Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vaginas Prefer Condoms

This very cute and funny and dirty French ad for condom use is something I believe every contrarienne will enjoy, but my Blogspot terms make it a bit risky to post.
So if you would like to see it, you'll have to register at YouTube. Not a big deal, really.

UPDATE: No registration here. Thanks, MF nerds.

No Camel Toe...Three Pairs of Spanks

Proper sorority attire. They still have those things?
Spanks? I am so old. Camel toe I get, thanks to the intertubes. And Molly Shannon.
Would give you the Sally O'Malley "I'm 50" video but, oddly, it appears nowhere on YouTube. Guess that camel toe thing became too much.

SF Shibas, 1 Week

Free TV : Ustream

Ronald Reagan Didn't Have The 24/7 News Cycle To Contend With

Democrats freaked when during the primaries Obama made some sort of positive remark about Ronald Reagan, but it's nice to have someone still around who can put things in perspective.
Only yesterday, Josh Marshall was all disgusted and walking away because to his eyes Obama came off too mild in Ohio, using words like "in a tizzy" to describe the post-Mass state of play.

The Third Way

EJ Dionne puts it in a nutshell:
So here’s an idea, I have been told reliably, that leaders of both Houses are considering: The House would pass a version of the reconciliation bill containing the various amendments and send it to the Senate. The Senate would change it slightly (in ways that the House agreed to), which would require the House to vote on it again. Only after it got the revised reconciliation bill would the House take up the Senate bill. The House could then pass both bills and send both to the president. Problem solved, health-care passes, and we move on. Not all the difficulties with this scenario have been worked through, and it is not a slam dunk. For one thing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a revolt on her left against passing the Senate bill without changes. Some may still have to be persuaded to make sure it gets the votes it needs. There are also some House Democrats from moderate-to-conservative districts who are wary, after Massachusetts, of voting for a health-care bill, period. And there are a lot of procedural issues that need to be ironed out.

Nonetheless, for those (and I’m one of them) who believe in health-care reform -- and who think the Democrats would be committing suicide if they gave up on health care now -- it’s heartening to hear that serious people are making serious efforts to get a health bill through. In a pinch, I think that enacting the Senate bill into law without changes is far preferable to passing nothing. But I also understand that there are aspects of the Senate bill to which House members have legitimate objections. Solving this problem will require Democrats to pull themselves together across many lines of division -- notably between the House and the Senate, and between moderates and liberals. Can they do it? The answer to that question depends in part on leadership from President Obama. Can he do it?

Is The Associated Press Doing Real Journalism Again?

Today's evidence.
I was so impressed that I sent them a thank you note.
Now for my next letter — Dear Mr. President...fight on.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dream On, Dreamer

I've gone to the trouble the last few days to find the "contact us" button on the Web pages of three different organizations telling them why I won't sign their petition. But they're paid to push this position, it's how they raised their funds after all, and they will persist.
Here's what they're saying:
Step 1 -- The Senate passes a "reconciliation" bill with the popular public option and other budget-related fixes to the original Senate bill on issues like the national exchange and excise tax. This takes only a simple majority.
Step 2 -- The House passes both the original Senate bill and final reconciliation bill back-to-back and sends them to the President.
Step 3 -- A signing ceremony takes place that Democrats and voters can be proud of.
If this position prevails, I will pledge each of them $100. I feel safe.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Question Of The Week

From Josh Marshall, late at night on Thursday.

Martha Coakley and her campaign have been roundly, mercilessly and rightly ridiculed for getting caught off guard by Scott Brown's rapid ascent in the Massachusetts senate race. What's the excuse of the White House and congressional leadership for having no plan in place for what to do if Coakley lost -- a live possibility going back almost three weeks

'Fight On'

Andrew Sullivan's analysis in one sentence.

So let the impact of Massachusetts sink in, expose the nihilism of the opposition, take the black eye as a necessary evil in such a turbulent time ... and fight on.
Greg Sargent notes Nancy's weasel words, "at this time" and "now."

A reconciliation maneuver has not been abandoned yet. We'll just have to — gasp — wait and see.

You could, of course, deluge the White House and your Congresscritters with emails, phone calls and FAXes.

For your convenience, Contrarienne offers the following:
Senate and House
or here.

White House

FREE — repeat — FREE FAX

Oh, and about that Supreme Court decision today? Hey, fight on.

UPDATE: And Nancy! (I'm thinking, hard to decide which job I most would not want to do. Hard choice.)
"There's a recognition that there's a foundation in that bill that's important. So one way or another those areas of agreement that we have will have to be advanced, whether it's by passing the Senate bill with any changes that can be made, or just taking [pieces of it]," Pelosi said. "We have to get a bill passed -- we know that. That's a predicate that we all subscribe to."

UPDATE: Sorry if you read this earlier, I cut and pasted URLs without links. Fixed now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

A long-time Republican Hill staffer gives his take to TPM on what's really going on.
Yes, it is as bad as you fear.
"This isn't an argument about the merits of policy. It is all politics..." Is he right? Probably, partly. Maybe even mostly. If he is, is it too late already?
I'm not sure he really understands why he got elected in 2008. I hear all the rhetoric he's used since the campaign about "changing the culture in Washington" and his references to his own life story as part of the answer to any question, and think he can't possibly believe all that. But he might, as Carter and Clinton both believed their own stories. All three of these guys excelled at the mechanics of campaign politics, but the first two got into a lot of trouble thinking that Americans put them in the White House because of all the wonderful, special qualities they had or represented.

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

Yours in the Spirit of the Lord and Servant on Earth,
Barney Frank

(""I should not have put out a statement late in the evening last night when I was upset because I didn't really--I think I overstated the pessimism," Frank told me. "I really was worried--I put out a new statement--I was worried about some Democrats doing crazy things, like 'don't seat him', 'let Kirk's vote go.' I was worried about that.")

Erm, About That Reconciliation Thingie

Another commenter, Fonsia at Daily Kos, says the same thing I saw from another over at TPM last night:
Notice that Bush's tax cuts are quietly going away this year. Why? Because they were passed through reconciliation.
Large chunks of this bill didn't have anything to do with the budget, so they couldn't have been included. Also, Kent Conrad is chair of the budget committee, and has always opposed things like the public option. He would be the one in charge of basically writing anything that went through reconciliation.
You'll get your reconciliation and lots of good things will be added, but you have to have an established law to add them to.
The House will pass the Senate bill. Obama will sign it. Then, the House will get right to work on a bill intended for reconciliation (the House has to designate that before a bill goes to the Senate). In that bill will be all the compromises worked out over the last few weeks and perhaps some other nice things (although probably not the public option because Kent Conrad has always opposed it--and I hope I'm proved wrong about that).
Congress is going to be adding to and amending this bill for decades to come.

Still haven't seen any mention about whether they still have to face procedural cloture votes over in the Senate. I sort of suspect not, because then it couldn't work.
Frank's still saying it's dead.

Cynicism Is NOT Always Boring

Sometimes it's mildly amusing as in this quote labelled "stolen content" by one of my FB friends. Unsourced.

"Tough break for Inept Political Party A. How will it get nothing done now that Inept Political Party B will have considerably more say in how nothing gets done? This is an historically unsubstantial day that no doubt will be in Wikipedia bibliographical footnotes for years to come (or until Wikipedia r...uns out of money later this year). Will you remember where you were when nothing changed?"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quote O' Teh Day

From Taplin's blog:
Elaine Richardson, who is in her 50s, is divorced and owns a health care consulting firm in Westchester, said that men “call you high maintenance if you look like you don’t need anyone to take care of you.”

Okay, Maybe Health Care Reform Is Not Dead

As I understand it, the unmoveable liberal/progressives in the House could get some of what they want through a reconciliation bill passed before the Senate bill, then sent to the Senate. Then they pass the Senate bill.
I haven't seen any comment that says they'd still face procedural cloture votes on such a reconciliation bill.

Health Care Reform Is Dead

says Lawrence O'Donnell, who I used to call "my man" O'Donnell.
Howard Dean's reconciliation solution with a Medicare expansion Hail Mary can't get past the procedural cloture vote problem, which still needs 60 votes.
Not only do the Dems not have 60 any more, but it's not likely Lieberman or possibly even Nelson will go for it. Certainly no Republicans.
As for the House, Barney Frank just said it ain't gonna happen. Guess what, it looks like it's all up to Nancy and her boys. Oy!

Think I'll Just Keep The Shibas Here

Guess not today, embed not working.
If you need a little newborn puppies mostly sleeping, here's a link.

9:42 pm Coakley Concedes

So, what's next?
Rachel Maddow had Howard Dean on and he inexplicably decried the "circular firing squad" among Democrats, given that he was a big contributor to that behavior just weeks ago.
But he also said we should go to reconciliation, needing only 51 votes in the Senate, and just pass Medicare expansion, which won't cover everybody but could then be worked on to expand.
Hmmm, and we're back to where we started. Unless Pelosi thinks she's got the House votes to pass the Senate's bill, which Dean doesn't like and said so just, oh, weeks ago.
I feel oddly detached, more bewitched by the drama of this whole thing as it's played out over so many months.

Strangely Mezmerizing Deaths

from the coroners records in Monroe County, Ill., 1896-1935.
Surprising number of deaths due to train. Predictable alcohol related. Baby dies after circumcision. A lot of deaths, really.

This Just In

From Nate Silver, who's up awfully early. And I'm up awfully late. Again.
The White House's announcement yesterday that it will schedule its State of the Union address for next Wednesday, January 27th, an earlier date than most insiders expected, is surely not coincidental and reflects a desire to pressure the House into voting for the Senate's version of the health care bill almost immediately, assuming that Scott Brown defeats Martha Coakley in Massachusetts tonight.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Barack Obama As George Bailey

Jonathan Chait in the Atlantic tells the Dems not to panic if Coakley loses in Massachusetts.
Even if Coakley loses, the House could pass the Senate bill as is, avoiding the need to break a filibuster, and tinker with it in a reconciliation bill that can’t be filibustered. The only thing preventing the Democrats from following through would be sheer panic.
Remember the classic scene in It’s a Wonderful Life? Facing a run on his building and loan, George Bailey tries to explain to his frantic customers how to look after their self-interest. “Don't you see what's happening?” he pleads, “Potter isn't selling. Potter's buying! And why? Because we're panicking and he's not.” President Obama’s great challenge right now is to be his party’s George Bailey.

Thought For The Day

Low-information voter: Is there any other kind in this country. Even some of my most admired friends are appallingly ignorant, consumed with personal life, feeling free to vote their gut.

Gitmo Ad Infinitum

Scott Horton is the kind of man — writer, lawyer, humanitarian and civil rights activist — that we desperately need in these still dire times. This one's a long one.

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously...All four soldiers say they were ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provide evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners’ deaths. Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and men under his supervision have disclosed evidence in interviews with Harper’s Magazine that strongly suggests that the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths. The guards’ accounts also reveal the existence of a previously unreported black site at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Top Movies You Don't Want To See

according to some 43 serious critics.
I especially liked two who went out on a limb, although they're probably big enough to get away with it.
David Edelstein called It's Complicated "affluence porn." But I'll probably see it anyway. On Netflix.
Jim Emerson, who I am proud to say I went to j-school with, called out Avatar. Good on, Jim.

Hey, it's a guide, just a guide. That's all.
I would like a list of most underappreciated movies.

Conspicuously absent, Capitalism, A Love Story. But that's probably because it was released in September. It's hard to remember that bad, that far back. I mean, half of it was inexplicably bad vintage footage and he decided we'd be interested in his meandering conversations with Wallace Shawn as if My Dinner With Andre was something we could all relate to in 2009. I'm beginning to suspect that maybe 2009 was the worst year for movies in a long time and may well be accorded honors for such at some time in the future.

Don't Donate Any More To Haiti? WTF?

A think piece — with facts! — worth a read.
The last time there was a disaster on this scale was the Asian tsunami, five years ago. And for all its best efforts, the Red Cross has still only spent 83% of its $3.21 billion tsunami budget — which means that it has over half a billion dollars left to spend. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s money which could be spent in Haiti, if it weren’t for the fact that it was earmarked.
...Earmarking your funds for Haiti in particular is not helpful. But that’s no reason to give nothing at all.

You And Your Disease

Keep a copy of this handy in your bookmarks, contrariennes, chances are you're going to need it.
She is a powerful writer, and I highly recommend this.
The other 20% chance was that it was metastisized cancer from another primary location.
JFC! I never heard of heart cancer.

Coakley Will Win In Massachusetts. Or Not.

TPM's got some anecdotal on-the-ground reports from readers here and here. GOTV appears to be working the way it should. If she comes out ahead by more than a squeak, the rehash after the panic of the last few days will be interesting if you like that kind of thing.
I was going to make more calls for her, but they're not asking me to do that anymore, which makes me conclude that they've saturated the call list and any more would just irritate the hell out of undecideds. They asked me for money, but Coakley has all kinds of money and I can think of better things to do with mine. Like eat.

Commentary Magazine : Sometimes I Forget That I Am Also A Good Writer

and then something comes along to remind me. Like this.
So, I wrote a letter to Commentary Magazine:
When I began reading Peter Loatin’s review of Rebecca Goldstein’s new novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, I realized I had to start a list. A list of new words I’d never heard or read before and words I’d seen before but never bothered to define. This is a task I’ve been postponing for quite some time, probably since I learned to read some 59 years ago. I’ve always sort of trusted that unusual words would eventually work themselves into my conscious vocabulary over the years if it seemed important.
The words are apodictic, tropism, fustian, adumbrate and asymtotic. Well, I don’t strictly need to educate myself on adumbrate, it’s self-explanatory in context, and I still have no intention of ever using it in a sentence. As for tropism, I long ago decided it can stay in the undefined file forever. So can the others, come to think of it. So much for the list.
But I have to ask Mr. Loatin and Mr. Loatin’s editor if those words were really necessary to the review or whether it’s possible they may interfere with its purpose. Why, by the way, is fustian associated with academia? Guess I’ll have to look that one up.
I still want to read the book, though, which is where I was when I started to read the review. I am not so easily discouraged.

Yours truly,

Do you think they'll publish it? Do they notify you when they publish a letter? Who cares? Well, I'd like it if they published it. Maybe they'll ask me to do the next book review. Oh, stop it.

McSweeney's. Also. You Betcha.


Surprise Sunday: Deep Thought Dept.

Andrew Sullivan refers me to a wonderful blog post by writer and writing teacher Chris Bachelder who writes about the importance of surprise in human existence and the importance of literature in that equation and I, of course, immediately feel an empty space has been filled in, I feel self-satisfied. This is why we read news, I easily conclude. We are addicted to surprise, I think, with none of the negative connotations usually associated with the news in my mind.
Bachelder, of course, is making a point about literature, and leads me along casually. I forget he is a writer, and waiting in the bushes to spring out at me with that knife, aimed at my throat.
And I am reminded again why it's good to read something besides news. Something by Denis Johnson:
A man has died a terrible death. He’ll never live again. His wife, now a widow, is notified in the hospital. Says Fuckhead, our narrator: “What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I’ve gone looking for that feeling everywhere.”
Score! Er, bookmarked.

UPDATE: Fun fact. Bachelder writes for an online magazine called The Believer, which I suspected might prove to be religious. Not so. It describes itself thus:
The Believer is a monthly magazine where length is no object.
There are book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and that are very often very long.
There are interviews that are also very long.
We will focus on writers and books we like.
We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt.
The working title of this magazine was The Optimist.

Women Getting Ahead

should be more aggressive, lie a lot and generally embrace their inner asshole. Or something.
From Clay Shirky, something of an icon among the techno pundits, or at least the ones who play one on the intertubes.
MetaFilter has great discussion going, all over the map. And I learned a new word, "mansplaining." Heh.