Monthly Archives: May 2011

Thanks! 6086 and two hours still to go

Over a hundred views in the last half hour (wow!) did the trick.  I now have over 6000 for the month of May – nearly 6100 now – which is my new record, surpassing March (5800+) which I thought was an outlier.


(and by the way, Sean is hot on my heels. Do NOT go over there and encourage him.)

A comment worth promotion

In an earlier thread, commenter Doug took issue with the premise of a letter to the editor of my local paper that I’d posted, in which the writer addressed how our economy got into its present condition.  Doug’s comment  then elicited a response from ojmo which I think is worth promotion to the front page so you can read it too. It’s long and full of those fact things and deserves a read.

Doug said:

Can I point out that Medicare and Social Security are payroll taxes, and come out of MY paycheck? I did not see those taxes get cut…And the great recession came as a result of the housing collapse (compounded with high fuel costs). The housing collapse came out of irresponsible lending encouraged by the vaunted government institutions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government was encouraging, rewarding, and driving banks to give mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. These programs were conceived under Carter, pushed under Clinton (I remember the news stories personally), and warned against by Bush and McCain, to name two, but poopooed (I just wanted to get poo into this). Let’s look at the unemployment rate before the housing collapse, shall we? Then let’s look at the job creating juggernaut that is Obama and the rates over his tenure…

And ojmo responded: 

Can  I point out that Medicare and Social Security are payroll taxes, and come out of MY paycheck? I did not see those taxes get cut…

The Republicans are the party that cuts income taxes on the wealthy every chance they get. Payroll taxes are different because they’ve already “baked in” upper limits on those taxes. However, as far as payout on the benefits goes, the Continue reading

Just 42 more views!

It’s been a rough day, so let there be a blog bleg and a blog brag.

I am just a few views away from  6000 views in the month of May. I’m hoping with 3 1/4 hours left in the month, I just may make it! That’s the brag.

The bleg?  Yeah, refresh the page a few times. Thank you very much.


Elvis is back in his heaven (UPDATED below)

And my world is once again whole.

The Comcast technician has done his sacred duty, the TV is producing pictures and noises, the cable box is a new one, component cable has replaced coaxial (this is something that was supposed to happen back when I first installed the digital box but didn’t) and I shall now settle down to re-establish all my settings and recreate my recording schedule. I’ll miss quite a bit no doubt – like the future programs I scheduled because they sounded interesting. I won’t remember those.

My archived recordings are all gone and Comcast’s TV Guide doesn’t show past days – noting prior to the current day/hour. So I need to find a listing somewhere and see what I need to catch up on at ON DEMAND or Hulu.

I know it sounds like I spend my days on the couch, remote in hand. I don’t. Not at all. I do like to watch television and I record and ultimately erase much more than I ever actually watch. But I never watch anything other than news in real time so planning is involved, and that’s what I’ll now go spend a few hours doing.

That is, after I return the laptop* to the office from the kitchen, reconnect everything in its proper place and put my lonely MagicJack phone back in business.

* Icing on my cake – the laptop battery is dead-da-da-dead-dead-dead. It cannot move about without its power cord. I think it died in a show of solidarity with the cable box. Possible.

UPDATE: I wonder who would believe that I just got off the phone with Comcast yet again? Oh I still have TV – that part works. But the on-screen TV guide? Not so much. Everything but today is “To Be Announced”. I have called it in like a good customer  – as it turns out, one of the thousands who’ve been flooding their lines.  My anticipated rescheduling will not happen right now, which is a shame because I’ve very little free time this week after tonight.  The beat, as I said below, goes on.

The GOP is the “cut taxes, borrow money and spend it all” party and don’t let them pretend otherwise. Oh, and Democrats create the jobs.

Job growth by President - trust the trend

Expect excessive linkie-linkie to my local daily for a while. I just re-subscribed (after a year of thinking there was life after a daily newspaper and being wrong) to the Herald-Tribune, a fine paper that is about half of what it was just a few years ago. But even in this world of smaller and smaller papers, the Trib managed to grab another Pulitzer Prize this year for an exhaustive investigative report on Florida’s property insurance system – which legislators have refused to address (multi-part story here). Like I said, a fine paper.

I want to share a Letter to the Editor from today’s paper. The writer says it well.

Bad economic ‘solutions’

In the 1920s, the Republicans ran the country and we had the Great Depression. In the 1990s, President Clinton raised taxes to reduce the deficit and not one Republican voted for this program, but lots of them predicted an economic catastrophe. Instead we got unparalleled growth.

Then came Bush and, without any concern for long-term solvency of Medicare, Social Security, etc., those in power cut taxes, especially on upper incomes. And even after incurring huge wartime expenses, they never made any effort to roll back the tax cuts. The Republicans in Congress went along with every bit of this deficit spending, and we got the great recession.

These same “experts” now want to hold the country hostage to a refusal to raise any taxes. They tell us that raising taxes on the rich will slow job growth, but never acknowledge that job growth was far better when that tax rate was higher. Nor do they accept study after study showing that these tax cuts have the least stimulative effect on the economy. Cutting spending only to balance the budget will be a disaster, leaving us less educated and less healthy. Yet this is what these economic illiterates propose. The question isn’t only why their solutions are harmful, not helpful, but, why, given their record, anyone listens to them.

That’s about right. I will add that the bald-faced lie that extending the Bush tax cuts will lead to  jobs creation, is just that. A bald-faced, evidence supported, lie. After the were signed into law, all we did was lose jobs.  But let’s not let facts get in the way.

Granny won’t die

Quality not quantity is  something we simply cannot tolerate in Medicare. But according to this story from today’s New York Times (via my Herald-Tribune), that’s just what’s coming your way under the new health care law.

For the first time, Medicare will soon track spending on millions of individual beneficiaries, reward hospitals that hold down costs and penalize those whose patients prove most expensive . . . A major goal of the new health care law, often overlooked, is to improve “the quality and efficiency of health care” by linking payments to the performance of health care providers. The new Medicare initiative, known as value-based purchasing, will redistribute money among more than 3,100 hospitals.

And surprise, surprise, the hospitals are all hot and bothered. Apparently we will all now die.

Charles N. Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned companies, said . . .  the administration was “off track” in trying to hold hospitals accountable for what Medicare spends on patients two or three months after they leave the hospital. “That’s unrealistic, beyond the pale,” Kahn said.

. . . .For years, federal health officials have emphasized the importance of higher-quality care, mentioning efficiency as an afterthought. Now, alarmed at the trajectory of Medicare costs, they emphasize efficiency as an equally important goal.

This part of Medicare reform is aimed at reducing the growth of spending and cuts into the out of control “fee for service” culture that drives hospital costs. It’s been a goal of reformers for years,  if not decades. It starts next year.

Whatever the argument will be, expect one from the Republicans becauseany positive result interrupts their script and their script says Medicare must not be saved.

Take that, Newsweek


The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan responded to a Newsweek article calling GR one of America’s “dying cities” with conceivably one of the greatest production numbers ever, performed in one uninterrupted shot by what appears to be the whole city (actually only 5000 humans). For me it eerily segues from Moe’s Gettysburg Address post earlier today–death, rebirth, the triumph of the human spirit–plus it makes me want to go there:

Days, dollars, dead

2001 to present: Iraq and Afghanistan

DAYS: I just can’t count them – a decade times two. Figure it out.

DOLLARS: $1.2 trillion


Afghanistan – nearly into the tenth year; 1600 US fatalities, 11,700 wounded, $419 billion.

Iraq – well into  the eighth year of that war; 4460 US fatalities, 32,227 wounded, $783 billion.

And me? I’m headed off to visit, eat hamburgers, hot dogs, wilted salad and watermelon. And so it goes.

US military interventions and wars since 1941

There are 80 in this list and there were about 70 prior to 1941.

  1. WORLD WAR II 1941-45 Naval, troops, bombing, nuclear Hawaii bombed, fought Japan, Italy and Germay for 3 years; first nuclear war.
  2. IRAN 1946 Nuclear threat Soviet troops told to leave north.
  3. YUGOSLAVIA 1946 Nuclear threat, naval Response to shoot-down of US plane.
  4. URUGUAY 1947 Nuclear threat Bombers deployed as show of strength.
  5. GREECE 1947-49 Command operation U.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.
  6. GERMANY 1948 Nuclear Threat Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.
  7. CHINA 1948-49 Troops/Marines evacuate Americans before Communist victory.
  8. PHILIPPINES 1948-54 Command operation CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion. Continue reading

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We know Palin likes red, but who knew she liked the Tories too?

A fine figure of a man

When I posted this video earlier, I missed something, but ojmo picked it up in comments. This all-bumper-sticker video celebrating Sarah Palin’s America? Watch it and ask yourself, as ojmo did, What’s with the Redcoats!.

For those of us who slept through high school History, the Redcoats were the British. We wore a very tasteful blue with cream lapels. Quite attractive – especially on Washington who chose the uniform. Epic fail Sarah. Now let’s see who amongst the punditocracy notices.

Pawlenty not as wimpy as I expected

I just watched Christiana Amanpour’s interview with Tim Pawlenty. She, as usual, asked substantive questions. He surprised me.

He’s smooth. A very good talker. Sounds fierce sincere. Between the lines I was taking issue with most of what he said. But he said it very very well.

If he has money, I think he can make a pretty impressive run against Romeny.

AN ASIDE: Since I’m without cable here, I turned to the intertubes this morning. TV websites are not friendly. They all seem designed to get me to watch their stuff on the ole teevee, which isn’t exactly what I have in mind when I’m at their friggin website!

At CBS, when I just couldn’t locate CBS Sunday Morning, I tried their search engine. Nothing. Entered Charles Osgood – got a 1999 story, the history of their on air anchors. Simply awful.

Went ot CNN – search engine pretty useless. Once I found GPS, which was what I’d been seeking (I had to find on my own), there was no way to distinguish between stories and video. These guys don’t get it.

ABC was pretty good. Haven’t been to NBC yet..

Sunday funnies

I can’t find anything funny today. Honest. It’s probably me.

Cable out an I iz not happy

I'll be waiting.

Apparently my DVR cable box is malfunctioning. I know this because after an hour on my own trying to get it to reboot properly, and another 45 minutes on the phone with a technician, I have no cable. I must say this for Comcast, they have patient and agreeable phone techs. But I still don’t have TV.

My problem is the box and no amount of resetting from here or from their end is going to fix it. New box needed. But it’s Saturday night. And it’s a holiday weekend. And the offices are closed. And the first time they can get someone out here with a new box is Tuesday. 

When my power goes down and I call the utility company, they don’t tell me they are taking the weekend off – and neither should Comcast. They’re not a boutique service – they provide access to an essential utility for their customers. I pay lottsa US dollars every month to provide that access. Saying  “sorry Tuesday is the best we can do” is not good enough.

I shall visit the Comcast office next week and arrange for them to adjust my bill commensurate with how I price my own time.  I figure three free months? Or should I ask for more? I’m sure they’ll be agreeable about it.

Off the sand and back in the saddle

Ready to roll

Today, for the second time, I’m headed to a meeting of the local Democratic Club. I stepped away from active involvement after 2010 – mostly because I’d overbooked myself with volunteer commitments. But at the end of this year, I’ll be term limited off the board of an Endowment Trust after six years. Time enough I think. Now it’s back to politics. Local politics.

So I’m going to these little political meetings as a warm up for getting involved with the County Party in 2012. My personal target is the Florida legislature, an incompetent group entrusted with lawmaking by my fellow citizens.

Why I live here

. . .  That Trust I’m leaving has been a central part of my life since I moved here and discovered that my 1950’s development owns a Gulf front beach. Access is by ferry or a two mile walk from the public beach (all beaches are public of course, but our ferry isn’t). Over the years the operating costs around the ferry operation and buildings and land had risen sharply. Everything was managed by a local civic association and they were ready to turn the beach over to the County to finance and manage.

From ferry landing to beach

That’s when some of us got involved and created a legal entity, an Endowment Trust, to hold and manage these common properties for the future and for the use of the entire community. It took five years and there was plenty of resistance within the civic association, but we persisted. And it got done because we had some very talented people who led the effort. We managed some seed money which is now with a trust company and protects  beach access for the future.


It’s a special place – entirely natural, entirely untouched. No plumbing. No electric. No pavement. Just dunes and scrub and shells and sharks teeth. Gopher turtle abound as do shore birds. There are even shade trees. While other area beaches ‘renourish’ after almost every storm by dumping acres of sand transported from elsewhere, we are more patient. The beach shrinks sometimes. But it comes back always. Such are the ways of nature and the tides.

Maybe I can arrange a beach party for local Democrats once I learn everyone’s name.

What’s in a picture?


Daily Beast says it’s “The Picture Worth a Thousand Words”, a pic from New York magazine of Dominique Strauss-Kahn meeting the Obamas for the first time at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Dominique appears seriously taken with Michelle–and seriously creepy:

Dominique predatory; Barack territorial; Michelle serene

She makes me hurt all over

(This is going to piss off our friend Alan. But that’s not why I’m putting it up.)

Listen to this voice. Would you buy laundry detergent if urged to do so by this voice? How about tires? Handi wipes?

I’m going to be up all night reading

All Rick Scott, all the time! Words! Pictures! Abundant linkie, linkie! Even videos! I’ve just discovered Beach Peanuts.

Am trying to leave a comment over there, but it’s not posting. So perhaps this pingback will attract the attention of the blogger inkberry. If so and the good lady stops over, here is what I tried to say:

A random link just brought me here and I’m so glad to have found you. Now, instead of finishing the Rick Scott post I keep trying to close but never can because the damn news pours in too fast . . . I can just send people over to you. Which I’ll happily do. Great work.

Rick Perry may not put his machines inside me no matter how much he wants to

State Rep. Carol Alvarado shows them what the thing looks like. It probably just excited them more.

This is a vaginal probe. Duane has brought it to our attention this morning.

The fine folk in the Texas leg (as Molly Ivins used to call it) have passed a new law. And Governor Goodhair (the one who thinks secession would be fun) signed it. Per Duane:

Now in Texas women can’t get an abortion until they first undergo a sonogram. For God’s sake people, the government is forcing them to get a sonogram.  And if women don’t want to see the sonogram image or hear the “heartbeat,” their doctor must—that means the use of government force—describe the image, including the size of the embryo or fetus and whether it has organs or limbs.

These guys really make me want to talk dirty. So here goes:

Guys, get your nasty minds out of my pussy. Go play with something else. Or fool around with yourselves – at least that way you won’t have to wash your hands.

Friday: oldies make me feel young

Posted this before in ’09. But it’s worth a reprise. One of the best slow-dancing numbers ever. Not quite The Platters, but close. This is the Five Satins, back when there were only four of them.

If you give in on this one Harry, you’ve lost me for good

Dear Senate Democrats:

The Republicans in the Senate in the voice of leader and turtle out of his shell Mitch McConnell have announced they will stop any vote on raising the debt ceiling unless they get their way with Medicare.

A very astute observer Josh Marshall listens to McConnell’s words and hears as self-serving a Senatorial statement as has been heard this session.

Republicans have boxed themselves into a political corner with their plan to end Medicare. It’s a big problem for them politically, and there’s no easy way out . . . [so] McConnell just announced he will not support raising the debt ceiling unless big Medicare cuts are part of the deal. Translation: Unless Democrats get us off the hook by agreeing to deep Medicare cuts (meaning Democrats can no longer attack Republicans for wanting to eliminate Medicare), then we’re going to force the federal government into default on its debt. . . . It’s as stark as that. And the decision for Democrats is equally stark: Do you negotiate with hostage-takers?

No you don’t Mr. Reid. No you don’t and don’t you dare. If Republicans actually would allow us to go into default and suffer all the world wide consequences of such an action, let them pay the price and forfeit all pretense of being part of this ‘governing’ thing.

Let them slink away with their Tea Party buddies to a State with a population smaller than Hartford and let them sit together late at night and plot how to take down those damn Americans. And all their damn American ideas. And all their damn beliefs that people matter.

The debt ceiling is important. More important though, is standing up to threats, threats as cavalier as McConnell’s.

So don’t you dare Mr. Reid.

Maru is three! Let the party commence!

Maru! The most famous cat on the intertubes – probably the most famous cat in the world – has  his own facebook page here and his own YouTube channel here (with almost 3 million subscribers!). Either place you can find all the videos that made Maru famous;  you’ll see Maru eating, napping, running, staring and even refusing to look at the camera. Maru’s charm is that his very ordinariness has made him a star. Maru is us.

Here is a video collage. Watch it and you’ll love the guy too.

The Democrats’ 60’s legacy: will that become the Republicans’ 00’s legacy?

The Democratic Party is still trying to shake association with the student demonstrators, war protestors, flower children and the more radical leftists of the late 60’s and early 70’s. That ‘commie, hippie’ label comes from that long ago time – from events of 40 years ago.

I look at the Republican party today and wonder if they’ll pay a similar price for  embracing the Tea Party, the birthers, the creationists and the rancid religious right. Could this be their 60’s? I wonder if indeed they’ll pay a price – and for how long.

In fact, I wonder if they’ll survive the 2012 elections. If the conservative electorate is splintered enough, Democrats could get to pick up the pieces at all levels.

Rick Scott least popular governor in the US of A

Voldemort is in the house

I hope all my Republican and Tea Party neighbors who elected this fool are dropping their blinders. His numbers began sliding down the day after inauguration and have been moving downward since.

Scott will be a one-termer and if Florida’s buyers remorse is strong enough, he may take our legislature – a grouping of more fools – down with him. Oh please, please, please.

From the Miami Herald today:

Gov. Rick Scott is one of the least popular governors in America, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that shows 57 percent of voters disapprove of his job performance.

Only 29 percent favor the job Scott is doing, the poll of 1,196 registered voters shows. . . .

Scott’s numbers have deteriorated from mediocre to bad ever since he took office. In February, a month after he took office, only 35 percent favored Scott’s job performance. Then, in April, his disapproval rating more than doubled to 48 percent.

The Republican-led Legislature, which typically has low approval ratings, has a similar job-approval rating as Scott with 56 percent disapproving and only 27 percent registering approval.

But it’s not just the state budget that’s a drag on the Legislature and Scott. The poll shows that a big portion of voters, 63 percent, say property insurance is getting more difficult and 59 percent say there needs to be more regulation of the insurance market. Yet Scott and the Legislature say it’s time for fewer regulations.

Are we out of the car business?

And more importantly, are we still communists?

Chrysler celebrates after repaying government loans

It’s official. Chrysler Group LLC today confirmed the wire transfers have gone through, and the automaker has repaid loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The automaker has repaid $5.1 billion in loans, as well as $1.8 billion in interest and other fees, releasing Chrysler from all monetary commitments to the governments less than two years after the bailouts kept them in business.

A new kind of courage needed – Israel’s rock/hard place

While the neo-con Prime Minister of Israel is insulting our president and defying our foreign policy goals while here, proving himself once again to be among the rudest guys on the planet, Josh Marshall posted this today. His post at TPM acknowledges the hard truth Obama articulated the other day.

Just as no man is an island, no country can be either. On its present course Israel is on its way to becoming a pariah state, a status in which it cannot indefinitely or even perhaps long survive. Neither the fact that Israel faces a profound cultural animosity among the region’s Arab populations nor the bad faith that often greets its actions nor even the anti-Semitism that is sometimes beneath the animus changes this essential fact. The make-up of the 21st century world is simply not compatible with a perpetual military occupation of another people, especially one that crosses a boundary of ethnicity and religion. Only the willfully oblivious can’t see that.

The very definition of kindness

My sister lives on the West Coast and she  sent me this little story in email the other day. Warmed my heart.
Saturday night Gene and I went to the symphony . . . while I was handing our tickets to the ticket taker Martin,  a woman approached . She was quite elderly and very stooped over. In her hair which was a bit wild, she had several exquisite hair combs. Her suit was totally threadbare, but was probably a real knockout a quarter of a century ago.  No partner, no purse, nothing but this darling  dilapidated presence.
In the most beautiful diction she asked Martin if he would mind terribly if she “popped in and used the powder room.” He said, of course not, Madame, go ahead. After she left his side, I said, she’s sneaking into the symphony isn’t she? And he said, “every Saturday night.” 

Blogfriend in Joplin

Some of you are familiar with Duane Graham, a frequent commenter here, who blogs at The Joplin Globe as The Erstwhile Conservative. Joplin – which yesterday took a terrrible beating and is today an open wound.

He writes tonight about a walk he took with his son shortly after the tornado.

Sunday evening, before the onset of the cruel aftershocks that continue to pummel our devastated city with remorseless storms and rescue-impeding rains, my youngest son and I undertook a journey to a destination he—a high school student and baseball player—seemed desperate to see.

He wanted to go to his school. . . .

Just an hour after the historic tornado hit, we began our walk to Joplin High School. We stepped over thick, once-pulsating power lines; we listened to a natural gas main hiss an awful hiss as it filled the air with that unmistakable odor and imminent danger;  we stepped on and over shards of civilization—the wood, glass, and other fabric that make up a life-home; we passed by pummeled, twisted sheet metal no longer confined to driveways or cowering in garages, but like wildly wounded or dead tin soldiers on some strange and dreadful battlefield . . .  we walked through the rubble—how terrible it seems to call it that—and we watched the landscape, once so familiar, disorient us with its new unfamiliarity, the product of an appalling but natural disregard for our pattern-seeking and sense-making needs as human beings. . . .

To the west, the houses were gone.  The houses whose windows and roofs had been the targets of years of foul balls, duds bounding off the bats of too-hopeful Major League aspirants. Those familiar houses were gone.  All of them, and all behind them, and behind them. 

And to the south, all gone.  And to the east.

Light. Tunnel. Rupert Murdoch has liberal heirs.

Plus Roger Ailes is no youngster.

New York Magazine’s lengthy profile of Ailes has grabbed some headlines today, mainly because he said “Sarah Palin is stupid”.

But there’s also this:

Even Rupert Murdoch, sensing the shifting tectonic plates, contemplated a move to the middle. In the summer of 2008, Ailes confronted Murdoch after he learned Murdoch was thinking of endorsing Obama in the New York Post; Ailes threatened to quit. . . . Murdoch’s children were agitating for a greater role in the company. Ailes surely understood that their politics, along with those of then–News Corp. president Peter Chernin and communications adviser Gary Ginsberg, differed greatly from Murdoch’s. The tensions surrounding Ailes played out in the publication of Michael Wolff’s Murdoch biography. Matthew Freud, husband of Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth and a London-based PR executive, encouraged Wolff to portray Fox as a pariah wing of the News Corp. empire.

So how many abortions can you do for $8,000,000,000.00?

Glenn Beck’s blog, The Blaze, saw this story and found journalistic merit therein.  And of course they got all kerfuffle.

The Onion: Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex (in Kansas).