Saturday, July 11, 2009

Meth In Iowa

and other meanderings by Jon Taplin.
My fave:
As was recently pointed out in the New York Review of Books, the Walton family, of Wal-Mart fame, is wealthier than the bottom third of the US population put together – about 100m people.

I Got Nothin'

But I did go to the Port Townsend Farmers Market. For the album, click here.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Jim Gibbons is the philandering governor in the midst of a scandalous divorce and "the other senator" is John Ensign, who screws his best friend's wife and runs to The Family, a shadowy Christianist organization with strong ties in D.C.,  for help.
But have yet to read a word about Ensign's daddy, who payed off the other family with $96,000. Except one TPM commenter says he's the real senator and everyone in Nevada knows it. He
's also a casino multimillionaire. I watched Casino this week. Hmm.
Apparently Michael S. Ensign is CEO of Madaley, which owns a lot of casinos and resorts and casino/resorts. He adopted John after marrying John's mother, whose birth name is Italian.
I suppose the media have stayed away from Daddy with no real reason to bring him into it.
Still. Oh, Ensign is a veterinarian. Surely there's something in that?

Scandal, Scandal and ???

Famous Quitters We Have Known Dept.
Of 1,200 governors since 1900, only Jim McGreevey, Eliot Spitzer and Sarah Palin have "just up and quit" before the end of their first terms.
Thanks to a reader of Alaska's very own endearing Mudflats for poring over all those old dead white guys.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Princess Sparkle Pony

La Bella Figura

Is it just me, or does Italy make better looking female politicians? One of them is a former topless top model, the far right, I think.
Okay, there's Granholm.
And — choke, struggle, gasp — Palin.
But c'mon, Albright, Napolitano, et al. Too many nitrites maybe.

Warning: You Have Been Poisoned

I read this a few days ago, but it sunk in the second time around.
Nitrites and nitrates belong to a class of chemical compounds that have been found to be harmful to humans and animals. More than 90 percent of these compounds that have been tested have been determined to be carcinogenic in various organs. They are found in many food products, including fried bacon, cured meats and cheese products as well as beer and water. Exposure also occurs through manufacturing and processing of rubber and latex products, as well as fertilizers, pesticides and cosmetics.

Nitrosamines are formed by a chemical reaction between nitrites or other proteins. Sodium nitrite is deliberately added to meat and fish to prevent toxin production; it is also used to preserve, color and flavor meats. Ground beef, cured meats and bacon in particular contain abundant amounts of amines due to their high protein content. Because of the significant levels of added nitrates and nitrites, nitrosamines are nearly always detectable in these foods. Nitrosamines are also easily generated under strong acid conditions, such as in the stomach, or at high temperatures associated with frying or flame broiling. Reducing sodium nitrite content reduces nitrosamine formation in foods.

Nitrosamines basically become highly reactive at the cellular level, which then alters gene expression and causes DNA damage. The researchers note that the role of nitrosamines has been well-studied, and their role as a carcinogen has been fully documented. The investigators propose that the cellular alterations that occur as a result of nitrosamine exposure are fundamentally similar to those that occur with aging, as well as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
...De la Monte states, "If this hypothesis is correct, potential solutions include eliminating the use of nitrites and nitrates in food processing, preservation and agriculture; taking steps to prevent the formation of nitrosamines and employing safe and effective measures to detoxify food and water before human consumption." 

Nev. Sen. John Ensign Is A Woman...And Pregnant!

Well, must be, because his good buddy Sen. Tom Coburn (RI — Republican Idiot — OK) said he can't talk about whether he advised the philandering Ensign to pay off the husband of the woman he had an affair with. He can't talk about it because he was speaking to Ensign as his physician. Coburn is an
Also, as a church deacon. Church of Christ Without Christ, no doubt. Thank you, Carson McCullers.
Thank you, TPM, for this very good day. You are my higher power.

UPDATE: The payoff was $96,000, not the millions reportedly advocated by Coburn. Seems Ensign's parents — parents! — wrote some checks to individual family members, including the mistress's husband and children. God, does this stink or what? It's more than embarrassing. It's more than sleaze. It's downright...wait for it...Palinesque. Yeah, that's it.

I Loved Time Magazine, I Really Did

I mean I started reading my parents' copy when I was 9 years old and I learned about the world. I didn't just read the entertainment stuff, I read about Africa and Washington, D.C., and book reviews.
But I let the newly resubscribed thing lapse after Richard Stengel and Jay Carney blew off the Attorney General scandal, never really eating their words when the whole thing got shoved down their throats by that Cheetos-eating, basement dwelling Josh Marshall and the crew at TPM.
Then what do they do? They go and hire Mr. Smirky, perhaps the biggest shill pundit in the business. Of course, it's a small business. And he has a small penis. There, I said it Mark Halperin, small penis. I have X-ray vision.

Now, this love poem from a parallel universe to Sarah Palin.
Wait, I get it, Time Magazine has a death wish.
Quick, call Crisis Line. No, wait. Let it go.

Turursts Attack Mt. Rushmore

My Favorite San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies

 It was really hard to choose among the many shots on Sheriff William Gore's departmental helicopter porn, glorifying the noble adventures of the same folks who helped out a couple weeks ago at a Democratic fundraiser of middle-aged terrorists, where one non-helicopter deputy wrestled the 65-year-old hostess to the floor.
Josh Marshall and the crew at TPM have been all over it for the entertainment value alone.
Anyway, here are my favorite San Diego County Sheriff's helicopter photos. Marshall calls it helicopter porn. I call it true patriots doing their job.
Click to enlarge ass.
Click to enlarge weapons. Click twice to enlarge cod piece. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What? What!? The Jets Aren't Coming?

Patrick Sullivan caught this one today. I am reminded of the ongoing battle by a few hardy souls to pressure the Air Force about its Christianist enthusiasms and their illegal, oppressive nature.
"And I think that we are wondering, when we look at President Obama: Is there a culture of hostility toward expressions of faith in the public square -- particularly Christian? Let's put this in context. Several months ago, the president spoke at Georgetown University; when he spoke there, he covered a cross, and he covered a sacred symbol for the name of Jesus. He did not celebrate the National Day of Prayer at the White House, had no events at the White House, and yet just a couple of weeks ago we had a major reception to celebrate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in June," - Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, on the Pentagon's decision to forgo an annual flyover of Air Force jets at the "God and Country Family Festival" in Nampa, Idaho.

Health Care Reform: The Prostate Cancer Test

Mr. Leonhardt at the NYT has this pitch perfect.

But if the treatments have roughly similar benefits, they have very different prices. Watchful waiting costs just a few thousand dollars, in follow-up doctor visits and tests. Surgery to remove the prostate gland costs about $23,000. A targeted form of radiation, known as I.M.R.T., runs $50,000. Proton radiation therapy often exceeds $100,000.
And in our current fee-for-service medical system — in which doctors and hospitals are paid for how much care they provide, rather than how well they care for their patients — you can probably guess which treatments are becoming more popular: the ones that cost a lot of money.

What's Really Important

PEW reports:
Jackson has dominated the headlines since his death on June 25. Registering at 17% of the newshole, the singer’s saga was the No. 1 story last week. And it has largely been a television story, accounting for 30% of the airtime studied on network news and 28% on cable news last week. In the network news universe, the morning shows devoted 56% of their airtime to Jackson, compared with 20% in the evening.

This Is Who They Are

The base likes Sarah no matter what.
I met one a couple weeks ago (we don't tend to run in the same circles). She was a tiny, pretty little woman from Kentucky, about my age. Husband a retired drug and alcohol counselor who believes the Mexicans are getting all their guns from China and all that stuff about border arms sellers is a bunch of hooey.
She had a sweet voice and a sweet face, but underneath the tragic story of a person whose mother "left" the children's career Army dad when the 5 of them were still quite young, and left them behind as well.
Dad had at least two children by other women in foreign countries.
Sarah's family values no doubt are quite appealing. I dunno. I feel bad for her. She seemed quite sad. But sweet.
 Republicans by 71%-27% say they'd be likely to vote for her if she ran for president in 2012, while independents by 51%-44% would not.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mexican Drug War

Not one of my usual topics, but I had a dog in this fight once and still an interest in the developments. Exceptional writing, too.

When he stops at the port of entry at Antelope Wells in the bootheel of New Mexico, US customs ask, as they always do, what he is bringing from Mexico.
He says, "We bring fear."

What I Want To Believe

Harry Reid just told Max Baucus to get with the program. The same day the 60th Democratic senator was sworn in.
So when I say Kabuki, this is what I mean, from a couple of TPM insiders who don't just jump all over the latest news story like it's the next worst thing:

Bipartisanship--defined. The press is focusing on the votes in Congress to determine bipartisanship rather than the elctorate. The Congressional Republicans have been so isolated that they answer only to a small proportion of the total electorate --about 18%--who control the Republican primaries in most states and districts.
Obama is focusing on are the Republican-leaning voters who do not self-identify as Republicans to strangers on the telephone (in polls) but have definite tendencies to vote Republican as well as true independents. What he, and the Democratic Senate leadership, have been doing is reaching out to the Republican officeholders knowing that they probably will spurn their advances. The real conversation is with the Republican leaners and independents in the electorate, and there are clear signs, I beleive, that that conversation has succeeded. Obama does not have to get the Congressional Republican votes (so long as he gets his bills enacted) to be perceived as bipartisan by the electorate--he just has to been seen as trying in a good faith effort and coming part way. The refrain of "party of no" is taking hold among the elctorate I identified above who are deciding increasingly that it is the Republicans who are at fault and not being bipartisan--a perception which, for once, comports with reality.
Obama has, thus far, manuevered the Republicans into an increasingly isolated position among the electorate and you would be surprised how many in the Republican Congressional leadership have not figured it out. A couple of momths ago I predicted to severl friends that next year the Democrats would NET four seats in the Senate and 10-12 in the House. I am increasingly confident of that prediction.

Obama, Reid and Pelosi between them have total responsibility to keep the government functioning in spite of the asinine and unified obstructionist actions and language of the Republicans as dominated by the talk show hosts. Obama has done a masterful job of playing the Republicans so that the only positions they could take to oppose him have been more self-destructive than effectively obstructionist on the large issues.
Between Pelosi and Reid, Pelosi has the easier job because of no filibuster. Not easy, but much easier than Reid's job. She still has to mollify the Blue Dogs who are almost as skittish as the Republicans because they fear the next primary. So Pelosi has compromised with both the Republicans and the Blue Dogs to a greater extent than any of us like at all.
Reid with only 59 Democrats until today as well as the filibuster which the Republicans are only mildly hesitant to use was in much worse situation than Pelosi. I'd bet he has been counting votes very closely and keeping the conservative Democratic Senators mollified.
But two things have just changed. Al Franken was sworn in today and the big initiative - health care - is in the balance. This is once in a lifetime, not just in a political career. I'm more and more convinced that the three top Democrats - Obama, Reid and Pelosi, have been gearing everything to powering the health care bill into enactment this year. That's the reason for the refusal to accept delays, and I think they have allowed some things to be enacted that they hate (I know I do) so as to not waste Presidential power on secondary issues. But now we are in the main bout. If I am right, then the gloves are going to come off.
We'll get only hints of the machinations because they aren't even inside the beltway. They are inside the Senate and House. and the Press mostly hasn't a clue, and the ones who have read Richard E. Neustadt's book "Presidential Power" will find that it runs counter to the permitted media narrative. But some reporter with inside connections on the Hill and the smarts to apply Neaustadt's teachings has one Hell of a great book to write, much like Sorenson's "Making of the President."
Anyway, that's what I think has been happening since Obama as inaugurated. This month is the climax of the story.

Erm, Rahm, STFU!

From (gag) Politico:
A day after his chief of staff suggested the White House could live with a public option-free health care reform bill, President ...
Reduce... Obama released a statement (from Russia!) reaffirming his support for a government-run health care plan:

First Biden (twice), now Rahm. Doesn't Obama have enough to do without continually correcting his message-free minions?

So, Die Already. Politically Speaking, That Is

Catching up with Sara:
Sarah Palin says she's not a quitter, she's a fighter, but adds that, politically speaking, "if I die, I die. So be it."

I like this part the best:
Speaking in fishing waders from the town of Dillingham, Palin said her administration has been paralyzed by fending off frivolous lawsuits.

Alaska's own Mudflats observes:
It’s like pulling out of your driveway and continuing to hit the same mailbox over, and over, and over.  Most people either move the mailbox, or learn to pay attention.  Not our Sarah.

Monday, July 6, 2009

McNamara Stories You Won't Hear Elsewhere

I'd never heard this before. 
When McNamara published his first book — filled with those distortions of history — Halberstam, at his own expense, set out on a journey following McNamara on his book tour around America as a one-man truth squad.
McNamara abandoned the tour.
The most bizarre incident involving McNamara occurred when he was president of the World Bank and, off on his summer holiday, he caught the Martha's Vineyard ferry. It was a night crossing in bad weather. McNamara was in the salon, drink in hand, schmoozing with fellow passengers. On the deck outside a vineyard local, a hippie artist, glanced through the window and did a double-take. The artist was outraged to see McNamara, whom he viewed as a war criminal, so enjoying himself.
He immediately opened the door and told McNamara there was a radiophone call for him on the bridge. McNamara set down his drink and stepped outside. The artist immediately grabbed him, wrestled him to the railing and pushed him over the side. McNamara managed to get his fingers through the holes in the metal plate that ran from the top of the railing to the scuppers.
McNamara was screaming bloody murder; the artist was prying his fingers loose one at a time. Someone heard the racket and raced out and pulled the artist off.
From Joe Galloway, McClatchy.
Guess he has good reason to hate McNamara.
During the Vietnam War, Galloway served three tours in Vietnam for UPI, beginning in early 1965. Decorated for rescuing wounded American soldiers under heavy enemy fire during the battle at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, he was the only civilian awarded the Bronze Star by the United States Army during that war.

Health Care Public Option: Betrayed, Sold Out, F****d???

Or is it Kabuki?
Mr. Emanuel said one of several ways to meet President Barack Obama's goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own. He noted that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger mechanism when they created a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare in 2003. In that case, private competition has been judged sufficient and the public option has never gone into effect.

Work Weekends? Oh, Noes!!

From Greg Sargent:
“Reid is determined for there to be a health care bill in July, even if

Is Nothing Sacred?

Nope. Not now.
Jackie and RFK.

Call Maria

About the public option and use this as your guide.
They're back in session and they need to hear from us.
Please CALL Senator Maria Cantwell at 202-224-3441

And fo r something really fun, sign up and call voters in the states where the worst of the worst senators are. I did this during the primary and it was fun. Course, it's your dime, but I've got a phone card and it
s really cheap.


Sarah Palin

"The woman is inarticulate, undereducated..."
"She just begs for adjectives like flaky and whacky..."
"This is a woman who has used her good looks and her gender to really get ahead in the political world...and really has no credentials for any job..."
Liz Trotta on Fox. Don't know who she is but she speaks for me. MoDo got some licks in, but Gail was frist!
Meow meow or just plain no clothes emperor?
You decide.

First Sarah, Now McNamara. Who's Next in the Game of Threes

Fog of War was really hard to watch. And really worth watching. I may rent it again.
After leaving the Pentagon on the verge of a nervous breakdown, McNamara became president of the World Bank and devoted evangelical energies to the belief that improving life in rural communities in developing countries was a more promising path to peace than the buildup of arms and armies.