Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010!

Happy New Year 2010 to Readers, Friends, and Family!  Through 157 blog posts dablog has been a learning experience and an adventure for me.  Here's hoping that you and yours will experience joy, enlightenment, sereneness, and love in the coming year.  From me to all of you, Cheers!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Just for Fun

 Marc Cooper, director of Annenberg Digital News and lecturer at the USC Annenberg School, is an expert on political journalism and new media.  He picks his Top 10 Political Stories of the Decade.
1. The unconventional election process of 2000. The drawn-out match between George W. Bush and Al Gore revealed an antiquated and unreliable electoral system.
2. The attack on the Twin Towers, September 11, 2001. It didn’t change the world as we knew it, but it reshaped global politics.
3. The invasion of Afghanistan, 2001. We are still dealing with its consequences almost nine years later.
4. The invasion of Iraq, 2003. The first purely “preemptive war” in recent American history, based on deliberately exaggerated — if not nonexistent — evidence.
5. The introduction of torture techniques as official American policy. Perhaps no single policy has so besmirched the global image of the United States.
6. The unprecedented expansion of executive power. The Bush-Cheney administration offered little regard for constitutional norms in granting itself extra-judicial powers.
7. Hurricane Katrina. It not only devastated New Orleans, but also washed away a two-decade-old governing conservative consensus, by revealing the gross ineptitude of the heirs of Reaganism.
8. The election of Barack Obama. The election of an African American as president was, in itself, historic. The election also heralded a profound demographic shift in the electorate, with implications of a long-lasting political realignment.
9. The global financial crisis of 2008-2009. If the election of Obama signaled the end of the Reagan Era in politics, the crash of 2008 equally represented the crisis of the free market economic consensus. The conventional wisdom of the previous 30 years evaporated along with Lehman Bros.
10. The media revolution. The death rattle of legacy media and the emergence of new social media opened the doors for a mass democratization of information production.

All great political stories, but I disagree with his placement of the media revolution at #10.  I think the pure propaganda spreading policies of the Fox Channels calling themselves a news organization has done much damage to the psyche of our culture in a way we have not seen.  I wonder what Germany might have been like during the rise of Hitler and his manipulation of the media.  The masses have been indoctrinated to believe anything and verify nothing.  Reporting standards have been lowered to such an extent that I wonder if it ever possible to regain the integrity of say, Walter Cronkite.  All under the guise of "fair and balanced."  Right under our noses where standards were eroded day after day.  Other media and opinionists on both sides have had an effect on our society but none has come close to the money and the power of the 24/7 behemoth that is Fox News.

At times I see an America that I don't recognize and long for the media of my youth.

What stories do you think should be added that were not covered here, or a story covered here that should not be?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Does this paragraph bother you 2?

It does me.
"The courtship period is over. Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key Republican moderate Democrats have been courting for months, has announced she will oppose and filibuster health-care reform. Snowe was the only Republican to vote for the reform in the Finance Committee, but cited the new “artificial and arbitrary deadline of completing the bill before Christmas” as a dealbreaker. “That is shortchanging the process on this monumental and trans-generational effort,' Snowe said in a statement. With Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) now signed on as the 60th vote for the measure, Snowe’s decision isn’t catastrophic for Democrats. If the bill passes, it looks like it will be without a single Republican vote."
Read the story at TPM

Does this paragraph bother you?

It does me.
"At least 166 former congressional staffers now working as health-industry lobbyists got their old bosses to give their new bosses big breaks in the pending health-care reform legislation, according to a new report. For example, David Nexon, a former aide to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), amassed 14 lobbyists with similar résumés to attack a tax in the bill aimed at one of his clients, a medical-device trade association. They succeeded in cutting the $40 billion tax in half in the current legislation, according to a report by Northwestern University’s Medill News Service, the Center for Responsive Politics, and the Tribune Newspapers' Washington Bureau. In addition to the former aides, at least 13 former lawmakers are registered to represent a total of 338 health-care clients since the beginning of last year. Since then, those clients spent $635 million lobbying."
Read the story at The Chicago Tribune.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rantings of a Progressive?

Taylor Marsh: No Thrill Up Dylan Ratigan's Leg: "How can any politician, let alone a Democrat, defend the practice of forcing the American people to buy a product from an industry that enjoys a monopoly, with individual choice obliterated by a political party who has always professed to have the people's back?"
"This is a free country last time I looked. Democrats have absolutely no right and no moral authority to tell me or anyone else they must buy anything, least of all inside a rigged market that sends me further into debt or maybe worse. My inner libertarian is on fire, and I'm a die hard liberal. If that isn't a warning sign for the White House nothing is."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Regarding the Latest Sell-Out Plan on Health Care Reform

One of those silly factoids making it's way around the net, which I don't think I agree with, though too important not to point out. From Ezra Klein:
"If I could construct a system in which insurers spent 90 percent of every premium dollar on medical care, never discriminated against another sick applicant, began exerting real pressure for providers to bring down costs, vastly simplified their billing systems, made it easier to compare plans and access consumer ratings, and generally worked more like companies in a competitive market rather than companies in a non-functional market, I would take that deal. And if you told me that the price of that deal was that insurers would move from being the 86th most profitable industry to being the 53rd most profitable industry, I would still take that deal. And that may be the exact deal we're getting. The profit motive is not, in and of itself, a bad thing."

Bring Back Glass-Steagall!

Perhaps I was wrong about John McCain going the way of the nit-wits.  Seperating banking and investment, as I've previously advocated, is a good start in getting Wall Street back to reality.  Investment -Banker?  An oxymoron.  Probably won't fly with all the money floating around Washington, but here's props to McCain and Cantwell.
At a 10 AM press conference this morning, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will introduce the Banking Integrity Act to reinstate the separation between banking and investment activities that existed from 1933 until it was repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. The idea is to reduce risk of large financial institutions by separating investment activities from other banking. The problem with that is that it would put U.S. banks at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign competitors, so alternatives should be considered. Looking back on it, Gramm-Leach-Bliley was a key mistake that led directly to the 2008 financial crisis. However, the Senate seems unlikely to pass any financial reforms before the 2010 election. Allowing this financial crisis to pass without rewriting of the rules to prevent it from happening again would be a crime.
Just a further thought...Why is McCain, whose chief financial advisor was Phil Gramm, going against Gramm-Leach-Bliley?  Me thinks more to come.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Congress, Time to Declare War?

Growing up I was taught that Congress had the ultimate responsibility and power to declare the United States at war. I found later that I was wrong, in that through numerous conflicts and "wars", Congress has not declared war, a single time in my lifetime. I wondered how Presidents could embrace such power and Congress could give up such power. Regardless of whether the president, the people, or I supported the war, Congress, I was taught was the final arbeiter on whether we were officially "at war."  I still believe that congress should debate with much deference to the commander in chief, whether we are at war.  Cowards and enabelers that they are, congress will probably decide to abrogate their responsibility and leave it to the president once again.
You go Kucinich, Grayson, Paul, et al!
Bipartisan House Group Pushing For Enforcement Of War Powers Act: "If a war is being waged without a declaration, the War Powers Act allows any representative to introduce a joint resolution forcing the House Committee on Foreign Relations to vote on that resolution within 15 days; Kucinich is hoping to force such a vote. The resolution would then be sent back to the House floor.
'Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States makes it Congress' responsibility to determine whether or not we go to war or stay at war. Consistent with Article 1, Section 8, the privileged resolutions will invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973. I ask for your support of these resolutions, which will be introduced in the House in January,' Kucinich wrote to his colleagues last week.
Grayson and six other Democrats have signed on to his resolution, including Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Eric Massa (D-N.Y.).
The five Republicans include Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Ed Whitefield (R-Ky.) and Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.)."

Something Has to Give

Matthew Yglesias opines that America has become ungovernable. But has it always been this way?
Matthew Yglesias » Ungovernable America: "We’re suffering from an incoherent institutional set-up in the senate. You can have a system in which a defeated minority still gets a share of governing authority and participates constructively in the victorious majority’s governing agenda, shaping policy around the margins in ways more to their liking. Or you can have a system in which a defeated minority rejects the majority’s governing agenda out of hand, seeks opening for attack, and hopes that failure on the part of the majority will bring them to power. But right now we have both simultaneously. It’s a system in which the minority benefits if the government fails, and the minority has the power to ensure failure. It’s insane, and it needs to be changed."

Good Point Mr. Linkins

Jason Linkins points out once again the hypocrisy on both sides that if a Senator wants to get serious about the debt, all he has to do is make his point, and propose a solution. But doing so might jeopardize his re-election next time. Good call. Cowards.
Eat The Press: "Naturally, the only thing that will save us is a bipartisan
effort to gut Social Security and Medicare, and the Post's editors tout the 'new
version' of the 'fiscal task force' floated by Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and
Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) to do it. Support for such a task force comes from a group
of senators, any of whom could propose their own deficit reduction measures
right now, if it weren't for the fact that signing their name to such a choice
might put their seat in jeopardy. The main goal of this task force is to shield
such lawmakers from responsibility."

Can you imagine Judd Gregg was to become part of the Obama administration?  Wow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dick the Dick: Obama's a Traitor

Marty Kaplan: Barack Obama Is a Traitor: "Or maybe there's a double standard. A man who manipulated intelligence to justify a misbegotten war; who authorized torture; who ordered illegal wiretapping of Americans; who outed and endangered a covert CIA agent in order to punish a whistleblower; who directed billions in no-bid contracts to the company he ran and retains a substantial financial interest in: maybe the media were tougher on a Democratic president who was impeached for lying about fellatio than they ever were on a de facto Republican president who should arguably have been impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors."
Thank God we live in a country where anyone can basically say anything they want to say about the President, Members of Congress, or Just Ordinary Folk, if you believe it to be true. OK OK - Scumbag, Piece of Shit, Liar, Non-lover of the Constitutuion, America, American Freedoms, Piss-Ant, Chicken-Hawk, Disgrace...OK OK I'll stop now that my first amendement rights are almost used up.
Oh wait, Oh wait, I almost forgot his nepotism hired daughter Lizzie...nah, not enough toilet paper to wipe...well, better stop there, thinking about her first amendement rights, and all.

In Stevie Williams Own Words

Tiger'll be the last guy I caddie for.

Taking Flip-Flopping To a New Level

"It’s not entirely clear that Lieberman was offering a full-throated current endorsement of the proposal, but his tone is clearly positive and approving. It’s yet another sign, as if you needed one, that Lieberman’s current opposition to the Senate proposal doesn’t appear to have any roots in a genuine policy disagreement." - Greg Sargent's Blog-The Plum Line.  Video taken from an interview with a newspaper in his homestate of Connecticut.

What is clear is what he said yesterday:  "Lieberman punctuated the discussion by telling the majority leader directly that he will vote against the bill if the Medicare buy-in and public option provisions remain in it. Roll Call reports that Lieberman said he would also support a Republican filibuster of legislation that included these provisions.
RECAP:  1.  Three months ago, Senator Lieberman offered what I characterize as strong support for a Medicare buy in-for folks 50-55.  2.  Yesterday, he said in no uncertain terms that he will filibuster just such a bill if it contains a medicare buy-in and a public option.  3.  There is no public option in the current bill.

On third thought:  Now, the counter-argument is that Lieberman may well come up with a reason to back away from that bill as well. Given his obvious bad-faith negotiation, that's certainly a danger. But Olympia Snowe is not negotiating in bad faith, and she, unlike Lieberman, actually seems to care about health care reform. So even if you revert to something like the Senate Finance bill and Lieberman tries to stab you in the back, you can still pick up Snowe. (A fact that itself reduces the chance that Lieberman will attempt a second act of sabotage -- why try to knife health care reform if you can't kill it?)

Finally, the defining post by Lee Siegel as to who Joe Lieberman really is, and why he does what he does.
"I grew up surrounded by non-religious Jews who were guided by the principle of rachmones, meaning “compassion.” They were guided by feeling, too, but it was not the absolute certitude of fundamentalist feeling. Rather, it was the feeling that life changes fast, and that people are vulnerable. They were gentle and ironic people. They liked this Yiddish saying: “God loves the poor, but helps the rich.” They probably lost more than they won in life, but they never fooled themselves into thinking that they were doing good when they were merely doing well."

Lieberman Not Comfortable in His Own Skin

My prediction:  Lieberman: "I never left the party, the party left me."

"Since, really, 2006, Lieberman has felt alienated from his caucus, and he's grown more conservative. He does not care about liberals, who tried to drum him out of office in 2006; he seems to enjoy poking them in the eye. He's not likely to run for office again, so he's not terribly worried about loud protests. His contempt for liberals coincides with his new conservative friends, aides, colleagues, donors. (He was never a fiscal liberal to begin with, but his fiscal conservatism seems to have ripened lately.)
On health care reform:
"Lieberman blessed the Gang of Ten deal privately before those talks were completed, then reversed himself as soon as it became evident that the left saw a silver lining in the consolation prize of a Medicare buy-in proposal."
"There is the explanation that Lieberman is an unusually talented egoist; certainly obstreperous for the sake of seeming obstreperous. But if this impulse of Lieberman's governed his policy decisions, then he would certainly want to be seen as health care's savior, and not be content with being seen as its destroyer. Lieberman has designed his public campaign as a way to streeeetch out the debate as much as possible, and just as Democrats seem to be on the verge of reaching him, like a quantum particle, he appears instantly at a completely different location, rendering useless at least a week of hard soldering by the Democrats."
Further, "In 2000 after Al Gore conceded the presidential election, Joe Lieberman was given the chance to use his new prestige in our politics to take his place among the great senators. In a shocking and kind of tragic way, Lieberman has decided that he will leave the senate as a toad; a man indifferent to his actions and driven by anger and petty politics. And is it worth it for him? Let's see: Lieberman gets to stymie his own party on a much needed social reform that he himself has supported throughout his career and in exchange he be hated? a ruined legacy? Joe Lieberman is the very picture of politics without principle. He is precisely what this country must rise above in order to move on to a brighter day."
Is John McCain soon behind?
Why Lieberman Hates The Health Care Bill - The Atlantic Politics Channel

Something to Smile About

With all the political fighting and general feeling of malaise in this country, here's one that really warmed my heart.  Required viewing!

Thanks to Ezra Klein.

George H.W. Bush On Joe Wilson: 'How Low Have We Gotten Here?'

You are so right. I'd also like to point out that George HW Bush would not be conservative enough to get elected today, just ask any conservative. Their party has been taken over to the point that they campaign against other repubs for not being conservative enough as in NY and they actually encourage the antics of yahoo back-benchers like Joe Wilson AND encourage good conservative repubs to donate much money to his childish outbursts. They really are messed up. They are like a deep-tooth abcess.
About George Bush
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't Cheat on your wife in the Live Free or Die State!

The State of New Hampshire whose motto is "Live Free or Die" still has a 200 year old law on the books making adultery a crime.  Perhaps things are changing.  "CONCORD, N.H. — The original punishments – including standing on the gallows for an hour with a noose around the neck – have been softened to a $1,200 fine, yet some lawmakers think it's time for the 200-year-old crime of adultery to come off New Hampshire's books.  Convicted adulterers years ago faced standing on the gallows, up to 39 lashes, a year in jail or a fine of 100 pounds. The punishment has been relaxed to a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,200 – with no jail time."
""We shouldn't be regulating people's sex lives and their love lives," state Rep. Timothy Horrigan said. "This is one area the state government should stay out of people's bedrooms."  ""Who we love and how we love is not something, an area the state has much business meddling in," he said."
New Hampshire is a rich and vibrant state whose natural beauties can hold it's own with most.  I have visited there often and remember driving down the Kangamangus Highway to view the most beautiful fall foliage display on the East Coast.  Also Mt. Washington where you can drive a car all the way to the top and holds the distinction of being the windiest place in the US.  And the quaint fishing villages aroud Portsmouth, between Massachusetts and Maine. 
Its citizens like to think of themselves as independent with open minds.  I agree.  If the law as on the books today were strictly enforced, I fear there might not be enough legislators because of it, to change the it.  Welcome to 2009!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Paying for War; Then and Now

Until recently, there's been no serious call to pay for the two wars that President Bush started by raising taxes, and not raising the defecit. In fact, instead of raising taxes, President Bush cut taxes by $1.5 trillion in 2001 & 2003.  There are cases to be made on both sides of this point including the fact that during WWII taxes were rediculously high, they paid for only 40% of the war, and the defecit was 30% of GDP.  Now it's closer to  8%.  Today there's very little talk of sacrifice for the war.  When you look at what Americans had to put up with back then, in terms of taxes and sacrifice, it makes you wonder why we have so little a sense of individual involement and responsibility.   A different perpsective on funding the wars and sacrifice of our nation can be found here.
"The top marginal tax rate in 1941 was 81 percent on incomes greater than $5 million (about $72 million in today's dollars). In 1942 and '43, it was 88 percent on $200,000 per year ($2.6 million today). In '44 and '45, it was 94 percent on $200,000 ($2.3 million today). The Greatest Generation did more than just save pennies to buy war bonds... most everyone paid more in taxes and some 40 million people paid taxes for the first time."
"I love the right's worship of "The Greatest Generation," which of course earned its reputation for sacrifice under America's only three term president, who governed the economy in ways that even most liberals would today find shocking, shipped a generation of American men overseas to fight and die using a conscription policy that no politician would dream of suggesting for our pampered culture, rationed consumer goods including food (can you imagine how Americans would react to a ration on sugar today?), told Americans to go outside and plant vegetables in their yards (and then eat them!), and yes, saved America from the Great Depression and the world from Hitler.  The Greatest Generation did indeed earn the respect of those of us who follow, but let's not forget that they were lucky enough to have leadership that made the sacrifice mean something profound."
Pampered indeed.

Peter Beinart on The Peace Prize Speech

A friend of mine often questions my support for fair trials for terrorists, lack of support for torture, and my pondering the thought that the Iraq war made us safer or that the Iraqi's are even better off now than under Hussein.  He pushes me to believe that America's moral superiority has always been right, through-out our history of conflicts.  It comes to mind that he questions my love for my country if I even try to see the other side.

Peter Beinart breaks with Bush's call for a new world order.  "Harry Truman, who George W. Bush often praised but never understood, once said that “We all have to recognize—not matter how great our strength—that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.” To Bush and Cheney and Palin, the sentiment is offensive. Why should America not do as it pleases? After all, since our power stems from our virtue, the more unrestrained we are, the more good we will do."
"But Barack Obama, in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech Thursday morning, showed that he understands just what Truman meant. Because he understands, in a way Cheney and Palin never will, that true moral universalism requires recognizing that Americans are just as capable of evil as anyone else. And that means recognizing that we are in just as much need of restraint. For Obama and Truman, the paradox of American exceptionalism is that only by recognizing that we are not inherently better than anyone else, and thus must bind our power within a framework of law, can we distinguish ourselves from the predatory powers of the past."

Further Discussion on Health Care Reform

One of my readers, Sheila brings up the point that she would like to move forward; But... 

If the expansion of Medicare & Medicaid are coupled with those programs being fully funded, then I believe this is a good way to cover the uninsured. I'm concerned about the plans to cut Medicare. I don't think the elimination of fraud will be enough to balance the Medicare budget--besides, we ought to be striving to root out fraud all the time. I've been thinking about the health insurance woes I dealt with on a daily basis. I do not want "reform" which leaves America in the same situation. There isn't any way we can cover millions more people in Medicare while cutting its funding. That means we will continue to have the same types of restrictions on coverage which exist now, only with a higher price tag.

My reply:

I also worry about the cuts in medicare and fighting fraud just isn't enough. I don't want reform without it moving us forward to covering all, being less restrictive, and fiscally responsible. Check out my previous post here on my thoughts on medicare.  In it I point out the difficulty Congress has historically had in making any changes, even ones that everybody agrees are good.
I think health care reform is more than a single bill that nobody is really going to love. I think it's a process to take us from the dark ages in providing health care and it's costs, into the 50's. It's not about our doctors and hospitals being the best in the world, no one can deny that. It's just about how the system will bankrupt many people and the government in the next 20 years if nothing is done.
So, it has to be evolving. If we get a bill this year, maybe next year we tweek it in some way. Add a provision where it is needed, remove a regulation where it is not. Kind of like "Best Practices" so that maybe in 10 years our system will at least be in the here and now and not the dark ages.  If we get a bill, it may gradually force our elected officials to work together to make it even better.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pelosi Backs Off Public Option

Says Leo Mauler "From the start I expected a public option to be "expansion of Medicaid and Medicare to cover the uninsured", not the joke sold to us as a "public option" in the health care reform bill.
I was a little confused about the plan being sold to us as a "public" option, since it appeared to be *identical* to the private insurance plans, only more expensive than the private insurance plans. Then they stripped it down even more, making it even worse than private insurance.
Personally I think it might have been a stroke of genius on the part of the Democrats to fight for a "public option" which had no resemblance to what was actually needed (expansion of Medicaid and Medicare), then admit "defeat" on their pseudo "public option" so that the Republicans wouldn't be able to see, under their puffed out chests and upturned noses, the Democrats expand Medicaid and Medicare to cover the uninsured.
Invent a strawman that Republicans opposed, convince the Republicans that what they really didn't want was the strawman, and then bail on the strawman to get the real program which was needed in the first place. Its really all you can do to defeat a political party which puts "winning over the Democrats" well above "the best interests of the country."

I think you make a really - good - point. I like your game plan and subterfuge!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Antarctic Ocean

The coldest, windiest place on Earth, the antarctic ocean holds 60% of the fresh water on the planet.  Recent expeditions to the Weddell Sea produced more than 700 new species, including giant carnivorous sponges.

On the Lighter Side

Rachel Maddow On "Jimmy Fallon": Knocks Palin, Jokes About Sex With Tiger, Makes Cocktails (VIDEO): "Maddow and Fallon also talked about Tiger Woods, which Maddow has avoided discussing on her show because she only likes to cover sex scandals when she thinks they reveal hypocrisy. EXACTLY
'Tiger Woods never said, 'Buy Nike, I'm faithful to my wife,'' Maddow said. 'He never made claims to be the superior moral being. So I have a hard time thinking we should cover it.'
She later joked that she had slept with Tiger Woods herself.
'I think it's going to hurt his reputation when everybody finds out about me,' she joked."
If she's sleeping with Tiger now, he really has a problem!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Viggo's Take on Sarah Palin - Page 1 - The Daily Beast

Viggo's Take on Sarah Palin - Page 1 - The Daily Beast: "“I think it would be unwise to dismiss her because she is foolish and misinformed,” the ruggedly handsome movie hero told me. “People say there’s no way she will hold any significant office, in Congress, or as president. Don’t be so sure. I notice she’s starting to sound relatively eloquent in that superficial way she has: ‘We gotta cut taxes and we can’t keep penalizing small business’—that same old litany. She’s not saying anything significant but she’s stringing the words together and she’s not just saying, ‘Aw shucks, I just killed a moose in Alaska.’ She’s stringing the words together as well as George W. Bush did in the beginning.” The actor elaborated: “George W. Bush got the knack of sounding a certain way. They realized they couldn’t make him sound like somebody who actually read books and cared about how he sounded—even though he had the benefits of the best possible education. It just wasn’t interesting to him to sound like he made sense and to speak English anywhere near well. But what they did, very cleverly, is say, OK, he’s just like us. He makes mistakes when he says stuff; he’s a regular guy. And I can see the same thing happening with Palin. So do not underestimate her ability. She’s not going away.”" An actor about an actress, what a concept.

Christopher Hitchens adds further"Hitchens: Don't be too hard on her. She didn't write that piece and she probably hasn't read it. I doubt she could either read or write it. Everything she does is for effect, she's, and is always deniable. She could switch back in a minute. At the moment she thinks her tea party crowd wants to hear this kind of thing so she'll say that. She's been out to say, 'well, I don't know but I think the President ought to produce his birth certificate. I'm not saying it isn't a good question. Then later, cause she's got to go to the Gridiron dinner in Washington, and learn how to use a knife and fork and be taught by Fred Malek. She takes it back. She's a disgraceful opportunist and a real moral coward. "

Too Many Stars

HubbleSite - Wallpaper: Gravitational Lensing in Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689: "Abell 1689 is one of the most massive galaxy clusters known. The gravity of its trillion stars, plus dark matter, acts like a 2-million-light-year-wide 'lens' in space. The gravitational lens bends and magnifies the light of galaxies far behind it." Pretty cool!

Sully Part II

Why does he make sense to me?

At What Price, At What Point, Do Athletes Give Up Their Right to Privacy?

Wm. David Cornwell, Sr.: Enough Of Tiger: It's Time for the Media to Answer Some Questions: "We have created a new class of Americans our country called 'Athletes.' For example, the focus on drug and steroid testing in sports is absurd when you consider that professional athletes are tested more than Supreme Court Justices, Members of Congress, the President of the United States, and other elected officials. Additionally, despite the disproportionately high incidents of substance abuse among health care practitioners and the undeniable potential risks to their patients, there are no uniform workplace testing programs for health care practitioners that are similar to the testing programs in sports. What is it about possessing the elite athletic prowess that justifies treating a man or woman differently from others whose impact on our lives are potentially much more profound?"  What is the turning point in the nexus between earnings and the right to have a private life? I am sure that Tiger and many other men and women who are paid to play sports would like to know the answer so they can balance their financial demands with their desire to be human.

The media does a good job of getting answers to the questions it wants to ask. How about they spend some time answering the ones I have asked?

Remembering John Lennon, 29 Years Later

Thanks Joe, I also don't agree with you much of the time but this post moved me; your best ever.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire: "Tea Party More Popular Than Republican Party
A new Rasmussen Reports survey asked respondents to assume that the 'Tea Party movement' was organized as an actual political party.

In a three-way generic ballot test, Democrats lead with 36%, followed the Tea Party at 23% and Republicans at 18%.

Among independent voters, the Tea Party comes out on top with 33%, followed by 30% undecided, 25% for the Democrats and just 12% for the Republican."

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire: "Gay Marriage Battle Begins in New Jersey
The gay marriage debate moves to New Jersey, CNN reports, with the state's Senate Judiciary Committee debating the bill today.

The timing is important since Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R), 'who takes office next month, says he would veto the bill.' However, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) 'says he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk before he leaves office.'"

Who Do You Trust, and Why?

When publishing a blog you have to decide whom to trust.  You talk to people, read newspaper stories, read other blogs, and form your own ideas from that.  We all have people that we point others to that we believe epitomize our own beliefs and further lead to a level of integrity and gravitas that friends can understand.  Over the years I have turned to Andrew Sullivan for reasonable, intellectual, and balanced opinion.  Therefore I fall on his side to trust his insights regarding Palin.  His money quote today:
"This really isn't about Palin. Or about Johnston. It's about our democracy's apparent lack of interest any more in what is true and what is false. It's about the mainstream media's willful decision not to tackle a story that was integral to a major candidate's core integrity; it's about the Republican party elite's cynicism and condescension to millions of voters; it's about the decision of Harper Collins, Adam Bellow and Jonathan Burnham to publish a book so riddled with untruth without even a gesture toward ensuring its accuracy; and it's about the recklessness of John McCain, a man hollowed out by careerism and cynicism, selling out every scruple or principle he may have had to make his way in the modern GOP; and it's about the power of fundamentalist religion to blind everyone to the banal but vital details of secular politics.
In other words, it's about the core reasons this country has gone off the rails these past few years. That matters to the Daily Dish. If it doesn't matter to you, or if you think it involves details that really should not be aired in public, then take your blame to McCain, not me. Because he didn't do his job, I'm doing mine."
So why do I write about Sarah Palin?  Because like Sullivan above I think it's more than just an issue of picking a light-weight from Alaska.  It's about how one party really has lost its way, how this country is coming apart because of that party, and because it's time to decide rationally, scientifically, and honestly, what is true and what is false.

Falling Trees and Frivolous Lawsuits

This past July at 8:15AM a man decided to take a walk in Central Park in New York City.  After entering the park a branch from a tree fell off the tree and hit him.  The man was seriously injured and remains in the hospital to this day recouperating from his injuries.  His wife and him are suing the City of New York for negligency.  They claim the city should have known the dead branch was going to fall and should have removed it. 
My house sits close to the highway in woods that include dozens of Oak, Pine, and Cedar trees.  This year was especially tough on the tall trees in my yard and many branches have fallen.  This past summer I also fell from a branch knob from one of the trees.  The branch didn't hit me on the way down, but I didn't see it while walking, fell, and hit my knees on the sidewalk with lots of messy blood and pain.
As much as I try to keep my yard clear of such fallen branches from the trees I have wondered what would happen if a visitor of mine, or even a pizza delivery man, had an accident similar to mine.  I guess the home owners policy would cover it, but what if it didn't?  I could be left with a bill for a pretty penny to pay for medical services and pain and suffering.
Should the visitor to Central Park prevail in his lawsuit?  Or is it just one of those things that happens; an accident?  If he and his wife do prevail in their lawsuit what will happen with parks and open spaces maintained by cities as places of exercise, rest, or relaxation?
In the story in The New York Times, Kerry says
"Certainly this is a tragic case. However, nature happens. Park staff cannot possibly monitor each tree limb on each tree in the entire park every day. If this case wins in court, then the future freedom we experience in parks will be compromised. There will surely be signs everywhere to “enter at your own risk” and perhaps even waivers introduced that visitors must sign before enjoying the nature an open space has to offer. I understand that Mr. Blair-Goldensohn and his family must be devastated and looking for some type of payback for the damage this accident has caused in his life. But sometimes life is unfair, and there is no clear person or entity at fault, and we must live with the hand we are dealt, however bad that hand may be. I don’t think people who sue understand what precedent their case may create and the far-reaching consequences it may have."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Calling Their Bluff on Health Care Reform; A Way Forward

Last week, kook Senator, Doctor Tom Coburn (R-Okla) and morally corrupt Senator, Adulterer David Vitter (R-La) introduced an amendement that would require all members of congress to enroll in the public-option choice if allowed under the legislation, thinking that no senators would agree to such a thing, thus in effect, killing the inclusion of the public-option in the health care reform bill.  Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) thinking that if the public option is good enough for the people, it's good enough for them, decided to join them  and tried to sign on as co-sponsors of the amendement.  Good for them.
Deciding that they didn't want the democratic senators to call their bluff, Coburn and Vitter expanded their amendement to include not only congress, but the president and his staff.  Coburn and Vitter will be joined in this more expansive amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). A Coburn spokesman said that Democrats were encouraged to join the GOP on this amendment.
"Coburn, said that his amendment isn't a gimmick, but rather a serious attempt to mitigate the harms he believes would come about through the existence of a public option. If the president and other political heavyweights are enrolled in it, his thinking goes, they'll make sure it runs well."While I oppose the public option, Republicans and Democrats can agree that we should live under the laws we pass. I can also think of no better way to ensure that the public option is responsive to our citizens than by having the politicians in charge of the system enrolled in the same program. If a low-income, single mom has to wait in line for a life saving treatment, so should our national leaders and their families. Enrolling national leaders in the public option may be the best way to prevent the government from rationing care," Coburn said ."
Good for them as well.  If offering an amendement from the party of "no" finally leads to honest debate and compromise, all the better.  I encourage all Democratic Senators to support this amendement, debate and compromise honestly with the Republicans, and come up with a bill that all can support.  In reality, I have little to no confidence that Republicans would sign on to any bill in any form.  In my opinion they are bankrupt of ideas and will not want to alienate the fringe in our society who actually make up the base of their party, who want them to do nothing, by actually doing their jobs and passing legislation.  Stay tuned

David Spillane Playing The Uilleann Pipes

To uplift your soul today!  It's interesting to watch how he plays the instrument and what sounds come out.  I don't know why but I had always imagined that one would have to blow to get the music.  Ling Ling really liked this one.  As soon as I started playing it she jumped up on the chair next to mine and stared into the computer screen mesmerized!  Thanks to Wild Irish Rose and her post Feeding the instrument addiction.

Conservative Raison D'etre

Scientists recently took MRI's of self-described people from the left and the right and asked them questions while under the MRI as to their beliefs and how likely they were to question their beliefs.  They surmised that right-wing, conservative thinkers are less likely to be open to questioning, or nuance in their beliefs in so far as to what they believe is what they believe.  Opposite that, left-wing liberal thinkers were more likely to question their belief systems and more open to nuance.  Which is better?  Probably both have merits.  Surabaya Stew's comment on the Rightwing Nuthouse blog post "Charles Johnson's World" regarding Charles Johnson's post on Little Green Footballs "Why I Parted Ways With The Right".
From Johnson's original post to RWN's blog post to Surabaya Stew's comment; a fascinating study in how some current and former right-wing conservatives are questioning their raison d'etre.  Easy reading and way fun!  (Read the comments as well)
"Personal criticisms of CJ aside (which don’t help your case), you acknowledge that several of his points may have some merit. Furthermore, the remaining points do have their examples which seem to validate them to a certain degree that fair people can agree to disagree about.  Of course fair people can look at the same facts and draw different conclusions, which seems to be the case here, as you have been a political (and ideological) conservative for most of your life, whereas CJ’s life story is quite different. Simply put, is it not possible that somebody of a moderate political persuasion would likely agree with most (if not all) of CJ’s 10 points? We all realize that moderate politics aren’t what Right Wing Nut House is about, so why assume that CJ was ever conservative? By the man’s own admission, LGF had a hands-off policy re: comments for many years, which is now certainly not the case. (Full disclosure: I have been a semi-frequent commentator on LGF for a few months now.)
In my opinion, a large part of the reason CJ is being especially tough on the GOP and the right because he believes nothing short of that will kick reality back into their brains. These fools are hurting all of us with their actions. Need evidence of this?
We have a war in Afghanistan about to be escalated, and Dick Cheney is attacking Obama in hopes of discrediting the entire Af-Pak strategy. The AGW summit is about to start in Copenhagen, and James Inhofe is tagging along in order to trash the global vote in order to satisfy his anti-AWG fantasy. Health Care reform is coming, and all Sarah Palin can do is spout nonsense re: “death panels”, rather than contribute usefully to the debate. Dozens of congressional town hall meetings have been broken up by tea-baggers screaming and shouting, leading the strong possibility that congressmen won’t hold such forums in the future.
Face it Rick, the GOP is acting badly and hurting America right now with. Were they acting the role of an honest opposition, CJ (and millions more Americans) would still be on board with you and other conservatives. When they return to reality, it will be years before moderates (like myself and many of my friends) listen closely to the GOP again. For the sake of our (2-party) democracy, I pray that happens sooner rather than later"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cutting Free of George Bush's Wars

After listening to Obama's Tuesday night speech at West Point, former Presidential Candidate and current commentator Patrick J. Buchanan thinks we're coming home.
"Obama was not citing the Eisenhower of Normandy but President Eisenhower, who ended Korea by truce, refused to intervene in Indochina, did nothing to halt Nikita Khrushchev’s crushing of the Hungarian revolution, ordered the British, French and Israelis out of Suez, and presided over eight years of peace and prosperity, while building up America’s might and getting in lots of golf at Burning Tree.

Not a bad president. Not a bad model.
How can we reconcile Obama’s end-times rhetoric about the stakes imperiled with an 18-month surge of just 30,000 troops?
Stanley McChrystal won the argument over troops. But Obama, in his heart, does not want to fight Bush’s “Long War.” He wants to end it. Obama is not LBJ plunging into the big muddy. He is Nixon coming out, while giving an embattled ally a fighting chance to save itself.
In four years, Nixon was out of Vietnam. In 18 months, Obama says we will be out of Iraq with a steadily diminishing presence in Afghanistan.
What we heard Tuesday night was the drum roll of an exit strategy."
Read the story at Taki Magazine.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eric Burns: If I Still Worked at Fox News...

Eric Burns: If I Still Worked at Fox News...: "Of course, Beck does not call himself a conservative; he is, rather, a libertarian, which may be defined as a conservative-squared, a person who wants the feds to collect no money in taxes, spend no money on programs, but make available all services that the libertarian deems necessary for his own convenience and safety."
Don't piss off former Fox News Hosts.

Giuliani To Fight Crime In Pre-Olympics Rio

You're kidding right? Have you ever visited the favellas in Rio? I have, not a pretty picture.

Giuliani To Fight Crime In Pre-Olympics Rio: "RIO DE JANEIRO — Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says Rio de Janeiro can become a safe city before it hosts the 2016 Olympics. And his consulting firm will be paid to offer advice on how to make that happen.
Giuliani visited a slum in Rio on Thursday and praised Rio's efforts to pacify the violence-plagued areas where drug traffickers hold sway.
Rio Governor Sergio Cabral sys that Giuliani's consulting firm will be contracted to give security advice, though details of the deal were not disclosed.
As mayor from 1994 to 2002, Giuliani oversaw a drastic drop in crime in New York, which backers attribute to his tough, zero-tolerance stance."

Aetna Raising Prices and Dropping Coverage

Profits not high enough for projections in 2009, will raise prices and drop 650K in 2010.  Good for them.  They're a private company that can do what they want.  Sorry to the 650K that won't have health care because of rising costs...I feel your pain.  Read the story at Huffpost.

Becoming a Palintologist

You too, can become a Palintologist!  All you have to do is wait in long lines, sometimes the night before in pretty cold weather.  You can do all this for a chance to get the inspiring pit-bull, with lipstick to sign your copy of her memoir that you just paid $24.95 for.  I say "for a chance" because sometimes the aspiring actress, I mean 2012 presidential candidate doesn't have time to sign all the books for the people that waited in line so long for.  Last week at one of her rallys book signings, she decided that she didn't have enough time to finish signing all the books.  She got back into her "Sarah Bus" and drove 2 miles back to the airport to board her private jet  provided by The Reverend Billy Graham, Jr. at a cost of $600.00 per hour, and left people with "Sarah Signs" chanting "Run, Baby, Run!"
But that didn't deter the people waiting for her in Fayettville, who might be called the foot soldiers for "Sarah's Army."  "Hundreds of people formed a line that snaked around the back of the store. They wore camouflage fatigues and suits, work boots and dress loafers, ball caps and cowboy hats and T-shirts that read, "Palintologist."  Said 78 year old Bob Rutz, who was first in line "I'm hoping she'll be drafted to run."  Me too.
BTW, I love that pic!
Story link