I’m as terrified as you to learn that I apparently agree with Sarah Palin

by lestro

So let’s just get this out of the way: Sarah Palin is not only one of the Dumb, but Dumb Royalty. She’s a Queen of Dumb, with her folksy aw shucks-isms and half-misremembered facts and pure unadulterated bullshit, all in front of reality tv cameras that few seem capable of turning away from.

I mean, I really don’t see her appeal.  And I’m from “Real America,” straight down to the three dairy farms on the road where I grew up.

Because she is Dumb.  Not just willfully, but straight-up Dumb.  (As opposed to Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry, who appear to be more willfully Dumb than actually Dumb.)

So imagine my surprise to find out that when you set your decoder ring on ‘guano,’ Sarah Palin is actually saying some of the same things I have been saying about politics.

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

That’s, um, difficult for a progressive punk rocker to disagree with.

“Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done?” she said, referring to politicians. “It’s because there’s nothing in it for them. They’ve got a lot of mouths to feed — a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along.”

I mean, fuck; she’s not wrong.  That is EXACTLY why nothing gets done.

I mean:

“This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk,” she said of the crony variety. She added: “It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest — to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners — the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70 percent of the jobs in America.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult to not read those quotes in her overwrought squeak-accented cheerleader cadence and  then simply dismiss it as sarcastic pandering to the downtrodden, but somehow reading it on the page…  I mean, if I didn’t tell you it was Sarah Palin, you’d have never guessed.  Never.

You’d have probably guessed I was throwing a curveball and trying to trip President Obama up with something Candidate Obama said.

But it’s Sarah Palin.  The candidate who invented “death panels,” is qualified to be president because Russia is right over the border and can’t name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagrees.

Go ahead, go back and re-read those quotes in your best Zach de la Rocha voice instead of Tina Fey’s, and they sound, you know… like the change we kind of hoped for.

Now, obviously I disagree greatly with Sarah Palin on the solutions to these issues and can never, ever support her to be anything more than a guest at the White House, but the idea that she could consider this whole anti-corporate thing an issue worth talking about puts her ahead of most of the candidates on either side.

So something tells me there is a wire crossed here, a context or something that is missing.  I mean, there’s no way Sarah Palin is out there waving one of those Adbusters corporate america flags, especially given the policies she has supported – a much more realistic indicator of the type of Dumb she would unleash across this great nation.

But maybe that’s a language difference and there is common ground that can be found.

Then again, maybe the reporter is simply over-thinking Palin, with the hope of finding something more than the empty-headed celebutard she appears to be, and thus justifying all the attention we pay her.

Personally, I think this only further proves the theory that “Sarah Palin” is a performance artist a la Andy Kaufman or Borat, just fucking with us to see how far she can push it before we call her on it.

Now more than ever, it’s the only logical explanation.

Right?

it wasn’t gamesmanship, it was a matter of great national business

by lestro

We can keep telling ourselves that all we want, but once again, John Boehner pulled one over on President Obama and Obama rolled right the fuck over for it without even asking why…

There was in fact one roll call vote Wednesday night: “Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.”

Well thank fucking christ we put off a talk by the President of the United States on the single most important topic facing the nation right now so that we could make sure that the Special Olympics torchrun can go on.  That must be something they had to pass immediately, right?  So important it couldn’t wait.  It has to be, like this weekend, right?

Quick!  To the bill summary!

Authorizes the use of the Capitol grounds for the 26th Annual District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run on September 30, 2011.

Hm.  That, uh, doesn’t seem all that important.  Perhaps there was something more that prevented the House from having the leader of the free world in to talk about the nation’s struggling economy and what to do about it…

The House did do a little more business than give its nod to the torch run (which will begin from the west terrace of the Capitol and continue along the grounds). Members discussed trade and unemployment and gave hearty congratulations to the girls all-stars team from North Carolina, which has made the Little League World Series. The House met at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and adjourned at 9:36 p.m.

Oh.  Then I suppose the President of the United States can wait…

Language is Important

by lestro

You’d think the guy who as a candidate ran such a successful media campaign based around the words ‘change’ and ‘hope’ would recognize the importance of language and phrasing, but sometimes I wonder about this guy.

For example, I am reading over the text of the president’s labor day speech from yesterday and this jumped out at me:

And everywhere I went while I was running for this office, I met folks who felt their economic security slipping away, men and women who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat.  And that was even before the economic crisis hit, and that just made things even harder.

The problem is not that it isn’t true, the problem is that it makes it sound as though the ‘economic crisis’ hit on his watch, when the FACT is that it did not.

By telling people that when he was a candidate times were hard, but that’s nothing compared to what happened since, he is essentially telling people “no, you are not better off than you were when I was elected.”

and that is NO way to keep the White House.

I mean, I agree with much of what he said – and a lot of it is good, important stuff – but if I were him, I would still be constantly reminding people that he is still trying to clean up someone else’s mess, instead of essentially telling them – reminding them “yeah, it’s only gotten worse since you gave me the keys…”

The public generally still blames the Republicans – especially President Bush – for the current mess, yet the Republicans are still pushing the exact same plans that got us into this mess as the solutions to get us out.

That’s Dumb.

But what’s even Dumber is that the president doesn’t seem to be trying to counter them by saying things like “and that was before we recognized the depth of economic troubles were were in” or “when I started running for office I met people who felt security slipping away, and by the time I took office, things were even harder thanks to the economic policies of the right wing…”

I mean give me something here, Mr. President.  Don’t just roll over and take it.

It’s like the president has Stockholm Syndrome or something.

Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold

by lestro

I was just reading the NYT article about how Hoosiers (one of the oddest demonyms ever) are responding to the announcement that Evan Bayh is not seeking re-election, and the collective “what the fuck?” reaction mirrors my own. The guy pulled a half-Palin.  He copped out.  He bailed.  The Republicans weren’t playing nice so he took his senate seat and went home.

Now, he’ll serve his full term, which is why it’s a half-Palin as opposed to full, but still, when the going got tough, Evan Bayh turned tail and ran. And his constituents are confused.

“This is a Republican state and he’s a Democrat, so that tells you what people think of him,” said Mr. Kruse, 69. “He’s been a very good man for this state, and I do wish he had stuck it out.” …

“This shocked me. Honest to God, it did,” Mr. Kruse said. “I did not see it coming. And every time we lose a good Democrat, it hurts the system as far as getting anything done.” …

“It’s very disappointing that someone so dedicated has reached the point that he’s disenchanted with politics,” said Vivian Sallie, 59, a television executive in South Bend, who described herself as a longtime supporter of Mr. Bayh. “I feel let down by the situation our country is in. I feel that it’s our state’s loss and a loss for the country.”

JoAnna Clay, a homemaker in South Bend, added: “It’s a really sad situation. He was the voice for a lot of us, and you got the feeling that he really cared. I think there are not many people in Washington who really care, and that’s the problem. They’d rather fight. But he got tired of fighting.”

“There’s definitely some discouragement here,” she said. […]

For her part, Ms. Clay, 22, said she used to see Mr. Bayh as part of the solution, but not anymore.

“True enough, if he felt like nothing was getting done,” she said, “then he should have stayed to get things done.”

I don’t have a problem with someone saying they are not running again because they want to be with family, or even because they can’t win, but Bayh’s “it’s too hard” response is just icky.  It makes me feel dirty.

Not to mention it gives his kids the perfect reason to drop piano lessons or calculus if they decide it’s too hard for them.

but through it all, my favorite Yeats refrain keeps echoing in my head:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

it’s from “The Second Coming,” one of Yeats’ most powerful and popular poems, which he wrote in the shadow of WWI.

Bayh is generally respected as one of the “best” and yet, he lacks all conviction.  Meanwhile, the tea party is full of passionate intensity, despite being morons who don’t even have their facts straight, let alone their ideas.

Bayh’s replacement? we’ll have to wait and see. but me and Yeats are not particularly optimistic.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

turnabout is fair play

by lestro

In a column about “The folly of Palin’s high-priced populism” in today’s WaPo, there’s this bit from Senator John Cornyn about how Wall Street is now donating money to Republicans instead of Democrats because they don’t like the way the president is talking about them anymore.

Which, by the way, if I was the president I would be crowing about: “Look at this! I got more money from Wall Street than any other industry, yet I am not beholden to them and do what is best for the American people, not Wall Street, and they’ve noticed, so now they are donating money to the Republicans in an attempt to stop me from getting YOUR money back and creating regulations to prevent them from destroying the economy AGAIN in the future…”

But I digress.  Back to the quote, which I think is the exact question the Republicans should be asking themselves:

Meanwhile, John Cornyn, the head of the committee in charge of raising dough for Republican Senate candidates, has been making regular trips to New York. “I just don’t know how long you can expect people to contribute money to a political party whose main plank of their platform is to punish you,” Cornyn told the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Republicans wonder why they don’t ever get the middle class vote, the gay vote, the black vote, the hispanic vote or the labor vote and have to rely on the rich and the gullible (including the exceedingly religious, who believe that two people who had two sons somehow populated the entire planet) to fill out the party ranks…

I mean come on, you idiots.  Not only is sucking up to Wall Street to get their money not exactly a smart maneuver in today’s political climate, but at least listen to your own advice when it comes to your party…

The old ways are the best ways

by lestro

On June 17, 1972, five guys working for then-president Richard Nixon’s political henchmen (known as “the Plumbers” because they “plugged leaks”) broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. and fix the taps the Republicans had put on the Democrats’ phones during a previous break-in. The burglars were wearing blue surgical gloves and had their pockets stuffed with hundreds…

This time, however, a security guard noticed the tape the burglars had put across the latches of the locks on the doors and called the police.

The resulting scandal eventually forced Nixon to resign the presidency and slink back to California bathed in the stench of shame and flagrant assholery. It also gave rise to the now ubiquitous “-gate” ending for any and every political scandal and reinforced the journalist’s role as a watchdog for the people (thank you Woodward and Bernstein).

So?

Well, here we are 37 years later and the right wing still hasn’t learned a goddamn thing:

Four people were arrested on Monday for allegedly posing as telephone technicians and trying to tap the phones of Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, in her New Orleans office.  [...]

All four of the people arrested in New Orleans were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. At least two of the four people were dressed in telephone company work clothes and construction hats when they were arrested.

go team! I guess those who fail to learn from history ARE doomed to repeat it.

Among those arrested was James O’Keefe, most known for his law-breaking, vigilante-style videos at offices of the organization formerly known as ACORN, with himself dressed as a pimp trying to get some financial advice with one of his whores (Hannah Giles) and appearing to depict ACORN workers “giving advice about tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution.”

His disguise in the first video was definitely better though.

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define “astroturf”

by twit

One of the more annoying side effects of the leftish side of the blogosphere remaining so quiet about the “Ellie Light” fracas is that they have much longer memories than I do about various ‘astroturfing’ incidents, and they could contribute to a discussion about this far better than I’ll be able to.

So what is astroturfing?  This was one of the examples that I was thinking of:

Last month, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) announced a congressional investigation of the DC lobbying firm Bonner & Associates. The firm, which has a long history of astroturfing, was caught forging anti-clean energy reform letters — purportedly from groups representing women and people of color — to Congress.

When I think of “astroturf,” I think of something that is fake and pretending to be something it’s not.  Politically, it is a corporation or political organization pretending to be individual members of the public.  They pretend to be individuals who have spontaneously decided to speak out and have no apparent connection to the organization.

I doubt that “Ellie Light” is connected to a corporation or organization, along the lines of what Ann Althouse has said, because a skilled astroturfer just wouldn’t be so stupid.  So “Ellie Light” doesn’t really fit the definition.   I think that “Ellie Light” used a version of ‘astroturf’ tactics by pretending to speak as a local resident, but I find it hard to believe at this point that there was encouragement or payment for such a deceitful and poorly executed stunt.

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an Ellie Light list

by twit

The Ellie Light phenomenon was first reported by Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, by way of the Drudge Report:

“It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything,” said a letter from alleged Philadelphian Ellie Light, that was published in the Jan. 19 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News.A letter from Light in the Jan. 20 edition of the San Francisco Examiner concluded with an identical sentence, but with an address for Light all the way across the country in Daly City, California.

Variations of Light’s letter ran in Ohio’s Mansfield News Journal on Jan. 13, with Light claiming an address in Mansfield; in New Mexico’s Ruidoso News on Jan. 12, claiming an address in Three Rivers; in South Carolina’s The Sun News on Jan. 18, claiming an address in Myrtle Beach; and in the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia on Jan. 15, claiming an address in Waynesboro. Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, IowaPennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.

and then there were more.  and more.  and more.  and then I found a new one (and another) (and another).  I checked and organized links from the Cleveland Plain Dealer articles and the Paterrico posts (including the comments) to look at all this and get a sense of the unfolding story.

so it appears to begin, much like everything else, on the Internet…

Internet

January 7, 2010. Politico. no address.

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Negative attention is still attention

by lestro

Well, the GOP’s 2012 VP nominee-in-waiting, Newt Gingrich, is out waving his arms and and yelling at the top of his lungs, hoping to draw the spotlight of relevance back to himself.

This time, he is attacking the Speaker of the House, his old post, as a “trivial politician” and saying she has disqualified herself from the office she holds.

But I am not quite sure how. Dig:

“She charged that the CIA, deliberately and as a matter of policy, violated the law by lying to Congress,” Gingrich writes in the column. “And with that allegation, Speaker Pelosi disqualified herself from the office she holds.”

“Speaker Pelosi has damaged America’s safety,” Gingrich also writes. “She’s made America less secure by sending a signal to the men and women defending our country that they can’t count on their leaders to defend them.”

The second graph is the same old bullshit song and dance the Republicans have been doing since they ran out of ideas (and hasn’t worked at all in the past two election cycles, by the way), but the first doesn’t even make sense.

I mean, if the CIA did deliberately and a matter of policy lie to Congress – and frankly, it looks like they did. Repeatedly. At the behest of the Bush Administration, which deliberately and as a matter of policy lied not only to Congress but the American people and even each other.  – then Pelosi did her duty (albeit late) in informing the public of said lies.

The problem here is not that she is accusing them of lying, but THAT THEY LIED ABOUT TORTURING PEOPLE.

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Crying wolf?

by lestro

So Pelosi held a press conference yesterday to discuss what she knew about torture and when she knew it.

Turns out she was briefed in 2003.  I think.  It’s tough to really tell.

At a tense press conference, Ms. Pelosi said for the first time that a staff member alerted her in February 2003 that top lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee had been briefed on the use of tough interrogation methods on terror suspects.

Her excuse is somewhere between stupidity and Bush, which, I admit, is not that great a distance.

But she said the fact that she did not speak out at the time due to secrecy rules did not make her complicit in any abuse of detainees. She accused the C.I.A. and Bush administration of lying to Congress about what was actually transpiring with the detainees.

“I am saying that the C.I.A. was misleading the Congress and at the same the administration was misleading the Congress on weapons of mass destruction,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Link it to other lies. Beautiful. The Bush Admin obviously, 100 percent misled Congress and the American People about WMD and the Iraq-al Qaida link during the run up to the Iraq war.  It only makes sense they’d do the same thing about torture.

Boehner, however, was right on top of her, though he is arguing her point…

Republicans immediately took issue with the speaker’s comments, saying that she was in essence blaming the intelligence professionals for misleading her.

Why is that so tough to believe, considering the nation’s top intelligence official told the president that WMD in Iraq was a “slam dunk” and helped mislead the entire country into war?

That is what happened, Johnny my boy, keep the fuck up.

The Republican-driven furor over what Ms. Pelosi knew about waterboarding and other techniques has put the speaker on the defensive. She repeatedly referred to a carefully prepared statement to respond to multiple questions at the session with reporters.

Ms. Pelosi blamed the dispute on Republicans and others, saying they are trying to shift attention from those who authorized the interrogations and other tactics now found to be questionable.

Republicans have said the speaker was now criticizing the Bush administration for abusing terror suspects when she herself was aware of it at the time.

“This is a diversionary tactic to take the spotlight off of those who conceived, developed and implemented these policies, which all of us long opposed,” Ms. Pelosi said.

I love the “Republican-driven” bit in there because it really shows that if anyone wants it both ways, it is Boehner.

Shit, in 2003 Pelosi wasn’t even the speaker, Denny Hastert was. Shouldn’t they be all over his shit?

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There’s got to be a better way

by lestro

From the Seattle PI on May 14, 2009:

The nation’s new drug czar looks like he has no interest in being the commanding general of a war on drugs.

Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle’s former police chief, says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he wants to end using the phrase “war on drugs.”

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” Kerlikowske said in his first interview since being confirmed for the federal post. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”

Damn right.

We are never going to “defeat” drugs and Kerlikowske is right about it being a war on the American people. We should change our language to reflect that we are trying to reduce abuse and help those locked in a cycle of addiction.

I don’t know what that word is, but I am 100 percent sure it is NOT “war”…

Make Trek, Not Wars

by lestro

I love this:

Inside the White House, a tight circle of advisers has already been selected and office space has been set aside in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. But aides said their surroundings would purposely not be called a “war room,” because of the combative image that the term suggests.

“We would like to put the confirmation wars of the past behind us,” one White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the selection process, “and have signaled that with our consensus-oriented, non-confrontational approach to appellate court nominations.”

LOVE it.

I absolutely hate all of the war metaphors we use in this country.  Everything is a war: war on drugs, war on terror, war on poverty, etc.

This creates an adversarial tone and belittles what an actual war is.  Besides, the government is losing the war on drugs and the war on poverty.  Which means stoners and the starving are winning!

That’s bad.

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Rights and benefits denied

by lestro

After reading this article in today’s New York Times, it is literally impossible to continue saying that marriage does not provide certain rights and benefits that are being denied to an entire class of people (to use the legal term) while being bestowed on another.

And that is wholly unamerican and unconstitutional.

Today’s article is about health care and how difficult it is for gay couples to get the same benefits married couples get simply by signing a legal contract denied to a certain percentage of the population:

Same-sex couples have been making headlines; Maine followed the lead of Iowa and Vermont this week in legalizing same-sex marriage, and several other state legislatures are now considering it. But Ms. Hudson says that fairer and more comprehensive health care coverage for partners — whether they are legally married or not — is not necessarily part of the package.

“For the vast majority of gay couples,” she said, “getting health insurance for a domestic partner is still a challenge.”

[…]

Even if the relationship is formalized with the state in a marriage or union, that does not always obligate the employer to cover a same-sex spouse. For one thing, self-insured employers are not regulated by the states.

And other benefit-providing employers that choose not to offer such coverage can sometimes use the Defense of Marriage Act — a law that forbids the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage — to trump state laws, said Ilse de Veer, a principal with Mercer.

Let’s review the 14th Amendment while we’re at it, just to make sure we understand why all this is illegal:

…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws…

Without a doubt, gay people are not getting equal protection under the laws, especially in health care.

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The Hawkeye State gets it

by lestro

There was a great article in Sunday’s New York Times about Iowa and the reaction of the citizenry to the Iowa Supreme Court’s allowance of gay marriage. I’ll be honest with you, it was not what I expected, but it really sounds like Iowans get it; they understand the whole idea of America.

I am not sure of the history of Iowa and have only been through there once (I spent a great night in the Quad Cities where I attended a BYOB strip club where I was actually told by the stripper to “grab some titty, boy”), but there seems to be a real libertarian streak that runs through the countryside.

Take this woman, for example, from the town portrayed in the painting “American Gothic.”

“To be honest, I would rather not have it in Iowa,” said Shirley Cox, who has spent most of her 84 years in this old railroad town. Ms. Cox said she had always been proud to tell people what state she was from, but now was not so sure.

“But the thing is,” she went on, “it’s really none of my business. Who am I to tell someone how to live? I live the way I want, and they should live the way they want. I’m surely not going to stomp and raise heck and campaign against it.”

Because I think the visual only adds to it, this is Shirley:
isn’t she great?

What a truly American view on life: it’s not right for me, but what business is it of mine?

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the internets at work

by twit

In Zimbabwe, most people cannot afford to buy a newspaper because of the hyperinflation and most people cannot afford an independent newspaper because of the “luxury tax” on the sale of imported newspapers, including The Zimbabwean, which is printed in South Africa for distribution in Zimbabwe.

according to the internets, this flickr stream is a response, and it includes at least one billboard

update:  from The Zimbabwean on March 31, 2009:

To call attention to thew deplorable situation in Zimbabwe, TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS collected trillions of dollars worth of worthless Zimbabwe currency to create billboards, flyers and wallpaper. The purpose of the campaign is to support The Zimbabwean newspaper which has been slapped by the Mugabe regime with a 55% luxury duty tax making the paper unaffordable to most citizens.

The campaign is running in England and South Africa where it is hoped people will buy the newspaper to support its ongoing coverage of the country’s plight.

and TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS is an ad agency

because they’ve done such a good job

by twit

and they are “worried that the proposals distracting employees

Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., recipients of more than $100 billion in U.S. rescue funds, criticized congressional proposals to tax Wall Street bonuses.

Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis called the tax “unfair” in a memo to employees today, while Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit said his bank is “working in every appropriate way with policymakers.” JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon held a conference call with about 200 executives, saying the firm is concerned about retention and is working with lawmakers.

what are they going to do, move to a private island somewhere and live in a rich-people-only colony?

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Sarah Palin’s campaign against special needs children

by twit

So Sarah Palin is turning down a large chunk of the federal stimulus money for Alaska:

The biggest single chunk of money that Palin is turning down is about $170 million for education, including money that would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students.

But this is Sarah Palin, who will always impress with her capacity to turn her particular brand of heartless politics into an immediately hypocritical statement:

Obama, who made the joke Thursday night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” apologized. But the remark caused an immediate stir.

Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she was “shocked to learn” about Obama’s comment.

“This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world,” Palin said, whose son, Trig, was born with Down syndrome last year. “These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will.

and she should know!  since she is leading the fight to add more challenge and adversity to the lives of special needs children in Alaska…

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lie lie lie half-truth distortion distortion lie lie lie…

by lestro

Notice Gov. Bobby Jindal not answer the question at all:

I live in a volatile seismic area and was troubled by your comment that funding volcano-monitoring is “wasteful.” What makes some spending superfluous? Caitlin Kidder, KENT, WASH.

I listed several examples. It wasn’t just volcano-monitoring. It was $300 million in new cars, a billion dollars for the Census–the list goes on and on. Here’s my point: Why were they in a temporary, targeted stimulus bill? Somebody’s going to have to explain to me how these items were critical to saving our economy.

let’s go back and review that part of his speech, shall we?

While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a “magnetic levitation” line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called “volcano monitoring.”

“something called”? like he’s never heard of a volcano?

it’s obscene, as Jon Stewart pointed out, that a guy whose state got the biggest natural disaster ass-whipping in our nation’s history would so purposefully minimize and belittle another area trying to protect itself from a similar happening.

Just because the Republicans – yes, you too Bobby – didn’t pay any attention at all to the three days worth of warning signs about a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on New Orleans doesn’t mean that some of us wouldn’t like a bit of warning if, say, the top of a mountain were to blow off covering a region more heavily populated than New Orleans with 500 feet of mud, rock and lava.

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Rush Limbaugh is a corpulent dickbag liar

by lestro

I finally got around to watching Rush Limbaugh’s speech from the CPAC conference and I think it demonstrates almost exactly why people do not trust Republicans: We get to actually watch him lie and then fuck up the very thing he claims to “love and revere.”

And they applaud him for it. They actually applaud his ignorance and distortions. Ridiculous.

From Rush Limbaugh’s speech to CPAC on February 28, 2009:

Also, for those of you in the Drive-By Media watching, I have not needed a teleprompter for anything I’ve said. [Cheers and Applause ] And nor do any of us need a teleprompter, because our beliefs are not the result of calculations and contrivances. Our beliefs are not the result of a deranged psychology. Our beliefs are our core. Our beliefs are our hearts. We don’t have to make notes about what we believe. We don’t have to write down, oh do I believe it do I believe that we can tell people what we believe off the top of our heads and we can do it with passion and we can do it with clarity, and we can do it persuasively. Some of us just haven’t had the inspiration or motivation to do so in a number of years, but that’s about to change. [Cheers and Applause]

In the C-Span video, you can see that he, uh, has notes. There is no doubt he is doing a lot of riffing, but then again, his job is to bloviate every day for five hours (the guy can talk), but the fact is he brought out notes.

And he should have used them because he says that “conservatives” are people who “love and revere” our founding documents, and then he says “conservatives” believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains the inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights.

But it does not.  Not at all.  The Declaration does, because it is a statement of philosophy, but the preamble to the Constitution – the document designed to build a government to protect said rights – most assuredly does NOT contain that inarguable truth.  I don’t care what he and the conservatives believe.

Rush:

We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. [Applause] We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness. [Applause] Those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded. We conservatives think all three are under assault. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I’m just saying, maybe the reason people think Rush and the “conservatives” are full of shit is because he says he loves and reveres our founding documents, but hasn’t even studied them enough to tell them apart?

come fucking on.

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The zombie GOP

by twit

comes out to play at CPAC:

“We’re alive,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), who emceed the evening session, said. “We’re not going anywhere. Remember this is ground zero for the conservative movement.”

RNC Chairman Michael Steele competes with Bachmann to see who can make the most cringe-worthy statements:

“Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”

according to CNN, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (yes, that Michelle Bachmann) wins:

As he concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”

“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.

although an alleged “you be da man” video is inconclusive at best

So perhaps Steele wins this round, considering the video shows him ending his speech with “Let’s get busy…  Let’s get out there and fight for those things that we believe in,” which considering the retch-inducing manner that Steele recently invoked a hip-hop costume for the ‘new GOP,’ it is quite the cringe-worthy double entendre to make…

but that was at the end of the day!

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No President Left Behind

by lestro

The former president has some time on his hands these days, so he dropped by a local elementary school’s open house:

Ducking in one room, Bush asked, “Hey, kids, do you know who I am?”

Gasps all around, then someone blurted, “George Washington!”

“That’s right!” the visitor said. “George Washington Bush!”

Well, the middle initial was the same, anyway.

In a dual-language class, Bush tried to introduce himself in Spanish. But it came off a little too twangy. He tried again. Blank looks. Even held up three fingers. You know, a “W.” Still nothing.

Finally, Pershing’s energetic principal, Margie Hernandez, stepped in with a proper Spanish introduction.

Ohhhhhhh.

The kids laughed. The former president laughed. The principal laughed, out of relief, mostly.

… relief that this guy no longer has his finger on the button or at the helm of the education system.

“we’re not talking about some strange nut screaming on a street corner

by twit

… this is all coming from an elected member of Congress.”

via Wonkette, Rep. Michelle Bachmann goes to crazytown on the radio:

Bachmann “explained” to the host and Minnesota audience:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)

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It’s a turn-around jump shot

by twit

It’s everybody jump start

The Obama administration reversed years of U.S. policy Monday by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution, which it described as the world’s gravest chemical problem.

It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts

The statement represented a “180-degree turnaround” from policy under the Bush administration, said Michael Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of 75 environmental organizations working to reduce mercury exposure.

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The President fumbles again

by lestro

This commerce secretary position is proving to be a challenging one for President Obama.

First, Bill Richardson had to pull out because of a federal investigation and now the second choice is pulling out because of “irresolvable conflicts” between his views and the administration.

Which I suppose isn’t surprising considering he’s a Republican and the president is not, and commerce is one of those great yawning chasms between the two parties.

But I have to say, I am very impressed with this statement and the decision by Sen. Judd Gregg to withdraw. I think it shows a level of maturity and understanding that one can’t help but think has been long-missing from our politics.

“It has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census, there are irresolvable conflicts for me,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.” [...]

“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.”

That’s incredible, to give up a cabinet seat because he realizes his views don’t jibe with what the president wants to do. I would think a member of opposite party might want to use such a position to affect policy, but for this dude to simply back off and go back to the senate is somewhat remarkable in my mind.

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Dammit, I’ve got Congress duty

by lestro

There’s a series Rasmussen Polls out that really takes Congress – and especially the Democrats, who are trusted less every day to handle the affairs of the country – to task.

Generally speaking, Congress has a lower approval rating than the president, but since Barack Obama assumed office, this has been even more staggering.  President Obama hovers at an approval rating of about 65 percent while Congress languishes in the 20s and 30s.

Now, the language used in the questions is a bit loose and would seem to create a more wild response just by its nature, but there is no denying a few key facts:

Although an $800-billion-plus economic rescue plan has now passed both the House and Senate, the overwhelming majority of voters are not confident that Congress knows what it’s doing with regards to the economy. Fifty-eight percent (58%) agree, too, that “no matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse.”

and:

Two-thirds of the nation’s voters (69%) lack confidence that Congress knows what it is doing when it comes to addressing the country’s current economic problems. Just 29% are even somewhat confident in the legislators.

and:

When it comes to the nation’s economic issues, 67% of U.S. voters have more confidence in their own judgment than they do in the average member of Congress

but my absolute favorite bit of polling data is this:

Forty-four percent (44%) voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress, but 37% disagree. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

Forty-four percent think that a random selection of Americans could do a better job than our elected officials. Considering that every member of the House and a third of the Senate was elected in November, I wonder why voters didn’t do a goddamn thing about it then. But no matter. Why throw the bums out when it’s easier to just complain?

Then again, everyone hates Congress but loves their own rep, I guess…

But the poll does raise the interesting specter of picking representatives like jury duty.

Imagine, checking your mail one day and getting notification from the federal government that you have been selected to serve in Congress. People would be forced to meet at the courthouse for pool selection and try to get out of having to move to DC.

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Andy Card: still a tool

by lestro

In an interview Wednesday, former White House chief of staff Andy Card had something to say about the less formal approach to things the new president is taking at his old place of employment:

In an interview scheduled to run Wednesday night, Andrew H. Card Jr. told the syndicated news show Inside Edition that “there should be a dress code of respect” in the White House and that he wished Mr. Obama “would wear a suit coat and tie.”

But wait, there’s more!

According to Inside Edition’s Web site, Mr. Card also said:

“The Oval Office symbolizes…the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I’m going to say democracy. And when you have a dress code in the Supreme Court and a dress code on the floor of the Senate, floor of the House, I think it’s appropriate to have an expectation that there will be a dress code that respects the office of the President.”

Once again, Card touches on the great fallacy of the Bush years: The president spent so much time asking himself “what would a president do?” that he forgot to do the business of the country.

Bush didn’t know what he was doing as president, so he was just trying to do what he thought the president would do.  Obama realizes he is the president.  Therefore, what he does is what the president would do:

Mr. Obama has also brought a more relaxed sensibility to his public appearances. David Gergen, an adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents, said Mr. Obama seemed to exude an “Aloha Zen,” a kind of comfortable calm that, Mr. Gergen said, reflects a man who “seems easygoing, not so full of himself.”

America, traditionally, is a meritocracy. You get ahead by earning it, by rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work.

Which, ironically, is what President Obama was doing when all this hoopla started.  George W. Bush, meanwhile, failed up his entire career, running business after business after baseball team into the ground before using his famous last name to vault him into an office he didn’t understand and couldn’t handle. But he sure looked the part, didn’t he?

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When liberals are conservatives and other reality checks

by lestro

Once again, the New York Times seems to have forgotten what “liberal” and “conservative” mean.

This time, it comes in an article about the make-up of the Supreme Court in which the writer looks at the possibility of President Obama replacing a handful of “liberal” justices who are approaching the end of their terms (read: death).

But the problem is not in its portrayal of the court, per se, but the fact that they are confusing liberalism and conservatism with right and left ideological party positions.

For example:

“It is fair to say that the Supreme Court both now and historically has been to the left of the American public,” said Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia and an editor of “Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy” (Oxford, 2008).

“On school prayer, for instance, the Supreme Court is far to the left of the American public,” Professor Persily said, referring to decisions saying that officials may not organize, lead or endorse prayer or devotional Bible reading in the public schools.

“On racial issues, it’s pretty clear from the Michigan cases that the Supreme Court is out of step with the American public,” Professor Persily said of the pair of 2003 decisions allowing public universities to consider race in admissions decisions. (In a 2007 decision, the Roberts court leaned the other way, forbidding public school systems from explicitly taking race into account to achieve or maintain integration.)

Other areas in which the court is to the left of popular opinion, Professor Persily said, are criminal procedure and free speech. Decisions protecting flag burning under the First Amendment, for instance, were quite unpopular.

The fact is that the decisions reached by the court on most of, if not all of those issues, may have pleased the party of liberals and people who consider themselves liberals, but the decisions themselves were actually quite conservative.

At their base form the words “liberal” and “conservative” in this context mean looser and stricter views on government power, not on social mores or issues. “Liberal” means open to wide interpretation while “conservative” means strict constructionist, letter and spirit of the document.

So therefore, a “conservative” reading of the Constitution is one that limits the powers of the government to those specifically listed in the document, while a “liberal” one grants more leeway.

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Madoff determined to strike in the US

by twit

An Op-Ed in the New York Times on January 3, 2009 says that on Nov. 7, 2005, the SEC received a seventeen page document laying it all out about Madoff, including this:

In the “Highly Likely” scenario, wrote Mr. Markopolos, “Madoff Securities is the world’s largest Ponzi Scheme.”

and 2005 wasn’t the first time:

Harry Markopolos sent his report to the S.E.C. on Nov. 7, 2005 — more than three years before Mr. Madoff was finally exposed — but he had been trying to explain the fraud to them since 1999.

I am curious about whether Mr. Markopolos tried to contact anybody else.

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an awful strong Southern accent

by twit

For a New Yorker, Terry McAuliffe sure does have an awful strong southern accent

at least at the beginning of the video announcing his campaign for governor of Virginia…

From the Associated Press on January 4, 2009:

“A native of upstate New York, McAuliffe has lived in Virginia for about 17 years. He lives in the Washington, D.C., suburb of McLean.”

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The Year Anything Was Possible

by lestro

To me, 2008 was The Year Anything Was Possible. I remember the moment it dawned on me. I had been thinking it all year long, but at about 8:27 p.m. (pacific) or so Oct. 29, I realized without a doubt that in 2008 the rules were being re-written and Anything Really Was Possible.

It had been a year of Believing and Hoping and doing the math over and over, but that night, I knew.

By the end of 2007 it seemed as though there was real potential on so many fronts. And as 2008 dawned, the depression and gray cloud that had hung over the US since the USSC handed Bush the White House finally began to peel back.

The end was finally in sight. His time was over. There really was light at the end of this tunnel. We only had to make it through 12 more months, 12 months in which we would see his influence wane as the next presidency began to take shape right before our eyes. On January 1, that still seemed like either Hillary Clinton (most likely) or Rudy Giuliani (equally as likely, really).

But just three days later, the rest of the country caught up to what many of us saw: a new candidate, who not only talked about change but actually, himself, seemed to represent the very shift this country needed – away from the bickering, away from the personal politics, away from the Boomers.

When, on January 3, Barack Obama, a half-black intellectual with a funny name shocked just about every pundit in the country by thrashing both Hillary and John Edwards in the Iowa Caucuses, the buzz began to build: this guy is different.  This guy could actually do it. Was it really possible?

On the Republican side, John McCain, the one-time Maverick who stood up to the establishment in 2000 and gave George W. Bush all he could handle in the primary (before Bush’s people [allegedly] started planting ugly rumors in South Carolina about Mac’s adopted orphan daughter and knocked the real war hero and bipartisan right off the map) was lagging. But thanks to Rudy’s ridiculous and ultimately suicidal decision to entirely forgo the first two contests, there was no clear leader, allowing smiley unknown Arkansas Conservative Mike Huckabee to sneak in and eke out a victory amongst the corn. Anything was Possible.

A few days later, Hillary came roaring back in New Hampshire, a state that was leaning heavily in Obama’s favor until he picked up the victory in Iowa – Anything Was Possible – and Johnny Mac once again found his name at the top of the pile and the buzz began to once again build behind the former war hero who at one time spoke his mind but had since become a Bush apologist. After being all but left for the wolves in late 2007, Mac was once again the guy to beat, especially after Rudy – whose decision to skip NH and IA meant no one had heard a peep from him in the media for weeks – finally folded like an off-suit 7-2 after Florida. Anything was Possible.

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Sweet Caroline, are we really talking about qualifications?

by lestro

Ever since she let it be known that she wanted to be the next senator from the Great State of New York, the biggest question on pundit lips has been ‘Is Caroline Kennedy qualified to be Senator?’

Come on, really?

She even got the dreaded Palin Comparison when in the early stages of all of this, a handler “whisked her away” after a reporter asked why she though she was qualified.

Honestly, how qualified do you really have to be to be a senator? Their job is to talk to each other and try to find compromise.

How about, “I’m older than 30, have been a citizen for more than nine years and I live in the state I am looking to represent. Which, coincidentally, puts me ahead of the person I am looking to replace…”

Fuck, we elect athletes and actors to the senate. The whole point of our system is that anyone can do it.

And let’s not forget that Kennedy would be taking over for someone who also had absolutely no qualifications other than her last name and wasn’t even from the state, but went on to do a pretty good job as senator. Read more of this post

“Turkeys die as Governor Palin takes questions from the media”

by twit

MSNBC promises that they have “blurred out the goriest parts,” but do keep an eye on the MSNBC sub-headlines during the video…  via Wonkette:

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a definition of an “Eisenstadt”

by twit

Specifically, when you make things up out of thin air, and it turns out to be true… see what you want to see…

For example, the idea that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent:

was a hoax apparently true based in some reality, but smeared with an Eisenstadt.  According to the New York Times on November 13, 2008:

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

What is so funny is that before the rumor was exposed as a hoax, Palin’s campaign staff confirmed that it was true there was a basis for the rumor.  ABC News reports on November 14, 2008:

Longtime Palin staffer Meg Stapleton told ABC News’ Kate Snow that Palin had fumbled over an Africa comment, but that it was a misspeak not worthy of the press coverage it received.

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