Monday, March 30, 2009

St. Jing-Tao-Wow Day Special Feature – Interview With Nate Peele

Nate_Peele It’s St. Jing-Tao-Wow Eve and I wanted to do something very special to commemorate the occasion. As it stands, it looks like I’ll be absent from Blogtopia for much of the day. It’s all good, though, because a major champion of this holiday, Nate Peele of That’s Right Nate,  very kindly agreed to do an interview for this blog. This is an opportunity for us to reach out to a rather exotic ethnic group to Long Islanders – a White Anglo Saxon Protestant. There are WASPs living here, but they’re few and far between and located in North Shore communities where the roads are named after their ancestors. Mostly, you don’t run into them. On the local level, I know more people from Nigeria (4) or Bangladesh (lots) than I do White Anglo Saxon Protestants. So, it seemed like a good idea to learn about this group of Americans before they’re all gone. Here, then, is our interview:

Q.First of all, I'd like to thank you for virtually sitting down with
me today, Nate. Here on Long Island you don't meet so many WASPs. It's my hope that this opportunity to learn about your culture and your people will help us all to understand each other a little better.

A. No blog has done more than to try and bridge understanding between WASPs and non-WASPs.  I think we have a lot more in common that you'd think.  If you could ever be admitted into our clubs and organizations I think you'd see that.

Q.Now, as well as being a WASP, you're a male, so are you angry? Very angry? Do you currently own any assault weapons or explosives?

A. LOL, no I've barely even begun researching my manifesto.  I think a lot of the whole white male anger thing is overblown by the media.  A lot of this is because WASPs are very quickly disappearing from local media markets.  You have two anchors and one of them needs to be a woman and one needs to be a minority.  Most television stations go with the black male and white female anchor team so you don't hear our viewpoints much. 

Q.Thank you for clearing that up. Now, about St. Jing-Tao-Wow Day -This is a new holiday, suggested by Lou Dobbs and promoted by you, correct? And all that had something to do with ethnic holidays and the St. Patrick's Day parade. There are quite a few ethnic parades in New York now, especially if you count the Gay Pride parade, but no WASP parade as far as I know.  I see you come from Illinois. There have been some WASP parades there, particularly in Skokie if I recall correctly. Did you attend or participate in those? How do WASP parades differ from, say, the Puerto Rican Day parade, if at all?

A. Wow, there are a lot of questions that you're asking there.  There are no WASP parades.  The problem is we hate walking.  That's why when we build a new suburb or subdivision we don't bother putting in sidewalks.  We also hate bumper to bumper traffic.  We're not really a parade people.   We do picnics though and we quite enjoy them.

Q. What kind of food is your people's soul food? If we wanted to go
out for some WASP, what sort of  restaurant or fast food place should we look for?

A. It’s funny because most WASP foods are white.  We're big consumers of marshmallow fluff, mayonnaise, white bread, and mashed potato flakes.  We also love Fresca, but its hard to get anymore.  As a culture I would say that our main contribution to food though is that we are able to take from other cultures and adapt them.  Olive Garden, Panda Express, and Taco Bell are great examples of ethnic cuisine that we've transformed.

Q. Is there one particular person that you'd say is the epitome of a
WASP cultural icon? African-Americans have MLK, Jr. and now, President Obama, Irish-Americans still have John F. Kennedy plates on their walls, Jews have Paul Newman (he was a nice looking man with a social conscience who stayed married for about a hundred years to a woman who wasn't a pretty as he was) and Italians have Frank Sinatra. So who is absolutely IT for White Anglo Saxon Protestants?

A. Wow, I had no idea Paul Newman was Jewish.  In entertainment we have a few that really stand out.  Pat Boone did a lot to make black culture accessible to us without frightening.  As actors go, I've really been fond of Jack Webb who was also quite a musician in his own right.  In terms of a social figure like Martin Luther King, I'd have to hold up Henry Ford who united the car manufacturers against the workers.

Q. This comes from someone else. She wants to know if you have any native dances. I said that according to my research that would be line dancing, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. We're here to learn.

A. Line dancing is a good answer, but it does have ethnic moves in it.  The dance form that I think is purely ours is called the overbite.  It is actually a dance used by WASP males to court our females.  We also do it at a lot of weddings.  The nice thing is it is a versatile dance that can be done to most popular music.

Q. How do you feel about having a president who is not one of your
people? That's only happened one other time, I believe, and at least
JFK was pale. Do you think your best days are over?

A. Not at all.  One of the things that we have come to believe in is that minorities and women should be allowed into our most exclusive organizations.  The key is limiting their membership.  My hope is that my grandchildren will never have to listen to anybody say that all the Presidents have been white males because he can just point to Obama's picture and remind people we had a black President too.  I hope that in the next 40 or so years we will even have a woman President.

Q. Is there anything you'd like to tell us about the experience and
struggles of being a White Anglo Saxon Protestant in America?
Something that you'd like the rest of us to understand.

A. First, we are the largest minority group in this country.  We're not going anywhere either.  Without us there wouldn't be dinner theatre, golf pants, lawn ornaments, or jazzercise.  I really think we need a WASP history month.  Last year on my blog I tried to designate white males of distinction who had done something  to truly stand out.  You'd be surprised how few students even study the lives of people like Robert C. Baker who in my mind was the Thomas Edison of poultry.   He not only invented turkey ham, but also the chicken nugget.  Our textbooks and liberal teachers would rather spend their time on Pocahontas or George Washington Carver, but I think if you asked most people they'd rather have chicken nuggets than a peanut butter sandwich any day of the week and you also have what the nugget did for the whole honey mustard industry.

Q. If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

A. I'd definitely be an ash.  Thanks for interviewing me.  Have a joyous Saint Jing-Tao-Wow Day!  I'm going to take my daughter out to Olive Garden to celebrate.

I’d just like to thank Nate again, for helping us out. I feel like I learned quite a lot from that and I hope others did as well.  I’d also like to wish all of you a happy, safe and healthy St. Jing-Tao-Wow Day. I look forward to getting back here tomorrow night and learning about the different ways that people have celebrated.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stevie Ray’s Bad Day(s)

stevieray Today, we spent the afternoon taking Stevie Ray Cat to the vet. That’s Stevie in the photo, before he had a big icky thing hanging off his face. He’s the most senior of our three cats at just about thirteen.

He has a tumor that wasn’t supposed to be anything to worry about but it turned nasty, naturally, on Sunday morning. The good news is that there is a highly recommended animal hospital that’s open for appointments on Sunday. The bad news is that it’s at least a 45 minute drive away. He hasn’t needed anything more than routine care since he was a couple of years old, and he has a home visit vet for that. So, he doesn’t get out much.

Stevie is normally a very reserved fellow, so I hate having to have him poked and prodded, but he seemed to like the vet OK and was a perfect gentleman about the whole thing. No scratching, hissing or anything.  He just wanted us to stay very close in case anything went awry. They let us take him home tonight, but he’s scheduled for surgery in the morning.  He’s ready to go, I guess. He’s sleeping in the cat carrier right now. He loves it. I  suppose that means it’ll be part of the living room furnishings from now on. Of course, he doesn’t know that there’s one of those awful cones in his future. It’s going to be a difficult week or so all around.

I better make this an early night. We’re due at the animal hospital at 7 am. Which is at least 45 minutes away.

UPDATE: Stevie is home and purring like mad. We won’t know about the pathology for a couple of days, but right now he’s feeling OK.  He’s a little unsteady on his pins, but that didn’t keep him from having a bit of late supper and now he’s relaxing as close to Mr. Yenta as possible. He thanks everyone for their expressions of concern and we’ll let you know about the lab report when we get it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fred Barnes Makes Case for Single Payer

healthcare I never thought I’d be saying thanks to Fred Barnes, but, hey, life is full of surprises. I’d pretty much given up on single payer health insurance for the foreseeable future, but Fred Barnes has given me new hope in his article, The Liberal Dream Agenda.

Health care. President Obama is fond of saying his plan allows people to choose between the health insurance they get through their employer and a government program currently limited to federal workers. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? It's not. Rather, it's the path to a single-payer health care system--the kind Obama has said he prefers but isn't actually proposing.

His program would have the distinct advantage of not having to make a profit. So it would always be able to offer greater benefits at lower cost (with taxpayers taking up the slack when it lost money). Businesses would have an incentive to increase co-pays and trim benefits and, in effect, encourage employees to switch plans. And if employer-paid benefits are taxed, as administration officials have suggested, the incentive steering workers to the government program will be irresistible.
(Emphasis mine)

This is exactly what we’ve been saying like forever. A layer of profit in between the health care provider and consumer is just driving costs up with no real benefit to society as a whole. Now, no liberal that I know of wants to see employer-paid benefits taxed. That would be a huge hit for employees who get benefits now, and one that most us couldn’t afford, but if it were a single payer system, with all of us paying into it through progressive taxation, that’d be peachy.

"There won't be any private sector [in health insurance]," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says, should government-financed insurance be available to everyone. "It's a fast track to single payer." There's an additional fear. The stimulus bill set aside $1.1 billion to research and compare medical treatments and drugs, raising the prospect that government programs would pay for some treatments and medicines but not others and thus open the door to rationing.

“…a fast track to single payer.” Your mouth to God’s ears, Senator. Now, about that rationing. Does he mean a situation like my friend (and boss) ran into a week or so ago? Her doctor thought she should have an MRI before he went on to treat a painful condition she’s developed. It’s in the area of the neck and doctors like to be sure before messing with the neck or spine. Things can go wrong if you’re just kind of guessing and we have these amazing tests now and everything.  Her insurance company said “No” to the MRI. She can fight it and she might win. But for now, no MRI. And she chose the insurance plan, of the ones we offer, that comes with higher co-pays for her, because it covers more and is accepted by more health care providers. That plan costs our organization over $1600 per month for a family plan. Less, of course, for singles and for couples, but still not affordable by middle class people. And that’s the group rate. So, it seems to me that what we’re doing is paying outrageous sums of money for something that, in effect, is not one bit better than rationed care.

It’s not every day that you find such a compelling case for a liberal agenda item at the Weekly Standard, but this makes up for a lot.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Election in El Salvador

Crowds on election day

Image by LShave via Flickr

El Salvador just had a bit of revolution – by election.  After all the years of war, death squads, repression and oppression, the people went to the polls and voted for change – and got it. It’s something that’s going around the world.

Angela, my friend and colleague, just returned from working as an international observer of the electoral process there. She and her family came here from El Salvador years ago, not to make a fortune, but just for some freedom and maybe some safety. Like most people who make such a move, it wasn’t their country they wanted to leave, but rather a terrible government. I don’t know how old Angela is, but I know she’s older than I am. She almost didn’t go to El Salvador because her husband’s been very sick and she didn’t want to leave him alone. He knew she wanted to go and he wanted her to do it, too. He and her sisters conspired to have him stay with them and be taken care of so Angela could go and go she did.

She said there were attempts to steal the election, but enough were uncovered so that they didn’t work. People were brought in from neighboring countries to vote illegally but were discovered and sent packing.

She also said that she was told, and it some cases shown, that if the election had gone differently, there was going to be an armed revolution. And she seems sure that the transition will take place. When it was all over, after days and nights of working hard, she said, “Wonderful. Now we can get some sleep.” She was told no, now it was time to celebrate! Which they did. For all that, she came back glowing and happy. It’s a good thing to get your country back, even if you don’t live there anymore.

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Can YouTube Save Your Bacon?

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

On the same day that Newsday reported that Long Island’s unemployment rate is at its highest level since 1992 it also carried a story two local teenagers who are  raking in the cash via YouTube. Apparently YouTube can work as a cottage industry if you can give the people what they want. And what they want is not necessarily porn. Go know.

Eric Stiffler, 18, and Mac Guttenberg, 14, each have their own YouTube Channel and are in the user/partner program, where ads are shown under the videos and they get better than 50% of the revenue. This is bringing in a couple of grand a month. Beats the hell out of mowing lawns. Or unemployment.

Eric’s Channel
Mac’s Channel

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

WTF, Chuck?

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 5:   Chuck Todd of NBC Ne...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Enigma4Ever at Watergate Summer comments on Chuck Todd’s clueless sounding question at the president’s prime time presser Tuesday night. She was so impressed she gave him the coveted Dumbass of the Week award. Way to go, Chuck.  It was a very bad question. If you’ve wiped it from your memory it went like this:

Todd: Some have compared this financial crisis to a war and in times of war past Presidents have called for some form of sacrifice. Some of your programs whether main street or Wall Street have actually cushioned the blow for those that were irresponsible during this economic period of prosperity, supposed prosperity that you were talking about. Why, given this new era of responsibility that you're asking for why haven't you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?

The president answered sensibly that there was plenty of sacrifice out there in that the American people are pretty screwed right now. I’m paraphrasing there, of course. But Chuck didn’t cover himself with glory at Prime Time Presser I either. Juan Cole summed that exchange with, “What the hell?”

Question: Thank you, Mr. President. In your opening remarks, you talked about that, if your plan works the way you want it to work, it's going to increase consumer spending. But isn't consumer spending, or overspending, how we got into this mess? And if people get money back into their pockets, do you not want them saving it or paying down debt first before they start spending money into the economy?
Obama: Well, first of all, I don't think it's accurate to say that consumer spending got us into this mess. What got us into this mess initially were banks taking exorbitant, wild risks with other people's monies based on shaky assets and because of the enormous leverage, where they had $1 worth of assets and they were betting $30 on that $1, what we had was a crisis in the financial system.'

So, that’s two out of two for Mr. Todd. This is disappointing for those people who spend most of their weekday evenings watching MSNBC. Whoever (cough, cough) they might be. We they kind of thought of Chuck Todd as the home team. Plus, while he might not always have been right about everything he did always seem to be a beacon of sanity among the ensemble of personalities there. Kind of like Barney Miller was at the 12th precinct. Personally I think that both of the questions sound kind of Brokawesque. These are memes Brokaw had flogged when he was more in the spotlight. Chuck, please step away from the Brokaw, come out of the bubble and find out what regular people are dealing with. Otherwise you’re on a course for an Epic Fail and no one wants that, right?


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Musings on the Internets and the Intranets

SIERRA MADRE, CA - MAY 29:  Seventieth anniver...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

First is something I’m wondering about Facebook. I joined it a while back, but I wasn’t really active on it. I joined it because I needed to log in to get some particular links and such to post on a band’s website, so I used the e-mail address from the band’s domain. I get that in my gmail account, with my regular e-mail. A month or so ago I got a couple of Facebook friend requests from people I know and it turns out that just about everyone I ever knew is on it. So, I’ve been more active on Facebook recently. And now I’m getting a whole bunch of spam, all of which is being sent to the e-mail address I used to sign up on Facebook. I’m not saying there’s a connection. I’m just saying the timing is, shall we say, suspect.

Another thing I’m mulling over is intranets. Some people at work want one. The thing is, getting one done seems to be expensive. I suggested that we could consider using Google Apps. As a non-profit we could even qualify for the free version. With funding getting cut in every direction, that seems like a good price. There are concerns about security with Google Apps, though. I’m not sure that the concerns are valid, but we need to maintain a very high standard of confidentiality with our data, so I’m not about to go to the mat with that.

The problem is that no one at work is proficient with intranet technology and due to previous funding cuts, our MIS person also has had to take other, unrelated duties as well as keeping our network, everyone’s computer and all other office machinery functional. Her plate is more than full.  Besides configuring and maintaining a web server there’s also the prospect of keeping the apps that make it useful up and running. Databases, scripts, all that. It’s a lot to do. So, is it worth a bunch of money to have an intranet, when money is tight? Or is it worth overburdening someone who already has more than one job to do? We’re an organization of only 70 – 75 people, located in three offices covering two counties. What exactly could having an intranet do for us? Any thoughts, anyone?

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Bankers in Rehab

alchol and drugs

Image by omnia_mutantur via Flickr

It seems that quite a few people in the financial industry are being driven to drink or drugs, or maybe in some cases they can’t afford their habits any longer. They’re hung over, brung down and strung out and showing up in rehab to come to terms with their drug and/or alcohol problems.

"You're supposed to be a master of the universe, you're supposed to be on top of everything," said one financial services executive who began alcohol rehab in August.

At the risk of sounding callous, life isn’t so easy for those who never, ever had delusions of being masters of the universe either. I don’t want to kick these people when they’re down. At least not all of them. But it would be refreshing if, seeing as these monied pillars of society can develop substance abuse issues upon meeting with adversity, perhaps there could be just a little more understanding of the problems that some people develop when born into adversity. Like, just for starters, stop imprisoning people for non-violent drug offenses and provide more support for getting off drugs even if you never once managed a hedge fund. Just a thought.

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Laughtergate or How a Stupid Question Becomes a Meme

60 Minutes

Image via Wikipedia

Did President Obama laugh inappropriately on 60 Minutes? Is he punch drunk? Was his acknowledgement of the absurdity of the legislative options show he’s out of touch. Did he fail to show sufficient populist anger? Do we have so few problems in this country that we can afford to dwell on this assortment of pundit generated idiocy?

No, no, no, no and apparently so. I can understand the rightwing jumping on Obama’s rueful chuckling after Steve Kroft’s “observation”. The rightwingnuts are like Pavlov’s dogs and will salivate on cue if they hear a suggestion that Obama has said or done something they can object to. It’s what they do. But this is now being discussed in newspapers and on cable news shows that aren’t even Fox. The original question suggests that maybe the current 60 Minutes crewhas spent a little too much time asking fairly pedestrian questions in hushed and humorless tones.

As to the rest,  President Obama is as in touch as any politician I’ve ever heard speak and more than most. I don’t expect to like every compromise he decides he has to make, but I have no doubt that he understands the problems of regular people and is concerned about making sure he stays that way while living in the bubble.

While we’re on the subject, during George W. Bush’s presidency, did any interviewer ever ask him, “Excuse me sir, but you seem to be quite clueless on some of these issues. Are you concerned that people will see this and get the impression that you might be an idiot?”, Because I don’t believe I ever heard anyone do that and that would have been a valid question.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

It’s Even a Bear Market for Dinosaurs

Modified version of

Image via Wikipedia

This is the perfect time to stock up on cut-rate dinosaur skeletons, as it turns out.  I’d go for it but we’re a little tapped out at the moment. So, apparently, are museums.

A rare full skeleton of a 150-million-year-old dinosaur languished on an auction block yesterday, failing to sell despite interest from two museums, the auctioneers said.
Neither museum could meet the minimum price - somewhat less than $300,000 - for the 9-foot-long fossil of a dryosaurus, said Josh Chait, operations director of I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers.
The stumbling block "was a lack of funding, more than the price," he said.

When anything that’s 150 million years old can’t bring 300k you know things are rough out there. This could be a great opportunity to corner the market if you’ve got the cash.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Flammable Tap Water

This just can’t be a good thing.

flame A Colorado couple says they have so much natural gas in their water they can light it on fire, reports CBS4 Denver's Shaun Boyd. Jesse and Amee Ellsworth, of Ft Lupton, a tiny city north of Denver, say the gas has been leaking into their water well from a nearby gas well for the last six months.
Aimee Ellsworth says their only clue that something was wrong was the pressure of the water.
"It crashed, made noises. I thought this isn't normal." She says tests found explosive levels of the gas in her basement, bathroom and by her water well. "I'm jittery all the time" says Ellsworth. Her home is located in a rural area within a half mile of eight natural gas wells.

Like people don’t have enough problems without having their tap water burst into flames? The gas company is working to figure out where the leak is coming from.

St. Jing-Tao-Wow Day

Nate’s at it again. He’s been watching Lou Dobbs go off on his annual anti-St. Patrick’s Day rant and Nate is taking a sarcastic suggestion on Dobbs’ part and running with it. He’s pushing for a new holiday. Nate is starting a movement to make March 31st Saint Jing-Tao-Wow Day. It seems, according to Nate, that Saint Jing-Tao-Wow is the patron saint of ethnic and racial stereotyping. Personally, I wouldn’t swear to that, but then, I’m no theologian. He thinks we should be as stereotypical as possible on the 31st. I’m working on it. I’m Irish-Italian-Jewish myself. Since the first thing I think of when you say “ethnic” is food, all I could come up with at first was pizza bagels and Guinness. Problem is, while I love pizza and I’m partial enough to a nice everything bagel with a schmear and on special occasions, like Christmas morning, some lox, I don’t like pizza and bagels as one food. And as far as Guinness goes, I like a nice diet cola. So I’ll have to give the whole thing a little more thought. Nate has provided a video, to watch and/or post, promoting his great idea.

Apart from the issue of illegal immigration, which seems to be his personal white whale, I don’t really get what Lou Dobbs finds so troublesome about diverse cultural influences. Where I was born, in New York City, even in the Leave It To Beaver fifties a normal day’s errands involved encountering people from at least three different continents with all kinds of different accents. Some spoke English, others were just learning. It all seemed perfectly natural. That was a long time ago. There’ve been changes, as there always are, in which groups of people are arriving here. What doesn’t change is that each ethnic group finds its way to fit in and adds something new to our culture. So, I don’t know about stereotypes, but there might be something in the idea of having one day to celebrate our different heritages.  Best case scenario – a day off. At the very least, though, there should be great food and maybe some sales.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beta Is Better

Image representing Google Chrome as depicted i...

Google Chrome is back in beta if you care to try a brand new version. It has new features, including full page zoom and autofill for forms, both of which were missing in the 1x versions.  The amazing thing is that beta Chrome is significantly faster than the first version of it and that was damned fast. I downloaded it at work and here at home and so far so good.  This version is a beta and there are plenty of warnings that if stability is your thing you might be better off sticking with an earlier version, but I’m not seeing a problem so far. And it is fast. Incredibly zippy.

Download is available to all here.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dedicated To Glen Beck

This song goes out to Glen Beck, Wingnut of the Week and to Fox News, which is outdoing itself. Kisses, Glen.

Lyrics here, in case you want to talk along.

It Probably Won't Come To This


But not everyone is so sure.

A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products, the division whose exotic derivatives brought the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. Inside, death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes. Irate callers lit up the phone lines. Senior managers submitted their resignations. Some employees didn't show up at all.

"It's a mob effect," one senior executive said. "It's putting people's lives in danger."

It sucks to be the last straw, but somebody has to do it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

They Say That On St. Patrick's Day, We're All Irish

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. It seems to be true.

Tokyo_StPaddy They’re Irish in Tokyo

stpatricksdog4A vertically challenged Irish Setter for a day

catsonstpatricksday Can’t forget one for the kittehs if I want to be able to live here.

Have a safe and Happy St. Paddy’s Day, everyone!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Oldest Living Dog

A local gal named Chanel Shaughnessy will be in the next Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest living dog on record. The daschund from Port Jeff Station has been in a number of newspapers already. I think I can safely speak for all of Long Island when I say we’re proud of her. It’s always a pleasure when something here is deemed newsworthy and doesn’t involve an indictment of any kind.


Don’t think that she’s just playing dress-up in that photo, either. As adorable as she looks, Chanel is not just another yuppy puppy. She needs the goggles for cataracts and she feels the cold and needs a sweater, just like the rest of us when we get old. She just pulls it all off with an innate sense of style is all. And in general, her vet says she’s doing just fine.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Glen Beck, Fox News, No Bottom

  I think that this week I was more stunned by Glen Beck than anything else. Stunned by his notion that the 200px-Glenn-Beckman in Alabama who killed his mother, his grandmother, a three month old baby and some seven other innocent people before committing suicide was in some way "pushed to the wall", possibly by political correctness.  That seemed like a very sick thing to think, let alone say on TV. For a nanosecond I even thought he'd gone too far for Fox.  OK,  that was just stupid and I realize that I'm way too old to believe a thing like that. But Beck did seem to be kind of excusing mass murder of innocents, and on the basis of motives not in evidence no less.  If that weren't enough, he seemed to think that it was a natural conclusion, based on the fact that the country elected a Democratic administration, that other such crimes would follow.
BECK: But as I’m listening to him. I’m thinking about the American people that feel disenfranchised right now. That feel like nobody’s hearing their voice. The government isn’t hearing their voice. Even if you call, they don’t listen to you on both sides. If you’re a conservative, you’re called a racist. You want to starve children.
BECK: Yada yada yada. And every time they do speak out, they’re shut down by political correctness. How do you not have those people turn into that guy?
So, I'm reading this and thinking that it's way over the top, even for Fox. But no, it turns out it's just a little publicity for a ratings bonanza.  Beck is doing great with a Glenn Beck Friday, which caters to the ever desirable white militia niche.  And with Rush so busy running the Republican party and all - well, opportunity is knocking for those willing to play on the paranoia and fears of the Angry White Dumbass. And Glenn Beck will do just fine at Fox.

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I just wanted to take a minute to say "Hi" to a couple of people who've been nice enough to follow this blog. And we don't even know where we're going.  Thanks to The Y River for following and I've done the same with his very interesting Occupied Territory Funk. I'm trying to get up to speed there.

The next arrival was the very gifted artist Patrice Lynne Young. She's got several blogs,  and I find each one a pleasure to visit. 

Most recently I noticed washwords on the list. She's a wonderful, thoughtful writer and Friday is Haiku day on her blog! How cool is that? So I just wanted to give a shout out and a word of thanks to our new friends.

Just one more thing.  There's one steady visitor from Northampton, MA. I don't know who it is, but if you're reading this, I'd just like to say I'm seriously jealous of you.  If I could pick up my life, more or less intact, and move it, I'd so be living there. What a beautiful, friendly and very progressive town. Not to mention dog-friendly. When we were there this summer, shopkeepers were providing bowls of water for dogs who had come out to help their owners with their shopping.  And, there's an Italian restaurant there that makes an artichoke ravioli with a basil tomato cream sauce that can take you to a higher plane of existance.
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Go Galt Young Man

Atlas Shrugged

Image via Wikipedia

Everybody’s been talking about Going Galt these days. Our conservative friend, Nate, commented about it on his blog just last night.If you’re late to the tea party the NYT Opinionator posted a rundown on the movment which is inspired by the late Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged a week or so ago. 

I just have a couple of quick observations.

First of all, this idea that the wealth creators, as they like to think of themselves, are going to sit back and make less money is problematic at the moment. Less than what? Haven’t they noticed what’s been going on?

Secondly, it seems to me that if anyone has demonstrated how the world would suffer for their absence, it’s the American consumer. Frankly, I’ve been a little worried about that for years. For this whole decade it’s seemed like the aim of business has been to hire their labor wherever they can be had for cheap. It seemed pretty obvious to any school child that the American  middle class was shrinking and becoming increasingly weighed down with debt as a result of these policies. Therefore, it seemed reasonable to assume that the business world had taken that into account and was counting on creating new markets across the globe, and that they could continue on that way – creating and destroying markets by turns, for decades.

As it turned out – no, they really didn’t have a plan and it turns out that American consumer dollars are really missed now that they’re in short supply. It may turn out that you can replace a CEO a lot more easily than you can replace the consumer.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bush Legacy Tour – Minions Edition

Of all the Loyal Bushies out and about trying to talk up the Bush administration’s “accomplishments” I think that Ari Fleischer is my favorite. Not counting Cheney – because he is in a class by himself – Fleischer seems the most like what he is. He comes across as a pure, unadulterated douchebag. Chris Matthews, as is not unusual, is hampered by an over abundance of passionate sincerity as well as saliva in this interview/confrontation. It still beats the hell out of these people being allowed to show up and repeat proven lies and obfuscations for posterity without any serious challenge. So, go, Tweety. Keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


darth_cheney1Very dark stuff. And yet, “Cheney” and “Executive Assassination  Ring” sounds as natural together as bagels and lox. But wait – shouldn’t that be “Legislative Assassination Ring”?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another First Blogiversary

That’s Right, Nate is celebrating its first full year. We here at the Yenta household wish him the very best and many happy returns. We think it’s great that he’s hung in their despite the devastating rejection at the polls of his whole political philosophy. That kind of thing could bring a guy down, but he’s still plugging away. Good on you, Nate. If you can keep writing it, I guess we can keep reading it.


Let Them Eat Landlines

michelle_obama Once again, conservatives show that they can’t get out of the 20th century. And that’s when they’re being cutting edge.

First Andrew Malcolm writes this blog post  about the First Lady, Michelle Obama going to volunteer at a soup kitchen in D.C. She even brought some food. It was actually a great use of the celebrity that has accrued to the Obama family. Soup kitchens, as well as food pantries, need volunteers and donations. When times are tough both of those just get harder to come by. Just by showing up, she’s demonstrating a way that the most ordinary citizen can help. There are quite a lot of good folks who’d like to lend their fellow humans a hand but really don’t know where to start. So, nice gesture Mrs. Obama, and a constructive one, at that, right?

Not so fast. Let’s not focus on that. Let’s look at the photo. Let’s focus on the unidentified man in the photo who’s taking a picture of Michelle Obama with his - 0MFG - cell phone. This one photo, out of a number that were taken, spoils the whole vibe according to Mr. Malcolm. This, of course, let loose the rightwingnuts, who never like to miss an opportunity to advance their meme that America’s poor are actually rich. Alex Koppelman at Salon has the rundown and links to them. No need to repeat them here.

Never mind whether or not we know anything about the man in the photo. What I’d like to know is when was the last time anyone questioned the legitimacy of a low income person maintaining a landline? The early to mid-twentieth century maybe? Like back when, if you didn’t have a phone, there’d be some candy store or something in the neighborhood that might allow you to give out their payphone number in case of emergency or to prospective employers? Back when there were functional payphones everywhere and using them cost a dime?

The thing is, it’s the twenty-first century now and people have cell phones. To Malcolm and Malkin and the rest of the angry mob, I guess cell phones are something you have in addition to your landline. A small luxury. It is, however, very possible to have just the cell. Yeh, really. That’s been going on for quite some time now. Hell, even old farts like Mr. Yenta and I have given up the landline. Money was an issue – no need to pay for both. There’s also the fact that, not having our own secretaries, we actually find it more convenient to just have the one phone each.

Poor people, especially younger ones, just have the cell phones and they are no more a luxury than a landline ever was. They are much more practical than landlines if you are homeless or under the threat of same. If you can’t be reached by phone, good luck on ever being anything else but destitute. Over here, in 2009, not only does everyone need a phone, but you’re going to need internet access, too. Fortunately libraries are often able to provide that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sick Day

Got the stomach thing that's been going around my office. I figured since I was going to be home anyway, I'd blog, or upload photos to Facebook, or read a lot of blogs, or at least something. Not so much. I spent all day just staring into space punctuated by napping. I am so in awe of people like Senator Kennedy or Justice Ginsberg or some people I actually know here in real life, who continue to work and function even while fighting really terrible illness. I get a touch of a stomach virus and become immediately useless. 

Now maybe I can stay awake long enough to find out what's been going on in the world today. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Republicans, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains

NOVI, MI - MAY 3:  Radio talk show host and co...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Republicans have received their talking points regarding L’Affaire Limbaugh. You could tell by watching the teevee for five minutes last night. It goes like this:

It’s all Obama’s fault. He should be busy coming up with solutions to our problems so we can vote against them, but noooo. He’s creating a distraction by starting a fight with Rush. The ever credulous Chris Matthews tended to agree, despite the Obama-nspired leg tingling.

Matthews might buy it but most of us don’t. First off, while the White House certainly had a hand in feeding this frenzy, they must have taken a collective five to ten minutes discussing it. That might even include the time it took to indulge in a chuckle about the ensuing hysteria. After that it’s been all media, blogs and Republican apologies to the sociopath.

What the White House is doing is giving the Republican Party a chance to find a spine and to appeal to normal people. To take a hard look at themselves and reassess where they’ve been and move more into the mainstream of the USA. They’re not taking it. Or to put a finer point on it, they’re not allowing anyone in their party to take that opportunity.

In the most pathetic display of cravenness in the public arena, one by one they grovel at the feet of Rush Limbaugh, the big fat sociopath who must be obeyed. Rush Limbaugh, a radio talk show host who has made a fortune out of helping dittoheads get in touch with their inner lynch mob. That’s what the Republican party has become. Electing a black man to the chairmanship of the RNC (for however long that lasts) doesn’t disguise that the GOP has become the party of the Angry White Dumbass. And if they don’t walk away from Rush that’s what they’ll stay, which is a problem for them in this era of changing demographics.

P.S. I never thought that the rightwing would be providing this much entertainment immediately post-election.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Say It Ain’t So, Michael

Michael Steele presenting an award to USNS Com... 

Image via Wikipedia

Oh, that’s right. He did say it ain’t so. Apparently the FBI isn’t so sure. Via TPM, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is even more under investigation than he was before, which was plenty.

The FBI is currently investigating possible fraud because a former Steele campaign official claimed no work was performed for the payments made by the campaign to a company controlled by Steele's sister. Steele has denied the charge.

And after he apologized to Rush in a timely manner and everything. It just doesn’t seem quite right.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some More Thoughts On Ms. Parker’s Lament

Michael Dukakis on tank

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I posted on Kathleen Parker’s distress on seeing Bobby Jindal’s pitiful performance on the occasion of his rebuttal to President Obama’s address to Congress. I woke up with one more thought on the sad state of the GOP.

As I admitted in the previous post, Democratic politicians have humiliated themselves, too. Not President Obama. He doesn’t play that. That’s only one reason he’s president now, but it didn’t hurt any to be the same person on a consistent basis.

Nonetheless, we’ve had our share of bad moments, going back to the iconic image of Michael Dukakis in the tank. That wasn’t good. And there was Al Gore doing a presidential debate in full Ronald Reagan make-up. Not his best moment. Even the most ardent supporter had to wince a little seeing John Kerry’s photo op as a hunter – in camo. Hell, he might hunt on occasion. I don’t know. But it looked forced and unnatural and ultimately silly. Hillary hanging out in bars and knocking back shots with the guys didn’t come off that well either, even if it’s something she does all the time, and I’m not saying it is. Every one of those are people with sharp intellects whose political aspirations were damaged in part by playing that game.

Here’s the really big important difference, though: When our guys allow themselves to molded to fit someone’s misguided idea of populist appeal it’s unfortunate, but the idea is to appeal to your voters. To the famous Reagan Republicans in particular. When Republicans do it, it’s also to appeal to your voters, not to peel off any Democrats. If Republican politicians have to phony it up to appeal to their own party, then isn’t it time for a serious reality check?

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Real Blogiversary to Soup Is Not a Finger Food

Meg at Soup Is Not a Finger Food has been entertaining her readers at her eclectic and always entertaining blog for one year now.

Many happy returns of the day, Meg.

Blago Gets Booked Bigtime

blagojevich Former Governor Blagojevich has got himself a 2 million dollar book deal. Condi’s got a book deal. Laura has a book deal. I don’t know if Barney has one, but I’m 100% sure he could get one if he wanted, as long as he agreed not to bite the ghostwriter too hard. Everyone and his mother has a book deal but nobody wants to hear from W.

Bobby Jindal – Not as Dumb as a Post

KENNER, LA - JUNE 03:  Louisiana Gov. Bobby Ji...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Kathleen Parker wants to know what happens to the Bobby Jindal she knows. The one with a great big intellect.

I liked the old Bobby Jindal better – the one whose brain moves so fast, he's already indexing questions his interviewers haven't thought of yet.

What did they do with him?

The Jindal who responded to Barack Obama's address to Congress was less the brilliant statesman than a terribly mixed metaphor – equal parts Mister Rogers, Bobby Brady and Kenneth the Page.

I know Bobby Jindal, and that guy wasn't Bobby Jindal.

She knows what happened to him and says so. Staff, handlers, consultants. The same types who have done such humiliating damage to both politicians in both parties. But that’s only part of the story. The other two parts are much more troubling for Jindal’s future.

His allowing his handlers to turn him into a developmentally disabled Mr. Rogers was just plain Leadership Fail. Leaders don’t allow themselves to be handled into an alternate personality. They can communicate on different levels and sound perfectly natural whether they’ve got their wonk hats on or are in a more populist mode. They also don’t sound like totally different people. Bill Clinton could do it. Obama has it down perfectly. Jindal – not so much.

The even larger problem, though, and this is direct to Ms. Parker, is that your party has campaigned on rejecting intellect, science or even rational approaches to problems in favor of….Joe the Plumber. Rush Limbaugh is the standard bearer of the GOP. Rational Republicans like Charlie Christ are vilified. Can you blame Jindal for thinking he had to communicate on a kindergarten level? You need to fix the party before you can fix Jindal.

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Snow Day


That’s not a minivan or station wagon. That’s at least 16 inches of snow on the ‘02 Galant. The driveway is under about the same amount of snow except where it’s drifted higher. I think we’re too freaking old for this. Last time we had some snow we got an offer to shovel from some guys who looked big enough to be equal to this. That time there wasn’t enough on the driveway to bother with. We subscribe to the “let it melt” school of snow removal whenever possible. Not going to work this time. I sure hope those guys show up this time. We’re prepared to pay through the nose. I mean, what good is grocery money if you can’t get to the store, right?

Technorati Tags:

O’Reilly to speak at fundraising event for rape victims.

From Think Progress.

This should go well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

6th Time's the Charm?

Birthday Cupcake With A Colorful Wrapper And Sprinkles, Topped With A Lit Candle Clipart Illustration I just noticed that today this blog is one month old. Now, I'm not going to be celebrating every monthiversary, but the first one is always special. I think this is my sixth blog, but this one is the real thing. I'm sure. It just feels right, like the eHarmony ads are always talking about.

It’s been a great first month. Traffic shot up from the high single digits to the (very) low single digits quickly. It’s been a pleasure to connect with old blog friends to make some wonderful new ones.  Blogger has made that much easier with their handy dandy new blogroll thingy, which tells you when your favorite blogs have updated. I’m really liking that.

I’ve got my blogging head back on straight. If you hear or read something interesting and your first impulse is to discuss it with friends or family instead of evaluating whether or not it’s blogworthy, well then you know you’ve lost your mojo. That’s where I was at, but no more. Now, once again, I can spend a whole evening saying nothing to Mr. Yenta but, “Please, I can’t talk now. I’m trying to blog.”

This blog has been so good to me that I thought I’d get it a little gift to mark the occasion, so I downloaded Windows Live Writer. It does have a lot of nice features and really handy plugins that you can download. Of course, the first post I tried with it, it froze right up. We’re giving it one more shot. I’d like that to work out because there’s a Zemanta plugin and Zemanta is really handy. I use it mostly for the photos and the links. It suggests the photos and provides them  and will put in the incidental links for you. If the photo is part of the point of the post, I wouldn’t use it, but if you just want something illustrative, it’s a great timesaver. I’ll also suggest tags and give you related links if you want them. So, I’m kind of crossing my fingers that this works out.

In any case, I just want to say thanks to everyone who’s dropped by, commented, followed, blogrolled and just generally been so friendly in our first month. Now I promise not do another post like this until it’s been a year.

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Nate's done it again. From the conservative who brought you the excellent response to Eric Cantor's ill-fated Aerosmith Video there's now one that aspires to help Micheal Steele keep it real. Yo, Nate. You be da man!

Give it up for Nate and maybe rate him up on You Tube if you're so moved.


March is Roaring In

With gusty winds and 10 to 14 inches of snow predicted before all is said and done tomorrow, it's looking like a classic case of March roaring in like a lion. Hope that the lamb arrives on time as well.