Archive for July, 2010

Friday Quote & Wild Dog Blogging

This week’s quote is from the Kurt Russell classic, Big Trouble In Little China:

We take what we want and leave the rest – just like your salad bar.

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

SD Wild Dog 1

SD Wild Dog 3

They look like sweethearts.

July 30th, 2010 at 11:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging,La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

Someone Hasn’t Been Paying Attention…

CNBC’s Diana Olick on the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA)’s decision to protest Obama’s disastrous Making Homes Affordable plan and demand real help for homeowners:

What’s so interesting about this event is that I’m guessing the bulk of the protestors are overall Obama supporters. The majority of NACA employees and volunteers are minorities and largely Democrats. Bruce Marks says he voted for Obama and supported him. This will be the first large-scale, organized protest of the Administration’s housing bailout, and given who is protesting, it will be hard for the President to ignore.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Because if there’s one thing Obama’s been completely unable to ignore, it’s progressive organizations that advocate for people who aren’t millionaires.

Worst. Community. Organizer. Ever.

1 comment July 30th, 2010 at 07:14am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Media,Obama,Politics

Objectively Pro-Dog-Poop

As Goldy says, the saga of poop bags in Everett, WA offers a great example of the conservative mentality in a nutshell (or poop bag, as the case may be):

If you thought yesterday’s post on dog poop bags was just a quick toss-off, well think again, for the moment I saw the Seattle Times/AP piece on cash-strapped Everett spending $8,430 on plastic dog poop bags, I immediately recognized an opportunity to provoke a conversation on what I believe to be the most pernicious aspect of today’s conservative movement: its stubborn insistence on choosing ideology over reality.

(He then quotes some right-wing commenters ranting self-righteously about how dog owners should take responsibility for providing their own poop bags and the government shouldn’t be spending money on this.)

Fecal coliform bacteria is one of the most serious pollutants in many of our nation’s urban streams, and modern DNA tests routinely trace the majority of the contamination back to dog waste. That’s why, in an effort to combat both this very real health concern, and the general nuisance factor of unpicked-up poop, municipalities nationwide have pursued a coordinated campaign that includes general public outreach and education, the creation of dedicated off-leash parks with adequate waste handling facilities, and yes… providing and stocking taxpayer funded poop bag dispensers at parks, trails and other popular dog walking routes.

Municipalities maintain this expense, even in the face of dramatic budget cuts, because it works… not just due to the convenience, but because the mere visible presence of these bag dispensers and waste receptacles is socially reinforcing, resulting in a dramatically higher compliance rate with existing pooper scooper laws. From a public health and quality of life perspective, few public expenditures produce such bang for the buck as the $8,430 Everett spends on plastic poop bags.

But that’s not good enough for the personal responsibility crowd. The mere notion of spending public dollars on something individuals should do for themselves offends their sensibilities. And so they would prefer to see their public sidewalks, parks and trails covered in shit than admit that sometimes, reality trumps ideology.

(…)

Today’s conservatives seem so obsessed with how people should behave, that they have little or no tolerance for how people actually do behave. So steeped in faith — faith in God, faith in the market, faith in American mythology, faith in their personalized reading of the Constitution — nothing will stop today’s conservative leaders from advocating what should work over what actually does.

I think that’s correct for social conservatives, but it’s not quite right for fiscal conservatives.  Where social conservatives can’t bear the thought that someone, somewhere might be having a good time, fiscal conservatives can’t bear the thought that someone, somewhere might be getting something for free at their expense.  It doesn’t matter whether the benefits outweigh the costs, someone is getting something for free.

That’s why they hate any kind of stimulus spending – it doesn’t matter whether it boosts the economy and makes everyone richer, someone is getting something for free.  Of course, they don’t mind so much if that someone is already filthy rich, because they’ve obviously worked hard to get that way and deserve every benefit that society can give them.  But ordinary schmucks or – God forbid – minorities or immigrants?  How dare they take my hard-earned money!

As I have said before, if you offered to pay a conservative ten dollars to give five dollars to a homeless guy, I don’t think they could bring themselves to do it.  They would rather deprive themselves than benefit someone they view as undeserving.

July 29th, 2010 at 07:49am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans

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

Yes, the Weekly World News does have a sports section:

Pitcher Pope Benedict XVI has signed with the Los Angeles Angels for the remainder of the 2010 Major League Baseball season.

The 83-year-old pitcher looked ecstatic after signing his one-year contract.  The Angels have now loaded up their pitching rotation by adding the Holy Father, a highly praised righthander, to their staff.

The move isn’t the first time that the Vatican has broken with tradition, but Pope Benedict wants to reach out to Catholics in America and there’s no better way than pitching for his favorite team.  The St. Louis Cardinals were disappointed, they thought their team was Pope Benedict’s favorite, but as the Pope said, “Angels are holier than Cardinals.”

Vatican sources were concerned that the Pope would not be able to wear his traditional gold cross while pitching, but Bud Selig, the Commissioner of MLB, said he will allow the Holy Father to keep it on. “Bless Bud,” said the Pope.

The Angels were going to acquire Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Joe Saunders, but at the last minute they decided instead to trade Joe Saunders to the Vatican for the Pope and two bishops to be named later.

The Angels will  not only have one of the best starting rotation in the American League, but they will have God on their side. “We really feel good about adding the Pope to our starting rotation,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “This is a huge opportunity for us to upgrade not only now, but for eternity. To have real Angels rooting for us… that’s worth gold.  Hallelujah.”

Some baseball insiders are skeptical. “An 83-year-old on the mound, are you kidding me?  He’s gonna have to rely on a screwball, a change-up and a lot of prayers,” a laughing  Bob Geren, the Manager of the Oakland Athletics said.  Angels pitching coach, Mike Butcher said in response, “Geren can laugh all he wants, but PB has some pitches no major league player has ever seen.  He’s got a lot of movement on the ball.  We call one of his pitches “The Pope Popper.”  It just pops into the catcher’s mitt without PB ever moving a muscle.  Hallelujah.”

Non-Catholics, atheists and sinners in MLB are concerned that the Pope may favor Catholic batters, especially those named Jesus.  However, Scioscia said the Pope will be “charitable” to all.

Now they just need to hire Batboy as a batboy…

1 comment July 28th, 2010 at 11:43am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

Tony Hayward Blames Everyone Else

Tony Hayward attempts to spread blame across the drilling industry like his failed rig has spread oil across the Gulf of Mexico:

BP maintains that it alone does not deserve all the blame for the April 20 accident and its aftermath, and it intends to pursue legal action to have drilling partners share in the cost of containment and cleanup. Those partners include Transocean, which operated the rig; Cameron, which built the blowout preventer that failed to shut down the well; and Halliburton, which cemented the oil drill into place underwater.

“It is clear the accident was the result of multiple equipment errors and human error involving many companies,” Hayward said in the webcast.

(…)

Hayward also defended his record on safety. “Safety, people and performance have been my watchwords,” he said. “We’ve made significant progress.”

Wow.  Way to man up and accept responsibility, Tony.  Even if we grant the rather shaky premise that Transocean, Cameron and Halliburton did shoddy work, it was BP calling the shots, and BP that made all of the fatally bad safety-last decisions that led inevitably to disaster.

It was BP that chose a wellbore design without seals or a liner – and then chose to skip the acoustic test which would have detected any flaws in Halliburton’s cement job.  It was BP that falsely claimed that BOP failures were “inconceivable” and declined to install a backup unit.  It was BP that cut corners on testing the BOP and ignored the presence of rubber sealant in the drilling fluid.  And it was BP that ignored all the warning signs of dangerous pressure and replaced the drilling mud with seawater.

In short, even if there were quality issues with Transocean, Cameron and Halliburton, BP deliberately turned a blind eye to potential problems in order to get the Deepwater Horizon pumping as quickly as possible, and now eleven people are dead and the entire Gulf ecosystem may be dying.  Heckuva job, Tony.

(Cross-posted at the Seminal)

July 28th, 2010 at 07:28am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Energy,Environment,Wankers

It’s Not Just HAMP…

Dday is right, of course, that a nominally “liberal” corrupt failure like HAMP makes liberalism look bad.  But the problem is that all of Obama and the Democrats’ failures, sellouts, and assorted disappointments will be blamed on “liberalism” because, as everyone knows, Obama is The Most Liberal President Of All Time.  So now most of America thinks that liberalism means putting corporations first and ordinary people and the Constitution last.  Or maybe that we’re all just craven hypocrites like our supposed leader.

It’s not bad enough that Obama has to repeatedly kick liberals in the face – he makes us look bad by association too.  It’s a win-win!

July 27th, 2010 at 07:23am Posted by Eli

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

TARP Bailout Czar Tells Greedy Seniors To Suck It Up And Take One For The Team

He also explains that a “me-first” mentality is a good thing in the corporate world, but not so much when it’s selfish old people trying to get by on a fixed income:

Our belief in free markets is founded on the idea that each individual acting in his or her self-interest will lead to a superior outcome for the whole. The financial crisis has reminded us that free markets are not perfect — but they do allocate capital better than any other system we know. A “me first” mentality usually makes markets more efficient.

But this “me first” mentality can also lead to shortsighted political decision making….

Cutting entitlement spending requires us to think beyond what is in our own immediate self-interest. But it also runs against our sense of fairness: We have, after all, paid for entitlements for earlier generations. Is it now fair to cut my benefits? No, it isn’t. But if we don’t focus on our collective good, all of us will suffer.

(…)

I believe three steps are necessary for our country to embrace any meaningful proposal to cut entitlements:

– Our economy needs to experience sustained growth, creating good jobs, so Americans feel economically secure. It is hard for anyone to think about long-term sacrifice when they are worried about how to pay their bills today.

– The emotional bruising inflicted by the financial crisis needs to heal. Along with the passage of time we need a renewed sense that people are succeeding and failing on their own merits.

Our leaders need to make the case for cutting entitlement spending by tapping into our shared beliefs of sacrifice and self-reliance. They must be willing to risk their own political fortunes for the sake of our country.

And if someone hasn’t made enough money to live off their savings and has to depend on Social Security, what then?  What kind of “self-reliance” does Kashkari have in mind for them other than “work until you die”?  What a complete and utter heartless Gordon Gekko bastard.

1 comment July 26th, 2010 at 07:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Politics,Social Security,Wankers

Monday Media Blogging

Evolution in stop-motion paint:

Simply amazing.

(h/t ::matthew)

July 26th, 2010 at 11:28am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Democratic Party Still Thinks Progressives Are Fools

Oh, so now the Democrats are worried about progressive enthusiasm:

Party officials acknowledged low morale within their left wing and urged liberal bloggers and activists Friday to keep faith with President Barack Obama in an election year as Democrats brace for losses in Congress.

“We need to find a way to get our voters really engaged in this election,” Democratic National Committee executive director Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said at the annual Netroots Nation convention. “It’s more important, every single day, to know what’s at stake.”

Earth to Democrats: Your voters are not engaged because you’ve been either ignoring them or disparaging them for the past year and a half.  You used “healthcare reform” to deliver an enormous captive customer base to a rapacious health insurance industry while doing little to rein them in, you settled for a weak and ineffective stimulus bill, you pulled your punches on financial reform, you never lifted a finger for EFCA, you’re still foot-dragging on DADT, you’ve shown no more respect for the Constitution than the Bush administration, and you shamefully hung ACORN, Van Jones, Dawn Johnsen and Shirley Sherrod out to dry because you were afraid of conservative shriekers.

You called us “fucking retarded”, and complained that we threw money down the drain by supporting Bill Halter’s primary challenge against the anti-progressive Blanche Lincoln.  Why on earth should we be enthusiastic about supporting you when you so clearly have no respect for us at all?  Why should we care if you only have 52 seats in the Senate when you did so little when you had 59 and even 60?  (Yes, I’m aware that you passed bills called healthcare reform and financial reform, but that doesn’t mean they were progressive.)

You can’t jerk us around and spit on us and call us retards for all this time and then expect us to be your friends again just because you’ve suddenly realized you need us.  Trust and friendship has to be earned, and you haven’t even tried.

6 comments July 25th, 2010 at 01:14pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Healthcare,Labor,Obama,Politics,Teh Gay,Wankers

The New Patriotism

Whatever happened to “America, love it OR leave it”?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s suggestion in April 2009 that his state might consider secession drew a round of mockery nationwide, but his blustery populist rhetoric earned him serious traction among GOP primary voters in his re-election fight against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

(…)

Rep. Zach Wamp, one of three candidates seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Tennessee, told Hotline OnCall that Perry had the right idea. Wamp argued that mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration’s health care bill have put secession on the table.

“I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government,” Wamp told Hotline OnCall Friday.

Wamp said he hopes voters send a message in November that the federal government should “strictly adhere” to the Constitution.

Patriots like Rick Perry have talked about these issues because the federal government is putting us in an untenable position at the state level,” he told OnCall.

This is a very interesting definition of “patriot” that I have never seen before, but I assume that it simply means that Perry and Wamp’s loyalty is to the real America, not the United States with its oppressive Constitution and liberals and whatnot.  Fine, whatever.  But I sure as hell don’t want to hear any more conservatives making fun of Alec Baldwin for threatening to leave the country during the Bush administration, understood?

July 24th, 2010 at 04:24pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Friday Quote & Bunny Blogging

This week’s quote is from crap horror movie Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder:

You understand, “Hell no” will soon be a contradiction in terms.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s baby dwarf bunnies…

YouTube Preview Image

Aww!!!

July 23rd, 2010 at 07:16am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cuteness,Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Getting Harder And Harder To Tell The Difference

Between Democrats and Republicans:

A fiscally conservative Democrat who chairs the U.S. Senate’s budget committee on Wednesday said he supports extending all of the tax cuts that expire this year, including for the wealthy.

“The general rule of thumb would be you’d not want to do tax changes, tax increases … until the recovery is on more solid ground,” Senator Kent Conrad said in an interview with reporters outside the Senate chambers, adding he did not believe the recovery has come yet.

Conrad’s comments are sympathetic with Republican arguments against raising taxes amid a fledgling economic recovery. They frame a debate gaining steam over whether stimulus to bolster the economy’s recovery, or deficit reduction, should be the top policy priority.

(…)

Conrad said that it will be tough to extend the top tax cuts, given worries about the deficit and because under budget rules, lawmakers must find offsetting revenue to pay for the lower rates for wealthier Americans.

But the North Dakota Democrat who also is on the Senate Finance Committee, said he thinks waiving so-called pay-go rules to extend the upper income rates should be considered.

“Pay-go is not just a line in the sand,” he said. “There is a reason that you have a pay-go waiver, which requires 60 votes.”

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh also recently questioned whether taxes should be raised on the wealthy, citing the economy.

Yes, let’s do increase the national debt in a way that won’t actually stimulate the economy, and then pretend that that’s somehow more fiscally responsible than targeted spending.  If there’s a better example of irresponsible politics-over-policy mindlessness, I’m hard-pressed to think of what it is.

July 22nd, 2010 at 11:25am Posted by Eli

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

Results

It sure would be nice to have a Democratic president and party that gives the progressive movement anywhere near the weight and credibility that they give to a serial liar and political hitman like Breitbart.

When was the last time they acted as quickly and decisively to appease progressives as they did to throw ACORN and Shirley Sherrod under the bus?  And then bragged about it afterwards?

1 comment July 22nd, 2010 at 06:43am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama,Politics,Wankers

Links You Can Use

For those of you who might be wondering who you write like, there’s… this.

Apparently I write like Chuck Palahniuk here, and William Gibson at FDL.  I swear it’s not intentional…

July 21st, 2010 at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Coolness

Very Selective Budget Hawkery

Michele Bachmann, head of the House’s new Tea Party Caucus, explains why tax cuts don’t require any budget offsets:

I think we need to be paying for all the spending that’s going on.  But when people can keep more of their own money that shouldn’t be considered a cost.

Ohhh, I see.  But the thing is, it actually is a cost.  Anything that increases the deficit – which Bachmann’s own party insists is The Most Scary Important Thing In The World – is a cost.  She’s basically arguing that ice cream has no calories because it’s so damn tasty.

July 21st, 2010 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Republicans,Taxes

Simon Johnson Is Half Right

I agree with him completely that Tim Geithner has displayed an uncanny knack for not only surviving, but failing upward, but I just don’t see sabotaging Elizabeth Warren as his Waterloo.  Sure, failing to appoint her to the CFPA would be a huge mistake and disappoint the progressive base terribly, but that’s been Obama’s M.O. for his entire presidency, and I certainly don’t see how Geithner would pay a price for that.  Hell, Obama loves kicking the hippies, he thinks it gives him some kind of centrist street cred, like that’s a good thing.

July 20th, 2010 at 06:34pm Posted by Eli

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

Failccess!

Peter Daou tackles the question of whether passing a lot of crappy watered-down bills that only pretend to be positive reform makes Obama a success or a failure, and ultimately comes up underwhelmed:

What’s far more interesting is that there is one thing Obama can do that transcends the ebb and flow of events, the endless swirl of opinion, the daily wins and losses, the progress and setbacks that constitute governing. It is the one thing with lasting appeal and enduring value and a prerequisite for unqualified success in any endeavor: standing for something worthwhile, for a set of well-articulated principles, and fighting for those principles tooth and nail.

The real Obama paradox is why that hasn’t happened when it’s good policy and good politics.

That is pretty much The Question about Obama and the Democrats.  I can understand pushing for good policy that’s unpopular because it’s the right thing to do, and I can understand (though not particularly approve) pushing bad policy because it’s popular and the politically easy thing to do, but I just cannot for the life of me understand pushing bad policy that’s not popular either.  It’s a double whammy: You take one hit for passing it, and a second hit when voters start feeling its negative effects – or lack of positive ones.

Either Obama and the Democrats are staggeringly obtuse about both politics and policy, or they’re so in thrall to corporate and wealthy donors that they’re willing to sacrifice their seats on their behalf.  Or they think that wads of campaign cash will be enough to convince voters that their policies were actually wildly successful, or that the Republicans are the sole reason that they weren’t.  Somehow I don’t think that’s going to work out real well.

July 20th, 2010 at 11:24am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Obama,Politics

Welcome To The Club

Is our Hispanic Caucus learning?

A group of Democratic lawmakers wants to use the immigration reform debate to fix one of the most hotly contested aspects of the health care law — provisions that bar immigrants from using new government programs to get coverage.

The move by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus would add a contentious new element to an already monumental task — passing a bill that puts 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

But the lawmakers say they’re merely following through on a pledge they made when the health care overhaul passed in March, and they expect the White House and Democratic leadership to do the same.

Some members of the caucus almost withheld their votes for health reform over what they saw as punitive, anti-immigrant measures in the bill, which bans illegal immigrants from using newly created exchanges to buy insurance, even with their own money, and maintains a five-year waiting period for legal residents to enroll in Medicaid.

They signed on only after receiving assurances that their concerns would be rectified as part of the immigration reform battle, according to lawmakers, advocates and Hill aides.

“The expectation was that everybody knew it was unfair and that a new immigration bill would correct that,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told POLITICO.

Asked at what level he received such signals, Grijalva said: “High enough to feel secure about it.”

And you believed them???  Have you been paying any attention at all?  Obama promised labor EFCA if they went along with his terrible healthcare bill, and look how that worked out for them.  You really think Obama’s going to go out on a limb for you when he’s never gone out on a limb for anything progressive in his life?  Yeah, good luck with that.

July 20th, 2010 at 07:16am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Immigration,Obama,Politics,Wankers

Monday Media Blogging

Teabaggers are really really scary, especially Glenn Beck teabaggers:

YouTube Preview Image

She’s like a cross between Tammy Faye Bakker and Coupon Suzy, with a dash of Carol Channing thrown in for extra creepy.

July 19th, 2010 at 11:15am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Messaging… Win?

Wow, I can’t believe it – Obama is actually calling the Republicans on their most glaring contradiction:

President Barack Obama will escalate his attacks on Republicans Monday, planning to blast them for opposing an extension of benefits for the out-of-work while pushing tax cuts for the wealthy.

Obama plans a mid-morning statement in the White House Rose Garden in which he’ll again urge Congress to extend the jobless benefits and rip Republicans for refusing to go along.

(…)

He’ll also draw the sharp contrast between Republican opposition to benefits for the unemployed with their support for tax cuts for wealthier Americans, a White House aide said.

(…)

Obama on Saturday drew the comparison in the kind of language that could easily show up in Democratic ads during this fall’s campaigns for control of Congress.

“So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed,” he said.

“They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline.”

I can’t wait to hear how they justify this.  And I don’t think claiming that tax cuts will stimulate the economy and raise revenue is going to be good enough, although decades of conservative brainwashing about the magical powers of tax cuts may prove me wrong.

Anyway, it’s nice to see Obama and the Democrats finally listening to me…

July 19th, 2010 at 07:12am Posted by Eli

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

Friday Quote & Ibex Blogging

This week’s quote is from Zhang Yimou’s Shanghai Triad, which I, apparently, saw:

Serious, shy, it’s all an act – your eyes have already been all over me.

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

YouTube Preview Image

I find myself rooting for the ibex.

1 comment July 16th, 2010 at 09:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Obama The Socialist Strikes Again

Tell me again about what an overreaching, business-hating liberal Obama is:

A leading big-business group, responding to a request from top White House aides, last month submitted to President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget a 54-page hit list that takes aim at regulations protecting the environment, workers, consumers and investors.

Having asked the Business Roundtable for its advice, the White House was then faced with the question of what to do with it.

Discussions between the two parties are ongoing, the White House says. And their conclusion may depend on who wins the ongoing power struggle between the president’s top political gurus and his policy apparatus.

The push to placate business leaders is being led by Obama’s political team — in this case, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

But just like the advice the White House politicos are giving Obama about pressing forward with deficit reduction in the midst of a jobs crisis, the idea of loosening the reins on big business — at a time when the cost of deregulation has been so viscerally on display in the Gulf of Mexico — strikes some observers as spectacularly tone-deaf. Not just bad policy, but bad politics.

“What we’re in the middle of is a string of regulatory failures that the Obama administration seems very insensitive to,” said Rena Steinzor, a law professor at the University of Maryland and president of the pro-regulation Center for Progressive Reform. She cited the financial crisis, the Massey Energy mine disaster, and of course the BP oil spill.

“Tone-deaf” is exactly right, especially if you read the whole depressing story.  The Obama administration is apparently seeking more corporate campaign contributions for Democratic candidates, but catering to big business is really the last thing they need to be doing to impress the voters.  As always, I assume the calculation is that with enough campaign cash they can convince the American people that Obama is a “fierce advocate” for Main Street over Wall Street.

July 16th, 2010 at 11:27am Posted by Eli

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

Net Neutrality Passes… In Chile

First Argentina legalizes gay marriage, now this:

Net neutrality: you want it, we want it, ISPs pretty much hate it. Chilean politicians? Those guys love the stuff! The Board of the Chamber of Deputies voted almost unanimously to pass Bulletin 4915 which, among other things, forces an ISP to:

…ensure access to all types of content, services or applications available on the network and offer a service that does not distinguish content, applications or services, based on the source of it or their property.

Hey, remember when the U.S. was supposedly a thriving, cutting-edge beacon of democracy and Latin America was an economically prostrate backwater of corrupt banana republics?  How come we seem to be at least 5-10 years behind them now?

July 16th, 2010 at 07:26am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Technology

Good News On Healthcare Reform

For those of you who were worried that healthcare reform might eventually get watered down:

Remember Liz Fowler? The former WellPoint VP whom William Ockham noted was the literal author of the health care reform bill?

I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to learn that WellPoint’s former VP will be in charge of consumer issues and oversight as our country implements the WellPoint/Liz Fowler health insurance bill. (h/t Glenn Greenwald)

Liz Fowler, a key staffer for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus who helped draft the federal health reform bill enacted in March, is joining the Obama administration to help implement the new law.  Fowler, chief health counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, which Baucus chairs, will become deputy director of the Office of Consumer Information and Oversight at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

I for one am relieved to see that WellPoint’s Ms. Fowler’s bold vision will not be compromised when the reform plan is finally implemented.

July 15th, 2010 at 06:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Healthcare,Obama,Wankers

Why Do We Need The Onion?

The Onion:

Spurred by an administration he believes to be guilty of numerous transgressions, self-described American patriot Kyle Mortensen, 47, is a vehement defender of ideas he seems to think are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and principles that brave men have fought and died for solely in his head.

“Our very way of life is under siege,” said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. “It’s time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are.”

(…)

Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance “since the Ten Commandments.”

(…)

“The freedoms our Founding Fathers spilled their blood for are vanishing before our eyes,” Mortensen said. “In under a year, a fascist, socialist regime has turned a proud democracy into a totalitarian state that will soon control every facet of American life.”

NPR:

Along with the “Don’t tread on me” flags and the George Washington impersonators, the Constitution is ubiquitous at Tea Party events, whether it’s reproductions of the original parchment or pocket-sized copies.

Karen Cole says she carries a copy in her purse. “The Democrats are eviscerating our Constitution,” she says. Her friend Betty Anne Olsen agrees. “This current administration is trashing our Constitution; they couldn’t care less about the values. They’re breaking the laws.”

And how does she know that?

“I do not study the Constitution, no, but I’m well aware of my history,” Olsen says. “I’m well aware of how this country was founded, and I’m well aware of what has happened to it in current years.”

Tea Party members are often vague about exactly how their constitutional rights are being denied. But they all believe the federal government has expanded far beyond what the Constitution intended.

Parody is dead.

July 15th, 2010 at 11:47am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Republicans

Insight Of The Day

From a Philly Inquirer story about Republican PA-GOV candidate Tom Corbett trying to walk back his comments about how the jobless would rather collect unemployment than work:

The Quinnipiac University poll gave Corbett an edge of 44 to 37 percent over Onorato, with many voters still undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

The previous Quinnipiac poll, released shortly before the May 18 primary, gave Corbett a virtually identical 43-37 advantage in a head-to-head race with Onorato.

“That’s a formula for a victory for Republicans in Pennsylvania if those numbers hold up,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said Tuesday.

That’s right, the party with the most votes usually wins.  That’s some mighty good analyzin’ there, I tell you what.

July 15th, 2010 at 11:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Pittsburgh/PA,Polls,Quotes

The Wages Of Selling Out Is Mistrust

No one could have anticipated…

Almost four out of five Americans surveyed in a Bloomberg National Poll this month say they have just a little or no confidence that the measure being championed by congressional Democrats will prevent or significantly soften a future crisis. More than three-quarters say they don’t have much or any confidence the proposal will make their savings and financial assets more secure.

A plurality — 47 percent — says the bill will do more to protect the financial industry than consumers; 38 percent say consumers would benefit more.

Or this…

A majority or plurality disapproves of Obama’s management of the economy, health care, the budget deficit, the overhaul of financial market regulations and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted July 9- 12. In addition, almost 6 in 10 respondents say the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause. The Senate is scheduled to begin voting on the financial regulation bill today.

Almost two-thirds say they feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction, an even more sour assessment than in March when 58 percent felt that way. Two-thirds of independent voters are pessimistic, while just 56 percent of Democrats offer a vote of confidence.

Great going, guys.  You alienated your own base without doing squat to entice conservatives.  That’s really going to work out well for you in November.

July 15th, 2010 at 07:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Obama,Politics,Polls,Wankers

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

It’s inspiring to see Bat Boy finally taking on a leadership role:

Washington, D.C. The White House announced this morning that they will be putting Bat Boy in charge of the newly created “Perfect Citizen” cyber program.

The program was created to detect cyber assaults on private companies and government agencies running such critical infrastructure as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants. The surveillance by the National Security Agency, the government’s chief eavesdropping agency, would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack. “Who better deal with unusual activity than Bat Boy?” a White House spokesperson said.

Even though Rod Blagojevich was lobbying to get the job, in exchange for his “silence” on  Valerie Jarrett (and everything else under the sun), a NSA spokesman said that Bat Boy was the only one seriously considered for the job. “Bat Boy has a long history of protecting America. Just eight years ago, he defused a terrorist bomb on a United Airlines flight from Amsterdam by urinating on it.”  The government feels that a half-bat, half-human being has an advantage in protecting Americans from cyber assaults. Bat Boy’s enlarged ears are good sound gathering devices, much like a satellite dishes. Bat Boy also has the ability to send out sounds, which will bounce against an object, then return to him for interpretation.

(…)

Defense contractor Raytheon Corp. won a classified contract for the initial phase of the surveillance effort valued at up to $100 million.  A Raytheon spokesperson said Bat Boy is a perfect fit for the program because he “can stay up all night, and he likes to eat insects and bugs, which we have in abundance around here.”

(…)

Vice President Joe Biden stepped to the podium to discuss the program at this morning’s press briefing dressed as Batman’s sidekick Robin. Biden said, “I love Bat Boy and I love Batman.  Bang! Pow! Kazam!”  When Robert Gibbs informed the Vice President that he had the wrong Bat family, a saddened Biden remarked, “can I still wear my costume to meet the Prime Minister of Israel?”  Gibbs responded tersely, “No, Joe.  You can’t.”

Bat Boy is already working as the Perfect Citizen.  He is monitoring your computer as you read this post. Please wave at your monitor.

This probably was the best possible choice.

*waves at monitor*

July 14th, 2010 at 08:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

Strategery! Part II

CEPR calculates the costs and benefits of cutting Social Security:

  • The most frequently suggested [progressive price indexation] formula would imply cuts in benefits of 6.2 percent for a household in the in the middle income quintile between the ages of 45-49 in 2007 and 9.6 percent for a household in the middle quintile between the ages of 40 and 44 in 2007
  • Raising the normal retirement age 70 in 2036 would result in a 4.0 percent reduction in benefits for workers between the ages of 50 and 54 in 2007 and a 10.0 percent reduction for workers between the ages of 40-44
  • Reducing the COLA by 1.0 percent would result in a benefits cut of 12 percent for a retiree at age 75 and more than 20 percent at age 85
  • For retirees in the bottom income quintile at age 85 who were between the ages of 55 and 59 in 2007, reducing the COLA by 1.0 percent implies a 14.6 percent reduction in income and a cut of 16. 5 percent for retirees in the bottom quintile at age 85 between the ages of 40-44.

And how do these massive cuts impact the national debt?  Using CEPR’s Deficit Calculator, it looks it would cut the national debt by $861 billion (about 3.5%) over the next ten years, which if I recall correctly is considerably less the cost of Dubya’s massive tax cuts for the rich.  (Note: Simply raising the cap on the Social Security taxable wages to $180,000 would cut the debt by $877 billion all by itself)

So even ignoring the immorality of defaulting on the bonds Social Security has purchased to fund itself, it looks like Obama’s handpicked, Pete Peterson-funded commission of Social Security-hating deficit hawks is probably going to recommend some very painful – and unpopular – cuts that do very little to solve the supposedly urgent budget problem at hand.

July 14th, 2010 at 11:22am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Obama,Politics,Social Security,Wankers

Strategery! Part I

Steny Hoyer explains that the Democratic strategy this year will be to run against the disastrous Bush policies that the Democrats completely failed to oppose.  Combine that with a message about how the Democrats can’t get anything done because of Republican opposition, and that should be a winning message for sure.

July 14th, 2010 at 07:22am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Elections,Politics

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