Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Mashup (3/22/11)

(Lots of catching up to do, so I’d better get started…)

  • First of all, memo to The Donald – some things are better kept to oneself.

  • Next, Mikey the Beloved held a town hall meeting last night, as the Courier Times tells us here…

    You are spending way too much and voting the wrong way," said Christine Urbanski of Buckingham.

    She was particularly irked with $105 billion that's budgeted to move Democratic health reform plans forward as part of a continuing resolution House Republicans passed last week to fund government operations through April 8.

    "I voted in January to repeal Obamacare, to repeal the (Affordable Care) Act," Fitzpatrick said. "I voted in February to defund the act. + Your frustration is my frustration."

    "You're a liar," Urbanski interrupted, telling him to shut down the government if he has to.
    Far be it for me to actually defend Saint Mikey, but he’s right; he did cast such a thoroughly wrongheaded vote (this Urbanski person needs to make sure she knows what the hell she’s talking about before she opens her mouth next time...and the stupidity of "shutting down" our government is something that has been posted about many times before by myself and others).


    Fitzpatrick had his supporters. Military veterans praised him, one saying "he's the only reason we have a veterans cemetery in Bucks County."
    That’s a particularly outrageous lie; as noted here (first bullet), the deal for the veterans cemetery was wrapped up about three years ago while Patrick Murphy was still our rep (of course, how con-vee-nient for the link to the Courier Times story stating that to be expired…and of course, it was too much trouble I guess for Mikey’s stenographer Gary Weckselblatt to find out who the veteran was who said that).

    Also, Mikey the Beloved defended his vote to defund Planned Parenthood, claiming the group “made $85 million in profits” as if that’s supposed to be a crime.

    All I will say in defense of Planned Parenthood – yet again – is that, as noted here "for the three million patients (the group’s) doctors and nurses saw (in 2008-2009, the most recent data available), (Planned Parenthood) provided contraception (36 percent of…total services), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (31 percent), cancer screening and prevention (17 percent), and abortion services (three percent)."

    But Mikey and his pals voted to defund the group anyway, even though abortion services constituted three percent of Planned Parenthood’s activity over that period.

    I’m sure your daughters Katie, Maggie and Molly will thank you, Congressman.

  • Further, Emily Bazelon wrote the following in a New York Times profile of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Sunday (here)…

    When Alito testified during his 2006 confirmation hearings, he talked about the influence his Italian-immigrant roots have on his judging. In immigration cases, Alito said, “I do say to myself, ‘You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother.’ ” He continued: “When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.”

    By focusing on Albert Snyder and Frank Ricci, Alito does a service by making us confront the human costs that liberals often turn from.
    (Note: Albert Snyder is the father of the soldier killed in Iraq – our sympathies – whose funeral was to be protested by those life forms at the Westboro Baptist Church…the “God Hates Fags And Loves Dead Soldiers” bunch. As the story tells us, Alito was the only Supreme Court justice to rule in favor of Snyder in his suit against the “church”…as repellent as the Westboro Baptist Church is, what they are practicing is free speech, however despicable it is, and it should be protected as such.)

    Also, Bazelon’s piece is otherwise good except for the cowardly phrase that I highlighted about liberals supposedly not confronting human costs of appellants before the Supreme Court, or something – I’m sure that would have been news to Thurgood Marshall and Harry Blackmun, among others.

    What I want to focus on, though, is the case of Frank Ricci, who was a right-wing “cause célèbre” a couple of years ago for testifying against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge (and eventual Justice) Sonia Sotomayor – Dahlia Lithwick told us here of Ricci’s repeated lawsuits throughout his employment history, asking us, finally…

    Is America's conservative movement really ready for an anti-affirmative action hero who has repeatedly relied on the government to intervene on his behalf to win him—and help him keep—a government job?
    Yes, I understand that “personal sacrifice” means a great deal to Alito, unless it is a sacrifice to which he cannot relate – something like the sacrifice depicted here of a Pennsylvania couple and their daughter based on a certain 1998 incident, I would imagine.

  • In addition, we have the following that recently appeared in the New York Times (pertaining to the right-wing assault on the health care law – the latest talking point is that the granting of waivers means that the bill was flawed; please)…

    “A lot of Americans just don’t know about some of the benefits,” said Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, who helped write the law as chairman of the Finance Committee.
    Well then, I would say that it’s incumbent upon you, Senator, to get out and explain the benefits a little better, thus defending the law, wouldn’t you say (to be fait, Baucus does some of that here).

    This is a bit of a tough call, but I’m a little tired of Baucus’s public hand-wringing on this subject, particularly when you consider the fact that, as noted here, he once proposed a Medicare buy-in at 55 as well as a – gasp! – public option as part of health care reform. And though we did end up with something approximating universal coverage which we’ve never had before in this country (which is a good thing because people won’t lose coverage for pre-existing conditions and it will reduce the deficit over time…assuming the Repugs don’t find a way to defund it or the Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge JR doesn’t rule it to be unconstitutional), I just would like to see some more forceful and messaging-targeted support of the bill from Baucus and the Senate Dems. Is that really too much to ask?

  • Finally, this column in the New York Times business section on Sunday tells us the following…

    The Beatles were stymied. During a 1968 recording session, they couldn’t find a suitable introduction to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” a song written by Paul McCartney. John Lennon didn’t much like the song, and, after several hours, he stormed out of the studio. When he returned, he strode to the piano and banged out several chords, then added petulantly, “Here’s your intro!”

    “All eyes shifted to Paul, expecting rejection, perhaps an outburst,” according to a new book, “Come Together: The Business Wisdom of The Beatles.” (Turner Publishing, $24.95). Instead, McCartney defused the tension with this: “That’s quite good, actually.” Lennon’s chords, pounded out in a fit of pique, make up the song’s now-famous opening.

    “The underlying disagreement about whether the song had merit in the broader scheme of things did not disappear,” the book concludes, “but resolving the conflict informed the work and made it stronger, rather than destroying it.”

    That takeaway — that disagreement can lead to synthesis — is just one of 100 lessons that the book teases out of the history of the Fab Four.
    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to look to The Beatles as a model for how to run a business, but I guess it’s an interesting premise if nothing else.

    The story also tells us the following…

    “There were some very visible failures, particularly in the late ’60s, centered around the Apple group of companies,” he says, referring to the various enterprises the Beatles started at the time to enter the film, record and retail businesses. “For a lot of people that became the whole story as far as the Beatles and business are concerned.
    Yes, Apple definitely had issues, but I think the following should be noted from the book “John Lennon: The Life,” by Philip Norman (here)…

    Although Apple’s original raison d’être had been to lose money, and though it certainly attracted spongers, con artists, and hangers-on like wasps around a honey pot, it was very far from being (in George’s phrase) “a haven for drop-outs.” Its failure in the retail field and undiscriminating largesse were more than balanced by the instant spectacular success of its record label. Aside from the Beatles’ own automatically chart-topping output, Mary Hopkin’s single, “Those Were The Days,” had been an international hit. The roster of talent being built by Ron Kass and Peter Asher promised solid growth across the musical board, from the illustrious Modern Jazz Quartet to the American singer-songwriter James Taylor.
    Also (from Norman’s book, a story of a business practice of sorts involving the Beatles that really shouldn’t be imitated by anyone – naughty word alert)…

    The managerial duel between John Eastman (who supported McCartney) and Allen Klein (who supported Lennon and the other Beatles) at this point (1969) was still far from resolved, but once again Klein took the initiative, putting forward a strategy for Apple to snatch Northern Songs (Lennon and McCartney’s publishing company) from Lew Grade’s open jaws. At present, John and Paul each owned 15 percent of the company, and another token 1.6 percent was held jointly by George and Ringo. Klein’s plan was to offer $2 million for the 20 percent that would secure them a hair’s breadth majority stake. The money was to come from a firm of merchant bankers on collateral including John’s entire holding in Northern, 650,000 shares. While these arrangements were going forward, it emerged that, on Eastman’s advice, Paul had quietly increased his own holding to 750,000 shares, which would form no part of the collateral. John was vociferously upset by what he saw as Paul’s underhanded behavior and selfishness.

    By mid-May, it seemed as if they were going to win. Apple had found enough allies to secure that vital extra 20 percent, most crucially a City consortium that currently held 14 percent. A delicate deal was in place, stipulating among other things that Klein would have no part in the new Northern’s management structure and that John and Paul would extend their creative involvement beyond the present expiration date of 1973. Then, at a crucial meeting with the consortium’s representatives, John lost his temper and announced h was “sick of being fucked around by men in suits, sitting on their fat arses in the City.” The offended suits instantly switched allegiance to ATV, Lew Grade gained control of Northern Songs, and Lennon-McCartney’s catalog became a pass-the parcel prize that would be handed down the decades, increasing stupendously in value each time it was unwrapped.
    So I guess the moral is this: don’t say I Forgot To Remember To Forget to the Taxman, or else you’ll be Crying Waiting Hoping In Spite Of All The Danger Like Dreamers Do for Money (That’s What I Want).

    And who knows, maybe you’ll say one day, Baby, You’re A Rich Man (and if all else fails and you can’t get the dough any other way, just remember that Happiness Is A Warm Gun…just kidding).
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