Archive for March, 2009

Just because you’re paranoid…

Mar 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

doesn’t mean they’re not out to get Andrew Breibart.

A digital war has broken out, and the conservative movement is losing. Read the comment sections of right-leaning blogs, news sites and social forums, and the evidence is there in ugly abundance. Internet hooligans are spewing their talking points to thwart the dissent of the newly-out-of-power.

We must not let that go unanswered.

Uninvited Democratic activists are on a mission to demoralize the enemy – us. They want to ensure that President Obama is not subject to the same coordinated, facts-be-damned, multimedia takedown they employed over eight long years to destroy the presidency – and the humanity – of George W. Bush.

You get the gist. It’s the usual fringe template; use a war metaphor and fashion your prose to invoke a David versus Goliath scenario where every battle is against the odds and the good guys are woefully outnumbered. The crazies have been singing this song for years and if the message fails to resonate it’s because the media is liberal. When you ask them to stop dumping hog shit into your ground water you’re “insane”. When you talk about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals you’re plotting to destroy the second amendment. So I guess it would naturally follow that when you disagree with them in the comments sections of blogs it’s an act of war. Even worse, they face a foe that “does not believe in rules and decorum”:

The Huffington Post, Daily Kos and other left-leaning sites benefit from the right’s belief that there are rules and decorum in political debate and civic engagement. Of course, every now and then, a curious right-winger will go in and engage in discussion at a left-wing site, but rarely under purely disingenuous and mass coordinated means.

So rare, apparently, that Breitbart would be hard pressed to provide us with an example.

Fringe blogs get a lot of mileage out of writing “librulz are hippocrits!!!” porn wherein they compare the actions of an individual with some fantasy ideological rulebook and deduce that the person in question is a two-faced liar for not adhering to the standards placed upon them by their critics. This sort of fare makes up about fifty percent of the content on any right-wing outlet. Throw in the ubiquitous “somebody’s gettin’ somethin’ that they don’t deserve!!” articles, posts, or editorials and you’re steadily approaching seventy five percent.
“We’re under attack!!!” articles make up a sizable portion of the rest. Their problem (and our benefit) is that they still believe that this template will work for them. They think that the only problem is that they’re either not saying it loud enough or as often as they should. It’s the belief that lost them the ’08 election. They thought that if they called Obama a socialist long enough people would believe their “librulz r teh problem” shtick that has served them for almost two decades. That methodology worked well when there was a compliant television and newspaper media ready and willing to give whatever bone-headed conspiracy theory, childish label, or baseless accusation airtime (and credence). The Internets changed all of that and the Republicans have been trying to play catch up ever since for a variety of reasons. In the case of Breitbart the problem he’s addressing is the two-way communicative nature of the internet. I say problem because since the seventies the Republican Party has long relied upon emotive issues and fear mongering to advance their agenda and that type of message only does well when the communication is delivered in one direction with as little feedback as possible so you can see how a discussion board poses a bit of a issue. Breitbart’s answer, not surprisingly, is more “man the battle stations” hubris as if his readers haven’t already internalized what he’s saying to begin with. They’ve always been on a permanent war footing, they just haven’t figured out yet that they’ve lost the battle.

-mg

Franken wins again, Coleman will appeal again.

Mar 31, 2009 in Election crap

So pretty much everybody knows Coleman is just keeping the case going so that Democrats have one less vote in the Senate, right?

I really can’t imagine, especially after Al Gore was pilloried for trying to get one decent recount, that a Democrat could cynically appeal over and over again without the right screaming from every outlet they possess, with the Beltway piling on. Alas, such is the way of things…

-jb

Gentlemen, Get Out Your Talking Points!

Mar 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

Stock market has best month since when, now? I know our right-leaning friends will have a whole host of excuses, yes-buts, hem-haws, and distractions to dish out when they hear this, but their friend TT would like to remind them that they’re not really fooling anybody. Take your medicine. The dangerous socialist illegal alien president’s doing all right. Besides which, aren’t you guys the originators of the “give the president’s plan a chance to work” whine? Weren’t you dishing that line when there were actual American lives hanging in the balance?

-TT

Oh man, call the cops!

Mar 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

My basement grow operation:

Some Bhut Jolokia trays.

Some Bhut Jolokia trays.

More myth-busting about government health-care

Mar 30, 2009 in Health Care

A sublime article in The New Republic makes the case that government health care could stifle innovation- and then demolishes it:

The great breakthroughs in the history of medicine, from the development of the polio vaccine to the identification of cancer-killing agents, did not take place because a for-profit company saw an opportunity and invested heavily in research. They happened because of scientists toiling in academic settings. “The nice thing about people like me in universities is that the great majority are not motivated by profit,” says Cynthia Kenyon, a renowned cancer researcher at the University of California at San Francisco. “If we were, we wouldn’t be here.” And, while the United States may be the world leader in this sort of research, that’s probably not–as critics of universal coverage frequently claim–because of our private insurance system. If anything, it’s because of the federal government.

The irony is staggering:

The single biggest source of medical research funding, not just in the United States but in the entire world, is the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Last year, it spent more than $28 billion on research, accounting for about one-third of the total dollars spent on medical research and development in this country (and half the money spent at universities). The majority of that money pays for the kind of basic research that might someday unlock cures for killer diseases like Alzheimer’s, aids, and cancer. No other country has an institution that matches the NIH in scale. And that is probably the primary explanation for why so many of the intellectual breakthroughs in medical science happen here.

There’s no reason why this has to change under universal health insurance. NIH has its own independent funding stream. And, during the late 1990s, thanks to bipartisan agreement between President Clinton and the Republican Congress, its funding actually increased substantially–giving a tremendous boost to research. With or without universal coverage, subsequent presidents and Congress could ramp up funding again–although, if they did so, they would be breaking with the present course. It so happens that, starting in 2003, President Bush and his congressional allies let NIH funding stagnate, even though the cost of medical research (like the cost of medicine overall) was increasing faster than inflation. The reason? They needed room in the budget for other priorities, like tax cuts for the wealthy. In this sense, the greatest threat to future medical breakthroughs may not be universal health care but the people who are trying so hard to fight it.

Yeah, that last part…not so surprising. Conservativism might mean something if it hadn’t been hijacked by corporate greed. Rightwingers are consistently useless:

Of course, the idea of involving the government in these decisions is anathema to many conservatives–since, they argue, the private sector is bound to make better decisions than a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington. But, while that’s frequently true in economics, health care may be an exception. One feature of the U.S. insurance system is its relentless focus on short-term good. Private insurers have little incentive to pay for interventions that don’t yield immediate benefits, because they are gaining and losing members all the time. As a result, money invested on patient health may very well help a competitor’s bottom line. What’s more, the for-profit insurance industry–like the pharmaceutical and device industries–responds to Wall Street, which cares more about quarterly filings than long-term financial health. So there’s relatively little incentive to spend money on the kinds of innovations that yield long-term, diffuse benefits–such as the creation of a better information infrastructure that would help both doctors and consumers judge what treatments are necessary when.

Let this truth reside in you:

You don’t have to choose between universal access and innovation. It’s possible to have both–as long as you do it right.

Sounds like all we have to do is keep conservatives out of the government so they can’t screw up health care too. One-party Republican rule taught us that you can’t run government programs effectively when you hate them.

-jb

We wouldn’t want the government rationing care!

Mar 30, 2009 in Health Care

As always, the fleeting nature of health insurance simply denies people care outright. And it’s getting worse:

(Health care) issues are moving to the forefront as the Obama administration and Congress gear up for discussions about how to reform the healthcare system so that Americans won’t be rejected for insurance.

It’s especially timely because growing numbers are looking for individual health insurance after losing their jobs. On top of that, small businesses, which make up the bulk of South Florida’s economy, are frequently finding health policies too expensive and are dropping coverage, sending even more people shopping for insurance.

Even worse, you may be able to afford insurance, or willing to bite the bullet and pay for it even though you can’t afford it, but you won’t be allowed it anyway:

Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones? You’ll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis? Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied.

What’s more, you can discover that if you lie to an insurer about your medical history and drug use, you will be rejected because data-mining companies sell information to insurers about your health, including detailed usage of prescription drugs.

It’s their job to game you.

The problem is, material available on the Web shows that people who have specific illnesses or use certain drugs can’t buy coverage.

”This is absolutely the standard way of doing business,” said Santiago Leon, a health insurance broker in Miami. Being denied for preexisting conditions is well known, but when a person sees the usually confidential list of automatic denials for himself, “that’s a eureka moment. That shows you how harsh the system is.”

Health care reform can give us a system where nobody is denied coverage. You may not get a bionic heart, but when you lose your job you’ll still be able to go to the doctor.

Secondly, real health care reform would mean that you don’t go into debt over your medical care.

People are losing their jobs, losing their medical insurance, going into debt trying to stay healthy, and all the while private insurance companies are figuring out ways to eliminate their risks so their CEOs can get ungodly bonuses. Gotta pay for that private plane!

The only forces slowing us down and preventing reform are Republicans who swear to us that if we do something about it, we might as well replace the stars and stripes with a sickle and hammer.

As always, they are fundamentally unserious when it comes to running this country. Fever-dream ideologies spun by Rush Limbaugh and corporate think-tanks will not so much save us from communism as return us to a feudal state.

-jb

Infomercial comedy gold.

Mar 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Vince Shlomi of ShamWow fame was charged with felony assault for beating a hooker in a Miami hotel. What a douche bag.

You following me camera guy?

Are you catching this camera guy?

SOCIALISM!!!

Mar 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Tomorrow’s Republican talking point.

-mg

Shorter Krugman: Geitner = weak.

Mar 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Walleyes are biting (apparently).

Mar 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

I counted ten fisherman shoulder to shoulder under the Sumner Avenue bridge in Humboldt, Iowa Saturday morning. My dad and I bought our licenses and headed out in forty degree weather. No walleyes but the bass were slamming swim-baits where we were.

-mg

Why torture doesn’t work.

Mar 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Because the person you’re torturing will say anything to stop it.

When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.

The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.

Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.

I think I remember hearing about the alleged efficacy of Zubaida’s information elsewhere on the Internets:

If the prisoner broke within seconds, and it prevented just one terrorist attack, and saved just one innocent life, it was worth it!

Except in the case of the two that we now know about, Padilla or Zubaida, none of the above was true so I guess it follows that it was not a success. Not the stories they told their captors or the stories we were told by the government. And these two were held up as proof of our victories in the GWOT.

“We spent millions of dollars chasing false alarms,” one former intelligence official said.

Despite the poor results, Bush White House officials and CIA leaders continued to insist that the harsh measures applied against Abu Zubaida and others produced useful intelligence that disrupted terrorist plots and saved American lives.

I never doubted that George W. Bush would go down as one of the worst presidents in American history but I didn’t think the realization would be this swift. Apparently there’s a lot of people out there that need to clear their consciences and I have a feeling that stories like the above are only going to hasten the flow of information that details just how low that administration sunk to.

-mg

The Iraq War is finally justified.

Mar 28, 2009 in Iraq

Hooray!

The fact that Obama is instituting Iraq-honed practices in Afghanistan refutes the assertion that the Iraq War was a fatal distraction from the war in Afghanistan. Vindicated, on the other hand, is Christopher Hitchens, who has repeatedly made the case that the Iraq War would provide invaluable instruction in fighting jihadists going forward.

Oh.

Pretty fucking costly training exercise.

Moron.

-jb

These guys can’t get anything right.

Mar 26, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy, Uncategorized

The Republican Budget Plan? Talk to us next Wednesday.

Who could have guessed that Republicans don’t have any numbers or any idea how they’re going to pass it? Or that their ideas range from cutting taxes all the way to cutting taxes? I guess this when we’re all supposed to piss our pants in fear. That or piss ourselves laughing. I’m sure Wolf Blitzer is heralding it as The Great Republican Comeback. Oh, woops. I meant “The Great Republican Comeback?”.

“…raise taxes on virtually every American.”

No, Mike Pence, just the constituency that you represent. Note to Republicans: you might find it a little more advantageous to come up with some bullet-points that aren’t recycled from the McCain campaign. The cable news networks have shown themselves ready and willing to go to print and treat serious any stupid idea they come up with and today they unveil this turd? Not even the cable news ninnies could take it seriously.

-mg

Michael Steele pulls a Pee Wee Herman.

Mar 25, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

“I meant to do that.”

-mg

…and on the flip side.

Mar 25, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

Dick Morris, on the other hand, sums up completely what it means to be a Republican blogger*:

You know you’re venturing into tin-foil hat land when you make Bill O’Reilly cringe.

-mg

*I’m not buying this “but we’re conservatives!!” line that all the Republican blogs are repeating ad infinitum after the election. Limbaugh was the first to try and distance himself from the wreckage that is the Republican brand and it goes without saying that the online devoted soon followed. But how can you take them seriously? Especially after they spent the last eight years incinerating every last bit of their credibility by trying to see who could clap the loudest.

-mg

Bill Bennett: Officially not a conservative!

Mar 25, 2009 in Uncategorized

Put Bill Bennett’s name on the list alongside conservatives such as Kathleen Parker who are now “shills for the “liberal media”. Wingers reflexively wail “librul media” whenever they don’t get their way and it’s good to see that Bennett’s matured beyond that. He’ll lose some crazies for crossing over to the dark side but I’m sure he wont miss them.

-mg

Bush was a genius, Obama is a moron.

Mar 25, 2009 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives

The other shoe has dropped at Powerline:

The alternative universe that these folks manage to create for themselves is really quite something to behold. In their world, a man who was the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review and a constitutional law professor at a top law school is some sort of empty suit who is incapable of thinking or expressing a coherent thought without a teleprompter. A man who spent much of his childhood in Indonesia, has travelled extensively overseas, and who, by all accounts, is an avid student of foreign policy is some kind of ignoramus who knows nothing about the world.

But a man who was notorious for his struggles with the English language, who achieved everything in his life by virtue of his last name, a man who admittedly had no interest in foreign policy and had traveled nowhere prior to becoming president . . . that guy is worldly beyond measure, a “man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius.”

What’s really sad is that Hinderaker is not alone in this belief. If you read the right wing blogs, it’s just an accepted fact that Obama is a moron. It’s as if they think that if they say it over and over again, it will somehow catch on with the public at large.

It’s not “as if” they think that repetition will get it to catch on. They think precisely that. And they think they’re just “doing what you liberals did to Bush!”

The problem with this meme, of course, is that it’s so easily disproven. No one who watched Obama give his hour long prime time press conference last month–where he gave lengthy professorial answers to every question asked–would entertain for even a moment the suggestion that he is stupid or unknowledgeable or incapable of speaking without a teleprompter. The right wing blogosphere might as well be trying to convince the public that Obama is white.

But in the up-is-down world of the right wing echo chamber, anything goes, no matter how dumb.

It really does sink in after awhile how true this is: no matter how dumb. Oh, I know, it has to be crafted to strike some nerve, but often the nerve is nothing more than the collective insanity of rightwing dittohead cultists.

-jb

More Joe Stiglitz.

Mar 24, 2009 in Uncategorized

Why buying the “toxic” assets is bad, what happens if we let the banks go bust and how the bailout is the biggest redistribution of wealth upwards in the history of the country.

-mg

Conspiracy Theories Rock

Mar 24, 2009 in Uncategorized

Especially when they’re true. An SNL classic…

-jb

The case for drug legalizaton.

Mar 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

Those craven Bolsheviks at The Economist lay out the argument for drug legalization.

The Librul Media strikes again.

Mar 23, 2009 in Journamalism

Rice: “No one was arguing that Saddam Hussein somehow had something to do with 9/11.”

Rose: “Uhhhh…..okay, sure!”

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Rice couldn’t have made it in politics as far as she did unless she was an accomplished and shameless liar, but still. Holy shit.

-mg

7%.

Mar 23, 2009 in Polls

New poll concerning the publics perception of the AIG fiasco. (Note to Republicans: the poll did not implicate Franklin Delano Raines, Bill Clinton, any Bilderbergers or the Green Goblin in the financial collapse so it will seem to you to be another obvious ruse devised by the sinister Librul Media ™.)

There’s a lot of blame to go around when it comes to the $165 million in bonuses paid to executives at AIG, the insurance giant that has gotten $170 billion in federal aid. A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows that Americans hold AIG management itself most responsible.

Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) say AIG management is “most to blame for the fact that these bonuses were paid.” Almost one in five (19%) finger Congress, while 8% blame Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and 7% say President Obama bears responsibility.

We can draw one concrete conclusion from these numbers; that seven percent of the adults polled write for Republican blogs.

-mg

Oh, they were angry, they just didn’t have a Democrat to blame it on!

Mar 23, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

Sullivan gets into the minds of rightwingers fluffing themselves into a tizzy over Obama after two months:

So these posturing opportunists didn’t just sit back and play partisan games as Bush made left-liberalism inevitable and, in some respects, necessary as a response to this crisis of negligence, they now get to rant and rage as if they and Bush had nothing to do with this. But they did. They were critically part of the problem, enabling and abetting most of the (unconservative) policies that gave us this crisis. Rather than address that fact, which would require a certain amount of introspection and self-criticism (when did you last hear that from Malkin or Reynolds?), they pump up the outrage.

Okay, Wall Street saw finance as a big fun gambling game, but the right saw running the entire country as a football game between Republicans and Democrats. Obama may make his mistakes, but at least he’s trying to govern the country with some sense of concern about the country.

There are those who try to game the system and those who do the hard work and trust in its rewards. The Bush administration made too much of its mission about The Permanent Republican Majority, and thus Republicans have been nearly shut out from the government. Obama seems to believe that if he can actually improve things for America and do a good job as president, the good will flow from his deeds. He believes these things are their own reward.

Republicans not only failed in their mission, but still haven’t come to terms with their problems, including a rust-bucket ideology still tuned for quick soundbites instead of grappling with the problems at hand. As has been said, they only know how to campaign…not how to govern.

-jb

Kill Bill 1&2 in 60 seconds.

Mar 23, 2009 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

I actually thought Vol. 1 was an excellent little bit, but Vol. 2 was pure bloat. Suck on it, Quentin:

[youtube Ex0ANhZ1Y6o]

-jb

Why are we going in the wrong direction?

Mar 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

Answer: Wall Street can’t accept the fact that they’re broke and it’s up to the tax payer to make sure that they never have to face up to that reality.

-mg

Geithner: Fundamentally wrong.

Mar 22, 2009 in Barack Obama, Disappointing Dems, Economy

John Cole breaks down the skinny on Geithner’s plan:

The Illness- reckless and irresponsible betting led to huge losses
The Diagnosis- Insufficient gambling.
The Cure- a Trillion dollar stack of chips provided by the house.
The Prognosis- We are so screwed.

If Obama doesn’t see a problem with Geithner yet, well…

Look, Barack, let me fill you in on some insider liberal shit: We understand that firing Geithner so soon isn’t an inviting prospect politically. However, the effects will be short term, and your problem is long term.

Every single thing I’ve read about Geithner says: “I am Wall Street.” He’s a stock-a-holic. He gets wacky on the junk, the corrupt junk peddling that Wall Street thought was fun until it broke the country. He is unrepentant. So he must be balanced, and neutered.

President Obama only has a chance at curing what ails us if he can get somebody who understands why we are sick. He needs to get somebody who saw it coming in at #2 with everybody in the administration understanding that Geithner can be vetoed by that particular “subordinate.”

Krugman has been tap-dancing all over Geithner, so it’s very difficult to believe Geithner’s arguments are receiving critical treatment inside the WH.

Obama does seem to be aware of what’s being said by the grassroots on most particular issues, but let’s make sure he hears this message loud and clear: If Geithner stays in and remains the guiding force at the Treasury, and things play out as Krugman and others say they’re going to play out (DOOM), then Obama will own his share of the recession.

(PSA: Hi, rightwingers. No, that doesn’t mean Bush and the GOP’s policies of the last three decades aren’t to blame for getting us into this hole. Obama jumped into a burning building…I’d just appreciate him actually getting the people out of it before it collapses on them.)

We’ve still got some chances, and we are laying the groundwork for them, but Obama is ultimately wasting this moment experimenting with the same old/same old broken philosophies of Wall Street.

-jb

Don’t get too crazy on America!

Mar 20, 2009 in Music

Kick me in the arse if you like, but I blame Lil’ Miss (Mrs.) Samari for getting me to watch American Idol. I know, I know, yet I do find myself engaged in what these people are experiencing. It must be absolutely dizzying to go from mass auditions to playing Ten Little Indians in front of millions of people, with nothing to get you by but your talent/appeal. Unfortunately, the show often betrays its fundamental exclusion of good taste, and any artist who is too unique or even a hair short of generically universal in their appeal is unlikely to get the #1 spot. The other night Adam Lambert, not interested in being country on Country Music Week, blew the judges’ minds with what is apparently the “edgiest” thing American Idol has seen in eight years, a cover of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Ring of Fire”:

[youtube ZCXrygv1js0]

Simon Cowell should have his British citizenship revoked for trying to be the avatar of Nashville and pretend he didn’t know “what the hell” Lambert was doing. You’ve no idea people enjoy the occasional stylized less-than-brusque falsetto, Simon? Even Randy Jackson caught onto the Jeff Buckley vibe.

Lambert is an early fave to win and likely can do it if he doesn’t freak out the judges so badly again, but I’m thinking the guy is all about putting on a fucking show and getting his career off the ground regardless of where he ends up in the final tally. Given that Idol’s biggest stars tend to come from the sidelines (anybody buy a Taylor Hicks album lately?), it’s a smart move. Kudos to Lambert for representing a little taste.

-jb

Oh, the humanity!

Mar 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

Why you shouldn’t listen to Republicans when it comes to executive compensation limits…they didn’t want any at all.

-mg

To hell with Obama. We need Teddy Roosevelt pronto!

Mar 18, 2009 in Corporate shenanigans

Fuck AIG:

Edward Liddy, CEO of American International Group, warned a congressional panel Wednesday of “dire consequences” if the bailed-out insurer is allowed to fail.

So unless we fork over the loot the hostages will suffer. Awesome.

-mg

You peasant rabble!

Mar 18, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Corporate shenanigans

Should have expected Rush Limbaugh to pipe up trying to coax Republicans away from halfway making sense. How dare they forget to listen to their corporate masters?

“A lynch mob is expanding: the peasants with their pitchforks surrounding the corporate headquarters of AIG, demanding heads. Death threats are pouring in. All of this being ginned up by the Obama administration.”

Nevermind that Obama and team had to reverse themselves under public pressure…reality is rarely a restraint for Rush or his loyal Republicans. He may not convince them to walk off a plank on this one, but my ground reports tell me the real dittoheads are taking their marching orders.

This kind of stuff does scare corporate America, mind you. Rigging outrageous bonuses and rewards for failure has become popular sport in the boardrooms. Anybody willing to run defense for them will get heard on as many outlets as they can spare. But if the public doesn’t shift, expect a quick public surrender in order to facilitate private deal-wrangling to keep the order of things.

Rush Limbaugh realized long ago that the secret to getting ahead was to be a voice for the establishment, someone to tame the masses while the rich and powerful strengthened their positions and made off like bandits. Sometimes he isn’t so subtle about it. Back down, you ignorant peasants!

No, I don’t mean YOU! YOU aren’t like them, y’know, not if you side with ME, King Limbaugh! That makes you practically royalty.

-jb

John King has no self-awareness.

Mar 17, 2009 in Beltway-itis, Journamalism

More Dick Cheney Fellatio Watch: Andrew Sullivan gives credit to, then destroys the fawning John King, who seems to absorb GOP/Beltway memes like Bounty.

In King’s words, the black sites were simply “where they interrogate terror suspects,” in almost the exact same terms that the last president used to conceal what was done there. King then follows up by saying that Obama has “defined waterboarding as torture”, where the truth is that Obama has no more power to define waterboarding as torture than Cheney has in denying it. The law has always clearly and categorically defined it as torture.

But telling the truth – and confronting the powerful with it – ruins the aura of objectivity; and offends sources whom one needs for future scoops. It makes an interview unpleasant and confrontational, when both Cheney and King go out of their way to signal their familiarity and almost friendship with one another.

What did Dick Cheney do to turn the Washington press corps into a gang of wide-eyed aw-shucks golly-gee teenagers who want to be just like him when they grow up? How many times do these things need to be pointed out for John King to gain some self-awareness and sense of shame?

-jb

UPDATE: Greenwald brings out the nukes.

For many of these sycophantic, needy TV journalists, Dick Cheney is still the icon of Serious Protective Republican Authority — that which, more than anything, merits our deep respect and gratitude.

Golden Oldies

Mar 17, 2009 in Corporate shenanigans, Journamalism

If you have time to kill and need a laugh, flipping through old articles about Wall Street before the crash is always good for a chuckle. Followed by projectile vomiting. The “best and brightest” make for easy pickings, so I’ll ding another one off the head of wonder boy Andrew Sorkin for some of his corporate stenography in July:

It’s a controversial hypothesis, which others have put forward before, and it has sparked plenty of debate within the industry. But Mr. Schwarzman is convinced that the rule — known as FAS 157 — is forcing bookkeepers to overstate the problems at the nation’s largest banks.

“From the C.E.O.’s I talk with,” Mr. Schwarzman said during an interview on Monday morning, “the rule is accentuating and amplifying potential losses. It’s a significant contributing factor.”

Some of his bigwig pals in finance believe that Wall Street is in much better shape than the balance sheets suggest, Mr. Schwarzman said. The president of Blackstone, Hamilton E. James, goes even further. FAS 157, he said, is not just misleading: “It’s dangerous.”

Huh? So the Citigroups and Merrill Lynches of the world are writing off billions of dollars — but they haven’t actually lost the money?

Okay, honestly Sorkin does seem to cast doubt on the hypothesis over the course of the article, allowing opposing viewpoints to get their word in and noting that dubious subprimes may indeed be worthless. However, doesn’t this strike you as a bit of, “Is it actually dangerous to play pogo-stick with a loaded shotgun?”

Let’s remember who saw it coming and who twiddled their thumbs, smirking.

-jb

Kathleen Parker commits the ultimate sin.

Mar 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

You’d think that blowing two elections and losing both presidential and congressional authority might encourage Republicans to reflect on how and where they went wrong. That would be the rational course of action so therefore Republicans are doing the opposite and blindly lashing out at anyone that question their far-right orthodoxy.

Enter poor Kathleen Parker. Parker is the right-wing’s new object of scorn because she dared question the validity of the fringe’s favorite crutch; The Liberal Media conspiracy theory.

Tim Graham is pissed:

Pseudo-conservative Kathleen Parker’s ongoing method of getting her columns published in the Washington Post – bashing conservatives – took another sleazy turn on Sunday, with Parker asserting in the Post that conservatives who accuse the media of a liberal bias are “non-journalists” who stoking “ignorance,” like Rush Limbaugh (not to mention groups like the Media Research Center.)

That would seem to be a direct slap at MRC, who could be accused by a liberal of “demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so” (founded in 1987). Could there be a better way for Parker to bow and scrape before her syndicators at the Washington Post Company than to decry that American newspapers are the lifeblood of democracy, and they’re being unfairly maligned by ignorant and unprofessional hooligans?

Frankly, the idea that “drive-by pundits” who decry liberal bias are “non-journalists” is simply not true in many cases. Start with Bernard Goldberg, a long-time veteran of CBS. (I’m not a “non-journalist.” I’m a journalist who writes about journalism. Just because the Washington Post wouldn’t hire me doesn’t mean I’m not a journalist.)

Here’s the passage that raised Graham’s ire:

The biggest challenge facing America’s struggling newspaper industry may not be the high cost of newsprint or lost ad revenue, but ignorance stoked by drive-by punditry.

Yes, Dittoheads, you heard it right.

Drive-by pundits, to spin off of Rush Limbaugh’s “drive-by media,” are non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias.

After years of being a professional crank alongside such journalistic luminaries as Brent Bozell, Graham naturally picks up on the two topics that fringers live for; the “elitist” angle and scape-goating the oft cited but never proven “Librul Media.” Graham states that Parker is an out-of-touch elitist because she introduces the possibility (in an elitist newspaper!) that the liberal media conspiracy is an excuse used by the radical right to explain away their failures. And for her scant departure from Graham’s constricting ideological standards Parker is branded as being sleazy, or worse, a liberal sycophant. Really, “sleazy”??

Parker is an awful writer but she points out two things that should be obvious to anyone with eyes and ears. Limbaugh and his amen choir of right-wing bloggers are not journalists. They are commentators. And constantly claiming to be under attack by heathen librulz is the glue that holds them together. Even while the Republicans enjoyed the power of the executive, legislative and judicial branches they were carrying on about being beset on all sides by evil secularists and scheming sodomites because “fairness” and “balance” is not what they seek. It makes more sense once you understand what “liberal” means to people like Tim Graham. You’re a liberal if you are not actively promoting the agenda of the Republican party. Furthermore, you’re a liberal simply by disagreeing with them and trying to introduce a dialectic. Note Graham referring to Parker as a pseudo-conservative as if reverence to their liberal media conspiracy theories is the sole criteria. After all, I suppose, logic and reasoning are for the limp-wristed intelligentsia. Take Laura Ingraham for instance. Meghan McCain is now a tool of the liberal media because she asked Ingraham to stop talking about her big ass.

Newspapers cannot fulfill the impossible standard set by these far right-wing ideologues. Nor should they be made to feel like their current financial woes are in any way related. Print newspapers are suffering just like other print media are suffering. You don’t hear Limbaugh acolytes championing the demise of the phone book because yellow page publishers were too liberal do you?

-mg

Unquestioned maxims…

Mar 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

On not rewarding failure with tens of millions in bonuses:

If we hasten the flight of quality employees out of the company, that will cost us money…

Might you be hastening the flight of a bunch of damned gold-diggers who signed on knowing they could fail and still become wealthy?

Is the way to attract top-quality talent to make sure that the quality of your performance never matters?

The forces of the top 1% are out on the field today, trying to make the case that maybe taxpayers should flip the bill so a bunch of screw-ups can get rewarded with more than most of us will make in a lifetime, and we’d just better suck on it because that’s how capitalism works.

“Oh no, all contracts will be undermined!” dutiful servant of the master class, Andrew Sorkin, whinnies. As Glenn Greenwald notes, contracts are regularly thrown into legal dispute, and if the business community cannot recognize the fraudulence of AIG’s contracts, then all we’re doing is busting a criminal ring. Maybe an actual business community will rise from the ashes.

-jb

Countdown to “this is a Bush recovery”

Mar 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

-TT

Poor Cramer?

Mar 16, 2009 in Corporate shenanigans, Journamalism, Politics

Richard Cohen is responsible for some of the worst op-eds in existence. He’s so reliably offended when comedians puncture the Beltway/Wall St. bubble. Poor Jim Cramer didn’t know what was going down on Wall Street, as they didn’t know it was going to fail so soon and lost face/money…in other words, because he and other wealthy investors thought they could keep the whole con game going longer.

Glenn Greenwald provides the context Cohen ignores: Cramer admitted that he often knew corporations were lying to him and let it go. Cramer admitted he had engaged in dubious acts himself. The Beltway/Wall Street types are getting their panties in a bunch because Stewart is breaking the rule they have indoctrinated themselves with: Thou shall not question the powerful. Greenwald reminds the press that this is their job.

America sides with Stewart, and after America gets done kicking AIG’s ass, Cramer, the people at CNBC, the Beltway corporate media, and Wall Street would do well to heed the warning: Do not fuck me with a toilet plunger and tell me you’re shaking my hand.

-jb

Go Grassley!

Mar 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

Iowa Sen. Charles “Grassley says AIG executives should follow ‘the Japanese example’ by publicly apologizing and ‘do one of two things: resign or commit suicide,'” reports the Associated Press, quoting an appearance by the senator on talk radio, naturally.

-mg

Things to ponder.

Mar 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

It’s unfortunate that AIG didn’t actually have any, ya know, money to back up their credit default gambles because it’s giving the free markets such an unnecessarily bad rep. Isn’t there a way we could blame these regulatory over-sights on Teh Librulz?

-mg

Dick Cheney: Shouldn’t you be behind bars?

Mar 16, 2009 in Politics

I like Robert Gibbs. He treats the words of Dick Cheney with every ounce of contempt and disdain they deserve:

“I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy so they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal,” said Gibbs. “I will say that the president has made it quite clear that keeping the American people safe and secure is the most serious job he has each and every day. I think the president saw over the past seven-plus years the delay in bringing people the very people to justice that committed terrorist acts on this soil and on foreign soil. That delay in seeking swift and certain justice is what he decided to change in his executive order…. I think the American people will in this administration see those actors brought to the swift and certain justice that was not brought to them in the previous administration.”

Later, he added: “I think not taking economic advice from Dick Cheney may be the best possible outcome of yesterday’s interview.”

That’s Dick “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter” Cheney, mind you. How could anybody care what he thinks?

-jb

UPDATE: DougJ at Balloon Juice boils it down:

Dick Cheney still has higher status in the Village than Barack Obama. It’s that simple.

Laura I’m-a-man really shouldn’t point fingers.

Mar 16, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

Meghan McCain is way sexier than her. And smarter.

-jb

“Barbecue” pit.

Mar 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

In the backyard:

Anybody know how one of these is supposed to work? I can understand loading the front full of charcoal but I can’t understand what the rear chimney is for. It currently serves as a flower bed.

-mg

Fusion one step closer?

Mar 16, 2009 in Energy

Thomas Friedman is good at looking at fancy new tech and dropping his jaws in wonder. It’s about the only way I can relate to his general boneheadedness. Today he looks at recent advances in fusion reactors that suggest it might not be merely the dream of science fiction writers.

The way the N.I.F. works is that all 192 lasers pour their energy into a target chamber, which looks like a giant, spherical, steel bathysphere that you would normally use for deep-sea exploration. At the center of this target chamber is that gold can with its frozen hydrogen pellet. Once one of those pellets is heated and compressed by the lasers, it reaches temperatures over 800 million degrees Fahrenheit, “far greater than exists at the center of our sun,” said Moses.

More importantly, each crushed pellet gives off a burst of energy that can then be harnessed to heat up liquid salt and produce massive amounts of steam to drive a turbine and create electricity for your home — just like coal does today. Only this energy would be carbon-free, globally available, safe and secure and could be integrated seamlessly into our current electric grid.

Last Monday at 3 a.m., for the first time, all 192 lasers were fired at high energy precisely at once — no small feat — at the target chamber’s empty core. That was a major step toward “ignition” — turning that hydrogen pellet into a miniature sun on earth. The next step — which the N.I.F. expects to achieve some time in the next two to three years — is to prove that it can, under lab conditions, repeatedly fire its 192 lasers at multiple hydrogen pellets and produce more energy from the pellets than the laser energy that is injected. That’s called “energy gain.”

“That,” explained Moses, “is what Einstein meant when he declared that E=mc2. By using lasers, we can unleash tremendous amounts of energy from tiny amounts of mass.”

I’d want to keep that project funded.

-jb

Some people say…

Mar 15, 2009 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives

Republicans just want to help:

“Opponents of President Bush used the 2000 election results and the court decisions to question the legitimacy of President Bush to serve as President,” Posey said in a statement. “Opponents of President Obama are raising the birth certificate issue as a means of questioning his eligibility to serve as president. Neither of these situations are healthy for our Republic.”

Oh, dear! People are raising the issue? Who could they be?

Posey’s spokesperson told CNN that Posey takes President Obama’s word for it that he’s a citizen: “This was not meant as an insult to the president. It is simply meant as a way to clarify future election laws and to dispel the issue so we can move on with doing business for the country.”

Or he could take Obama’s birth certificate.

Is anybody really surprised by such reflexive lying from a Republican anymore? It seems they can only say such things because they know they are expected to fabricate.

-jb

Critique of science FAIL

Mar 15, 2009 in Science

Man spends entire op-ed railing against scientific research at universities, then rebuts self:

Does all this mean the system is broken? Surprisingly, no. Ultimately, science tends to be self-correcting, and flawed ideas are eventually recognized and disregarded. There really does seem to be a marketplace of ideas, and many good ideas eventually gain traction and persist, while many attractive but incorrect hypotheses eventually fall under the weight of compelling evidence. The system is far from perfect — especially with regard to the exploitation of the most junior (and most vulnerable) researchers, who support much of this ecosystem — but like capitalism, it may represent the best available option.

Okay, so why does this piece exist?

The writer, who worked as an endocrinologist and stem cell researcher at Harvard University, is now a management consultant in New Jersey.

Hey, WaPo, can I get some op-ed space to bitch about my old job?

-jb

Are we surrounded yet?

Mar 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

Tight lipped about Cramer.

Mar 14, 2009 in Journamalism, Media

Where is the gallant Joe Scarborough to defend him?

TVNewser reports that “MSNBC producers were asked not to incorporate the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart interview into their shows today.” By TVNewser’s count, Cramer’s Daily Show interview was only mentioned once on MSNBC today and that was during the White House press conference when a reporter asked for Obama’s reaction.

-mg

Obama states the obvious.

Mar 14, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy, Journamalism

The Washington Post delivers a virtually news-free op-ed disguised as journalism scolding Obama for pointing out the simple fact that he inherited Bush’s broken economy. This is “petty” and “divisive.”

Never mind that Republicans have been engaged in a campaign to fight Obama from day one for no reason other than pure politics. Now they’re ramping up efforts to portray Bush’s recession as Obama’s, something nobody could possibly take seriously. Again, however, the media’s idea of being non-partisan is to lay back and let Republicans say whatever they want about Democrats.

Rahm Emanuel is quoted for a reality check:

“The truth is that 98 percent of his speeches are about the future, and 2 percent are about inheritance,” Emanuel said. “Whereas I think for Republicans it’s 2 percent about the future, and 98 percent hope that the people have amnesia.”

The op-ed immediately follows with:

Until recently, the job of reminding the country of the Bush-era legacy had been left mostly to senior administration officials…

Because it certainly wouldn’t do for the Washington Post to remind people that we just got rid of Bush after 8 long years of fail, and that we knew six months ago that the problems he created would hang over most of Obama’s first term.

And while only Rahm Emanuel is quoted to counter the article’s intent, not only are two Republicans quoted, the idiot liar Eric Cantor and the crafty liar Ari Fleischer. Any insight? No, just crafted bullshit, dutifully and uncritically recited by the Post as the final word on the subject.

Tellingly, not one economist is cited. Thanks, WaPo, for blowing it.

-jb

Earmark FAIL?

Mar 14, 2009 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives, Politics

I find Lou Dobbs especially obnoxious. Last time I watched his show he started off chiding Obama for deficit spending and then immediately after the first commercial break he had a segment about how a majority of economists didn’t think that his stimulus package was large enough and “What was Mr. Obama going to do about it?!

And why should we care what Meghan McCain thinks?

-mg

Update: Straight from the good old “Librulz R Hippocrites!!!1!” file…Sarah Palin fluffer Nicolle Wallace takes a shot:

The president who promised to end earmarks can’t scrub them from a spending bill? Give me a break.

When did Obama promise to end earmarks?

Spring projects!

Mar 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

Gotta refinish the deck:

I’m pretty sure I know somebody with a pressure washer that I could use to blast it down with some detergent and then re-stain/re-seal it.  It’s looking pretty dry so I’m guessing it’s going to need more than one coat.

My pepper seeds made it here today.  I currently have over a dozen different varieties in seed starter trays and can’t wait until they’re ready to be planted.  Along with my niece Alexa I plan on selling them at the Cedar Rapids farmer’s markets.  I buy my seeds from Pepper Joe’s. This year I’ll be growing the Bhut Jolokia. At close to one million Scoville units it’s the hottest in the world.

-mg

Red State does the heavy lifting so we don’t have to.

Mar 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

This is the type of razor sharp, insightful analysis I’ve come to expect from Republican bloggers. Here’s Red State blogger Moe Lane speculating on the recent FBI raid on Vivek Kundra’s DC offices:

No, I don’t know why they raided the office, either – but I can speculate that it’s part of an ongoing investigation, it’s one that’s been going on for some time, that the Feds are about to go into endgame…

From the second paragraph of the article that Moe Lane links to:

The search is part of “an ongoing investigation,” said a spokeswoman for the FBI’s D.C. Field Office, Lindsay Gotwin, said. She declined to comment further.

Nailed it!

I also did a little cruising around to see if I could find some finger-wagging commentary on Bristol Palin’s dumping of break-up with Levi Johnston with no luck. Where have all the white fathers gone?

-mg