Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Bad Note

Andrew Sullivan has a bad habit of making his blog unreadable. This happens for a variety of reasons, among them: an obsession with Sarah/Bristol Palin's baby...the mistaken impression that he personally is a key player in the Iranian Green Revolution...and a knee-jerk reflex towards authoritarianism in the face of anything remotely frightening.

For all of those reasons this has been a bad week at The Dish. But it is his PTSD flashback-to-9/11 reaction to the Underpants Bomber that has him at his worst.

We all remember the "fifth column" reference in 2001, and the bootlicking of Bush and Cheney in the wake of the attack. Sullivan burned a LOT of bridges with that behavior. But he has come a long way since then. Andrew now properly recognizes Bush as the utter, contemptible failure that he was, and Cheney as the monster that he is...but throw the slightest dash of botched death by undergarments into the mix and it's full-blown bed-wetting panic and craven grasping for the worst behavior of the Bush Era.

It's fucking pathetic, and shows that despite all his seeming rehabilitation, Sullivan remains a toadie at heart.

Let's start with his unrelenting and preposterous call for Janet Napolitano's head on a platter, as if she is somehow responsible or accountible for what happened. To wit:
One of the federal government's core responsibilities is public order.

They've had eight years to figure this out and they are still clueless. Sure, Bush was president for much of that time and bears the bulk of the responsibility, but Obama is now president. When officials screwed up under Bush, they were defended, backed up, told they were doing great, etc etc. [...]
Obama needs to prove he is not Bush. Hold a thorough investigation and fire everyone in the chain of command who let the Jihadist onto a plane. Every single one. But before then, fire Napolitano. The buck stops with her.

First, let's point out that public order seems to be doing just fucking fine, Andrew. The only people I see or hear who's diapers need changing are Republicans looking to score cheap terror points and you. Everyone else is going about their business as usual. You know, an actual hallmark of British resolve. One that held during WWII, the IRA and the subway bombings.

And as for Napolitano? How about actually figuring out what the hell happened first before scapegoating someone to make it look like you've done something about the problem in absence of real action—like Bush would have done. And as for "everyone in the chain of command who let a jihadist onto a plane," I'm not sure what Obama can do to fire airport screeners in Nigeria and Amsterdam. John Cole's got this covered.

Then there's this:
Should We Israelify Airports?
A question worth asking.

Okay, Andrew. You asked so, I'll answer. No. I don't particularly want to model ANY behavior on Israel's. And it wouldn't work anyway. Israel is the size of New Jersey, has one major international airport, a population subject to mandatory military service, no problem racially profiling and discriminating against the majority of it's population and a statistical need to maintain that level of vigilance. None of that applies here.

What's most maddening about this is the fact that Sullivan is capable of extremely good, thought-provoking writing, and at the moment a lot of interesting year-end retrospectives. But needing to filter through this garbage just makes you question why you ever clicked over there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Wonderful Idea



I can get behind that plan. We currently have accounts with Wachovia (Wells Fargo) and SunTrust...not the biggest banks, but hardly local. One of the reasons for picking these banks was availability of branches (both have branches walking distance from or house and my office). And ATMs. Well, we hardly, if ever use ATMs so that's not really a factor. We don't even use debit/check cards anymore either...

Annoyingly, I still get paid via a check that needs to be deposited, but I'd be happy to walk a block to get to the Bank of Asheville if they have the online bill-pay capabilities Mrs F requires.

I'll be looking into it.

A Random, But Alphabetical, Trip Through the iTunes of Mr Furious

In case you're wondering where I've been the last week or two (come on, humor me), aside from the holidays, I'm coming off double-barreled deadlines. While that's meant time away from the blog, it still had me tethered to the computer. And for some reason the pressure of deadline time means I need the comfort of music to get me through the day (and night).

The other night I was alone in the office and had the speakers cranking. I, unintentionally at first, listened to the complete Rush catalog as I worked until the break of dawn. The albums were presented alphabetically, though coincidentally that was somewhat chronological as well. Anyway, I enjoyed the experience immensely.

I usually listen to my iTunes on shuffle or "iTunes DJ" as they call it these days. And while the variety can be nice and I enjoy the odd "haven't heard THIS in long time." moment, there is something lost when listening outside the context of the full album. Nothing made that more clear than the concept albums of circa '70s Geddy, Neil and Alex.

So I've decided to make a concerted effort to listen to my music more often, and to do it in traditional fashion—one album at a time.

This week, Mrs. F and he kids are out of town, and that sets me up for a week of painting and other household chores, and with that, and opportunity to crank music in the house while I work. First up is the kitchen, which is close enough to my computer that I have access to my full library—all 19,515 songs worth. That's 56 days worth of music, and I'll probably barely hit 56 hours, but here goes...

THE A's:
Now, I'm not going to just start at the beginning and let it go, I'll barely reach the C's if I do that...so skipping right past ABBA, and even AC-DC and Aerosmith I settle on...

Alice in Chains -- A very solid band. Thinking man's grunge. I still remember a coworker who declared Jerry Cantrell was "the modern-day Mozart." Um, not quite. Though I can think of no band that can dominate in both acoustic/unplugged mode and full-on metal as effortlessly as AIC. After listening to all of the material, I'll say this: The EP "Sap" is probably the best effort from these guys—four acoustic tunes that are just about perfect, with Chris Cornell's backing vocals making "Right Turn" my favorite track of the bunch. Up next...

Alicia Keys -- A jarring transition to say the least. Skip to—

The Allman Brothers Band -- I settle on the "Dreams" boxed set. One of my earliest "big" CD purchases, this one would last me through the whole afternoon. Highlights: "Morning Dew", "God Rest His Soul" (a moving MKL tribute), "It's Not My Cross to Bear."

Art Garfunkle • Breakaway -- Yes, I have solo Garfunkle. Two albums worth as a matter of fact. Yeah, I know Paul Simon is supposed to be the genius of the pair, and Art had to become a teacher to make ends meet, I'll say this: this is a good album, and Art Garfunkle has one of the best voices in music. I will not argue this—it is a fact. UPDATE: That was written during "I Believe." The first song. "Rag Doll" is cheesy as hell. And "Breakaway" isn't much better. "My Little Town" gets back to the Simon & Garfunkle roots and could be right off "Bridge Over Troubled Water"... but, no, I'm not going to make it through the whole album. Sorry, Art.

Asia -- the prototype and high-water mark for "superbands." I'll not sully the memory of this fantastic band by listening to anything but the eponymous first album. An awesome flashback. More cowbell, Carl.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Terrorist's Best Friend

Is a GOP wingnut.

Don't these moron right-wing clowns like Hoekstra (R-MI) it is they themselves who are "aiding and abetting" the terrorists by taking a botched failure of an incident and hyping it up for maximum fear and terror.

The stupid. It burns. Like a powdery substance in my pants that I am desperately trying to ignite.

Ugh...

Nothing beats dropping your wife and two young children off for a plane flight to Detroit today.

Let me ask a question here: If you have to sit in the terminal—with or without kids—for an hour waiting to take off, would you prefer to watch an endless loop of stupid-ass CNN "analysis" of the botched terror attack on a plane, or might the airport think of switching the feed to TNT and an endless loop of "A Christmas Story." Or fucking marathon of "Cake Boss." I don't much care.

Assholes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sucked In...

Yes, Mr Furious watches "The Sing-Off." What of it?

After careful consideration last week, I have switched allegiances and am hoping for Voices of Lee.

Yeah. That's right. The gospel group from Tennessee.

UPDATE: Without the competition factor, this show is pretty weak.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Behold...

15 inches of snow measured in West Asheville
ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES — Friday’s winter snow storm dumped a whopping 15 inches of snow on West Asheville, according to the National Weather Service.

About 11.5 inches of snow was measured on the ground 6 miles north northwest of Asheville through about 7:45 p.m., the NWS reports. Waynesville recorded 13.8 inches of snow.

Snow totals for other locations in WNC through Friday evening:
- Linville: 12 inches
- Fletcher: 10.5 inches
- Woodlawn (McDowell County): 13 inches
- Little Switzerland: 9.3 inches
- Burnsville: 4.5 inches

Little Switzerland can kiss my ass!

Despite the fact that we have no power at home (since last night around 10:00), this is pretty awesome. We haven't had real snow since we moved from Michigan.

Let this be an offical "Mr Furious Heartily Endorses..." endorsement: All-Wheel-Drive Subarus rock. Last night on the way home I plowed through I don't know how many inches of snow on snow-filled streets, passing dozens of abandoned cars on the highway in a few short miles.

This morning on the way into town in search of gas, some groceries, firewood and ATM cash, the only thing that slowed me down at all, was our totally unplowed street because the snow between the tire tracks was high-centering the car—it was ten inches high! But the lean, mean aquamarine machine persevered—bad front tires and all.

I'm in the office to grab my extra camera batteries, post this, and I'm off to complete my mission. Unfortunately, my card reader is back at home, so pics will come later.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Person of the Year


DougJ summed this up just about perfectly:

I have nothing special against Bernanke. I think he probably deserves credit for averting financial catastrophe.

But this is a pretty strong signal that elite media still worships the architects of our awesome financial system. Some things never change.

Though, ...given the alternative...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glimmer of Hope? Or, Massive Tease?

Read this post by Ezra Klein (who in my opinion has this HCR shit down better than just about anyone) and explain to me why the Senate can't pass something now that meets President Lieberman's vendetta-based objections, and have Obama sign it into law. The day after that happens, they start the reconciliation process and take a Public Option and shove it right down the collective throat of Lieberman, Ben Fucking Nelson, President Snowe and every other "Centrist" asshole that's made this process a nightmare.

Did I forget to mention the GOP? No. They are irrelevant.

--

The only way for Reid and even Obama to regain standing with me after this fiasco is if that is the endgame. If not, then I find it impossible to believe any of them had serious intentions about real reform.

No excuses.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dick of the Week: BOGO Edition


As obvious a choice as Joe Lieberman is, giving him D.O.W. is almost akin to blaming the scorpion for stinging the frog—it's his nature. So it's a "Buy One Get One" sale on Dicks this week: Joe Lieberman, and his fucking caddy, Harry Reid. Because the fact that Joe Lieberman is able to torpedo the Health Care Bill—again—and walk away intact, is all on Reid.

Health Bill in Peril After Lieberman Pulls Support for Senate Deal [link]
In a move that senior leadership aides say has left them stunned, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he will filibuster a tentative public option compromise unless it's stripped of its key component: a measure that would allow people aged 55-64 to buy insurance through Medicare.


"Stunned" leadership? Why? Smart bloggers saw this shit coming a mile (or thirteen months) away.

If Harry Reid or anyone else was actually "stunned" by what Lieberman is doing they're as fucking stupid as they are weak, and twice as incompetent.

Reid and Obama fucked this up last year when they blinked and let Lieberman keep his Committee chair and seniority. They thought they could put a leash on him... It was one of a long line of stupid, weak moves by Reid, and a surprisingly boneheaded play by Obama.

Lieberman wasn’t needed to give the Dems 51 and the majority, and all that came with that (which would have been worth it), he was simply padding the lead short of 60.

For them to think he would reliably vote with Dems in exactly this type of situation is the height of naivety. If anything should be clear after his campaigning for McCain, it’s that he doesn’t give a shit about the Democratic party or agenda, only himself and jockeying for whatever comes after this term, because he sealed his fate with the voters a long time ago.

His move towards McCain was a calculated and transparent play towards a position in that Cabinet. He gambled and lost and should have been castrated for it. Instead, Reid's steely spine, Obama's Vulcan mind, and Rahm's gigantic balls got together and decided to let Holy Joe keep his chair, committees and seniority—making a guy who by all rights should be a pariah of both parties and sitting by himself in a Senate cloakroom into President Joe Lieberman with a special preemptive veto power.

Last year, I didn't want Lieberman banished simply for satisfaction—though that was high on the list—it was because I KNEW he was a self-interested traitor they couldn't control. Certainly not Reid. And not even Obama.

He was going to screw them. Hard. And at the time and place of HIS choosing. That this would happen was inevitable, and entirely predictible. Yet it wasn't exactly preventable...

The math dictates that Lieberman would be able to position himself as the 60/40 fence-sitter whenever he wants to, but the fact that he can do that at will and retain all of the benefits of a four-term Democrat is what's outrageous.

Lieberman's relevance stems from only two things:
1. That he can camp out on the 60/40 line.
2. He holds Chairmanship of the Oversight Committee.

Number one ensures Lieberman can piss on the Democrats any time he wants, and number two immunizes him from discipline: Reid cannot simply yank Joe’s seat between Senate sessions without a vote—meaning Lieberman gets another year to find the Oversight Keys he lost during the Bush Administration and use his Committee to run all over Obama or actively scuttle any investigations of the prior Administration.

Punishing him at that point will have the optics of a cover-up and/or protecting Obama.

That's the critical thing they fucked up thirteen months ago. Lieberman would still be a self-important asshole, and still be the GOP’s 41st vote—but he’d be neutered otherwise.

UPDATE: Rahm Emmanuel and the White House told Reid to "give Lieberman whatever he wants," which Reid quickly did, so the public option is out, and so is Medicare Buy-In, triggers or anything else. All to secure the vote that Lieberman will withhold for some other reason next week. Well-played you dumbasses. The 55-64 vote ought to turn out in droves for you guys next year.

UPDATE 2: Booman reminds us that Reid was fucking this up more recently as well...
Harry Reid empowered [Lieberman] when he decided to put the public option in the base bill (and why did Reid feel that was necessary?). Lieberman was freed to oppose anything in the bill he doesn't like without actually being responsible for killing health care reform. Had Reid just used the Snowe-trigger, the bill would have passed rather easily, and Lieberman wouldn't be able to fight for changes in the Conference Report because there are no amendments allowed to a Conference Report. Now you know why I argued against going for a public option in the Senate's base bill.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Miscellany

I STILL WANT HIM ON MY TEAM
Half the lefty blogosphere, including our good friend, Toast, have their panties in a bunch over Matt Taibbi's latest Obama-beatdown in Rolling Stone. It's not Taibbi's best article—and I say that because I was unable to get through it—and he seems to have botched and/or stretched some things to make a point, but count me with John Cole and Kevin Drum, and then John Cole on Drum—Taibbi's larger point handily outweighs any flaws in the article, and focusing only on Taibbi's scatological writing style or the disputed "facts" is really missing the forest. As for Tim Fernholz's "takedown" of Taibbi, I'm not so impressed, and I counter with Felix Salmon, or Taibbi himself.

Let me repeat something I said at Toast's (again):
I have a high tolerance/threshold for Taibbi's style and his conclusions and implications—even if speculative and ultimately proven wrong.

Why?

Because he and NPR's This American Life seem to be the only two entities in the whole of the fucking media that care enough to look into this stuff at all.

And he is one of the very few columnists with a national outlet (RS) that is attacking the Administration from the left.

Does Taibbi drive too fast and have his eyes closed some of the time? Sure. But he's a useful balance to the rest of the fucking establishment media that won't even take the car out of the garage.


--

POTY > POTUS
August J Pollak thinks TIME is going to name Sarah Palin its "Person of the Year." Much as that thought makes me want to retch, he makes a good case. Losing works out nicely for Palin, I suppose—fame, $$$ and attention without actually having to do anything or have responsibilities...

--

WORTHLESS
The House passed a "sweeping financial regulation" the other day, though, several Democrats jumped ship to scrap a key component designed to help ordinary citizens—the "cram-down" provision:
Republicans were successful in killing an amendment sought by housing advocates that would have given bankruptcy judges the ability to rewrite terms of mortgages so borrowers could remain in their homes. Judges can do this for second or vacation homes, luxury yachts and other areas where consumer debt is involved, but current laws prohibit reworking the terms of first mortgages.

Numerous Democrats joined GOP lawmakers in defeating this amendment — sometimes referred to as a cram-down provision, since judges could impose terms on banks — on the grounds that it could weaken bank finances and represented too steep a change from current practice.

And they did it without a Lieberman of their own... Since banks getting slowly paid off on a mortgage at a lower rate is less short-term profitable than foreclosing on people now, it had to go.* Even though in the long run it would probably be better for everyone—banks included—and would actually, you know, allow people remain in their homes? Pathetic. Especially since this has already cleared the House before.

*What was Matt Taibbi thinking—there's no banking conspiracy...

--

RICKEY LIVES
I was about to take the slackers at ATK to task for the paucity of posts over there—even with the big free agent signing of Mr. Henderson, when I decided to check Rickey's previously moribund site—lo and behold—Rickey's back from the grave and ready to party.

--

UNGOVERNABLE
Matt Yglesias explains the current state of the union... Pretty tough to disagree.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh. Fuck. Me.

The Yankees just got Tigers centerfielder, leadoff man, certified fucking stud player and all-around good guy Curtis Granderson for a bag of crumbled Yankee Stadium concrete and Joe Girardi's old catching gear.

Meanwhile the Sox (according to Gammons) are trying to deal Mike Lowell and decide how many of FAs Jason Bay, Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre they should sign.

Bay's been a nice player, but he's about to get waaaay overpaid. Holliday's got NL-star/AL-bust written all over him. Pass. Beltre? If he's healthy and a bargain, fine. But those 48 HRs were a lonnnng time ago, and in the other league. Plus, Boras is his agent.

2010 is going to blow.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ignorance Is Bliss. Or, Is It?

Mrs. F. is currently reading The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. It's a non-fiction book written by an NPR foreign correspondent that explores the origins of happiness and where it is found.

She just read aloud a passage that was interesting—and both surprising and predictible at once...
[p. 14] Extroverts are happier than introverts: optimists are happier than pessimists; married people are happier than singles, thought people with children are no happier than singles; Republicans are happier than Democrats; people who attend religious services are happier than those who do not; people with college degreesa re happier than those without, though people with advanced degrees are less happy than those with just a BA; people with and active sex life are happier than those without; women and men are equally happy, though women have a wider emotional range; having an affair will make you happy, but will not compensate for the massive loss of happiness you will incur when your spouse finds out and leaves you; people are least happy when they're commuting to work; busy people are happier than those with little to do; wealthy people are happier than poor ones, but only slightly.

Discuss...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Stay Classy, Sarah!

Speaking to the conservative talker Rusty Humphries today, Sarah Palin left the door open to speculation about President Obama’s birth certificate.

“Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?” she was asked (around 9 minutes into the video above).

“I think the public rightfully is still making it an issue. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think that members of the electorate still want answers,” she replied.

“Do you think it’s a fair question to be looking at?” Humphries persisted.

“I think it’s a fair question, just like I think past association and past voting records—all of that is fair game,” Palin said. “The McCain-Palin campaign didn’t do a good enough job in that area.”

Not to get all Andrew Sullivan on you...but if she wants to see a birth certificate for Obama, she make an even exchange for Trig's.

There are honestly more questions surrounding the proof of the birth of her last child than there are about Obama's. Even Glenn Beck isn't sailing on the U.S.S. Birther.

[h/t Balloon Juice]

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Frying Pan...Fire...and Now, Gasoline?

I've spent exactly zero time seriously considering options in Afghanistan. Plenty of people have spent countless days, weeks, months and even years contemplating strategy for the current U.S. scenario and beyond. There seem to be no good options, and its likely there never were. The best thing that could have happened would have been for Bush/Cheney to stay on task, kick Taliban and AQ ass and come back with Osama Bin Laden in the first six months there and pulled out.

That never happened obviously, and now our time there is approaching a decade and it is only worse, messier and more complicated, and somehow the stakes are raised exponentially. Obama campaigned on finishing that job by focusing on Afghanistan and winding down in Iraq. I don't think there is a plausible way to do either, and he is truly fucked politically and strategically as far as I can tell.

He's supposed to unveil the results of his long deliberation tonight, and I fear the pressure to double down on Afghanistan will win out and we will only dig ourselves in deeper.
It's a very difficult situation, and, after Bush's grotesque mismanagement, no options are anything but varieties of awful. But everything I hear sounds like conventional drift to me - Bush's policy with a much more interesting and intelligent discussion beforehand. So instead of staying in neo-colonial occupation against an insurgency that now feeds off US intervention with no real strategy, we will stay in neo-colonial occupation against an insurgency that now feeds off US intervention with lots of super-smart defenses of the indefensible. Great.

That's Andrew Sullivan, who also accurately laid out the political fallout from that (and any, really) scenario yesterday:
As Obama appears to be intensifying the lost war in Afghanistan, with the same benchmark rubric that meant next-to-nothing in the end in Iraq, he does not seem to understand that he will either have to withdraw US troops from Iraq as it slides into new chaos, or he will have to keep the troops there for ever, as the neocons always intended. Or he will have to finance and run two hot wars simultaneously. If he ramps up Afghanistan and delays Iraq withdrawal, he will lose his base. If he does the full metal neocon as he is being urged to, he should not be deluded in believing the GOP will in any way support him. They will oppose him every step of every initiative. They will call him incompetent if Afghanistan deteriorates, they will call him a terrorist-lover if he withdraws, they will call him a traitor if he does not do everything they want, and they will eventually turn on him and demand withdrawal, just as they did in the Balkans with Clinton. Obama's middle way, I fear, is deeper and deeper into a trap, and the abandonment of a historic opportunity to get out.

[...] I fear Bush's wars will destroy Obama as they destroyed Bush. Because they are unwinnable; and because the US is bankrupt; and because neither Iraq nor Afghanistan will ever be normal functioning societies in our lifetimes.

You want empire? Then say so and get on with it - with far more forces, and massive cuts in domestic spending to rebuild thankless Muslim population centers thousands of miles from home for decades into the future.

You do not want empire? Then leave.

Those are the presidential level choices.

And neither Bush nor, it seems, Obama has the strength to make them.

That sounds extreme, but I think it's more or less accurate.

At Obsidian Wings, I've been scrolling past Eric Martin's writings on Afghanistan for months, if not longer—solely because I haven't cared enough to bother reading it. I just stopped and read his post from yesterday, and I think it's the most cogent argument for getting the fuck out one could make. Here's a bit:
As discussed on this site on numerous occasions, one of the oddest arguments for escalating/perpetuating our military presence in Afghanistan is the stated fear that our withdrawal would destabilize Pakistan. Implicit in this formulation is the presumption that our ongoing military occupation of Afghanistan (and concomitant military/political activity in Pakistan) is having a stabilizing effect in Pakistan itself. This nostrum about the therapeutic value of large numbers of US forces pursuing US interests through force, like many of the widely accepted foreign policy myths, lacks supporting empirical evidence.

In fact, the empirical evidence is all pointing in the opposite direction. Pakistan today is far less stable than it was when we first invaded: there are raging clashes between the government and militant forces causing refugee crises numbering in the millions, there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of domestic terrorist attacks, the Pakistani population is increasingly anti-American and increasingly radicalized, there is a crisis in leadership - with the current President, Asif Zardari nursing approval ratings in the sub-Cheney realm, etc.

[...] The fault lines along which Pakistan is being rended are in large part the result of Pakistan's own dysfunctional political culture and national security obsession with India. The latter has led to a hypermilitarization of society, a weak dedication to democratic rule, a warped economy made to serve the military class, skewed government spending objectives, a too-powerful intelligence apparatus and an unhealthy willingness to cultivate religious extremists as putatively useful proxies (in this, the US and Pakistan shared common cause in Afghanistan in the 1980s).

Eventually, Pakistan will have to reckon with these pathologies and find ways to normalize its own political culture. However, while the United States did not create these problems, by forcing Pakistan to accede to our agenda, against its own perceived interests and over the objections of a distrustful population, we are making it more likely that these flash points erupt rather than unwind according to a slower, more natural process.

Read the whole thing. And pray that Obama (or someone close to him) did too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Messed Up

I've penned many-a cop-bashing post in my time here—but the truth is: in my personal experience cops have been by-and-large helpful, business-like, and in some cases absolutely invaluable. There is certainly a higher than average dick-ratio among police as compared to other professions, but they are doing a difficult job than most people would never dream of.

With the exception of in my rear-view mirror, when I see a police officer I still have an initially positive reaction and a default position of respect. So, when something like this shooting in Washington goes down, I think it is seriously fucked up.

Now that that's clear, a couple of tangents based on yesterday's events:

1. The following paragraph should doom Mike Huckabee's chances of becoming President:
Man sought in deadly ambush had prison sentence commuted
Lakewood, Washington (CNN) -- The man wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of four police officers had his 95-year prison sentence commuted by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, authorities said late Sunday.

I know the rules are different for Republicans, but come on...it should be pretty difficult for GOP voters to square that one.

2. Where is the right-wing NRA-asshat pundit claiming more guns in the diner would have stopped this? All four victims were armed, trained, and probably wearing vests.

3. Despite my practical opposition to the death penalty because of the horrendous flaws in our criminal justice system, this is a perfect example of why I think the idea of a death penalty is valid. Not that a cop, or anyone else's life is intrinsically more valuable than anyone else's, but there should be a societal deterrent against killing a cop. Don't give me any shit about the d.p. not being an effective deterrent—everyone should understand that if you kill a cop, you should expect the chair. Period.

UPDATE: A lone Seattle police officer was confronted by Clemmons, who was armed with a gun he took from of of the slain officers, and shot him dead.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gone Fishin'

The Family Furious is off the grid for the week. Back on the 30th.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shaikhing in Their Boots

It can be difficult to keep up with the right-wing's Obama Outrage of the Day (yesterday: Obama bowed to the Emperor of Japan!), but I have a feeling this fit is going to last awhile—the plan to have trials for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others connected to the 9/11 attacks in federal court in New York is suddenly the greatest threat to civilization since the Black Plague and shows Obama is a pussy who can't keep us safe.

When, as Glenn Greenwald brilliantly explains, the opposite is true:
[T]he Right's reaction to yesterday's announcement -- we're too afraid to allow trials and due process in our country -- is the textbook definition of "surrendering to terrorists." [emphasis added] It's the same fear they've been spewing for years. As always, the Right's tough-guy leaders wallow in a combination of pitiful fear and cynical manipulation of the fear of their followers. Indeed, it's hard to find any group of people on the globe who exude this sort of weakness and fear more than the American Right.

People in capitals all over the world have hosted trials of high-level terrorist suspects using their normal justice system. They didn't allow fear to drive them to build island-prisons or create special commissions to depart from their rules of justice. Spain held an open trial in Madrid for the individuals accused of that country's 2004 train bombings. The British put those accused of perpetrating the London subway bombings on trial right in their normal courthouse in London. Indonesia gave public trials using standard court procedures to the individuals who bombed a nightclub in Bali. India used a Mumbai courtroom to try the sole surviving terrorist who participated in the 2008 massacre of hundreds of residents. In Argentina, the Israelis captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals, and brought him to Jerusalem to stand trial for his crimes.

It's only America's Right that is too scared of the Terrorists -- or which exploits the fears of their followers -- to insist that no regular trials can be held and that "the safety and security of the American people" mean that we cannot even have them in our country to give them trials. As usual, it's the weakest and most frightened among us who rely on the most flamboyant, theatrical displays of "strength" and "courage" to hide what they really are. Then again, this is the same political movement whose "leaders" -- people like John Cornyn and Pat Roberts -- cowardly insisted that we must ignore the Constitution in order to stay alive: the exact antithesis of the core value on which the nation was founded. Given that, it's hardly surprising that they exude a level of fear of Terrorists that is unmatched virtually anywhere in the world. It is, however, noteworthy that the position they advocate -- it's too scary to have normal trials in our country of Terrorists -- is as pure a surrender to the Terrorists as it gets.

The Right has been the biggest bedwetters of all when it comes to terrorism—and terrorists themselves, in particular. This particular flavor of fear-pandering has been used for years to justify a whole host of the Bush Administrations illegal and extra-legal behavior, but has found new popularity as a tool to oppose any decision by Obama to change that Unconstitutional status quo.

Whether that's habeas corpus, closing Gitmo, or trials for the accused. They act as if KSM is the equivalent of Magneto, and bringing him to U.S. soil will allow him to summon his mutant powers and escape from any prison man could possibly build [video here] and wreak havoc on the country—as if such a being couldn't do the exact same thing from Guantanamo.

At this point I'm not even sure if this is actual genuine fright on the part of the right, thinly veiled fear-mongering of their even more pathetic and Pavlovian base, or simply an involuntary partisan reaction. But i t doesn't matter. The only thing more pathetic than this display is the fact that it works on a sizable portion of the population.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Silver Lining

In keeping with the relentless FOX-bashing, comes this gem from PKrug:
Clearly, the Fox Business crew is having a very hard time. They bill themselves as being truly pro-business — not like those leftists at CNBC. But they aren’t really pro-business; they’re pro-Republican. They’d like you to believe that it’s the same thing; but there’s this awkward fact that markets have, you know, gone up under Obama.

And this isn’t just a phenomenon of the last few months. Look back at stock returns under recent presidents, which is easy using a clever gadget at Political Calculations. Taking real, dividend-inclusive annual returns on the S&P 500, I get:

Reagan: 10.08%
Bush I: 10.16%
Clinton: 14.35%
Bush II: minus 5.81%

Tax-hiking Democrats are supposed to be terrible for business[...] But the data just refuse to say that — and that’s even if we restrict ourselves to the stock market, never mind job creation, wages, poverty and all that.

So the whole idea of Fox Business is problematic. It’s Fox, which means that it’s basically an arm of the GOP; but that’s a terrible match for business coverage, because the economy just refuses to punish liberals and reward conservatives the way it’s supposed to.

Now, personally I could give a shit about rallies on Wall Street or what Krugman, Jim Kramer or President Obama have to say regarding economic recovery. I'll believe it when advertiser's dollars translate into the reversal of my pay cut, and I can stop worrying about the other shoe to drop. But, in the meantime, I enjoyed that post very much.

Bomb Squad


Kid's sick with a stomach bug, and while putting her to bed at 8:30 p.m., I fell asleep without having done my nightly task of doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.

Doing that and loading the dishwasher at 2 a.m. without waking anyone (Mrs F) up is akin to successfully diffusing a bomb on horseback.

I can't believe I did it, and that success saved me from The Wrath of Mom now (for waking her or Baby) and/or in the morning (greeted by a sink and counter littered with dirty dishes).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stupid Like a FOX



Can the rest of the media stop pretending this is a real news network? A White House spokesperson points out what is patently obvious—that FOX is heavily biased—and the rest of the media rush to defend FOX's imagined integrity, like toadies ass-kissing the playground bully.

All so FOX can continue to deride them as liberal elitists.

If NBC ran a "report" like that on a pro-choice rally you can be sure producers—if not hosts—would be out on the streets in an attempt to placate the right-wing loudmouths and a fear of appearing "too liberal."

[h/t Cesca]

Veterans Day...NSFW*

DOGS:



KIDS:



I can't even fathom the feeling of being in a combat zome overseas, but as a father with two little kids I can absolutely understand there is no greater sacrifice than being away from your kids for 14 months. None.

*NSFW unless crying at your desk is normal

[h/t Cole]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Special Kind of Prima Donna

It's long been the rumor that the reason Alex Rodriguez didn't click with his "lunchpail" Yankee teammates was that he was to much of an egomaniac...a prima donna...metrosexual...self-obsessed with his own stats...what have you. And that's not even getting into his planeloads of money.

I can absolutely understand why workaday stiffs like Jeter would come back to the locker room from another magazine shoot or marketing meeting for his perfume, and look across at A-Rod and think, "What's with that guy?"

A-Rod's been his own worst enemy in many cases over the years: making stupid comments; that Details shoot; sleeping with Mandonna...but a small story that slipped out during the World Series really puts Mr. Rod in perspective...

He has paintings of himself as mythical creatures. A centaur to be specific.

Yes. You read that right.
"He was so vain," his ex tells Us Weekly. "He had not one, but two painted portraits of himself as a centaur. You know, the half man, half horse figure?"

Loved this response from The Superficial:
If it's a horse's upper body with A-Rod's legs, that man just won my respect for life. I don't care if he fucked Madonna, you can't deny that level of badass. The closest I ever came was commissioning a painting of a bear with my entire body as his left arm. That mountain lion it was fighting didn't know what the fuck.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday Brunch Link Buffet

Since last week was a high-stress affair at work—with as-yet-fully resolved negotiations on the future of my career as a climax—and then a much-needed escape out of town with Mrs F and the kids, blogging took a backseat. In fact, for several days I never even went online. So some of this is out of date, or not fully-realized... but here goes:

WAKE THE FUCK UP
Andrew Sullivan (among others) really need to decide to shit or get off the pot when it comes to Catholicism. Im not one for organized religion in any form at this point in my life, but my experience with both the Catholic and Episcopal churches isn't even close. For Sullivan to remain a part of a church that wants to literally cleanse him and those like him from existence is the height of self-loathing behavior.

RISING AGAIN?
Not exactly, but Kevin Drum better not hold his breath waiting for the South to learn its lesson or its place.

TiVo Alert

TNT is currently airing "Into the West," a phenomenal miniseries from 2005. A historically-accurate story of two families—one white settlers, the other a Lakota—and how events of the day impact and intertwine each.

If you can, record them and watch them in order. The early episodes are especially compelling. Here is the trailer.

UPDATE: The menu on my DirecTV isn't explicit about the order of the episodes. This is the proper chronological order:
Episode 1 - Wheel to the Stars
Episode 2 - Manifest Destiny
Episode 3 - Dreams and Schemes
Episode 4 - Hell on Wheels
Episode 5 - Casualties of War
Episode 6 - Ghost Dance

House Rules (well, not quite)

It appears the House has passed its version of the health care bill in a close 220-215 vote.
The legislation would require most Americans to carry insurance and provide federal subsidies to those who otherwise could not afford it. Large companies would have to offer coverage to their employees. Both consumers and companies would be slapped with penalties if they defied the government's mandates.

Insurance industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions would be banned, and insurers would no longer be able to charge higher premiums on the basis of gender or medical history. In a further slap, the industry would lose its exemption from federal antitrust restrictions on price fixing and market allocation.

At its core, the measure would create a federally regulated marketplace where consumers could shop for coverage. In the bill's most controversial provision, the government would sell insurance, although the Congressional Budget Office forecasts that premiums for it would be more expensive than for policies sold by private firms.
There are no details in this early article about specifics, such as the subsidies, and while it appears to include a public option, it also looks like it will not have any cost-controls so it's not really good for much except as a backstop to serve as an insurer of last resort rather than a robust insurer of first choice. Also, there is no mention of stopping of recision.

Unfortunately, to give cover to a contingent of asshole Reps, there was an amendment included regarding abortion.
As drafted, the measure denied the use of federal subsidies to purchase abortion coverage in policies sold by private insurers in the new insurance exchange, except in cases of incest, rape or when the life of the mother was in danger.

But abortion foes won far stronger restrictions that would rule out abortion coverage except in those three categories in any government-sold plan. It would also ban abortion coverage in any private plan purchased by consumers receiving federal subsidies.

Of course, this was necessary because preventing the rampant abuse of abortion as a recreational activity by the newly insured is something the government SHOULD be used for rather than simply interfering in people's lives by allowing to have medical care without bankruptcy, thus forcing them to become socialists.

Nevertheless, there are good things in there: the ban on denying coverage or pricing based on pre-existing conditions, and the removal of anti-trust exemptions.

It'll now be up to the Senate to pass their bill, and hopefully when merging the two bills in conference, they'll actually address some of the major flaws.

UPDATE: Here's a bitter taste along with this medicine: More members of Congress want to restrict a woman's rights (240) than grant her medical coverage (220). My Congressman, Rep. Heath Shuler (D) was one of them.

Hey, Heath. If you have no intention of supporting the bill in the end, you can kindly shut the fuck up about exactly what's in it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

All Politics is Still Local

Tomorrow morning pundits of all stripes—from the right wing blowhards on FOX and AM radio to the "balanced" teams of analysts on CNN, etc—will look at the results of today's election results and try desperately to divine some message about how the country thinks about President Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

As if the specific issues facing a single state and the governor they choose is directly tied to how strongly Obama or some Senator from another state across the country support a public option...or a rural upstate New York district's choice of Congressman means Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will be the next Administration.

It's bullshit. No matter which side is spinning. The reality is that this will prove to be a classic case of "all politics is local," and that's really all it means.

Here's MY take on three of the races Nate Silver considers worth following...

New Jersey Governor -- The incumbent Democrat is a Goldman Sachs bazillionaire—he's probably lucky not to be hanging from a lamppost. That fact alone might doom any candidate these days, but Corzine must be a pretty shitty governor to get thumped by the man who seems poised to win: Chris Christie is a GOP thug with a history of abusing the power of his office and crippling people by driving his car the wrong way down the street. All this tells me is people in New Jersey get what they deserve for always electing corrupt assholes.

Virginia Governor -- It's close to Washington D.C.? Is that why it means something? Every time some jerkoff in the media tells you that McDonnel the Republican won by XX percent, remember that the state's residents still support Obama even more. And also remember that McConnell never identifies himself as a Republican in his ads or on his homepage.

The never-before-heard-of New York 23rd Congressional District -- Sarah Palin and her Dick Armey kneecapped the Republican candidate and pushed a teabagger Independent ("Conservative" party) candidate on voters. The actual Republican then endorsed the Democrat—which, of course, FOX misreported as endorsing the Conservative. Either way, it's academic—this seat hasn't been filled by a Democrat for over a hundred and fifty years.

Don't worry, everyone from Chris Matthews to Joe Lieberman will tell you that for some reason the fact that the GOP is eating their own in the deepest red districts, should somehow worry liberal Democrats 1,200 miles away? This result means nothing about the national mood. After next week you'll never here from this place again.

UPDATE: The Democrat appears to have actually won NY-23!!

Am I suddenly going to flip and declare this an endorsement of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank? No. All this means is rural, small-c conservative New Yorkers didn't appreciate a bunch of assholes from Alaska and Texas telling them they aren't pure-enough Republicans.

On the plus side, it makes Sarah Palin look even more stupid—no easy task. It also underscores the fact that no matter how much hype surrounds her as a GOP savior—when people actually step into the voting booth and draw the curtain, even in a Republican stronghold, they fucking flee. Even better? Palin and the national party still won't get it.

FTFY

That is all.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Nelson Award: Douglas Holtz-Eakin


McCain Campaign health care advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin is finding out first-hand how shitty the current health insurance system is.
If history had taken a different course, Doug Holtz-Eakin would be inside the McCain White House driving the Republican president's domestic agenda, including health-care reform. But now, one year after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost the presidential election, the man who was by McCain's side as the campaign's top health-care guru remains unemployed -- and his COBRA health coverage is running out.

Irony of ironies, it gets worse. Holtz-Eakin, who is about to start shopping for insurance on the individual market, is 51. And he has one of those pesky "preexisting conditions" that insurance companies often cite in denying coverage.

[...] Holtz-Eakin said he's been paying about $1,000 a month to extend the private health insurance he received on McCain's campaign through the government's COBRA program, but that will expire in a few months. This is the first time in his life he has not had employer-provided health coverage. "I worry about where I go next in the way many Americans do," he said.

Like "many Americans," Doug? Fuck you. Most of them aren't coming off six-figure campaign gigs, and sitting around while having enough major political and financial connections to get a job whenever you get off your ass and pick up the phone.

Oh, and those "tax-credits to pay for insurance" plan that you and your candidate were pushing last year? Not sure they'd do shit to help an unemployed economist...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

HAPPY HALLOWEEN



But, more importantly,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID FURIOUS!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

This is Your Criminal Justice System on Drugs

Will there ever be a politician with the balls to work on abolishing some of the draconian and ultimately ineffective drug sentencing laws in this stupid country? Jacob Sullum at Reason:
Last week the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that bong water is an illegal drug. Under state law, a controlled substance includes any "mixture" containing that substance, "regardless of purity." The consequences of reading that definition literally can be severe. In the case before the court, a woman whose bong contained 37 grams of water with traces of methamphetamine will now be treated as if she possessed 37 grams of speed, which converts possession of drug paraphernalia, a petty misdemeanor punishable by a $300 fine, into a a first-degree drug offense, punishable by seven or more years in prison. Three dissenting justices wrote that the majority's interpretation of the statute "misapplies the plain-meaning rule...runs counter to the legislative structure of our drug laws, does not make common sense, and borders on the absurd."

In that column, Sullum refers to a previous absurdity...
Back in 1993, I wrote a piece for Reason in which I highlighted the ridiculously unjust results of including the "carrier medium" for LSD (typically blotter paper) in calculating the drug's weight for sentencing purposes:

Under federal sentencing guidelines, selling 100 doses of LSD in pure form triggers a minimum sentence of less than a year, but selling the same amount on paper will get you a sentence of at least two years, three months. And if you were old-fashioned enough to drop your acid onto sugar cubes, you will end up behind bars for no less than 15 years, eight months.

That makes about as much sense as tacking on the weight of the car in when someone's busted for a bag of weed in the glovebox.

Mandatory sentencing and the disparity between different drugs has made this whole thing a fucking joke.

[h/t Sullivan]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dead Zone

Am I the only one who's kinda creeped out by the DirecTV ad featuring Chris Farley? After seeing it 2 or 3 times I actually had to ask Mrs. F, "Chris Farley's dead, right?" In the ensuing discussion, she pointed out that perhaps the Farley estate/family could use the cash... I suppose that's possible, but the whole thing seems offputting to me. And since I've never been a fan of David Spade, profiting off the image of your dead friend really doesn't help his case with me.

Full Disclosure: I actually never liked either Spade OR Farley and thought both of them were one-trick ponies on SNL and beyond. So, naturally I never saw Tommy Boy, so there's certainly the chance that there's something to the ad I'm not appreciating...but somehow I doubt it.

Also, this isn't DirecTV's first trip to the graveyard for their spokespeople...

Statistics Don't Lie


Guess where I'm going this morning... and, guess what I did last night?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Congratulations, Yankees

In celebration of New York joining the Phillies in the World Series, I bring you Esquire's list of The Most Hated Yankees by Position


Waterfall along S.C. Hwy 11, October 26, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Foxes Grizzly Bears and Henhouses, etc.

Matt Taibbi's latest financial exposé is in the new Rolling Stone, and it is as infuriating as it is thorough and detailed. It's long—one of those features that when you read the actual magazine was page after page of nothing but columns of text, that "continued on page 96," then 104, then 132...

In it, Taibbi breaks down how the biggest investment banks—namely Goldman-Sachs and Morgan Stanley—conspired, often with the help of the federal government, to cannibalize two of the other Top 5 banks since there were no more suckers on Main Street left to screw over.

Did I mention that it's infuriating? Yes, it is infuriating—but it's a special kind of anger that is tempered by overwhelming dismay that nothing was done at the time to stop it, nothing is being done now to stop it, and nothing ever will be.

Most of the crooks responsible are still running those same banks, only now gambling with our money and making obscene profits with it. And the guys no longer working for those banks? Don't worry about them—they're working for Obama's financial team.

I want to vomit.

UPDATE: Some excerpts:
What really happened to Bear and Lehman is that an economic drought temporarily left the hyenas without any more middle-class victims — and so they started eating each other, using the exact same schemes they had been using for years to fleece the rest of the country. And in the forensic footprint left by those kills, we can see for the first time exactly how the scam worked — and how completely even the government regulators who are supposed to protect us have given up trying to stop it.

This was a brokered bloodletting, one in which the power of the state was used to help effect a monstrous consolidation of financial and political power. Heading into 2008, there were five major investment banks in the United States: Bear, Lehman, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Today only Morgan Stanley and Goldman survive as independent firms, perched atop a restructured Wall Street hierarchy. And while the rest of the civilized world responded to last year's catastrophes with sweeping measures to rein in the corruption in their financial sectors, the United States invited the wolves into the government, with the popular new president, Barack Obama — elected amid promises to clean up the mess — filling his administration with Bear's and Lehman's conquerors, bestowing his papal blessing on a new era of robbery.

To the rest of the world, the brazenness of the theft — coupled with the conspicuousness of the government's inaction — clearly demonstrates that the American capital markets are a crime in progress. To those of us who actually live here, however, the news is even worse. We're in a place we haven't been since the Depression: Our economy is so completely fucked, the rich are running out of things to steal.

Hank Paulson's moment of glory:
[...] early on the morning of Friday, March 14th, Bear's CEO, Alan Schwartz, struck a deal with the Fed and JPMorgan to provide an emergency loan to keep the company's doors open. When the news hit the street that morning, Bear's stock rallied, gaining more than nine percent and climbing back to $62.

[...]

The rally proved short-lived — Bear ended the day at $30 — but it suggested that all was not lost. Then a strange thing happened. As Bear understood it, the emergency credit line that the Fed had arranged was originally supposed to last for 28 days. But that Friday, despite the rally, Geithner and then-Treasury secretary Hank Paulson — the former head of Goldman Sachs, one of the firms rumored to be shorting Bear — had a sudden change of heart. When the market closed for the weekend, Paulson called Schwartz and told him that the rescue timeline had to be accelerated. Paulson wouldn't stay up another night worrying about Bear Stearns, he reportedly told Schwartz. Bear had until Sunday night to find a buyer or it could go fuck itself.

Bear was out of options. Over the course of that weekend, the firm opened its books to JPMorgan, the only realistic potential buyer. But upon seeing all the "shit" on Bear's books, as one source privy to the negotiations put it — including great gobs of toxic investments in the subprime markets — JPMorgan hedged. It wouldn't do the deal, it announced, unless it got two things: a huge bargain on the sale price, and a lot of public money to wipe out the "shit."

Wait. It gets better...
So the Fed — on whose New York board sits JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon — immediately agreed to accommodate the new buyers, forking over $29 billion in public funds to buy up the yucky parts of Bear. Paulson, meanwhile, took care of the bargain issue, putting the government's gun to Schwartz's head and telling him he had to sell low. Really low.

On Saturday night, March 15th, Schwartz and Dimon had discussed a deal for JPMorgan to buy Bear at $8 to $12 a share. By Sunday afternoon, however, Geithner reported that the price had plunged even further. "Shareholders are going to get between $3 and $5 a share," he told Paulson.

But Paulson pissed on even that price from a great height. "I can't see why they're getting anything," he told Dimon that afternoon from Washington, via speakerphone. "I could see something nominal, like $1 or $2 per share."

Just like that, with a slight nod of Paulson's big shiny head, Bear was vaporized. This, remember, all took place while Bear's stock was still selling at $30. By knocking the share price down 28 bucks, Paulson ensured that the manipulators who were illegally counterfeiting Bear's shares would make an awesome fortune.

What's most frustrating about the whole affair is that due to the banks controlling their own regulators and having infiltrated agancies like the Fed, much of this was legal—and if something they wanted to do wasn't, they'd have that regulation changed, dropped or simply not enforced.

Even if Obama (or anyone else) suddenly decided to crack down and haul these crooks in, it's likely they couldn't even be charged with anything.

The critical part of Taibbi's story is his explanation of naked short-selling and how it was the weapon of choice in taking out Bear Stearns and Lehman. Just go read it.

UPDATE 2: This also comes on the heels of TAL's recent update to last year's seminal "The Giant Pool of Money."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

A comment from a Balloon Juice thread:

@Brachiator:
Punditry is the journalistic equivalent to the newspaper astrology column. Punditry doesn’t have to be right, it’s just gotta be entertaining and provide comfort for those who need to believe easily digestible bullshit.

I think that's just about perfect.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Five years ago (give or take a week) Jon Stewart went on Crossfire and made the children cry. The other night he went after what remains of CNN. Behold:


CNN Leaves It There
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Follow-Up

The video by Rachel Maddow (below) and a few other things I read have made me more receptive and understanding of Obama. Lindsay Beyerstein (now writing at ObWi) makes a very good point here:
If the 2008 election happened in Africa or the Middle East it would seem obvious that an opposition leader who restored the rule of law and set about reintegrating his country into the family of nations would be racking up points towards a Nobel Peace Prize before he even took the oath of office.

Prove Me Wrong

Clay Buchholz is all that stands between the Red Sox and elimination. And he faces notorious Sox-Killer Scott Kaszmir. That's not a match-up that looks good for Boston. I said at the deadline that Buchholz was a flamethrowing talent that wasn't all there upstairs. That the Sox traded the wrong guy in Justin Masterson and should have dealt Buchholz. All Clay Buchholz did after that was go like 7-2 with an ERA of 3.00 (guessing) and make me look stupid.

Today there is a new level of pressure on him—win or go home.

Make me look stupid one more time. (And if the lineup could actually put some runs up, that might help. No need to make the kid toil in a scoreless tie for seven innings...)

UPDATE Middle of the 1st: Throwing a ball in the dirt to first allowing the runner to move up is exactly the kind of thing that would have unraveled Buchholz in the past. That he went on to take care of the Angels two most dangerous hitters after that is a very good sign. Time for the Sox to start fucking hitting.

UPDATE Postgame:
Well, that wasn't exactly pretty. Though I will say, if anyone on the team was going to cough up a game, I'm glad it was Papelbon and not Buchholz or Bard. Pap has never been my favorite guy—in fact, I see exactly why fans of other teams hate him—he's a dick. Plus, I wouldn't want any of the young(er) pitchers damaged from the experience of losing the elimination game. Papelbon is an established closer, and can rebound from the loss. Buchholz and Bard can feel good about THEIR contributions yesterday, and build off it.

Change I Can Believe In?

TALKING THE TALK
Obama made a speech to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, the other day, and Andrew Sullivan wasn't impressed. Of course he wasn't. He has a visceral hatred for the group for some reason, and he's grown impatient with Obama's talk-to-action ratio. Not that I can blame him...he's got a very personal stake in the matters addressed (aside from DADT). Here's my take: until Obama can increase the action in that ratio, he needs to lower the talk. I (and Sullivan) understand the amount of shit on his plate, and the political challenges Obama faces with all things gay—but that, and the fact he's only nine months in office, only excuses the lack of action. The talk is all up to him. I know an invitation by the HRC is probably impossible for him to decline, but if I were Obama I'd be embarrassed to deliver that speech having walked NONE of the walk.

BOOBY PRIZE
And that is a natural lead-in to the Nobel Prize. My first reaction was the same as most of Obama's critics: "Are you fucking kidding me? What has he done?" Now, with a bit more background on the process, it seems it is not unusual for people to receive the award in anticipation of or for potential actions. That's clearly the case here. Along with a statement about the USA's rejection of the Bush/Cheney regime.

But the timing for this would have been better had Obama had a chance to act on anything of real substance. I understand it's designed to motivate him, but it ends up making everyone involved look stupid. And despite catcalls from the right about this feeding Obama's alleged narcissism, it's probably the LAST thing Obama wanted to deal with right now.

And here's what else...I really don't care to hear another excellent speech about Obama's plans to undo the Bush/Cheney doctrine until he actually does any of it.

UPDATE: Excellent analysis and breakdown by Rachel Maddow.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The False Sense of Urgency of Now

While the political world is all abuzz with health care reform bullshit... whether there'll be public option or not, etc... one thing that isn't getting nearly enough attention is this:

None of these plans take effect for three years.

THREE. FUCKING. YEARS.

That nugget'll be buried deep in whatever article you're reading, but for all the bullshit happening on or around the dance floor on this issue, none of it really makes a fucking difference for the people getting fucked by their insurance now. Or next year. Or the year after that. Or the year after that.

The Democrats could pass the greatest single-payer plan on Earth, and since they are so fucking stupid and cowardly they will let TWO elections cycles go by before anyone benefits from it, and they are rewarded for delivering it. They could, alternatively, pass the worst piece of shit corporate giveaway possible, knowing they can run for their House seat twice before having to face hte pissed off voters they sold out.

At this point I'm not sure I give a shit what plan comes out what Committee of Congress and what Obama ends up signing. No matter how good it is (and I'm not saying it will be good at all) we have to wait three goddamn years to get it.

Screw Baucus, Reid, and all the corporate whores on the Hill. And screw Obama too. This whole thing is a gigantic fucking tease.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Late Night Buffet

Over the week I started a half dozen posts or saved links about stuff I thought I'd get to later, but it never happened. It's not actually going to happen now either—it's too late and I'm tired—but I'll toss 'em out there in snack size...

MASSACHUSETTS CHANGING THE LAW TO APPOINT A SENATOR
At first glance, I thought this was horseshit, and that the Dems should lie in the bed they constructed when the wanted to deny then-Gov. Romney the same power if Kerry became President. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that these lawmakers are ostensibly working towards the desires of the electorate—who deserve full representation, and the representation they want. If the legislature were acting against the popular will, they would be punished in the next election.

The fact that Kennedy's life's work might hang in the balance—and that his opponents quite probably stalled the vote hoping he would die before getting to cast it, was all I needed to cross over. That Massachusetts would be shorted his vote between now and January is too cruel an irony.

The new law is better than the old one anyway.

--

TEXAS IS ANOTHER PLANET
That the Governor of a state could so blatantly and obviously obstruct justice and cover his ass for the execution of an innocent manand probably be rewarded for it by voters is fucking absurd or insane. Or both.

--

THE FALL OF ROMAN
Roman Polanski deserves worse punishment than he is ever going to get, and the fucking clueless, insular assholes in Hollywood defending him and calling for his release need to get a fucking clue. Exhibit A: Whoopi Goldberg, with perhaps the stupidest legal opinion of all time, "It wasn't RAPE rape."

Yes, it sure as hell was.

--

CRASH TEST DUMMIES
This is pretty cool. GM did a crash test pitting a 2010 Malibu against a 1959 Bel Aire. The results are pretty crazy. I was just thinking about the safety of big old cars on the way to work the other day... [via Jalopnik]

--

THE ICE IN HELL IS SAFE FOR SKATING
I registered as a commenter at Little Green Footballs. The current right-wing meltdown has Charles Johnson undergoing an enlightenment eerily reminiscent of John Cole, circa-Terri Schiavo. That was must-see tv, and this may be as well.

LINKS:
The Moustache of Understanding has an ominous column about the direction of right-wing hysteria.

President Obama hates your Blackberry.

The Stupid Police Work of the Week Award: Vermillion County, Indiana

Middleville, Michigan wants a piece of that award too...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Howard Dean on Health Care Reform: Daily Pulse Video Exclusive from Lindsay Beyerstein on Vimeo.

Too bad that guy's such a raving lunatic.

It might be the politically savvy move by Obama, but I think it just plain sucks that a guy like Dean has to be cut completely out of the discussion on health care simply because a small brain-dead portion of the country—even within his own party—regard him as too polarizing or controversial. I can only hope that people are actually listening to him on the down-low as they move this thing forward.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Memoriam

Putnam “Putty” Brown
March 1, 1999 - Sept. 28, 2009

Me: “If there was AKC Manual of Dog Breeds,
that would be the picture: Ultimate Hybrid Bijon.”

Mrs F: “Factually the most attractive dog on Earth.”

To the dog without whom I would never have met my wife,
that my children have never known their lives without.

You stole food, you soiled countless carpets, you actually ate money...

You would bark unceasingly at any man who entered our home, but you were gentle, kind, stoic and patient with any child whoever laid a hand on you.

How many times I cursed you for being leash-potty-trained at 2:00 a.m. when I just wanted to go to bed...but the foot of the bed will never be the same again.

We love you and we will miss you terribly.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Right Medicine?

Noted communists and terrorist-enabling fasci-libs MoveOn.org has a new video on health care reform. It might just be entertaining enough to get some good info across to people.

"What the...?"


So, I'm eating my little baggie of Apple-Cinnamon Cheerios and my fingers find a HUGE rock of the cinnamon-y stuff. Should I be excited? Or scared?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Out of Control

Von at Obsidian Wings, Radley Balko and Andrew Sullivan all link to this fascinating and upsetting post by Classically Liberal about Sex Offenders and Registry Laws. Why it's upsetting is not what you might think.

Sullivan also links to this Economist piece, which I think is even better.

This situation will never improve, because no politician or law enforcement person who has to answer to an electorate will ever come down on the right side.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This Way To The Ark


I took these Sunday morning at 10:45. It has rained every minute since, and it started late Saturday afternoon. Here's hoping the house is still there when I get home...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Dead Zone

The past few days I've been swamped with work...that's why there's nothing new 'round here.

This'll have to hold you...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nostrodennis

Dennis Kucinich has a diary up at Kos, where he predicts what he thinks will happen with health care reform...
1. House will make a big deal about keeping/putting a public option in HR3200 because it competes with insurance companies and will keep insurance rates low.

2. The White House will refer to the President's speech last week where he spoke favorably of the public option.

3. The Senate will kill the competitive public option in favor of non-competitive "co-ops". Senate leaders like Kent Conrad have said the votes to pass a public option were never there in the Senate.

4. The bill will come to a House-Senate Conference Committee without the public option.

5. House Democrats will be told to support the conference report on the legislation to support the President.

6. The bill will pass, not with a "public option" but with a private mandate requiring 30 million uninsured to buy private health insurance (if one doesn't already have it). If you are broke, you may get a subsidy. If you are not broke, you will get a fine if you do not purchase insurance.

This legislative sausage will be celebrated as a new breakthrough and will be packaged as health insurance reform. However, the bill may require a Surgeon General's warning label: Your Money or Your Life!

The bill that Congress passes may pale in comparison to the bill that millions of Americans will get every month/year for having or not having private health insurance.


It will take four years for the new legislation to go into effect. During that time, we are going to build a constituency of millions in support of real health care, a constituency which will be recognized and a cause which is right and just: Health Care as a Civil Right.

Join our efforts. Sign the petition. Contribute. Insure a democratic future.

Thank you.

Dennis

---
Dennis J. Kucinich (OH-10)
U.S. House of Representatives

If I were a betting man, my money'd be on something very close to that.

Always a Good Idea to Add Armed Allies

Steves at ATK turned me on to Gun Toting Liberal. His link to "How to Address an Issue Without Addressing the Issue" is a look at the behind-the-scenes amendment processon big legislation like the health care bill. It explains how the opposition party offers amendments to legislation they oppose—not to improve it, but to set up talking points and a win-win situation for them. This was part of what led to Rep. Wilson (R-rich, white suburbs of Charleston, SC) to his outburst during Obama's address.

Today, GTL has a post up on "The Republican Double Standard". It's mostly stuff you've heard about, but it's a nice recap to go with your coffee.

Adding to the blogroll... now.

UPDATE: That blogroll addition is provisionary. After spending a bit of time over there, not so sure about it...some good posts, but absurd guest posters, and the comment threads are worthless.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reading Assignment: The Final Fall of Bush's White House

Former Bush speechwriter Matthew Latimer has a book coming out on the time he spent in the White House—the Administration's final 22 months. GQ has an excerpt in the upcoming issue, and it's now online. It details events last fall—the botched bailout, McCain's "five-spiral crash," and Bush's reaction to the Palin pick. It's a good read...