Monday, February 28, 2011

Goodhair Wants To Govern In Secret, Blocks Some Reporters On Twitter

This is a perfect example of why Republans should be utterly barred from participation in government in an open society, because they decline to participate publicly:

A reporter at The Dallas Morning News says he's been blocked from following Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Twitter account -- and he's not the only one. 

On Sunday, Tom Benning reported that when he recently tried to follow @GovernorPerry, which is described as the "Personal Twitter feed of Texas' 47th Governor" and has over 30,000 followers, he received the following message: "Could not follow user: You have been blocked from following this account at the request of the user." So Benning called Perry's office:

I put in a call to the governor's press office, where Ashton Morgan told me the governor has sole control of his personal Twitter account. She added that she would try and get an answer as to why he blocked me. 

But Benning then saw other journalists complaining about being blocked. Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote: "Is it just me or has @GovernorPerry also blocked you from following him on Twitter? Hurt that I'll miss text on his next gig with Ted Nugent." KRLD's Scott Braddock wrote: "How many members of the Texas media are blocked from following @GovernorPerry on Twitter?"


Quite a few, as it turns out. Perry apparently believes that his publicly visible Twitter account should be invisible to reporters he doesn't like. I recommend the reporters simply set up additional Twitter accounts under a different name. And as for Perry... fuck him with a corkscrew; he doesn't seem to realize that governing in a democracy is necessarily a public activity.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  Far be it from me to suggest that Anonymous take a look at Gov. Perry's Twitter account or his campaign web site. Oh, no; that would be wrong: no one should do anything to interfere with total bastards in governors' mansions...

Last U.S. WW I Vet Dies At 110

His name was Frank Buckles. Perhaps he could simply no longer live with U.S. wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan that "make the world safe for military contractors democracy."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Perfect Sign From Madison

... from Susan Oshman. (NOTE: the date shown for the photo is certainly the result of an improperly set clock on the camera. This photo is very recent.)

Sandwiched Between Antiquity And Modern Technology

From Bread: A Slice of History, by Marchant, Reuben and Alcock, p. 160:

The technology of bread-making had remained almost static since the early years of the [20th] century. There had been marginal improvements and consolidation, but nothing dramatic. Only the development of bread slicing and packaging savoured of innovation. Thus it is no exaggeration to say that the four innovative bread-making processes that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s — the Do-Maker, the Chorleywood bread process, the sponge and dough process, and Activated Dough Development, (and similar but related processes) — were the greatest thing since sliced bread.

<grin_duck_run />

Conspiracy Theory

Here's a scary one... and not at all unbelievable. If it is true, WASF.

(H/T ellroon for the Kos link.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

'I've Got A Hammer, And I've Got A Bell' - 100,000 In Madison Capitol Square

Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) reminds everyone that we have what it takes to make good things happen. And 100,000+ people... good God, some marches on Washington, DC aren't that big! Maybe, just maybe... as Peter told David Dayen of FDL, about the people in that square... "If they persist, they will prevail."

66 Rallies In 50 States And DC

Photos here.

Courage, good people. I wish I could be with you, but my old body won't cooperate with a trip to Austin. I am with you in spirit.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready' Humans

Mike Ludwig at truthout:

Just two weeks before the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) fully deregulated Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa, a senior soil scientist alerted the department about a newly discovered, microscopic pathogen found in high concentrations of Roundup Ready corn and soy that researchers believe could be causing infertility in livestock and diseases in crops that could threaten the entire domestic food supply.

Dr. Don Huber, a plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor, wrote in a letter to the USDA that the pathogen is new to science and appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably humans.

"For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks," Huber wrote in his January 16 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."


Given the Obama USDA's easy roll-over for Monsanto to this point, good luck with that. WASF.

That's What Unions Do

William Rivers Pitt of truthout explains it to us.

Gingrich: Impeach Obama For DOMA Action

Speaking on (ahem) Newsmax, Newt Gingrich, having failed to nail Clinton with a bogus impeachment, is talking about how Obama's decision to have the DOJ not defend DOMA in court is possibly "impeachable" for allegedly violating his constitutional oath, but lesser approaches should be tried first, e.g., zeroing out the budget for the DOJ.

Put simply, Gingrich is too fucking stupid to have figured out that declining to mount a defense of a law in court is not even remotely the same as "suspending" a law; i.e., courts will still do the work of courts in deciding the constitutionality of DOMA, but Obama's DOJ won't defend the law Gingrich loves so much. (After all, he obviously loves marriage between a man and a woman, and a woman, and a woman...)

Now That's Power!

From the AP via Yahoo News: "DENVER – George W. Bush said Friday he will not visit Denver this weekend as planned because WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was invited to attend one of the same events as the former president."

That Assange fellow really has power! I spent eight years wishing I could make George W. Bush go away...


You already know what I missed until now by sleeping late: At around 1 AM, Republans in the Wisconsin Assembly held a surprise vote... didn't even move to cut off debate first, disallowed all Democrats' requests even to speak, and (it's hard to tell from the news article) may have even cut off Dems' opportunity to press their buttons in the automated voting system... to pass the Walker budget. According to that system, 28 members didn't vote at all... how likely is that?

Democrats began chanting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and I stand with them on that.

Clearly Wisconsin is no longer a democracy, Walker is a dictator and his Republan legislators are a rabble. Perhaps the outcome could never have been any different, but the process damned well could have been.

Now only the Democratic senators' absence prevents the budget from becoming law. Maybe it's time for a public employee sick-out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yet Another Community Takes Offense At Walker: Law Enforcement

If Scott Walker intends to be a practitioner of evil, he's going to have to get a lot better at a number of things, and one of them is keeping his foolish mouth shut. What community is now offended by Walker's intended actions? Law enforcement, because of Walker's remarks to "David Koch" about how he "thought about" planting agents provocateurs in the crowds at the Capital to stir up trouble which he could then move against.

This is deplorable in several ways. First, though Walker as Governor is presumably the state's highest law enforcement official, he is proposing initiating illegal actions. Second, any trouble he stirred up might well endanger police, peaceful protesters, staff and legislators of both parties... remember, Democratic House members are still present... going about their business in the Capital, and state property within the Capital. Third, believe me, the police officers don't need the trouble, and I am confident they appreciate the nonviolence of the protests to date.* If all of those aren't grounds for a recall of Walker when all of this blows over, I don't know what would be.

*  Back in my antiwar-protesting days in 2003, occasionally after the event a police officer would escort departing protesters to our parking lot a block away... not that we were any trouble; he was just doing his job of protecting us from some of the Freepers who occasionally showed up with bad intentions.

MINOR CORRECTION: In Wisconsin, they call it the Assembly, not the House. Please read as such, above and elsewhere that I typed House.

It Was The Hand Of Providence

Make your own bad joke; there are several available in this story:

Providence, RI Issues Dismissal Notices To Every Teacher
Eric Lach | February 24, 2011, 12:36PM

Each one of the 1,926 teachers working for the Providence School Department was sent a dismissal notice this week, in a move officials say was necessary to deal with a projected deficit of almost $40 million next year.

According to The Providence Journal, "[s]chool and city leaders said they were forced to issue the mass dismissal notices because of a state law that says teachers must be notified about possible layoffs or terminations by March 1." In a statement, Mayor Angel Taveras said that because the deadline for informing teachers about employment changes came before the budget for next year could be determined, the move was necessary.

"Providence faces significant challenges in getting its financial house in order," Taveras said in the statement. ...

 If I were one of those teachers, I'd seek a new job immediately. This is not easy for teachers; many states require teacher certification specific to that state.

As for Providence, I think they'd better get used to finding jobs for many, many uneducated kids, some of whom may otherwise find, um, things to do if left to roam the streets. You can spend your money on an adequate number of teachers or on an overwhelming number of cops; it's your choice.

You Can Get Anything You Want At

And you thought it was at Alice's Restaurant. Ryan J. Reilly of TPMMuckraker:

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, the 20-year-old who allegedly plotted to target the home of former President George W. Bush and attack other locations in the U.S. with improvised explosive devices led a seemingly lonely life in Texas after he arrived from Saudi Arabia in 2008. But the criminal complaint reveals that he may have compensated, in part, by starting a blog -- and that his alleged online activities had a decidedly darker side.

The investigation into Aldawsari appears to have started when the Carolina Biological Supply (CBS) reported a suspicious attempted purchase of the chemical phenol. Between December 2010 and January 2011, Aldawsari bought a number of items from that could seemingly be used to develop a weapon.

(Boldface mine.)

I know it's not funny. But what a great ad it is for Amazon! Apparently you really CAN get anything you want on or through! "Walk right in; it's around the back..."

WI GOPers Cut Off Debate In Assembly

In keeping with their antidemocratic tradition, Wisconsin's GOP House majority set a limit on the number of budget bill amendments to be proposed and on the length of debate. Note that the Wisconsin Senate Democrats are still elsewhere. This statement from House minority leader Peter Barca (from a liveblog; I can't guarantee it will still be at that link) pretty well sums it up:

Democrats did not make a deal this morning. It’s not a deal when the majority shuts down the voice of the people.‬‪

The Republican majority issued an ultimatum and demanded a limit on the number of amendments in the Wisconsin Assembly this morning. Republican leadership said that only one additional amendment per Democratic Assembly member would be allowed. The only other option they presented was to cut off debate entirely. Assembly Democrats will continue to debate and have been working to prioritize remaining amendments so that we can make the best case on behalf of Wisconsin’s working families.‬‪ Make no mistake, Assembly Democrats have been pressing both legislative leadership and Governor Walker to come to the table to resolve this impasse. Every attempt at compromise has been refused by Gov. Walker and Assembly Republicans. During the 45 hours of session Republicans rejected every amendment Democrats offered: 57 amendments and counting.‬‪ A deal would be if they agreed to remove the many egregious, harmful elements of this bill – and certainly give people their rights back. They have done neither of these things.
Ian Welsh says there is chatter of a possible general strike in Wisconsin, which he says would be illegal under Taft-Hartley. Somehow I find it hard to be outraged at peaceful violators of law whose rights under the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see upstream) are being violated.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bad Choices v. Worse Choices

Arianna Huffington says that's the budget debate in a nutshell. How did we get here? Read and take notes... if this crisis doesn't destroy us utterly, it could all happen again.

UN Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

Here's Article 23:
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Is that so difficult for Republans to understand? Oh, wait; they hate the UN almost as much as they hate human rights. <emily_litella_voice> Never mind! </emily_litella_voice>

(H/T Danny Weil of The Daily Censored.)

Obama, DOJ: Parts Of DOMA Unconstitutional, Will Not Defend In Court

Ryan J. Reilly of TPM:

The Obama Justice Department has decided that part of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and will not defend it in court.

"After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. 

"The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional," Holder said. "Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President's determination."

It's a start.

The Internet 'Kill Switch' That Will Not Die

Senators LIEberman and Collins reportedly have tweaked their Internet kill-switch bill to address various concerns. They haven't addressed mine: that such a bill even exists.

Although it has a number, S.413, the bill does not yet have a text on the Thomas site. (Why not?)

The version of the bill from last July, S. 3480, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, had the support of Microsoft (among many others). But even that version of the bill contained what I can only call provisions that are dubious from a civil liberties perspective. Consider this:

Preserving Free Speech in Cybersecurity Emergencies: If the government knows an attack that could have catastrophic consequences, this legislation would give the President the authority to implement emergency measures protecting a select group of the most important networks and assets needed to maintain our way of life.  Emergency measures under the bill would automatically expire within 30 days. The President could renew the 30-day emergency measures up to three additional times for a maximum of only 120 days and after that Congress would have to approve any extension. 

If there is one thing we have learned from the Obama and Bush administrations, it is that measures designed to expire... don't. (Look at the "temporary" Bush tax cuts, for example, or the "sunset" provisions of the PATRIOT Act.) So when the bill eventually emerges from its cloak on the Thomas site, be sure you read it with the understanding that, whatever authority it grants the President, the President has, effectively, in perpetuity.

Here's what they have to say about privacy provisions in the bill (again, remember, this is the July version under discussion):
Some additional privacy and civil liberty provisions of the bill include:

• Numerous requirements for consultation with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board within the White House, DHS, and other federal agencies.

• The creation of a full-time privacy officer within NCCC to consult on cyber security matters within DHS.

• An Office of Management and Budget review of existing policies relating to current privacy requirements for the federal government.

• A required report on US-CERT’s activities relating to privacy in an unclassified form to allow it to be shared widely.

• An opportunity for the public to comment and suggest improvements to the policy and operations of the NCCC.
Who appoints these boards and commissions? Have you been satisfied to date with the responsibility of Obama's appointees toward civil liberties matters? (If you're reading this site, I know I need not even ask how you feel about Bush's appointees.)

I am not wholly averse to a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC). But the notion that a U.S. president should ever be allowed plenary or even limited power to shut off portions of the internet in response to an emergency should terrify anyone who uses the internet for any purpose. That way lies totalitarian rule.

I'll have more when the text of the new version of the bill appears on Thomas. Meanwhile, the facts that LIEberman is its cosponsor and Microsoft supports it predispose me to oppose this legislation.

(H/T Attaturk of FDL.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Star-Telegram Summarizes Texas Budget

The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, at one time the late great Molly Ivins's newspaper, provides a summary list of proposed budget changes for the State of Texas. It isn't pretty. Expect old people, kids, people with disabilities, home health assistance programs, schools and libraries, colleges and universities, and various environmentally related inspection and maintenance programs to be hurt. Other than that, everything is just fine; just ask Governor Goodhair.

Daniels To Indiana GOP Legislators: Drop Union-Busting Bill

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Indiana), in a radio TV broadcast, called on members of the state legislature from his own party to drop the anti-union "right-to-work" bill:

"I'm not sending the state police after anybody. I'm not gonna divert a single trooper from their job of protection the Indiana public. I trust that people's consciences will bring them back to work. ... For reasons I've explained more than once I thought there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised."
It's not that Daniels disagrees with the idea of union-busting: it's that he understands that as long as that issue is up in the air, not one other damned (or blessed) thing will be accomplished in the legislature.

I've said it before: when an assault on the right to organize offends even some Republans, it's time to call off the fight. Many GOPers seem to be just fine with stripping people's rights, but maybe it takes only a few of them in powerful positions to read the handwriting on the wall... even if the rest of them seem unable to read.

"Man-On-Dog" Santorum: Wisconsin Protesters Are Addicts

Former Sen. Ricky "Man-on-Dog" Santorum... hasn't he gone away yet? ... says of Wisconsin workers' demand that their rights be preserved: "They are acting like their drug is being taken away from them."

While he's at it, he has a similar comment about people making use of entitlements and government-supported health care programs: "What these folks are in Washington is no better than a drug dealer. They give you a subtle narcotic to make you feel better as you do worse." And this man thinks he should be President.

They're called "entitlements" for a reason. Parse the word, Rickie Boy, and see if you can learn anything. I'm not betting on it.

FL Gov Assents To Public Employee Unions

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), himself a Tea Party darling, says "My belief is as long as people know what they're doing, collective bargaining is fine." He does not go so far as to say that worker benefits are untouchable, but then again, neither do the workers of Wisconsin. Scott's agreement is specific to the issue of public workers having the right to organize. And Scott is OK with it.

Take that, King Walker!

Kevin Drum Steps Back To Look At A Bigger Picture

From an article by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones:


... And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics.

The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-'70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.

Second, American politicians don't care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.

Reason #73,259 why I am no longer a member of the Democratic Party...

Up Next: Indiana

In the face of a bill similar to the one in Wisconsin, Indiana's Democratic legislators have absquatulated, apparently mostly to Illinois. TPM has details.

The Real Reason King Walker Is Fucking The Public Employees

Bryan of Why Now? has the details. The whole thing is an outrageous cover for other "goodies" embedded in King Walker's budget "repair" ... one of which permits the sale of several state-owned power generation plants to Koch Industries under a no-bid contract.

Honest Abe

... said some things that might surprise you. Indeed, they would astonish and dismay today's Republans. The Rude Pundit has the quotations.

King Walker Threatens WI Workers

King Gov Walker threatened to start sending layoff notices to state workers as soon as next week if the budget standoff is not resolved, whatever that means.

In other news, King Walker found it difficult to employ temp's to keep his office in operation, as no humans applied for the jobs and the Chimpanzees' and Monkeys' Unions blacklisted the Governor's Office...

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Raymond Davis Matter, NYT Serves As U.S. Government Organ

You guess which organ.

When news organizations cease reporting facts because the government tells them not to report them, those news org's become untrustworthy. Explain to me how we will ever again trust NYT to report fully on an international incident possibly involving an American CIA agent... Right in one! we won't!

WI Legislature Comment Phone Line Turned Off

Awwww, poor babies... having to answer "[h]undreds and hundreds of calls, every hour -- even at 3 AM." So what did the Republans do? They turned the complaint line off. To me, that speaks volumes about who they are.

But the AFL-CIO spokesperson had a message for the GOPers anyway:

A spokesperson for the AFL-CIO told TPM that he didn't know of any scheme to direct calls to the Legislative Hotline, and he suggested such a plan didn't really make sense as legislators in Wisconsin would probably only care about calls that came from people in Wisconsin, not national complaints from people forwarded to them by an outside group.

"And that's why their offices have been swamped with tens of thousands of people, letters, phone calls and emails because the people of Wisconsin oppose this radical attack," AFL-CIO Political Communications Director Eddie Vale said. 

The Republicans in control of both Houses of the legislature "can turn off their phones, they can put their fingers in their ears and stamp their feet, but the voices of the men and women of Wisconsin will be heard," Vale added.

La-la-la-la you can't stop us!

Walker's Plan Too Disgusting Even For State Senate GOP Moderates?

I always feel a twinge, or perhaps a cringe, when I use the phrase "GOP moderates," but when a proposal was afloat to pull the union-busting language out of the budget bill and craft a bill specifically for it... remember, the budget bill requires a 3/5 vote in Wisconsin, and any other bill would require only a simple majority... I was just certain that the phrase "GOP moderates" was as much an oxymoron as it sounds.

I still feel that way.

But I have to confess that the GOP Senate leader says otherwise. Forbes:

MADISON, Wis. -- The Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Senate says there will be no vote on a bill taking away union rights for government workers until Democrats return.

Fourteen Democrats skipped town on Thursday, delaying indefinitely action on the proposal that has led to protests drawing as many as 68,000 people over the past week. One of those Democrats suggested Monday that Republicans might try to pass the restrictions on collective bargaining as part of another bill on Tuesday.

But Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he will not attempt to pass any portions of the bill without Democrats present. The Senate is meeting Tuesday to take up other measures, such as a resolution commending the Green Bay Packers on winning the Super Bowl.
Heaven forfend anything so trivial as workers' rights should get in the way of a Senate resolution praising the Packers!

Something is afoot. There's something about that statement, despite its lack of weasel-words that I can see, that raises the hairs on the back of my neck. Stay tuned.

Un-Fucking-Believable: WI GOP 'Moderates' Offer 'Compromise' Plan

This is quite beyond belief. Wisconsin's GOP, worrying as some deadlines approach and as union threats to attempt recalls of eight GOP state senators begin to be heard, are floating a "compromise" plan:


The Wall Street Journal reports that one moderate Republican, state Sen. Dale Schultz, has proposed changing the budget proposal supported by Walker slightly but fundamentally: instead of losing their collective bargaining rights in perpetuity, as the governor wants, they would only lose the right to negotiate for benefits through 2013.

Commenter "Rich" on the thread to the linked post has the perfect response:
[T]here's a very old joke about liberal Republicans (that's how old it is). If someone had fallen off a boat and was 50 feet away, the liberal Republican would try to solve the problem with a 26 foot rope. Why, it would show that they were willing to go more than half way. This is is the same kind of solution and it doesn't address the underlying problem of taking rights away. If anything, it would make it easier in the future. ...
Stand firm, Wisconsinites!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Rude Pundit...

... tells King Gov. Walker how he can go eat shit. Word!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Impending Government Shutdown

According to my reckoning, the last day of the current Continuing Resolution is March 4. So on March 5, absent a cave-in by Obama or Boehner, it's bye-bye to Social Security checks, Medicare (and apparently Medicaid) checks, open national parks, power from Hoover Dam, you-name-it. (I name it "one of Stella's paychecks.") David Dayen of FDL has the sordid details.

The last time the government shut down in 1995, times were pretty good for most people, and Clinton was able to make it clear to the public that the shutdown was the direct consequence of GOP actions. This time, times are anything but good for a lot of Americans, and Obama has all the political acumen of a college professor. Scratch that; I personally know several professors with vastly more political savvy than Obama has (or at least is willing to use). What will happen? Well, before we find out, we have to wait out this game of chicken that the two major parties are playing. It's reason number 102,721 why I'm no longer a Democrat... and at present, it's reason number 1 why anyone who is a Republan should take his head out of his ass and look around him.

News Flash: John Boehner Is An Asshole


House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is accusing President Obama of using his political organization to "demagogue" the efforts of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other GOP governors who are curbing the bargaining rights of public employees in the name of balancing the budget. 


Boehner also invoked the recent unrest in Greece over that country's foundering economy. 

"When the American people watched the people of Greece take to the streets to protest cuts to unsustainable government programs, they worried it might foreshadow events in our nation's distant future - but today, we see the same sort of protests on the streets of Madison, fueled by President Obama's own political machine," he said. 


We knew Boehner could cry, but who knew he could whine like a beaten dog? Yes, of course, Mr. Stupid, our people can take to the streets right now in the face of naked malfeasance by their governors. Who's gonna stop 'em... you? Don't make me laugh.

Packers Emphatically Back Wisconsin Dems, Diss Walker

Read all about it. Remember, NFL players are members of a union. And if it's a popularity contest between King Gov. Walker and the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, who do you think wins that?

Friday, February 18, 2011

House Vote: No Federal Funds At All For Planned Parenthood

Here's MSNBC because I could find it quickest.

This is not a question of taking away federal funding for abortion... that has been the law renewed routinely since 1976. No, this is a grandstanding ploy by the GOP to defund any organization that offers abortion services, no matter what other services they may offer.

In Planned Parenthood's case, House Republans have voted, not to defund one single solitary abortion (as noted above, that was done long ago), but to defund pregnancy tests, pregnancy progress exams, well-baby exams, basic gynecological exams, contraception, cancer screenings and more... all typically for women too poor to afford the same on the private health care market. That is what GOPers offer the American people: in sum... more dead poor women. Some "culture of life" that is!

UPDATE a few minutes later:  David Dayen of FDL points us to a speech by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) on the constitutional status of the bill the House passed:

“If Planned Parenthood or anybody else is doing terrible things and ought to be punished, that is up to the courts. If, indeed, Planned Parenthood is trafficking with sex traffickers, let them be prosecuted. If, indeed, Planned Parenthood is doing anything illegal, let them be prosecuted. Let the organization be prosecuted. Let the individual employees who are doing these things be prosecuted at law. That is our system. But you don’t punish an organization because they are doing something of which you don’t approve.
“Now, if you want to say we don’t think that there ought to be any contraceptive services in the United States and therefore we are going to have no Title X funding, the CR does say that. I don’t agree with it, but it is constitutional. But, to say that if we have Title X funding, if we have maternal services funding, none of it can go to Planned Parenthood, it can go to somebody else, but not Planned Parenthood, that is a legislatively enacted punishment because Planned Parenthood is or is allegedly doing things of which you don’t approve.
“Now, I heard a lot at the beginning of this Congress about how we have to make sure that we adhere to the Constitution. This is a bill of attainder, because it is a legislatively enacted punishment of a named organization because that organization is doing things, or is allegedly doing things, of which we don’t approve.
(Emphasis mine.)

When I was a schoolboy, I read of bills of attainder with incredulity. How anyone could think of passing a law that simply declared, without trial or any sort of due process, that a particular party is guilty of a crime, was beyond me. Centuries of British and American legal tradition stood against it. The US Constitution has prohibited bills of attainder since the beginning. (Art. I sec. 9.) I certainly never thought to see a bill of attainder actually passed by a house of Congress... and yet that is precisely what House Republans have done. Shame! They talk about honoring the Constitution, all the while defiling it by their own actions. SHAME!

UPDATE 2 a few minutes later: please watch Rep. Speier's powerful personal account. Grrrr....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Beltway's War On Every Damned One Of Us

Scarecrow of FDL presents in her [his?] post "Dear America: You and Your Future Are Under Siege" just how the consequences of today's "politics" ... hardly an adequate word for it... lay waste to everything ordinary Americans hold dear, everything they need to live, thrive and fend off threats to their personal futures. This is a difficult read; I recommend waiting until you've had your morning coffee. But everyone needs to see and internalize the basics of Scarecrow's exploration of exactly what we're facing. It is frightening and far more threatening than any terrorists distributing bombs or poisons or flying aircraft into buildings could possibly be. If there is to be any hope, we'd better be about comprehending everything there is to know about this threat, including how inevitable the confrontation is. Begin by reading Scarecrow's post. Twice.

NRLB Saved By All House Dems, 60 House Republans

Huffington Post's Ryan Grim:

WASHINGTON - Sixty House Republicans joined with every Democrat to beat back an anti-union amendment on Thursday that would have defunded the National Labor Relations Board, a New Deal-era independent agency that arbitrates labor disputes. The sixty defections come as the Midwest GOP governors in Wisconsin and Ohio are launching direct assaults on public employee unions.

Nine high-ranking Republican members of the Education and the Workforce Committee broke with their party to support the agency, including the chairman, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.). GOP hostility toward organized labor is not a new phenomenon, but the hostility has intensified since Republicans took control of the House; the party went so far as to rename what had been called the Education and Labor Committee, replacing "labor" with "the workforce."

The amendment had been introduced by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and was beaten back by a 250 to 176 tally.

The bastards seem to be mounting an all-out attack on labor today. If it's egregious enough to offend 60 Republans, you know it's bad. This seems to be part of an attempt to undo the entire New Deal, the Great Society and just about everything else progressives have accomplished since about 1930.

Wisconsin Today Follows Lead Of Texas In 2003

When push came to shove over forcible Republan redistricting in 2003, Texas Democratic state senators left the state under cover of darkness to deny the Lege a quorum. The Texas 11 went to Colorado, beyond the reach of Texas State Troopers, to sit it out until Republans were willing to negotiate. Ultimately they lost that battle because one of the members broke faith and returned to Texas, but the principle was established of denying a quorum to hoodlums bent on forcible hostile legislation.

Now it's Wisconsin, and the pattern is similar. King Governor Scott Walker has decided to use a budget crisis largely of his own making as an opportunity to bust the state employees' union. And the state's Democratic senators, knowing a good idea when they see it, have left the state for parts unknown, denying Walker a legislative quorum to act on what the grand old man of Wisconsin politics, retired Rep. David Obey, called "political thuggery" equivalent to actions by Mubarak in Egypt.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republan. But I have two things to say: 1) kudos and congratulations to Wisconsin's Democratic senators, and 2) King Walker, you can fucking rot in Hell.

Of course the outcome of this battle may affect the viability of public employee unions in other states. If you believe unions are a good thing (after all, you are reading this blog), you'd better hope Wisconsin's senators emerge victorious.

JSOC-Style Operations Against Free Speech

emptywheel tells it better than I ever could. In short: banks, corporations and the Chamber of Commerce have hired Themis (a trio of security firms) to "wage war" on organizations "extorting" or "slandering" ... their words... corporations by using free public speech to criticize them. Themis is said to have employees with Joint Special Operations Command backgrounds and the undisguised intention to use those same skills in squelching free speech against corporations.

O brave new world, that has such corporate persons in it!

Wisconsin: Balancing The Budget On The Backs Of Public Employees

Any time Republans take power, they slur and attack public employees. State and city employees are the personification of the government, and by Republan definition, government is bad. Wisconsin's new Republan governor Scott Walker is no different from the rest of them, and so his latest budget would "strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights." The threat is so deplorable that even Obama has noticed.

They taught me in high school that Calvin Coolidge (what a role model! [/snark]) said it was unlawful to strike against the public interest. But they also taught me that the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to our Constitution abolished slavery. A workforce with its right to strike severely curtailed is a workforce effectively in slavery to its employers. I hope the great State of Wisconsin pays a dear price for its attempt to enslave public employees.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bread - Wheat And Corn

Yesterday I baked a loaf of a recipe completely new to me. It contains two kinds of wheat flour and... improbably... yellow cornmeal. The recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens bread machine cookbook. The crumb is just the right texture; the crust... well, if you eat the bread right after it cools, the crust is crunchy! Regrettably, that crunchy texture does not last overnight.

This is the first time in my young baking career that I have varied a recipe. About the middle of the second knead cycle, I checked the consistency of the dough. It was definitely too stiff for that stage (how did I know? well, that's just how it felt), so I added an ounce or so of water. The results were just about right.

I now have seven bread cookbooks, all acquired used: a manual for the machine, two cookbooks specific to bread machines, one on (conventionally baked) artisan breads, one on coffee cakes and quick breads, one general "encyclopedia" of bread (their word, not mine) and one by Mr. Hollywood. In my short career I've gone through two rounds of purchased ingredients and have tried perhaps a dozen recipes, some more than once. I think I can stop buying bread cookbooks now!

Clarence Thomas Had Conflict Of Interest In Citizens United

Put briefly, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose that Citizens United spent $100,000 on ads in 1991 supporting Thomas's nomination to the Court. Thomas's receiving those in-kind contributions means, of course, that Thomas had a conflict of interest and should have recused himself from the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the decision that allows corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.

Thomas neither recused himself nor reported the contribution in kind. The case was decided by a 5-to-4 vote of the Court.

Impeach the man. Right. Now.

(H/T klynn in a comment on Firedoglake.)

UPDATE:  Rachel Maddow has more about Thomas's failure to disclose other contributions to himself and/or his wife from organizations funded by the Koch brothers:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is Obama Showing Balls?

Obama Threatens to Veto House GOP's Spending Bill.

MoveOn Does Not Mince Words

MoveOn emphasizes one undeniably certain consequence of any Republan action to curtail abortion:

As far as I know, unless someone is lying to me, I have never caused a pregnancy leading to an abortion. But I have known women who had abortions back in the days before Roe v. Wade made it clear there is a constitutional right to choose abortion. One of those women almost died from a back-alley abortion. The same woman later had another back-alley abortion, again got infected, and again almost died.

Many anti-choice zealots argue that abortion is murder. That depends, of course, on whether a fetus is a human life... and no other aspect of Western legal tradition holds that it is, so we have to agree to disagree on that one. What I think everyone can agree on is that allowing a woman to die as a consequence of a predictable back-alley procedure is not punishment for sin... it is murder, and the woman's murderers are not only the sepsis-riddled abortionists who infect her but also the legislators who make it intentionally as difficult as possible for her to exercise her constitutional right to choose a safe, legal abortion.

a few hours later: the South Dakota legislature is contemplating a bill passed out of committee yesterday which would make it "justifiable homicide" to kill anyone "attempting to harm an unborn child." Eric Rudolph legalized, here we come.

AFTERTHOUGHT directed to President Obama: Do you understand yet why your beloved notion of compromise with Republans is simply not applicable here? This is not about attempting to work out a law that would satisfy pro-choice and pro-life individuals (though I suspect that, too, is unlikely)... this is about whether you can compromise with the GOP leadership in circumstances where doing so means suborning murder, murder of an adult human being whom nobody, pro-life or pro-choice, doubts is a living human being. You can't be half for murder and half against it. Take a stand, even if it does mean supporting for one rare time those who elected you.

Boehner: 'Job Cuts? So Be It.'

"Fuck everyone but me and my campaign contributors," he did not say but might as well have. Here's what he did say:

In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We're broke.

In the Republan tradition, Boehner gives us two lies for the price of one: first, apart from temporary Census employees (remember, the Census is a constitutional obligation), Obama has added approximately 20,000 employees, not 200,000, to the federal payroll, and second, no government empowered to print money and assess taxes is ever broke.

If we ever had any doubt, now we know for certain the Republans' answer to the victims of massive unemployment: "FUCK YOU."

(Aperiodic reminder: "Republan" is "Republican" without the "ic"; I'll stop using it when they stop using "Democrat Party".)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bill Moyers: 'Facts Still Matter'

The great man is no more retired than, say, an elderly violin virtuoso who plays only an occasional concert. Moyers is still very much worth your time to read.

I Agree With Robert Reich

In particular, I agree with his proposal for a revision of the tax structure as one of the methods of defeating the recession and restoring the economy to good health:
The best way to revive the economy is not to cut the federal deficit right now. It’s to put more money into the pockets of average working families. Not until they start spending again big time will companies begin to hire again big time.

Don’t cut the government services they rely on – college loans, home heating oil, community services, and the rest. State and local budget cuts are already causing enough pain.

The most direct way to get more money into their pockets is to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (a wage subsidy) all the way up through people earning $50,000, and reduce their income taxes to zero. Taxes on incomes between $50,000 and $90,000 should be cut to 10 percent; between $90,000 and $150,000 to 20 percent; between $150,000 and $250,000 to 30 percent.

And exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes.

Make up the revenues by increasing taxes on incomes between $250,000 to $500,000 to 40 percent; between $500,000 and $5 million, to 50 percent; between $5 million and $15 million, to 60 percent; and anything over $15 million, to 70 percent.

And raise the ceiling on the portion of income subject to payroll taxes to $500,000.

It’s called progressive taxation.
Actually, it's called learning from history. We have been through a Great Depression before. Obama seems to be following the path taken by Hoover and initially even by FDR. That way lies economic collapse. We were heading for disaster before FDR reversed course. And we're heading that way again, unless Obama relents.

Let me remind everyone that the Declaration of Independence guarantees us each a right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Neither the Declaration nor the Constitution guarantees anyone the right to boundless wealth, especially in time of great national need. Indeed, Ben Franklin put it this way in 1789: "Private property therefore is a creature of society, and is subject to the calls of that society, whenever its necessities shall require it, even to its last farthing."

We're not even asking the wealthy for their "last farthing," only for 70 percent of their yearly income over $15 million. I think anyone with an income of $15,000,000 can scrape by on only $6,604,000 of it (that's $15,000,000 - (40,000×0.1+60,000×0.2+100,000×0.3+250,000×0.4+4,500,000×0.5+10,000,000×0.6)) for the sake of saving the nation. I know it will be tough on them, but surely we'll all offer our sympathy...

(Totals above corrected after first posting.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Obama: Reduce Deficit by $1 Trillion, Two-Thirds By Spending Cuts

The man is fucking nuts. I don't know any other way to put it. Spending cuts to essential government programs amounting to an average of $100 billion per year for 10 years, in a time of deep recession, are a good way to kill the economy altogether... not to mention leaving many American families homeless and starving.

And is O hoping for Republan approval? Gimme a break. Of course they don't approve. And a budget year starting in October gives the GOPers some time to pursue their own spending cuts. Did Obama hope they would back off if he proposed still deeper cuts? Well, I did say he was fucking nuts; maybe he did hope that.

I used to be a Democrat. Then I dropped out of the Party as they moved damned nearly to the right of the Republans, but I still mostly voted for Democrats. Now? Good question. Maybe it's time for me to stop voting... period. Based on all recent evidence, what good does it do?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Conspiracy To Destroy Everyone And Everything

I'll let Glenn Greenwald detail it; this is too much for me. Be sure to follow at least his link to the relevant Salon editorial. And if you're reading this in the morning, set down your coffee first.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  If you haven't had your fill of conspiracy mania, and want to read about how the war on terror(ism) is conducted in real life, take a look at a Washington Post project (linked by Greenwald) called Top Secret America. Never have so many spent so much money surveilling so many people to so little effect...

Friday, February 11, 2011


The antimacassar of my favorite easy chair, missing for more than a year, reappeared tonight on the floor in the office. I can think of several possibilities of where it has been all this time... maybe the original cats "lost" it and then their successors "found" it again for me, or perhaps it was stuck inside a jacket which I hung up in a closet in the office and brought out only recently in response to the painfully cold weather (by southern standards)... but mostly I am glad that its return does not mean that I have to use Macassar or any other hair goo. I had quite enough of hair goo in my young years, when every male of my generation used the damned stuff. Viva antimacassar; long may it wave!

AFTERTHOUGHT:  how many of you have a new vocabulary entry tonight? and how many of you learned the word at your grandparents' knee? Pop, my maternal grandfather, may or may not have known the word; Mommy Tad, my maternal grandmother, knew it in spades, because she had to clean every damned one of the things on the chairs in the presentation-perfect living room (a room never used except when invited guests were present in the home). But I did not learn it from either of them. It crept into my store of words one day a decade or so ago, when I wasn't looking, and it took up residence without asking permission. Antimacassar... a grand word, isn't it?

'Guvmint Keep Yer Hands Off My Medicare!'

We've all seen the famous sign quoted in the title above. But today I learned from David Sirota via Mustang Bobby that the sentiment is all too common:

According to new data crunched by Cornell University's Suzanne Mettler, large numbers of Americans who receive benefits from government social programs nonetheless tell pollsters they "have not used a government social program." And when I mean large, I mean large. For example, a majority of those who have received federally subsidized student loans, 44 percent of Social Security beneficiaries and 40 percent of G.I. bill recipients say they have not used a government social program.

So almost half of Americans who receive government funds do not recognize, or at least will not acknowledge, that the money comes from the government. Something is seriously missing here. Not all these people can have been home-schooled as kids, or sent to charter schools so bad it hurts to think about them. By no means do all of them come from families on welfare; rather the contrary in the case of Tea Partiers, I'd think. Where do they think the money comes from, and how did they fail to learn the basic fact that the government is giving it to them? I have no answers to either question.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dear NumbersUSA

Dear NumbersUSA:

As you are an anti-immigration organization which appeared at CPAC today and which claims support from Democrats and Republicans, I would like to interview some of the Democrats and related persons you claim on your Supporters page.

In particular, I'd like to interview former Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI, deceased), Edward Abbey (author, deceased), David Brower, former executive director, Sierra Club (deceased), former Senator Tim Wirth (D-CO, apparently still living), former Gov. Richard Lamm (D-CO, deceased), former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (D, apparently still alive), former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-VA, deceased), former Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX, deceased), former President John F. Kennedy (D, deceased), former Rep. Tony Beilenson (D-CA, apparently still living), former Rep. John Bryant (D-TX, alive) and most especially union leader Samuel Gompers (deceased).

As it appears that more of your Democratic supporters are deceased than living, if you could arrange for a single group interview with all of your deceased Democratic supporters, I'd appreciate it... I do not wish to make any more trips to Hell than absolutely necessary.

Very truly yours,
Steve Bates

Et Tu, Hoyer?

Tuesday I mentioned Republan Sen. Richard Shelby's proposal that the retirement age be raised an unspecified number of years... to "save" Social Security, of course, even though all the evidence is that SS is solvent and doesn't need saving. Now it's Democrat Steny Hoyer. From TPM's Brian Beutler via FDL's David Dayan:


In a speech last summer about entitlements and deficits, Hoyer said, "We should consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan."

At his weekly press availability on Wednesday, I asked him if he still stood by his previous comments, or if, like Boehner, he'd rather keep his powder dry. 

"Unlike Boehner [who supported raising the retirement age outright], what I said is it ought to be on the table," Hoyer said. "We ought to consider all options, including raising the age, but there are a lot of other options also that can be considered and I also indicated that whatever we do needs to be done prospectively. And I think all parties agree with that."


Have you noticed how the strongest supporters of raising the retirement age are often wealthy millionaires who are themselves past any suggested retirement age? Yeah, sure; they're happy to force you to work another several years; it's no skin off their backs.

I wish each and every senator and member of Congress who advocates raising the retirement age could live one day in my shoes, including the big one. I don't know that it would give them any perspective, but it pleases me to think of their suffering along with the rest of us.

PATRIOT Act Provisions NOT Renewed

Apparently even a few Republans... Tea Party types, no less... voted with Democrats not to renew the expiring provisions, which were "... one authorizing 'roving' wiretapping and one allowing the government to pull all sorts of records and electronic communications from U.S. citizens."

Of course, the other GOPers will try again, but at least their midnight debate-limited effort fell on its face. And also of course, the most powerful Republan of all, Barack Obama, is beside himself in frustration that his arbitrary powers may be reduced. We live in interesting times.

Jon Kyl To Retire From Senate

Good riddance to bad rubbish. His presence "out there" will be reason enough to do whatever must be done to stop the election of a Republican president in 2012. Can you just imagine an Associate Justice Jon Kyl on the Supreme Court?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Is This Story For Real?

Well, Jonathan Turley doesn't mark it as a hoax:

No Baals in Fort Wayne: City Officials Refuse To Name Center After Former Mayor Harry Baals

When city officials called upon the public to name their new government center in Fort Wayne, the public responded overwhelmingly in selecting a former mayor. That would normally seem an ideal choice for officials . . . unless the former mayor’s name is Harry Baals (pronounced “Balls”). Officials said that they have decided not to let the voters pick after all to avoid a sign reading “the Harry Baals Government Center.”


I wish I lived in a city that had Harry Baals...

(Turley follows up with the classic SNL fake "NPR" video segment about Schwetty Balls. If you've never seen it, it's worth a view.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Beginnings Of Climate Change Drive World Food Prices Up, Up, Up

Global climate change deniers, please go testify for your idiocy somewhere else; sane people are seeing the leading edge of a very large and very real economic... not political... problem. Paul Krugman outlines the mechanism by which climate change drives, and very well may drive to extremes, the price of food in some places in which people are desperate to say the least.

And We Shelby Changed

Specifically, we Shelby working until the day we die, that is, if we can find employment. If I had a job as cushy as that of the ancient and well-fixed Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Hellabama), I'd probably want to advance the retirement age a few years, too, so I could rake in more of those bankers', insurers' and lawyers' contributions. With a personal net worth of between $4 and $10 million, and nothing to do in his job except cover a seat and provide a predictable vote, it's no surprise Shelby, who is only 76, is not going to retire, so he doesn't want anyone else to retire, either. And you know what, he's only the 22nd wealthiest senator. It's so good to see the rich looking out for the rest of us, isn't it? [/snark]

Monday, February 7, 2011

Remembering Reagan

I remember Ronald Reagan. He was the man with his head in the clouds and his hand in the pockets of the poor and middle class, spewing sententious garbage about government all the while he ripped us off. If our nation undergoes total financial collapse as some predict, Ronald Reagan, dead though he may be, will be greatly to blame. No one has done more to destroy the typical American's wellbeing than St. Ronald.

Peter Dreier also remembers Reagan, and for him, as for me, the memory is not a fond one. Near the end of his article we find this paragraph:


Another of Reagan’s enduring legacies is the steep increase in the number of homeless people, which by the late 1980s had swollen to 600,000 on any given night—and 1.2 million over the course of a year. Many were Vietnam veterans, children and laid-off workers.

In early 1984 on “Good Morning America,” Reagan defended himself against charges of callousness toward the poor in a classic blaming-the-victim statement. He said that “people who are sleeping on the grates…the homeless…are homeless, you might say, by choice.”


I was not homeless in the Reagan era. But I encountered a lot of homeless people, because I bicycled to and from work along the hike-and-bike trails which often followed the paths of bayous, under the bridges of many city streets. Under each bridge was a homeless person, or sometimes more than one if the bridge was long enough. Each of the homeless had an improvised shelter. Many of them... disturbingly many... had alarm clocks beside their sleeping bags. I took this to mean that they had jobs, but the jobs did not pay enough for them to afford even the lowest rent. That was my memory of the Reagan era.

You may celebrate St. Ronnie's centennial any way you please. I plan to fantasize pissing on his grave.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  Here's "Homeless" by the incomparable Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Since I'm Going To Hell Anyway...

... I might as well give you a link to Ben Hillman's Evolution video.

Feb. 7, 1978: A Date Which Will Live...

... in infamy? No, not quite. That was the date of my one-and-only solo recital, a faculty recital at University of St. Thomas - Houston, jointly sponsored by the Houston Harpsichord Society. In those days, I held the title "Lecturer in Recorder" at UST. How in the world does one lecture in recorder? I don't know, but I suppose I'm the right person to ask.

The recital went splendidly, thanks in large part to my accompanists, Bill Welch and Wayne Moss. The small hall, brand-new in those days, was jam-packed, probably more with people who wanted to see the new hall than with those who wanted to hear me play. But I was proud of the result; it was quite possibly the best I've ever played.

I no longer play recorder for public consumption. My peripheral neuropathy has deprived me of the ability to sense the exact position of my fingers relative to a musical instrument; attempts to play a woodwind instrument like recorder result in the awful sounds of incompletely covered holes. But it was a grand experience while it lasted!

Sierra Club Joins DoJ Suit Against BP

Sierra Club has filed a motion to intervene in the Justice Department's $21+-billion-dollar suit against BP for damages under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act. Presuming the motion is approved, this means that Sierra Club will have a seat at the table in any negotiations of a potential settlement.

I have known some of the local Sierra Club officials who are most active in pursuing legal action when other means fail, and I have this to say about them: they know their stuff. They know a whole lot more about oil spills than I do. And they've been in those seats at the table before, and know exactly what they're facing in legal negotiations. If you are a Gulf Coast resident attempting against all odds to be made whole after BP's grotesquely negligent spill damaged your property, you could not do better than to have Sierra Club at that table.

James Zogby: Know Something About Arabs, Or STFU

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, remarks on the breathtaking ignorance of American politicians of both parties regarding matters in the Arab world, as especially evidenced by the stupid statements they have made recently about Egypt. According to Zogby, our pols seem to think it is either all about Israel, or all about U.S. partisanship. Here's a sample:


In other words, Ros-Lehtinen supports a democracy where we (not they) set up the criteria. Not quite "respect for the will of the people", but still better than former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's partisan tirade. 

Gingrich, who is reported to be considering a presidential run, is shallow and remarkably uninformed about most Middle East issues. He gets by largely because he sounds so authoritative and always has a clever quip or two. In Gingrich's assessment of the current situation "there's a real possibility in a few weeks... that Egypt will join Iran, and join Lebanon, and join Gaza, and join the things that are happening that are extraordinarily dangerous to us". Having thus displayed almost no understanding of the Middle East, Gingrich goes on to ridicule President Obama's "naiveté"...


No one is an expert on everything, but today's crop, especially the Republans, seem to think that any statement is better than nothing. One of these days that attitude is going to get America into serious trouble. The American people would hold its politicians in higher regard if, when they are ignorant of an issue, they either a) learn something about it before speaking to it, or b) STFU.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Getting The Goods On St. Ronald

Today would have been the late Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday. ellroon has some links to lists of things St. Ronnie did; please visit her post and click through to some of the genuine horrors of American politics. Reagan's signature quote, as far as I'm concerned: "A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?"

Forget St. Ronald. Give me a Saint Arnold instead.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

GOP's Pitts: 'I'd Love To Gain... Complete... Control Of You'

That would be Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Perdition), and the quote is from a Cole Porter song which, because of that one line, I could never hear as a love song. But Pitts's attitude toward women isn't far from that line. Read Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM:

New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion
Evan McMorris-Santoro | February 4, 2011, 4:10PM

The controversy over "forcible rape" may be over, but now there's a new Republican-sponsored abortion bill in the House that pro-choice folks say may be worse: this time around, the new language would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform the abortion that would save her life.

The bill, known currently as H.R. 358 or the "Protect Life Act," would amend the 2010 health care reform law that would modify the way Obamacare deals with abortion coverage. ... But critics say a new language inserted into the bill just this week would go far beyond Stupak, allowing hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions to turn away women in need of emergency pregnancy termination to save their lives.

... [explanation of EMTALA here]

Pitts' new bill would free hospitals from any abortion requirement under EMTALA, meaning that medical providers who aren't willing to terminate pregnancies wouldn't have to -- nor would they have to facilitate a transfer.

The hospital could literally do nothing at all, pro-choice critics of Pitts' bill say.

"This is really out there," Donna Crane, policy director at NARAL Pro-Choice America told TPM. "I haven't seen this before."

You see where this is going, don't you? Roe v. Wade still enables a woman's right to choose abortion, and few people... until now... have questioned a woman's right to have an abortion to save her own life. But make no mistake, women: Joe Pitts would KILL YOU before he would allow you to have an abortion. Mr. Obama, there is no room for compromise on this one: either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. It's time to put your foot down. (If you like, I can put my foot down in your behalf; I guarantee you I have a much bigger boot...)

AFTERTHOUGHT:  Something like this bill is the law in some South American countries, countries which have no separation of church and state, and which therefore implement some version of Catholic law as civil law. (And all the GOPers here are so worried about Sharia law... would Catholic law be any better?) The reasoning is as follows: the mother about to die in childbirth has had a chance to redeem herself and be saved and sent to Heaven; the infant, if it fails to survive birth, has not; therefore priority must be given to saving the life of the infant. I know a doctor in such a country who quietly saved a mother at the expense of the infant's life; the doctor told me that the woman's other six children needed a living mother more than they needed a dead mother and a seventh sibling. But common sense and religion often don't coincide, and the doctor must keep quiet about the decision. American women: how would you like to see such a system implemented here? Right. I thought not.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Slip-Slidin' Away

We did not get snow, and it's only 29°F outside. But the ice on the roads makes up for it. Three tollways are closed down until Saturday. There have been 100 wrecks in four hours. One baby was born on Loop 610; now that kid is a real Houstonian! And one car, I've heard, slipped off a bridge, though I have no details.

And Stella is out there in the middle of it right now, on her way to work.

Few people here have either the equipment or the experience to drive in icy conditions. For those who must, I wish them luck. I'll never forget the time I had to ride home from work on a bicycle on a hike-and-bike trail with freestanding bridges over the bayou...

As I was writing this, I just got a call from Stella; thank the good Dog she made it to work safe and sound! Now all she has to do is make it home this evening.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  I just spent some time reading a thread on the Chron's "SciGuy" column. I do not recommend this thread. Based on the comments posted there, I think we need a new slogan: "Houston: City of Assholes!" Considering that most current-day Houstonians moved here a couple of decades ago when jobs were scarce in the Northeast, one could make the obvious generalization. But I won't.

From the EVERYTHING-IS-POLITICAL department: commenter Met on the same thread notes this, regarding the inaccuracy of yesterday's forecast:
Back in the early 90's the NWS in D.C. closed the upper-air (weather balloons) at Victoria. We were left with nothing but Lake Charles and Corpus Christi in this area. Computer models are useless if you don't have good observations to initialize them with. The precipitation type is mainly controlled with temps at about 5000 feet (850mb). The models were off by 50 miles or so as to where that freezing line would be.
 It's just another example of "cutting out government waste." IIRC, a Republan was president in the early 90s...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow And Sleet

... tonight and tomorrow. Today I felt as cold as I have ever felt; for a short while, I thought I was going to lose some fingers. But it was only 24°F. The fingers stayed attached, though they hurt a lot. Even on a grocery store trip, navigating with a walker approximately doubles or triples the time one spends out in the cold. Perhaps tomorrow... I'll remember to wear gloves. I do have gloves... somewhere...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Please Read This!

If you thought H.R. 3 was bad for its redefinition of rape, you haven't fathomed the half of it. Please read "H.R. 3 hides even bigger dangers than redefinition of rape" from David Waldman at Daily Kos. If you accept this bill from Congress, you accept as fact the notion that Congress has a virtually unlimited right to choose the provisions of the health insurance plan you buy. And believe me, you won't like what Congress will do with that power.

(H/T ellroon for linking the post.)

Planned Parenthood 'Sting' Attempt Fails

I was going to write about the "James O'Keefe-style undercover 'prostitute' hoax at multiple clinics" (Alex Pareene, Salon),  but Mr. Pareene has done my job for me. Short version: anti-abortion group Live Action sent fake pimps who claimed to be involved in underage sex-trafficking to five different Planned Parenthood clinics; Planned Parenthood did the right thing by reporting them to law enforcement (the FBI, since it was an interstate scam); the "pimps" constructed a video attempting to frame Planned Parenthood employees anyway.

Unfortunately, the MSM largely ignored the whole incident (unless you count Breitbart's tirade, which I will not link from here, and... guess who... Fox News, ditto), so most people are left with only rumors and lies. And as Mark Twain is supposed to have said, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Anything not discounted by the MSM is bound to have actually happened, right?

My contract work 20+ years ago for Planned Parenthood is well-known; I don't need to revisit it here. But I do need to emphasize why I jumped at the chance to do it: Planned Parenthood is arguably America's signature provider of health care for poor women... reproductive health care, of course, but many other sorts as well. Are you poor, and need to ensure that your pregnancy goes smoothly and your baby emerges healthy? Go to Planned Parenthood. But that sort of thing never makes the evening news, does it? "Healthy Babies Born with Assistance of Planned Parenthood" is a headline you truly never see. But that is the organization that Live Action is attempting to kill.

I'm not too worried. Planned Parenthood has been in considerably more political combat than, say, ACORN, and they will win this one. But it's an indicator of the extremes to which the lying bastards will go. And it's not going to get any easier.

Full-Blown, Batshit Crazy: Georgia GOPer Wants To Ditch Driver's Licenses

If Bobby Franklin gets his way, I don't want to be on the roads of Georgia for any reason:

Republican Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin thinks that driver's licenses impose undue restrictions on the right of citizens to travel. So he's proposed legislation to stop the state from issuing them.

"Free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose," Franklin's legislation states. "Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right."

In an interview with CBS Atlanta News, Franklin claimed driver's licenses are a throw back to oppressive times. 

"Agents of the state demanding your papers," he said. "We're getting that way here."

I oppose the use of driver's licenses as, or with, voter ID cards. I oppose electronic chips in driver's licenses that can be read from sensors several feet away. I oppose license-check roadblocks set up by rural police presumably as a source of local income. There are a lot of things involving driver's licenses that I do oppose.

But if you propose to use a multi-ton implement with lethal potential even in the course of everyday use, you should have no objection to the government's testing to make sure you can use it properly and know the traffic laws. Anyone who has ever driven in Houston can understand why I am so insistent on this simple safeguard: once in their lives, if no other time, drivers must prove they can use their vehicles safely. Only a nut would see this as a constitutional issue.

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