Friday, October 16, 2009
How else do you explain the nonstop coverage of today's story about a runaway balloon allegedly with a six-year old boy along for the ride? Once the balloon landed, and no boy was found, the very first thing I thought was that the boy let the balloon go and realizing how stupid it was, decided to hide for fear of getting in major trouble. If I were six years old and did something as asinine, I'd hide too!
The story has a "happy" ending. Despite horrid thoughts and speculation by bearded CNN pundits of a box or basket that was attached to the balloon in which the little fly boy hopped in and eventually plummeted to his death while 10,000 feet high, he was eventually found hiding in his attic, scared shitless of the Major League trouble he would be in.
And yet, hours after the homemade weather balloon landed two counties away sans kid, we were forced to watch speculators and and pseudo-pundits trying to figure out how high the balloon got, if it could handle the weight of a child and the basket he was supposedly in, all while watching the same 30 seconds of footage of the flying balloon, followed by 30 seconds of the balloon landing, followed by 30 seconds of the flying balloon that we'd just seen.
The world stopped while this balloon was in the air. Nothing else was happening. At least not according to the 24/7 news media outlets. And even after the boy was found, they kept talking about it! Nothing happened on the health care front. Everyone forgot to criticize President Obama's trip to New Orleans. Yet we were mesmerized by the balloon story. That silver, mylar, flying saucer shaped balloon put most of us in a trance even when there was NO NEW NEWS to report for hours.
This is the problem with 24 hour news outlets. When does breaking news stop becoming breaking news? Even when the story is long over, it's still "Breaking News" and real news gets ignored. Sensationalism is only sensational when something sensational happens, whether it be the balloon boy, or Natalee Halloway or Anna Nicole Smith or Michael Jackson. I wish someone would let cable news producers in on that little tidbit of information.
UPDATE: SURPRISE! (Not.) Balloon Boy Hoax
Falcon Heene: "You guys said that we did it for the show."
When I found out about Balloon Boy, my first instinct after I heard he wasn't on the balloon after it had landed was that he had untethered it, and fearing the wrath of mommy and daddy, decided to hide out. When I found out that these people were on ABC's Wife Swap, my cynical side immediately took over and I thought mom and dad might be attention hounds or that it might be a publicity stunt. Luckily for us, six-year olds are too honest when under pressure, you know, like during a live TV interview.
I wonder if Mr. Heene is going to get a nice, fat invoice for the emergency resources that were used in searching for a child that wasn't lost?
Monday, October 12, 2009
Anti-Obama all the time. America loses 2016 Olympics and "WOOHOO!" Obama sucks! He couldn't seal the deal! This only proves that the world really hates him. Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize and "WHAAAA?!?!!" Political fallout! What will the right say? What will Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and *gasp!* Rush Limbaugh say about it?
And I say, "Who gives a shit what the nutballs have to say?" They are preaching to their ever shrinking choir. They will tell their audience of 30 percenters what they want to hear. So why is this any different than any other day, other than the fact that the rest of the reasonable, sane population should feel a sense of pride that their country's leader, only the third sitting President in the history of the nation, should receive such an honor?
When Limbaugh gets himself into such a lather to the point of agreeing with the Taliban, and lumps his audience in with that assertion while calling President Barack "Nobel Peace Prize" Obama a "worldwide joke," and saying it's "a greater embarrassment that losing the Olympics bid," then you know you're on the right track. Really? Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is an embarrassment? How does he rate getting busted with illegal Viagra prescriptions at the airport?
So let them fling their feces. They do it every day. It only proves their simian intellect. What difference does another reason make when every day we sit in a front row seat at the viewing of Glenn Beck dirtying his underpants? Just another a day in the life of the disinformers and the misinformed.
ADDING... Rachel Maddow dissects this situation perfectly.
Obama Derangement Syndrome
Originally posted October 9th
Monday, October 05, 2009
I've been reminded of all this in reading the tons of ink spilled on the David Letterman adultery story. Unless I’ve missed something, it doesn’t seem that any of the women Letterman apparently slept with have accused him of demanding sex in return for job perks or promotions or continued employment. Nobody is saying he preyed on underage staffers. So why the hell does anyone care? Did the guy break any laws? If not, why does the media feel inclined to beat this story to death? I guess in this case the answer is the same as it usually is: this story is being over-covered because it’s an easy story to cover. (Our media is nothing if not lazy.) There’s ready-made video with Dave’s noteworthy on-air discussion of the events, in an effort to take control of the narrative from the guy trying to blackmail him. And as much as we love our celebrities in America, we love seeing them beaten down even more. A humiliated celebrity is far better news fodder than a famous person on top of the world.
That said, I find the Associated Press’ hand-wringing in the above-linked story quite interesting. What must Dave do to keep women viewers, the AP wonders? Speaking as a (sigh) middle-aged married woman, I have to say that nothing about this whole thing bothers me, aside from the media’s over-reaction to it. Letterman’s sex life concerns me precisely as much as Bill Clinton’s sex life concerned me back in the 1990s: not one goddamn bit. Why shouldn’t I keep watching Letterman’s show? Don’t I have more pressing things to worry about? How immature am I supposed to be, exactly?
The last thing I want to waste time worrying about is other people’s legal, consensual sexual activities. Period. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. But the media will never admit that most people simply don’t care about this stuff.
Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania
Friday, October 02, 2009
I never thought I could run for elected office because, as evidenced by my blog, I can be crass, foul-mouthed and generally tend to cast any sense of decorum out the window. (I'm not smart enough either, but judging by the current crop of GOP elected officials, I don't think that's much of a hurdle anymore.)
Now I have new found hope! Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) is my new hero. Not only did he turn the tables on the Republican party's use of "death panels" and "health care reform equals dead people" rhetoric, but he refused to apologize for saying that the GOP Health Care Plan is to "die quickly" if you get sick on the floor of the House. And to top it off, while being interviewed by Rachel Maddow, Grayson added that the Republican party is "utterly unscrupulous. These are foot dragging, knuckle dragging Neanderthals."
Crack open a beer, sit back and watch what I can only dream of doing.
Originally posted on September 30th on Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The little boy didn't make it. My friend's sister, who I also think of as a dear friend, is in critical condition. The husband has a broken pelvis, but will survive.
Physically, at least.
To say these people are the salt of the earth is both a cliche and a gross understatement. They are intelligent and unfailingly kind. They were the most loving parents to their son, whom they adopted from South Korea as a baby. They were so proud to be his parents--true parents, even though he was born half a world away. Now he is gone, and his adoptive mother might not make it, and I am filled with sadness and rage.
I hadn't talked to this couple for many years, but then everybody on earth (or so it seems) started getting on Facebook. So for the last little while, I've been chatting with them regularly. Getting updates on their little boy. Hearing about their lives.
And now, tonight, as news of the horrible accident spread, a bunch of us who were friends together in New Jersey, and later in Boston, many, many moons ago now, mutual friends, gathered in cyberspace to discuss what happened and to grieve. I had four Facebook chats going at once at one point. This, I guess, is how we gather now to process such shattering events, especially when we are separated by hundreds of miles.
I only wish there was something I could do for my friends, but I know there is nothing. There are no words you can say to parents who have lost a child. To a man who might lose his wife. God willing she will make it. But what they are going through, I wouldn't wish on anybody.
I'm not sure how I will sleep now.
MONDAY UPDATE: The little boy's mom died, too, over the weekend. Heaven has two more angels now.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Of course, imbeciles like Chris Wallace don't get it. They don't understand why President Obama wouldn't use his time to go on their network to promote health care reform after the network decided not to air his joint session of Congress on the very same topic.
"They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington," Wallace said on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor."
Well, somebody's crying, but it sounds like Chris Wallace.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Remember Hurricane Katrina? It's had some jaw-dropping lasting effects. That no one will talk about. Because they concern mostly black people.
But it's not like people are still racist in America, right? Just avert your eyes and carry on...
Personally I still recall the raw horror, the literal nausea, I felt watching the Katrina disaster unfold on TV while King George the Inept ate birthday cake with John McCain. I vividly remember thinking: "We've lost an entire American city due to the Bush administration's ineptitude. NOW, now he's going to get impeached for sure."
So much for that. And today, all these years later, large swaths of New Orleans are evidently still a giant hellhole, and this NEVER makes it on the news. Awesome.
How do these people get elected into office? Did they stop drooling on themselves long enough to convince the rubes they call their constituents that they would be of use in Congress? ANY USE?
After receiving a complaint from a rube/constituent of their inconvenience during their recent travel, Republican Texas Rep. Kevin Brady decided to write a letter on their behalf, which would be a nice gesture if it weren't for the purpose of the trip and the specific travel complaint, as the Wall Street Journal so aptly describes:
Protesters who attended Saturday’s Tea Party rally in Washington found a new reason to be upset: Apparently they are unhappy with the level of service provided by the subway system.
Rep. Kevin Brady asked for an explanation of why the government-run subway system didn’t, in his view, adequately prepare for this past weekend’s rally to protest government spending and government services.
This would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. But what do you expect? These people who, as Brady writes in his letter of complaint to DC's Metro system, "came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration" complained that said government's transit system did not spend extra money to provide extra service for the teabagger event.
And the newest Republican MENSA member to step into that dubious Spotlight of Superstupid decides to write a letter on the behalf of an 80-year old woman, who is most likely in that evil, socialized Medicare program, with absolutely no conception of the irony of the situation.
And the kicker of this whole affront to the teabagging community? In July, the House voted on a resolution for appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, HUD, and related agencies including emergency funding for the Metro DC subway system. Brady voted against the resolution.
Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady: SUPERGENIUS.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
These are the boneheads we are dealing with.
(Photo via Bob Cesca)
UPDATE (2:30pm): Update on The Stupid.
Would-be teabaggers and and other easily duped dingbats are proudly emailing each other wonderful pictures of a million teabaggers crowding the National Mall, but these pictures are actually from the Million Man March of 1997, an event attended by, ahem, colored people.
Oh, the irony! AHAHAHAHAAHAAHAAHAAAAAAA!!!
Obviously the recession has much to do with it, but I do wish it would occur to our great captains of the airline industry that one reason people are flying less is that the experience has become so incredibly shitty. Some of this is not the fault of the individual airlines, such as stupid security theater, but plenty of it is. I mean bag fees, what the fuck? And it isn't simply the money, it's the extra hassle and just general sense of being screwed and harassed throughout the entire process.
When ARE the airlines (to say nothing of the people in charge of Homeland Security) going to realize that the more they crap all over people, the less people will fly? Why am I still taking my damn shoes off, for example? Why must we take our 4-year-old's shoes off? Why is it that when we finally get on the plane, we barely fit in the seats? How tall and heavy do the airlines think the average person is, anyway? My husband, around 5"8 and still as skinny as he was in his 20s -- he barely fits. Me, 5"3 and certainly overweight but nowhere near obese -- I barely fit. My knees practically hit the seat in front of me. Do the airlines think most adults are not over 5"3? I weep for these poor 6"4 guys, folding their entire bodies, origami-like, in a vain attempt to fit in the coach seats. Deep vein thrombosis, here we come!
And then, say you're going from Boston to Los Angeles. Would you like to have a drink of water over the next 6-plus hours? Well, good luck with that, if you lacked the foresight to bring your own bottle of water.
Anyway. None of these are new complaints. It's just amazing how, even in this economy when you think they'd want to encourage people to fly, the whole experience just gets worse and worse.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
With that, I would like to declare a reboot on my blogging activities. I'm going to start over with new posts on all things personal as well as political, because there's a ton going on on both fronts. As always, I must thank the highly talented Broadway Carl for his insightful contributions here, and you'll see my posts over at his place as well.
So stay tuned for more updates, and as always, thanks for reading!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Here is a two minute interview with a middle aged woman, the same woman who screamed "Heil Hitler!" at an Israeli man while he was extolling the virtues of Israel's national health care system. Irony of ironies, she's wearing an "Israel Defense League" t-shirt and yelled "Heil Hitler" at an Israeli Jew.
In two minutes she personified what is wrong with these town hall windbags that haven't a clue why they're against health care reform.
1 - She doesn't want to identify herself with any group except to say that she's a lifelong Republican conservative who "believes in Biblical vows." Good job not trying to box yourself in, lady.
2 - She knows reform is needed because of escalating costs but doesn't want a government take over, as if that were the case. Will she refuse Medicare when she or her husband reaches that age?
3 - She thinks reform will "support illegal aliens." It does not.
4 - Her husband works "two and a half" jobs and HAS NO INSURANCE.
5 - She hopes Obama is voted out of office because he has the audacity to try and provide health care for Americans who can't afford it.
Barney Frank is right. There is no reasoning with these people.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
There was a lot of talk this weekend about the perceived White House softening on the public option due to a comment made by President Obama during a town hall meeting in Colorado (which I think wasn't a softening at all if you listen to what he was trying to say in the overall context) and an interview by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in which she stated that the public option is "not the essential element" in health care reform. I was still hesitant to think that all the "president is backing off the public option" ballyhoo was actually the case considering that Congress is not in session and the MSM was hungry for something to fill their time other than Michael Jackson's brain.
In any case, the possibility that this could happen was a breaking point for the left who have started to mobilize. Whether progressives and liberals were coming off the Obama honeymoon or whether they realized that they had to be as vocal as the misinformed, gun-toting nutballs at the town hall meetings, the pushback has finally started.
My theory: I think the Sebelius statement was a trial balloon. If the statement was used to gauge a perceived softening on the public option or an actual one is up for debate. The end result is the liberal and progressive base got tired of laying back and are now on the offensive to the benefit of the Obama administration, even though their outrage is directed at the ever-tiring Democratic capitulation.
But some are now writing that this may have been part of the plan all along; some more Obama Kung-Fu. And if you think about it, you can whip up your base into a frenzy by looking like you are softening to the GOP and losing your spine, because in the end you really aren't going to lose your liberal base. What liberal or progressive in their right mind would vote for ANY Republican?
Now, President Obama has always said that change has to start with us. On that I agree. But the way this has been unfolding, I'm finding it a little hard to believe that it's all part of a grand plan, that this administration although very savvy, is always ten steps ahead of absolutely everyone else. (If they are, then we are in for an awesome eight years.)
Ultimately, I don't think that the White House will accept a final bill without a public option, but if there had been no outrage from the left, if we had become defeatist and complacent (and I think some of us were headed that way) then who knows how horrible a compromised bill could become? Luckily, progressives and liberals, sixty and counting in the House, are galvanizing and threatening to vote against any bill that doesn't contain a public option.
So in my opinion, I don't think this was an example of Obama Kung-Fu; it was more the situation turning to fortuitously help the White House. Maybe call it Obama Kung-Fu Panda™.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I find it amazing that elected officials are so afraid of reporters with cameras, they literally run away as fast as they can. Mike Stark (of HuffPo and FDL) is the light switch that makes these GOP roaches run for cover. And all because they don't want to be on official record as supporting the Birther Movement, yet giving it credence by saying there may be something there.
And Rep. Thaddeus "I'm focused on health care issues" McCotter actually introduced a resolution to get President Obama to officially apologize to Cambridge Police officer Sgt. James Crowley. A fine use of time for the state of Michigan and their tax dollars.
The clunky end to the series is unfortunate, because the first two books were actually pretty good. By the third installment, "Eclipse," the narrative starts falling apart at the seams, before the utter train wreck of the fourth novel. I find the whole thing fascinating, from a writer's perspective (how is it that the editors and publisher allowed Meyer to go off in such unhinged directions in the last book? And why did she feel the need to go in those directions?) and from a mother's. I've read that Meyer's got a bunch of kids--evidently pregnancy was not kind to her. I find it hard to believe that a woman who went through relatively normal pregnancies could have written that section describing Bella's unnatural gestation and ghoulish childbirth. I could be letting my imagination run away with me, but it seems to point to some unresolved personal issues on the part of the writer. To put it mildly.
But, flawed though the series may be, it does have its moments. The first book lays a convincing foundation of suspense and tension, and pretty accurately describes the intensity of first love. Edward is a figure of pathos in the first book, rather than the humorless, authoritarian figure he becomes later. And the character of Jacob, at least until he goes off the rails in the last book, is far and away the most convincingly fleshed-out of all the inhabitants of Meyer's twisted little world. Well, him and Alice, who I also liked a lot. And even in "Breaking Dawn," you can see hints of the talent that evidently got Meyer her publishing contract in the first place.
You know how in certain books, an image will stand out from the rest, providing a compelling visual hook for the story? One example that comes to mind is from J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter book, "Deathly Hallows." I'm thinking of Rowling's description of Draco Malfoy's mother standing at Severus Snape's door with her long blonde hair flowing down her back, "giving her the look of a drowned person." Similarly in "Breaking Dawn," when Jacob witnesses Edward's suffering as Bella gestates the vampire/human hybrid baby: "This was the face a man would wear while burning at the stake."
It's too bad this talent wasn't put to better use as Meyer wrapped up the series. It seems to have ruined the whole thing for many of the fans, and it's set up what could be an unresolvable conflict for the movie studio producing the films of the books. How in God's name are they going to make a decent movie out of "Breaking Dawn"? There is no way in hell that they can replicate that birth scene without turning it into a torture porn movie. And, the whole "imprinting on the baby" thing...one has to assume the studio lawyers won't let them go anywhere NEAR that. Which means that if they make a movie at all, it's going to be vastly different from the book by default. With any luck, maybe it will be better. It's hard to imagine it could be worse.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Last week during the groudswell of racism that permeated the US Sentate hearing on the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, I posted video without comment of MSNBC "pundit" Pat Buchanan and the pretty remarkably harsh, racist statements he was making on the issue. I didn't comment on them because I thought that they basically spoke for themselves and that there were soooo many misstatements, factually incorrect statements and flat out lies, it would have taken too much time out of my life to go through them one by one. Besides, I value my normal blood pressure.
Luckily Rachel Maddow, who had a debate with Buchanan on the issue, took it upon herself to correct the record because she couldn't stand not to.
Monday, July 20, 2009
And in one comical if awkward exchange with Mr. Coburn, on whether Americans had a right to self-defense, Judge Sotomayor broke with her resistance to hypotheticals to invoke one, imagining an instance in which, threatened with imminent harm, she went home, got a gun and came back to shoot him.
“You’d have lots of ’splaining to do,” Mr. Coburn replied, borrowing Desi Arnaz’s frequent line in his portrayal of Ricky Ricardo, the Cuban-American bandleader on the old “I Love Lucy” television show.
Seriously. This actually happened on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Just shoot me.
Monday, July 13, 2009
The cowardice to write such things while hiding behind a keyboard used as a hood and a username used as a robe is immeasurable. This isn't about disagreeing with the administration's policies. This isn't worrying about national security. This isn't about the threat of terrorism. This is hostility and disdain for an 11 year old girl purely based on the color of her skin. This is about the overt racism displayed at the President of the United States and his family."A typical street whore." "A bunch of ghetto thugs." "Ghetto street trash." "Wonder when she will get her first abortion."These are a small selection of some of the racially-charged comments posted to the conservative 'Free Republic' blog Thursday, aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama's 11-year-old daughter Malia after she was photographed wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign on the front.The thread was accompanied by a photo of Michelle Obama speaking to Malia that featured the caption, "To entertain her daughter, Michelle Obama loves to make monkey sounds."
By the way, she won her election.In October 2008, in the wake of news that an effigy of Sarah Palin was being hung outside an affluent Hollywood home as an offensive Halloween decoration, Shay replied, returning to the “LOL” style that she employed after the “coons” comment: “What no ‘Obama in a noose? Come on now, its just freedome [sic] of speech, no one in Atlanta would take that wrong! Lol.”She picked up the thread again the next morning with a clarification and a new insight. “Apparently I could not spell last night. I am wondering if the guys with the Palin noose would care if we had a bunch of homosexuals in a noose.”
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
After nearly four hours of deliberation and multiple rounds of balloting, the South Carolina Republican Party voted Monday night to censure Mark Sanford for secretly traveling overseas to visit his mistress — but stopped short of calling on the governor to resign.We can't totally blame them. After all, if a schlub like Mark Sanford can get an Argentine hottie to play Evita & Juan then you gotta give him a little credit. So what if he called for the resignation of Bill Clinton when he was in the same situation? Obviously his mistake was that he didn't keep his shenanigans overseas.
So, a little slap on the wrist for a Governor who abandoned his state for almost a week with no information to his whereabouts in case of emergency. But hey, it's okay if you're a Republican.
Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton revealed this morning during a live radio interview that despite days of plans indicating otherwise, the coffin containing the body of the late King of Pop Michael Jackson will be taken from the earlier private funeral at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills to the Staples Center, where it will be on stage during the memorial event.
Someone help me out here...they're going to have Jackson's coffin ON THE STAGE while the performers are, you know, performing? Singing and dancing around the body??
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Minnesotans should be completely embarrassed having this moonbat represent their state. Michele "Armed and Dangerous" Bachmann's latest conspiracy theory involves the evil Barack Obama and the use of information in the upcoming 2010 Census.
Now the Census, for those that don't know, has been around since Thomas Jefferson in 1790. A Founding Father. But that doesn't matter to Bachmann. She's convinced these personal questions are an invasion of privacy and doesn't know what the evil government (the government she is a part of) would do with such vital information like her phone number. Because we all know it's impossible for the government to get that information unless provided by the customer. The telecom companies would never surrender than kind of vital info.
Well, Michele, the U. S. Constitution (Article I, Section II) requires that there be a census every ten years in order to apportion the seats in the House of Representatives among the states. That would be to assure idiots like Bachmann have a job. Census information is also used by federal, state and local governments to assess needs and allocate funding, by academics to study the changing population, by individuals to trace their genealogy, and for many other purposes.
Besides the fact that you are subject to prosecution if you refuse to answer census information and Bachmann insisting she will not comply with the census next year, the killer is this little nugget: she is upset that they ask for all this very personal information, but don't ask if you are an American citizen. Listen to the MENSA conversation between Bachmann and Sean Hannity.
Really? Is there no question in the US Census asking if you are an American citizen? Surely that has to be an oversight, and an egregious one at that. Could Bachmann be correct? ...Of course not.
Section 3: Page 18, Question 8
Of course, Bachmann also brings ACORN into the mix, just one of over 250 organizations used by the government in compiling information of over 300 million people. I always knew that some ultra-conservatives righties were nuts when they were in power, but now that they're out of power they are freaking out and coming out of the woodwork faster than the zombies in Night of the Living Dead.
Here's Stephen Colbert's take on the Census (Thanks to Annette for the video).
The Pandemic of Stupid: Parts One and Two
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The unanimous 5-0 decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court declaring Franken the winner also contained language that politely stated the Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty should not hesitate to sign the certification of the election.
A 5-0 unanimous decision sounds like a green light to me. Will Norm Coleman now do the right thing and not appeal to SCOTUS? I'm not so sure he's that smart.
...Pawlenty had indicated as late as Monday that he was willing to certify Mr. Franken as the winner once the state’s highest court decided the recount and Mr. Coleman’s battle. On CNN on Sunday, Mr. Pawlenty said: “I’m prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light.”
UPDATE (4pm): Coleman concedes! Congratulates Al Franken as state's new Senator. Respects Minnesota Supreme Court's decision although does state he "also thought it was important to stand up for enfranchesing thousands of Minnesotans whose votes weren't counted like others' were."
Friday, June 26, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Boom! goes the dynamite!
"I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue. It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics."
-- CIA Director Leon Panetta, in an interview with the New Yorker, on former Vice President Dick Cheney's criticisms of the Obama administration.
Since posting this on Sunday, Ed Schultz has had a run-in with Joe Scarborough regarding this issue. Schultz agrees with the assessment. Scarborough is shocked, shocked I tell you!, that anyone would think Cheney would want "Americans to die" so he could say he was right.
Scarborough tries to discredit Schultz by equating the support he says he's receiving with 9/11 Truthers, but Schultz isn't buying it.
I usually do a Must Reads post every Saturday at my blog. Saturday is a full work day for me with not much posting time, so I collect interesting articles from the week (usually toward the end of the week so they aren't stale by Saturday) and link them for posterity.
It seems Ms. Fraulein especially liked this batch of political cookies, so she's requested I re-post them here. Enjoy.
Bob Cesca: The Health Insurance Mafia Deserves a Good Screwing
Andrew Sullivan: A Marine and the T-Word
Paul Krugman: The Big Hate
Halimah Abdullah, McClatchy: Senators who opposed tobacco bill received top dollar from industry
Lars Thorwald: Obama on DOMA: He IS Keeping A Promise
Joan Walsh: Why I went on "The O'Reilly Factor"
The Daily Howler: It Happened Last Time! Yesterday’s killing made us think about what happened the last time
D. Aristophanes, Sadly, No!: The Usual Gang of Idiots
Tom Leonard: US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Thus the idea of No-Work Friday Summer was born. Thanks to an understanding boss and a family-friendly employer, the request was approved. And whatever income I lose (which won't end up being that much anyway given the corresponding drop in day care costs) will be paid back in spades by having the opportunity, for a little while at least, to take a break from being a cranky person with an aggravating, never-ending commute and just be.
And with any luck, this poor blog won't be as neglected as it's been the last few years, and I'll have time to come up with more contributions to the conversations over at Broadway Carl's place!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
When the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of possible violence from right wing extremists and extremist groups a few weeks ago, there was much outrage. Or fauxtrage as the case may be. For some strange reason, the Republican party took offense at the report.
Wingnuts like Michelle Malkin called the report "one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS", "piece of crap report" that serves as "a sweeping indictment of conservatives." Really, Michelle? A word search of the words, "conservative", "Conservatives" and "Republican" turns up no hits on the PDF of the report. An indictment of conservatives? Why would they equate themselves with extremist hate groups?
No matter to the Republicans/Conservatives who felt the vapors. This was a hit job on the GOP by the duplicitous Obama administration. The "Support the Troops - Buy a Car Magnet" groups were upset about the mention that returning Iraqi vets might be targeted for recruitment by these extremist groups in order to utilize their military talents. The immediate suggestion of course was that this insinuation vilified our soldiers. The bluster was so loud, that DHS Director Janet Napolitano felt the need to apologize to those who were "offended."
The kicker was that it was the Bush administration that ordered the assessments of both right wing and left wing extremist groups, but the reports weren't completed until after Obama took office. And I don't remember hearing any outrage of the left wing report which was released in January.
So here we stand a few weeks later, after the murder of Dr. George Tiller while in church by a pro-life "extremist" and today's shooting attack at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, by an 88-year old anti-Semitic, white supremacist with a previous record and you have to wonder, "What did DHS Director Napolitano apologize for?"
What will Michelle Malkin say now about that "shoddy piece of propaganda"? What will Texas Rep. Lamar Smith say now after categorizing the DHS report as "racial profiling" the pro-gun advocates, pro-life advocates and veterans? What will Joe Scarborough say now after accusing the DHS and Obama administration of targeting veterans instead of Al-Qaeda?
They'll say what they always say: a lone wolf. A nut who was acting alone. They won't see the big picture. They'll refuse to look back and see the rise in vitriol and violence since the election. And as is frequently becoming the case, they will be wrong.
UPDATE (6/10/09 6:45pm): It seems I had some kind of Spidey sense today.
Originally posted on Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania 6/10/09
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Not much to say on this one. Morning Joe sold out. Starbucks is now a sponsor. Jon Stewart calls Joe out on his ass-kissing of Starbucks CEO and product placement. Joe Scarborough claims it was sarcasm... even though THEY ARE sponsored by Starbucks and THEY ARE placing product all over the set. Jon Stewart eats Joe for a snack.
If you have a problem with this, you can write in to Starbucks and complain regarding their Corproate social responsibility efforts. Some are suggesting to boycott Starbucks and let them know why. I'll write in to say that their choice of sponsorship is suspect, but sorry, Carl can't gives up the Starbucks. If I boycotted every product because some asshole plugged it, I'd starve.
(H/T Bob Cesca)
Monday, June 08, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Multiracial Americans Become Fastest-Growing U.S. GroupWASHINGTON (AP)— Multiracial Americans have become the fastest growing demographic group, wielding an impact on minority growth that challenges traditional notions of race.
The number of multiracial people rose 3.4 percent last year to about 5.2 million, according to the latest census estimates. First given the option in 2000, Americans who check more than one box for race on census surveys have jumped by 33 percent and now make up 5 percent of the minority population _ with millions more believed to be uncounted."Multiracial unions have been happening for a very long time, but we are only now really coming to terms with saying it's OK," said Carolyn Liebler, a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota who specializes in family, race and ethnicity.More than half of the multiracial population was younger than 20 years old, a reflection of declining social stigma as interracial marriages became less taboo.
Interracial marriages increased threefold to 4.3 million since 2000, when Alabama became the last state to lift its unenforceable ban on interracial marriages. (The Supreme Court barred race-based restrictions on marriage in 1967.) About 1 in 13 marriages are mixed race, with the most prevalent being white-Hispanic, white-American Indian and white-Asian.
Everyone who juggles a full-time job and children yet has other interests they want to pursue in life knows exactly what I'm talking about. You consider it a good day when you manage to sneak in one 10-minute conversation with your significant other, in between bites of a too-rushed dinner, over the shouts of a four-year-old who's simultaneously dropping food on the floor, jumping up and down like a pogo stick, and doing her damndest to keep you from finishing a coherent thought. And this is after you get home from what in all likelihood is a typically frustrating day at work, with, for many of us, the threat of layoffs lingering in the air like poison gas. You try to keep moving, juggling more projects than you ever thought possible, just to prove your worthiness for the job you've already got.
Related to this is my recent conclusion that our modern society's incessant demand for us to work what feels like a million hours a week and do dozens of things at once is what's robbed us of a sense of community. I am 40 years old, and the suburban, middle-class world I grew up in, where many (though by no means all) moms had the luxury of staying home part of the time to deal with the kids and the house and the doctor's appointments, etc., is gone. Literally gone.
When I was a kid--even by the time I was in high school--it was still commonplace for people to host huge gatherings of family, neighbors and other friends most weekends. Now I can't remember even a casual dinner party with a couple of friends that didn't involve weeks of e-mail discussion to coordinate. I haven't seen the members of my extended family in one place in many, many years, because they are scattered from New Jersey to California and numerous places in between. The aunts, uncles, cousins and associated other characters who gathered around my parents' dining table and whose houses we frequented when I was a kid feel scattered to the wind now. This bothers me.
Maybe it's because I'm Italian. It isn't much of a stretch to assert that my people are happiest surrounded by loved ones of all ages, gathered around the table discussing everything under the sun. Arguing vociferously over coffee and dessert. My earliest memories, and some of my most vibrant, are of such gatherings. The volume was only exceeded by the passion with which this aunt, that neighbor's brother-in-law--the one who owns the butcher shop, and dropped by unexpectedly with some outstanding sausages and a bottle of red wine--would make a point. Defend it.
Maybe it's because I'm an only child. The extended family was my family. Last week we gathered around my sister-in-law's table near Los Angeles, everyone from the 4-year-old Peanut, who was the youngest, to my father-in-law, who's 85. Actually there were two tables. One was the "kids' table," for the Peanut and several of her cousins, ranging in age from 12 to 21. They have barely ever seen her, these California cousins, since we don't make the big trip west more than once a year. But they accepted her gifts of pre-school drawings and they played hide-and-seek with her, and she loved them for it. It reminded me of my family gatherings of a long time ago.
This is a highly unfashionable sentiment, but I kind of miss those days. If you asked my mother circa, say, 1980, about "multitasking," she would have defined it as getting me to do my homework while making sure the cats were fed, the house cleaned, the laundry done, and dinner underway. Which I think is more than enough for one day for most people. She didn't have to do all that while working full-time in a stressful environment and sitting fruitlessly in the car going to and from that job. There was still time for community back then.
Wouldn't it be nice if we somehow figured out a way to do meaningful, fulfilling paid work while still having enough time to enjoy our families, friends and neighbors?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Let's not get our panties all in a bunch. There's been a lot of talk about how the Obama administration is just a continuation of the Bush years, especially this last week with the reversal on releasing more detainee abuse photos (which I addressed earlier in the week) and now with President Obama's decision to continue military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. But let's get one thing straight: Dubya and Dick aren't running things anymore.
Robert Gibbs: "...first and foremost the President of the United States is going to do what he believes is in the best security interests of the people of the United States.
I think military commissions have a long tradition in the United States. The President spoke in 2006 in his belief that military courts and commissions had a role to play in the detainees that were at Guantanamo Bay, but also spoke forcefully about the notion that the system that had been first set up and ruled unconstitutional, and then passed legislatively and largely ruled unconstitutional again by the Supreme Court, wasn’t working. And I think the best way to understand why it wasn’t working -- and when I say "wasn’t working," I mean, wasn’t working in seeking swift and certain justice for families of victims as well as the American people because in about eight years -- a little less than eight years’ time -- exactly three cases had gone through military commissions.
The President, as I said, during the debate said that properly structured military commissions had a role to play. The changes that he is seeking he believes will ensure the protections that are necessary for these to be conducted in order to reach that certain justice as well as live up to our values.
...statements that have been obtained from detainees using cruel, inhumane, and degrading interrogation methods will no longer be admitted as evidence at trial.
Second, the use of hearsay will be limited so that the burden will no longer be on the party who objects to hearsay to disprove its reliability.
Third, the accused will have greater latitude in selecting their counsel.
Fourth, basic protections will be provided for those who refuse to testify.
And fifth, military commission judges may establish the jurisdiction of their own courts.
Again, if you look back through the arc of this process beginning back in 2001 and 2002 through Supreme Court making decisions in 2005, moving this to the venue of Congress in 2006, and the legislation that the President supported that came out of the Senate Armed Services Committee with strong bipartisan support -- four Republican senators joining all the Democrats involved -- in passing legislation that the President believes met the goals of instituting swift and certain justice and the protections adequate enough to be reviewed by courts, and believes so."
Stating that this is simply a continuation of the Bush policies without noting the changes is being disingenuous.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Yesterday was a rough day for me*. My usual weekend off (Mondays and Tuesdays) was negated due to special events at the theatre and an extra maintenance call... so no days off. I was on my eighth of twelve straight days of work which can tend to leave some people tired and moody, so it was a major disappointment to me when I learned that President Obama had decided to reverse his decision and attempt to block the release of the latest detainee abuse photos in a Pentagon case, in which the Pentagon had sided with the ACLU and agreed to release the photos.
The shoot from the hip response would rightly be, "So much for transparency" and that's what I've been hearing from friends, colleagues and what little I've read on the blogosphere. But since I didn't have constant access to The Internets™ yesterday, I was able to formulate some of my own theories on why the President chose to take this action. I've read his statement but haven't heard others' speculation, so forgive me if I'm repeating what has already been said.
Here is President Obama's statement:
Now, let me also say a few words about an issue that I know you asked Robert Gibbs about quite a bit today, and that’s my decision to argue against the release of additional detainee photos.
Understand these photos are associated with closed investigations of the alleged abuse of detainees in our ongoing war effort. And I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib. But they do represent conduct that did not conform with the Army Manual; that’s precisely why they were investigated and, I might add, investigated long before I took office. And, where appropriate, sanctions have been applied.
In other words, this is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action. Rather, it has gone through the appropriate and regular processes. And the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.
It’s therefore my belief that the publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals. In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.
Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.
And, obviously, the thing that is most important in my mind is making sure that we are abiding by the Army Manual and that we are swiftly investigating any -- any instances in which individuals have not acted appropriately and that they are appropriately sanctioned. That’s my aim, and I do not believe that the release of these photos at this time would further that goal.
Now, let me be clear: I am concerned about how the release of these photos would be -- would impact on the safety of our troops. I have made it very clear to all who are within the chain of command, however, of the United States Armed Forces that the abuse of detainees in our custody is prohibited and will not be tolerated.
I have repeated that since I’ve been in office. Secretary Gates understands that. Admiral Mullen understands that. And that has been communicated across the chain of command.
Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values. It endangers our security. It will not be tolerated.
All right? Thank you very much, everybody.
As much as I hate that he used the line, "the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger," because it echos what we've heard before from the previous administration, the fact remains that we cannot disprove that statement. It is his opinion, most likely an informed opinion especially after reviewing the photos, that they could be used as a further recruiting tool for extremists and cause inflammatory actions against our troops. I'm not certain about this theory and I'm not happy about it either. But it can't be ruled out. Most of us agree that our continued presence in the Middle East and our imprisonment of detainees without habeas corpus and our treatment of them under the Bush regime has been a recruitment tool for Al-Qaeda. Why not more photos of abuse?
Nothing that the President does can be looked at in a vacuum. Every word he utters, every decision he makes has repercussions. Currently, there are congressional hearings on the use of torture techniques and their effectiveness, or lack of, going on. Just yesterday, FBI interrogator Ali Soufan was before a Senate hearing on the use of "harsh interrogation" techniques and how those techniques actually hindered intelligence gathering in his opinion. I think I'd rather watch the 24/7 news cable talking heads discuss that Senate hearing than get inundated with a slide show presentation of five or six released photos in a continuous loop every 15 minutes on MSNBC. Is this part of President Obama's thinking? That the release of these photos would only serve as yet another distraction rather than trying to get at the heart of the matter in terms of torture? I don't know, and neither does anyone else outside the walls of the West Wing.
What's the first image that pops into your mind the second you hear "photos of Abu Ghraib"? I think of two particular photos. The hooded man standing on a crate with electrodes on his hands and naked pyramids. That's what it's been reduced to in my mind. So I ask myself what good would it do to release these new photos? You would think that the actions of Abu Ghraib would have been enough for anyone to protest in the streets with pitchforks and torches, but the "outrage" lasted a month, maybe two, and after Donald Rumsfeld attributed it to "a few bad apples," it has been forgotten by the general public. I have no reason to doubt the President when he says, "these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib." We know abuse happened. We know there are factions in the government trying to cover it up. Why do we need to see the photos? Not only would it serve as a distraction to "future investigations of detainee abuse" but would anyone really care?
This is the theory I'm going with. Think about the position in which President Obama finds himself. He takes office in the worst recession (bordering on depression) since the Great Depression. We are fighting a war on two fronts. Job losses mount to the tune of 500,000 to 650,000 per month. The stock market declined 6,000 points in a year before his first day in office. Record home foreclosures are creating homelessness and making tent cities commonplace. The banking industry is tanking and he must take over a $700 billion bailout by the Bush administration. The US auto industry is tanking and he must take over a $17 billion bailout by the Bush administration. 48 million Americans have no health insurance.
To stop the bleeding, President Obama begins a Recovery plan to infuse $787 billion into the country to create jobs, including the largest middle class tax cut in US history, and needs all the support he can muster to reform the health insurance industry. Is this the best time to release these photos? It's very possible that they will be released by the courts anyway, so why should we expect President Obama to rock the boat while he's standing on the bow?
More and more details are coming out daily regarding the torture memos and Dick Cheney's deeper involvement than originally thought. Congressional hearings and investigations are coming to a head. I'm just a little too young to remember Watergate first hand, but I do know that investigative reporting and the hearings during Watergate took a long time to get the truth out. My prediction is that within 18 months, the current snowball of scandal will turn into an avalanche. There will be indictments, prosecutions and jail time for some of the big wigs that were involved in Torturegate, as well as the possibility of war crimes committed for starting a war on intentionally false pretenses. That all takes time.
I'm going to expect President Obama to prioritize and try and get something done for the near future. There will be enough independent investigation without Obama looking like he's out for partisan blood. The last thing we need is self sabotage by initializing investigations that will be misconstrued as partisan witch hunts which can derail his agenda by Day 114. I have to give him that time. I voted for change, but I'm realistic enough to know that change doesn't happen overnight... or over 114 nights.
* My day concluded with the Mets losing an 8-7 game in 12 innings, the Senate voting against the Credit Card bill and my softball game being rained out this morning. *Sigh*
Cross-posted on Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania