Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alan Grayson: Still an American Hero

Back in January I posted a quick thing about freshman Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, who has been doing a great job of ripping bad people to shreds. I hadn't really seen him in the news much since then, until Matt Taibbi mentioned him a few days ago:

I have personal experience with… well, let’s call it the unique personality of Alan Grayson. In his capacity as an attorney he once basically threatened to have me dismembered and have my body parts dumped in a tin canister and fired into the center of a burning supernova. And that’s actually underselling the real language he used. We were having a disagreement about the use of information given to me by a certain source in a story about military contracting, and in the middle of what had been a normal contentious argument between two sane adults, dude suddenly assumed this crazy monster-voice and just went medieval on me. He was roaring into the telephone about how he was going to crush me, how I was going to wish I had never messed with him, how I didn’t know who the hell I was dealing with, and so on. One phrase I remember in particular was, “I am going to strip the bark off of you!” It came totally out of the blue and it was like being on the telephone with a metamorphosing werewolf — the whole performance genuinely freaked me out. I may even have peed a little, I can’t remember.

When I heard Alan Grayson was running for Congress, I remember thinking to myself, That Alan Grayson? The lunatic? It can’t be, I thought. I kept imagining trails of half-eaten sheep leading to his campaign appearances. But it turned out to be true. And when I checked, his platform turned out to be quite sane and even kind of interesting. Then he got elected and I suddenly started seeing his name attached to all of these calls for transparency, various crusades for FinReg reforms, etc.

And now every time I see Alan Grayson, he’s tearing some freaked-out bureaucrat a new asshole in the middle of some empty conference room in the Capitol somewhere. I see the looks on the faces of these poor souls and I know exactly what they’re going through. Which is just hilarious, frankly. Especially since these people all tend to deserve it, like this little creep Alvarez quite obviously does.

It's good to see that Grayson is still kicking ass, and that he's now running amok in Washington instead of scolding petulant radio host manchildren. I just can't wait until he threatens to "strip the bark off" of somebody, that's a really good threat.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Train of Thought Field Trip: Palin Goes Rogue

Traditionally these posts have focused on Freepers talking about someone they don’t like: liberals, black people, gay people, Asians, women, Europeans, the poor, the educated, anyone who isn’t exactly like them, etc. Today we’re going to see what happens when they start threads about someone they adore: Sarah Palin.

The news broke last night that her book, entitled “Going Rogue: An American Life,” is finished and awaiting its November 17th release date. While most of America is looking forward to reading it ironically, the fine folks of Free Republic believe in this upside-down version of the last election where Sarah Palin actually helped the ticket, instead of sealing its fate and dooming John McCain to failure. Buckets of polling data showing that she essentially handed off huge chunks of independents to Obama be damned, she’s the new hope for the American right!

At least three threads were started to celebrate the news. The appropriately-named Sarah Barracuda gets us started:

To me, going rogue means that someone isn’t gonna
take crap from anyone. She was called “rogue”
during the campaign because she no longer listened
to them(The entire campaign was a train wreck) she
wanted no part of it, and decided to do things her
way, I like it.

The entire campaign was a train wreck, that’s true, but it’s still so bizarre that Free Republic apparently ignores the fact that Palin is the one who derailed the damn train. Newfreep warns that having Palin leave the GOP and form her own nutcase party might not be a good idea:

Going 3rd party will absolutely guarantee ZERO
will win a second term...and many more after
That’s right: if Obama isn’t stopped in 2012, he’ll be dictator-for-life by 2016. How do I know that? Well, you see, ACORN. Uh, and George Soros. Sarah Barracuda returns to the thread to make this bombastic prediction:

Like it says in the article, its her book, her
life, her words. I think Sarah knows this book
will be the most scrutinized book EVER in the
history of books so she knows the deal.
Hahaha, yes, the most scrutinized book EVER in the history of books, I just had to retype that entire bit because my fingers couldn’t believe how stupid it was. Hinckley Buzzard knows something about liberals that the rest of us don’t:

Palin haters won’t buy it. Liberals don’t buy
books, they steal them or borrow them.
Keep in mind their other criticism of liberals is based on reading too many books and being too smart or something, so I’m not sure how you square those two accusations away. Editor-Surveyor pops up next with a comment that wins this edition of the Field Trip Award For Outstanding Achievements In The Field Of Incoherent Posting:

Amazon = Socialist molasses in January.
Prole strikes me as the sort of fellow who shows up at a teabagging event with a be-swastika’d picture of Obama:

Keep flying, Sarah!
The National Socialists and other democrats
can't defeat you! This is truly a battle of
good versus evil.
I get the feeling that HighlyOpinionated knows his numbers are off, but repeats them to show solidarity with the FreepMind:

They’re not printing enough. 1.5 million will
barely cover the crowd in DC on 9-12.
Haha I can play that game too, watch this: 5 million would barely cover the crowd in DC on 9-12! 50 trillion would barely cover the crowd in DC on 9-12! An infinite number beyond the comprehension of the most powerful computers would barely cover the crowd in DC on 9-12! April Lexington has some great advice for Palin:

They are feeding her crap about running from the
center to atttract Lib voters. DON'T DO IT,
SARAH! Its a trap!
Yes, please run even farther to the right, perhaps the rules will change and whoever gets gets the least votes will win in 2012! I think she’ll also get a special award if she manages to alienate every single independent and comes in below 40% of the popular vote. SmokingJoe has a bunch of words for you:

Ummm..they already attacked her more than any
politician in modern history..all it did was
give her close to 1 million Facebook supporters
in just 4 months, virtually neck and neck with
0bozo, who's Facebook page has been up for over
a year longer. That “galvanization” you are
talking about, is galvanization” of ordinary
Americans FOR Palin, rather than against her.
The more they attack her, the stronger she is
going to get. She is going to feed off their
attacks kinda like how Glenn eck is doing right
now. He keeps getting stronger too, the more
the leftist zombies attack him.
Apparently the conservative persecution complex extends to their favorite politicians as well, and Palin is somehow the most attacked politician in modern history. Also, judging political viability by how many Facebook supporters someone has is a brilliant tactic that I may try in the future. LilRhody is next, and boy is he pissed:

Maybe I’ll try Bought Glenn Becks
book at Borders, and those elitist pigs had the
book in the back of the store where no one could
see it. Of course coming in the front door, was
a table loaded with the murderer Kennedy books,
and in back of that table another one filled with
the Obamination family.
Elitist pigs, putting a book by the president in front of a book by a talking head! Fascists! Bravotu must have some method to his madness, but damned if I can spot it:

Nest EGG!?!
Barracudas Have Nest Eggs?
Perhaps She Will Be ‘Sharpening’
Her ‘Skills’ like a Momma Grizzley !
Uh, yes, perhaps that will be the case. This post by SevenofNine delights me:

OH YEAH I buy that book
Yes me buy book too, be real good, buy book. I sure hope Aphid is right…:

I’d wager that this book was rushed because she’s
working on a second book for spring publication
that will lay out her vision for America. She’ll
want her plan for common sense conservatism in
print, again working around the media.
… because I’m excited to see what kind of cutesy blood-splattered gravedigger horror-inducing fuck you got mine every man against his brother death to the poor and the different gut-wrenching vision of ultimate ruin post-apocalyptic conservatism she comes up with. 9YearLurker closes us out with this relatively harmless post:

I think she could title it “Does Todd poop in the
woods?” and she’d have a best-seller. I’m glad
it’s coming out sooner rather than later.
Conservatives: lining up at the doors to find out about exactly where Todd Palin goes to shit.

It’s Only Good If Republicans Say So

Clearly what people voted for in November:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) continues to be a scold to the liberals in his party. Before a crowd of over 200 gathered at a senior center in Nebraska, Nelson said health care reform ought to pass with 65 votes--a feat which would require at least five Republicans to break with their party.

"I think anything less than that would challenge its legitimacy," he said.

Nelson didn't go so far as to say that he'd oppose a bill that had less than 64 other votes. But he did say he disagreed with the party's legislative approach to the issue.

I’m not sure why he stopped at 65. Why not 70? Why not 100? When you’re pulling numbers out of your ass, the possibilities are endless.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Foreign Leaders Also Confused By Wingnuts

I've always wondered how confused the rest of the world must be when they witness our crazy people:
Speaking about health care reform at the Congressional Black Caucus gala Saturday night, President Obama relayed an anecdote from the G-20 Summit, in which an anonymous world leader said he was dumbfounded over the health care debate -- especially the comparisons to Hitler.

"One of the leaders, I won't mention who it was, he comes up to me and ... he says, 'Barack, explain to me this health care debate.' He says, 'We don't understand it. You're trying to make sure everyone has health care and they're putting a Hitler moustache on you. That doesn't make sense to me, explain that to me,'" Obama said. "He didn't understand."
You’re not the only one who doesn’t understand what’s going on, anonymous world leader.

The Administration and the Public Option

In an interview with Charlie Rose the other day, Rahm Emanuel once again tried to throw the public option under the bus by downplaying the chances it had to pass the senate.

Thankfully Rahm isn't a Senator, and we have Sherrod Brown to set him straight on what the Democratic caucus wants.

While this wasn't a groundbreaking moment in the health care debate, it once again stirred up the ongoing debate in the blogsphere over the role of the Obama Administration in the Health Care fight. And while this isn't an issue of enormous importance, there are enough misconceptions out there that it's probably worth setting things straight about the role the White House is playing.

Point One: Rahm Emanuel is not "at war" within the administration over the public option. The administration has been willing to drop the public option from the bill for some time, even though that strategy wasn't fully unveiled until mid August. As Jane Hamsher said a few months back, Rahm doesn't go off the reservation, Rahm is the reservation. The president's Chief of Staff doesn't go on TV and say something that Obama doesn't approve of, and if he did so more than once, he'd be fired. These are all smart people, they know what they are doing.

Point Two: While though the administration hasn't said anything negative about the public option, their actions are making it harder to keep it in the final bill. Beyond overtly trying trying to get it out of the bill through repeated negotiations with Olympia Snowe and others who want to kill it, their rhetoric has also been damaging. Every time Obama doesn't draw a hard line on the public option the way he does with other aspects of the bill that he's deemed dealbreakers, it enables those who are fighting against it. And whether it's overtly negotiating on "triggers" or downplaying it's chances to pass in the press, both play into a media narrative that does nothing but help the public option's opponents.

Point Three: As I have said before, none of this means that Obama opposes the public option or wouldn't sign a good bill that includes one. It only means he doesn't consider it an essential part of the bill, and as a result it always seems to be the first element that get sacrificed in negotiations where the white house is a player.

The good news is that while the Administration's actions on this bill may be incredibly frustrating and disappointing, there is still plenty of hope for a good health care bill to emerge over the next several weeks. There has been growing momentum against the Baucus Bill, and possibly inspired by their counterparts in the house, progressive Senators like Sherrod Brown have been increasingly active in the debate:

Appearing on the Ed Show tonight, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was "wrong" when he appeared pessimistic about the chances of a public option making it through the Senate.

"We'll get enough votes," Brown said, citing bills that have passed through three House committees and the Senate HELP Committee with a public option.

Emanuel is "wrong, because of this: Not every Democrat right now would prefer the public option in the Senate ... but no Democrat in the end is going to vote against a procedural question to kill the health care bill," he said.

"The 60 Democrats will stay together on procedural questions and then, on final passage, some may vote against it because it's got a public option. But I don't see that," he said. Brown added that at least 50 Democrats in the Senate support the public option.

In addition to publicly smacking down Rahm Emanuel's pessimism, his point about procedural votes is dead on, and needs to be made clear to all the douche caucus members. You can vote against a bill all you want, but if you filibuster alongside the Republicans, we will cut you loose. If they can't even be counted on to not join a Republican filibuster then they shouldn't be counting on any Democratic party funding or the prestigious committee chairmanships that come with being in the majority.

When the White House realizes that this is their best chance of passing a bill, I suspect they'll start talking up the public option and change their tactics. But until that happens, there's no need to pretend they're doing anything special when it's people like Sherrod Brown who are working tirelessly to keep real health care reform alive.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Forest of Revolution

On Monday I was inspired by Glenn Beck and shared my vision of the revolution: The Apartment Building of Revolution. Today I've got three more views on the shape of the revolution, provided by JJ, Jay-Pop, and myself.

First, JJ gives us the modern conservative movement in tree form:

Hahha, gross. Next, an image I don't remember producing:

Finally, Jay-Pop drops a truth bomb on Mr. Beck:

I hate it when that happens to me, damn pterodactyls! Anyway, I'm pretty tempted to email these to the Glenn Beck Newsroom and see what comes back our way.

"Stars and Bars"

In Fox News' America...

Media Matters:

In a report that belittled a case of supposed political correctness run amok, Fox New's Megyn Kelly today referred to the U.S. flags as "Stars and Bars." Huh? Stars and Bars, of course, is the name of the flag that flew for the Confederate South during the Civil War; a flag that remains a symbol of deep divisiveness in America today.

So it's weird, right? Who confuses "Old Glory" with the "Stars and Bars"?

But what was even more peculiar was that Kelly never caught her mistake, or seemed to think she'd even made a gaffe. Indeed, the "Stars and Bars" reference seemed to be written right into the news report. And so I guess viewers actually have to ask, since we're talking, y'know, about Fox News: Did Roger Ailes or somebody else high up at the news channel send out a Deep South, secessionist-friendly memo announcing the U.S. flag is now to be referred to as the "Stars and Bars"?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why I'm Nervous About This Detroit Game

All ridiculous histrionics about a Redskins player's Twitter updates aside, I've been apprehensive about Washington's Week 3 match-up against the Detroit Lions. Seriously, it's like folks forgot how big of a football town the greater DC metro area really is. I know people have been overreacting to the Skins' lackluster 9-7 over the lowly St. Louis Rams, but when have we as a fanbase ever NOT overreacted to stuff?

Poor Robert Henson should have probably done more homework on how fanatical Redskins fans can be, though I'm not mad at what he wrote. I just wish that instead of condemning his outburst after the fact, some team veterans had helped fill the rookies in on more of the do's and don'ts and get them better acclimated to being a professional athlete. On the other hand, every rookie's hand cannot be held at all times. Yeah, he messed up, but I don't now hate him forever and want to see him cut because he wrote some silly things on Twitter.

Predictably, this week's palpable tension between fans, the players, the coaches and the front office has been endlessly talked about by local and national media. This fabricated and blown-out-of-proportion firestorm has made the Redskins look vulnerable, making them the fashionable pick to end Detroit's 19-game losing streak over the past two seasons.

In my opinion, we are not as vulnerable as everyone is making us out to be. However, the actual reason for all this bullshit hoopla is what has me worried about Sunday's game -- the Skins' stagnant offense.

The longer the offense continues to bog down, the more you can expect a lack of confidence to seep in. Coaches become scared to take chances and take the safe route too much, while players become so scared of messing up that they fail to make big plays. This lost confidence could potentially give way to self-doubt and anger within the ranks, which is a very dangerous prospect when facing a team as desperate for a win as the Lions are.

Yes, I admit that the offense has not executed well enough within striking distance of the goal line, but the sky isn't quite falling, either. For all the talk of how the Redskins failed to score a single touchdown on five tries from inside the 20, further analysis paints a somewhat less grisly picture. The truth of the matter is that two touchdown passes were dropped by Devin Thomas and Mike Sellers, respectively. Yes, these players still have to make these plays in order for that to count for anything, but at least the opportunities were there to be had. Also, the fifth drive inside the red zone was when we kneeled out the remainder of the game; not exactly the same as failure to score a red zone TD.

Still, the Lions are not only desperate, they are also not nearly as shitty as they were last year. Even if we play well, expect Detroit to be competitive at home, as they have been in their first two games. If the Redskins do not get in the end zone early and often, they will likely lose this game.

Going on the evidence of the first two games this season, there is little reason to expect the Redskins to perform significantly better than they have so far. Maybe I'm being a homer, but I think we have the talent to do exactly that. It's up to the team to decide whether it will happen or not.

We Were Right!

During the 9/12 Nutcase Rally our friend T carried a sign warning the reader about the grave threat posed by gay marxism. Now Iowa Republican Representative Steve King echoes our warning:

So in the end this is something that has to come
with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society,
a society where the foundations of individual
rights and liberties are undermined and everybody
is thrown together, living collectively off of one
pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this
is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex
marriage because it has to plow through marriage in
order to get to their goal. They want public
affirmation. They want access to public funds and
resources. Eventually all those resources will be
pooled because that’s the direction we’re going.
And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a
purely socialist concept in the final analysis.

It's just one small step from gay socialism to gay marxism. Besides, if it's all about pooling resources, then isn't straight marriage also socialist? I just took a quick look at wikipedia, and guess who has a wife... Steve King. Steve King is a radical socialist!

The Sanctity of Bribes

Mark this down as something you don't see everyday:

In a stunning moment during the Senate Finance Committee markup Sen. Tom Carper defended a secret deal that the White House, Baucus, and PhRMA had reached. The White House has long denied the deal. Carper publicly acknowledges that part of the deal was that PhRMA would run millions of dollars worth of campaign ads in support of health care reform.

According to Carper the “golden rule” in Congress is that secret back room deals in exchange for advertising buys must be honored. Carper's statement below,

I was not involved in negotiations with PhRMA but I believe that the administration was, obviously PhRMA was, and I presume this committee was involved in some way in those negotiations.

And what PhRMA agreed to do through those negotiations is to pay about
80 billion dollars over 10 years to help fill up half the donut hole. That's my understanding. And they are prepared to go forward and to honor that commitment. As I understand it, the commitment from our colleague Senator Nelson would basically double what was negotiated with PhRMA.

And whether you like PhRMA or not -- remember I talked earlier today in our opening statements, I talked about four core values, and one of those is the golden rule, treat other people the way I want to be treated?

I'll tell you -- if someone negotiated a deal with me and I agreed to put up say, 80 dollars or 80 million dollars or 80 billion dollars and then you came back and said to me a couple of weeks later -- no no, I know you agreed to do 80 billion and I know you were willing to help support through an advertising campaign this particular -- not even this particular bill, just the idea of generic health care reform? No, we're going to double -- we're going to double what you agreed in those negotiations to do. That's not the way -- that's not what I consider treating people the way I'd want to be treated.

That just doesn't seem right to me.

So not only does Carper publicly acknowledge a deal that's been denied by everyone involved, but he then goes on to defend Pharma's bribe as some sort of sacred pact. Possibly worse is that this crap is so embedded in our political culture that he isn't the slightest bit ashamed in publicly revealing the shadiness of their deal.

It's good to see that the "centrist" Democrats like Carper who base their careers on pretending to be concerned about spending are more than happy to put the brakes on legislation that would actually lower costs solely because it dares to cut into Pharma's already obscene profits.

But like the rest of the Douche Caucus, if it doesn't make them the center of attention or benefit one of the industries that keeps them on retainer, they couldn't care less. Not that any of this is new information, it's just that you usually don't get someone like Tom Carper saying these things out loud.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Obama Administration Really Confuses Me

Ever since he took office Obama has been playing a strange game: one step forward, three quarters of a step back. 4/5 of a step forward, 1/3 of a step back. A step and a half forward, 1.75 steps back. The entire thing has gotten so hard to keep track of, with a mixture of fractions and decimals and constant moves forward and backward, that it’s hard to tell how much progress has been made- if any. Take today, for example:

The Obama administration will announce a new
policy Wednesday making it much more difficult
for the government to claim that it is
protecting state secrets when it hides details
of sensitive national security strategies such
as rendition and warrantless eavesdropping,
according to two senior Justice Department
Hooray! Doing terrible things and then protecting yourself behind claims of state secrets has been a beloved tactic in Washington for decades, but those days might be over. This all depends on this rule surviving the next Republican president, of course, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Which means… oh no… here comes a step back!

“This October, on a scheduled visit to the United
States, the Dalai Lama will not be welcomed at the
White House. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was
recently dispatched to Dharamsala -- the Dalai Lama's
place of exile in northern India -- to gently deliver
the message. The Tibetans took the news, as usual,
nonviolently. "A lot of nations are adopting a policy
of appeasement" toward China, observed Samdhong
Rinpoche, prime minister of Tibet's government in
exile. "I understand why Obama is not meeting with
the Dalai Lama before his Chinese trip. It is
common sense. Obama should not irritate the Chinese leadership.”
What, was this going to be the meeting with the Dalai Lama that finally threw the Chinese government over the edge?! We have a fifty year tradition of shaking his hand and not doing much else to help him, has the handshake gotten too strenuous?

Of course compared to the steady torrent of crap that defined the Bush administration, this isn’t too bad. And I’m still sure that Obama is doing a better job than McCain would have. But Obama’s job isn’t to be a better president than McCain or Bush; his job is to be a good president. I’m not sure if we can call him that until he snaps out of the Obama Shuffle and starts delivering good news without a side of crap.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Protect Insurance Company Profits!


Hopefully their next PSA can include longtime insurance company profit advocate Ben Nelson:
Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game,” Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a “deal breaker.”
Most insurance company profit advocates are smarter than Ben Nelson and hide their actual motives, so it's great to have something like this calling them out.

Michael Schwartz Has A Plan

Having already examined a list of hard hitting topics straight from Free Republic threads, the Value Voters summit decided to tackle something called "The New Masculinity", and much to Troy Polamalu's disappointment, it was not a discussion on the NFL's over the top fines for physical play.
The New Masculinity

Feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men. It is time to redress the disorder it has wrought and that must start with getting the principles and ideals for a new "masculinism" right. Such a "masculinism" will have its dovetailing counterpart in a new "feminism" for they mutually define each other and, in nature, are meant to be complementary. This panel will begin this exploration.
A conservative conference panel that can't discuss "masculinity" without going into how much they fear/hate women doesn't exactly qualify as news, but when a prominent Senator's Chief of Staff decides to hijack the panel for his own personal craziness...

A few minutes into his speech, Schwartz moved to the topic of pornography, calling it a “blight” and a “disease” that parents’ “sons” would encounter. Noting that he was about to get “politically incorrect,” Schwartz said that it is his “observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people”:

SCHWARTZ: But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct. After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people.

Schwartz then recalled “a very good friend” of his “who was in the homosexual lifestyle for a long time,” saying that he “had good conversations about, about the malady that he suffered.” He then relayed “an astonishingly insightful remark” his friend had made about the relationship between pornography and being gay:

SCHWARTZ: And one of the things that he said to me, that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark. He said, “all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards. Now think about that. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants.” You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people.

So just to recap:
  • Step One: Rile up homophobia in young boys.
  • Step Two: Convince young boys that watching men and women having sex will make them gay.
  • Step Three: Pornography ends because young boys are scared they will become gay.
  • Step Four: Homosexuality ends, because porn is no longer forcing people to be gay, or something
There's so much to like about a plan centered around convincing people that sex=bad. I'm sure that message will resonate soundly with the teenage boys he's hoping to reach.

Oh yeah, and just to reiterate, this is the completely serious plan from Senator Tom Coburn's top adviser to end pornography and gay people.

Kind of defies parody, doesn't it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Tree of Revolution

On his show last week Glenn Beck introduced an image that will be talked about for generations: “The Tree of Revolution.” Marvel at this piece beautiful piece of work:

Che… Woodrow Wilson… Saul Alinsky… ACORN! Unions… Bill Ayers… Dollar bills! Now we can all clearly see that Obama is the end result of decades of unrelated people, events and currencies. I thought Beck's extended monologue about how the art in the Rockefeller Center was an attempt to brainwash children via bronze sculptures of chariots was bizarre enough, but “The Tree of Revolution” is a clear winner. Trees are good things… except environmentalists like them so maybe they’re bad now? Does this one need to be watered with the blood of patriots, or will regular water do? The whole thing left me with more questions than answers, so I set out to create my own visual aid:

Damn that pineapple! Finally, it all makes sense. If anyone else wants to create another flowchart of revolution feel free to send it to me, and maybe I’ll post them on here at some point in the next few days.

Ed's note: More Trees of Revolution can be found here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Those Ungrateful Iraqis...

Colonial Rhetoric 101, Professor Dana Rohrabacher:
The House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight met today to discuss issues of sovereignty and stability in Iraq ranging from the country's longstanding financial obligation to neighboring Kuwait to its even longer-standing issues with the Kurdish people. But Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) seemed mostly interested in berating the Iraqis for their lack of gratitude.

At the hearing, Saleh al Mutlaq and former Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, both members of Iraq's Council of Representatives, spoke about Iraq's future and the importance of the country's upcoming elections.

Mutlaq called for a "moral and responsible" withdrawal of U.S. troops saying that the invasion of his country was "irresponsible."

Worried that violence and intimidation from Iraq's ruling party could distort the outcome of the January election, Allawi stressed the need for election monitoring from institutions such as the United Nations, the Arab League and other NGOs along with the United States.

Then Rohrabacher opened his mouth.

"I have never heard one word of gratitude from the Iraqi people about the 4,300 Americans who lost their lives," he exclaimed.

"We went to Iraq to try and free your people and now we're being blamed for sectarian violence," he said. "Don't blame us because that type of bloodlust exists in your society."

A defiant Mutlaq responded, "You were the ones who pushed your troops. We did not invite you."

It was at this point that an exasperated Rohrabacher threw up his hands and stormed out of the room.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Failing the Smell Test

Matt Taibbi recaps:

PhRMA, the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry, earlier this year announced that it would be setting aside $150 million to pay for an ad campaign supporting the President’s health care bill. The deal was apparently struck in July, after former Louisiana congressman and current PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin (Rod Blagojevich’s underdog opponent in the upcoming semifinal match of the Corrupt Scumbag of the Century So Far tournament) met with Rahm and other Obama aides in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Also in attendance were representatives of the usual panoply of awful medical corporations, including Abbott laboratories, Merck, and Pfizer. It was in this meeting that the White House agreed to sell out health care reform in exchange for a few bucks to fund the next couple of election cycles.

Tauzin, who has never been one for subtlety or finesse (he took his $2 million-a-year PhRMA job about ten seconds after he finished pushing through the Prescription Drug Benefit bill), stupidly later revealed some of the contents of that shady meeting, saying that the White House had “blessed” a plan involving the $150 million. He disclosed to reporters that he had extracted a promise from the White House to drop two important reforms: one, to allow the government to negotiate bulk rates for drugs in Medicare, and the other to permit the importation of cheap drugs from Canada (which was once an Obama campaign saw).

The only problem with this plan, from the White House’s side, was that not all of the president’s fellow Democrats played along. Specifically, Energy and Commerce chair Henry Waxman put a provision in his health care bill that allowed the government to negotiate lower rates. If Waxman’s language were to be allowed to survive, it would queer the White House’s deal.

According to Ryan Grim's excellent reporting, it looks like the Administration found a Democrat willing to play along:

The bill unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has been blasted as a major giveaway to insurance companies. But the even bigger winners are the drug makers.

That's because the Baucus bill matches up, nearly to the letter, with the secret deal that he, the White House and Big Pharma struck over the summer -- a deal the various parties roundly denied had been struck when it went public.

1) The memo said that PhRMA would "[a]gree to increase of Medicaid rebate from 15.1 - 23.1%".

The finance bill, on page 56, increases the Medicaid rebates for patented drugs from 15.1 to 23.1 percent.


2) The memo said that the parties had agreed "to get FOBs done." FOBs refer to follow-on biologic drugs - vaccines and other drugs made from living cells that are the fastest growing field of pharmaceutical research.

PhRMA wants extended patent protections from generic biologic drug makers. A finance committee aide said that the Baucus bill doesn't address biologics, leaving that to the Senate health committee's bill. The health committee bill gives drug makers 12 years of market exclusivity -- five more than the White House proposed -- and allows a 12-year extension with a minor tweak to the drug. The protection is worth billions to drug makers and is entirely unnecessary to encourage research, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which recommended zero years of market exclusivity.

"Already biologics take up at least 30% of Medicare part B spending and this proposal has been rolled into the overall health care reform bill, which is meant create cost savings, which it will not do," Jane Andrews, a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University and a member of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, wrote in an e-mail to HuffPost. "It's simply a giveaway to BIO/PhRMA from Congress supported by the American Association of Universities."

Check (more or less.)

3) PhRMA agreed to "Sell drugs to patients in the donut hole at 50% discount." This one's not in dispute: All parties had previously announced that this was part of the deal. There it is on page 124.


4) "Companies will be assessed a tax or fee that will score at $12 billion. There was no agreement as to how or on what this tax/fee will be based."

Here the memo is off.

The $12 billion, stretched over 10 years, would have amounted to a tax of $1.2 billion per year. Instead, the Baucus bill hits Big Pharma with nearly double that -- a $2.3 billion annual fee, according to page 216 of the bill -- but they still did much better than industry counterparts who didn't reach a deal with the White House. Health insurers got hit with $6 billion in annual fees in the bill, and medical device makers got dinged for $4 billion a year.

The memo also listed four things the committee and the White House agreed to keep out of the bill.

1) Drug makers wanted Baucus and the White House to block Democratic efforts to allow cheaper drugs to be shipped in from Canada. There's nothing in the finance bill that allows that.


2) Some Democrats wanted PhRMA to give the federal government rebates for what it considered past excess charges; the memo says the White House agreed to oppose those rebates, and the bill doesn't include any.


3) As agreed, the bill does not overturn a GOP law -- pushed originally by chief pharmaceutical lobbyist Billy Tauzin, when he was in Congress -- that bans the government from negotiating for cheaper prescription drug prices.


4) Democrats wanted to shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Part D, a move PhRMA opposed because it would reduce reimbursement rates. The administration agreed not to include that provision, according to the memo, and it's not in the Baucus bill.


2) The memo said that the parties had agreed "to get FOBs done." FOBs refer to follow-on biologic drugs - vaccines and other drugs made from living cells that are the fastest growing field of pharmaceutical research.

PhRMA wants extended patent protections from generic biologic drug makers. A finance committee aide said that the Baucus bill doesn't address biologics, leaving that to the Senate health committee's bill. The health committee bill gives drug makers 12 years of market exclusivity -- five more than the White House proposed -- and allows a 12-year extension with a minor tweak to the drug. The protection is worth billions to drug makers and is entirely unnecessary to encourage research, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which recommended zero years of market exclusivity.

"Already biologics take up at least 30% of Medicare part B spending and this proposal has been rolled into the overall health care reform bill, which is meant create cost savings, which it will not do," Jane Andrews, a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University and a member of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, wrote in an e-mail to HuffPost. "It's simply a giveaway to BIO/PhRMA from Congress supported by the American Association of Universities."

Check (more or less.)

3) PhRMA agreed to "Sell drugs to patients in the donut hole at 50% discount." This one's not in dispute: All parties had previously announced that this was part of the deal. There it is on page 124.


4) "Companies will be assessed a tax or fee that will score at $12 billion. There was no agreement as to how or on what this tax/fee will be based."

Here the memo is off.

The $12 billion, stretched over 10 years, would have amounted to a tax of $1.2 billion per year. Instead, the Baucus bill hits Big Pharma with nearly double that -- a $2.3 billion annual fee, according to page 216 of the bill -- but they still did much better than industry counterparts who didn't reach a deal with the White House. Health insurers got hit with $6 billion in annual fees in the bill, and medical device makers got dinged for $4 billion a year.

The memo also listed four things the committee and the White House agreed to keep out of the bill.

1) Drug makers wanted Baucus and the White House to block Democratic efforts to allow cheaper drugs to be shipped in from Canada. There's nothing in the finance bill that allows that.


2) Some Democrats wanted PhRMA to give the federal government rebates for what it considered past excess charges; the memo says the White House agreed to oppose those rebates, and the bill doesn't include any.


3) As agreed, the bill does not overturn a GOP law -- pushed originally by chief pharmaceutical lobbyist Billy Tauzin, when he was in Congress -- that bans the government from negotiating for cheaper prescription drug prices.


4) Democrats wanted to shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Part D, a move PhRMA opposed because it would reduce reimbursement rates. The administration agreed not to include that provision, according to the memo, and it's not in the Baucus bill.


Read more at:
Obviously neither party has admitted to anything, but this sure doesn't look good.

DC Welcomes the Values Voters Summit!

Here, take a look at this list of workshops they're holding tomorrow- please note that I didn't make up any of these:




Ultimately, climate change hysteria rests on an unbiblical view of God, mankind, and the environment.


-THE NEW MASCULINITY - Feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men.




Seriously, they couldn't find one real problem to work on? Not a single challenge facing our nation appealed to them, so they came up with all that instead? I wonder how many people went home after the tea parties last weekend just in time to jump back into the bus and triumphantly return to DC for this crap.

Train of Thought Lounge: Velvet Underground

Happy birthday to my dad (commenter wb)!

As friends of the blog know, it was scary times times a year ago on this Friday, but I'm pleased to report on the great health/spirits he's been in since. So happy birthday, I guarantee it'll be better than the last one!

Time Magazine Deems Racist Idiot Worthy of Fawning Cover Story

Not only does Time magazine give it's cover to Glenn Beck, but it's an article so comically bad that it could be used as a case study to examine the idiocy of modern day political journalism. The first paragraph:
On Sept. 12, a large crowd gathered in Washington to protest ... what? The goals of Congress and the Obama Administration, mainly — the cost, the scale, the perceived leftist intent. The crowd's agenda was wide-ranging, so it's hard to be more specific. "End the Fed," a sign read. A schoolboy's placard denounced "Obama's Nazi Youth Militia." Another poster declared, "We the People for Capitalism Not Socialism." If you get your information from liberal sources, the crowd numbered about 70,000, many of them greedy racists. If you get your information from conservative sources, the crowd was hundreds of thousands strong, perhaps as many as a million, and the tenor was peaceful and patriotic. Either way, you may not be inclined to believe what we say about numbers, according to a recent poll that found record-low levels of public trust of the mainstream media.
Crazy conservatives say one thing, crazy liberals say another, and the truth lies somewhere at a mysterious point in between where David Broader and Joe Lieberman feel comfortable. Who cares that you're equating completely fabricated numbers with the estimates of reliable sources? In today's political reporting, you give two sides of the story without informing to the reader that one is telling them the truth and while the other is attempting to deceive them. Media Matters:

Progressive media critics often point out that the media too frequently take a "he-said/she-said" approach to politics that boils down to, "Is the Earth flat or spherical? Opinions differ." That may seem like an exaggeration, but Time's handling of the crowd size dispute is virtually indistinguishable from that caricature.

Actually, in some ways, it's less honest than the caricature. See, the 70,000 estimate didn't come from "liberal sources"; it came from sane sources, such as the Washington, D.C., Fire Department. Time portrayed the disparate estimates as equally-likely-to-be-true products of ideological observers. In fact, the large estimates from conservatives were clearly false, and the lower, accurate estimates came from official, nonpartisan observers -- and even from some conservatives like Beck's colleagues at Fox News.

And the estimates of "as many as a million"? True, they came from conservatives (actually, some conservatives put the crowd size at the 2 million mark. Time has downplayed the dishonesty displayed by one of the very conservatives it later references.) But, more accurately, they came from dishonest conservatives who were lying, lying about how many people were there, lying about where the estimates came from. Lying.

Look: The difference between 70,000 people on the National Mall for a protest and 2 million is huge. Seventy thousand people is a good-sized crowd. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's almost as many as the 85,000 people who attended last Saturday's college football game in Lincoln, Nebraska. But 2 million people? There probably weren't 2 million people in the entire state of Nebraska (population: 1.8 million) last Saturday.

Houston, Texas, is the fourth-largest city in America, with just over 2 million residents. Do you know what happens when you drop the population of Houston, Texas, in the middle of Washington, D.C.? Hotels for miles and miles around are booked far in advance. The Metro system is stretched to the breaking point. Thousands of people get trapped in tunnels. It is, in short, unmistakably different from what happens when Missouri plays Bowling Green.

I dwell on this because the difference between 70,000 and 2 million people is simply not something about which reasonable people of honest motives can disagree. It is not something that can be an innocent mistake. Dishonest people who wanted to misinform you told lies in order to exaggerate the crowd size. There really can be no doubt about that.

But Time not only won't make clear that they are lying, it won't even tell you that they were wrong. Thus, the magazine makes clear right up front that this article is not "journalism"; it is a pathetic attempt to pander to malicious liars.

And this is all before they start talking about Beck. So if they didn't point out the difference between the park service and Michelle Malkin's crowd estimates, you can probably guess they didn't point out that Glenn Beck lies constantly about literally everything he covers. Jamison Foser:

See, Glenn Beck's defining characteristic is that he's deeply dishonest. He claimed that 1.7 million people stormed the National Mall last week to protest Obama. And that's just one example; Beck tells lies of such size and obviousness, and with such frequency, that to fail to make his dishonesty clear right up front is, itself, dishonest. But Time didn't even hint at it in its introduction of Beck:

Glenn Beck: the pudgy, buzz-cut, weeping phenomenon of radio, TV and books. ... Beck is 45, tireless, funny, self-deprecating, a recovering alcoholic, a convert to Mormonism, a libertarian and living with ADHD.

Indeed, the closest the Time article ever came -- ever -- to indicating that Beck tells lies and spreads falsehoods is this whopper of an understatement: "[H]e also spins yarns of less substance." Oh, snap! That really exposes him for the fraud that he is!

Charles Kaiser of the Hillman Foundation interviewed the author, David von Drehle, who chose the "let me show you how clueless I am about the subject of the article I just wrote" defense:
“I do not want to give every single person a score card,” Von Drehle told FCP. There has obviously been no “shortage of rants against Glenn Beck,” so rather than give an intelligent appraisal of what Beck actually says each night, von Drehele wrote a story which focuses on the fact that “this is is a big business and a lot of people are making a lot of money.”
This is about his business, and money apparently. I'm not sure how anyone reading the article would have gotten that impression, but whatever. Since it's all about his business I'm sure he had a good explanation for why he didn't give a bit more coverage to the boycott of his show that's already cost him half his sponsors:
Von Drehle does mention in passing that Beck is currently the object of one of the most successful advertizer boycotts in history, sparked by Beck’s assertion that Obama is a racist who harbors "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

Von Drehle identified the boycott as “a boon” to Beck’s ratings; but he didn’t say that it now includes more than sixty corporations, including Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Procter & Gamble.

FCP asked Von Dehele if sixty wasn’t a rather large number–one perhaps worth mentioning in his piece. “Well,” he replied. “There are millions of companies.”

Yep, there are millions of companies. This is a factual statement that clearly explains why you shouldn't mention that a boycott has cost Beck HALF of his advertisers. You'd think that would have been an important addition for an in depth glowing profile article about Glenn Beck's business empire, but apparently not. Instead we get this:

Thanks Time magazine, I needed to see that!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More rave reviews for the Baucus Plan!

Now Howard Dean is getting in on the action, blasting it thoroughly:

Howard Dean, former Democratic National Committee
chairman, minced no words about Sen. Max Baucus's
healthcare proposal, unveiled to the public this
morning. "The Baucus bill is the worst piece of
healthcare legislation I've seen in 30 years," Dean
said last night at a healthcare town hall and book
signing in Washington. "In fact, it's a $60 billion
giveaway to the health insurance industry every year,"
he said. "It was written by healthcare lobbyists, so
that's not a surprise. It's an outrage."

Great job, Baucus!


An appropriate reaction to the Baucus plan:
Delegates at the AFL-CIO’s convention in Pittsburgh chanted “bullshit” in response to the plan from the Senate Finance Committee’s chairman. They were led in the chant by Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Baucus Plan Gets Strong Support From Health Care Industry, Max Baucus

Remember Max Baucus?

The douche bag who held up the health care debate for the last two months to masturbate to the sound of his own voice craft his own bill that would be loved by Republicans and Democrats alike?

Well he finally released his bill, and the support is pouring in:

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch ripped the latest health reform proposal Wednesday, saying the bill released by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus "simply leads to more government, more spending and more taxes."

Hatch, a senior Republican member of the Finance Committee, has been one of the most outspoken critics of Democratic reform efforts in recent weeks. At the heart of his argument is a belief that Democrats are making promises they cannot keep.

"If anyone believes that Washington, let me repeat Washington, can do a plan that will cost close to a trillion dollars, cover all Americans, not raise taxes on anyone, not increase the deficit and not reduce benefits or choices for our families and seniors -- then I have a bridge to sell you," Hatch said.

Damn! If only he'd not made a health care bill at all, he could have gotten Hatch's support! What about the so called moderate Republicans that Baucus was targeting for support?
CNN has learned that – barring some unforeseen change — Democratic Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus will unveil a health care proposal Wednesday without the support of the three Republican senators — Charles Grassley, Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe — he's been negotiating with for months.

Senate Republican sources close to Grassley and Enzi — and in the case of Olympia Snowe, the senator herself — tell CNN they still have concerns that have not been addressed that range from taxpayer funding of abortion, to illegal immigration, to affordability of the health coverage this new law would require.

GOP sources to all these senators emphasize and insist that they aren't walking away yet — they will keep talking, keep negotiating and next week when votes start in the Finance committee they will offer amendments to address their concerns.

But Wednesday, when the Senate Finance Chairman unveils his bill, all indications are he will be doing it without the support of Republicans he has spent hundreds of hours negotiating with.
No republican support. So he made the bill as shitty as possibly to do... what exactly? It sure wasn't to get Democratic support:

Following up on his This Week appearance where he promised to fight on for the public option, Sen. Jay Rockefeller blasted the draft bill produced by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus: “there is no way in its present form that I vote for it unless it changes in the amendment process by vast amounts.”

He’s not alone. Fellow Finance Committee member Ron Wyden is livid too. Expect a rocky mark-up next week. As one top Democrat told me, the fundamental problem is that Democrats “are being asked to support a bipartisan bill that doesn’t have bipartisan support.” The compromise without the cover.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, one of the Democrats who sits on the panel, has elaborated on his misgivings with the Baucus plan in an interview with Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.

Wyden says the legislation would cost lower-income Americans too much and give many people too little choice of insurance plans.

"If the Baucus proposal passes," he said, "They're going to say, 'Huh? Health-care security means I pay a whole lot more than I'm paying today or I get to be exempt from it, or I pay a penalty?' They're not going to say that meets the definition of health-care security.'

So if the Republicans who it was designed for don't support it, and middle of the road Democrats like Rockefeller and Wyden don't like it... just who would support this bill?

Wendell Potter, the former Cigna executive-turned-whistleblower, told a small group of reporters Monday that the Baucus health care plan is an “absolute gift” to the industry.

“The Baucus framework is just an absolute joke,” said Potter, Cigna’s former head of corporate communications who has been speaking out against insurance industry practices. “It is an absolute gift to the industry. And if that is what we see in the legislation, (America’s Health Insurance Plans chief) Karen Ignagni will surely get a huge bonus.”

Potter said the proposal would not provide affordable coverage. It gives the industry too much latitude to charge higher premiums based on age and geographic location, fails to mandate employer coverage, and pushes consumers into plans with limited benefits, Potter said.

Private insurers “want to have ‘benefit design flexibility.’ Those are three very worrisome words,” Potter said at a briefing arranged by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “By being able to have benefit design flexibility, they will be able to design plans that are so limited that more and more people will be in the ranks of the uninsured.”
And why does Max Baucus care so much about pleasing such loathsome individuals?
As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate.

The sector gave nearly $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008, with 54 percent going to Democrats, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics. The shift in parties was even more pronounced during the first three months of this year, when Democrats collected 60 percent of the $5.4 million donated by health-care companies and their employees, the data show.
. . .
But Baucus, a senator from a sparsely populated and conservative Western state who is serving his sixth term, stands out for the rising tide of health-care contributions to his campaign committee, Friends of Max Baucus, and his political-action committee, Glacier PAC. Baucus collected $3 million from the health and insurance sectors from 2003 to 2008, about 20 percent of the total, data show. Less than 10 percent of the money came from Montana.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Max Baucus!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Assorted TeaBaggings- Washington DC 9/12/2009

Here are some pictures of the signs we saw on Saturday. Keep in mind that these aren't by any means the worst the crowd had to offer- just a fairly representitive sample of the kinds of things people were really agitated about.

This guy was one of about a million to take a confused stand against mid-level advisory appointments:

Something about how bold the letters are and how simple the statement is makes the missing 'R' all the funnier:

This next person had a request I think we all had no problem complying with:

Wow, what loathesome characters can we try to rehabilitate next?

Even crazier:

Milquetoast centrism with handouts for every corporation = THE ANTI-CHRIST HIMSELF!

Well, that's the mark of a well-informed man. The sign on the right is one of my all-time favorites:

IT WAS AN INSIDE JOB, CZARS DID 9/11! Now to mix religious nutbaggery with anti-Russian Monarchist sentiment:

We ran across the street to get a picture with this fine woman, who was happy to teabag JJ and T:

Hahahaha, wow. I think the sign on the right was translated from a mujahedeen slogan:

This one gives me a lot of ideas for new signs to make:

Did you know that Obama has the magical power to abort God himself? Stop the expansion of executive power into theological abortion!

These people are really convinced that Obama is minutes away from shipping them all off to FEMA death camps using his all-black volunteer ACORN army. Also, he wants to kill old people because... something.

What, Marx would proud of the sight of thousands of people out rallying against their own damn interests, angrily protesting the mere idea of curbing corporate profits in order to save lives and increase access to health care?
Well, I'm sure these guys know what they're talking about.

Train of Thought Lounge: Can't Tell Me Nothing

Thanks to Rumproast for reminding me that Kanye West himself is responsible for one of the greatest videos of all time:

I gotta say, I also share their confusion about how this grew beyond the yearly post-VMA media firestorm. Yes, Kanye is an egotistical jackass. This is not new information. He also shouldn't have gone on stage and interrupted that teenager's acceptance speech. These are facts.

On the other hand, he didn't do this at the White House, or even the Grammys. He did this at an awards show that fosters craziness. Dozens of fistfights, people calling each other out, a high as shit Whitney Houston jumping around like an idiot, insane bassists from awesome bands literally climbing on the scaffolding to protest Limp Biskit winning an award... this is why you watch the VMAs. Yeah, he's a dick and he shouldn't have done that, but don't pretend that anyone was watching to see who won the 18th "best video" category. No one gives a shit. People watch the VMAs to see crazy things happen, and they got what they wanted.

People got entertained, MTV made tons of money and got more press than they could of dreamed of, and Taylor Swift got to and reach that next level of stardom with people (like myself) who didn't know who she was until yesterday. Even Jay Leno wins by bumping his ratings after tastelessly asking Kanye what his recently deceased mother would have thought of his actions. You know you've done something truly shitty if you can generate empathy for Kanye in this media climate.

Also, like atrios said, it's possible that Barack brought this up on his own or it was just meaningless banter, but it also brought back memories from the primaries when it became a common practice to get Barack to comment on anything that any black person did or has ever done throughout the course of history.

And even without the racial element, why is it news that Obama called Kanye a Jackass? Who the fuck cares? Let me know when he calls Max Baucus a jackass, that would be news and infinitely more deserving in the grand scheme of things.

Please, make it stop.

End of Rant.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Brought To You By Fox"

A pretty cool video by Media Matters, featuring two faces you might recognize around the 39 second mark...

We all spoke with the guy they were interviewing for a few minutes- if anything I think he was even nuttier off-camera.

Surprise, Surprise...

ESPN's Matt Mosley, on defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's Redskins debut:

Sorry, but when you make $41 million guaranteed, one tackle for a loss doesn't cut it. Haynesworth is supposed to be a disruptive force in the middle of the defense but for the most part, Giants guard Rich Seubert did a nice job on him. I just kept watching Haynesworth limp off the field. Not a great debut.

Some of you may recall me flipping my shit when we acquired the face-stomping, pole-wielding player this past February. The main basis of my concern was that having landed a once-in-a-lifetime contract with the Skins, Haynesworth's motivation to play his hardest in every game might disappear. It's a scene we've witnessed time and time again and if his first game is any indication, then we might have to add Haynesworth's name to a lengthy list of high-priced failures.

As for the game itself, it was pretty much what I expected. The 23-17 scoreline in favor of the New York Giants was probably a poor reflection of how the game actually went; it was never really that close. The Redskins' next three games set up pretty favorably, you'd have to say, as we face the Rams at home, followed by the Lions on the road and the Buccaneers at home. Although we struggled against bad teams last year (losing to the Rams & Bengals and narrowly winning against the 0-16 Lions), if we look bad against St. Louis this Sunday, we'll have a real cause for concern. While it sucked not to win the first game of the season, the loss was in no way an indictment on the rest of the extremely-young campaign.

Stiglitz: "The Banking Problems Are Worse Than in 2007"

From someone who predicted and has continued to be right about the financial crisis:
Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize- winning economist, said the U.S. has failed to fix the underlying problems of its banking system after the credit crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc

“In the U.S. and many other countries, the too-big-to-fail banks have become even bigger,” Stiglitz said in an interview today in Paris. “The problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis."

Stiglitz’s views echo those of former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who has advised President Barack Obama’s administration to curtail the size of banks, and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who suggested last month that governments may want to discourage financial institutions from growing “excessively."

A year after the demise of Lehman forced the Treasury Department to spend billions to shore up the financial system, Bank of America Corp.’s assets have grown and Citigroup Inc. remains intact. In the U.K., Lloyds Banking Group Plc, 43 percent owned by the government, has taken over the activities of HBOS Plc, and in France BNP Paribas SA now owns the Belgian and Luxembourg banking assets of insurer Fortis.

While Obama wants to name some banks as “systemically important” and subject them to stricter oversight, his plan wouldn’t force them to shrink or simplify their structure.

Stiglitz said the U.S. government is wary of challenging the financial industry because it is politically difficult, and that he hopes the Group of 20 leaders will cajole the U.S. into tougher action.
I guess someone forgot to tell Joe Stiglitz that he could be making these changes from inside the Administration if he'd only helped create the financial crisis by dismantling our banking regulations in the late 90s.

Monday, September 14, 2009

TeaBaggers Occupy Small Stretch of DC; The Conductors Run A Train On Them

About six months ago I was sitting in my apartment in downtown Wuhan gathering quotes for a Train of Thought Field Trip when I noticed a huge banner on the top of Free Republic. Allow me to slightly paraphrase it: “FREE REPUBLIC INVITES YOU AND ALL YOUR CRAZY FRIENDS TO COME TO WASHINGTON DC ON SEPTEMBER 12th AND WAVE NONSENSICAL SIGNS AROUND WHILE CONSERVATIVE SPEAKERS TELL YOU ABOUT HOW GREAT YOU ARE! REGISTER NOW!”

So register I did- thirty times, to be exact. After that I emailed JJ stating in no uncertain terms that we would be there, a statement he agreed with immediately. Over the next few months we watched as Free Republic, Glenn Beck, FreedomWorks, and other leaders of the new post-apocalyptic conservative movement hyped it up as much as they could. T-shirts by FreedomWorks, charter buses by FreedomWorks, sign ideas by FreedomWorks! Just like the first round of tea parties, this was astroturfing at its finest.

Last Thursday we went to JJ’s place and got right to it. Sign ideas were exchanged and improved upon, designs were reworked, and plans were made for Saturday morning. We were happy to find that two friends of the Train, T and La France, were willing to join us.

At noon on Saturday we met up at Union Station and finished some last minute sign coloring before hitting the streets with the first ever live incarnation of The Train. Witness what we’re provisionally referring to as The Conductors:

From Union Station it was only a few blocks to the Capitol, where thousands of confused angry conservatives had set up camp:

The event was like a Free Republic thread come to life, with sign content ranging from merely confusing to hideously offensive. The people there needed no prompting before flying off the handle into all sorts of baffling rants. T was a lightning rod for crazy people, with one woman lecturing him about how he should never compare himself to black people- because, she explained, black people are “willing to do anything,” including “raping and killing.” One ongoing theme we noticed among the signs were ones wondering aloud why people keep labeling them racists. Perhaps we’ll never know…

Still, many of the people who came up to T ended with far more lighthearted encounters, including this woman who was delighted to meet Bobby Jindal’s nephew:

JJ had taped a copy of Obama’s birth certificate to his chest, which ended up being a perfect complement to the many signs demanding that Obama release his birth certificate and/or go back to Kenya. Here JJ poses with one Birther who studiously refused to acknowledge our repeated references to where she could, in fact, find a certification of live birth for one Barrack Obama:

Hahaha she’s literally within inches of it. Damn that Obama, able to hide it within plain sight! Some people went over the top with their preparations, including the owners of this lovely vehicle:

La France clearly approves. We all took plenty of opportunities to put our signs in the background of the major photo-ops, like a Where’s Waldo that ends with bewildered conservatives staring at lemonparty:

Over the course of two hours we took pictures with and spoke to hundreds of conservatives. Out of all of these people only one realized that we weren’t being entirely on the level. “Are you guys for real?” (pause) “No, you guys aren’t for real.” For the most part people looked at our signs and approved, spotting nothing amiss. One man came up and said he was glad to see that it wasn’t just old people hitting the streets- I didn’t have the heart to tell him that actually yes, it was only old people who had come out unironically. Age may have been at least somewhat related to one notable feature of the rally: a large percentage of the protestors brought lawn chairs and merely sat on them, signs planted in the ground to the side. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a group which has spent decades deriding protests now finds itself wholly unable to pull one off with any sense of energy today.

It’s worth noting that while conservatives had a 0.01% success rate for detecting our mockery, journalists were dead on, 2 for 2. We spoke to people from Media Matters and, both of whom recognized our game immediately. They were kind enough not to blow our cover in front of the great masses of the people, and Alex Koppelman from Salon was awesome enough to include us in his article about the event!

One final note about numbers- our sense was that the crowd wasn’t larger than 10 or so thousand where we were. Police and firemen estimates are claiming 60,000 for all three events combined, which is only 1,940,000 people lower than the number being thrown around by Michelle Malkin and Free Republic. I’ll put up some random pictures of especially ridiculous protestors later today or tomorrow.

All in all, I’d like to say that the first convention of The Conductors was a great success.