Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Holy crap!

I don't know how I missed this, but apparently California is going to just go ahead and create statewide universal health care.

Nice job, guys.

As goes the 5th largest economy in the world, so goes some other states, hopefully.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Against it all

I don't even like the Democrats that much. On trade, they sold their souls, and it wasn't even for rock n' roll. That I could understand. They're nowhere on health care reform, and their answers on foreign policy are that they're not George Bush.

But it's that last point that has me pulling for them. In a sane world, that Party A is not the Party B would not be significant enough for me bust my ass for their election prospects. But not being the Republicans these days is saying something. We don't live in a sane world. We live in one where the following seems like sound government policy:
The bureaucratic brainstorm was straightforward — simple-minded is, perhaps, a more appropriate description — don't pay doctors, hospitals and their army of auxiliaries tending to indisposed old folks and the afflicted disabled for their labors in the last nine days of the current fiscal year. Instead, send them a check for what you owe them, sometime after the first of October, the start of the government's fiscal '07. In essence, those doctors, hospitals et al. are making an involuntary loan of nine days' pay without interest.

That way, point out the gleeful budgeteers and Medicare pooh-bahs, all of whom presumably are glowing with health, Uncle Sam's Medicare tab this fading fiscal year will be $5.2 billion less than it otherwise would have been. Or at least would seem to be $5.2 billion less — in Washington, as we all know, appearance and reality are not invariably the same phenomena.

Got that? The Republican idea of sound government doesn't mean making it more sound, gosh no. It means not paying people for vital services they're rendering, all in the name of saving a few bucks to make your budget forcast sound more palatable for voters.

Bedtime for demoracy indeed.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

What if we win?

Close personal friend Chris Bowers asks that all-important question: What do we do if the planets align, and not-insane people start having a hand in running the country:
Even though I am probably tempting fate by asking this, with chances that Democrats will actually win control of at least one branch of congress now very real, what should we do once we are actually governing? This is something I have spent virtually no time thinking about, but it is at least worth considering. My first reaction would be to pass a series of bills that Bush could not possibly veto, such as a real minimum wage hike and earmark reform. Then, I think we should move into passing popular legislation that Bush will probably veto, such as rolling back the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, fixing the hideous Medicare bills, and global warming initiatives. From that point on, it is time to investigate, investigate, investigate, especially when it comes to all things Iraq. Don't impeach or censure right away, but keep saying hat all options are on the table (thus drawing more attention to the investigations without it seeming like revenge for Clinton). Also, we need to make John McCain vote against a lot of things that are popular and progressive too.
I like that last part especially. People get weak-in-the-knees for some reason when it comes to Saint John, and I've never been able to figure out why. He's a conservative senator from the Sun Belt. He's not insane, but he's as capable as pandering to insane people as any other prominent republican. As for actual policy proscriptions, the only thing I'd add is that I'd push the ever-loving crap out of energy independence legislation. Fuel efficiency standards, different fuels, etc, all would be things I'd force the President to veto.

A sign of the times

The following is a cautionary tale. I've posited earlier my feelings that things are headed in a serious and dark direction. You can expect to see more of the following:
A geography teacher who was reprimanded and placed on paid administrative leave for refusing to remove Chinese, Mexican and United Nations flags from his Carmody Middle School classroom has decided to part ways with the school.

The teacher, Eric Carmody, was suspended for violating a 2002 law prohibitng the display of flags of foreign nations in classrooms. That's right, it is a state offense to display the flags of foreign nations in a classroom setting.

Could you create a more perfect example of the American instinct for the devaluation of the rest of the world? This is just one example of how the static curtain is drawn around the nations borders, shielding from sensitive eyes the fact that others exist. I call it a static curtain, because unlike Russia, the US has information structures in place that preclude the possibility of shutting out the rest of the world altogether.

No, it's a matter of emphasis, reptition, and normative valuation. This is what The Weakerthans sing about in 'past due', off their album Reconstruction Site:
"the Tyranny of framing our attention, with all the eyes our eyes no longer see."
You can bet that the students of Carmody's school have learned a valuable lesson about the status accorded people outside our borders, and it won't be a positive one. We're forfeiting our future as a leader in the world scene so hack politicians like this schmuck can earn plaudits by the local yokels by saying the following:
Former state Rep. Carl Miller, who sponsored legislation in 2002 strengthening a 1971 law restricting foreign flag displays, said the school was right to put Hamlin on leave and should not have let him return so soon.

Miller, a Democrat from Leadville, disagreed with Jefferson County Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, who said the outcome was a "win-win situation."

"The only win-win I see is that Mr. Hamlin wins, China wins, Mexico wins and the United Nations wins," he said.
Yeah, that's right. I hate to see other nations win anything--like say--understanding of their culture and history by a young generation of Americans. That'd be a freakin' crime. The highest degree of respect is accorded to the flakes who think that this seriously moves our country forward somehow. This is the natural result of giving power to the Montgomery Gentry philosophers of the world, the ones with a real understanding of how the real (American) world works.

This is where reflexive "We're #1-ism" gets you. It is a criminal act in the state of Colorado to show another flag in a classroom setting. A teacher is losing his job for exposing children to the sight of foreign flags. I bet there's precious little that his union can do about it for him, since he clearly and knowingly violated a state law.

It's just freakin' ridiculous.

I missed this, but it's sick and it's wrong.

One more reason to not watch TV (I say this, now that our Comcast is fixed):
On Good Morning America, they just hosted a consultant advising employees worrying about downsizing to work lots of overtime, make sure not to take any sick days, and subordinate family concerns to whatever their boss wants them to do. Then in response to a question from the host about the stock market, she responded that high unemployment "sounds like a bad thing," but isn't so bad: it's good for the stock market because it means the Fed won't raise interest rates.

What she didn't say is that high unemployment makes the stock market go up because the prospect of economic insecurity coerces workers into doing all the things that she's on air advising them to do.

Intel head Andy Grove alluded to this strategy of management through fear in his book Only the Paranoid Survives, writing "Fear plays a major role in creating and maintaining such passion." He encourages managers to foster “fear of being wrong and fear of losing” in employees as “powerful motivators.”

Indeed, fear of losing freedom from want will powerfully motivate people to work through illness and past their hours on the clock.
Because God knows, if there's something more important than pleasing your boss to demonstrate your worthiness to keep your livelihood, I've never seen it. Bosses are never wrong, and continually sucking up to them, depriving yourself of sleep, peace of mind, and time to recuperate from illness should show corporate America just how deserving of keeping that dead-end job you really are.

Blah.

I wish my parents had loved me enough to buy me these.

















And does anyone else think they look a little too much like Klan robes? Just wondering. Via someone or another.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

As if I needed another reason to keep on keepin' on

Me First & the Gimme Gimmes release their anticipated take on country classics:













I'm especially looking forward to "Eastbound and Down", and of course, "Sunday Morning, Coming Down." How could a punk rock band NOT cover that song? It would be impossible. Irresponsible. Bad in general.

Islamo-whosit?

Matthew Yglesias on why saying Islamofascist (which the President did the other day) is dumb, dumb, dumb:
That aside, however, it's worth calling attention to the function of this rhetoric. "Fascist," in this context, just roughly means "bad." Add in the "Islamic" and what you come to is the conclusion that we're in a war and that the enemy in this war is Muslims who subscribe to bad ideologies. This has the consequence of taking a set of institutionally and ideologically distinct actors -- Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Iraq, Iran, Syria, al-Qaeda, the Mahdi Army, Iraqi insurgents, etc. -- and treating them as a single phenomenon. To do so would be a serious mistake.
Because glossing over differences among these kinds of groups has worked so well as a strategy for keeping us safe.

Idiots.

Read 'em and weep

I found this via Digbysblog this morning, and it pretty much rang damn true. Especially saddening was the following (admittedly long) passage:
Undecided voters don't think in terms of issues. Perhaps the greatest myth about undecided voters is that they are undecided because of the "issues." That is, while they might favor Kerry on the economy, they favor Bush on terrorism; or while they are anti-gay marriage, they also support social welfare programs. Occasionally I did encounter undecided voters who were genuinely cross-pressured--a couple who was fiercely pro-life, antiwar, and pro-environment for example--but such cases were exceedingly rare. More often than not, when I asked undecided voters what issues they would pay attention to as they made up their minds I was met with a blank stare, as if I'd just asked them to name their favorite prime number.
Yup. I've done enough canvassing door-to-door for good people with good ideas to see exactly that dynamic play out. It has often frustrated me that these 'undecideds' are given the credibiltiy that they are by the media. You're a citizen. Do a little, just a little, heavy lifting and decide something, for Christ's sake. More wisdom:
But the very concept of the issue seemed to be almost completely alien to most of the undecided voters I spoke to... So I tried other ways of asking the same question: "Anything of particular concern to you? Are you anxious or worried about anything? Are you excited about what's been happening in the country in the last four years?"

These questions, too, more often than not yielded bewilderment. As far as I could tell, the problem wasn't the word "issue"; it was a fundamental lack of understanding of what constituted the broad category of the "political." The undecideds I spoke to didn't seem to have any intuitive grasp of what kinds of grievances qualify as political grievances. Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief--not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue. It was as if you were telling them that Kerry was promising to extend summer into December.
Yup again. Much ink has been spilled over Democrats varying successes at 'reframing' issues like wages, the environment, etc. to more suit 'values' voters (whoever the hell they are). Much less discussion has taken place over the idea that the very idea of issues may need to be reframed and that people would be educated that they ever could or should care about such things.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Eiiyeee!!!!

Apple? What the hell are you people doing? Fix this mess, now.

I buy Apple products. I have convinced others to do so. I am ashamed.

Ahhh,countability

An attack on a sovereign nation's native soil results in an ill-conceived war with high civilian and military casualties. The nation, reeling from this blow to its image and sense of morality, debates the proper method of accountability. Should they use an independent committee? One appointed by its highest court?

Where is this fabled land?

Israel.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's like a big waxy ball of crazy this week.

Tramm Hudson is running for congress to replace Katherine Harris. Tramm Hudson grew up in Alabama. This apparently entitles Tramm to pearls of wisdom like the following:

"...I know this from my own experience; blacks are not the greatest swimmers, or may not even know how to swim."


Yep.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Is this it?

Are we finally to the tipping point where America finally lurches over the line to straight-up totalitarianism?

Is that an over-emotional, knee-jerk question?

I don't think it is. You're starting to see some opinions in the mass media that would have been squelched a few years ago even, some really hideous ideas that are slithering their way into the mass consciousness. Here are a few examples:

Human skin tag Bo Dietl calls Islam a 'johnny-come-lately religion', made up of people 'who pray to a guy who wants to kill you. ' No one him calls him an out-and-out racist on this nationally syndicated program. His comments go unchecked.

A CNN news anchor blithely quips that 'some people' refer to primary winner Ned Lamont as the Al-Qaeda candidate. He retains his job for uknown reasons. After all, it's not like he called the President a nazi or anything. Oh no, that'd be beyond the pale.

An incumbent candidate for Senate refers to his opponents volunteer as 'macaca', which is a racial slur for someone of north african descent. He later apologizes, saying the word sounded to him like 'mohawk.' The intended victim of the slur says he doesn't wear a mohawk, but a mullet. The candidate for Senate, being from Virginia should be hogtied and rubbed in mayo for not knowing the difference between a mohawk and a mullet. He remains a tool, regardless.

Prominent 'conservative thinkers' let us know how they really feel about democracy, vis a vis Joementum's staggering defeat last week:
“Polarized primary voters shouldn’t be allowed to define the choices in American politics.”
Yeah, you really hate to see voters turning out an incumbent that no longer shares their views. That's a bit much to ask for. And the question is not explicitly, but who exactly should be allowed to define the choices in American politics, if not the voters? Now that's an interesting question.

The prominent conservative think rag puts a blatantly racist cartoon on its cover, lamenting the loss of Joe's (apparently) hereditary seat in the Senate.

And there are plenty of other signs that not only are things not going well, but that one of the parties really is moving toward fascism. Openly. Honestly.

Which means, I'm not a Democrat after all (whew!). I'm just anti-fascist. But frankly, while I think the blogsophere is good for some things (like fact checking and electioneering), I don't think it can resist what is becoming a clearly defined threat to democracy itself. It is fine and well to sit on the intertubes and pick apart conservative talking points for being obviously fake and flawed, but standing up to real authoritarianism? I don't think so. And depending on either the media or the Democrats to do something about it?

I'll wait while you clean your spilled coffee off the desk.

So, I don't really know what to do at this point. I'm open to suggestions, though.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Talladega Nights

Movie review time. Talladega Nights was the truest depiction of that rarified individual--the Southern person--I've seen in a while. Will Farrell gives the dirt on the making of the film. Meanwhile, Hesiod posits that George Bush is really Jean Gerard, Ricky Bobby's archrival (a gay, jazz-loving Frenchman).

No, really.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you:

Or, break out the tinfoil hats!

Via TPMmuckraker, we learn that the US hurried the British on arresting those airline hijackers:
NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

Last week, you may recall the Bush administration and Joe Lieberman (who just had his ass handed to him in last week's primary vote) tried to tie the airline plot bust with their own sagging political fortunes. Which is sick, but completely predictable. As in, 'Gee, I think the sun will rise in the East, and the Bush administration will try and use something to their own political advantage, whether or not doing so betrays their sociopathic lack of ethics." That kind of predictable.

So did they move the Brits to bust that plot just so they could help themselves, and their old buddy Joe out? Just to give Bush the opportunity to talk about his favorite subject (despite the fact that a majority of American no longer trust Bush to handle terrorism)?

Dunno.

But they know how to milk the media like a cow.

They know that jouranlists have an F5 key that reads "this polls well for Republicans, while Democrats are in disarray" at just the time when the consensus they've connived us all into believing was falling apart--Lebanon is on fire, Iraq is an open civil war, and Joe Lieberman gets knocked out at the polls despite his every attempt to cling to power like a vampire. So while I hate to think that our elected representatives woulds stoop to something like this, I do notice that as I type this, the sun did rise in the East this morning, as is its wont.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Crooks and liars

Yes, they're the subject of nearly every word I type on my blog, but also it's a great website with tv clips that are funny. This one from the Daily Show shares more intelligence about what's going on in the Middle East than any real television show I've seen all year.

Watch it.

Good for them

The AFL-CIO announced it is organizing day laborers, which is good for the laborers, but good for the rest of the AFL-CIO's construction members, whose wages are being undercut by a presence of mobile, unorganized, undocumented workers.

It will be difficult, but it is worth doing.

big damn shocker

Republicans are willing to crassly exploit the british terror plot for their own electoral gain.

Who knew? I mean, who knew they'd be so transparent about it?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jeez China, take it down a notch. Ever hear of a vaccine?

Apparently China is engaged in a massive campaign to put down all dogs within a certain radius of a town in the throes of a rabies outbreak. Check out the following:
The outrage was sparked this week, when it emerged that police and public health officials in Mouding - a county in Yunnan province - clubbed, electrocuted and buried alive 50,000 dogs to control the disease. Regardless of vaccinations, no animal was spared apart from police and army dogs.
Man, that's just terrible. Shame on you, China, shame on you.

Shit.

There's a boycott on Starbucks. I knew it was only a matter of time, but they just fired the lead union organizer in the effort to organize baristas with the Industrial Workers of the World.

So Starbucks, damn you for making me do this.

Friday, August 04, 2006

That was weird.

I got 40 or so emails to my hotmail account that did not show up in the comments, but which arrived as though they did. Sophisiticated home loan operations, I guess.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Once again, you'd think shame and self-loathing over such a transparent motive would still their hands...

But it likely won't. That whole "we're gonna raise the minimum wage! We are, but first you gotta get rid of the estate tax and a whole bunch of other things." That whole thing? Just get a load of this:
"The CBO estimates that even under current law a mere 485 small businesses are affected by the estate tax each year — note that that's not 485 thousand or 485 million, it's 485 — and if the exemption were raised to $3.5 million, a change that even Democrats endorse, the number would be reduced to 94.

Ninety. Four. The entire business community is practically giving itself whiplash making a U-turn on the hated minimum wage in order to reduce the estate tax on 94 businesses each year. Wow."

Yeah. Think about that. 94 busineses may qualify for a tax credit that is holding hostage a raise for 6.6 million people.

Jesus wept, I'm disgusted. And you hear all kinds of blather about how the minimum wage should never be tied to inflation for automatic increases. You just can't give the lowest paid among us raises automatically. It leads to the apocalpyse or something. Well, my friends, behold this:
The estate tax exemption, which is $7 million per couple ($3.5 million per individual) in 2009 under current law, would rise gradually starting in 2010, reaching $10 million per couple ($5 million per individual) by 2015, with the exemption amount indexed for inflation after 2015. (emphasis mine) The top estate tax rate, which is set at 45 percent in 2009 under current law, would decrease gradually starting in 2010 to 30 percent by 2015.
Weird. So I guess some things, the really important things, can be indexed to inflation. Just not wages. Just not people's ability to pay their bills, or put food on their table, or provide for their families. Just not that. I repeat, Jesus wept, I am disgusted.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I leave you people alone for three days...

And you get busted driving drunk, cursing out the police, and indicting the jews for all of humanity's misery. Good lord, people.

The folks at the Huffington Post are about to crap themselves over this. I have to admit, I do find it somewhat amusing that Mel Gibson was so flagrantly speeding (only going 87 in a 45, ocifer) that he correctly reasoned that the jews were to blame for his misfortune--by which I mean the misfortune of correctly getting arrested for being a menace to society. Meanwhile, how drunk was he? The good people of the Poor Man Institute break it down for you:

blood alcohol level presumed source of all world’s problems
0.00-0.08 people who don’t listen to each other
0.09 that guy over there who keeps looking at you sideways like he’s got some kind of a fucking problem and wants his teeth kicked out
0.10 your so-called “friends” who act like they’re your friends to your face but really they aren’t really your real friends
0.11 the government
0.12 the Jews < ----- Mel was here
0.13 the Belgians
0.14 the English monarchy
0.15 the media
0.16 the Jew media
0.17 the Belgian government Jew media police
0.18 the International Society of Ham Radio Enthusiasts
0.19 the DMV
0.20 the KGB
0.21 the KLF
0.23 Emerson, Lake & Palmer
0.24 Emerson and Lake, but not Palmer. Palmer’s all right, man. Those other guys, they think it’s all about that fucking woo-woo stuff, and they think they’re so great, but it’s not about that bullshit, you know? Palmer, man, you’re all right. You’re all right. And you know what? I don’t care how gay it sounds: I fucking love you, man!
0.25 Emerson, Lake & The Jews
0.26 Geddy Lee*
0.27 + Canada

* This is actually true.

So there you have it. I myself am opposed to Palmer, and Lake, but not Emerson. I like all that transcendental stuff, man.