Saturday, January 30, 2010

What Did We Learn Today?

What a movie extended take is.
And how people unlike me look at movies.

Learn A Language For Free

But doesn't that require discipine?
Oh well, maybe you're ready.
Here's livemocha and here's the NYT story about a variety of ways to do it online.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Must See TV II

What former Secretary of Labor became a professional detective after leaving office?
"I'll make you my under secretary, if you know what I mean."

Must See TV...And Online, Too

UPDATE: I had trouble getting C-Span to play for me on Saturday, so here's the same Q&A on YouTube.

The netroots are ecstatic. Obama spoke to the House Republicans at their conference today, spent 1 1/2 hours with them, half of it Q&A, and the consensus is he knocked it out of the park.
This can only be good. MSNBC and one other network broadcast the whole thing, as did C-Span. So you're likely to be able to catch it easily online and C-Span will likely rebroadcast.
So much for the teleprompter meme.

Health Care: How We Got Here From There

TPM gives us a quick recap.
My question is, where are we?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Am A Devoted Doc Martin Fan

"Take your hands off me, you unctuous, platitudinous eunuch."
The Brits do this sort of thing so well. Thur., 8 p.m. Ch. 9 in Seattle.

A Social Indicator Report Card

You can ignore the largely laughable right-wing analysis here and here and just focus on the bottom line, as they say.

Abortion rate — down
Crime rate — down
Welfare rate — down
Divorce rate — down
Teen drug use — down
Educational scores — up
High school drop-out rate — down
Poverty rates — down
Single mothers employment rate — up
Teenage birth rate — down
Teen alcohol use — down
Teen sexual activity — down
Teen smoking — down
Unmarried cohabitation — up
Marriage rate — down
Out-of-wedlock births — up

My Man Nancy!

The Roots are all over this today:
“You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”

Open question: Does Harry have the votes for the reconciliation part, nowadays called the sidecar?

Meanwhile, Back To Kabuki

Theda Skocpol, a better writer when she writes short, reminds us in this comment on TPM:

What all of us need to realize now -- and that includes TPM's Congressional reporters -- is that with Brown's victory in MA, the chances for any legislative as opposed to sound-bite progress have dimmed, EXCEPT where 50-51 votes work in the Senate. And using that path where it can be used depends on the White House and Senate leadership getting cracking. No evidence of that so far. The evidence will not be very public, but TPM reporters and others should see evidence of action behind the scenes in framing and assembling "budget" type packages. If there is no ingenuity on getting around the proceduring roadblocks, that will be evidence that Obama and the Dems have retreated into using symbolic gestures to get all of us ginned up to write checks to save a few seats. Foolish if we fall for that -- we need to demand as much maneuvering through the procedural hurdles from Dems as the Republicans managed with far fewer seats in Congress.

Two Cultural Icons Down, And Counting

J.D. Salinger, at 91, is gone. But in truth, he's been gone for more than 40 years. His writing, however, is embedded in the culture whether or not we like it or recognize it when we see it.
"I mean how do you know what you're going to do till you do it?" he reasons. "The answer is, you don't. I think I am, but how do I know? I swear it's a stupid question."

I really love this part:
Salinger's alleged adoration of children apparently did not extend to his own. In 2000, daughter Margaret Salinger's "Dreamcatcher" portrayed the writer as an unpleasant recluse who drank his own urine and spoke in tongues.

Rant O' Teh Day: We Can Still Lose This Long Game

TPM points out that the Democratic National Committee was busy taping Republicans sitting on their hands while Obama made proposals that any sane conservative should applaud, somehow therefore not abiding by his admonition for both parties to stop playing gotcha politics.
Isn't that hypocritical? Is pointing out the other side's hypocrisy hypocritical? Can you entertain two conflicting ideas at once?
In my view, the president himself was calling out the Republicans with his very forceful reminder to Congress and to the American people of the multiple disasters they left him for him from the minute he walked in the door. In fact, that line was the first one I remember drawing not catcalls from the R's, but some very audible grumbling and complaining, raising of voices. They sounded like a muted British Parliament. They were there to do that. That is the game.
This is a long game, I remind myself, and Obama is leading a team while teaching them to play it. Democrats are not used to power. They were not ready on day one. When they do get used to it is when we need to shuffle the deck.
Obama is not above sudden and circumstantial pivots to catch the other team off guard. The Republicans have only a short game, the same old pivots again and again that you can mimic in your sleep. Reduce the size of government, cut taxes, reduce (or now, don't overdo) regulation.
Their health care reform proposals consist of three things — tort reform that saves an even smaller portion in health care costs than Obama's cosmetic spending freeze, allowing insurance to be sold across state lines so the companies can circumvent state regulators, and something else equally pathetic that I can't remember.
None of it leads to reduced cost of any significance, none of it covers the uninsured, and none of it covers the people now being denied. None of it is serious.
Also repeat, none of it leads to significant reduced cost, the real selling point that Democrats mistakenly failed to emphasize. I forgive them, though. They couldn't get the CBO analysis until the bills were in final form. (On the other hand, they dithered getting to that final form. I forgive them that, too. They are new to power.)
Some pollster should just ask these questions of people. Ask them to name some features of the Republican plan that they can remember and some features of the Democratic plan that they can remember. I suspect people can't remember either. But I bet if given time to think of it they'll say making insured health care available to a lot more people. And for the R's, keeping government out of it. And no matter how you spin it, people want the government to do something.
They could give a flying fuck about state lines and frivolous litigation. In fact, they greatly want to hold onto their right to sue. They've all heard botched care horror stories.
Even the badly named public option resonates better than the hodge-podge Republican proposals. They're not serious about any of it, they're only serious about screwing things up as much as possible in the hope that people will eventually tire of it all and let them back into power.
Primarily by being too tired to vote.
The Republican standard objections to health care reform are lies for the most part, and so are their accusations about Obama's performance so far in office. Guiliani was on TV again this morning — who invited him to the party, anyway? — making two blatantly false accusations about the speech. We have them all on tape now, they can't squirm free. Thank you, Internet.
I don't go so far as to claim Obama's playing 11th dimensional chess while they are playing checkers, nor do I feel totally comfortable with his economic team, especially its leaders like Summers, Geithner and Bernanke (nobody talks about Orzog, hardly anybody about Chris Rohmer although she's the one out there in front of the cameras a lot). Nor do I believe they haven't made mistakes, and will continue to make mistakes.
But I do believe he's playing a long game. All the Republicans have is a short game. It's all they have. They do not want to govern well. He challenged them last night to govern, since they hold the filibuster card and keep playing it. They won't do that, and he knows it.
He called them out time and again, even repeating his willingness to listen to ideas that will accomplish his goals. They've never had any, and they don't have any now.
Last night's speech was, in fact, a litany of gotchas, just more carefully aimed, more decorous than the Democrats quick-response gotcha ads. He didn't call out anybody but the Supreme Court by name, but every point he made had "Republican Bad" stamped on it. No need to utter the words George Bush. He made them own their accomplishments, two unpaid-for wars, an unpaid-for prescription drug plan (thanks, George) and a financial meltdown due primarily to their favorite Christmas present, deregulation.
As for hypocricy, yes, I can hold two contradictory thoughts in my head at the same time.
But make no mistake, the long game is still a game. My side can lose.

I Didn't Know That Dept.

The Internet is made of cats, not of Shiba Inu puppies like I thought.

R.I.P. Howard Zinn

"They tell me I am a member of the greatest generation. That's because I saw combat duty as a bombardier in World War II, and we (I almost said "I") won the war against fascism. I am told this by Tom Brokaw, who wrote a book called The Greatest Generation, which is all about us. He is an anchorman for a big television network, meaning that he is anchored to orthodoxy, and there is no greater orthodoxy than to ascribe greatness to military valor.

"I refuse to celebrate them as "the greatest generation" because in doing so we are celebrating courage and sacrifice in the cause of war. And we are mis-educating the young to believe that military heroism is the noblest form of heroism, when it should be remembered only as the tragic accompaniment of horrendous policies driven by power and profit. Indeed, the current infatuation with World War II prepares us—innocently on the part of some, deliberately on the part of others—for more war, more military adventures, more attempts to emulate the military heroes of the past.

"And what of the abolitionist generation-—the leaders of slave revolts, the conductors of the underground railroad, the speakers and writers, the likes of David Walker and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass? It was they who gave honor to the decades leading up to the Civil War, they who pressured Lincoln and the Congress into ending slavery.

"Why do we use the term "greatest generation" for participants in war? Why not for those who have opposed war, who have tried to make us understand that war has never solved fundamental problems?"

Howard Zinn, 2001

Pump That Iron, Contrariennes

and get in touch with your inner executive.

Bonus: You and your telemeres. Can't run 50 miles a week? How about walk to the mailbox?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Want That Video

I think we saw a bit of history made tonight, and no one noticed except the Supremes themselves.

Not To Be Appalachianist Or Anything

I'm thinking of starting a Facebook group called Defend The Appalacianists after reading another gem from my favorite commenter, Lars Thorwald.
Most Fox News viewers drink from jugs with three giant XXX's on them, and wear coveralls without undershirts. Okay, that's slightly Appalachianist of me.
Let me be clear: Most Fox News viewers are clay-eating mouthbreathers with shit for brains.
Anyway, 83 percent of the SOTU watching folks polled by CBS liked it.

Mara Liasson Is An Idiot

and here's the evidence
I don't care if she is on NPR. I wouldn't care if she was on the BBC, but they wouldn't have her.

TPM SOTU Liveblog

Josh does it better than I.
9:54 PM: Nelson and Lieberman sitting together in axis of weasels.

Okay, Bob McDonald, the Gov of Virginia will take 10 minutes.
---Jobs are good
--policies to
no more taxation, regulation and litigation
--fed govt trying to do too much
---blames Dems for deficit and debt and no jobs increase--limit govt at every level
---(why is that woman smiling, she must have a good job)
---we want results, not rhetoric (such as I'm giving you now)
---health care---turn over "the best health care system in the world" to the fed govt
R's state lines, lawsuits crap---1,000 page bills that no one has right
---use all natural resources---Obama got him on that---rewind, repeat
("here in Virginia" who gives a f?)
---Obama already addressed the energy jobs and innovation---
--education---good education is good, "the president and I agree" lots of sound bites here
---all americans agree that we must maintain a strong natl defense---oldest daughter was army platoon leader in Iraq--thank the troops, thank the troops
---applaud Afghan decision---but serious concerns re: suspected terrorists---crotchboy same legal rights as U.S. citzen and immediately stopped cooperating?
(we say he sang like the Three Tenors)
---overregulation is bad---sound bite, sound bite, sound bite
---guy speaks like a well-rehearsed five year old, which is better than Bobby did last year
---Scripture quote---Haiti, Haiti, Haiti
insipid, insipid, insipid
---"some people say"---govt role to protect and expnd opportunity---yeah, reduce the size of government---
----we should pledge to work together---
God Bless---Obama said that, too
not really a response, but a watered down

Shields--mentioning Thomas Jefferson in Va tradition of "ancestor worship"--both a national speech and a local speech as these things go it probably worked better than most

The Daddy Speech: SOTU Liveblog

 UPDATE: The Daddy Speech

-6 pm--I'm at PBS cuz I can't stand any of the usual talking heads. Rahm! Napolitano!. Lots and lots of black people and other minorities on camera, Nice.
David Brooks is babbling, why it's celebrity city. Susan Rice. Michelle in something purpley.
Shields, "he's got to be optimistic but he's got to be realistic...does he acknowledge mistakes...inconceivable that the Dems would walk away from health care."
Lots of colorful contrariennes, red, bright blue, yellow, orange. The door.
Opens. Photogs enter. No Melina. Will have to look at the Wapo and see if she's shooting.
Steny, Reid, where's Patty? She's probably too short to see.
He's kissing women along the way..did W do that?
Sonia! Gary Locke.
Fruit salad boys. Wow, Tom Foley's there. What kind of lobbying is he doing?
Nancy in lavender.
Our const declares that from time to time the prex shall give the nation and it's leaders...for 220 years...looking back, tempting to assume our progress was inevitable--but victory in doubt often, Bull Run, WWII, Bloody Sunday civil rights...
tested our fears but we chose to move forward as one nation, one people..he took office facing The year later the worst of the storm is past...but it's not over...
--recession compounded what Am. families have been dealing with for decades...these struggles are the reason I ran for president...Biden nods...
angry, frustrated "tired of the partisanship and the pettiness"
--want Dems and R's to work through our differences...our anxieties the same, and our aspirations "most of all the ability to give their children a better life" and a stubborn resiliance in the face of diversity
our strength and decency reason "I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight"
--first standing O
---It begins with our economy---first task" but when I ran for president I promised I wouldn't always do waht was popular
---took over TARP and made it more transparent and accountable and recovered most of the money, therefore the fee on the banks--if these firms can afford to pay out big bonuses again, they can afford to pay our the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need
--another standing O--are those not clapping Rs?
---25 different tax cuts---for 95 percent of working families---we cut taxes for--you name it, we cut taxes--repetitive "I thought I'd get some applause on that one" Boener sees camera on him, claps, the fucker
---we havent' raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person
---about 2 mil Am who would otherwise be unemplyed right now are working--cops, teachers---on track for another 1.5 mil by end of year, R's refuse to pplud "the recovery act, " McCain is throwing up in his mouth
--names the small businesses who and individuals who benefitted--
--after two years of recession, the economy is growing again---
lots still hurting Boener and R's willing ao applaud "I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight"
---true engine of job creation will always be America's businesses--standing O
---govt can create "We should start where most new jobs do, in small businesses"
(Hi, Adele!)
--most banks still lending to big biz--$30 b to help small businesses to stay afloat--R's won't applaud
--new small business tax credit
---elim all cap gains tax on all small biz investment--
Jobs--we can put americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow
---going to Tampa where new high speed RR about to break ground (old man Dingell smiling)
---clean energy facilities, rebates for home energy improvements---slash tax breaks for companies that shift jobs overseas
---House bill includes some of these steps---urges Senate to do the same as first order of business---and I know they will
----I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay
BUT---won't make up for 7 mil jobs lost
new foundation for long term economic growth---
---not like the "lost decade"--income declined, jobs grew more slowly -- housing bubble and speculation
----too hard?---"How long should America put its future on hold"
---China's not waiting, Germany, India---these nations aren't playing for second place
---"I do not accept second place for the UsA"
standing O
---Financial reform--House has already passed "and the lobbyists are trying to kill it" -- he will "send it back until we get it right" if it doesn't meet test of real reform
-----Encourage innovation---no area is more ripe for innovation than energy
new generation of safe clean nuke plants, tough decisions about new offshore oil and gas development, biofuels and clean coal technologies, and new clean climate bill (no R's stand for that_
--again, House has passed---climate change--even if you doubt the evidence, but the nation that leads the clean energy economy is the nation that leads the global economy and america must be that nation
---Exports---more products, more jobs--double exports over next five years, 2 million jobs (Gary Locke?)--
make trading partners play by rules, aggressive seek new markets--South Korea, Panama, Columbia--
--4--invest in skills and education of people, did it this year with national competition, reward success, invest in reform (Bill Gates?)
the best anti poverty program around is a world class education
--renew elem and secondary education act---expand to all states, again follow House and approve bill to revitalize community colleges
career path for working families, and end unwarranted taxpayer subsidies to banks that make student loans, give families 10K tax benefit for four years---student only required to pay 10 percent of income toward loans, forgive after 20 years, after 10 if public service
0--Biden's task force on working families
this year will step up refinancing so homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages
---HCR! HCR!--reduce burden on families--we still need it
"Now let's clear a few things up..." "By now it should be obvious because it was good politics"--but because of suffering--"After nearly a century of trying...closer than ever...protect every Am from worst practices of the ins industry"
--Michelle's childhood obesity initiative--"thank you honey"
Michelle gestures and tells people to sit down
---very folksy--"she gets embarrassed"
--cites CBO that both parties acknowledge as unbiased---reduce deficit 1T--over 20 years
--I take my share of the blame for not explaining it better to the American people--
deficit will grow, premiums go up, sm
"I will not walk away from these Americans and neither should the people in this chamber"
--standing O
so, "I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed"
if anyone from either party has a better approach (he lists his requirments) let me know"
--"I'm eager to see it"--"Don't walk away from reform, not now, not when we are so close...let's get it done"
(Olympa stood for that)
--health care reform to dig us out of our deficit--one that's been
re: govt spending---set the record straight---surplus to deficit--Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts and not paying for a prescription drug program
--"All this was before I walked in the door"...some protest "just stating the facts"
---our efforts added another 1 tril to natl debt---families tightening belts, "the fed govt should do the same"
---specific steps to pay for that 1 trillion---
Discretionary spending--if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will (so much for Congress not going along) -- id 20 b in savings for 2011
---not continue tax cuts for oil cos...those making more than 250Kyr--and somebody else--
---wants bipartisan fiscal commission modelled in Gregg/Conrad proposal---specific set of
will issue executive order after Senate block
---(this was predicted)
--pay as you go law---should be restored--reason surpluses in the 90s
---Ds argue can't do this--why it won't take effect until next year--R's laugh, he says "that's how budgeting works"
(he talks back to them as he goes, good planning)
---R's arguement--"the problem is, that's what we did for eight years"
---dialogue--that's what helped us into these deficits---
something new "let's invest in our people without leaing them a mountain of debt"
"We face a deficit of trust" deep and corrosive doubts
--end outsized influence of lobbyists, do our work openly
---HOW?--WH visitors posted online, no lobbyists on commissions
strict limits on contributions---SC decision--i believe will open the floogates for lobbyists, including foreign interests--urges a bill to correct some of these problems
--also continue down the path of earmark reform---
D's and R's---have done some change, but restoring the public trust requires more--publish all earmarks online before there's a vote--so the am people can see how their money is being spent
---reform how we work with one another---I knew that noth parties have fed divisions that are entrenched---disagreements about role of govt---have been taking place for over 200 years
---but what frustrates the am people is that every day is election day "neither party should delay or obsruct every bill just because they can...I'm speaking to both parties now...
---false, malicious---sews further division--further mistrust
"I'm trying to change the tone of our politics"
"We still need to govern" -- the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills
--to R's -- if leadership is going to insist that 60 votes...then the responsibility to govern is yours as well---
---"Let's show the Am people that we can do it together" he wants to begin montly meetings with both leaderships "I know you can't wait"
SECURITY--I know that all of us love this country, all of us are committed to its defense"
--put aside differences---
--in last year 100s of AQ fighres and affiliates--killed or captured, many more than in 2008--
--Afghans--allies and partners---"I am absolutely confident we will succeed"
as candidate promised to end the war in Iraq--all comat troops out by August
--"Make no mistake, this war is ending and all of our troops are coming home"
Support the troops, support the troops when they come home
--that's why we made the largest increase for vets in decades last year
--Michelle and Joe--natl commission to support military families
--with two wars
greatest danger NUKES
calls out JFK and RR--farthest reaching arms control treaty in two decades, in April, conference
to secure all vulnerable nukes around the world (I didn't see Hillary)
--N. Korea, Iran -- they too will face growing consequences, that is a promise--engagement that advances security of all people
---gone from bystander to leader in climate change
---new initiative to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or disease
----we also do it because it is right
Haiti--is that their president, must be
--America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity
--ourgreatest source of strength is our ideas--equality,
---must continue renew -- civil rights division strengthened--
new laws protect ag hate  crime
DADT--will work this year with cong and military to repeal, more crackdown with equal pay laws, immigration laws
-- American values---citizens have lost faith--in institutions---
---I campaigned on the promise of change...many americans not sure we still belive "or that I can deliver" never promised easy, "or that I can do it alone"
---can play it safe by avoiding hard truths and playing it safe
----Joe nodding along, "the only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were not afraid to do what is hard"
---political setbacks, "and some of them were deserved" but nothing compared to what families -- still a spirit of determination, optimism
---quotes a letter--"We are strong, we are resilient, we are American"
"We don't quit, I don't quit, let's seize this moment,.."

Damned good speaker, better than 2004, which I thought was overblown.
Let's see what Brooks and Shields have to say
UPDATE: Shields still can't find the lead even though he's had 15 minutes to review his notes.
TPM says it's :
Obama to Dems: Get With It!
Obama to Repubs: Play Nice!

Like I said, The Daddy Speech. And a good one.

Nancy Pelosi Nominated For Contrarienne Emeritus

Because she just might pull this thing out
All multiple users — you know who you are, and so do I — are invited to vote on this, just click yes on the ratings below this post.
(No, I'm not spying. I don't know your name, but I know your ISP. See StatCounter at bottom of this page.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There Is Always A Future In Computer Maintenance**

Who needs a cheerful list? I have this. I may memorize it.
Words to Deteriorata for National Lampoon by Tony Hendra, music by Christopher Guest. Originally performed by Melissa Manchester. 1972

It is a parody of Desiderata, a recording of which was a big hit in 1971.


Go placidly
Amid the noise and waste.
And remember what comfort there may be
In owning a piece thereof.

Avoid quiet and passive persons
Unless you are in need of sleep.

Rotate your tires.

Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
And heed well their advice,
Even though they be turkeys.

Know what to kiss ... and when.

Consider that two wrongs never make a right
But that three ... do.

Wherever possible, put people on hold.

Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment
And despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance. **

Remember the Pueblo.

Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate.

Know yourself.
If you need help, call the FBI.

Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you.
That lemon on your left, for instance.

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.

Fall not in love therefore;
It will stick to your face.

Gracefully surrender the things of youth:
The birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan
And let not the sands of time
Get in your lunch.

Hire people with hooks.

For a good time call 606-4311;
Ask for "Ken."

Take heart amid the deepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.

And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke
Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you conceive him to be ---
Hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate.

Give up.


Totally off topic. So far off topic, I may myself be becoming off topic. I am sooo sick of politics.
So, without further ado:
DIY o' teh week.
I'm not much on little home projects, but I might try this. This and the Thai coconut shrimp recipe a friend posted.

Coconut Shrimp

Thai Coconut Shrimp
1 1/2 Cups Coconut milk from a can (not a whole can I don't think.)
2 Tablespoons sherry or saki
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha or similar chili sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix the above together for sauce. Taste it to see if it has the right amount of zip for you. Add chilli sauce if needed.

1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 Tablespoons water
Mix this by itself for a thickening agent for later. If you use light coconut milk, make a good mix of 1/3 C of cornstarch with equal parts water. I mix this much anyway just in case the whole thing doesn't thicken enough.

2 pounds shrimp peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons oil (peanut preferred)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (I like more.)
1/2 T or more minced fresh ginger root (I like more.)

Stir fry the above until the shrimp are pink, approximately 3 minutes.

Add the following:
1/3 C chopped fresh basil
1/3 C chopped fresh mint
1/3 C chopped green onions

Toss the above in the stir fry for about 15 to 20 seconds until the leaves just wilt.

Add coconut milk stuff and heat until it boils. Add the thickening cornstarch agent and stir until it gets a little creamy. If it's not, add a little more thickener.

Squeeze in some lime, and serve on rice or noodles. You can top with chopped peanuts or garnish with lime wedges. I just like to eat it.

Quote O' Teh Day

“It’s O.K. to head out for wonderful, but on your way to wonderful you’re going to have to pass through all right,” he says. “And when you get to all right, take a good look around and get used to it because that may be as far as you’re going to go.”
Bill (Lean On Me, Ain't No Sunshine When You're Gone) Withers

Hedonic Marriage

It sounds like something amoeba might do, but no-o-o, it's something you might do. In fact, the odds are better than you thought.

Big Love

National Geographic has a great spread on the unrepentant polygamists.
The first church members arrive at the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House in Colorado City, Arizona, at about 6 p.m. Within a half hour the line extends out the front doors, down the side of the building, and out into the parking lot. By seven, it stretches hundreds of yards and has grown to several thousand people—the men and boys dressed in suits, the women and girls in Easter egg–hued prairie dresses.
The mourners have come for a viewing of 68-year-old Fo­neta Jessop, who died of a heart attack a few days ago. In the cavernous hall Fo­neta's sons form a receiving line at the foot of her open casket, while her husband, Merril, stands directly alongside. To the other side stand Merril's numerous other wives, all wearing matching white dresses.
Foneta was the first wife.
The photos.

Eat The Rich!

Those sneaky Oregonians scheduled an election and didn't tell me about it.

Get Ready For Lost

The final season begins next week — the reason the State of the Union address is tomorrow instead — and you will need this handy refresher course.
Somebody should do a SOTU/Lost mashup.

Call Your Senators

and Reps while you're at it.
Tell them to approve the reconciliation fixes needed to get health care reform passed.

Here's a new tool that makes it so easy even my dog could do it.

The Deficit: Fun Fact

Okay, if we have to talk about this, I guess I'll have to read about it so you don't have to. Hot on the heels of the spending freeze comes a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that the deficit seems to be going down a bit and likely to be lower than last year.
There's some caveats about tax reductions — what tax reductions? — and other spending increases.
But here's what caught my attention:
In dollar terms, though, a $1.3 trillion deficit this year would leave the shortfall back where it was when he took office from President George W. Bush.
But back to the spending freeze. Turns out it's not even new, so why all the hair pulling? Politics, honey.
Last year Mr. Obama proposed to cut a similar amount — $11.5 billion — and Congress approved about three-fifths of that, the officials said.
And the NYT story about all this notes in the last paragraph that this has been in the works since last fall. I remember those stories, too.
But I'm still puzzled. What tax reductions?

UPDATE: Give a little here, take a little there. Stimulus to cost about 10 percent more than originally planned. News at 11.

C'mon, Mr. President. The Votes Are There.

Clyburn says it would be "helpful" if Obama were to urge Senate Democrats to guarantee the fixes to its bill in his speech tomorrow.
He says the votes are there with such a guarantee. Repeat, he says the votes are there.
Best comment o' teh day about the daily ups and downs:
"It's like a porn movie where the new pool guy never shows up."

UPDATE: Erm, all very well and good but apparently the reconciliation process that would get the fix allows for unlimited amendments, which is what the R's are planning.

History Of Health Care Reform

The NYT (yes, I will miss linking to it) has put together a fabulous timeline.
Teddy Roosevelt was actually suggesting we look to the Germans for a model.
"Former President Theodore Roosevelt campaigns on the Progressive Party ticket promising national health insurance, along with women's suffrage, safe conditions for industrial workers and other social issues. 'What German has done in the way of old-age pensions or insurance should be studied by us, and the system adapted to our uses,' he said. Roosevelt is defeated by Woodrow Wilson." 1912

'We Are Going To Make Mistakes'

and apparently putting a freeze on discretionary spending is the example the Obama administration decided to give us this week.
There's some agreement that it was leaked ahead of the State of the Union address primarily to let the left fume early. Seems awkward to me.
If there's support for this idea out there, I haven't seen it, but then I only read the bloggers. Someone at Daily Kos has gathered tidbits into a nice pile of "are you crazy!"
Most also seem to know that Congress will not go along with it, and it's judged mostly a political ploy to play to the "less government" crowd and one-up the people who pander to them by actually looking like you're doing something — because you're the one with the power — rather than just jeering from the sidelines.
I think it will all go away next week, especially if Congress looks like it's going to get health care done.
But frankly, if they don't get health care done and they keep on doing stuff like this, I'm thinking that Costa Rica is sounding better and better.
Don't worry, I'll bounce back. Just need a breather.

Meanwhile, Over On The Backburner...Gov't Spying Dept.

Scott Horton, one of the unsung heroes of this generation of government watchers, reminds us of the things that don't make the headlines because we've got health care, and Haiti and fuck all to think about:
Because of redactions, we don’t know exactly which reporters were targeted, but we do know that “leak” investigations were carried out following Dana Priest’s Pulitzer Prize-winning disclosures about the CIA black site torture system and James Risen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning disclosures of a National Security Agency surveillance program that involved the warrantless examination of communications data relating to tens of millions of Americans.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Can He Really Do That?

Obama plans to propose a $250 billion discretionary spending freeze. No new office furniture for you, suckers.
Talk about bold. I mean, that's the complaint, right? He's not bold enough. Of course, $250 billion over 10 years is like 10 cents or something.
Liberals are already crying all over themselves, "it's not defense" "it's not enough" "what about jobs"
R's the same, I suppose.
Empty gesture? We'll see. It's been in the works a long time.

Cheer Up

As long as I was at The Guardian, I decided to sniff around. It was fun. Newspapers should be fun.

Can things get any worse? The answer, thankfully, is no. This is rock bottom. From here on in things can only get better.
After reading their list, I made my own. It was helpful.

Julimac's Top Ten Reasons To Be Cheerful

1. January is almost over
2. People who go to Mexico in January spend a lot of time more time than I do worrying about being kidnapped by drug gangs
3. I now know there is a band called Vampire Weekend and that its album is more popular than Susan Boyle's
4. Shorty doesn't chew destroy shoes as frequently as before
5. The days ARE getting longer
6. At least in Britain they hold their leaders accountable for the Iraq War
7. iPhone has a fertility app and it works
8. Rich brown gravy with dinner
9. The Onion
10. Nurse Jackie is on tonight

Add yours in comments below. But you won't, I know you won't.

Journalism 101: 'Sleepwalking Into Oblivion'

Somebody in Britain gets it.
Meanwhile, I can't help but recall with a cluck-cluck how the esteemed deep thinkers at my old employer set a goal of 30 percent advertising revenue from on-line about five years ago. How's that workin' out for ya, huh? Ken Lowe, calling Ken Lowe.
Oh, never mind.
The editor-in-chief of The Guardian says some really interesting things about his business and its on-line present and future. Apparently, quality counts and it's a global conversation now. Who knew?
Me, I'm looking forward to not being able to link to the NYT next year. I hardly ever do as it is.
I'll miss Krugman, though. Or maybe not. They haven't put out the paywall rules yet.

Little Green Footballs

You probably never heard of it because you're a liberal, but the aforementioned blogger, Charles Johnson, has had a change of heart and is profiled in the NYT.
My nomination for Comment O' Teh Day from jimbob at MetaFilter:
Self-absorbed coward loses his fucking shit over over muslims, makes lots of money droning on and on about how scared he is of muslims, gradually regains his shit and realizes all his fans are complete assholes. It's an age-old story.
Pretty much sums up a five-page story.

Action Alert: Public Campaign Financing

is the real answer, but this won't hurt. It adds your voice.

'I Am A Miserable Pig' Rush Limbaugh Confesses

to The Onion.

And every time I speak, a tiny voice inside my head is screaming, "Stop talking, you stupid, insensitive prick. JUST STOP FUCKING TALKING. All you do is spread hate and fear, and the world would be a better place without you, you worthless, amoral, cocksucking fuckface."
Here, here!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Call Your Congresscritters

Tell them you want the House to approve the Senate health care reform bill and both to approve the reconciliation fix. Thank you.

Toll-free numbers for House and Senate.

Write 'em, too.

OMG, I've Died And Gone To Heaven

Ora รจ il momento per tutti gli uomini buoni per venire in aiuto del partito.

I have discovered Google docs. I'll never go to bed now.

No Comment

This Is Personal

I met a woman this week, slightly younger than me and so still of working age. Except, she can't work. She was a registered nurse until seven years ago, when she broke her back.
It wasn't until she told her doctor that she couldn't afford to come back that the doctor finally told her she'd probably never be able to work again.
She finally qualified for disability, which takes about two years. And she's still not healed, the result, they tell her, of a return of old, very traumatic memories from her youth, which have caused PTSD.
She is crippled and in pain. She lives in subsidized housing and she does not have a car. And she can no longer afford to see the providers who may have helped her because every time she visits, she gets a co-pay she can't afford. Because — this is the hard part — she receives $2 too much a month to qualify for Medicaid.
The Senate Health Care Reform bill would put her under the Medicaid umbrella.
So she could see the PTSD expert again and maybe complete her healing.
I doubt she's political. I doubt she knows how close she is to hope.
There are millions like her.

To Hell In A Handbasket Dept.

Is dissipation worse than cataclysm?
And what is a handbasket anyway?

Anyhoo, another "fight on" exhortation from some guy at The Nation whose wife works at the White House.
Got it.
What the country needs more than higher growth and lower unemployment, greater income equality, a new energy economy and drastically reduced carbon emissions is a redistribution of power, a society-wide epidemic of re-democratization. The crucial moments of American reform and progress have achieved this: from the direct election of senators to the National Labor Relations Act, from the breakup of the trusts to the end of Jim Crow.

The Zen

"Democracy is a treasure which no one will ever discover by deliberate search. But in continuing our search, in laboring indefatigably to discover the undiscoverable, we shall perform a work which will have fertile results in the democratic sense."
        German Democratic Socialist Robert Michels, 1911

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.
        Thomas Merton, 1966

Random Thought

There should be more pecans and fewer Brazil nuts in mixed nuts. This is personal. I spent more money this week to avoid peanuts, but the mix is still insufficient. I like the cashews, though.

Geithner Should Be Replaced

That seems to be a given although not much talked about recently since Bernanke is in the confirmation process.
Some knee-jerk had a piece in the Boston Globe saying that since Elizabeth Warren was called to the White House the day after Massachusetts, they must be asking her to run for the Senate when the term is up in two years.
I think that's not at all what they wanted to talk about. I think they wanted to talk about what she's good at, like maybe the Consumer Credit bill and maybe, maybe Treasury. Huh? Huh?
Most people haven't a clue who Elizabeth Warren is because you have to be a junkie to notice all this stuff. If you'd like to spend 18 minutes with her, here's a really good recent video from the New Yorker.