Saturday, February 27, 2010

A New Look

Well, after ages of looking at the same retarded* template, and watching it gather kipple like the corners of a flat in Bexhill, I decided to upgrade my blog's look.

Hope you like it as much as I do. I'll be tweaking the settings as I go. The final straw was the fact that, for some strange reason, my sidebar ended up under my posts.

* Sorry, Sarah, I calls 'em like I sees 'em

Friday, February 26, 2010

Say A Word For The Salt Of The Earth

David Paterson was the accidental governor. He probably had no business being there, but who could possibly have foreseen that Eliot Spitzer would turn out to be such a massive disappointment in his personal life?
Still, he was thrust into the limelight, unprepared, and tried to make the best of a bad situation. He was the voice of reason when the state senate was threatening to boil over into a militarist dictat.
Thank you, governor.
That said, I'm happy that he's come to this decision

Gov. David A. Paterson announced on Friday afternoon that he was ending his election campaign and would not run in November.

Mr. Paterson, his administration caught up in a whirlwind of allegations about its intervention in a domestic violence episode involving a top aide, ended his campaign less than a week after it officially began. But he defiantly denied any wrongdoing in the burgeoning scandal over his involvement in the abuse case.

The final straw was his special assistant, David Johnson, and allegations that he was a serial abuser of women. He was forced to turn the investigation of his administration over to his likely opponent in the Democratic primary next year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

In short, he was screwed into office and now screwed out of it.

Paterson's was a landmark governorship. He was the first legally blind governor elected in New York State, as well as the first African American governor in our history. Paterson's accomplishments, his father's influence notwithstanding, are many, and we should take a moment and salute him for coming this far.

Sadly, he fell short, and accumulated ridicule almost from his first day in office for his open marriage. That admission did not inoculate him from sex scandal rumours, including one horrible abuse of the journalistic process perpetuated by the New York Times.

Apparently, despite a buildup that promised a story more salacious than Fanny Brice, Paterson got nebulously involved in the dispute between Johnson and the woman who alleged Johnson assaulted her, but even at that, his involvement sounded more like he supported her story than defended Johnson.

This was not the first time that Paterson sent chilling signals. He had state police investigate then-state senate majority leader (and now convicted felon) Joseph Bruno.

His administration was all but in the toilet anyway, and his popularity ratings made Dick Cheney smile. It's sad, but he could have been so much more and ended up so much less.

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Congratulations to the US Women's Hockey Team. They may have lost, but they played a spectacular game, only slightly less perfect than the Canadians. I watched most of the game, and the ladies never really seemed to lose their nervousness.
2) But there's no climate change!
4) I thought this answer was rather obvious: everyone, but especially the insurance companies. It doesn't help that Americans are generally fat, lazy cows who are stupid about what they eat, but if insurance companies had taken a smarter approach to how and what they insure, we wouldn't be in this mess.
What's wrong with reimbursing people for staying healthy? For losing weight (some insurers do these), for going to the gym, for quitting smoking, for any number of pro-active steps a person can take? A full reimbursement, I'm talking about, not some $400 sop at the end of the calendar year. Why not pay for checkups at a higher pro-rata basis than for emergency care for preventable illnesses? None of this is rocket science, and all of it would have kept healthcare costs down.
5) Not much was accomplished at Healthapalosers yesterday. I didn't expect much. It really was intended as a line in the sand for Republicans: get them on record opposing universal coverage and limiting the costs of healthcare.
6) When your whale kills three people, don't blame the trainer (and last to die.) Whales, like people, have personalities. Some are nice and even tempered, others are irrascible curmudgeons who will get nasty. And I consider myself a nice curmudgeon!
7) OK, so maybe I was wrong earlier this week, and maybe this is the real thing.
8) Twitter is for Twits, v45.9
9) Poor guy

10) "Johnny, do you smell gas down there?" "I dunno, Ma, I'm trying to thaw these...." BOOM!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bet You Didn't Realize This

One big reason why your health insurance bills, as well as your medical bills, have been skyrocketing is...lack of competition!

The House voted Wednesday to strip health insurance companies of their exemption from federal antitrust laws, a Democratic measure that could resonate with public concerns about insurers but that has an uncertain future in the Senate.

The provision passed on a 406 to 19 vote, with most Republicans joining all the House Democrats in voting for the measure.

President Obama has said he favors the idea of repealing the exemption, and House Democrats say doing so would add scrutiny to the practices of health insurers. "The American people want and need this protection," said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.)

Basically, the regulation and oversight of insurance companies was done on a state-by-state basis after a 1945 anti-trust exemption was passed. Nominally, this was supposed to avoid collusion, price manipulation, and other lovely outcomes of monopolization.

Except...well, when you have major corporations who can talk to each other about what they're doing in New York as opposed to Montana, and yet, Montana and New York's attorneys general do not or cannot talk to each other on how to handle it...I said it the other day: in confusion, the more powerful force will manipulate the situation to aggregate more power.

A state or two is not as powerful as a multinational insurer with lobbyists in Congress.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office believes this repeal will do little to lower insurance premiums. I disagree. That might be true short term. It will take a while for Congress to bone up on insurance and monopolies. Long term, however, I think this will dampen increases and perhaps even lay the groundwork for lower rates.

If. We. Have. A. Public. Option.

It's funny how Republicans seem so scared of free enterprise. They don't seem to mind the anti-capitalist conglomerates that fund their campaigns, but they mind someone bigger coming along to bully them.

Weird, that.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Um, Better Him Than Me?

Ellen DeGeneres: Simon Cowell "Wants Me"
I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

E Pluribus Unum

This story annoys me:
Republican Congressional leaders on Tuesday rejected President Obama’s challenge to come up with a single comprehensive proposal to achieve his goal of guaranteeing health insurance for nearly all Americans.
But they said they would attend a televised forum to discuss the issue with Mr. Obama on Thursday, even as they voiced doubt that he and Congressional Democrats were acting in good faith.
You know what? Don't fucking bother. McConnell, you can take your Boehner and shove it sideways.
This is America. "E Pluribus Motherfucking Unum," beeyatches! Obama is graciously including you in this meeting not as a sop to you and your pathetic little base but as a means to try to get you to nut up and engage yourself in this very important discussion.
And he has been more than patient with your pasty little asses.
The threat earlier this week to take the entire health care reform issue to a reconciliation vote was not an idle one. This summit is your last chance, I suspect. President Obama has played  nice, but as the movie says, "be nice until it's time to not be nice".
It's quite near time to take the gloves off. And trust me, GOP, you don't want in an election year to go back to your constituents to find out why their precious pork has been pulled by a President who doesn't feel in the mood to spend money he has to borrow.
Look, I'm all for consensus building, and I'm all for inclusion. I would love to live in a world where we come together and try to recreate Eden, where no one suffers and no one feels slighted and everyone can have all that they need.
But Republicans simply won't do that. They don't want a state of grace for all people, just for a select few who happen to have a bit more of the green pieces of paper that our pathetic and moronic society is forced to live off.
They would rather see the rest of us die than to extend the decent hand of humanity to help others up.
Flat out, that's the truth. They are so blinded by their greed and ignorance that they cannot put it aside for even one minute to see that people are dying out here for want of adequate healthcare and it will only get worse.
So...fuck 'em. Pass the bill, and move on.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reading Pat Boone...

Message like watching a monkey try to fuck a football:

Just today, before I sat down to write this, I saw Anderson Cooper on CNN and Bill O'Reilly on Fox trying to figure it out … and missing the point entirely. Anderson, a very smart man, was asking Ron Paul why "the tea party hasn't endorsed your son, running for Congress?" I didn't wait to hear Paul's answer, but I was laughing at Cooper's lack of understanding of the "tea party" itself. It's not an organization, a political "party"; there are no paid flacks laying out strategies in a back room, painting signs for out-of-work folks to parade in public places, hardly knowing what the slogans are about. It's not a long planned, well laid out agenda aimed at toppling some party or promoting another – or even creating a new one.

Mind you, this came on the heels of Boone practically whining about how no one noticed that *he* was the first person to call for a New Boston Tea Party:

On March 7, a year ago, in this space I called for "A New Boston Tea Party." Though I hadn't heard anybody else proposing it, I soon learned that others were spontaneously and independently calling for the same thing.

OK, so let's get back to the topic I was going to write about. Remember, Boone said this was not an organization.

Yet, the very next line after making that point, we find this....Have you seen our Tea Party Store? Everything you need to express your outrage with the Obama Socialist Express

Once more:

What liberals and party bosses and jaded people in the media can't seem to comprehend is that nobody started this, nobody organized this, no secret big money funded it, and nobody is orchestrating it now!


Have you seen our Tea Party Store? Everything you need to express your outrage with the Obama Socialist Express


Sarah did a pretty good job of explaining there is no governing authority, nobody presuming to tell the huge, disparate, diverse horde of citizens what they have to say or not say.


Have you seen our Tea Party Store? Everything you need to express your outrage with the Obama Socialist Express

Did you get that? Now get this:

Hundreds of thousands, perhaps in aggregate several millions of Iranians have taken to the streets, the parks, the plazas, also chanting and yelling and waving placards, also demanding that their governing authorities listen to them and do their bidding.

That's right! He equates the Teabaggers, a small group of disgruntled sheeplejerks whining about the ultrarich paying a few dollars more in taxes with people trying to get free of a repressive religiocratic regime!

I wonder if the Iranians can buy T-shirts?


Bristol Palin To Make Acting Debut

One hopes it will turn out better than her stab at being a wife.
Nice take down of Grandmama here.
Y'know, I often wonder if Bristol allowed herself to get pregnant because she, like so many teenaged moms, saw it as a way out of a bad home. Certainly, living with that cellophane skinned former "beauty" pageant contestant, Bristol must have suffered enormous degradations.
"Sit up straight! Why can't you lose weight? Stop picking your fingernails!"
These are etched into the young skin of Bristol Palin's face, and it's sad to see her suffer such abuse at the hands of someone who clearly had children for one of two reasons: to be the dutiful wife (not likely) or as props to litter her political stage.
I think Tripp was an accident that was meant to happen.

This Is Your Brain...

Any questions?

Turkey Hash

Not that this is America, and not that this is a Bush ploy, but it sure could have been!
Turkish investigators grilled more than 40 military figures on Tuesday, including the retired heads of navy and air force, after mass arrests over an alleged plot to oust the Islamist-rooted government.

In the most dramatic move to date against the armed forces, anti-terror police detained the suspects Monday over a purported plan codenamed "Operation Sledgehammer", drawn up in 2003 soon after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power.

Investigators say the suspects planned to bomb mosques and escalate tensions with Greece in a bid to force the downing of a Turkish jet over the Aegean, thus discrediting the government and ultimately leading to its downfall.

Turkey has long been a fairly reliable ally for the US in the Middle East region. In its bid to have full membership in the European Union, it has accepted its role as bulwark against the Islamist wave in less hospitable countries it borders. A strong democratic tradition coupled with a vigilant military (for those occasions when an Islamist government has taken over the reins) has kept Turkey in good standing with the West.

And yet, once again, the military was about to step in.

The Turks are at the center of several controversies in the region that will require US attention, most notably its attitude towards the Kurdish population that it shares with Iraq as well as its frosty relations with Greece and Armenia.

So they are a strategic partner with America in preventing terrorist attacks, and in keeping diplomatic channels open. Likely this is why long term strategy of the US has been to keep Turkey our partner.
While it's a stretch to say that what is happening in Turkey could happen here, the job of this post is to stretch. So yes, I'm admitting that this is an entirely made up scenario, but given events of the past ten years, I don't think it's impossible any longer.
The way the nation has been torn apart with regional and ideological fights, not only "us against them" but "us against us," weakens us. It makes us vulnerable to predations both internal and external.
Internally, the economic crisis plus the ginned-up infighting, coming mostly from the far right, has created instability. Instabilty tries to correct itself, but that takes time. It also leaves opportunity out there for power grabs, both by thems that ain't got but more likely, by thems that gots.
See, if you look carefully at the American economy in 2008 and 2009, who got hurt? It wasn't the banks, altho they suffered some pain. It sure as heck wasn't the car companies: GM has new owners, but that's about that.
No, it was you. And me. And millions of Americans who put money into our homes and our retirement plans. Money that was never guaranteed by anyone.
Given the predatory nature of American corporations these past thirty years...I mean, come on! Is it fair they asked for free speech with all the money they can generate?...we can assume that whatever power they could grab, they did.
Power is a self-reinforcing thing: get a little, and it builds on the power you already had, which attracts even more power. Yes, eventually things fall apart and chaos reigns, but in a society like America, it's not hard to conceive of a situation where one company or sector amasses so much power and influence, like MicroSoft in computers and software, or Wal-mart in retail, that it can dictate terms not only nationally but globally.
Is it so hard to imagine a situation where that power is extended to governance? To even the military? Krupp and the Nazis. Boeing and the state of Washington. Both examples of a corporation wielding influence over a government.
And if it's already happened from time to time, how hard is it to imagine a situation where the military becomes a corporate police department? Posse comitatus notwithstanding, what if instead of US forces, Blackwater or KBR was sent in to quell civil uprisings against this form of tyranny? Troops like those were used in New Orleans after Katrina. It's not hard to imagine them being deployed against, say, students sitting in at Columbia.
With the full-throated backing of the hate-mongers on the right.
I wonder if, even then, they'd realize what they have wrought on this great nation with their bluster and insanity?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bloom Box

Pretty weird stuff here:
He invented a new kind of fuel cell, which is like a very skinny battery that always runs. Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other. The two combine within the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. There's no need for burning or combustion, and no need for power lines from an outside source.
I'm sniffing the cold fusion craze...

Dumbfuck Of The Year

They grow 'em stoopid in Tin-ass-cy:
SO HERE’S A QUESTION: Would a default on Treasuries accomplish what the Balanced Budget Amendment was supposed to achieve, by forcing the government to spend no more than it takes in?
I dunno, Glenn...would shoving a stick in your ass make you smarter than wood?

Bruce Bartlett goes over the reasons this latest moronic trope floated by the Right Wing Talking Trash Elmo doll won't work.
1. The Treasury can never default on the debt
2. Even if the Treasury somehow defaulted—that is, failed to make a timely interest payment—it would not achieve what Reynolds and other conservatives wish: an end to all federal borrowing and de facto imposition of a balanced budget by cutting all spending in excess of revenues.
3. The disruption to financial markets, commerce and the well-being of all Americans from a Treasury default are really beyond my ability to fully describe. But here are a few points to ponder. Interest rates would skyrocket to unprecedented levels, which would cause a collapse of private borrowing and massive capital losses for all bond holders, which include pension funds, insurance companies and foreign central banks, among others. It might be impossible for pension funds to make payments to millions of individuals depending on them for life itself.
...Bartlett goes onto mention that the cost of borrowing for the United States would skyrocket, since our Treasuries are back by "the full faith and credit" of the US government, which of course would default as quickly as the bonds.

Reynolds, of course, backpedals in the face of such an exhaustive and detailed analysis of what one can only hope was an opiate nightmate.

But since this has become a fairly common trope among the chattering monkeys on the right wing porch as it ties in neatly with the Teabaggers and the Paulists, you need to be aware of it.

First off, we've already been through a dry run of an American bankruptcy: the stagflation of the late 1970s, early 1980s, caused in large part by the OPEC nations holding the rest of the world hostage: de facto, we were operationally bankrupt as a nation.

How? When the Fed tried to loosen up the economy, there was no proportionate increase in economic activity. The money went to oil. This created an inflationary spiral and next thing you know, we've raised interest rates (the prime reached not only double digits, but approached 20%, a rate usually associated with third world military juntas).

Which only served to dampen down the economy.

By the way, we are currently in the middle of yet another stagflationary period. Oil, again, played a large part in it. Remember $5 a gallon gas? It wasn't that long ago.

Odd, considering we had two oil men running the country at the time it kicked off.

Monetary policy hasn't worked this time, either, as the money supply was pretty much dried up going in, due to low interest rates and the availability of cheap mortgages drying up investable cash reserves.

But I digress into territory not suited for a blog devoted to snarcasm.

Too, defaulting on national obligations is not like going to bankruptcy court because you can't pay your mortgage anymore. China (which has started dumping Treasuries, so beware) isn't about to accept pennies on the dollar in exchange for a clean bill of health.

We will be forced to pay it back in some form or other. If you don't believe me, just think of how we've bullied and badgered third world nations to repay their debts to us, funds that could have been used to improve infrastructure, or for economic development.

You'll note the Bushies only got involved because they wanted Iraqi war debts forgiven, and Iraq sits on the second largest oil reserve in the world.

If anything, defaulting on American treasuries would force even more spending on domestic social programs, while forcing the United States to cut back on its defense programs.

Hm. Maybe it's not such a bad idea, after all!