who was dressed as the Norse god of thunder in a red cape and silver helmet and breastplate.

Mr Alexander had just returned from a New Year’s Eve fancy dress party when he discovered the man in his home in Inverleith, Edinburgh. He said he acted instinctively to chase the intruder away, and believed his costume may have added impact.

Gee, ya think?

1 comment January 30th, 2009 at 11:19am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Weirdness

Joe Lieberman Magically Rediscovers His Commitment To Oversight

This surprises… no-one:

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Thursday announced he is creating a new, ad hoc subcommittee to oversee federal contracting. Committee Member Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will chair the new Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight.

“Management of federal contracts is one of the greatest operational challenges facing the federal government,” Lieberman said. “Spending on federal contracts rose to an astounding $532 billion last year. And for years the Government Accountability Office has listed government contracting on its list of programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, or in need of comprehensive reform. This is a problem area that needs as much oversight as we can possibly muster.

“So, to more fully address the array of problems with federal contracting, I am establishing this new subcommittee with pride and great expectations. With her background as a prosecutor and state auditor, Senator McCaskill has unique investigative experience that will be crucial for this new subcommittee. I am certain that she will approach her new responsibilities with unmatched vigor to improve the value of all the taxpayer dollars devoted to federal contracting.”

Oh sure, now that Obama’s pushing a giant infrastructure spending bill, Lieberman’s suddenly very concerned about contractor fraud, after sleeping through Katrina and the Iraqupation.

Not that I’m against oversight, I just believe it should be universal, and not a tool wielded against Democratic administrations only.

January 30th, 2009 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Corruption/Cronyism,Lieberman,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Time To Play Offense

Sounds like Labor gets it, Senate Democrats (as usual) don’t, and Obama?  Maybe.

The White House said Obama had no regrets about his week-long courtship of Republicans, all of whom rejected his advances and voted “no” as the Democratic House majority passed the 819-billion-dollar measure.

“The president wouldn’t do anything differently,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said after the 244-188 vote sent the pitched political battle to the Senate. “His hand is, was, and will always reach out.”

The White House signaled that it expected the Senate to include more Republican-friendly items in the measure, leading to a House-Senate compromise bill that would be more likely to win Republican support in the end.

So far, not exactly promising.  I’m not sure how to parse that last paragraph – was that a prediction or a command?

Gibbs declined to comment on a labor union media onslaught designed to heap pressure on a handful of Republicans to support the plan in the Senate, saying Obama was “not going to referee” the actions of outside groups.

(…)

The strategy called for millions of union members to telephone Republicans from hard-hit states, coupled with an aggressive television advertising campaign targeting potentially vulnerable Republican senators.

The ad invites voters in Maine, New Hampshire, Alaska, and Iowa to tell their senators to “support the Obama plan for jobs not the failed policies of the past,” according to the script.

And the White House did not deny a report by Politico.com that it planned a state-by-state effort, highlighting job losses, to pressure lawmakers on the stimulus plan — even as Republicans called on Obama to repudiate the threat.

After eight years of Dubya and the Republicans repeatedly playing the existential crisis card (Scary terrorists coming to get us!  Social Security about to go bankrupt!  Scary terrorists still coming to get us!) to try to shape public opinion into political pressure, I simply do not think it would be out of line for Obama to use the same playbook now that we’re facing an Actual Real Crisis.

January 29th, 2009 at 10:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Labor,Obama,Politics,Republicans

Question Of The Year

Dakine asks the question I most want answered:

I have a question for the members of the Congressional Blue Dogs Coalition. Why are you a Democrat? I ask this of Mike Arcuri. If I were still living in Rome, NY, you would be my Congressman. I ask this of Ben Chandler since you represent the district in Kentucky that I grew up in and where I first voted. I ask this of Heath Shuler and Jane Harmon; of John Salazar and Loretta Sanchez. I ask this of all members of Congress who claim this name for themselves.

Why are you a member of the Democratic Party?

I ask this most sincerely as you show by your votes that you are against most of the core values I have long associated with the Democratic Party. You consistently vote against the environment. You consistently vote against Unions and workers. You consistently vote against LGBT rights. You vote for the Corporations that foul the air and poison the land. You vote to give money away to the rich and then try to show how “fiscally sound” you are by doing everything to block helping those who aren’t your big money campaign contributors.

So why do you call yourself a Democrat when you vote consistently against the values of the Democratic Party?

Who are you lying to, the voters or yourself?

I can understand, say, a Joe Lieberman pretending to be a Democrat to get elected in a blue state, but I don’t understand why a Republican in a red state or district would pretend to be a Democrat.  The only plausible explanation I can think of is that they can get a lot more support from Democrats and progressives to knock off a Republican in a general election than they can get from other Republicans to knock off an incumbent in a primary.  Of course, we soon find out that we didn’t really knock off a Republican, merely replaced him with one who just happens to wear a blue suit.

1 comment January 29th, 2009 at 09:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Lost Thoughts: Dharma, Others, & Widmore

I’m probably hopelessly behind the curve, and every Lost fansite has already expanded on this theory in mind-numbingly exquisite detail, but I figured I’d share my version of it nonetheless.

Okay, so, here’s what I think we know so far about Dharma, the Others, and Charles Widmore:

1) Charles Widmore is a Dharma bigshot, possibly even the CEO.  (I can’t remember for sure whether I know this, or just assumed it.  I know something made me pretty sure about it, though.)

2) The Others have been on the island since at least the 50s.  They are very disciplined and organized, and probably have some kind of outside backing.  They appear to have a similar mission to that of Dharma: to somehow tap or exploit the island’s powers.

3) Charles Widmore used to be one of the Others when he was young.

4) Charles Widmore now has a vendetta against the Others in general, and Ben Linus in particular.

If I throw all that together and shake it around for a while, I reach the conclusion that Widmore had some kind of falling-out with the Others – presumably either a disagreement on methods or goals, or else they wouldn’t let him be the leader.  So Widmore’s response was to create Dharma to be a rival (but similar) group to the Others, which would wrest control of the island away from them and take all the island’s secrets for himself instead.

Widmore would obviously be familiar enough with the Others to know what kind of force Dharma would need to conquer the island, but he couldn’t have anticipated the Others turning Ben so that he would betray Dharma.  And this is why Widmore has a special grudge against Ben, because if it hadn’t been for him, his plan would have worked, and Dharma would still control the island.

This theory works pretty well for me – it explains the relationship between the Others and Dharma, and it also explains why they seem similar in many ways, and why the Others took over the Dharma people’s duties after they killed them.  The Others have the same basic mission as Dharma, because they were the model for Dharma.

4 comments January 29th, 2009 at 08:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: TV

Return On Investment

It never ceases to amaze me how well lobbying pays; not for the lobbyists themselves, but for the corporations that hire them.  The sums of money that our politicians give them for a mere pittance of donations is truly astounding.  Of course, it’s not the politicians’ own money; it’s our money, so they have no qualms about giving it away to the highest bidder (which, by the way, is never, ever us).

Check out this latest example: The 15 banks who received TARP money, plus Chrysler, GM, and GMAC, who did as well, spent almost $15 million to lobby Congress for bailout money.  Even if they only received money from the first TARP tranche, that’s $350 billion in exchange for $15 million.  That’s an ROI of, what, about 2.3 million percent?  And if you take out the auto companies, which had to pay more to get less, we’re looking at something like $330 billion in exchange for $8.5 million, an ROI of almost 4 million percent.

I think I probably donated around $300 to various candidates this past election cycle.  I’d like to know when I can expect my check for $12 million, please.

January 29th, 2009 at 06:58pm Posted by Eli

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

The GOP’s Remarkable Evolution

1980s Republicans: “ZOMG Cadillac-driving welfare queens are stealing your hard-earned tax dollars!”

2009 Republicans: “ZOMG Nancy Pelosi and white racist liberals want to commit eugenocide on minorities and poor people!”

You’ve come a long way, babies.

January 29th, 2009 at 07:07am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Choice,Politics,Religion,Republicans,Wankers

Democratic Self-Sabotage

I guess I can’t really say that this is a surprise…

Well, it passed. After taking out family planning money and ditching bankruptcy reform, plus including significant tax cuts, not a single Republican voted for it. It’s like Democrats are negotiating with themselves.  They give things up and get no votes in exchange.

(…)

It’s one thing to get Republican votes in exchange for a compromise.  It’s another thing to compromise and get nothing in return.

I’m pretty sure that giving stuff up and getting nothing in return is not actually called “compromise” – I think it’s more like “getting punk’d.”

Now the question is what lesson Obama will learn from this.  Will it be, “I won’t get Republican votes no matter what I do, nor do I need them, so I’ll just push for good solid progressive legislation that works and make Republicans explain themselves in 2010,” or will it be, “I guess I need to give up more and be more centrist if I want to win over Republicans to give me a cosmetic bipartisan majority”?

It sounds a lot like the story of the Democratic approach to elections, where every victory is the result of a shrewd appeal to the political center (all hail the genius of Rahm!), and every defeat is the result of being too far left and scaring the center away… even when the VP candidate is Joe Lieberman.

January 28th, 2009 at 11:00pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Republican Self-Sabotage

This looks like a classic triumph of dick-swinging over common sense:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is up with a television ad taking Nevada Sen. Harry Reid to task for his support of President Barack Obama‘s economic stimulus bill, the first of what promises to be a series of attacks against the majority leader as he seeks reelection in 2010.

The ad, entitled “Trillion”, labels Reid a “super spending partisan” and urges viewers to tell Reid to “stop wasting our hard-earned money” as the image of a hammer smashing a piggy bank (!) is shown on screen.

(…)

It’s a signal that Senate Republicans plan to make Reid’s political life a living hell over the next two years — paying him back for the aggressive campaign Democrats ran against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) in 2008. (McConnell beat businessman Bruce Lunsford 53 percent to 47 percent.) Democrats, for what it’s worth, remain embittered from the 2004 campaign when Sen. John Thune (R) defeated Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in South Dakota.

(…)

Although the Republican field is not exactly teeming with stars (or potential stars) it’s hard to imagine that they don’t find someone serious to run against Reid given his leadership role, the competitive nature of Nevada and the animosity among some within the Democratic cause — particularly the netroots — for Reid.

While I can certainly understand the GOP’s desire for payback and a high-profile scalp, are they really willing to risk getting rid of Harry?  With the huge majority that Senate Democrats have, an ineffectual and easily outmaneuvered Democratic Majority Leader is the best chance they have of blocking President Obama’s agenda, and maybe even passing some bills of their own.

It may feel good for a little while, but unless Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson is the next Majority Leader (entirely possible), I’m pretty sure it won’t feel good for long.

January 28th, 2009 at 09:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Politics,Republicans

How To Respond To Conservative Lunatics

The recent back-and-forth between Rush Limbaugh and Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey (a surname which presumably means “Gingrich-like”) is very instructive.  First, the background:

Responding to President Obama’s recommendation to Republican congressional leaders last week that they not follow Limbaugh’s lead, the conservative talkmeister said on his show that Obama is “obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He’s more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn’t say much about our party.”

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., did not take kindly to this assessment in an interview with Politico Tuesday.

“I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach,” Gingrey said. “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.”

Apparently Limbaugh’s army of Dittoheads didn’t take kindly to Gingrey’s not taking kindly and pitched a fuss.  What next?

WRONG WAY:

This afternoon, on the nationally broadcast “Rush Limbaugh Show,” Gingrey said:

“I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments, and I just wanted to tell you, Rush — and all our conservative giants, who help us so much to maintain our base and grow it to get back this majority — that I regret those stupid comments.”

(…)

The congressman also published an extended statement of regret on his congressional web site:

“I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives—that was not my intent. I am also sorry to see that my comments in defense of our Republican Leadership read much harsher than they actually were intended, but I recognize it is my responsibility to clarify my own comments….

“Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans—myself included—turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination.”

RIGHT WAY:

Alan Grayson, the outspoken member from Orlando, as usual, wasn’t mincing words: “Rush Limbaugh is a has-been hypocrite loser, who craves attention.  His right-wing lunacy sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, extolling the virtues of communism.  Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1% of what he wanted us to do, then we’d all need pain killers.”

My God, do we ever need more Alan Graysons.

Isn’t it funny how you never see Democratic politicians offering abject, grovelling apologies to progressives that they’ve insulted?  Come to think of it, it seems like we only ever see politicians of either party apologizing rightward, never leftward.

Did I say “funny”?  I meant “terribly depressing.”

2 comments January 28th, 2009 at 07:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Politics,Republicans

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

As one would expect, the Weekly World News crack political team is covering the Congressional wrangling over the stimulus bill:

After criticizing the economic stimulus plan, Republicans have chained themselves to doors of the Capitol Building to block its passing.

Currently no one can enter or exit the Capitol as Republican leaders have chained themselves to every major entryway.

The audacious demonstration was led by John McCain who shouted to reporters, “I’m still relevant!  See!?  I’m still relevant!!!”

Republicans say that the stimulus package as it stands is too focused on supporting the middle class, without enough tax cuts to the already wealthy.  “That’s no way to run a business” said John Boehner of Ohio.  “You can’t help a country by strengthening the middle class, did Reaganomics teach us nothing?”  He stated that GOP members will continue to forcibly block entry to Capital Hill until their demands are met.

Democrats in the Senate and Congress, despite having a clear majority in both houses and several pairs of bolt cutters laying around, are already working on ways to appease the minority Republican voice.

This is actually remarkably similar to everything else I’ve been reading…

January 28th, 2009 at 11:34am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,Weekly World News

80 Is The New 60

Reading this excellent and depressing piece by Dave Sirota about how Obama and the Democrats value bipartisanship over effectiveness, I am reminded of how the number of votes required to pass any Democratic legislation always seems to be some number significantly greater than the number of Democratic senators.  When they were in the minority, they couldn’t do anything without 50 votes; when they took a slim majority, they couldn’t do anything without 60 votes because of the filibuster; and now that they’re close to 60, they don’t want to pass anything without the Magickal Bipartisan Consensus Number of 80 votes.  It’s like the goalposts are on rollerskates.

Because really, what could be more important in a time of crisis than making sure that everyone agrees on your course of action?  (I mean, that was the Republican approach over the last eight years, right? It’s not like they presented every issue as an existential crisis where the Democrats had to give them everything they wanted or America would be destroyed.) What better way to make sure that you take the kind of bold, effective action needed? I mean, it’s not like the Obamacrats are going to bribe Republicans to try to tally up extra votes to win the Unity Pony, right?

I can’t figure out if Obama and the Democrats have really been chugging the Broderade, or if they simply have zero confidence that the stimulus will work, and want to make sure they take the Republicans down with them if it fails.  Although, as Sirota points out, that’s probably stupid because they’ll take the blame regardless.

Isn’t postpartisanship wonderful?

January 28th, 2009 at 07:34am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Obama,Politics,Wankers

Pre-Superbowl Vignette Of The Day

Gotta love the reporters and media organizations who don’t take the Superbowl too seriously…

[F]or entertainment, there was an ample male reporter (from Telemundo) wearing a red dress and a feather boa while interviewing the players. There was also one athlete who spent an uncomfortably long time checking him out before saying, “Oh no, is that a guy?” The guy, by the way, was telling players he was the “fairy godmother” and that they needed him to win Sunday’s game.

I generally don’t have much interest in watching the Superbowl in person, but I’m starting to wonder if I can buy a ticket to Media Day…

January 27th, 2009 at 11:00pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Sports,Weirdness

Clean Coal = More Coal

Apparently, making coal “clean” uses so much energy that you end up needing 25% more coal to compensate:

In fact, because carbon capture requires a roughly 25-percent increase in energy from the coal plant, about 25 percent more coal is needed, increasing mountaintop removal and increasing non-carbon air pollution from power plants, he said.

My question is, would that be considered a bug or a feature for the coal-producing states that the clean-coal gospel panders to?  I mean, not only does clean coal make coal magically okay, but it means coal consumers would have to buy 25% more of it.  It’s a win-win!

(Why yes, I am assuming that environmental impacts are not a consideration – why do you ask?)

(h/t kirk)

1 comment January 27th, 2009 at 10:27pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Energy,Environment,Politics,Science

111-Year-Old Lizard Daddy

Tuatara
AP Photo/Karori Sanctuary

I know, technically he’s not actually a lizard, but he’s pretty close…

A captive reptile in New Zealand has unexpectedly become a father at the ripe old age of 111 after receiving treatment for a cancer that made him hostile toward prospective mates.

The centenarian tuatara, named Henry, was thought well past the mating game until he was caught canoodling with a female named Mildred last March — a consummation that resulted in 11 babies being hatched on Monday.

Tuatara are indigenous New Zealand creatures that resemble lizards but descend from a distinct lineage of reptile that walked the earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

(…)

Henry was at least 70 years old when he arrived at the museum, “a grumpy old man” who attacked other reptiles, including females, until a cancerous tumor was removed from his genitals in 2002, said Hazley.

“I went off the idea he was good for breeding,” Hazley said, but once the tumor was removed, “he was no longer aggressive.”

(…)

A male Tuatara takes 70 years to fully mature but reaches sexual maturity about age 20.

While there’s no scientific data on the life span of the ancient reptiles, “they go beyond 100 well and truly,” Hazley said. “They can be around for 150 to 250 years.”

Huh.  So today I learned that it’s not just tortoises that live forever, and that untreated genital cancer makes you cranky.  Who knew.

January 27th, 2009 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science

Robert Reich Makes The Case For Trickle-Up And EFCA

Hey, instead of giving massive tax breaks to rich people and corporations, how about improving wages instead?

Why is this recession so deep, and what can be done to reverse it?

Hint: Go back about 50 years, when America’s middle class was expanding and the economy was soaring. Paychecks were big enough to allow us to buy all the goods and services we produced. It was a virtuous circle. Good pay meant more purchases, and more purchases meant more jobs.

At the center of this virtuous circle were unions. In 1955, more than a third of working Americans belonged to one. Unions gave them the bargaining leverage they needed to get the paychecks that kept the economy going. So many Americans were unionized that wage agreements spilled over to nonunionized workplaces as well. Employers knew they had to match union wages to compete for workers and to recruit the best ones.

Fast forward to a new century. Now, fewer than 8% of private-sector workers are unionized….

(…)

It’s no wonder middle-class incomes were dropping even before the recession. As our economy grew between 2001 and the start of 2007, most Americans didn’t share in the prosperity. By the time the recession began last year, according to an Economic Policy Institute study, the median income of households headed by those under age 65 was below what it was in 2000.

(…)

The way to get the economy back on track is to boost the purchasing power of the middle class. One major way to do this is to expand the percentage of working Americans in unions.

Tax rebates won’t work because they don’t permanently raise wages. Most families used the rebate last year to pay off debt — not a bad thing, but it doesn’t keep the virtuous circle running.

Bank bailouts won’t work either. Businesses won’t borrow to expand without consumers to buy their goods and services. And Americans themselves can’t borrow when they’re losing their jobs and their incomes are dropping.

Tax cuts for working families, as President Obama intends, can do more to help because they extend over time. But only higher wages and benefits for the middle class will have a lasting effect.

Unions matter in this equation. According to the Department of Labor, workers in unions earn 30% higher wages — taking home $863 a week, compared with $663 for the typical nonunion worker — and are 59% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance than their nonunion counterparts.

(…)

Most of the time, employees who want to form a union are threatened and intimidated by their employers. And all too often, if they don’t heed the warnings, they’re fired, even though that’s illegal…. We tried to penalize employers that broke the law, but the fines are minuscule. Too many employers consider them a cost of doing business.

This isn’t right. The most important feature of the Employee Free Choice Act, which will be considered by the just-seated 111th Congress, toughens penalties against companies that violate their workers’ rights. The sooner it’s enacted, the better — for U.S. workers and for the U.S. economy.

The American middle class isn’t looking for a bailout or a handout. Most people just want a chance to share in the success of the companies they help to prosper. Making it easier for all Americans to form unions would give the middle class the bargaining power it needs for better wages and benefits. And a strong and prosperous middle class is necessary if our economy is to succeed.

Trickle-down has been discredited every single time it’s been tried, while trickle-up actually worked.  And yet, the former is still considered some kind of Serious Economic Theory, and the latter is completely ignored, or treated as taboo, “class warfare.”

I would like to see the Obama administration and the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress start focusing on Stuff That Works rather than Stuff That Rich And Powerful Elites like, but I won’t believe it until I actually see it.

3 comments January 27th, 2009 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Labor

Democrats Seek To Deprive Poor People Of Their Right To Have More Children Than They Can Afford

Why do the Democrats hate children and poor people?

Christian Defense Coalition calls Speaker Pelosi’s decision to add contraceptives to the economic stimulus package bigoted, racist, elitist and anti-child.

It is unthinkable that the Speaker of House would try to stimulate the economy by seeking to reduce the number of children.

Our political leaders should do all within their power to protect, support and encourage America’s children, not crush and destroy them.

This policy would lay the foundation for racism and eugenics because it would seek to reduce the number of children to the nation’s poorest economic groups, which tend to be persons of color and other minorities.

(…)

Speaker Pelosi’s actions are even more troubling and hypocritical when one realizes she herself has five children. Perhaps she thinks they have more value because they are white European children.

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, states, “I was stunned to learn that on a national news program Speaker Pelosi defended a move to make contraceptives a part of the economic stimulus package. This is one of the most bigoted and anti-child policies I have ever seen embraced by a public official.

“It is hard to believe that this kind of legislation is coming out of America. One would expect it more from China or other oppressive governments.

“Speaker Pelosi shows a clear lack of compassion and understanding of social justice by laying the groundwork for racist and eugenic social policies. Clearly the focus of the distribution of these contraceptives would center on minority communities which tend to be poorer and more economically challenged.

“This situation is even more troubling when one realizes that Speaker Pelosi has five children herself. Does she believe that children born to white parents deserve the right to live more than other children?

Yes, that’s right: Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to inflict a genocidal holocaust on the poor and minorities by allowing them to choose whether or not they have to have children every time they have sex.  Monstrous.  Simply monstrous.  Why do those racist Democrats want to deprive poor people of the opportunity to support five children on a minimum wage salary?

(h/t Digby)

3 comments January 26th, 2009 at 09:07pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Choice,Democrats,Politics,Religion,Republicans

It’s Pronounced “PENNIS-tun”

Why yes, I am about twelve years old…

CRAPSTONE, England — When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question “What is your address?”

He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled “crap,” as in crap,’ ” said Mr. Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Devon, for decades.

As a timesaver, here are the other place names in the story, in order of appearance:

Ugley
East Breast
North Piddle
Spanker Lane
Crotch Crescent
Titty Ho (my personal favorite)
Wetwang
Slutshole Lane
Thong
Pratts Bottom
Penistone
Gaswork Road
Hoare Road
Typple Avenue
Quare Street
Corfe Close (only a problem if your address ends in a 4)
Tumbledown Dick Road
Butt Hole Road
Horrabridge

Of course, my own adopted state of Pennisylvania Pennsylvania has placed Blue Ball and Intercourse very close to one another.  I wonder if there’s a shuttle bus.

1 comment January 26th, 2009 at 06:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Weirdness

Monday Media Blogging – Diamond Center Edition

While I did not particularly like The Bay Area during my four years of college there, there was one thing about it that was truly awesome: The commercials.  And the most awesome of the Bay Area commercials were the ones for The Diamond Center, featuring the ever-cheerfully sleazy Paul in a variety of bizarre scenarios.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Alas, Paul’s masterpiece, “I’m A Credit Man” (to the tune of “Soul Man”), appears to have been lost in the mists of time.  If anyone finds it, please let me know immediately.

January 26th, 2009 at 11:31am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Bill Kristol, Wanker To The End

Bill Kristol kicks the wankery up to 11 for his NYT farewell column:

Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.

I’m not sure what his definition of “right” is.  I can only assume that it means he agrees with them, rather than that they had any kind of actual real-world success.  And then there’s this:

In 1978, the Harvard political philosopher Harvey Mansfield diagnosed the malady: “From having been the aggressive doctrine of vigorous, spirited men, liberalism has become hardly more than a trembling in the presence of illiberalism. … Who today is called a liberal for strength and confidence in defense of liberty?”

He’s confusing “liberalism” with the Democratic Party.  Liberals are plenty vigorous and spirited, but most Democrats are not.  Anyway, good thing Obama’s a conservative:

We don’t really know how Barack Obama will govern. What we have so far, mainly, is an Inaugural Address, and it suggests that he may have learned more from Reagan than he has sometimes let on. Obama’s speech was unabashedly pro-American and implicitly conservative.

Obama appealed to the authority of “our forebears,” “our founding documents,” even — political correctness alert! — “our founding fathers.” He emphasized that “we will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.” He spoke almost not at all about rights (he had one mention of “the rights of man,” paired with “the rule of law” in the context of a discussion of the Constitution). He called for “a new era of responsibility.”

(…)

Can Obama reshape liberalism to be, as it was under F.D.R., a fighting faith, unapologetically patriotic and strong in the defense of liberty? That would be a service to our country.

If Obama fails, it will of course be due to liberalism.  But if he succeeds, it will be because he turned liberalism into conservatism.  Awesome.  How will the NYT ever replace such a bold and original thinker?

2 comments January 26th, 2009 at 07:10am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Shall I Compare Blago To A Summer’s Day?

A (probably) partial list of who and what Rod Blagojevich has compared himself to so far:

Pearl Harbor
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Mahatma Gandhi
Martin Luther King
Nelson Mandela
A dead cowboy

Spectacular.  He should compare notes with Rick Warren.

January 25th, 2009 at 09:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Weirdness

The Bankruptcy Reform’s In The Mail

Somehow, I have a feeling we’re in for a lot more of this…

A bill to give judges authority to alter loan terms for primary residences may be the quickest way to arrest the housing market’s collapse. Most Democrats in the House and Senate support that plan. President Barack Obama told Democratic leaders Friday he also backs it, according to a Senate aide who was not authorized to be quoted by name.

But 10 groups representing the lending industry and other businesses are fighting back fiercely. Several have engaged portions of their lobbying machines to stop the legislation. The groups spent $83 million in lobbying on multiple issues in 2008, a figure that shows the power of the banking and investing industry and their business supporters.

(…)

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chief Senate sponsor of the bill, said Obama persuaded him in a White House meeting Friday to remove the bankruptcy proposal from an economic recovery package — to ensure it doesn’t jeopardize the stimulus bill. But Obama pledged his support for the bankruptcy solution, Durbin said.

Obama said he would work with Durbin to attach the proposal to other ”must pass” legislation — with the hope that supporters of the overall bill would not vote against it because of the bankruptcy provisions.

“We have to make sure the stimulus passes with the requisite 80 votes, but don’t worry, we’ll try to put bankruptcy reform through later.”  This vague, empty “I’ll totally fix it later” promise reminds me of Obama’s feckless stance on telecom immunity.  He completely dropped his opposition to the FISA “reform” bill, but promised that he would push to remove telecom immunity from it – knowing full well that he didn’t have a snowball’s chance of succeeding, and that the only way to block telecom immunity was to oppose the whole bill.

I hope Obama makes good on his word, but this is not an encouraging sign.

2 comments January 25th, 2009 at 03:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

An Early Victory In BushCo’s War On Humanity

Shorter Rummy: What part of “don’t feel bound by the Geneva Conventions” didn’t you understand?

The story begins in the first week of January 2002, when Joint Task Force 160, led by Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert, dutifully landed at Guantanamo Bay….

…[I]t wasn’t the logistics that most worried Lehnert. It was the policy vacuum into which he and his troops had been thrown. “We are writing the book as we go,” one officer said at the time. Lehnert said he had been told by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Geneva Conventions would not technically apply to his mission: He was to act in a manner “consistent with” the conventions (as the mantra went) but not to feel bound by them….

In the absence of new policy guidance about how to treat the detainees, Lehnert told me that he felt he had no choice but to rely on the regulations already in place, ones in which the military was well schooled: the Uniform Code of Military Justice, other U.S. laws and, above all, the Geneva Conventions. The detainees, no matter what their official status, were essentially to be considered enemy prisoners of war, a status that mandated basic standards of humane treatment….

(…)

But there were early signs of trouble. Lehnert told me that his request to bring representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Guantanamo — something international law requires for all prisoners being held in war-related situations — was, as he heard it, shunted aside somewhere up the chain of command. “The initial request,” he recalled, “was turned down.” He persisted….  [H]e wanted advice from ICRC professionals to help him ensure the prisoners’ safety and dignity.

Exasperated by repeated attempts to find out which guidelines to apply to the detainees, Col. Manuel Supervielle, the head JAG at Southern Command, picked up the phone and called the ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva. As one member of the Southern Command staff remembers the episode, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had warned the Gitmo task force that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s office opposed getting involved with the ICRC. But now, according to Supervielle, a U.S. officer was asking the ICRC to help out at Guantanamo. The ICRC answered with an immediate “Yes.”

(…)

Brig. Gen. Lehnert had built his own Guantanamo, one with ICRC oversight, a Muslim chaplain and an overriding ethos that stressed codified law and the unwritten rules of human decency. Lehnert’s team let the detainees talk among themselves; it provided halal food, an additional washing bucket inside cells that lacked toilet facilities, a Koran for each detainee, skullcaps and prayer beads for those who wanted them, and undergarments for the prisoners to wear at shower time, in accordance with Islamic laws that proscribe public nakedness.

Perhaps Lehnert’s Guantanamo could have been sustained. But Rumsfeld wanted something else: He expected to get valuable, actionable intelligence from the detainees. By late January 2002, according to Brig. Gen. Galen B. Jackman, Lehnert’s chief contact at Southern Command, the defense secretary told officers on a video conference call with Southern Command that he was frustrated by the absence of such information.

A displeased Rumsfeld seems to have decided to create a second command, one that would exist side by side with Lehnert’s. It would be devoted solely to gathering intelligence and would be headed by a reservist major general, a former U.S. Army interrogator during the Vietnam War named Michael Dunlavey. Jackman told me that he considered the idea of two parallel commands a “recipe for disaster.”….

As Dunlavey’s command took shape in late February and early March, the fabric of prisoner’s rights that Lehnert had woven was beginning to unravel. By the end of February, nearly 200 detainees had mounted a hunger strike to protest their treatment….

(…)

Thanks in large part to Lehnert’s efforts, the hunger strike dwindled to a couple of dozen fasters by the first week of March. But as much as he might have championed the need to respect the detainees as individuals — albeit allegedly dangerous terrorists — Guantanamo’s future had been decided. As the hunger strike wound down, Lehnert said, he and his unit were given notice that they would soon be leaving.

Once Lehnert’s troops departed, a new Guantanamo took shape — the Guantanamo that an appalled world has come to know over the past seven years. Inmates were kept in isolation, interrogation became the core mission, hunger strikers were regularly force-fed, and above all, the promise of a legal resolution to the detainees’ cases has eluded hundreds of prisoners.

It’s a little hard to believe that “actionable intelligence” was really a goal when Gitmo’s recordkeeping was such a mess – more likely that torture was an end in itself, or valued only as collective punishment, or a tool for extracting propaganda in the form of fake terror plots.

It’s not like we needed any further proof that concepts like human decency and the rule of law are completely anathema to Bush and his creatures, but it just keeps coming.  Even now, they’re still fighting a desperate rearguard action against them, trying to block Obama from closing Gitmo and giving the detainees proper trials.

2 comments January 25th, 2009 at 01:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Prisoners,Republicans,Terrorism,Torture

Dumbass Of The Week

You have got to be kidding me…

The War on Terror has officially lapped stupid:

A US citizen was booted from a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to New York after he complained there were “Arab types” on board, Turkish news media reported.

Daniel Sussman Pincus, whose age and hometown were not given but who was described in one report as an American of German origin, shouted his complaints as the flight was preparing to depart Monday.

Imagine that, “Arab types” aboard a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul.  Why, I bet there were even some Muslim-esque individuals on board!   The nerve of some people!  You’d think they’d have been a bit more sensitive to Mr. Pincus’ bedwetting sensibilities.

I can’t really add anything to the The Poor Man’s analysis, other than to once again cringe in embarrassment at the idiocy and ignorance of my countrymen.  And to sadly observe that had it been an American airline, it probably would have been the “Arab types” getting booted off the plane.

(h/t Julia)

January 24th, 2009 at 03:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Racism,Republicans,Terrorism

About Those Clothes Palin “Borrowed”…

Remember how the RNC was supposedly going to donate Sarah Palin’s $180,000 worth of campaign clothes to charity?  Eh, not so much…

Despite the Republican National Committee’s promise to donate Sarah Palin’s $180,000 campaign wardrobe to charity, word has it the Alaska governor’s clothes remain stuffed in trash bags at RNC headquarters, NewMajority has learned.

(…)

A source close to the issue told NewMajority that the clothes are “in the process” of being donated, and an RNC spokesman corroborated, saying the clothes have indeed been returned from Palin, “inventoried and will be appropriately dispersed to various charities.” Attempts for an explanation of when and where the clothes will be donated went unanswered, and the governor’s Alaska office does not comment on campaign issues.

The fact that the clothes have not been donated or publicly accounted for, however, has angered some big donors – who want to know exactly how their money was spent, and who are already enraged by the extravagant wardrobe figure. They say it’s time for the RNC to air its dirty laundry, if you will.

“Has the party not learned their lesson?” a source who raises significant funds for the party said in response to the news of the undonated clothing. “First they make a colossal mistake of judgment by even agreeing to squander the party’s resources on these clothes and then compound the error by failing to properly dispose of them. If they think donors are going to sit by and simply accept this they are mistaken.”

Apparently the GOP would rather let the clothes rot in trash bags than let any of those dreadful lazy poor people have them.

6 comments January 23rd, 2009 at 10:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Palin,Republicans

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