Gotta Love Her

Here’s Elizabeth Warren’s new ad in response to Karl Rove’s Republican funded Crossroads GPS ads:

Like I said about the Family Research Council prayer thing, what kind of person would want to dash the hopes of the poor and middle class in their struggle against the rich? Why don’t we ask Karl Rove?

But Karl’s attacks don’t seem to be hurting Warren like he planned. In fact it seems like they’ve have boomeranged on him and Scott Brown and rallied Massachusetts voters to Warren:

Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren drew about 1,000 supporters Sunday at a rally in Boston.

“The daughter of a maintenance man who made it to be a fancy pants professor at Harvard Law School. America is a great country,” she said to the audience, who had pledged to volunteer for her campaign at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury.

The turnout was remarkable for an election that is nearly a year away. The Boston Globe reported that her campaign said her opponent, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), has been drawing crowds of 200 to 500 at recent events. The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim reported on another recent volunteer event where Warren was heckled by a Tea Party supporter.

{{snicker}}

I would hesitate to call her bullet proof because there will always be an gullible contingent of voters and rabid nutcases who will find something they will turn into a kerning moment. But she’s smart and she will learn much more quickly than other people in her position. What more can we expect from Karl? Probably personal details. Everyone’s got’em. And then there’s the subtle misogyny. You know it’s coming. And then there is the time issue. As long as she’s the only featured candidate of the downtrodden middle class, she’s going to get the focus and relentless pounding. What we need are some other challengers for Congress and the Senate who will join her. Then Karl will have to play whack-a-mole. Imagine 435 moles popping up all over the place and Rove having to spend the money to smack them all down. How delightful.

Ahem, if you would like to contribute to Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, see her donations page here.

And don’t forget Al Franken who has consistently supported Net Neutrality. His defense of New Neutrality last week is clear and eloquent. Do yourself a favor and listen to the first 10 minutes. There has never been a better case for Net Neutrality nor better examples of what might have happened to the things we take for granted now if Net Neutrality hadn’t been in place since the internet was rolled out to regular folks in the early 90s.

Reward good behavior. Check Franken’s page for more support of what you like.
***********************

The Plum Line Metric for 11/11/11 (last Friday, Happy Hour post only):
Male writers: 12
Female writers: 2
PLM = 0.17 (rounded up to two significant digits)

We are making progress, not that The Plum Line is paying any attention to this number (yet).
BTW, Paul Krugman congratulated a writer for scoring a gig for an online journal. It was Matt Yglesias and he will be writing for Slate. Slate must have been concerned about the number of male opinion writers it had and took affirmative actions to address this lack of diversity.

Everything, including discrimination with regard to access and hiring of opinion writers, can be quantified. ;-)

Thursday: Saddle point

Do you get the idea that we have reached some kind of turning point?  Is there nowhere to go but up or are we sliding sideways into oblivion?  Will the public finally see what the Republicans really are once they take over the House during the mother of all recessions or has the preincubation of visions of GlennBeckistan done its job?  Will the masters of the corporate universe take a look at the balance sheets and finally realize that outsourcing is wasting the valuable productivity time of their remaining employees or will they keep forcing us into smaller workspaces with fewer resources to show that their beautiful management theories work in spite of all of the ugly facts?

Take the 2012 primary, for example.  Yesterday, Matt Bai in the NYTimes just idly speculated whether it was time for the Democrats to consider alternatives.  Predictably, Matt Bai, being from that tiny but vocal minority of the Democratic party that thinks it’s swell for non-viable personal favorites to run instead of people who actually like to practice politics has floated Howard Dean’s name to the top of the list.  Whatever.  The intellectual masturbation post of Bai’s generated 805 comments before the discussion was cut off (soooo not fair for those of us at work).  Russ Feingold also got some attention.  I have nothing against Feingold but he strikes me as a bit of an enigma.  You get the idea that he votes on principle but his principles are a bit quirky for everyday consumption.  I’m not sure the average Joe will *get* Feingold and, unless you’re living in Iran, the votes of the average Joe are still sort of necessary.  Hillary’s name is floated by many, many people who regret voting for Obama.  LOTS of regrets.

Over at Naked Capitalism, there are hints of another Black Swan event on the near horizon. It turns out that when Obama cut his deal, the nitwit forgot to get a guarantee on raising the debt ceiling from the Republicans.  Since the government will run out of money sometime during the first quarter of next year, we can probably look forward to a government shut down.  (Oh, no they woo-ent.  Oh yes, they would.)  Then there’s some stuff about municipal bonds that will be phased out next year, putting some big states at risk of insolvency.  It’s just so thrilling it makes me squirm with anticipation.  The speculation is that these moves are designed to put a huge amount of pressure on a fragile economic system and that Americans will cut loose their public service unions and slit their throats in order to avoid a major collapse of the global financial system.

If I were the president, I’d call the Republicans global terrorists and have them arrested for pulling that shit on us.  But that’s just me because I’m uncouth and rude while also being sanctimonious and pure.  Picture Joan of Arc with a beer gut.  Come on, Barry, you and Versailles have me all confused.  I have no idea what I’m supposed to be.  Just tell me this, am I still a virgin?

And then there are those annoying liberal Democrats who insist on sticking to their core principles.  Like Al Franken, who has the chutzpah to quote the New Testament and he’s not even a Christian.

(see this link for the rest of Franken’s excellent shellacking of the president and the Republicans)

Ehhhh, what does he know.  Today’s Christians don’t mess around with the New Testament.  I mean, if you read THAT side of the bible, you’d think that Jesus was a fricking Liberal or something.  And Franken keeps bringing up carpenters for some reason.  Jesus was a carpenter.  Of course, if Jesus were alive today, he would have just lost his pension to some greedy con artists on Wall Street who sold his pension fund a bunch of worthless tranches.   Good thing he was the Son of God or he’d be eating catfood.

(Hey, did you know that the Atheists community is the biggest contributor to Kiva?  Who knew?  They beat the pants off the Christians.)

But Obama, who kind of implies that everyone should have a faith or they’re worthless human beings, is a different kind of Christian.  You know, the kind that likes to court Evangelicals for political gain but thinks that it’s gauche to get all wrapped up in values and principles.  They would just get in the way of his “accomplishments”.   Jeez, Barry, why don’t you just take up needlepoint or some charming ideas for a painted table or something?

Anyway, Al’s suggestion that you help out someone in need for the holiday season is a pretty good idea.  Why not buy a disadvantaged kid you don’t know a present for Christmas?  (Or, I’m 1/8 Jewish so I’m entitled to one day of Hannukah, right? )  Your workplace may be sponsoring such an opportunity, like mine has for years now.  Take advantage of it and you will make a kid happy for the day.

Podcast for the day: On yesterday’s Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewd David Sanger of the NYTimes regarding the Wikileaks document dump from the State Department.  Count how many times they mention Hillary’s name.  It’s pretty hilarious.  They keep dancing around the subject of how well the State Department is doing these days and how forceful its response has been to Iran.  They even go so far as saying that the Iranian sanctions are nothing like what Barry had in mind when he was running for president.  They make a passing reference to Hillary calling him *naive* but are careful not to credit her with the harsher sanctions.

It is becoming more clear to me that if the Republicans are allowed to botch the country into third world status, it will be because Whole Foods Nation progressives just can’t get their heads out of their asses.  They would rather let the country die, die, die! before they let some “Blue dog” {{snort!}}, war hawk, triangulating, DLC loving, New Democrat like Hillary Clinton inflict her steely resolve and competence on Washington DC.

So, if we all end up poor and yoked to our billionaire masters of the universe, don’t blame it on Republicans.  Blame it on the self described “creative class” Democrats who want to replace Barack Obama with candidates who are not capable of winning or running the White House.  Yeah, that oughta learn them lousy Republicans.  Take that.

Ok, sports fans, I’m off to buy a Visa check card for Christmas for a 14 year old girl I don’t know.

Go and do likewise.

Message to Democrats: Don’t mess with us

I’m not sure that Democrats are getting the message.  They still think there is no place for us to go.  It’s either them or Republicans and we know that the Republicans are morally bankrupt.  Lately, we’ve seen that moral bankruptcy extends to the other party as well.  Two recent communiques stand out for me in this respect.

First, take this post, Does the Obama Administration Even Want to Win in November? , from Simon Johnson as proof that the Democrats just don’t give a f^&*.  Simon says:

There’s no story in the culture about what the big banks did and why. There is no attempt from the top to push through the key message for the day — financial reform — and to explain what this can do and how. The administration, in effect, is not even trying.

The inner team apparently thinks that 2012 will go just fine — as long as unemployment is down around 6 percent. And, they reason, the people who lose their seats this November won’t be around to complain.

Really?

If the administration fights hard and loses in November, that is one thing. If it fights on clear issues — forcing the other side to support Too Big To Fail structures — they may still lose, but such a loss will clearly communicate that the political strength of the big banks is now out of control. That is an issue to run on — and win big – -in 2012.

And if the administration doesn’t even care and hardly tries now, who will come out for them (or send a check) in two years?

The Obama team — both political and economic wings — seems to feel that their base has nowhere else to go, and all they need to do is drift towards the right in a moderately confused fashion to assure re-election for the president.

In short, the Obama administration is betting that you will be too desperate to salvage what little safety net is left after the GOP retakes control of Congress in 2010 that you will vote for Obama in 2012.  That’s what they’re betting on.  You will be so strapped, penniless and depleted of your retirement savings that you will automatically vote for Obama as a defense mechanism.  Who knows?  Maybe in September of 2012, we can expect the stock market to take another dizzying plunge, just to rattle everyones’ cages a bit.  Won’t that be fun?

Is that the Hope and Change that Obots voted for or does that sound like the machinations the oligarchy of some third world nation?

The second message is more disturbing considering its source.  I love Al Franken.  Everyone knows I do.  And I would walk over hot coals to vote for him if I were a Minnesotan.  But I really did not like the email I got from him on the Health Care Reform bill.  He is urging us to put pressure on House members to vote for the Senate bill with reassurances that it will be fixed later in reconciliation.  Al, there’s only one thing that Reagan ever said that I took to heart: “Trust, but verify”.  Any smart progressive or liberal would have to be nuts to believe that there will be a successful reconciliation *AFTER* the Senate bill passes in its present form.  I don’t want to know about secret deals or 11 dimensional chess or any other supposed secret plan to scuttle the Republicans.  I want you guys to act like Democrats.  If the House members vote for the Senate bill as is, they’re signing their political death warrants with the base.  The Senate bill violates core Democratic principles and so does many elements of the House for that matter.

So, let me deliver a message from the base to the Democrats.  Here are the things we want to see you guys get your asses in gear to do before November 2010.  And remember, there are just enough of us marginal voters out there to really harsh your electoral mellow going forward.  Just keep Corzine and Martha Coakley in mind.  We don’t have to vote.  If you want to stay in power, you need to start kissing up to us and fast.  And just forget about our support for Obama in 2012.  Nothing could make us vote for him now that he’s proven to be the empty suit, opportunist that we predicted he’d be.  If you don’t want a Republican in the White House, you’d better start working on the Obama problem now.

Here’s the CHANGE we want in very simple, straightfoward terms:

  • NO MANDATES WITHOUT REAL COMPETITION in the health care insurance market.  For EVERYONE.  That means strengthening antitrust legislation and allowing everyone who has a policy to go shopping for a better one with a standard benefits package. We’ll know it when we see it.  So far, we haven’t seen it.  Don’t expect support until this requirement is met.  You may have to piss off Max Baucus.  That is fine with us.
  • We want you to SOAK THE RICH.  This is what you were elected to do.  You may have thought you were just riding the coattails of the first black president phenomenon but that’s not true.  The CHANGE we wanted was protection of the middle class against the rape and pillagers who had Bush’s ear for 8 years.  Go back to the Clinton tax levels for everyone.  Claim a national emergency.  Put in a sunset provision for 2020. Dump the excise tax or pay for it with your seats.
  • We want you to SOAK THE RICH when it comes to the financial industry.  Get the bonus money back.
  • We want you to SUPPORT GENDER EQUALITY.  No more deals with Stupak.  Draw a line in the sand with him and then dare him to cross it.  Don’t give him money to run in November.  Make HIM the poster child of bad behavior.  If you don’t, your party can never again use protecting reproductive rights as an incentive for any woman to vote for you.  Your credibility will be permanently shot.  No, this is not negotiable.  No one will ever believe you again.  It’s up to you.  There are a lot of American female voters out there.  You gotta ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky today?”
  • We want you to SAVE AMERICAN JOBS.  Figure out a way to keep the TARP money from going overseas to speculate in emerging markets.  That’s our money and we shouldn’t be betting against ourselves.
  • DON’T TOUCH SOCIAL SECURITY.  Some of us have been paying the extra payroll tax all of our working lives.  That’s our insurance policy, we’ve paid for it and we have every expectation that it will be paid to us as advertised.  No, don’t even go there.  We aren’t buying it.  You depleted the trust fund?  You figure out how to get that money back.  See SOAK THE RICH above.

If you don’t start playing the game by our rules, you’ll be out on your asses before you know what hit you.  This is the age of mass communications and viral memes and social networking.  Your ability to fool enough of the people most of the time is going to lose it’s mojo pretty soon.  Cable news audiences are going away.  More and more people are looking at the wreckage of their middle class lives and they’re not buying the propaganda you’re catapulting anymore.  They’re starting to trust their lying eyes.  All you need is one good movement to catch fire.  It ain’t the Tea Party movement.

You will be surprised what people can do from the comfort of their own homes.  A protest doesn’t require hordes of people marching in the streets carrying banners and shouting slogans.  Self organizing is remarkably easy to do without the sting of tear gas or police batons.  It can be quick and painless.  Just because it’s quiet out there now doesn’t mean that the atmosphere isn’t charged.  Depending on the energy behind the movement, the pendulum may swing a lot farther than you anticipate.

If you have any sense of political self-preservation, you won’t test us.

Wednesday Morning: The first Jewish President?

Hi guys, I have a bit of time this morning to add to SOD’s quicky.  So, let’s get to it.

I found this clip of Al Franken at Susie’s place.  He makes an excellent case for sticking to your principles especially when it comes to supporting American working families.  At the same time, he tears apart the Republican and Tea Party rationale for denying needy Americans the money to work, pay their COBRA bills and feed their kids in order to spare the deficit.   He talks about how we gave away trillions in taxpayer money to the banking industry to bail them out after they took the world over the cliff.  That was OUR money and now we’re supposed to take a haircut in order to keep the deficit from expanding?  American working families should have been the first people helped out, not merely an afterthought.  Many of the unemployed would still have jobs if it weren’t for those crooks.  But I digress.  Enjoy the clip.

Correct me if I’m wrong but does it feel like Al is picking up the burden of FDR Democrats everywhere?  He’s really matured (but not too much, I hope).  What would it be like to have the first Jewish president and have a White House Hannukah special on HGTV every year?

Some Health Care Industries are more equal than others

Also found at Susie’s place, here’s a piece from Miles Mogulescu at Huffpo about the deal that Obama cut with hospitals. Check out this little sample:

This is one of the great under-reported stories of the health reform saga. Much has been written about the Obama administration’s deal with big Pharma to continue to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices or to allow consumers to buy cheaper drugs from Canada, in exchange for Pharma running pro-Democratic ads and giving campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. That’s the reason, under pressure from the White House, that Senate Democrats voted down an amendment that would have allowed consumers to buy cheaper drugs from overseas.

But Obama’s deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to insure there would be no public option has, as best I can tell, only been reported in two articles in The New York Times. On August 13, The Timesreported that while President Obama had presented himself as “aloof from the legislative fray,” particularly in connection with the public option, “Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and advisors have been…negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president’s rhetoric.” One of the deals reported in The Times article was the Pharma deal. The other was a deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to limit its cost reductions to $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for a White House promise that there would be no meaningful public option.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that one of the advisors that Obama has been listening to has been Michelle Obama who used to be an administrator in the hospital industry.  And now, here’s a story I heard from a friend of mine who is an expat from a country where health insurance is a government priority: A couple of years ago, her husband had to have hernia surgery here in NJ.  It was an outpatient affair.  He was in and out in four hours.  Wanna know how much it cost?  Go on, guess.  Give up?

$73,000.

Yup, that didn’t include the anesthesiologist or the surgeon.  It was just the hospital.  My friend was shocked so she called the insurance company to find out what gives.  It must have been a mistake.  The insurance company said, yes, that does seem excessive.  So, it renegotiated with the hospital.  The final bill came to $40,000 or roughly $10,000 an hour.  She’s still trying to figure out what they got for that money.  I’d like people to at least think about that when they are so quick to condemn what they see as the outrageous cost of drugs.  Those drugs can keep you out of the hospital.  And while I think the pharma CEOs made a strategic error lobbying the way they did, especially since it did absolutely nothing to resolve the underlying issues plaguing the industry, I have to wonder how it is we always focus our laser beam intensity on Big Pharma while the hospital industry comes up smelling like a rose.  I suspect it has something to do with the Democratic party’s reliance on class action lawyers for campaign contributions but I’ll save that for another post.  Let’s just say that both parties are responsible for the pathetic approach to health care reform.

Curing cancer one molecular target at a time

Target Cancer is a series  featured last week in the New York Times that’s right up my alley.   It’s about new drugs for the treatment of cancer, specifically melanoma, and the process by which medicine and the pharmaceutical industry carry out clinical trials.  It’s particularly interesting because it delves into how our evolving understanding of the molecular biology of the cell can be harnessed to tailor our treatment of disease to the individual.  Very encouraging.

Are these people for real??

Digby watches the Sunday morning talking heads so we don’t have to.  This week, Versailles gets it’s panties in a bunch trying to justify why they took down Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary.  Sam Donaldson says she was violating some sumptuary law. Cokie Roberts tries to put a less embarrassing spin on the whole affair.  Krugman just shakes his head in disbelief.

These people should be humiliated, the sooner, the better.

Save the BBC webservices!

As most of you know, I am a podcast junky.  But what you might not know is some of the best podcasts on the web come from the BBC.  That’s why I was concerned to see that the BBC is planning to make cuts in their radio and web services.  The BBC does top quality work.  They have a rich variety of programs on history, the ascent of man, philosophy, radio drama, etc.  It’s hard to find American podcasts of this quality that are as consistently good and well funded.  (There are exceptions like This American Life and Backstory but they don’t have the commitment from our government that the BBC has so I always get the feeling that the best American cultural programming we have is ephemeral, dependent and desperate for donors to pony up five bucks every so often to pay for bandwidth.  Sort of like Lambert soliciting donations to keep the hamsters going.  Is this any way to run a public broadcasting service?  I’d pay for the privilege of supporting something like BBC Radio 4.

To give you a taste of what you might be missing, check out the BBC’s latest hit series, A History of the World in 100 Objects.  This podcast is on break right now so it’s a perfect opportunity to catch up on the first 25 episodes.  Start with the one on a stone cutting tool from the Oldevai Gorge.  Each episode is about 15 minutes long and includes pictures and video of each object being discussed.  If you like quiet afternoons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you will love this series.

Hate NBC Olympics coverage? Blame merger mania.

Watch the snow and imagine Vonn skiing through it

Violet Socks is not the only person PO’d with NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. (There are plenty of complaints here and here.) Violet can’t see coverage in real time and she apparently works from home.  I can’t see it at all at work, not even with my dual recording DVR because there’s nothing to record in real time that I want to see.  NBC is even time delaying their broadcasts to the west coast.  That’s right, if you live in Seattle, you can’t see what’s going on in Vancouver, just up the road a spell, until 8PM when NBC, who has exclusive broadcasting rights in the USA, will turn to its marketing department to determine what you want.  If you are an American, NBC will presume that you don’t give a rat’s ass about the rest of the world’s athletes.  You will get highlights of events where Americans are expected to medal (or is that podium? ).  Interspersed with your carefully selected and edited sports niblets will be a ^&*(load of commercials and some nauseating human interest stories of determination and perserverence triumphing over heartbreaking personal loss and devastating injury.  (yeah, right, Lindsey Vonn’s shin injury was catastrophic.  Tell it to the podium)

It’s like getting dial-up Olympics coverage from AOL in a gigabit ether world that exists but that your municipality has forbidden you to get.  (No, I’m no bitter at all that I’m stuck on sucky DSL because my only other option is Comcast).

Why should you care?  Oh, I dunno.  I guess it’s because showing the games in real time should be a no brainer.  It’s not 1972 anymore and this is not the Wide World of Sports where, by the way, I think they showed every skiier from every country in their coverage of skiing.  This is 2010 where we *should* have instant access to everything.  If NBC is giving us sh^&&ty coverage, we should be able to turn to online sources for events in real time, that is, if they weren’t blocked by American IP address.  We should be able to go to a Canadian or European broadcaster for our downhill fix.

So, what’s going on here?  Ok, as  professional merger survivors, let me and my friends hazard a guess as to why NBC is failing to live up to our expectations.  Right now, Comcast and NBC are trying to merge.  Here’s how that goes: the first day that a merger is announced, all work comes to a screeching halt.  Formerly productive people spend their time speculating on the political chess game that is going on in their departments.  Who’s in, who’s out.  Projects are put on hold pending further review.  Projects that are going gangbusters prior to a merger announcement slow down to a trot.  People twiddle their thumbs while their overlords stab each other in the back, swing their dicks around and use their prodigious MBA’s to implement the idiotic plans of the consulting group they just hired to “transform” the place.  Then, because “we are too menny“, there must be layoffs.  The formerly productive workers cancel their living room furniture purchases and concentrate on getting their houses ready for a quick sale.  They spend hours grooming their resumes and making calculations of their gross yearly income based on the severance package that the company beancounters have sent out.  They sweat and worry and make appointments with their doctors to get the old bods in good working order while they still have health insurance.

Und zen zey vait.

How long will it take before all of the alpha males (and they are ALWAYS male) decide that they have strutted and preened enough to satisfy the shareholders, taken their cut and skeedaddled before everyone can get back to work?  Eventually, it happens.  Everyone is now one big happy company with values like “innovation!” and “Creativity!”.  But by that time, creativity has taken a backseat to survival.  When the Olympics roll around, the creative, innovative departments look around at their reduced headcount and their devastated budget and the even more manipulative and controlling overlords and they punt.  Just do it the way you did it last time.  Forget that there is new technology.  You don’t have the time, manpower or money to do it better.  Yeah, the shareholders (and you are probably one of them, which gives “conflict of interest”a new meaning) won’t get their bang for their buck but they won’t notice for at least another quarter.  And by then, your management will be looking for new “opportunities”.

Creativity?  Innovation?  Pleasing your customer base?  Who the f&*( has time for that when you’ve just kept your job by the skin of your teeth and the Idiots in Charge are too impressed with their business school credentials to listen to you anyway?

So, Comcast/NBC, when they finally merge, will push out content in time delay, like they do now, like it is 1972.  Only a few voices will stand up and call them on their borg like “You will be assimilated.  Resistence is useless” attitude.  We will fall farther and farther behind our Canadian, Asian and European counterparts.  We will have a free market, laissez faire, anything goes market place in the US where no one benefits but the consultants and the people who jettison at the last minute with golden parachutes, leaving everyone else with the bag and the blame.

So, what to do?  Well, we can’t prevent every merger but Al Franken is working on preventing Comcast/NBC.  Imagine if every innovation was given the same short shrift if the Comcast/NBC merger goes through.  Your cable company will control the horizontal and the vertical and you’ll NEVER see Lindsey Vonn ski in prime time- ever.

Ain’t America great?

To contribute to the only loud mouth in the Senate willing to stand up for us against the borgs, click here.

Now’s your chance to put your foot down and say “NO!” to more mergers, less freedom of speech, less control over content, less innovation.

Reward Good Behavior- Al Franken

Al Franken has been busy, busy, busy this week!  Just look at all the stuff he’s been up to:

  • Al Franken spoke sternly to David Axelrod (does anyone else think that Axelrod has the profile of a rat? Raise your hand).  Where is the leadership from the White House?  LOL!  That’s a good one, Al.  I’m sure that was meant to be a rhetorical question.  See, Obama and his droogs handlers don’t think they *have* to lead.   I guess the White House figures that either the Senate forces the health care insurance reform bill on the House as is and makes the whole Democratic party look like they are capitulating to the right, thereby alienating their base, possibly permanently, or the Senate grows a more liberal spine and gets blamed by the media for capitulating to the extremist left.  Ooooo, Tea Partiers!  BOO!  It’s not like the media and its superultrauber wealthy, ruthless authoritarian owners like the Rupert Murdoch and Jack Welch proteges don’t have a vested interest in turning up the volume on those tea partiers.  Whatever, is the attitude the White House is projecting, with Obama doing the “And that would affect me how…?” posture of the smartass teenager.  Everyone <3 Obama, or so Axelrod thinks.  But my momma told me that “Looks don’t last, cookin’ do” (It’s probably Pennsylvania Dutch).  I suspect that a lot of people in those polls say they like Obama because they’re sick of being called racists if they say they don’t like his poor presidential leadership.   Obama might need his party someday.  Better make friends with those senators and stop being so coy and ethereal about his political philosophy.  Sink or swim with your party.  Solidarity should mean something and besides, we’re losing patience out here.
  • Al Franken gave a speech to NARAL on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  You can read the whole thing here.  Al’s got our back on the Choice front but I would like Al to think bigger than Roe v. Wade.  After all, we wouldn’t need a Roe v. Wade if women were truly equal persons under the law and were able to exercise their unalienable right to decide for themselves whether or not to become parents.  Or their unalienable right to worship as they please or not please.  Or their unalienable right to determine their own morality about their reproductive decisions as women in many developed countries around the world are able to do.  The time has come.  Roe v. Wade was never our ticket to equality.  Let it die.  Bring on the war.
  • Al Franken takes on media giants Comcast and NBC.  He’s absolutely right about one thing.  You can’t trust the media.  They are not on the side of a free society.  They on the side of those maintaining a carefully controlled underclass.  Hey, if Democrats want to vote for this merger without closing all of the loopholes and strengthening the anti-trust protections, who are we to stop them?  They’ve never wanted our input on anything anyway (but they call our houses incessantly for money and our votes).  On the other hand, I can see no logical reason why any entity would consciously participate in its own demise, content with a few weak promises of restraint from the guys who potentially have Democrats’ balls in their hands come election time.  If Comcast and NBC REALLY, REALLY want to merge, now is the time to extract that pound of flesh, like reinstatement of the “fairness doctrine” or painful concessions on net neutrality or new rules regarding competition in townships like mine where Comcast practically owns the high speed internet market, keeping out competitors like Verizon FIOS.  This is a no-brainer to those of us out here watching.  But Democrats have been winning a lot of Darwin Awards for the past several decades so expect them to screw it up.
Trust me, kids, the Al Franken Decade was a classic

The Al Franken Decade was a classic.

I’m happy to say that Al was one of my better bets in 2008.  He’s turned out to be pretty much what I expected: an assertive, principled, liberal Democrat who is a royal pain in the ass to the Republicans and some Democrats alike.  He opens his mouth and shameless liberal ideals come out of it.  Watching him go after insurance companies that cut people off at their sickest, defense contractors who force rape victims into mediation and Joe Lieberman’s endless monotone bogarting of the Senate mic has been a joy and a pleasure.  This may be the “Al Franken Decade”.  It’s 30 years late but I’ll take it.

In the meantime, I propose we show Al some appreciation and demonstrate to the other “anonymous Senators” who are secret liberal Al admirers (that means YOU, Bob Menendez)  that good behavior will be rewarded.  You can make a contribution to Al here.

$25 per Conflucian adds up to a lot of reward.

Friday Morning News and Views

Good morning Conflucians!!! TGIF!

When I first wrote that I really thought it was a good morning. I just spent around 2-1/2 hours writing a long morning news post, and when I tried to save it, I discovered that WordPress had logged me out. Therefore, my entire post was wiped out. I’ll try to recreate some of it, but here are some non-political stories to get you started. Too bad I got so involved in writing that I didn’t save till the end…

We were back in the deep freeze this morning in New England–12 degrees where I live, but we aren’t facing what the Twitter folks are calling “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse.”

the main event with this storm will be heavy snow in the Mid-Atlantic States. Snow will begin in the Washington area this afternoon and spread northward towards Philadelphia by evening.

Heavy snow will continue into Saturday before winding down by evening. Travel may grind to a halt for a time, especially overnight and Saturday.

By the time the storm ends, many areas in northern Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and southern Pennsylvania will have over a foot of snow. Some places may end up nearly two feet of snow from this storm.

As the low pushes off the coast, it will strengthen quickly and produce very strong winds, especially along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Gusts between 45 and 50 mph are possible from southern New Jersey to the Norfolk area Friday night and Saturday morning.

Blizzard warnings are in effect for southeastern areas of New Jersey as well as much of Delaware.

It is also worth mentioning that this storm will spread snow as far west as the Ohio Valley.

Amazingly, the storm is expected to blow out to sea before it can get up here to New England. It’s our second weekend of nice weather while those south and west of us suffer. I feel for the people in the areas that will be hard-hit, but I’m sure glad I won’t have to shovel snow this weekend (fingers crossed, because you never know with the weather).

Police Arrest Drive-by Ass Grabber (with video!)

RIDGELAND, Miss. — A Madison man was arrested by Ridgeland police and is accused of driving up and grabbing a woman’s butt, police said.

Christopher Johnson, 26, was arrested Friday and is charged with disorderly conduct, Ridgeland police said.

He is accused of grabbing Debbie Thweatt’s butt as she was walking out of Walmart in Ridgeland Tuesday, police said.

The guy grabbed another woman’s ass before he was arrested!

Beware lottery winners: Friend of slain lottery winner arrested on accessory charges

A Florida woman has been arrested in connection with the death of a lottery millionaire, whose body was found buried under recently added concrete at a home, authorities said.

Dorice Donegan Moore, 37, was arrested Tuesday evening on charges of accessory after the fact regarding a first-degree murder in the death of Abraham Shakespeare, 43, said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.

Moore befriended Shakespeare after he won a $31 million Florida lottery prize in 2006 and was named a person of interest in the case after Shakespeare went missing, authorities said.

******************************************************************************

Can I just say again that I love Al Franken?


Al Franken lays into David Axelrod over health care bill

Sen. Al Franken ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod this week during a tense, closed-door session with Senate Democrats.

Five sources who were in the room tell POLITICO that Franken criticized Axelrod for the administration’s failure to provide clarity or direction on health care and the other big bills it wants Congress to enact.

The sources said Franken was the most outspoken senator in the meeting, which followed President Barack Obama’s question-and-answer session with Senate Democrats at the Newseum on Wednesday. But they also said the Minnesotan wasn’t the only angry Democrat in the room.

“There was a lot of frustration in there,” said a Democratic senator who declined to be identified.

“People were hot,” another Democratic senator said.

But apparently Franken was the only one with real guts.

And then there’s this: Sen. Al Franken Rips NBC, Comcast Execs Over $30 Billion Merger

and this: Franken telling weak-kneed NARAL to beware of the current SCOTUS, especially Chief Justice Roberts.

What redeems my faith in the system is the fact that every so often, a politician comes along who actually exceeds my expectations, who comports themself the way we expect a politician to — without fear of losing, with more of a focus on the people they represent than the next election. The late, great Sen. Paul Wellstone, DFL-Minn., was one of those politicians. He ran a spirited campaign and talked a good show, but once elected he backed up his words with actions. He walked the talk.

And now, the man who holds his seat in the Senate is doing the same thing.

On Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., served as the keynote speaker for the NARAL Pro-Choice America Roe v. Wade anniversary luncheon. And his remarks to the group were outstanding. Franken gave a full-throated, unapologetic defense of the right of women to choose their own reproductive destinies — and did so with both humor and grace.

I like this piece on Franken by Allison Kilkenney at True/Slant

Kilkenny is very good. She had a great snarky post yesterday too: Another columnist asks administration for blanky, cup of cocoa. It’s about “Terrorism Derangement Syndrome.”

Another loudmouthed politician whom I don’t like or trust as much as I used to, Barney Frank, made a very good speech recently about how the Right Wing Noise Machine works.

I have to agree with Frank that John Fund is a slimy, scurrilous liar and he deserves to be shunned.

Dennis Kucinich (another member of the House whom I don’t trust as much as I used to) has a post at Truthdig on health care reform after Massachusetts.

The verdict in Massachusetts was a verdict on the overall economy. But it was also a commentary on how the entire health care debate was flipped upside down by insurance interests who were able to intervene so that the final product that was offered out of the Senate was nothing more than a sell-out to the insurance industry.

We can still have health care reform in America. We need to take a short-term and a longer-term view. On the short-term: We need to take away the antitrust exemption that insurance companies have. We need to make sure, on the short-term, that we can see everyone with a pre-existing condition have access to insurance. There are things that we can do with single-initiatives to help regain the momentum on health care.

And for the longer-term: The answer is “Medicare for All.” The answer was never to continue to give the insurance companies one out of every three dollars in our health care system.

If only someone would listen to him!

Please check out this autobiographical piece on living under DADT by Retired Navy Capt. Joan E. Darrah.

OK, that’s about all I can remember of my lost post. I know I had more links, but I can’t remember them all. I’ll leave it to you Conflucians to post your stories in the comments. I love you guys!

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!!

What will it take for Koolaid drinkers to finally accept reality?

Some still refuse to see the truth

Some still refuse to see the truth

The Obama administration’s betrayals of liberalism are ubiquitous. Has he ever kept a single one of his campaign promises? They could hardly be called promises anyway, since Obama had such a long history of voting “present” before he ran for President. Way back in January, 2008, I was asking Obama supporters to name an issue that he really cared about enough to stand and fight.

I never got a clear answer–because Obama never made those kinds of commitments. He was always wishy-washy and all over the place when it came to important issues. Yet we are still seeing passionate Obama supporters who fail to deal with this reality. Here are three examples of Obama administration betrayals that I found today in about 10 minutes of ‘net surfing.

Outrage #1

Long-time Obama stooge and Huffpo columnist Sam Stein reports today that unnamed “Hill aides” have complained to him that the votes for the public option would be there in the Senate if only President Obama would step up and fight for its inclusion in the health care reform bill.

“There is a clear sense that it would be helpful,” said one senior Democratic aide. “Throughout this entire debate the White House line has been ‘We will weigh in when it is necessary’…. Well now we need 60 votes. So if it’s not necessary now, then when will it be?”

“I think folks in general in Congress were looking to the president to clearly define his feeling on the issue,” another aide said. “And I don’t think he has done that on the public option from the get-go… With a lot of senators nervous because of elections or other political dynamics, it would be helpful for the president to send a strong signal that this is what he wants in the final bill.”

Let me get this straight. There are still people working for U.S. Senators who actually believe that Obama supports the inclusion of a public option in the bill?! And these morons are helping to run our government? No wonder things are so f**ked up! These “Hill aides” need to put down the Koolaid glass and step away from the punch bowl. Time for a reality check. Obama doesn’t care about the public option. He will only accept one if it is either completely neutered or forced on him. Pull up your britches and fight for it yourself! Continue reading

THE most serious question at Sotomayor’s hearing was asked by… Franken?

Holy Hemiola, Republicans are a repetitive bunch.  Did any one of them ever have an independent thought?  The way they zeroed in on her “wise latina” word combination was like some SETI scientists looking for meaningful patterns in vast field of verbal graffitti, like none of the other billions of words Sotomayor has ever uttered made sense.  In some very no-so-subtle ways, they managed to communicate that a latina woman should show more deference to a southern white gentleman, that life experiences are strictly forbidden for Democrats but perfectly OK for Republican nominees like Concerned Alumni of Princeton Alito and “high tech lynching” Thomas, and that with 7 white men out of 9 members of the court (that’s 78% for those of you who are keeping track), this is a population that needs to be protected, the poor things.  Let me get this straight:  white males are the downtrodden of the earth, put upon and underpriveleged and that’s why we need so many of them on the court.  Women?  ehhhhh, not so much.  I would hope that women voters in Republican districts would keep this in mind when they go to the polls in 2010 but as my mom says, people have short memories.  They will forget what empty headed, arrogant, clueless, condescending jerks Jeff Sessions and Lindsay Graham were.

Franken, on the other hand, will be known for his Perry Mason moment instead of the most important question asked at the hearings.  Here’s the question:

Now, you may be wondering why Franken would be concerned with “net neutrality”.  I’m going to take a guess here that it’s for the same reason he was a founding member of Air America.  Back in 2003, corporate media controlled the horizontal and the vertical.  Well, it still does.  The propaganda might be coming from a pseudo-Democratic White House but it’s still propaganda and there are precious few sources of push back.

Air America’s flagship station was a tiny station in NYC, WLIB, with a very weak signal.  In central NJ, just 36 miles away, I could barely pick it up on my car radio.  During some of the more critical news stories of 2003-2004, I couldn’t get it at all.  There was a competing station from Indiana, of all places, that was a superbroadcaster.  The Indiana station would crank up the volume up to 11 and blast right wing talking points, overwhelming that tiny whisper from Air America.  I noticed that Indiana wouldn’t always be blasting away.  It only happened when I wanted to hear a different opinion on an important news story.

That left me with live streaming Air America from the internet.  Now, I might live right in the heart of telecommunications R&D central, not far from ATT and Lucent and all the rest.  But my internet providers are very, VERY limited.  There are days that I swear they are blocking access or slowing down the download speeds to sites I want to access.  I’m sure I’m just being paranoid but isn’t this Franken’s point?

Who owns the internet?  Is it the corporations who laid the cables or us?  Do we have a right to access it to exercise our first amendment rights or is it possible for a Supreme Court judge to say, “I said you have a right to free speech.  I didn’t say Verizon FIOS had an obligation to carry your words to the rest of the world.  If you want to be heard, buy a megaphone and try not to get arrested for disturbing the peace”

The corporations might say they own the cables but *WE* paid for them.  Everytime we made a phone call or emailed our mothers or purchased that electric raclette grill from amazon or downloaded Lady Gaga from iTunes, we pay for laying down new lines through the hefty fees added to our bills every month.  Isn’t that the excuse that these companies are always making for raising the rates?  They have to add new lines, update the technology?  Ok, we paid for that.  Did we forfeit our right of free speech when we entered into an agreement with these companies?  That is essentially the question Al Franken asks.  Sotomayor responds that it depends on the policy established by Congress.

Ahhh, back to those bastards.  So, if Congress gives away the store to ATT, FIOS, Embarq and the like, is our only recourse to vote them out of office?  And if we want to run alternative candidates, how to we make sure these candidates get a fair hearing?  The internet has the capacity to change the electoral landscape by allowing candidates to circumvent the corporate media gatekeepers.  But if you don’t have free, unfettered access, is this really possible?  Is it possible that in 2010, we will see candidates who want to primary incumbents blocked by service providers from doing so?

The problem is not a hypothetical “maybe”.  It could happen now.  The question goes to the very heart of our system of democracy.  The right to free speech, to be heard, to foment insurrection if necessary, was the first right that was granted to us in the Constitution by people who knew what it means to need to overthrow your government.  These days, we would prefer to overthrow our government at the ballot box. But if you can only make your voting decisions based on disinformation, if it is legal for corporations to promote disinformation for its own benefit and if those corporations are granted the protection of “personhood”, doesn’t this infringe on the rights of the individual to be heard and have the power of full citizenship?

We need only look to Iran for the answer to this question.  Their election was highly questionable, so highly questionable that they demanded a recount or a new election.  Instead, the government cut off their access to the internet, their ability to organize and then ruthlessly suppressed the protestors.  Could it happen here?  Hell, yes.  All we need is a bunch of hyperbolic blowhards on cable news networks terrifying people into thinking it could provoke another 9/11 and we’re there, baby.

How do we prevent that from happening?  That’s essentially what Franken is asking.  How do we exercise our free speech when someone else has our voice and can turn down the volume?  Does that old playground boast, “It’s a free country, I can say whatever I like” still have any real meaning?  Sotomayor’s answer, to me, was less than satisfying.  I think she will be deferential to the corporation’s lawyers when the issue finally makes it to the USSC.  I’ve been wrong before but let’s just call it a hunch.  It’s like her answer on abortion.  Yes, women have a right to privacy with their doctors- under certain circumstances.  Maybe I’m dense or something but if someone else is setting the “circumstances” under which you have a right to privacy, then there isn’t much privacy.  But I digress.

The more important issue is freedom of speech.  It precedes all others.  It allows you to question authority and persuade your fellow citizens.  Without it, there would be no discussion of abortion or gun rights or health care.  Or at least, no competing opinions.  And as technology has changed the way we access our information, allowing us to benefit from the internet’s advantages of speed and relational information, those of us who do not control that access will be at a severe disadvantage as citizens.  We might as well be wearing a gag.

Which is just how the monopolies like it.

Podcast of the day: Control of the media has been going on ever since there was a printing press.  Check out Melvyn Bragg In Our Time’s Seventeenth Century Print Culture.  King Henry VIII was one of the first to crack down on the press by banning the vernacular bible and forbidding women and servants from reading it.  They might get the notion that they knew what it meant.  Sounds like Lindsay Graham’s kind of guy.


Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Live Blog: Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings, Day Four

From C-Span:

On Day Four of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Sen. Judiciary Cmte. completes the second round of questions. Following that, the Cmte. calls the first panel of witnesses.

Watch SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings on-line here.

Memorable moments from yesterday’s hearings:

Senator Al Franken questions SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor about abortion rights and privacy.

Senator Al Franken reminisces with Sonia Sotomayor about Perry Mason.


Digg!!! Share!!! Tweet!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 414 other followers