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 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*



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:

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.

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.


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...