Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Is The Mentality We're Dealing With

Guest posted by Broadway Carl

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif.—Keyanus Price, an African American, said she was appalled when she received an e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose's personal account that showed a picture of the White House with a watermelon patch imposed as the White House garden.

...Grose's e-mail included the picture with a heading that read, "No Easter Egg hunt this year."


AP: LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) — The mayor of a small Southern California city says he will resign after being criticized for sharing an e-mail picture depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year."

Los Alamitos Mayor Dean Grose issued a statement Thursday saying he is sorry and will step down as mayor at Monday's City Council meeting.

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl' Blog-O-Mania!

Culture Shock - Bachmann Strikes Again

Guest posted by Broadway Carl

I seriously want to know how stupid the voters are in Michele Bachmann's Minnesota district. Is there some kind of chemical plant in the area poisoning their local water supply? How is it possible that one of the stupidest people on the planet is an elected representative of the United States?

You'd think that she would have disappeared after suggesting that some of her colleagues in Congress were anti-American because of their liberal views, but she actually won her re-election bid. Does her whole district reside under power lines?

Well, never let it be said that Bachmann isn't the conservative goose that lays the racist egg. After RNC Chairman Michael Steele spoke at CPAC yesterday, Bachmann let loose with some words of praise, but in an effort to follow Steele's call for appealing to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings," shouted out "You be da man! You be da man!" Come to think of it, is Bachmann related to the woman in the movie "Airplane" that was able to translate jive?

Steele responded with this.

Speaking of Michael "Bling-Bling" Steele, Stephen Colbert had a challenge for the RNC Chariman last night.

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Cross-posted on Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Matt Lauer Calls Out Santeill On His White House Threat Claim

Guest posted by Broadway Carl

Santelli: "Well, I'm not saying 'threatening'..."

Really? That's not what you said on G. Gordon Liddy's sorry excuse for a show.

Good for Matt Lauer to call out this moron. And Lauer didn't even mention the fact that the reason Robert Gibbs "called out" Santelli is because he was asked a question about Santelli's specific action!
Q On the foreclosure plan, aside from Rush Limbaugh and that cable rant on the floor of the Exchange, there really does appear to be some --

MR. GIBBS: Chuck's network? (Laughter.)

Q -- there really does appear to be some anger out there from people who just don't believe the President when he said that only people who acted responsibly are going to be helped here. How can you assure people that you're going to reward only people, only homeowners who acted responsibly?
Can this guy please fade back into obscurity now?

Cross-posted on Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Friday, February 27, 2009

This just hasn't been the Republicans' week

Coming hot on the heels of "Bobby" Jindal's spectacularly awful performance in delivering the GOP response to President Obama's recent address to Congress, now we have news that "Joe" the "Plumber"'s recent Washington book signing event was something of a dud:

About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats set up hopefully in the basement of a downtown Border's bookstore to hear Joe speak. Joe addressed them from behind a lectern and with a microphone, but that seemed unnecessarily formal.
Even the Washington Post can't keep the snark in check on this one. Classic:

It's fair to say Joe's appearance at Borders at 18th and L streets wasn't eagerly anticipated. People just kind of shuffled over when Joe strode in with Thomas N. Tabback, the co-author of "Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream." Annie Hickman, a young woman whom Wurzelbacher called "sweetie" during a brief Q&A, was
browsing when the PA announced that Joe was in the house. "I'm missing pottery class for this," she said.

You know what I especially love about the rise and fall of this gormless nitwit? The fact that he, like so many other intellectual midgets before him, has been hailed by the Republican party as the embodiment of a "real American." As if those of us who, for example, manage to pay our taxes and speak in coherent sentences, should by all rights pack up and move to France. The irony is breathtaking: this guy is somehow the real thing, according to the right-wingers, yet he goes by a fake name and lied about being a licensed plumber. It's as if there was a Women Who are Proud of Having Real Boobs organization, and they appointed Pamela Anderson as their spokesperson. Makes no sense. Just ain't right.

Luckily for the rest of us, it looks like old "Joe," or Sam, or whatever the hell his actual name is, is about to shuffle off into the obscurity he so richly deserves.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Separated at birth?

(With apologies to Don Knotts.)

Another thing about Facebook

Your friends post all these old pictures, which of course are a blast to look at, but then again you're forced to recognize how much you've aged! Here's me and a bunch of college friends in 1993. I'm 24. I'm in the middle next to the guy with the sunglasses. Mr. Fraulein said, "You don't look that different," but of course he has famously bad eyesight. Oh the humanity...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"I want to sit on your lap forever"

She is getting so tall now, my Peanut. In a few more weeks she'll be four and a half, which is very hard to believe. I always know when she's about to go up to the next clothing size when suddenly her feet start to look big for her body. It's really funny.

The other day she said to me, "I wish I could sit on your lap forever." If only!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Political Suicide

Guest posted by Broadway Carl

It's amazing to me that some of these insane Republican Governors would even fathom the idea of refusing federal aid for their states to make political hay. South Carolina's Mark Sanford has been the most vocal when it comes to the recovery bill.
“We’re moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy,” Sanford also said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
...“That is quite different than a market-based economy where some rise and some fall but there’s a consequence to making a stupid decision,” Sanford said after pointing to the powers granted to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to help deal with the current economic crisis.
I wonder if Sanford will make the "stupid decision" of letting his state starve instead? Hell, he waited until the last possible second before asking for money to shore up unemployment benefits in the state with the third highest unemployment rate at 9.5%, so I wouldn't put it past him.

But we all know that in general, Republicans are hypocrites.

Sanford: "Being against it doesn't preclude taking the money."

Lindsey Graham on CNN after being asked if South Carolina should take the money: “I think that, yes, from my point of view, I — you don’t want to be crazy here."

Is it just me or is this like force feeding a baby to eat his beets? We know it's good for them, but they turn their heads and make a stink and cry and moan and wail because they don't like the taste of what's best for them.

I say, let them drink the political hemlock. If they seriously think that threatening to refuse money based on some set of misguided principles, or touting the funds they got in the bill through amendments they then voted against are going to help them in their upcoming campaigns, go right ahead and jump off that cliff. I'll be the one playing the pipe as they leap off the egde.

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No one could have predicted that this would end badly

It's stories like this one that make a person marvel that the human race hasn't gone extinct yet through our own stupidity:

Huge chimp shot dead after mauling woman in Conn.

By STEPHANIE REITZ (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
February 17, 2009 12:50 PM EST

HARTFORD, Conn. - A 200-pound domesticated chimpanzee who once starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola was shot dead by police after a violent rampage that left a friend of its owner badly mauled.

These people had a 200-pound chimpanzee living in their house. In Connecticut. Doesn't everyone on your suburban block have a wild animal stashed in the basement? Maybe their next-door neighbors have a lion on a leash? In all seriousness--WTF? But wait: it gets worse...

Police have dealt with him in the past, including an incident in 2003 when he escaped from his owners' vehicle in downtown Stamford for two hours. Officers used cookies, macadamia treats and ice cream in an attempt to lure him, but subdued him only after he became too tired to resist.

At the time of the 2003 incident, police said the Herolds told them the chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass. He also brushed his teeth using a Water Pik, logged onto the computer to look at pictures, and watched television using the remote control, police said.

So to recap, not only did these maniacs keep a chimpanzee as a pet, they also let him drink wine. And this arrangement went sour--imagine that!

UPDATE: Not just wine -- also Xanax. As Bob Cesca would say, "Smart!"

I am utterly fascinated by this story. What exactly was the thought process here? Did this woman think: "I know what would be awesome: I'll adopt this gigantic wild animal, dress him up like a person, keep him living in completely unsuitable conditions, and then drug him up with pharmaceuticals meant for humans. What could go wrong?"

I just don't get it. But I do think she should go to jail. How it could be legal for someone to keep an animal like this in an ordinary home is beyond me. Whether it was legal or not, she should be held responsible for what happened to the friend who was unfortunate enough to get in the chimp's way as the poor animal made his final bid for freedom. Just completely sad all the way around.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yes Pecan!

Guest posted by Broadway Carl

I just received this e-mail and laughed so hard, I had to share.

Ben & Jerry created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama.

[This is true. The rest of it, I'm not so sure.]

They then asked people to fill in the blank to the following:
For George W. they created "_________".

Here are some of their favorite responses:

~ Grape Depression
~ Abu Grape
~ Cluster Fud
~ Nut'n Accomplished
~ Iraqi Road
~ Chock 'n Awe
~ Wire Tapioca
~ Impeach Cobbler
~ Guantanmallow
~ imPeachmint
~ Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker. .. Swirl
~ Heck of a Job, Brownie!
~ Neocon Politan
~ Rocky Road to Fascism
~ The Reese's-cession
~ Cookie D'oh!
~ The Housing Crunch
~ Nougalar Proliferation
~ Death by Chocolate... and Torture
~ Credit Crunch
~ Country Pumpkin
~ Chunky Monkey in Chief
~ George Bush Doesn't Care About Dark Chocolate
~ WM Delicious
~ Chocolate Chimp
~ Bloody Sundae
~ Caramel Preemptive Stripe
~ I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands... with nuts

Since posting, it has been confirmed that while Obama's new Ben and Jerry's flavor is authentic, the ice cream company is not making a flavor for George W. Bush.

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Things Republicans don't mind spending money on

Here is what is infuriating about the uproar over President Obama's economic stimulus package: the very same people who are screaming that the U.S. government is setting taxpayer money on fire by using it for upgrading the electrical grid and fixing crumbling bridges, had, and STILL HAVE, absolutely no problem with the trillions of dollars the U.S. has spent on the Iraq war. Money flushed down the toilet. Wasted--for nothing. Well, except guaranteeing that most of the Middle East will continue to hate us for generations to come.

This is a major point that you rarely hear made by the TV news empty suits. Why is "government spending" a horrible travesty when the money goes to building schools and cleaning up toxic waste sites in our own backyards? Why is it not only OK, but utterly necessary, according to the Republicans, to spend trillions of dollars of public money on wars of choice? Because putting on a show--homeland security theater, if you will--trumps all other considerations? Because as long as their buddies in the defense and oil industries are raking in the cash, that's all that matters? That's what it's about, and the leadership of the GOP knows it. The question is when ordinary citizens who tend not to pay attention to politics are going to figure this out.

I wonder if we are beginning to see a shift in public thinking on this issue. I think Obama's election was just the beginning. As people's 401ks and other investments continue to tank and their jobs become more precarious--as more and more people lose their homes--the consequences of eight years of indiscriminate tax cuts for the uber-wealthy are becoming increasingly clear. The math just doesn't work. You can't simply remove a vast chunk of the public wealth from the government's coffers, in the form of the war spending and the tax cuts, and then expect things to magically continue to function as they always have. Infrastructure falls apart after a while. Schools crumble. If you never spend money to fix anything, well, things don't get fixed. I think people are starting to figure this out. It's really not that complicated.

The peril for the GOP will be the moment when a critical mass of Americans FINALLY gets this point. Once people realize that for the past 30 years, this line they've been feeding us about how "government is the problem" is actually bullshit, the Republicans are done. And they know it. This is why they are fighting Obama tooth and nail over this stimulus spending. The outcome of this fight will determine what trajectory our country takes over the coming generations.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The trolls are having a party at Bob Cesca's

Have you noticed, Carl -- they're out in force over there today! I think you should go get 'em!! It seems they're being driven insane by the sheer force of Bob Cesca's genius:

The far-right will never grasp or accept the fact that government spending stimulates growth -- double the growth that's created by tax cuts. I mean, the government could allocate funds to tear down the Washington Monument and, in its place, rebuild four replica monuments made out of ham, and such spending would create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I think it's all animated movies for me from here on in

I saw two movies this weekend, one ostensibly a kids' movie, and one a "grown-up" film. Anyone care to guess which one I actually enjoyed?

On Saturday night I had a very rare girls' night out with a friend. We had Mexican food for dinner and then saw "Revolutionary Road," which we both thought we'd like since it's gotten a fair amount of Oscar buzz. Good God in heaven, sitting through this was like having root canal work done. What I want to know is when it became acceptable to completely dispense with the idea of plot in the movies. When the characters start out screaming at each other from almost the very first frame, with absolutely no context or back story or explanation, for some reason the filmmakers think this will be riveting. To me it was just mystifying.

So it's the 1950s and everybody's a chain-smoking drunk, apparently, and everyone ignores their kids 95 percent of the time, and in a vague generalized sense, they have angst. In the viewer, this creates questions: Why specifically do they have angst? And why should I give a shit? The filmmakers have told me exactly nothing about the characters, so why should I care if they hate each other and their marriage is falling apart? It's evidently supposed to be entertainment enough to watch Leonardo DiCaprio (who is looking weirder as he ages, with those child-like features becoming obscured by creeping middle age) and Kate Winslet, who is certainly capable of much better acting, shrieking at one another in naked pursuit of Oscar nominations. The whole thing was an ordeal to sit through. I want my $10 back!

Then there was Madagasacar 2, which we watched on DVD after having seen part of it in the theater a while back. (We had to leave early because the Peanut was freaked out by the scary parts.) As I've said before, the people making kids movies these days (Dream Works in this case) seem much more concerned with delivering a satisfying story. And while the Pixar folks are the undisputed masters of computer animation, this film shows that Dream Works is capable of giving them a serious run for their money. Some of the animation work here is astonishingly sophisticated. Fast, funny, engaging and moving, this movie was every bit as good as its predecessor, which you can't always say about sequels.

That said, I do have one gripe: why must the scary bits be SO scary? It's fine for, say and 8- or 10-year old to see the terrifying shark trying to eat the cute little lemur guy--not so great for a 4-year-old. Same thing for the use of an actual child's voice for baby lion Alex in the scene where he is being abducted by poachers. This certainly added realism, but it's disturbing to hear a real kid crying "Daddy!" in that scene. We had to fast-forward through that part when the Peanut was watching, and then watching it ourselves later after she went to bed, we found it terribly off-putting.

But, even given that issue, give me the latest and greatest from Pixar or Dream Works before some lumbering pretentious novel adaptation any day of the week.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Obama Fights Back - Washington Post Editorial

Guest posted by Broadway Carl

This is something we're not used to seeing from Presidents. I can't remember if President Bush wrote anything, speeches, editorials, a book report on "My Pet Goat"?

President Barack Obama took his pen to paper and wrote an editorial regarding the economic struggle that we find ourselves in and the urgency of passing the Economic Recovery Bill currently in the Senate in the Washington Post today.

In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We've seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.
Now, some will say that this is beneath the President. Why is he writing editorials in the Washington Post? The answer is because he can. I don't know if it's my perception or if the media is following Obama with a fine tooth comb, but I don't ever recall any President having or maybe wanting this much media access to bring his message directly to the American people. There he was on all the nightly newscasts answering for the Daschle withdrawal. Have you ever seen anything like it? With this President the words, "The buck stops here," isn't just a funny little catchphrase. He actually means it.

Some will suggest that the editorial sounds like fearmongering. I vehemently disagree. The President's editorial isn't fearmongering if there is truth to it. There are no false qualifiers here, no deception, no lies to persuade. We are in deep, deep trouble and every day we wait it gets worse. There is no falsehood to that. There's a difference between laying out the dire circumstances for all to see and fearmonging to scare up votes by saying something like, "...if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States." See the difference?

I also disagree with those who think that President Obama didn't have to send this message. So far, this recovery bill has been based on the framing of the argument. The Republicans have framed the debate on this bill as "pork laden." Rush Limbaugh calls it "porkulus" in front of 14 million weekly listeners. (And he certainly know something about porkulus.) The GOP has capitalized and zeroed in on a fraction of one percent of the recovery bill for their political advantage and framed the entire bill it as a pork laden wish list. They public thinks it looks like pork because the Democrats are sitting back while the Republicans, with the blatant or inadvertent help of the media, are framing it as wasteful spending. And if the public gets that perception, then that's what they'll believe because the media is never wrong. Where is the rebuttal from Democratic leaders explaining why these measures are in the bill?

$200 million for Medicaid on contraception will save $60 billion in government medical costs in the future. Sounds like a good investment. $21 million for the National Mall will put arguably thousands to work to repair the crumbling foundations of our national monuments. But the GOP calls this "$21 million for grass." The list goes on and on, and instead of the Democratic leaders rebutting these ridiculous pork notions, they are either nervously wringing their hands in silence or aren't getting the air time to rebut. The only Congressman I saw defending contraception was Robert Wexler (D-FL), who explained it rationally and logically on Hardball with Chris Matthews. And when he was done, he still got a "I don't understand what you're talking about," from an obtuse Phil Gingrey, the same Congressman who's apologized to Rush Limbaugh for his brief moment of clarity.

Maybe the President did make one mistake. In the interest of bipartisanship, President Obama compromised too much; he backed off to a fault with initial GOP resistance and it was perceived as a validation of Republican complaints. But what happened? After he accommodated them, House Republicans rejected the bill anyway. And the more it went on, the more we saw the political endgame that they would have rejected it no matter what the President did just to send a message.

Well, now it's the President's turn to send a message. It's the Democratic leaders' turn to send a message and make the obstructionists decide that if they really want to fight this thing, they're going to have to filibuster for it. No pansy ass cloture votes. Make them filibuster.

The only mistake the President made regarding the Washington Post editorial was not going far enough. This was a statement that needed to be made on prime time television in front of a national audience.

Cross-posted on Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Letting the sun shine in

In the early 1990s, fresh out of college, I began my career as a newspaper reporter. My career in the news business was pretty average--I toiled somewhat anonymously at a variety of weekly and daily papers, covering car accidents and fires, town council meetings and court hearings, parades and funerals and school board meetings. I worked for several years before my employer thought to invest in this crazy newfangled Internet thing. Once we got it, the whole concept was so alien to us that most of my colleagues avoided any attempt to do research on the Internet in favor of the reporting tools that had worked just fine for us up until that point--the telephone and the strength of our relationships with our sources.

But sources, no matter how solid, can only bring a reporter so far. When you're covering a complex issue of national import like, for example, proposed military base closings (which I wrote about extensively during this period) you inevitably run up against the limits of what your sources know--or what they're willing to tell you. The Freedom of Information Act is a powerful tool that can be used by every reporter, whether at a lowly weekly or the New York Times, to shine light on issues of great importance to the public. FOIA requires federal agencies to release (with certain exceptions) requested non-classified information pertaining to the activities of the federal government. The request can come from any citizen, but reporters tend to rely on FOIA the most (even today, when the Internet has made it so much simpler for reporters to research most topics). The idea is to keep the government honest.

So you can imagine what happened to FOIA under George W. Bush. As Leslie Harris wrote on Huffington Post:

For the last eight years, government agencies were encouraged to thwart FOIA requests twisting the broad language in the Act in favor of secrecy. Under Bush, FOIA restrictions were routine, often bizarre and sometimes outright laughable. For example, the names of drugs forced used on the prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay were withheld because releasing the information would be considered a violation of 'personal privacy.' Schedules of agency officials were deemed off-limits and information once widely available on the Internet, such as information about toxic chemical spills, essentially became invisible to scrutiny.

It's just another example of how Bush and his minions went out of their way to hide the extent of the damage they did to our country. Now, with Bush mercifully gone and Barack Obama running the show, FOIA has gotten a new lease on life. Obama has directed federal agencies to take FOIA requests seriously, in stark contrast to the obstructionism of the last eight years under the Republicans. The importance of this is hard to overstate. Imagine a government operating in the sunlight instead of skulking about in the shadows. It's a win not only for journalists, but for all of us.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

You've never seen them in the same place, right?

This made me laugh out loud: Antique Mommy and I are apparently married to the same guy. (He's Antique Daddy, or AD in this post.) Like Mr. Fraulein, Antique Daddy is also an engineer. Coincidence? I think not.

THURSDAY UPDATE: I stand corrected -- seems like AD is in a technical field of some kind but is not actually an engineer. Sounds like the same pack rat rules still apply though!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Terrible Towels"?

So I really, really don't pay attention to sports -- but I can't possibly be the only person who has zero idea what this is about:

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Thousands of Pittsburgh Steelers fans lined downtown streets Tuesday cheering and twirling Terrible Towels at a parade celebrating the team's victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday's Super Bowl, the sixth for the storied franchise.

Um, WTF? Nowhere in the AP story is this explained. Bad journalism.