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Does Molina know anything about Clare Booth Luce??

I just couldn’t resist jumping into the pool over Eva Molina’s Ode to a Young Conservative Woman , Where Have All the Ladies Gone? at Townhall.  I can only assume that Ms. Molina is a legacy student at the very exclusive and ridiculously expensive Amherst College.  How else could someone so utterly unaware write such a post?  Ms. Molina should download seasons one and two of Mad Men to find out what happens to ‘nice girls’ and ladies when women strip themselves of agency in the hopes that the right man will snag them.  Even from a natural selection point of view, the human female’s propensity to defer to the wishes of males in mating, well, goes against nature.  In nature, females decide and it is up to the males to prove themselves to be up to the rutting and rearing.  That’s what all the strutting and preening is about.

Scratch that.  As a conservative lady, Molina may not be conversant in the language of evolution and Darwin.  Yep, she must be a legacy. But what I find so utterly incomprehensible is how Molina, an intern for the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, is unfamiliar with the unladylike behavior of her summer benefactor, Clare Booth Luce.

Clare had a dark side

Clare had a dark side

In The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington, Dahl as Luce’s lover described her as an insatiable sex addict. From another article on the subject, we get these tasty morsels:

Among his [Dahl’s] conquests were, Millicent Rogers, heiress to a Standard Oil fortune and Clare Boothe Luce, a right-wing congresswoman and sex-mad wife of the publisher of Time magazine.

Dahl once told friends that Boothe Luce, who was 13 years older, had left him ‘all f***** out’ after spending three nights in bed with her.

The biograpy describes a British embassy dinner, when  Dahl was placed deliberately next to Boothe Luce, whose anticolonial opinions and dislike of Churchill worried British officials.

His mission was to keep close to Boothe Luce and he succeeded admirably.

Dahl later claimed to have asked his superiors to take him off the assignment because of her sexual exploits but he was told to close his eyes and think of England.

Ok, Dahl may have had a gift for exaggeration but apparently Luce’s unladylike behavior in the bedroom was a well known commodity.  (I believe she swore also.)  Not only was she a tiger in bed, she was a *married* tiger.  When she was bedding Dahl, she was on her second well-connected husband, Henry Luce, after having previously married George Brokaw, the heir of a clothing manufacturing fortune.  Not bad for the illegitimate daughter of a dancer who went on to become a dancer and thespian herself in the days when well-bred and genteel conservative ladies did not do such things.  In her yearbook, she would have been “Least likely to be accepted at Amherst”. Oh, well, she probably made her hubbies wait until the wedding night before she snogged them silly.

It turns out that Clare cleaned up her act after the death of her only child and became a devout Roman Catholic.  But that was only after she lead a full, rich life, partying and writing and politicking, and suffragetting (Horrors!  She was a feminist too?!) and screwing Roald Dahl to the sheets. She was a pretty successful slut, was Clare Booth Luce.

Not really a point here except that Molina will probably never have to work her way up the hard way like poor Clare. But she should know that her husbands are probably not going to marry her for her scintillating conversation or intelligence.  Well, not after today’s post anyway.

Just sayin’.

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Billionaires for Weathcare Open Thread


Billionaires for Wealthcare, a newly formed lobbying group in California, is adding its voice to town hall protests against government interference in the U.S. health care system. You think you have a right to health care? Forget about it. One sign held by a “billionaire” protester in Spring Valley, CA read “If God loved the poor people, he wouldn’t let them get sick.” Another sign read “We love BlueDogs. A solid investment in healthcare profiteering.”

If you’re a billionaire who wants to hold onto your riches, join the movement. You can download and print signs with messages like “NO to Socialism, YES to Feudalism” and “Private Health Care: Because Corporations Know What’s Good for You” from this page, or you can dream up wealth-supporting signs of your own.

The group’s video is overly long and somewhat amateurish, but it gives you a sense of the energy behind this new movement to rescue the very very wealthy from any changes in the status quo.

The Burning Land




(Photos from the Los Angeles Times)

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Who here thinks creativity is easy?

You’ve probably seen this ad in the past couple of days.  I really loved it, although I’m not sure who at Intel approved of it:

I know the guy who invented one of the most widely used anti-depressants in history.  The company that he worked for bought his patent for a buck and is reaping in billions every year- well, for the time being anyway.  And what did Morris get?  Well, other than a pretty nice bonus, he gets fan mail.  He get letters from people who thank him for saving them from the wreckage of their minds.  Now, some of you may scoff haughtily at the notion of an anti-depressant, assuming (wrongly) that most people who take them don’t need them.  I might agree that they are overprescribed but the thing is, if you are one of the people who can pull yourself together under their influence in a way you can’t do without them, you probably aren’t terribly interested in the superior minded folks who tell you that there’s nothing wrong with feeling that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.  Ever.  For day after day, year after year.  Well, you get the picture.

Yeah, Morris gets fan mail.  I don’t know how these people tracked him down but they did.  He’s a rockstar.

Last week, Don Draper, the Creative Director of Mad Men’s Sterling-Cooper, told his protege that she wasn’t an artist, she solves problems.  Those of us who work in creative fields like processor design, drug design, even auto-mechanics, are problem solvers.

Those who work in the insurance industry and the finance industry are NOT problem solvers.  I think this point was lost on the folks at Planet Money recently.  Ya’know, back when the Financial Meltdown of 2008 was young, Planet Money was a great little podcast.  It explained how all of the moving pieces meshed together.  The few missteps in the beginning when Adam Davidson told us all not to get too mad at the bonus structure of the bailed out companies were naive but we could overlook them.  Then came that cringeworthy interview he had with Elizabeth Warren and it all started going rapidly downhill from there.  The latest stupidity has spread from Adam to Alex Blumberg.  God, I had such high hopes for him.  One of the recent podcasts extolling finance as the “geniuses” behind every new innovation that has made our lives better has really taken the shine off of him for me.

Oh, sure, the moneybags have financed a lot of good stuff but there have been plenty of things that never got off the ground or have been hopelessly stalled.  Take stem cell research for example.  I guess it depends on the religious mindset of who is actually holding the moneybags.  Or the fact that back in the 90’s, Apple nearly went out of business when all of the big corporations gave lifetime employment to the IT nazis when they bought PCs that ran nothing but Windows.  We are all going to be paying for that  non-diversification of the the desktop for a lifetime.  Or the fact that our financial wizards can not think beyond 3 months, which is forcing a lot of companies to merge, cut their workforces or get gobbled up by private equity.  Or the fact that so many small businesses can’t get loans because all of the bankers who Adam Davidson insists we just had to save are sitting on big piles of money because they refuse to divest themselves of their bad assets.  Yes! Let’s hear it for our financial braintrusts!

How frickin’ clueless can you get?  I’ll answer that: pretty clueless, especially if you’ve never seen real creation at work.  Some of our corporate overlords have this fantastic notion in their overblown egos that the companies they pilot would sink without their skills.  The R&D people make note of this all of the time.  Yes, we can be replaced by cheaper Ajay Bhatts in Hyderabad but real creativity doesn’t come by swapping out parts.  It takes a certain environment.  Malcolm Gladwell touched on this in his most recent book, Outliers, when he describes the characteristics of successful people.  Your native intelligence can only take you so far.  Other things have to come into play, like how effectively your family advocates for you at school, opportunity and location and something that most of us in America overlook- how hierarchically our society is structured.  It turns out that in highly hierarchical societies, creativity and problem solving is squelched, sometimes with disastrously fatal results.

The grumbling of the problem solvers is starting to make noise.  At least we, the R&D people are starting to hear it from each other.   A real resentment is starting to simmer about how the corporate people think their s%^& doesn’t smell because they don’t have to spend their days in the labs touching things with their hands.  Their salaries and bonuses match their egos.  The newest thing is a management development program where the trainer encourages the non-corporate types to use the same meaningless biz-speak jargon to communicate with the “people who have the money”.  See, if you use the latest trendy word combination, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.  You put it in a context they can understand, even if the rest of your presentation is completely over their heads.  Someone tried to convince me the other day that this was a good idea.  It’s not.  There are studies that show that the more jargon a business uses, the more poorly run it is, a prediction made by Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian in his book Less Than Words Can Say three decades ago.    I don’t think I have an obligation to contribute to my own demise.

I worry about a country that had a cornucopia of innovation in the past is now facing its biggest creative crisis.  This country is becoming more hierarchical all of the time while it is also becoming less able to cope with the demands of new technology and how to solve problems with it.  It doesn’t help that our nation’s teachers blame everyone but themselves for their poor preparation.  Yes, if we would only pay them better, they would learn this stuff like every other advanced industrialized nation’s teachers that use standardized testing.  Well, not to worry.  At the rate things are going, there will soon be a glut of highly educated future teachers on the market who will be fluent in advanced mathematics and science.  When the creative types finally lose their jobs because they can’t convince the “people who have the money” that solving problems is worth a damn, they can take a crack at the classroom for a little less money but summers off.

They might not have fan mail, but at least they’ll have a union.

Catch more on the battle of the creatives vs the hierarchy on Mad Men tonight at 10PM EST on AMC.

PS.  Thank someone who solves a problem for you tomorrow.  We need to start a movement.

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Your Breakfast Read, Sunday Edition

Edward M. Kennedy: The Final Journey

“Sail on my friend, sail on.” John Kerry
Kennedy laid to rest at Arlington, beside brothers

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was laid to rest Saturday night alongside slain brothers John and Robert on hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery, celebrated for “the dream he kept alive” across the decades since their deaths.

A final farewell

An array of the nation’s most powerful politicians, Kennedy family members, and diverse celebrities crammed into pews at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mission Hill for a two-hour service that was steeped in family lore and Catholic ritual. It began late but simply, with a procession of priests bearing incense and military officers carrying the casket down the center aisle of a silent church to the barely audible commands of “Hup. Hup. Hup.’’

Edward M. Kennedy Jr. left the mourners spellbound when he described a snowy day shortly after he lost a leg to bone cancer when he was 12 years old. His father urged him to coast down a hill in front of their house, but the son, frustrated because he could not climb the icy driveway with one leg, declared he was giving up.

A personal plea to the chattering class: I beg of thee, stop saying Ted Kennedy passed to “Liberal Torch” to Obama. If there is one thing Obama has proven so far, it is the fact that HE IS NOT a Liberal. Stop pushing those delusions unto the public.

Op-ed Columns

Finally! The NY Times editorial board reminds people who actually has the majority in the Senate. The discussion so far has been about what the Dems should give up to get a “bipartisan” health care legislation passed. The most bizarre part of the equation is that Republicans are NOT going to accept ANY legislation reforming the system, not even those who sit in the “bipartisan” committee.
Majority Rule on Health Care Reform

If the Democrats want to enact health care reform this year, they appear to have little choice but to adopt a high-risk, go-it-alone, majority-rules strategy.

We say this with considerable regret because a bipartisan compromise would be the surest way to achieve comprehensive reforms with broad public support. But the ideological split between the parties is too wide — and the animosities too deep — for that to be possible.

In recent weeks, it has become inescapably clear that Republicans are unlikely to vote for substantial reform this year. Many seem bent on scuttling President Obama’s signature domestic issue no matter the cost.

Joe Stiglitz does a spectacular job about the bad and the good of our budget deficit. (Come on! What would you expect from the world’s Nr. 1 economist?)
Thanks to the Deficit, the Buck Stops Here

When financial crises strike, economic growth declines and living standards drop, resulting in lower tax revenues and greater need for government assistance — all of which leads to higher fiscal imbalances.

What really matters is not the size of the deficit but how we’re spending our money. If we expand our debt in order to make high-return, productive investments, the economy can become stronger than if we slash expenditures.

Nick Kristof asks how do those who fear death panels feel about a health care system that breaks apart families?
Until Medical Bills Do Us Part

The existing system doesn’t just break up families, it also costs lives. A 2004 study by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, found that lack of health insurance causes 18,000 unnecessary deaths a year. That’s one person slipping through the cracks and dying every half an hour.

In short, it’s a good bet that our existing dysfunctional health system knocks off far more people than an army of “death panels” could — even if they existed, worked 24/7 and got around in a fleet of black helicopters.

Will there ever be another Senator proud to call himself a “Liberal”?
Kennedy’s death leaves a void that won’t be filled

Edward M. Kennedy may have been the Senate’s last liberal.

Oh, there are others in the Senate who would support the same policies – universal health care and expanded civil rights and a higher minimum wage. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Barbara Boxer of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist, can usually be counted on to uphold the standards of the left.

But most on the left have abandoned the word “liberal” for the term “progressive,” an effort to escape the perverted and seamy notions that rightwing talk show hosts have attached to the L word. Kennedy, though, was always a proud liberal.

Sen. Ross Feingold thinks we should get the hell out of Afghanistan for our own safety.
The Road Home From Afghanistan

Why a flexible timetable to withdraw U.S. troops will best advance our national security interests.


Seldom has a Democrat been so much maligned by his own like Bill Clinton has (only his wife got it worse). Nevertheless he keeps soldiering on for the party.
Clinton and Gore reunite in Tennessee

Two old friends, fresh from a day of mourning in rainy Boston, came south Saturday night to pledge to a roomful of roaring Tennessee Democrats that Ted Kennedy’s dream indeed will never die.

Al Gore and Bill Clinton – ghosts of Democratic victories past who are increasingly showing up to buck up the faithful as President Obama goes through his first real trials in office – were the star guests at the Tennessee Democratic Party’s annual Jackson Day dinner.

I always have to guffaw when I see Republicans decrying any type of cuts in the safety net.
Why The GOP Gunning For Grandma

It’s not preposterous to imagine laws that would try to save money by encouraging the inconvenient elderly to make an early exit. After all, that’s been the Republican policy for years.

It was Grassley himself who devised the “Throw Mama From the Train” provision of the GOP’s 2001 tax cut. The estate-tax revision he championed will reduce the estate tax to zero next year. But when it expires at year’s end, the tax will jump back up to its previous level of 55 percent. Grassley’s exploding tax break has an entirely foreseeable, if unintended, consequence: it incentivizes ailing, elderly rich people to end their lives—paging Dr. Kevorkian—before midnight on Dec. 31, 2010. It also gives their children an incentive to sign DNR orders and switch off respirators in time for the deadline. This would be a great plot for a P. D. James novel if it weren’t an actual piece of legislation.

How much more abominable could the MSM get? Is there any amount of shame to pour on the Washington Post? Glenn Greenwald dissects what’s behind the WaPo’s glorification of torture. (Who wrote that piece? Dick Cheney?)
The Washington Post’s Cheney-ite defense of torture

If anyone ever tells you that they don’t understand what is meant by “stenography journalism” — or ever insists that America is plagued by a Liberal Media — you can show them this article from today’s Washington Post and, by itself, it should clear up everything. The article’s headline is “How a Detainee Became An Asset — Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding” — though an equally appropriate headline would be: “The Joys and Virtues of Torture — how Dick Cheney Kept Us Safe.” I defy anyone to identify a single way the article would be different if The Post had let Dick Cheney write it himself.

Deja vu all over again.
U.S. Sets Metrics to Assess War Success

The White House has assembled a list of about 50 measurements to gauge progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it tries to calm rising public and congressional anxiety about its war strategy.

Economy Watch

Is Bernake dropping the ball on “too-big-to-fail”?
Lecturing Bernanke: The Fed chairman’s old teacher worries that Washington isn’t fixing the too-big-to-fail issue.

Economist Stanley Fischer was Ben Bernanke’s thesis advisor at MIT; he knew better than most that his former student had the right stuff to avert a depression. Bernanke was an “expert” at injecting liquidity into a sinking economy, Fischer said last year before the markets took their frightening plunge. Fischer had no doubt that Ben would do what it took (Ben did, earning himself a second term as Fed chairman this week). But serious questions remain in the minds of Fischer and other critics whether the most serious problem of the financial crisis—the too-big-to-fail issue—is proving too big for Bernanke and Washington’s power elites to handle.

Is this another sign that things are getting better or just that things are “getting worse, more slowly”?
Payrolls Probably Declined at Slower Pace: U.S. Economy Preview

Employers in the U.S. probably cut jobs in August at a slower pace and manufacturing grew for the first time in more than a year, adding to evidence the worst recession since the 1930s is ending, economists said before reports this week.

Payrolls fell by 230,000 workers, the smallest decline in a year, according to the median of 65 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of a Sept. 4 Labor Department report. Figures from a private group of purchasing managers on Sept. 1 may show the first expansion at factories since January 2008.

Rep. Frank eyes Fed audit, emergency lending curbs

Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said he plans legislation to restrict the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers and subject the central bank to a “complete audit.”

Around The Nation

Looking for clues to solve a horrible mystery.
Inside Jaycee Lee Dugard’s secret garden

New evidence poses further questions about the captivity of girl taken from her home in Antioch, east of San Francisco

What a load of horse manure! If this creepy creature really wanted help, why didn’t he even walk into a hospital or talk to a professional. Instead he kept raping his hostage. And his wife “felt he was on the road to recovery”?
Garrido tried to reach out for help, business acquaintance says

The owner of an auto dismantling business frequented by Phillip Garrido said the man accused of kidnapping, raping and fathering two children with Jaycee Dugard was trying to understand schizophrenia and his struggles with sexual desires.

Cheyvonne Molino, who owns JM Enterprizes on Willow Pass Road with her husband, said she is not defending Garrido, but said Garrido felt he was on the road to recovery from his struggles.

This good Doctor is already getting death threats. Will he be better protected than the others before him?
Nebraska doctor takes up Tiller’s mission to keep late-term abortions available

“Do I think I’ll get shot? I hope not,” the physician says. “Is it a possibility? I think it’s a very, very good possibility.”

Meantime, the potbellied military retiree, grandfather and horse lover carries on the same steady abortion business that has defined, dominated and directed his life for the last two decades.

Now he stands at the most thinly manned front line in America’s abortion wars — almost daring the opposition to stop him from performing late-term abortions.

Unstoppable fire threatens 10,000 homes

At least 1,000 homes are ordered evacuated ahead of a relentless fire fueled by hot weather and dense brush. More than 21,000 acres have burned.

Around The World

Oh the shame!
Lockerbie bomber ‘set free for oil’

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

Body parts for sale.
42.90 Euros Per Arm: Inside a Creepy Global Body Parts Business

The German company Tutogen’s business in body parts is as secretive as it is lucrative. It extracts bones from corpses in Ukraine to manufacture medical products, as part of a global market worth billions that is centered in the United States.

When will heinous crimes against homosexuals stop?
South African lesbians live in fear of ‘corrective rape’

In the antiseptic setting of a modern courthouse in a town near Johannesburg, the life and death of a young sports star is being dissected. She was no ordinary young woman. An outstanding footballer, she had captained her country and was hoping to be the first female to referee at a World Cup. But her brutal death, and the apparent motive for it, is all too ordinary here. For Eudy Simelane was a lesbian, and this, say campaigners, was why she was raped and savagely murdered.

This is the land of “corrective rape”. Despite South Africa having one of the most enlightened constitutions in the world, traditional views about sexuality still run deep. In many quarters, especially male ones, lesbians are resented, perhaps even feared. And to some young men the remedy is simple: rape.


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Your Breakfast Read, Saturday Edition

Sorry guys, I’m running very late. You’ll have to do without my extremely brilliant and insightful comments. See you later.

Edward M. Kennedy 1932 – 2009

A time to remember

With the skyline of Boston darkening behind them and his flag-draped casket before them, Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s friends, relatives, and colleagues gathered last night for an intimate memorial service that was by turns lighthearted and moving, a singular event filled with stories of Kennedy the friend, the patriarch, and the lover of sailing, joke-telling, and singing.

When does a US president deliver the eulogy?

It’s not unusual for an American president to deliver a public eulogy for a fallen friend, predecessor, or otherwise distinguished citizen.

George W. Bush eulogized two former presidents: Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter did so for former Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Bill Clinton eulogized former President Richard Nixon, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, and Pamela Harriman, an ambassador and Democratic activist.

President Obama’s first such moment arrives on Saturday, when he will eulogize his mentor and friend, Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, at his funeral mass.

Kennedy’s Closest Confidante, in Politics and Life

Edward M. Kennedy’s relationship with his second wife, Vicki, defined the final years of his life, both personally and professionally.

Remembering Ted Kennedy: Videos of Testimonies

Ted Kennedy’s Passing & Healthcare

Mike Huckabee: ObamaCare wouldn’t cover Ted Kennedy

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed Friday that under the health-care plan proposed by President Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Kennedy would have been told to “go home to take pain pills and die” after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Huckabee made the remark during his radio show Friday while accusing Democrats of trying to use Kennedy’s death to marshal support for the president’s reform package.

Stephanopoulos: Kennedy Would Have Agreed To Ditch The Public Option

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos appeared on The O’Reilly factor and echoed a growing conventional wisdom.

“It’s pretty clear right now that there aren’t the votes in the senate to pass a public health insurance option as much as a majority of Democrats in the House would like it,” he said. “It’s not going to get through the Senate right now and I think that what Democrats may try to do is remind people of another side of the Kennedy legacy. That was Kennedy the compromiser. Kennedy the negotiator. The man who was willing to take a portion, incremental gain even if he couldn’t get everything he was calling for.”

Economy Watch

The Most Powerful Banker You’ve Never Heard of

Lewis Kaden is the ultimate behind-the-scenes power player. Lobbying the White House for Citi may be his biggest role yet

A Reluctance to Spend May Be a Legacy of the Recession

Even as evidence mounts that the Great Recession has finally released its chokehold on the American economy, experts worry that the recovery may be weak, stymied by consumers’ reluctance to spend.

Meltdown 101: Why banks’ struggles have worsened

Despite signs of an improving economy, the nation’s banks are still struggling — in fact, the pace of bank failures has accelerated.
What would it take to turn the banking sector around? And what can people do to protect their savings in the meantime?
Here are some questions and answers about the wave of U.S. bank failures, as the latest quarterly snapshot of the industry painted a grim picture.

The very model of a modern central banker

An academic background stood the chairman of the Federal Reserve in good stead during his first term. Political skills may be more important in his second

Around The Nation

Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & a Smile

The nightmares of gay marriage supporters are the Pat Robertsons of the world. The James Dobsons, the John Hagees — the people who specialize in whipping crowds into frothy frenzies, who say things like Katrina was caused by the gays.

The gay marriage supporters have not met Brian Brown. They should. He might be more worth knowing about.

Secret camps and guillotines? Groups make birthers look sane

Is the federal government building secret camps to lock up people who criticize President Barack Obama?

Will it truck off young people to camps to brainwash them into liking Obama’s agenda? Are government officials planning to replicate the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, using the guillotine to silence their domestic enemies?

No. The charges, of course, are not true.

However, the accusations are out there, a series of fantastic claims fed by paranoia about the government. They’re spread and sometimes cross-pollinated via the Internet. They feed a fringe subset of the anger at the government percolating through the country, one that ignites passion, but also helps Obama’s allies to discount broader anger at the president’s agenda.

Florida governor names aide to replace senator

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday named one of his closest confidants to fill out the term of resigning Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., assuring that he will have an ally serving as a caretaker senator as Crist seeks election to the seat himself in 2010.

Candidate for Idaho governor repeats joke about hunting Obama

Top Idaho Republicans — Gov. Butch Otter, U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt — all condemned fellow Republican Rex Rammell on Friday after he amplified his “joke” about wanting to buy a license to hunt President Barack Obama.


Rammell, however, continued to press his “joke,” originally made Tuesday in the context of Idaho issuing its first hunting tags for wolves this fall. On Friday morning, Rammell issued a statement in a press release and on Twitter: “Anyone who understands the law, knows I was just joking, because Idaho has no jurisdiction to issue hunting tags in Washington, D.C.”

Tea-baggers out in force, including a dump truck brigade

The high temperatures here Friday were matched only by the heat from throngs of Tea Party protesters who gathered at the statehouse to rail against everything from California’s environmental policies to national healthcare reform.

The rally organized by the Tea Party Patriots of California, part of the national anti-tax and anti-big government Tea Party movement, was officially dubbed the march to “save California from big government eco-regulation.”

But while protesters took aim at California’s water policies, environmentalists, and national cap and trade legislation, the rally was a showcase for the sort anti-Obama sentiment that is being aired on cable news and in town hall meetings across America.
And that anger appears to be contagious.

Limbaugh: You’ll pry my foreskin from my cold, dead hands

If you had to whip up a too-good-to-be-true story for the right-wing pundit class to freak out over, what elements would you include? There would have to be, of course, an element of command-and-control socialist-fascist invasion and regulation of the most private parts of our lives, in the name of some spurious “common good.” But that alone is a little pedestrian nowadays, so you’d want to add a nice dollop of male sexual neurosis to really kick it up a notch.

War On Terror 2.0

Taliban’s growth in Afghanistan’s north threatens to expand war

The violence has been on the rise in recent months, however, as the Taliban and al Qaida-linked foreign fighters have staged hit-and-run attacks, bombings and rocket strikes on German, Belgian and Hungarian forces in Baghlan and neighboring Kunduz provinces.

The insurgents now control three Pashtun-dominated districts in Kunduz and Baghlan-i-Jadid, a foothold in a region that was long considered safe. With a force estimated at 300 to 600 hard-core fighters, they operate checkpoints at night on the highway to the north, now a major supply route, local officials said, and are extorting money, food and lodging from villagers.

“The Taliban want to show the world that not only can they make chaos in southern Afghanistan, but in every part of Afghanistan,” Baghlan Governor Mohammad Akbar Barekzai said. “This is a big problem. We don’t have sufficient forces here.”

For U.S. commanders, whose stretched forces have been unable to pacify the south and are taking record casualties, it’s another looming problem.

US wants 20,000 more troops to fight Taliban

The commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan will ask for 20,000 more international troops as part of his new strategic plan for the alliance’s war against a resurgent Taliban

As US fades, Iran ups the ante in Iraq

If Washington, as many analysts believe, has decided to take advantage of Iran’s internal unrest to push the government on the nuclear issue, there is a crucial point: any arena of confrontation between the countries won’t be picked by the US alone. When push comes to shove, Iran will expand the confrontation to multiple fronts, and Iraq will be its first choice.

Senior Saudi royal targeted in assassination attempt

Prince Mohammed bin Naif, the deputy interior minister and a leading figure in the crackdown against terrorism, was slightly injured after a Saudi militant with links to al-Qaeda blew himself up at a gathering in the prince’s Jeddah home on Thursday night, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“The attack demonstrates the ongoing threat of terrorism in the kingdom,” said Christopher Boucek, an expert on militant groups at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Had the attack killed or seriously wounded Prince Mohammed, it would have been a significant propaganda boost for al-Qaeda.”

Around The World

Ahmadinejad calls for prosecution of Iran’s opposition leaders

The president says post-election unrest was part of a foreign plot carried out by ‘subversives.’ His demand runs counter to supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who gave a conciliatory speech Wednesday.

U.S. Economy: Spending Climbs on ‘Cash for Clunkers’

Consumer spending in the U.S. rose in July as Americans jammed auto showrooms to take advantage of the “cash for clunkers” program while avoiding other purchases.

Britain accused of breaking promise to US over Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi

Britain was accused last night of reneging on a promise to the United States that the Lockerbie bomber would serve his sentence in Scotland.

According to confidential correspondence obtained by The Times, ministers urged the Scottish government to consider returning Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi to Libya under a prisoner transfer deal in an apparent breach of a decade-old pledge.

Revolution in Japan

Japan has been a one-party oligarchy for a very long time. This may not be a polite thing to say about a democracy and a U.S. ally. But Japan has been ruled by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for the last 54 years, except for a few nanoseconds after the Cold War when the ruling party temporarily lost its grip on power. Because of this stifling consensus among a small political elite, “Japanese democracy” has an oxymoronic connotation and Japanese politics has been one of the most boring topics in the world.

From The Animal Kingdom

Deer ‘fakes death’ to escape cheetah and a hyena: video

A deer “fakes its own death” to escape being eaten by a cheetah and a hyena, in an inspiring nature video that is fast becoming an online hit.


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Friday Morning News: Back to School Edition


Fall is just around the corner, and I’m so sorry to see summer go. In New England we didn’t really have much of a summer. It was raining and cold practically every day in June and we never had a real heat wave. I’m still in Indiana, but I’ll be heading back to Boston tomorrow morning. I have to start teaching next Wednesday, and I’m not ready. I guess I’ll pull it all together somehow. So what’s happening in the news?

Ted Kennedy

From what I’ve seen on the tube, it looks like the 24/7 Kennedy nostalgia is going to continue for the next few days. The LA Times discusses the memorial events Here’s The New York Times’ schedule of events.

From Truthdig: Ted Kennedy in Pictures.

Thousands view Kennedy’s last ride from Hyannisport

Who Will be Ted Kennedy’s successor in the Senate?

Once all the memorials are finished, the big news will be the process of filling Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate. It’s been quite awhile since a senate seat became available in Massachusetts, and I’m sure there will be lots of politicos interested in winning it. But thank goodness, Mitt Romney has decided not to run! Personally, I’d like to see a woman in take Ted’s place, and, as Politico notes, Martha Coakley would be a good candidate. She supported Hillary and fought to have Florida and Michigan delegates counted at the Convention.

Massachusetts political operatives consider state Attorney General Martha Coakley an early front-runner because of her high statewide name recognition and strong favorable ratings. With a law enforcement

background — she served as the district attorney of Middlesex County before winning election as attorney general — Coakley would have the opportunity to forge a coalition of law-and-order Democrats and female voters.

Though she would start a race without any money in the bank — she can’t transfer money from her statewide account — Coakley would be well-positioned to win support from national women’s groups like EMILY’s List to help raise the millions necessary for a campaign.

And Coakley has already signaled an interest in running for the Senate: When Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was mentioned for a possible Cabinet appointment late last year, Coakley commissioned a poll testing her viability as a statewide candidate.

That’s assuming either Ted’s wife Vicki or his nephew Joseph Kennedy II doesn’t decide to run. Frankly, I don’t think Massachusetts voters would be that enthused about Vicki. Joe Kennedy might have a shot, but it sounds like he isn’t interested. It’s time for some new blood, IMHO.

Health Care Reform

A very good op-ed. I’m surprised the Washington Post published it.

Is True Health Care Reform Doomed?

Here’s an older story, but a good one:

Chris Hedges: This isn’t reform, it’s robbery

Dontcha just love Pete Stark?

Key Dem: Brain Dead Blue Dogs Just Out for Insurance Money

Cardiologists Crying Foul Over Medicare Cuts Hurt Obama Revamp

Joe Conason: Ted Kennedy Wanted the Public Option


Krugman: Till Debt Does Its Part

Black Swan author objects to distortions by Guardian UK (This one’s for you, Dakinikat!)


“Danny” looks to be a bust, thank goodness.

Alternet: Crude: The Film Chevron Doesn’t Want You to See

Are wind farms disrupting weather radar?

This expert takes on the story, which isn’t really new.


Gene Lyons: The Media Can’t Handle the Truth

Big media reflexively villifies bloggers who actually pay attention to evidence instead of trusting administration sources.

Huffpo blogger notes Obama’s tendency to condescend to “progressives.”

I think that there is a crucial element of the Obama administration that has yet to be highlighted–namely, his unsettling willingness to mock and trivialize those on the left. In his almost nine months in office, I count at least three instances in which Obama has treated a serious question or criticism from the left with scorn and derision. This pattern of behavior–from a president who owes a large part of his overwhelming electoral mandate to progressives–is troubling, to say the least. After eight years of being treated like unserious children by the Bush administration and the corporate media that so dutifully carried their water, to see the same type of behavior manifesting itself in a new Democratic president is something of which all progressives should take note.

Murder by Fast Food?

Is KFC trying to kill us?

North Korea tries fast food. Juche burgers for the masses?

Fast food industry’s 7 most heinous concoctions

Human Interest

Here’s an amazing and very tragic story.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A California girl who was kidnapped at the age of 11 in 1991 has been found alive, having spent 18 years living in sheds and tents behind the home of her accused abductor, a convicted rapist who fathered two children with her, police said on Thursday.

Jaycee Dugard had been missing since she was snatched off a street by two people in a gray sedan while walking to a bus stop near her home in South Lake Tahoe, east of San Francisco, on June 10, 1991.

According to The New York Times,

On Wednesday, the police arrested Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy, and charged them with Ms. Dugard’s abduction.

Mr. Garrido, a convicted sex offender who was on federal parole for a 1971 rape and kidnapping, was also charged with rape and acts of child molestation and sexual penetration of a minor. The police said that he had apparently fathered two girls — now 11 and 15 — with Ms. Dugard.

Ms. Dugard, 29, and her two children had apparently lived in a collection of ragged tents and sheds secreted behind the Garridos’ home, a ranch-style house in a ramshackle neighborhood in an unincorporated area outside Antioch, a Bay Area suburb of 100,000.

“None have ever gone to school, none have ever gone to a doctor,” Fred Kollar, the under sheriff for El Dorado County, said at an afternoon press conference. “They were kept in complete isolation.”

That’s a lot of messed up lives. I hope some of them can be salvaged.

Alternet: There Are More Slaves Today Than at Any Time in Human History

One hundred forty-three years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the slave trade worldwide, there are more slaves than at any time in human history — 27 million.

Today’s slavery focuses on big profits and cheap lives. It is not about owning people like before, but about using them as completely disposable tools for making money.

I’m having some computer problems at the moment. I may add a few more links later.

Have a great Friday!!

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Your afternoon coffeeee.

87935a40efcb97feThe curmudgeon with whom I share office space looked at me quizzically and asked, “Would you call someone who gave you a coffee a coffer?” I pondered for a moment and replied, “No, Ian. I would call the person who gave the coffee a coffeeor and me a coffeeee.“

Scrabble-minded, Ian’s eyes lit up. He said, “If the coffeeor recruited someone to find coffeeees for him, that would make him the coffeeeeee to the finder who would be the coffeeeeor. Eeyore, invoked, we were happily making asses of ourselves.

These deliberations might be right, though playing with the suffix -ee is not original .

In their medieval origins, according to Michael Quinion, the

two suffixes -or and -ee formed a pair; the first indicating the person initiating the action, the second the one receiving it.

Our usage appears correct. Correct does not mean proper, however, regardless of how “irresistibly droll” we find it to be. This said, Quinion’s observation that -ee suffixes uses are “often unattractive as well as illogical or confusing” does not stop Ian and I from feeling pride that we made a proper word that ends with four consecutive -es.

What types, and examples, of word play light you up?

Please be the Digger so we can be the Diggee then you can be the Tweeter so we can be the Tweetee!!!  Or maybe we should make Steven be the Tweetee!!!

(dkat was here)

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Thursday Morning — it’s the NEWS!

I apologize for this abridged news post.

Some of you know that I’ve been dealing with family health issues and while they aren’t totally resolved (everyone is well on the road to recovery) I CAN’T put off getting back to doing my share…. And I miss you all to much to put off participating until things get back to normal. DO things get back to normal? Who knows.

Senator Ted Kennedy

Robert Scheer: Remembering the Real Deal

I would put Kennedy alongside my other hero, George McGovern, as the most trusted standard-bearer of the Democratic Party’s too-often-sabotaged liberalism. I just could never imagine either of them ever selling us out. Indeed, I haven’t felt quite so sad about the passing of a political leader since the day when people started bawling all over the Bronx with the news that FDR had died. In a political world dominated by bipartisan cynicism, there are few touchstones of integrity for the common folk, and Kennedy was one of them.

Byrd wants health bill renamed for Kennedy

“In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American,” Byrd said.

Politico forwards spin that GOP would support health reform if Kennedy had been active in Senate

In an obituary for Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Politico repeated the Republican claim that Kennedy’s absence from the health care debate prevented lawmakers from reaching a bipartisan compromise, reporting that “Republicans complained that without Kennedy, Democrats were less willing to make the concessions needed for true compromise.” Several progressive commentators have identified this talking point as GOP spin intended to disguise Republicans’ obstructionism, with Salon.com’s Joan Walsh, for example, stating that “absolutely no evidence supports that point of view,” and washingtonpost.com blogger Ezra Klein noting that Kennedy’s committee has already reported out a bill.

Health Care

Poll: 86 percent say insurance, public or private, should be available to all

Among the 1,000 Democrats, Republicans and independents surveyed on Aug. 12 and 13, 79 percent say they believe a federal government health insurance option should be available for people to buy.

Yet about one-fourth of those polled believe the “public option” is a national health care system, similar to the one in Great Britain.

“These two words have become radioactive, they have been swift-boated,” said William Mann, senior vice president of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. “There is a real misunderstanding.”

Franken Faces Friendly Fire From Liberals Who Want Public Option

Franken declined to discuss whether he would consider voting for a health care bill that did not include a public option.

“I’m not going to negotiate against myself,” he said.

Kucinich Calls on Insurers to Testify Before Panel

Kucinich, a vocal House liberal, asked the insurance executives to prepare testimony to “discuss the methods and protocols by which your health insurance company determines coverage for prescribed medical treatments, the administrative cost associated with this activity, and your company’s awareness of the response by doctors to these activities.”

“I further request that the testimony put into context anecdotes of claims denials, deferrals, and policy rescissions by insurers,” Kucinich wrote. “Your testimony should also discuss the adequacy and availability of data on, and government oversight of, the extent and impact of these actions.”

National News

Cheney’s Jihad–Why “enhanced interrogation techniques” don’t enhance U.S. interests, by Peter Bergen

Of the terrorists, alleged and otherwise, cited by the CIA inspector general as being fingered by KSM during his coercive interrogations, only Ohio truck driver Iyman Faris was an actual al Qaeda foot soldier living in the United States who had serious intention to wreak havoc. However, he was not much of a competent terrorist: In 2002 he researched the feasibility of bringing down the Brooklyn Bridge by using a blowtorch, an enterprise akin to demolishing the Empire State Building with a firecracker.

If that was the most threatening plot the United States could discover by waterboarding the most senior al Qaeda member in U.S. custody, it was thin stuff indeed.. .. ..

Who is Obama playing ball with? by Amy Goodman

It looked like it was business as usual for President Barack Obama on the first day of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, as he spent five hours golfing with Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment Bank and chairman and CEO of UBS Group Americas. Wolf, an early financial backer of Obama’s presidential campaign, raised $250,000 for him back in 2006, and in February was appointed by the president to the White House’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Economic recovery for whom?

Interestingly, Wolf’s appointment came in the same month that UBS agreed to pay the U.S. $780 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to helping people in the U.S. avoid taxes. Not to worry. UBS, an ailing bank with a pre-existing condition, had great insurance coverage. It was actually receiving $2.5 billion in a backdoor bailout from bailed-out insurance giant AIG. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said, “It looks like we’re simply laundering this money through AIG.” UBS, this bank that shelters wealthy tax dodgers, was actually being bailed out by hardworking U.S. taxpayers.

The Secret Government, by Christopher Hayes

An effective investigation into the breadth of the CIA’s interrogation programs must be bipartisan, similar to the work of the Church Committee in the 1970’s

Adjustable Mortgages Loom as Threat to Housing Recovery

On his annual salary of $100,000 as a television camera operator, he could afford the $2,200 initial mortgage payments. And he planned to sell the home before the mortgage reset.

Now Mr. Clavon is part of what many economists say is a looming threat to a housing recovery: more than a half-million option ARMs scheduled to reset in the next four years, at rates many homeowners cannot afford. His mortgage payments have risen to $2,700 a month because of a clause he did not notice on his contract, and are scheduled to rise above $4,000 in two years.

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We’re already paying for healthcare


Opponents of health care reform seem to focus on two main points – cost and “rationing.” It is an article of faith among Republicans that single payer health care will cost a lot more but will provide less health care. Near as I can figure they think there isn’t enough health care for everyone so in order to extend coverage to everyone we’ll have to take some away from the people who have it now. But I don’t want to discuss the “rationing” fallacy today, I want to discuss the cost fallacy.

This is what we were paying for health care two years ago:

Total spending on health care, per person, 2007:

United States: $7290
France: $3601
United Kingdom: $2992
Italy: $2686

As of 2007 we were spending $7290 per person for health care. That is not an average of $7290 for each person lucky enough to have health care coverage, that is the average for everyone in the United States. Take the total amount we spend on health care and divide it by the number of people in the country and you get $7290.

But for all that money we aren’t even covering everyone.

For reasons that used to make sense most people that have health insurance get it through their employer. Most people that don’t have employer-based health insurance are either on Medicare, Medi-caid or have no health insurance. Some self-employed people purchase health care insurance but the cost is prohibitive especially for the working poor.

This is how we pay for health care now:

Employer contributions
Employee contributions
Self-insured premiums
Cash payments for uncovered/excluded treatments/medicines
OTC medicines

Employer contributions are a non-taxable benefit your employer may choose to provide to you. It’s logical to assume that if they weren’t paying health care premiums with that money they could add it to your salary since they are spending it on you anyway. This is a point I will come back to in a bit.

Right now some people have good health care insurance, some have bad health care insurance, and some have no insurance at all. People with insurance or lots of money can go see a doctor for minor problems and routine exams. People without health care insurance or piles of cash are limited to urgent and emergency care. For too many people the local emergency room is their primary care physician.

When people go to the emergency room for non-emergency care the chances are they can’t afford to pay the bill. If they could afford to pay the bill they would go somewhere cheaper. So not only are premium services being used to treat minor illnesses and injuries, but those services end up being paid by tax dollars or by passing the cost on to the paying customers. (Basically the same thing)

When someone declares bankruptcy on medical bills the medical providers do what all businesses do – they raise their prices to compensate. Whatever your doctor charges for his or her services includes a calculation for bad debts. That’s just business.

There ain’t no free lunch. If we reform health care we still have to pay for it. But we’re already paying for it. If we took all those same dollars we’re spending now and applied them to a single payer system we would almost certainly far pay less than we’re paying now.

I can say this with assurance because every civilized nation with single payer or socialized medicine pays far less per person than we do. I qualified my statement by saying “almost certainly” because given half a chance our government will let the foxes into the henhouse.

The logical way to pay for single payer health care is through taxes. It would be similar to the current Social Security and Medicare people already pay. But even if we were able to cut our current costs in half that would still mean a cost of $300 per month per person. ($3600 divided by 12)

Poor people won’t be able to pay that amount. They can’t pay it now, and passing a law requiring them to purchase insurance won’t make them able to afford it either. The only people who can pay are the people with money.  That means that people with higher incomes will have to pay more. But they are already paying more. The trick is to figure out where that $7290 is coming from now.

Theoretically we could come up with a tax that would take the money we are paying now from the same people that are already paying it. Ideally it would be a progressive tax on all income. We should eliminate the artificial distinction between “earned” and “unearned” income. (Ever since the Sixteenth Amendment was passed the rich have been trying to get out of paying their fair share.)

If single payer became a reality it would sure be helpful if employers were to pass on all the money they are currently spending for health insurance coverage to their employees as a pay raise. Some would, but many would figure out a reason to keep it for themselves.

When someone starts yapping about the cost of health care reform and claims that Social Security and Medicare are going into the red, point out that we already pay twice as much as the civilized world pays and we’re getting less than they are for our money. If we do it right we’ll spend less than we are now and get more for it.

And point out that the problem with Social Security and Medicare is one of execution, not design. The Republicans want to bankrupt all the New Deal and Great Society entitlement programs so they can justify repealing them.

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