Monthly Archives: July 2012

Nice things happen, even to people like me

Market day for me. It’s always the same: make a list, check it twice, pay up, load the car trunk and head home to do it all in reverse. Like I said – always the same.

But not today. I got home but my purse didn’t. I’d left it in the shopping basket after unloading. (This is, embarrassingly, not the first time I’ve done this, although to be fair it was ten years ago.)

Heart in throat I raced back to the supermarket. Up to the service desk, now breathless. Do you have my purse? No, sorry. Heartbeat takes notice. Now frantic, I head out to look at every shopping cart I can find in the parking lot, but stop because behind me someone is calling my name. Someone in the store uniform.  First I wonder how does she know my name? And then I know. My world is about to be whole again.

The store clerk had just gotten a phone call from a couple who said they’d found the purse and were headed to my house, but then thought they’d best call just in case I went there. And now, the clerk said, they were turned around and headed back.

I love those people.


Chris Matthews finally arrives in 1997!

I’ve got half an ear to Chris Matthews from earlier today. Because Bill Clinton is in the news (he’ll be nominating Obama at the convention) Matthews has seized the opportunity to – over and over again – call Clinton “the Big Dog”. At one point, I actually heard him say “the Big Dog, that’s what we call him now!”

That’s what we began calling him sixteen years ago Chris.

Well isn’t this special. I’m so going to follow Guy Adams on Twitter

If you’re NBC, you do not have to put up with some little person hurting your feelings, because it hurts sooo much; you fight back. You throw your weight around and shut that little person up (irony alert: shut up!).

NBC, I hope someone takes you to the frackin’ Supreme Court of these United States for this. You too, Twitter.

Critic of NBC has Twitter account suspended after network complains

Throughout the Olympics, Guy Adams has taken to Twitter and ripped NBC repeatedly for its coverage of the Games in America.

Namely, he’s criticized the network’s reliance on using tape delays, a frustration shared by millions of viewers.

A few of his tweets:

“Am I alone in wondering why NBC  thinks its [sic] acceptable to pretend this road race is being broadcast live?” he wrote in one.

“Matt Lauer: ‘Madagascar, a location indelibly associated with a couple of recent animated movies,'” he mocked on another.

Adams encouraged Lauer “to shut up” and called out Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, as the “moronic exec behind the time delay.” And he said Zenkel should be fired.

Subversive in the extreme, eh?

Mac tells us in a downstream thread that he watched the Opening Ceremonies on BBC One and pronounced it splendid.

Solving our nation’s problems: any semblance of rational thought has now left the room

At a fundraiser in Israel, Mitt Romney marveled at how little Israel spends on health care relative to the United States. He was jealous and wished we could find a way to contain our costs like they have. He probably likes the quality of their health care too – Israel ranks #18 in life expectancy; we’re #50.

Israel has had completely socialized health care since they became a nation 65 years ago.

“When our health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation,” Romney told donors at a fundraiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, speaking of a health care system that is compulsory for Israelis and funded by the government. “We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, let me compare that with the size of our military. Our military budget is 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs.

But, but, but  f-r-e-e-d-o-m !  (Or maybe you could just look around you Mitt.)

The “Peacock Network” lives up to its name

Friend Shep sent me to Raw Story where they rounded up more criticism of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics’ Opening Ceremonies.

NBC anchors Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera, who hosted the broadcast, were also panned heavily, to the point that the hashtag #ShutUpMattLauergained steam online.

“When unfamiliar facts arise during NBC’s coverage, you can typically count on in-house smartypants Bob Costas to fill you in on the details,” Slate’s Josh Levin wrote Saturday. “But with Costas on the sidelines until the parade of nations, former Today compatriots Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira instead engaged in a reverse battle of wits, fighting it out to see who knew least. Vieira came out on top.”

Ouch, but they asked for it.

It was like being in the movies next to some idiot who would.not.stop.talking.

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!, I yelled. Again and again I yelled. But they wouldn’t.

And so, for me, went the Opening Ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad. The  ‘narrative’ from NBC was intrusive, ignorant, not respectful and utterly, utterly annoying.

During one of the loveliest moments of the entire ceremony, hundreds of ethereal creatures floated around the stadium on invisible bicycles, finally sending one of their own skyward. Matt Lauer talked over the entire thing (apparently I needed to know who invented the bicycle). The music? Who needs music.

Their greatest sin was that they stripped away the majesty; dozens of nations gathering in friendship and competition has, even amidst the celebrations, a solemn aspect. It is always history. They don’t get that part.

Lauer even  talked through the transfer of the torch –  drowning out the articulate and relevant stadium announcers – and, in fact, getting a lot of it wrong.

“This is the most moving part of the Olympic ceremony” said Lauer, as the Olympic flag was carried in. “I think it’s best to just watch.”  But he couldn’t. Eight seconds in he was back at it.

Plus the camera angles were terrible. Shut up!

UPDATE SINCE I WROTE THIS: I see that The Guardian had the same reaction.

Commentators Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira reunited for the cameras as if it was Beijing 2008 – or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or just a regular morning in 2011.

Theirs was the job of interpreting, explaining and trampling all over Danny Boyle’s fast-paced, high-def presentation of Great Britain from the time of maypoles and hay bales to the current day. And they did what they were paid to do. . .

The most egregious moment of commentary had come earlier when Matt and Meredith mentioned that there was to be a tribute to “someone” called Tim Berners-Lee.

“If you haven’t heard of him, we haven’t either,” chuckled Meredith about the inventor of the world wide web sitting on stage.

“Google him,” laughed Matt with no apparent sense of irony.

Way to go NBC, play into that old stereotype of the unschooled American.

Friday night oldie with 45 minutes to go

Unbloggy or not, it is after all Friday.

Really old this one. Early 50’s. Really well done Lindy Hop with Bill Haley and The Comets.

Rush cries ‘voter suppression’ – creative little shit, isn’t he

The real Dark Knight

In what may be the most breathtaking turn-it-on-its -head moment in political rhetoric, Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday claimed that the Obama campaign and all Democrats and all the pollsters and all the media are conspiring to suppress the Republican vote.

Here’s how it works. Diabolical pollsters ask questions in a dishonest fashion designed to show Obama leading. The media publish and pushes that narrative. The campaign seizes upon this (of course they’re actually behind it but that’s hidden behind an impenetrable veil of secrecy financed by George Soros and Warren Buffet) and it gloats. All of this combines to discourage Romney voters who are made to think there’s just no point in voting since Obama is sure to win.

Presto! Voter suppression.

He’s a marvel he is.

Hiatus? Hiatus over? Mid-hiatus? Even I don’t know (I’m going with hiatus almost over)

It is my habit at breakfast to keep a pen and notepad at hand along with a small pair of scissors. While I read my paper and sip coffee, glorious coffee, I jot down thoughts to perhaps follow up on later, and often – too often – clip articles with interesting passages highlighted. (I tried that underlining thing – did you know that ball pens often cut through newsprint?) And thus do I seed posts for Whatever Works.

After the ritual, I drop  the morning harvest into a wire basket in the office. If the basket starts to fill up, I do some aggressive weeding, which isn’t hard since much of this is far less interesting at second look.

Right now the basket is full. It is overflowing. It is intimidating.  It has become the enemy. It mocks me mercilessly. And it impedes blogging.

I’ve learned that some things can be left unexamined without doing any harm. So it shall be and so shall I be unbloggy until I face down that nasty basket and strip it of its power. The wastebasket and I shall overcome. Soon.

Meanwhile, it’s summer, the pool and grill beckon, the days are blessedly slow and quiet time is here for the taking, not stolen as in other seasons.

This may be over tomorrow – hell, it could even be later today. So this post shall serve either as explanation for why no blogging, or a return . But that’s summer:  non-committal, and that’s okay.

MOE SAYS: On that Aurora massacre: Elyse has it exactly right. Exactly.


Tuesday evening, just before 7, a huge tree fell half a mile from where I once lived.  A man, who seconds before had been simply sitting in traffic, died when the tree crashed down on him as he sat in his car.  It was a tragedy that could happen to any one at any time.  Unexpected.

What happened next?  Well, the tree’s twin across the way was cut down.  Arborists are looking at nearby old, big trees, checking their health, determining if these trees, too, are dangerous.  If so, they will be cut.

Of course that’s what they’re doing.

They are protecting human life.  It’s the logical next step following such a tragedy.  Of course, there will be traffic snarls and hassles as the old diseased trees are culled.  It will be a huge pain for commuters.  But, you know, that’s OK.  I and just about everybody accepts a bit…

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Japanese schoolgirls and Louis Prima. Separated at birth.

When I was in my early 20’s, and first living in New York, my then roommate and I lived in a ‘residence hotel’ called the Belleclaire on the upper West Side off Manhattan. A shabby place but convenient and affordable with a nightclub on the first floor (the name has disappeared into my own way-back machine).

This I remember though: the club’s headliner was Tito Puente and his band. He mostly did Latin and salsa stuff, with the occasional swing sidebar. One of his regular numbers was Louis Prima’s classic Sing, Sing, Sing.

I think he played that one every night around 10pm; when my windows were open, I could hear them, and I honestly never tired of it.

But these Japanese high schoolers have him beat. They’re a delight. (Thanks to friend Shep for this one – start at 6:00 into the video for the beat).

Well done John McCain. For that, we’ll get off your lawn

Stand back McCarthy! (and where are Walsh and Wilson?)

John McCain is still that old guy down the street who yells at you. He is still the guy who was willing to risk this country in Sarah Palin’s hands. And he is too enamored of war for my comfort.

Another thing John McCain is? He is one damn stand-up guy.

What’s remarkable about this is that it is remarkable. Where were his colleagues? Who else spoke as forcibly? And publicly? Good on him.  (video posted thanks to Orhan who once again came to the rescue.)

We can’t fix ourselves, but we can mourn ourselves

Along with John Stewart, the venerable parody publication The Onion knows how to get right into the rotten, bankrupt heart of some stories – as they’ve done in this case, pointing to the real horror of yet another gun massacre.

WASHINGTON—Americans across the nation confirmed today that, unfortunately, due to their extreme familiarity with the type of tragedy that occurred in a Colorado movie theater last night, they sadly know exactly how the events following the horrific shooting of 12 people will unfold.

While admitting they “absolutely hate” the fact they have this knowledge, the nation’s 300 million citizens told reporters they can pinpoint down to the hour when the first candlelight vigil will be held, roughly how many people will attend, how many times the county sheriff will address the media in the coming weeks, and when the town-wide memorial service will be held.

Additionally, sources nationwide took no pleasure in confirming that some sort of video recording, written material, or disturbing photographs made by the shooter will be surfacing in about an hour or two.

“I hate to say it, but we as Americans are basically experts at this kind of thing by now,” said 45-year-old market analyst Jared Gerson, adding that the number of media images of Aurora, CO citizens crying and looking shocked is “pretty much right in line with where it usually is at this point.” “The calls not to politicize the tragedy should be starting in an hour, but by 1:30 p.m. tomorrow the issue will have been politicized. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the shooter’s high school classmate is interviewed within 45 minutes. . . .

. . . “Oh, and here’s another thing I hate I know,” Brennen continued, “In exactly two weeks this will all be over and it will be like it never happened.

It goes on. In the same issue (today’s), they also bring us this story,

NRA: ‘Please Try To Remember All The Wonderful Things Guns Do For Us Every Day’

“While the events of last night are truly tragic, I sincerely hope that no one at any point forgets how truly terrific guns are, and how they enrich all of our lives on a regular basis,” said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, adding that the nation’s citizens must open up their hearts in this time of mourning and realize how simply unlivable a life without gun ownership would be.

Just make it stop

What is it with these Republican men?  They’re at it again in Congress because  apparently contraception is still the enemy of freedom.

A Letter to the Editor in my paper a few weeks ago provided a nice list of religious beliefs and rules that are ignored, indeed violated,  by civil law:

  • The Catholic ban on divorce
  • Muslim and Jewish laws about women and children
  • Buddhist and HIndu prohibitions against killing animals
  • Capital punishment
  • Quakers and conscientious objectors pay taxes that finance wars
  • Christian Scientist pay taxes to support medical care they abjure.

Aurora. Shit. Again.

TBogg tweets for me.

Friday oldie?

Still having problems inserting videos. Been going back and forth with forums, even cleared out the cache and cookies (what a pain that is!). But no solution yet. So, why don’t you go here and choose one for yourself.

So Mike, could we have a few words on Penn State and the Catholic Church maybe?

In case you don’t already know, the Boy Scouts have stood up again for god, flag and country and said no damn gays here. No way. 

On his radio show yesterday, Mike Huckabee spelled out in no uncertain terms that he believes the policy is “right” because it protects boys from abuse. He welcomed a call from a listener who had been abused by his scout leader, and Huckabee agreed that part of the definition of “homosexual” is molesting children . . .

Story here.

As for the kid in the picture, that’s Eagle Scout Eric Jones.

He said his troop is like family to him. While both his parents and fellow troop members accepted him, Jones was forced to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America because of a century-old policy about homosexuality.


Thank you Ann Romney for the confirmation

Last week I said this:

Romney is increasingly sounding like someone who believes that whatever he chooses to share with the electorate ought to be enough for them. Noblesse oblige and all ya’know.

Yesterday Ann Romney said this.

Ann Romney dismissed concerns about her husband’s tax returns Thursday, contending that the two of them have “given all you people need to know.”

. . . “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life,” she added later.

I don’t think it could be any clearer – we’re little people and we should just be satisfied with what they choose to let us know. It’s really not our business. Just like, as she says, it’s not our business how they live their lives..

You might want to check the Republican platform Ann – it’s all about how your party thinks we should we live our lives. It’s conservative orthodoxy that a morality, apparently a Christian inspired one, must be imposed upon those of us who don’t fit.

Also, I want to know if you guys wear that magic Mormon underwear. Because if you do, isn’t that likereligion requiring men wear a beard and women cover their heads? Isn’t that kind of like Sharia?

Language lessons for the media

Dear media: when you report on US foreign policy or military decisions, announcements and initiatives, please do not ascribe them only to “the Administration” or “the President”. Since they act in our name, the proper attribution is to “we” or “us”. (an Administration did not go to war in Iraq, ‘we’ did.)

If more specificity is appropriate, say “the Federal government” or “the State Department” or “the Pentagon”. If the initiative is purely from the Executive, then go ahead and say “the President” or “the Administration”.

It’s not as sexy or shiny, but it might mitigate the vein-popping outrage – from certain quarters – that the President is a dictator bent on enslaving us all.


My people might do the right thing for the wrong reason

FOX News reports (yeah, I know) that Pelosi has said she might let all the Bush tax cuts expire if the House Republicans don’t agree to the Obama plan. They say that in the Senate, Democrat Patty Murphy has suggested the same thing.

Obama’s Democratic allies in Congress only want to pass that partial, one-year extension. Republicans only want to pass an extension that continues those rates for everyone. Each side is accusing the other of threatening to trigger tax hikes in 2013.

Right now, both parties want to do the wrong thing. So let’s allow the tick-tocking clock to make the decision for us. Let the damn things expire.

I dearly hope this happens. Letting those cuts expire for everyone – even us little guys – is the best way to bring the deficit under control. We can deal with the tax code and the social security cap later, but for now, letting the taxes revert to 2001 levels might be the least painful way to address our debt.

Now, just to be annoying, Let me add that I actually also believe we should be investing right now in infrastructure – borrowing for that is as cheap as it will ever be.

Let the economists explain if that’s contradictory or not. Borrowing cheaper money today and paying off yesterday’s more expensive debt, which continues compounding at a higher rate, seems to be a good idea.

Meanwhile, let the tax cuts expire. Please.

But they all have such a good time together!

See? This here is how we speak truth to power.

It seems the trivial has taken over the race – are we ever going to get back to substance?

Who said that? Why that was David Gregory on Meet the Press  as he and his guests were doubling down on the trivia.

Can you believe it? Of course you can believe it.

So David, to answer your question – no, we’ll never get back to the substance. And it’s your fault. So just stop it.

Bain and the tax return stuff? This is hurting Romney.

Here is  a man who’s spent a good part of his adult life preparing to be the President and who’s actually been running for the better part of a decade. And now here is a man squirming in front of the cameras, trying to sidestep and avoid answering entirely predictable questions. Entirely predictable.

I’ll bet his political advisors over the years warned him of the danger if he did not prepare. And I’ll bet he thought they were over-reacting. I’m sure he thought people really wouldn’t care.

Romney is increasingly sounding like someone who believes that whatever he chooses to share with the electorate ought to be enough for them. Noblesse oblige and all ya’know.


I think this is the best political ad I’ve ever seen


Language alert: “pundint”

Even Ted Baxter knew how to pronouce it.

Don’t know what a pundint is? It is a pundit – as pronounced today by far too many tone-deaf pundits. As usual, the speakers tend to be young, so this qualifies in my book as a genuine word evolution.

So where did that extra ‘n’ come from? Don’t know – perhaps it simply creeps in when people mis-hear a word and repeat the wrong pronunciation. And then it spreads . . .

I really should visit Rolling Stone more often

This is pure political gold – from Matt Taibbi, a famously smart person and one I used to read a lot.

Most presidents have something under the hood – wit, warmth, approachability, something. Even the most liberal football fan could enjoy watching an NFL game with George Bush. And even a Klansman probably would have found some of LBJ’s jokes funny. The biggest office in the world requires someone who buzzes with enough personality to fill the job, and most of them have it.

But Romney doesn’t buzz with anything. His vision of humanity is just a million tons of meat floating around in a sea of base calculations. He’s like a teenager who stays up all night thinking of a way to impress the prom queen, and what he comes up with is kicking a kid in a wheelchair. Instincts like those are probably what made him a great leveraged buyout specialist, but in a public figure? He is a disaster.


WordPress wouldn’t let me post the Friday oldie

Same problem this morning. (Blogfriends? Anyone having the same problem?)

I – and anyone out there – will have to settle for a link, so here.

This one is Till Then by The Classics from 1958.

That $2billion JP Morgan Chase loss?

It’s now $6billion and climbing. Someone tell FOX Business.

Romney and Bain: Conflicting truths, both worthy and relevant

Mitt Romney’s relationship to Bain Capital in 1999-2001 (when he abruptly agreed to take over management of the Olympic Games to be held in Utah) is producing media orgasms. It’s a great story, has it all, huge riches, politics, lies, good hair. Hardly gets better.



I went reading around the intertubes this morning to see what is being said in the more sober environs of news and opinion, and am not finding any blog love for the ‘felony’ claim. But what I did  find is that there are other questions about unsavory practices in tax compliance, questions that could hurt Romney just as much.

Two columns at  Business Insider this morning and one at provide some fascinating reading. All three rely mostly on SEC filings, since Romney’s own tax returns have still not been released.

The FactCheck story, as usual, leaves speculation to others and is the result of their own reporting. Their conclusion is cautious and conditional, baring new information – they say no felony, not even a lie, allowing that two things can be true at one time and that his transition from his day job at Bain to full-time at the Olympics meant a great deal of legal and financial arrangements had to be reorganized and that took time. Lots of time. And not all documents were filed at the same time, allowing for what – unexamined – appear to be conflicting claims.

None of the SEC filings show that Romney was anything but a passive, absentee owner during that time, as both Romney and Bain have long said. It should not surprise anyone that Romney retained certain titles while he was working out the final disposition of his ownership, for example.

The two columns at Business Insider (here and here) take a different tack. Neither of them supports the ‘felony’ charge. They examine Romney’s tax compliance and very un-Presidential determination to pay the lowest legal tax, staying within the letter – certainly not the spirit – of the law by paying tens of thousands to tax attorneys and estate planners.

I believe – and there’s just no evidence otherwise (Berlusconi anyone?) – that ruthless pursuit of personal profit is incompatible with the obligations of a President. Running a successful business, however, is not incompatible (although Herbert Hoover sure proved otherwise) nor is being fabulously wealthy.

I look at Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, and see an exemplary public servant from the private sector. He was enormously successful as CEO of Alcoa and deeply honorable in his business practices. And rich. Really rich.

Over many years, O’Neill served a number of Presidents in various capacities. I’ve always admired him; Ron Suskind wrote a terrific book, The Price of Loyalty, about O’Neil’s brief time in Bush’s cabinet. It’s brief and a very enjoyable read.

Thanks to Suskind’s book, I know all about Paul O’Neill. Romney is no O’Neill.

Ezra Klein writes down the details: the 112th Congress is the. worst. ever. Really.

This, from Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog at The Washington Post today:

14 Reasons why this is the worst Congress ever

And he lays them out, clearly, with graphics and – in spite of his blogname – in a non-wonky way, focusing on comparisons between this 112th Congress and previous.

Guess what.

He starts with this week’s 33rd vote in the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

Holding that vote once makes sense. Republicans had promised that much during the 2010 campaign. But 33 times? If doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result makes you insane, what does doing the same thing 33 times and expecting a different result make you?

Well, it makes you the 112th Congress.

Notwithstanding Mark Twain’s famous quip, Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress . . . but I repeat myself, these ladies and gentlemen – well,  not so many ladies – are, indeed, The. Worst. Congress. Ever.

A new resource for political bloggers – thanks Josh!

The season is almost upon us and Talking Points Memo has very thoughtfully launched a new site, PollTracker, that features – are you ready bloggers? – a Presidential Dashboard! Great stuff – all the polls, all the breakdowns, the latest in the swing states.

I was surprised to Obama leading (sometimes only by a nose) in all 12 swing states. Today, anyway. I expect to visit often. And so should you.