Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birth Certificates

The birthers have been competing with health care for the news cycle this week. There was the nutcase at the townhall meeting in Delaware, Chris Matthews' bravura performance as he insisted on calling a whacko a whacko, and the shameful performance by Lou Dobbs in fueling this conspiracy theory. A lot of these people, including Dobbs, seem to be hanging their argument on the theory that the birth certificate that the President has produced and posted is somehow a short form and incomplete. The crazy lady in Delaware listed a whole bunch of things that are on hers that don't appear on Obama's including the hospital where she was born and the doctor's name. Lou Dobbs referred to a "long form" document. 

With all this noise I decided to have a look at what we have around the house in the way of birth cerficates. I don't have mine. I had an official copy with raised seal but had to provide it to someone for some purpose or other years ago and haven't had a need for it since. Mr. Yenta has his. We were both born in New York State in the same year - 1949. Our copies would never make it with these people. Document reproduction was not very good in those days and both were just barely legible even though they include the raised seal, making them "official". . I do believe that mine listed the hospital. His doesn't. No doctor's names on either of them. I also have my son's. It's the only copy we've ever had and it's what he's used for everything he's ever needed one for. It has less information than the president. It has the date of birth. No time listed. The president's has the time on his. It lists my name and Mr. Yenta's, but makes no mention of our ethnicity. It lists the state New York and town of his birth and is signed by the town official in charge of those things and there's a local regisration number and the seal.  No hospital, no doctor. I'd like to ask Mr. Dobbs if that makes my son "undocumented" as far as he's concerned, because if so, I'd suspect that the same would apply to millions of native born Americans. Or is this only a problem with African-American presidents?
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Friday, July 17, 2009

And That's The Way It Is

It's not so much that Walter Conkrite will be missed. It's more that he's been so much missed since he's been gone from our living rooms on a daily basis. RIP, Mr. Cronkite

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

No time to embed. Getting ready for work, but Blog de Ford has a video by a musician who turns his pain into art - and viral revenge.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's About the Country! And Stuff.

CEDARBURG, WI - SEPTEMBER 5:   Republican U.S ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Poor, misunderstood Sarah.
The response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the “politics of personal destruction”. How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it’s right for all, including your family.

She did this for her country. Presumably because Sarah Palin being governor of just one state past the end of the month was damaging to the USA. I guess. Your guess is as good as anyone's. As of this morning there's still no one who seems to have any idea what she was talking about, except that not quitting would be the quitter's way out. Sarah Palin is no quitter, except for quitting her job, of course.

Sarah will keep busy. She has a book to sell and fortune to be made of her fame before it goes stale. What she does not have, as far as her lawyer is aware, are federal indictments coming up any time soon. Best not speculate about any rumors floating around out there or he'll sue your ass. Even though the Alaska constitution guarantees free speech. I'd have thought that the federal Bill of Rights had that covered, but apparently up there they rely on Alaska's constitution for such things. Repeating such rumors is probably defamation of character, unlike, say, referring to Barack Obama as "palling around with terrorists" which is just artistic license.

The important thing is that no one who is not up for re-election should stay in office because they'll inevitably goof off and not do the work. That new standard is going to create some sticky situations in the case of any office involving term limits. If you follow the logic, it goes like this:

  • If you're a lame duck you should leave office.
  • If you're limited to two terms, which is common enough, your second term is all lame duckitude, so if re-elected you should quit.
  • Campaigns are expensive, exhausting and they eat your soul. So, why bother standing for re-election if you're quitting.
  • If you're not standing for re-election then you're now a lame duck, ala Palin, so you need to quit.
Seems to me that logic is going to cause quite a few politicians to wonder, "Why run in the first place?" Well, clearly so that you can be plucked from obscurity to run for national office and thereby develop a national fan base and massive earning potential, also. You betcha!

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

At Long Last, Franken!


Image by Getty Images via Daylife

What a nice surprise. I was off in the other office today. That means using a computer that struggles to handle the software I need to do my job. To try browsing the web at the same time is to invite it to freeze up and refuse to do a thing. So I didn’t know that the Al Franken decade had begun until I got home.

Of course, I was watching MSNBC which meant there was no sparing a minute to be happy about it. We had to start worrying about the added pressure of nominally having 60 senators in the caucus. Why enjoy the moment when you can wring your hands instead? If I wasn’t a bit of a political junkie I’d stop watching it and try having a normal life. But I am and it’s the only game in town. I plan to bitch about it quite a bit, though. Some of the shows there are getting on my last nerve.

In other intriguing news, Governor Mark Sanford has seen his Argentinean soul mate more than he’d initially admitted. He also seems to have grabbed some non-soul mate ass – or something – from time to time. Color me surprised – not. How can Jenny Sanford let this horndog prize go? I don’t know, but somehow I think she will. Even though he’s trying hard to fall back in love with her. Without much success, apparently.


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Thursday, June 25, 2009


Michael Jackson, cropped from :Image:Michael J...Image via Wikipedia

Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. That's a lot for one day. I walked in from work just a few minutes before TMZ announced that Michael Jackson had died. That was several hours ago. They're still covering the story on all the cable news channels. I know this is big, but once the LA coroner confirmed that he'd died there wasn't really anything more to cover, other than his brother's brief statement.

There have been numerous phone interviews with people in Jacko's life from which you could get the definite impression that Michael's world was full of people pretty much as whacked as he was. Al Sharpton managed to make the death of Jackson into an opportunity to get some camera time even though he's in New York and doesn't seem to have anything particularly to do with the current situation.

Good Lord, now they're showing the helicopter carring his body landing on a heliport on the way to the coroner's office. Isn't this just a little creepy? Now they're following the van that's taking the body to the coroner, ala OJ's SUV. Papparazzi to the bitter end.

It's getting harder to think of things to talk about and even Keith Olbermann is beginning to lapse into babble occasionally. One thing no one's talking about is Farrah Fawcett. That was so earlier today. We've forgotten about poor Farrah now. There is talk about whether or not Michael Jackson found the life he wanted. The consensus was, "No". Probably a fair bet.

Now they're talking about how we're all going to die and that gives us something in common with Michael Jackson. Presumably we have that in common with such folks as Aristotle and Attila the Hun as well.

Now there's that lunatic lawyer who Keith spoke to over the phone. He's out there talking on camera now. He looks just like he sounded on the phone. Oh, I looked away for a moment and now Reverend Al has thrown on a suit and tie and gotten his ass to the MSNBC New York studios. The man is alert. You have to give him that.

I'm sorry. All due respect to the berieved and the news guys who are just doing their best to do their jobs, but it's time to let this rest in peace at least until the autopsy or toxicology reports come out because it's turning into a parody of a celebrity death. Michael Jackson is still dead.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hardball WTF Moment of the Day

May_30_Health_Care_Rally_NP (478)

Image by seiuhealthcare775nw via Flickr

There were a lot of them today. It would have been hard to choose which was the most bewildering bit of conversation but then there was THE moment. It was about the presidential press conference, health care reform and the public option. They played a quick clip of Jake Tapper asking Obama what would become of his promise that the insured portion of the American people wouldn’t have to change their plan to a public option if they didn’t want to in the event that the public plan was a good deal and employers decided to switch to it. Yeah, what then? Then they played a small portion of the president’s reply.

"When I say if you have your plan and you like it, ... or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don't have to change plans, what I'm saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform," the president said.

At that point, Tweety, Chuck Todd and another head on the screen whose name I don’t recall right now generally agreed that Obama got caught a little on that answer. Actually, the only way Obama got caught short is in that he probably still can’t believe people who get paid huge sums of money to report are asking such stupid, stupid questions. Sure, he should know by now, but it’s still hard to wrap your head around it.

I’d just like to know who these people have been working for for the last couple of decades. When both Mr. Yenta and I had jobs with private, for profit companies we had our health insurance changed almost every year – and rarely for the better from where we sat. The same thing has happened to almost everyone we know, too. When I started working at my present place of employment it was a little different. There were about five plans to choose from. Now there are two. In these instances the insurance companies dropped us. Not enough people on some of the plans to make it worthwhile to insure our aging workforce. Of the two that remain, one of them has been taken over by another company and it’s hard to find specialists that take it. That’s the one I have and I’m not complaining. I’m not even complaining that they declined to cover a medication that was prescribed to me this week. Hasn’t been out long enough to be on their list. The co-pays are low, though, and at least we have insurance. With Mr. Yenta’s medical expenses that’s the most important thing to us. We’ll cope with the rest.

If Jake Tapper, Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd or the other head on the screen think for a moment that most Americans really have choice when it comes to health insurers they need to get in touch with reality. When they’re at a presidential press conference they’re asking questions for all of us. They should ask smarter ones.


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Profiles In Courage - Cynthia Davis

USDA Food PyramidImage via Wikipedia

You have to hand it to Rep. Cynthia Davis. Most politicians would feel like they had to pander to constituents who might be soft on hungry children - at least a little. It takes a special kind of person to come out against providing nutritious meals for kids, but Rep. Davis goes there.

Her suggestion that the older kids could get jobs at McDonald's and get fed on their break makes a lot of sense. Maybe they could grab some extra ketchup packets and take them home so their younger siblings could have vegetables. And why did she not suggest that the kids stand on busy thoroughfares holding up, "Will Work for Food" signs? She probably wishes she did.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Whole Wide World Is Tweeting

Stand With Free Iran #IranelectionImage by harrystaab via Flickr has posted the Cyberwar guide for Iran elections. Me, I'm just reading on Twitter right now. I don't think adding, "Go protestors", "I'm with you, from here in the comfort my living room." would be much of a help. I could be wrong, though. Who knows what effect having so much of the world engaged in a people's struggle will have?

Along with news, Twitter's full of handy tips, first aid advice and other helpful info. Of course it's also full of rumor and misinformation. There's help to sort out what you should be suspicious of and what's reasonably reliable in the form of Twitspam's Iranian Election page to help you identify sources of BS. You gotta hand it to them - Twitter's on top of things. Can you imagine trying to run a revolution on early IRC chatrooms or even early instant messging?

Between Twitter and Nico Pitney's excellent liveblogging at Huffington Post, I'm once again having a hard time focusing on the things I can more directly affect - such as the state of my kitchen floor, laundry, etc.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Iran, of course. I hope something good comes out of all this for the Iranian people, but one huge winner has already emerged. Twitter has grown up so fast. Biz Stone and all the Twitter folks have to be walking on air even as they take their new responsibility to the world seriously. The were even asked to stay online and delay planned maintenance – asked by the State Department, no less.

Seldom, if ever, has a web service become so consequential so quickly. YouTube is a vital part of it all, too, of course, but it’s been around long enough to have established that it’s not just about stupid pet tricks. Not that there’s anything wrong with stupid pet tricks. Can’t get enough of them really. But nowadays you can’t run a political campaign without it, and the stupid candidate tricks can change the fate of nations. When all this is said and done citizen journalism will have come of age and proved its worth to any remaining doubters.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Evening Pleasures

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 09:  (L-R) Actors Ryan ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

First, Indulgence
This was a pretty good Sunday night as those things go. First we got taken out for a Mothers' Day/Fathers' Day/Anniversary dinner. Our son and his girlfriend (who I think of as my future daughter-in-law) took us to a lovely café where we had a fantastic meal. Everything was good, but the most sinful part was the dessert I shared with my son. A "chocolate bag". We had to see what that was and OMG that was good. Pure chocolate shaped like a bag and filled with white chocolate mousse, whipped cream and berries.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Then home and the season premier of True Blood. The living room was packed for it. It really hit the ground running and the second season is looking even better than the first. I'd watch anyway. It's worth watching just for the theme song and opening credits. I think the song for the closing credits is new this season.

On A More Serious Note - Iran
I'm in total awe of the reform movement in Iran. It was heartbreaking to see what had happened in the election, but those people are so amazingly courageous. And they've had it. I guess there's no way for them to win this battle, but down the road I hope there's some way that they can win their war.
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DIY – Diagnose It Yourself

The story of Jessica Terry diagnosing her own ailment in AP science class says a lot about how smart Jessica is, but I have to wonder how smart her doctors are. Or are we just a little too reliant on tests that aren’t 100% reliable?

For eight years, Jessica Terry suffered from stomach pain so horrible, it brought her to her knees. The pain, along with diarrhea, vomiting and fever, made her so sick, she lost weight and often had to miss school.

During a science class, Jessica Terry, 18, discovered a tell-tale granuloma in her own pathology slide.

During a science class, Jessica Terry, 18, discovered a tell-tale granuloma in her own pathology slide.

Her doctors, no matter how hard they tried, couldn't figure out the cause of Jessica's abdominal distress.

Here’s the thing. Without any particular expertise or even aptitude for things medical I read that first sentence and thought it sounded like Crohn’s, which was that granuloma proved it to be. I’d never heard of a granuloma. I just have one friend – count ‘em – one – who has Crohn’s and those are her symptoms. By now I know people with all kinds of other gastrointestinal disorders too, but none of the symptoms seem to be exactly the same as Crohn’s, especially over such a long period of time. Seems to me that since Crohn’s is very serious  condition and, if left untreated, it can be fatal they might have wanted to make that leap and see if she responded to treatment. Of course, treatment for that particular disease is nothing to take lightly, so it’s understandable that they wouldn’t have jumped right in. But eight years? Have we gotten to the point in the CYA department where doctors don’t so much diagnose as just test?

I don’t mean to be all cranky about what’s supposed to be a good news kind of story and I have nothing against doctors or the medical profession in general. I’m very grateful for what ours have done for us over the years. It’s just that it seems that if you’re having a side effect that isn’t written about or a symptom that doesn’t produce a test result, sometimes they kind of stop paying attention. I see this happening a lot and I saw it with my mother as she aged. So this is more of a reflection and wondering if things are more this way now that so much testing is available or if it’s nothing new at all.

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Frank Rich on Hate and the People Who Enable It

Frank Rich has a must read, must spread column on the kind of rhetoric that is ramping up the hate in those who feel most threatened by Obama's presidency. It includes a call to conservative leaders to show some responsibility in light of recent events.
The question, Shepard Smith said on Fox last week, is “if there is really a way to put a hold on” those who might run amok. We’re not about to repeal the First or Second Amendments. Hard-core haters resolutely dismiss any “mainstream media” debunking of their conspiracy theories. The only voices that might penetrate their alternative reality — I emphasize might — belong to conservative leaders with the guts and clout to step up as McCain did last fall. Where are they? The genteel public debate in right-leaning intellectual circles about the conservative movement’s future will be buried by history if these insistent alarms are met with silence.
It’s typical of this dereliction of responsibility that when the Department of Homeland Security released a plausible (and, tragically, prescient) report about far-right domestic terrorism two months ago, the conservative response was to trash it as “the height of insult,” in the words of the G.O.P. chairman Michael Steele. But as Smith also said last week, Homeland Security was “warning us for a reason.”
Ironically, some conservative leaders did demonstrate some guts and common sense that bit of bravery might also serve to begin digging them out of the deep, dark hole they're in -especially if said conservative leaders are also closely identified with the GOP. At the moment, serious people can't take most Republicans or conservatives seriously. Their fortunes might start to change if they began acting like adults.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old Bigot Prefers Old Bigotry

Pat Buchanan

Image via Wikipedia

In yet another blatantly racist attack on Sonia Sotomayer, Pat Buchanan attributes every her every accomplishment to affirmative action and opines,

One prefers the old bigotry. At least it was honest, and not, as Abraham Lincoln observed, adulterated "with the base alloy of hypocrisy."

In other news salmon swim upstream to spawn and the sun rises in the east. So, let’s review. Pat thinks Sonia Sotomayor is not smart enough for a SCOTUS appointment but Sarah Palin is fit to be president.

He, of course, also prone to hanging around with a very bad crowd, as his speaking invitation to a white nationalist demonstrates.

It’s time to retire him from MSNBC and mainstream media.  His xenophobic, racist ideology is showing bigtime and should not be legitimized as part of the national discourse . Please let’s leave the unabashed racists to themselves.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sorry Wingnuts - He's All Yours

The dedication plaque outside the museum.

Image via Wikipedia

Of course the people who make their livings off of the worst instincts of the right wing base are anxious to deflect any blame for the most recent murder by a far right extremist. And given their propensity for opposite logic it’s not a big surprise that they’ve decided that Von Brunn is a leftist.

Ironically, the voices of vitriol – Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, right wing bloggers and the rest might be less responsible for this individual’s actions than the other murders that have taken place in recent months. It’s complicated. Von Brunn’s world view intersects with the birthers and tea baggers who are encouraged by the right wing punditizers. He would meet kindred spirits at any Palin rally. But still and all,he’s 88 years old. He’s been who he is for a long, long time. He’s done reckless things before, even serving time in jail. It’s just possible that something as simple as having a black president could have sent him out to do this murder. That doesn’t mean they don’t have real responsibility for the violent climate that’s been emerging since the election. Their rhetoric is dangerous. And they should be very afraid that  a critical mass of people will finally call them on it. Much more of this and that could happen.

By people, I mean the Republicans that line up to genuflect to them. I mean mainstream media which treats them as voices on one side of the political spectrum instead of the irresponsible shock jocks that they are. That includes the media that we mostly like. Why does Frank Gaffney get a platform on Hardball, for instance? The things he’s said recently should completely marginalize him, and yewe pretend he has something to say? When it comes to Limbaugh and Beck, maybe we’re all guilty. They’re such trainwrecks that it’s hard to look away, but perhaps we should all try.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fire In A Crowded Theater

How many people have been killed in the last few months by domestic extremists? Well, I was about to write a post about that very thing but turns out TPM poster known as The Commenter Formerly Known As NCSteve pretty much covered all the ground I had in mind.

So my question is this. How many more murderous rampages by enraged rightists--whether executed or merely in the planning stage--are we going to have to endure before the traditional media is willing to acknowledge and address the obvious? How many people are going to die, and how highly placed will the victims have to be, before someone connects the dots and starts calling out the ever more violent, hateful and apocalyptic rhetoric of the likes of Coulter, Malkin, O'Reilly, Hannity and Savage as bearing some responsibility for creating this climate of insanity?

Raving mad rhetoric has been mainstreamed by right wing radio, cable news and, of course, the intertubes and to some extent even by elected officials. This rash of killings is not, as was posited on Hardball tonight, completely separate from any political party. It is lunacy that is absolutely predictably inflamed by talking points that are treated as just another point of view.

It’s clear that having our first African-American president, the economic climate and the repudiation of conservatism has combined to send some lunatics right over the edge. There’s no question of shutting down freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean that the kind of hate speech that’s become so commonplace shouldn’t be much more seriously marginalized by mainstream media and strenuously criticized by mainstream political figures – Republicans and Democrats alike.

Also, I’m just wondering if Shep Smith (and others who receive them) are turning over those untold number of hate filled e-mails to the appropriate authorities? I assume that the Secret Service is already spending a fair amount of time at Free Republic where the legitimacy our our duly elected president is questioned with regularity. I just hope they’re taking every thread like that very seriously.

*Updated to add quotes and clarity

Greetings from the Banana Republic State

New York State Capitol Building, completed in ...

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know how long we’ll be able to communicate. I’m sure you’ve heard there’s been a coup in NY State. Even now we don’t know who will be disappeared. You can’t tell for sure who’s a loyalist and who’s working with the Republicanistas.  Governor Paterson is a prisoner of the state at the moment. A resistance movement has been mounted.

More later if they don’t seize our means of communication. Keep good thoughts for us.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Barack Obama, International Man of History

Ancient history, that is. I’ve been catching up on Obama’s Cairo speech. Of course, that was a couple of countries ago, already. I don’t know if even President Obama can bring world peace, but at the very least, Americans with the inclination and the funds to travel should be able to stop pretending to be Canadian.

The absolute kicker of it all to me, though, was Obama finding a look-alike on the wall of an ancient Egyptian tomb.


This guy looks enough like Obama to be a caricature at the very least. His name was Kar. Which of course could be short for Barack, backwards. Anderson Cooper and his commenters are impressed, too. I don’t think we should let this go until it’s available as a t-shirt.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TV Night

Pennsylvania Avenue is now closed to all traff...

Image via Wikipedia

Tonight the family will be in front of the teevee machine watching the Inside the White House special on NBC. It’s such a luxury to have a president that doesn’t make us want to puke upon seeing him. We’re just going to revel in that tonight.

Before I settle in, though, I’d just like to say to Rick Santorum – Corner bar. A shot and a beer? Are you out of your freaking little mind? Thought so. If the Obamas couldn’t afford a night out on the town then I’m sure there are about a thousand more appealing things they could do for a cheaper date night. But they can. And it’s a much shorter flight to NYC than to Crawford, TX.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Can We Learn Anything From George Tiller’s Murder?

When I read about the murder a few hours ago, I was going to post something to the effect that the apologists should be making statements shortly. There was always a script for it. Pro-life groups would condemn the act and after about 24 hours or so there’d be  a“but” attached to the condemnation. It’s always something to the effect that the victim of the murder was, after all, someone who took innocent life, but killing is never, ever acceptable. Well, things are moving a lot faster these days and not everyone is quite so delicate about it.Statements have been pouring out from pro-life groups, abortion rights groups and everyone else who will make a statement.  Randall Terry, for one, does not seem to feel constrained to express any condemnation other than to regret that Dr. Tiller was not afforded time to meet his Maker.

Grandpa Eddie reminds us of that report that had some right wing panties in a bunch. The one that referred to home grown terrorists. Sounds like it was right on to me. He also provides a retrospective of violent acts of terrorism targeting abortion providers.

Fitness for the Occasion makes the very simple, but insightful, point that things like this are the problem with calling abortion murder.

So, there are lessons about domestic terrorism, lessons about rhetoric and how not to use it, and I’d hope there is a lesson about thinking hard about how a public message might affect persons who have serious mental health issues.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Been Memed

Agi  has a meme and was kind enough to tag me. This one is not going to be stellar, but I’ll do my best. It’s about your movie rental history or, if you don’t have one of those, then whatever the last ten movies you’ve rented or watched. I’m headed for Epic Fail here because I’m about two decades behind on my movie watching. What makes it even worse is that when I do get around to seeing one it’s likely not going to be anything I’m terribly proud of.

First let me say that Mr.Yenta is in charge of media acquisition around here. If I want to see something I let him know and he’ll see to getting it. He doesn’t rent. He usually buys on eBay. Then he either keeps it if he likes it enough or else sells it back on eBay. Frequently a movie comes out that I think I’d like to see when it’s available on DVD, but by the time it is, I’ve entirely forgotten. So, my recent movie history goes like this:

The two Queen Elizabeth movies. I’m a sucker for historical drama and books, too. Novels and actual biographies. I prefer more pre-Renaissance stuff, but I’ll watch what’s available.

Hancock. Was fun.

Lakeview Terrace. Well, we started it, but neither Mr. Yenta or I was having fun watching it so we decided we didn’t have to finish it if we didn’t want to.

We bought Slumdog Millionaire last week, but haven’t remembered to actually watch it.

Also, bits of whatever inexecrable thing Mr. Yenta is watching on Sci-Fi or Chiller. They often involve giant snakes or other reptiles.

Consider yourselves all tagged if you want to be. You know who you are.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another Study, Similar Conclusion

John Stuart Mill

Image via Wikipedia

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it. - John Stuart Mill -

Yet another study shows linkage between dumbassness and conservatism.

Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.

This time it’s all about cognitive ability. The results seem to be strikingly similar in all the studies that come out. There’s more stupidity in the conservative camp. Surprised? Not so much.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor v Bigotry

US Supreme CourtImage by dbking via Flickr

It's kind of redundant to post about this at this point. Every blog that even dabbles in politics is writing about, most better than I could. BUT - just how blatantly bigoted to the Republicans think it's a good idea to be? Do they think that their base of white, angry, frightened senior citizens is going over time? They're exquisitely expressing fear of ethnicity and gender all over the freaking place. Rush says she's an "angry woman". Although I'm not seeing it, I don't really see where he's in a position to criticize anger. It's made him a bundle. Although, of course, he also says that Obama has a chip on his shoulder. Transference much, Rush? Obama surely does have a lot on his shoulders. Not many people can legitimately claim to have the weight of the world on their shoulders, but the POTUS can and when you add all the shit left behind by the Bushies it's a wonder he can stand up, but he does. But you never see a sign of a chip.

This whole "reverse racism" thing might have seemed like a good idea for stirring up the low information, white, male, unemployed demographic, but they're taking it way too far like they've done with everything else and allowing everyone to see exactly what they're about.

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The Goode Family

The Goode FamilyImage via Wikipedia

The Goode Family premier tonight was pretty funny. Because liberals can laugh at themselves - or at least at their friends. We enjoyed it.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

This Is Unbelievable

Well, it's not really unbelievable but I wish that it was a lot harder to believe. Writechic Press has been devoting a lot of her blog to helping with one particular person's battle to receive lifesaving medical care. This most recent roadblock is just the latest news read backward to learn more.

And if anyone ever again says to you that - A. "People don't die from lack of health care in this country" or B. "Universal health care will lead to rationing and waits for care", you should probably just spit in his eye.

Let's Take Up A Collection

And give Cheney an all expenses paid trip to Spain including one-way airfare. In appreciation for his service to the country and all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Let Me Talk You Down, Rachel, Hilzoy, et al

This is going to be quick because I'm literally on my way out to work. I've asked my lefty lawyer sister about Obama and preventative detention for some of the Gitmo detainees and the issues surrounding it. By the way, I'd put money on her in a constitutional cage match with any lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights or just about any other for that matter. She's wicked smart and very good. She also predicted that there would be this problem of tainted evidence against people we might not be able to let go. What she says, just from reading that part of the speech - is that what Obama is talking about is within the Geneva Convention rules. It does not appear to be about any "unprecedented presidential power" as was asserted on the Rachel Maddow show last night. She's going to study the whole thing and tell me more over the weekend, but this is what I've got off the top of her head:

First a military commision designates who is and who isn't a POW. The Bush administration decided to get around all that by making up the designation of "unlawful enemy combatant" and the Obama administraton is now forced to sort that out years later. Then, once designated a POW we can detain the person for the legnth of the conflict. What could pose a political problem for the administration is that POWs are supposed to be held in humane - very humane - conditions. They are not charged with a crime. The principle is that they're being held to keep them off the battlefield. They wouldn't have to go as far as we did during WWII with some Italian POWs held in the NY area. Some of them got furloughs to go visit Little Italy. We probably wouldn't be doing that. But they should properly be kept in better conditions than prisoners who have been convicted of a crime.

It's not pretty, but it's not ad hoc either. There are complications due to the fact that this conflict is of a different nature, of course. For one thing, if you're designated a POW and the conflict is an insurgency, you could be detained for a long, long time. If the previous administration had been interested in the rule of law everything would be in place by now, but it was more interested in getting around the law. That is one of the many huge differences between the Obama and Bush administrations.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Governor Perry Says He's Not A Rebel, No, No, No

Rick Perry's Texas Tea PartyImage by Mike Licht, via Flickr

Now Rick Perry writes that he never advocated for secession. And he never will. It was just a case of twisting his words. He's clearing it up now. He's just understandably upset over Democratic deficit spending, as opposed to Republican deficit spending which is just fine.

My only question is whether this is something he'll have to apologize to Rush Limbaugh for. Or is it Hannity who's in charge of secession related apologies?
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Mentally Stable Need Not Apply

WASHINGTON - MAY 16:   President Barack Obama ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Acting Globally

I don't really know very much about Governor Huntsman of Utah, other than what I've read recently. The graviment of that is that he's that increasingly rare bird - a Republican and not demonstrably mentally ill. Therefore, he might be able to make a credible run for the presidency in 2012 and apparently was considering doing so. It's early, but it was serious enough for the Michigan County Republican Party to cancel an appearance by Huntsman because of his not being enough of a mouth breathing, knuckle dragging bigot support for civil unions. And now he's going to China to be an ambassador. Ambassador to China is a hugely important job at this moment in history and he seems to be well qualified for it. It's also about as far away from Republican Party politics as he can get.

I was thinking about doing a longer post, speculating about Huntsman's motivation for accepting this post, but it turned out that Steven Benen had already posted exactly what I was thinking, only better. This might be the sort of of post-partisanship that President Obama was talking about. A rival goes to the other side of the world and Jon Huntsman gets to take himself out of action while he sees if the Republican Party is ever going to have room for normal people again. And of course, the crazies don't have to go to the trouble of running off another moderate. They've got enough to do with expelling Charlie Crist and Colin Powell.

Acting Out Locally

Meanwhile, here on Long Island, the teabaggers were at it again. They had what looked to be a pretty lively event on tax day last month, so they decided to do it again for Armed Forces Day. I haven't been able to find any coverage of it online as yet. The only reason I knew about it was that my sister passed it on the road today. She said it was as charming as all these things, with signs that said "Waterboard Pelosi" mixed in with other assorted complaints. I'm not surprised that we have some wingnuts in our midst. Not in the least. Hell, there's a couple down that have matching "Sarah Palin 2012" stickers on their cars already. If that's not scary stupid, I don't know what is.

Still, I was curious about our local teabaggers so I checked them out in the Google and found a Meet-Up site where some of them could be found. There's a message board. There are practical discussions about logistics of their events and stuff like that, but keep going and the crazy rears its head. My favorite was a birther post about an April Fool's joke that they ate up like it was dipped in chocolate. They may live in the area, but they haven't moved into the reality based community.

Speaking of which, where's our daily Cheney? I haven't heard anything new from him for two days now. Have I just missed it?

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Let's Keep Not Investigating Torture

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a ...Image via Wikipedia

I have to say that for something that's not being pursued we're getting a lot of new information about the previous administration's actions regarding torture every day. I hope we keep not investigating the whole thing and I certainly hope that the Cheney Family Torture Tour keep doing what they've been doing so well. We're learning a lot more than the details of the Cheney/Bush administrations adventures in " enhanced interrogation".

We might well be learning the why and the who of it. And we're getting daily confirmation that Cheney really was running the show for a long time. And apparently thinks he still is, but hey, don't tell him yet. He's on a pace to move popular opinion firmly to the side of prosecution for war crimes within a few more weeks. That can only help.

So, let's see more of this inaction. It's working pretty well so far.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Secession is Busting Out All Over

NASA Landsat satellite image of Long Island an...Image via Wikipedia

It seems here in Suffolk County, NY, we're really mad and we're going to talk about not taking it anymore. It all has to do with some taxes that are being levied on us to bail out the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). And maybe we send Albany 3 million dollars more a year than we get back, which is entirely possible. So some lawmakers want to have a task force to study secession. This happens periodically. Sometimes it's all of Long Island that wants to secede. Sometimes the East End of Long Island wants to secede from Suffolk County. This year it's just Suffolk wanting out of New York State. Given the regularity with which this kind of sentiment appears I'm not too concerned that anything is going to come of it, other than possibly having to pay to fund a study. It did start me thinking about what secession from a state would entail. Quite a lot, I'd think. Just a few off the top of my head:

  • Stationery, business cards, changes to websites and everything else for every business and government office in Suffolk.
  • License plates. I hope we could at least have pretty ones, like Arizona, for instance.
  • Speaking of license plates, we'll be needing a prison system. We have a county jail. That's suitable for people awaiting trial and maybe people in trouble for not paying child support. If a person if convicted of a serious felony they go "upstate", now. Won't have that option.
  • We have to work out what happens to state property, like the state parkways and the state parks. We have some nice state parks.
  • Counties? We'd be very small. I wonder if Rhode Island has counties.
  • Updated court system. Right now we have things like State Supreme Court.
  • Marriage. We register marriage by town, but we get married "by the power vested in me by the State of New York".
  • Motto, bird, flower, seal
  • Insurance regulations
  • Every single state government function. I think there are a lot of those.
OK, that was just a partial list because I'm too sleepy to keep typing. I just wonder how long it would take to see a return on our investment if we decide to go ahead and secede. I'm betting that could take a while.

Morning addenda:
  • Oh, and the state university system. That's going to be awkward. Just for starters we have a large state university here, complete with a medical school and a big hospital. I think the state will want that back. And then there's the fact that residents have access to a whole lot of state universities and colleges at lower costs than they'd pay if they lived out of state. How we gonna replace that?
  • Health care for lower income people. It's not all medicare and medicaid, folks. We have two state administered plans for health insurance for some of the people that would otherwise be uninsured. One is free and one is lower cost than the same policy would cost on the free market. Are we going to replace that? Just wondering.
It seems like there might be a lot of reasons why this idea never goes anywhere. But I guess we have to vent.

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Democrat Socialist Checking In

All I can say about this is it that I guess maybe if they wanted to follow suit the Democrats could introduce a resolution to rename the Republicans the Poopy Head Party. Then the Republicans could counter with the I'm Rubber, You're Glue resolution. The Democrats would then have to answer with the Oh Yeah, Well Nobody Likes You measure which the Republicans would be hard put to answer.

And people say that the GOP has no ideas...

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Evening Pundits on Wanda

WASHINGTON - MAY 9:  President Barack Obama an...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The evening returns are in.

Chris Matthews thinks Wanda Sykes thinks wishing kidney failure on Rush Limbaugh was over the top. This is not a surprise. Tweety had to have been a weeny in Catholic school.

Keith Olbermann also thinks she went over the top, not caring for the suggestion that Rushbo was supposed to be the 20th hijacker. You can't bring 911 into a joke. Well, most people shouldn't try it, but Sykes has special comedic abilities. I'm not sure that Olbermann really meant that bit of censure or just feels like it was the fair and balanced thing to say.

Ed Schultz thought she was wonderful. I'm with Ed.

John Stewart is doing a pretty good piece on it right now.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. I thought I’d  meditate on my mom a little bit. I think I’ve posted all this before in other places, but it’s what I’m thinking about this Mother’s Day, so there you go. I’ve posted this photo before, too, but I love to remember the time this was taken. We went down to Ocean City, NJ, where we met up with a bunch of friends and went to see Arlo at the Music Pier there and hung out around the boardwalk for a couple of days. I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but I do know it was the last big thing we did together and I’m so glad she decided to come along on that trip. When she was feeling like herself she was up for anything. Actually, one of the things that made her last year or so so hard was that she believed she was still up for anything but it was simply no longer true.


Mom died at the age of 85 – which is fantastic for her side of the family – in 2006.  I can tell you exactly what day she started her decline into dementia. It was Election Night, 2004. We had to call 911 and spent much of the night at the ER as she had the first and most likely the worst of a whole lot of mini-strokes which first took her short term memory and then took away more and more brain functions, including some that keep you alive. That Election Night is what did it.  God, she hated Bush. Every time she regained consciousness she asked about the Election and insisted that it could be a mistake and we could all wake up and found that Kerry had actually won.

How I wish she could have held on at least until the Democrats took Congress in 2006. And if she could have voted for Obama and seen him elected, well, she could have gone with the feeling that the world had made some progress after all, instead of going downhill and backwards with astonishing speed. It would have made her truly happy. Anyway, I miss her. I don’t think that you ever really get over missing people that are gone. I think you just learn to co-exist with the inevitable losses that life brings.