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.

maybe someday we’ll elect a democrat

by lestro

We did?  Who?

Certainly you can’t mean President Obama:

President Obama abruptly pulled back proposed new national smog standards Friday morning, overruling the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to compel states and communities nationwide to reduce local air pollution in the coming years or face federal penalties.

The move represented a win for the business community, which had lobbied to postpone new restrictions on ground-level ozone — known as smog — until 2013 in light of the economic downturn. It also raised questions about the fate of several other air quality regulations the EPA is preparing to finalize this year.

Well there has to be a good reason, right?  Surely it can’t be that same old bullshit about how investing in the environment has to wait for financial reasons, especially at a time when corporate profits are literally at record highs, right? Let’s go right to the source, the White House press release:

At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.

goddammit.

Ozone, for the record, is a greenhouse gas (which means that even if you don’t believe in such things it traps heat in atmosphere, warming the planet) that is the principal component in smog formation. It harms lungs, causes respiratory distress and is linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature death.

And how can you be sure this is a terrible, terrible move?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) identified several of these regulations as targets for a regulatory rollback the House will vote on this month, and House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel hailed Obama’s decision Friday as “a good first step.”

“If you’re serious about a jobs agenda, the last thing you want to be doing is adding tens of billions of dollars in costs every year,” said Upton, who added that under stricter smog standards communities in his district and across the nation “will lose these jobs, and they will never come back.”

But maybe I am overreacting.  I admit, it happens.  I am a hot head sometimes.  Maybe I am seeing this wrong.

“Obama utterly caved,” said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity, an advocacy group.

Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said, “It’s unfortunate that the administration is siding with big oil over the health of children, seniors, and the infirm.”

Nope, I’m dead on.  So let’s be very clear, this is the Democratic president once again choosing business interests over people.

According to the EPA, depending on what standard it adopted, the compliance costs for industry could range from $19 billion to $90 billion a year by 2020. The tougher standard would yield health benefits worth $13 billion to $100 billion, the agency said.

Did you catch that?  The health benefits would save us more money than this would cost industry (which, again, is seeing record profits again this year).

Now let’s take a look at the 2008 Democratic Platform, the one that got Obama elected with a huge majority and gave him supermajorities in both houses of Congress:

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What Tyranny Actually Means

by lestro

Dear Tea Party,

I couldn’t help but notice that you spend a  lot of time and energy making lots and lots of misspelled signs talking about tyranny, with little to no regard for what the word actually means or whether it could even be remotely applicable to a government made up of elected representatives making votes on potential laws and then having to face voters again, including this year.

Here is a tip: It’s not tyranny. It’s not taxation without representation. It’s absolutely nothing like the circumstances that prompted the original Boston Tea Party, whose name and legacy you are constantly maligning with your idiocy.

I realize that you have no use for history and a total contempt for any facts that might possibly cause you to question or challenge the bullshit, half-truths and lies that Fox News feeds you, content in the knowledge that you will just accept what they say without checking it or even doing a simple Google search to see if it makes any damn sense at all.

Luckily (for our purposes), there is still actual tyranny in the world we can compare our situation to. This is what it looks like.

First, power is consolidated, usually in a non-elected executive position.

Taking the unusual step of limiting its own authority, Iran’s parliament on Wednesday adopted a law that would curb its ability to review regulations issued by the most powerful, un-elected institutions of the state.

It was not immediately clear what forces propelled the parliament to adopt a measure that would formally undermine powers granted to it under the constitution. But the decision seemed to acknowledge the reality that the elected parliament was often blocked from fulfilling its role as a watchdog over the elected and appointed institutions of state.

The legislation did, however, appear another to represent another step in the political evolution of Iran to a state where appointed officials and allies of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wield far more authority than do the elected institutions. That tension between appointed and elected branches has existed since the founding of the Islamic Republic, but the balance lately has tipped steeply in the favor of the Supreme Leader and the appointed institutions.

Next, political opponents are maligned as being unpatriotic and traitorous:

Their regulations now will not be subject to parliamentary oversight but will have to go through another committee — the Supreme Council for Revising Laws — made up of several allies of the leader, as well as the speaker of the parliament.

Since Iran’s disputed presidential election in June, Ayatollah Khamenei and his allies have labeled those who challenge their decisions as enemies of the state. By voting to limit their own powers, members of parliament might have been signaling a desire to avoid confrontation with Ayatollah Khamenei.

Finally, political dissent is outlawed.

Which, as you can tell by the large group of fellow poor spelling demonstrators around you, is not happening at all here.

Now that you know what tyranny is, you can watch for it.   To find further examples, you could begin digging through the past decade worth of bullshit.  Perhaps you’ll be surprised as to what sort of undemocratic and potentially tyrannical bits you might find in the guy the vast majority of you blindly supported for eight years…

Any questions?

Good.

Love and kisses,

Lestro

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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The final frontier

by lestro

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Apollo 11 mission, the absolute apex of the human scientific and engineering experience, the 20th century and American achievement all rolled into one.

To celebrate the event, the NY Times has a long, but exceptional article written by the man who covered the space race the first time around, John Noble Wilford, including details of the run-up to Apollo 11 and what it meant to the country and world, as well as the explanation for how he arrived at one of the single most perfect ledes in the history of print:

I get up and read the articles I have written about the mission up to now. Reporters may feel impelled to write of the next day’s events as the culmination of the space race, the achievement of an ambitious national goal, a historic triumph. I swear to myself that I will not use “historic” in my top paragraph.

I reach for my notebook and try several opening sentences. They must be put on a strict diet. I cross out adjectives. I eliminate clauses that are superfluous and sound too much like heavy music for a movie soundtrack. I begin again: “American astronauts landed.” No, too restrictive and chauvinistic; it will be clear soon enough that the astronauts are American and the goal of a decade has been achieved.

I finally get to the irreducible essence in one short sentence: “Men have landed and walked on the moon.”

Literally, the entire world watched and shared in the joy as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to set foot on a planetary body that was not our own.

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This Memorial Day, why don’t we honor the Nazi dead while we’re at it?

by lestro

UPDATED! SEE BELOW!

There’s a column in Sunday’s Washington Post about something I am afraid to admit I did not know existed.

Apparently, somewhere in Arlington National Cemetery, there is a monument honoring the dead of the Confederate States of America. The monument was dedicated in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson and according to the article, presidents  have since honored the Confederacy’s dead along with those of the United States by sending a wreath on Memorial Day.

The question in the column is whether President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, will and should continue the tradition honoring a nation whose very founding was based on keeping blacks as subservient slaves.

Although it is tough to tell exactly where the author stands on the main issue of honoring Confederates, he expects the president to send a wreath because it is tradition:

Many of my colleagues in academia are urging President Obama to pull the plug on this tradition. I doubt that he will, for the simple reason that the men buried around the Confederate memorial sacrificed, suffered and died just as the black and white soldiers of the Union did. Most of the descendants of those Confederates, whatever their political stripe today, would be loath to deny their ancestors a simple gesture of recognition.

The author goes on to say that the president should send a wreath to the memorial as well as one to the African American Civil War Memorial as a sort of reconciliation.

But I disagree. The president should under no circumstances feel pressure to honor the dead of the enemies of the United States on the holiday designed to honor those who gave their lives for this great nation.

It is also important to note that this is NOT a tradition that goes all the way back. According to the Arlington Cemetery Web site,  (warning: music will play when the page opens. the player is all the way at the bottom of the page) the first President Bush ended said tradition in 1990 and it was not re-instated until the second President Bush started sending wreaths again.

Therefore, President Obama should feel no pressure in having to honor these traitors. It is shameful that President Bush restarted this tradition in the first place.

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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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Family friendly?

by lestro

Yesterday, on The Commentators on KOMO radio in Seattle, they were discussing the law signed today by the Governor, which gives all of the rights and privileges of marriage to domestic partners that spouses automatically get (once again proving my point that not allowing gays to marry in this state is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, as these are rights and privileges granted to one class of people that were denied another) and John Carlson, the show’s right-wing voice (and former Republican candidate for Governor) made reference to states becoming less “family friendly” as they become more “gay friendly.”

And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how those two things were opposites, but I didn’t have time to call in to the station and ask.

Then, this afternoon, as if to prove that “family friendly” and “anti-gay” are not the same thing (as well as providing a perfect example of Washington State’s shiny new “separate but equal” law will fail like every Plessy v. Ferguson before it), the New York Times ran a story about a gay family who had a medical emergency while on vacation.

One woman, part of a longtime couple in Washington state suffered an aneurysm while the family was vacationing in Florida. Essentially, the woman’s partner of 18 years (longer than most “opposite marriages” last) was denied access to see her before she died – as were the couple’s adopted children – and the hospital denied her information about partner’s condition because she was not “real family.”

The details are ugly:

Ms. Langbehn says that a hospital social worker informed her that she was in an “antigay city and state” and that she would need a health care proxy to get information. (The worker denies having made the statement, Mr. Alonso said.) As the social worker turned to leave, Ms. Langbehn stopped him. “I said: ‘Wait a minute. I have those health care proxies,’ ” she said. She called a friend to fax the papers.

The medical chart shows that the documents arrived around 4:15 p.m., but nobody immediately spoke to Ms. Langbehn about Ms. Ponds’s condition. During her eight-hour stay in the trauma unit waiting room, Ms. Langbehn says, she had two brief encounters with doctors. Around 5:20 a doctor sought her consent for a “brain monitor” but offered no update about the patient’s condition. Around 6:20, two doctors told her there was no hope for a recovery.

Despite repeated requests to see her partner, Ms. Langbehn says she was given just one five-minute visit, when a priest administered last rites. She says she continued to plead with a hospital worker that the children be allowed to see their mother, even showing the children’s birth certificates.

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Eight years wasted

by lestro

Today, the president announced plans to change the mileage standards on American cars, increasing them 30 percent in the next eight years.

Which, I admit, is a lot.  It’s going to take some serious work.  But it will be worth it on many fronts.

Here’s what the pres said today:

And that’s why, in the next five years, we’re seeking to raise fuel-economy standards to an industry average of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016, an increase of more than eight miles per gallon per vehicle.  That’s an unprecedented change, exceeding the demands of Congress and meeting the most stringent requirements sought by many of the environmental advocates represented here today.

As a result, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years.  Just to give you a sense of magnitude, that’s more oil than we imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria combined.  (Applause.)  Here’s another way of looking at it:  This is the projected equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year.

That got me to thinking: that’s a whole lot of foreign oil we would no longer be dependent on. And the sooner we start, the more we save. And it’s not only as individual consumers when our cars go further on the same amount of gas (for you American car owners, ask a foreign car owner what that’s like…), but also as a nation when we reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and maybe we can stop wasting so much blood and treasure fighting over sand dunes that happen to have oil deposits below them.

It got me to thinking about how this administration actually doing something about it. That’s a tremendous change from any prior administration since Jimmy Carter, who was laughed at for telling us to conserve energy (and wearing the sweater) and invested heavily in alternate energy until Reagan and his oil money knocked the whole thing down, setting us back about 28 years.

Within 130 days of taking office, Obama actually set new standards, which will work to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Bush never did that, despite talking about it until his fool head nearly fell off.

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The inherent “conservative” hypocrisy

by lestro

One of the main tenets of the “conservative” movement is supposed to be limited government and more individual rights and responsibility.  It is supposed to be about the pure American spirit of liberty: this is my land and ain’t nobody gonna tell me what I can and can’t do.

They want strict readings of the U.S. Constitution, a document that was written with the sole intent of hemming in government power and protecting personal rights of the individual.  It’s all right there in the 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.

The Constitution is the rule structure for our government.  It dictates the limits of what the federal government can do.

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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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The Socialist Hellscape

by twit

of Norway, as reported by the New York Times on May 14, 2009:

… in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent and its ledger is entirely free of debt.

[…] Banks represent just 2 percent of the economy and tight public oversight over their lending practices have kept Norwegian banks from taking on the risk that brought down their Icelandic counterparts. But they certainly have not closed their doors to borrowers.

[…] To Ms. Halvorsen, the finance minister, even the underside of the Norwegian dream looks pretty good compared to the economic nightmares elsewhere.

“As a socialist, I have always said that the market can’t regulate itself,” she said. “But even I was surprised how strong the failure was.”

for future reference, while we wait with baited bated breath for the Republicans to launch their upcoming campaign to ‘rebrand’ Democrats as the “Democrat Socialist Party.”

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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Red dawn feminism

by twit

Lunchbreath.

image via The Daily What

We’ve come a long, long way.

There’s so much more work to do, but I’m not sure that it is appropriate to continue to fly the feminist banner when doing it.

Since history tends to like dates and such, I’ll be so bold as to say that the day American feminism died was when Cosmo laid claim to the third wave.

When a radical movement goes that mainstream, I think that’s as good a sign as any that the tide has turned.

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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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They’re kidding, right?

by lestro

So apparently, the Republicans today released their budget proposal, which is very funny.

Almost as funny as this:

“Two nights ago, the president said we haven’t seen a budget yet of the Republicans,” said House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Well, it’s not true, because here it is Mr. President.” He waved a thin document called “The Republican Road to Recovery” that describes the GOP proposal.

That’s funny because Boehner is trying to do a bit of a Ha-Ha on the pres, making it out as though the president is out of touch and didn’t know the Republicans had a proposal, when the truth is, THEY DIDN’T WHEN HE SAID IT.

How dumb do these guys think we are? oh, right:

Republican lawmakers refused to offer details of how much their alternative budget proposal would cost or how much it would increase the deficit, saying they would release overall numbers next week. Instead, they provided a general outline of proposals that included cutting overall government spending except for defense, banning any additional spending for bailouts of financial companies and a huge income tax cut that would make the maximum tax rate 25% instead of 36% as under current law.

They’re joking, right?

First of all, to complain about the president’s budget and then provide no specifics in what you are touting as the Republican counter-proposal is just fucking dumb.

But beyond that, at a time when government revenues are dropping and spending is increasing to fix the fucking messes created over the past eight years by Boehner and his buddies (who had no problem running up huge deficits and borrowing, borrowing, borrowing when Bush (who never once saw a spending bill he didn’t like) was in office), their plan is to cut taxes for the wealthy AGAIN, putting even more of the tax burden on the backs of the middle class?

Even Michael “Humpty” Steele is more together and sane than this.

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Newspapers are not dead yet, they have just forgotten how to be newspapers

by lestro

In an article about the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, as well as other prominent newspapers leaving their cities as one-newspaper towns, the New York Times continues the industry doomsaying with a prediction of no-newspaper towns.

But even in this incredibly pessimistic piece, the Times stumbles across the great truth, but still somehow misses the main point:

The Tribune Company, for instance, owner of The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and other papers, filed for bankruptcy in December, largely because of its debt load. The reality is that even though the economic climate is hard for newspapers, without their debt payments the publishers in bankruptcy would still make money, as do most newspapers around the country.

Now the outlook is by no means good, as the next couple paragraphs point out, but the general problem is not the business model itself, but the fact that it was being run by greedy screwheads who just kept gobbling up all the little profitable city papers and lumping them under one giant multi-national media empire run not by newspaper people, but bean counters more interested in lining their pockets and keeping the giant beast fed.

So they trimmed the newsroom and started sharing content among the whole chain.  No need for every paper to cover an event when one guy can do it for the whole company.

Then, with the total homogenization of news and the newspapers’ fear of television, combined with the constant attempt to copy the TV news style of more headlines with less news, readers began to realize that their paper offered them very little that they couldn’t get from other sources.

When newspaper people stopped running the industry, the newspapers lost focus and forgot how to be newspapers.

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The page finally starts to turn

by lestro

from a Fox News poll:

fox poll q14 3.4.09

Reagan, as a reminder, is the Republican Godhead of the Trickle Down Theory, which stated that cutting taxes on the rich would then trickle down to create more jobs for the not-as-rich.

It didn’t work.  At all.

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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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morning cartoons of insanity

by twit

“The Crisis of Credit Visualized”

via mefi

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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 “new” problem of nuclear space trash

by twit

The Wall Street Journal says:

A commercial satellite owned by a U.S. company was destroyed in a collision with a defunct Russian military satellite in what NASA said was the first such accident in orbit, raising new concerns about the dangers of space debris.

and they helpfully include this image with the article:

A computer-generated artists impression released by the European Space Agency (ESA) depicts an approximation of 12 000 objects in orbit around the Earth

Getty Images

A computer-generated artists impression released by the European Space Agency depicts an approximation of 12,000 objects in orbit around the Earth.

NEW concerns?  There is that much crap floating around in our atmosphere and now that there has been a major crash of two satellites, now we have NEW concerns?

Industry officials say Iridium has identified the Russian craft as a Cosmos series satellite launched in 1993, weighing more than a ton and including an onboard nuclear reactor.

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Still waiting for their thumbs

by lestro

I no longer wonder why the rest of the world laughs at us or why we cant seem to make any headway in science and math when compared with the rest of the world.  From Gallup today:

It has been a testable theory for 150 years and not a single experiment has ever contradicted the basic principles of Darwin’s theory, despite him predating DNA and genetics, which has only gone on to confirm Darwin’s theory.

I know this because I watched Nova last night, which was all about the Dover School Board trial in which a federal judge (appointed by president Bush) ruled that “intelligent design” was NOT science and had absolutely no right in a school, especially a science class.

During the case, they proved that the not only is intelligent design not science, it is literally re-packaged creationism. They did this through researching the popular ID text book “Of Pandas and People” and found old drafts in which the authors literally replaced the word “creationism” with “intelligent design” in their definition following a court case saying creationism can’t be taught in schools.

It was a fascinating episode. You can watch the whole thing here. It is two hours, but it really, really lays out the case for not only what constitutes science, but why Darwin’s theories not only hold up but are stronger now than when he proposed them.  It also details how creationists tried to manipulate the national argument (and on this, some might say, they appear to be winning).

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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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Am I missing the joke?

by lestro

I mean, this is funny and all, but I don’t get it:

“As a black, Roman Catholic conservative from Washington D.C. and Maryland, I know how to lose elections,” said Michael S. Steele today in Virginia. His audience, a gathering of House Republicans, knows all too well, too. But now, he said, as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, “I’m in the business of winning elections.”

He somehow thinks that joining the RNC as its leader puts him in the business of winning elections? Haven’t they gotten HOUSED in the past couple of major election cycles? Like, beaten so badly people are wondering if the Republicans can come back?

How is that the business of winning elections?

Then again, swinging bullshit like this, maybe Steele is in the right place:

“Now my mom was a sharecropper’s daughter, with a fifth grade education,” he said. Referring to Democrats, he went on, “If my mom knew how to balance the budget, I’m sure the rest of the folks out here on the other side should know how to do that as well.”

Because any idiot can tell you the last president to balance a budget was Clinton and that the two largest periods EVER in debt growth and deficit spending occurred during the reign of George W. Bush and his hero, Ronnie Reagan, who also left the country floundering toward a recession thanks to spending money like drunken monkeys and cutting revenues at the same time.

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A go(o)d question: Shouldn’t people swear on something important to them?

by lestro

There was a multimedia display in the NY Times this weekend called “The Inauguration: At Last.” It’s a bit trite and simple and the art seems very childish and slap-dash to me, like it’s designed for an artsy-fartsy childrens’ book as opposed to adults.

But there is this and it is an excellent question:

The answer, I suppose, is that you want the person to swear to uphold the Constitution on something that is special and important and means a lot to them. Something they hold in high esteem.

The Kids in the Hall made a joke about this years ago in a very funny courtroom sketch:

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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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fun with evolution

by twit

although this video styles itself as a history of the internet…

Inauguration Day!

by twit

the text of President Obama’s Inaugural address:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

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“in a move without modern precedent”

by twit

feel that?

With its benchmark lending rate effectively at zero, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday, in a move without modern precedent, publicly laid out an aggressive agenda for the nation’s otherwise secretive central bank and suggested that he’s hardly out of ammunition to fight the global financial crisis.

that’s a new era being born…

In a lengthy speech to the London School of Economics, Bernanke also gave explicit support to efforts by Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to create the largest short-term economic stimulus plan the nation’s ever seen.

The president is a simple man, indeed.

by lestro

Today at his news conference, the president discussed his greatest mistake, without actually realizing it:

Mr. Bush went on, leaning over the lectern as he declared, in effect, that while many Americans have moved on after the attacks, he has not. “You remember what it was like right after September the 11th around here?” he demanded, adding: “People were saying, ‘How come they didn’t see it? How come they didn’t connect the dots?’ Do you remember what the environment was like in Washington? I do.”

So? Answer your own question, Georgie: How come you didn’t see it? How come you didn’t connect the dots?

And if the dots were there and you just failed to connect them, why did you need all those new powers and imperial leeway?  Seems to me that if you had spent less time in the summer of 2001 paying attention to the Chandra Levy thing (who?) or the shark attacks (seriously?) maybe you would have connected the dots that said “Bin Laden determined to strike in the US,” you idiot.

And still defiantly dumb to the end:

To critics who say his policies have diminished America’s moral standing in the world, Mr. Bush said flatly, “I disagree with this assessment.”

He said was not certain why he had become so divisive — “I don’t know why they get angry. I don’t know why they get hostile,” he replied to a question about those who disagree with his policies so vehemently that it became personal — and added that he had learned, during the course of his time in office, not to pay attention.

He disagrees? Because, uh, according to Pew, he is, um, WRONG.

Seems pretty straight-forward to me, Mr. President-for-thankfully-only-another-week.

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“U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.”

by twit

why does it sound like we just got to Afghanistan?

The men of the 3rd Batallion, 8th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Lejeune, are discovering in their first two months in Afghanistan that the tactics they learned in nearly six years of combat in Iraq are of little value here — and may even inhibit their ability to fight their Taliban foes.

Their MRAP mine-resistant vehicles, which cost $1 million each, were specially developed to combat the terrible effects of roadside bombs, the single biggest killer of Americans in Iraq. But Iraq is a country of highways and paved roads, and the heavily armored vehicles are cumbersome on Afghanistan’s unpaved roads and rough terrain where roadside bombs are much less of a threat.

… to reach the populace, American forces must find unmapped caravan routes that run through treacherous terrain, routes not designed for their modern military vehicles.

American forces have been in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001 …  and the military is just beginning to notice that the terrain is different?

U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.

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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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