Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Stuff

(Hopefully back to normal posting on Monday, by the way...)

Oh yes, let's pity the poor investor class that can only purchase one Mercedes Benz and a facial at a trendy Caribbean resort per year instead of two since they're worrying so much about how that nasty Kenyan Marxist president with his cut lip who won't show us his Hawaiian birth certificate is going to raise their taxes (uh, yeah, maybe to Clinton-era levels, the last time this country saw prosperity for real)...

...and I know the setup is a bit lame, but the point about Republicans and the debt is what matters, of course - everyone should watch this, particularly the last three or so minutes...

...and I'm sure it's too late for this to be of benefit to "Black Friday" shoppers, but maybe for the rest of us...

...and here's a tune for us to keep tapping our toes while we wait in the checkout line to purchase the latest gizmo to stick under the tree in a little less than a month.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

I got a kick out of this (courtesy of Pixdaus and The Daily Kos).

...and it looks like The Onion does it again...

Obama Outlines Moral, Philosophical Justifications For Turkey Pardon

...and here's another holiday fave, with an intro by Seth MacFarlane at Stewie Griffin (and again, the captions make this hilarious as far as I'm concerned)...

...and here's more holiday fun.

Update: I kind of liked this also (hat tip for this and The Onion to Daily Kos).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Stuff

So then, I guess a jury of his peers in Texas equates with the Gestapo (here)? Looks like The Bugman won't be able to boogaloo his way out of this.

And if you need a reminder as to why DeLay is an utterly unrepentant scumbag, check out this, references to the "Democrat" Party and all (and typical for DeLay, a guy who didn't serve, to question the patriotism of those who did)...

...well then, maybe he can learn some new dance moves from "The King."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Stuff

Rachel Maddow provides a welcome dose of sanity to the idiocy of what passes for our political dialogue in this country...

...and for God's sake, people, they're professionals risking their lives for us - who the #@!$ cares what their sexual preference is (but we know that, even if Fix Noise doesn't)...

...and I detest Ed Snider as a warmonger anyway, and I don't care how many millions he donates; he basically began the destruction of a storied Philadelphia landmark today so his rich friends could have more places to spend too much money (here...and of course, the Russians came back in '76 to lose the game when they were told that they wouldn't get paid if they forfeited)...

...and this song has been on my mind a bit lately (sorry, no video).

Tueday Mashup (11/23/10)

  • In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Matt Mackowiak says the following (from here, concerning the elections a few weeks ago)…

    Despite the protestations of Democrats, this election was not a mandate for bipartisanship. (Isn't it funny how the losers always want bipartisanship?)
    Yeah, that’s really hilarious, isn’t it (which a certain Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich called for in 2006 in the wake of the Dems retaking of Congress, he being the disgraced former Repug House Speaker, of course, as The Eternal Molly Ivins reminds us here).

    And the Dems actually offered “bipartisanship” in working with Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, as noted here, though we know what happened of course (yes, I’ll admit that that was always a stretch largely because of Dubya’s pig-headed intransigence, but it’s beyond pathetic that nothing was worked out on immigration reform due to the right-wing caterwauling from the usual suspects).

    Just goes to show what happens when you reach with your outstretched hand to a person who refuses to unclench their fist.

  • And uh oh – speaking of Gingrich, it looks like he’s at it again (here… I give you one of Newt’s “12 Ideas To Replace The Left and Restore America”)…

    As a step toward more affordable (health) care, eliminate the $70 billion to $120 billion in theft in Medicare and Medicaid created by the administrative incompetence of the federal bureaucracy and the innovative determination of modern criminals.
    It’s good that Gingrich targeted that, actually. The problem for him is that Patrick Murphy already co-sponsored the legislation noted here that accomplishes the following…

    Murphy authored the bipartisan IMPROVE Act (Improving Medicare Policy for Reimbursements through Oversight and Efficiency) to help eliminate fraud in the health care system and protect taxpayer dollars. His legislation was included in the health insurance reform bill the President signed into law last month.

    “This law cracks down on criminals who pose as doctors to cheat seniors and drain taxpayer dollars,” said Congressman Murphy. “Every dollar we lose to fraud is a dollar lost for seniors’ health care and for middle-class families.”

    “Congressman Murphy’s IMPROVE Act cuts down on the $60 billion that Medicare loses to fraud every year, helping to protect and improve the program that millions of seniors rely on for their health care,” said Ray Landis of Pennsylvania AARP.
    Once again Mikey, you can’t imagine how big the shoes are that you have to now try and fill…sigh.

  • Finally, I suppose this is what now passes for humor in Mrs. Graham’s once-legendary newspaper before it descended into utter absurdity (the premise, such as it is, is that conservatives have to supposedly stop playing nice with liberals and go for “the knockout blow,” and what follows is advice in doing that - I guess this is written from the perspective of a "liberal")…

    Treat us with the same respect with which we treat you, which is none. Our “fairness” mask slipped away some time during Bush’s second term, to reveal the absolute contempt in which we hold you. We are angry, unhappy people, at once at war with God, truth, justice, the American Way, and pretty much the entire Constitution, so why should we give you suckers an even break? We think lawyers are the solution to all life’s problems, since there’s always gotta be an angle somewhere, whereas you think God, four aces and a loaded .45 will pretty much see you through any eventuality, including us.
    If there’s one thing I’m sick of, it’s listening to conservatives whine about how awfully lawyers generally are. If you or someone you know is horribly wronged due to an auto accident, an illegal act on the part of law enforcement or a botched medical procedure, who do you plan to call for help, your dentist?

    And besides, if lawyers are supposedly so awful for Republicans, then why did so many of them contribute to Mike Fitzpatrick’s congressional campaign, as noted here?

    What I really want to point out, though, is that conservatives owe the legal profession (and one guy in particular) more than they will ever admit. And that one guy would be James Bopp Jr.

    As noted here…

    WASHINGTON — A conservative Indiana lawyer engineered the string of legal victories that have enabled corporations and wealthy individuals to channel tens of millions of dollars into this year's midterm elections secretly, a study by campaign watchdogs has found.

    James Bopp Jr., a Republican-backed lawyer from Terre Haute, Ind., who's fought campaign finance laws for 30 years, filed the suit that led to last January's Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate and union dollars to bankroll independent election ads.

    Bopp said he's now challenging laws in at least a dozen states, including California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, which require disclosure of the names of campaign contributors.

    Some of those cases, Bopp said, challenge requirements to disclose all donations of $25 or more, a threshold he considers to be too low.

    "James Bopp is the point man for conservative wealthy interests whose goal is to dismantle the laws and regulations we have in place to stop the buying of Congress and other elected officials," said former Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Edgar, the president of the liberal-leaning lobby Common Cause.
    So just remember that Bopp is the guy responsible for smashing the floodgates of corporate advertising in political campaigns that allowed those with the deepest pockets to get their message out and suffocate those who have fought and sacrificed to ensure a level playing field.

    Typical for a “family values” charlatan selling his trade and his very soul to the highest bidder.
  • Monday, November 22, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    Happy 70th birthday to Terry Gilliam...

    ...and I'd forgotten about the Troy Davis case - here is an update, and I wish it were good news...

    ...also, I could post about this guy probably every day if I wanted to, but this blog would get even more repetitive than it already is at times, I is especially important to keep him front and center now, though, with the release of that wretched book - kudos to Dan Froomkin for this; it may take me a day or two to get all the way through his post, but I light of all this, here is a video that I think is appropriate...

    ...and from the ridiculous to the sublime, here is a song that is, in part, about today's commemoration.

    Monday Mashup (11/22/10)

  • From the false equivalency file, I give you the following from John Harwood in the New York Times today, on the ascent of The Orange One to “the big chair” in the U.S. House (here, comparing a former House Speaker and one who is about to relinquish the role)…

    Mr. Gingrich’s deliberately provocative style and intellectual intensity made him a magnet for opposition attacks; so does Ms. Pelosi’s profile as a wealthy, stylish woman from the liberal bastion of San Francisco.
    Oh, please…

    I’ll tell you what, Harwood – let me know when Pelosi tries to spread the lie that Obama is a Muslim (and yes, I know that is already waay too old) here (part of Gingrich’s history of bigoted remarks here), or that spending on food stamps doesn’t stimulate the economy (here), or suggests that Elena Kagan withdraw from the Supreme Court because she supposedly opposed military recruiters at Harvard Law School, which happens to be an utter lie (mentioned here)...oh, and let’s not forget Gingrich’s call for a space-based air traffic control system here – let me know if Pelosi starts pulling stuff like this, OK?

    At least Harwood mentioned that Gingrich was responsible for the last government shutdown we experienced in 1995 (with possibly another on the way if this wretched incoming Congress makes good on its sickening boasts).

  • And speaking of this incoming bunch of miscreants, I give you more Courier Times stenography from Gary Weckselblatt here, lapping up whatever supposed pearls of wisdom are dispensed from Mikey Fitzpatrick.

    One of Mikey’s ideas is to “make existing tax rates permanent,” which is Republican-ese for keeping Dubya’s tax cuts in place for everyone including the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class that has utterly had its way in this country for at least the last 10 years. Problem is, though, that, when polled, this country overwhelmingly rejects tax cuts for the rich, as noted here (and of course, Weckselblatt fails to try and get Fitzpatrick to explain how keeping Bush’s tax cuts in place lowers the deficit – it adds more red ink, of course).

    (And let’s be serious for a minute, OK? With all of the stinking tax cuts handed out over the last 10 years, if they had really produced the desired effect of job creation, wouldn’t we now have more jobs than we would know what to do with?)

    Also, Mikey wants to “roll back spending to 2008 pre-stimulus levels.” In that case, say goodbye to Pell grants, as noted here.

    Continuing, Fitzpatrick says that “he clearly want(s) to assist small businesses in the district,” which is interesting when you consider that he had the chance to support the Keystone Opportunity Industrial Zone (KOIZ) initiative and voted against it twice as a Bucks County Commissioner (here....and Mikey just loves those clean-energy jobs going to China, as noted here).

    And does Mikey support “tort reform” (I guess “liability reform” is the new, Frank Luntz-approved language)? You’d better believe it, even though, as noted here, "tort reforms have not led to health care cost savings for consumers" according to the December (’08) issue of Health Sciences Review….

    "It's had a really small effect, or else it doesn't seem to change defensive medicine," said Michael Morrisey, a professor of health economics and health insurance and the director of the (University of Alabama’s) Lister Hill Center for Health Policy.
    Fitzpatrick also rants as follows…

    "The bill contains 19 new taxes, fees and cuts to existing programs. Everything from medical devices to real estate sales to existing health plans are taxed to pay for this plan. This is a tax bill, not a health care bill. It does nothing to increase the quality of care."
    In the matter of medical devices, the following should be noted from here (from Medtronic, a company directly affected by the medical devices tax)…

    The excise tax on medical devices now included in the law was reduced from $60 billion to $20 billion over 10 years. It provides for a 2013 start date to coincide with coverage expansion; it will be a conventional excise tax with full deductibility; and it will cover all product classes with the exception of retail products like contact lenses and possibly many diabetes supplies, including continuous glucose monitors, which we manufacture. The impact of the tax, we estimate, will be roughly $150 to $200 million on Medtronic annually beginning in 2013. We have no immediate plans to eliminate jobs at Medtronic as a result of the device tax or health care reform. We accept our shared fiscal responsibility for coverage expansion, and are very appreciative of our constituent members of Congress from Minnesota and Indiana, in particular, for having significantly tempered the size, distribution and timing of the tax.

    In addition to the tax, the bill also includes some positive changes like uniform federal standards for disclosure transfers of value to physicians for product development and training, something Medtronic has long supported. Relationships between physicians and companies like ours help fuel innovation and advance patient care. Also, the new law calls for the creation of a national body to study and compare the clinical effectiveness of widely used medical therapies. This research is designed to help patients and health care practitioners better understand which therapies work best for which patients.

    We will stay engaged as the new law is implemented to ensure our ability to remain innovative and shape our business and our therapies to compete in this new environment.
    And as part of the discussion of what is generally favored versus what is opposed in the health care law, Ezra Klein tells us the following here; Fitzpatrick opposes the “individual mandate,” which I’ll admit is unpopular, but I think the following should be noted from here…

    Since only people who earn income above the filing limit and for whom health insurance premiums are less than 8% of income are covered by the penalty, I would expect that most of the people who might get hit by the penalty will be independent contractors and self-employed individuals—farmers, ranchers, lawyers, accountants, movie script writers, consultants, etc. Most of these people have complicated taxes and probably will 1.) want health insurance, and 2.) prefer to keep their heads down with the IRS. If you are filing a hundred-page tax return, the last thing you want to do is to throw up a red flag in the face of the IRS.

    This is, in fact, going to be a non-problem, and certainly is not a problem yet. A few tea party types will want to pick a fight with the IRS, and the IRS will ignore them, or catch them on something totally unrelated.
    (As of now, it looks like anyone not purchasing health insurance by 2014 is on the hook for a fine of either $695 or 2.5 percent of annual income, whichever is greater. And while that tends to get us ”bent out of shape” I’ll admit, I wonder how much of this wailing and gnashing of teeth a certain Willard Mitt Romney had to deal with when, as guv of Massachusetts, he implemented the same thing, as noted here).

    Mikey also says he would “(cancel) unspent stimulus funds,” which, as I noted here when Pat Toomey said the same thing, basically means a tax increase since most of what is unspent at this point is tax credits.

    When dealing with Mikey, it really is impossible to answer all of his evasions, half-truths and outright lies in a single blog post like this. However, what I’ve managed to do here is at least better than what Weckselblatt did, which was nothing.

    If this is what passes for an acceptable work of journalism fit for publication in the Courier Times, then Weckselblatt really should do the honorable thing and resign and apply for a job at Pottery Barn, where at least he could learn a somewhat marketable skill.

    Update: And by the way, Mikey pledged to limit himself to four terms in the article - I seemed to recall that this guy made a term-limit pledge too.

  • Update 11/23/10: OK, I really don’t feel like saying this many more times, so I’ll try to say this in as few words as possible:

    The Repugs will never care about the issues that matter. They don’t care about actual governance because they stink at it. They will always be trying to concoct “values” issues or some other diversion to get people to look the other way while they shower still more money and perks on their true base, the investor class, as noted here.

    And that goes for Mikey in spades; he talks jobs of course, but if legislation he supports actually creates a single job, it will be his first (his No vote here is typical...and of course, God forbid that Weckselblatt and the Courier Times would point that out).

  • I would like to conclude by noting that today of course marks the 47 anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, TX, in an event which, though timelessly horrific unfortunately, seems to have faded a bit in our collective memory (I'm going to "go meta" here a bit - consider yourself warned).

    It doesn’t make me happy to say that, and I’d be happy to see someone prove me wrong of course, but this thought came to my mind as I watched the young one play “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” which is brand new from Activision and (according to this review in the New York Times) shattered the one-day record of video game sales when it debuted a couple of weeks ago.

    The connection to President Kennedy is that this game takes place during the Cold War of the early 1960s, and there are game renderings of Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara, among others, as well as recurring characters from what I guess you would call the “Call of Duty” franchise.

    (OK, before I say another word, let me provide the obligatory mea culpa here. The “Call of Duty” games are extremely violent and profanity is thrown around liberally, you might say. They are rated “M” for a reason, which is sort of between “PG” and “R” when comparing them to movies for the uninitiated. We monitor the young one’s usage carefully here, but he is of an age where we believed that he could handle the gaming experience. And oh yes, all of his friends in the neighborhood play “Call of Duty” games also. We have said to him that there is a lot of interesting history to learn from that period, and I’m sure he’ll learn much of it one day, and we would be happy to help him with that. Aside from that, I don’t know what else there is to do but to trust him and make sure he doesn’t overdo it.)

    Finally (I know), allow me to make the exact connection; there is a game setting where, after you complete a certain level and execute the mission, you get the chance to kill zombie characters who have apparently invaded the Pentagon while assuming the role of either JFK, Richard Nixon, McNamara or Castro (in the JFK setting, the zombie-hunting character speaks with the clipped diction of our 35th president, dispatching the invaders while reciting game commands or variations on his most famous phrases).

    Am I the only one who thinks there is something wrong here (and I’ll be honest – I should apply this standard to Nixon also, but somehow I don’t think his words moved a generation as those of Kennedy once did).

    This is partly why I’m afraid that the impact of not just JFK, but some of our other most famous figures in public life, have become immersed in some kind of pop-culture flotsam that may one day make them indistinguishable from, say, Ralph Nader, Bon Jovi, Ralph Lauren, Tiny Tim, or – God forbid – Sarah Palin!

    If you have a minute or two today, please take a minute and do some Googling on JFK to refresh your memory if you’re inclined to do so. Or, if you prefer to shut off the computer, give those Internet tubes a rest and, Heaven forefend, read a book about him, you will have my thanks.

  • Update 11/23/10: As usual, I struggle for the words, but they flow from Bob Herbert like poetry (here).