Monthly Archives: October 2013

As Ed loves to remind me . . . Friday!!

And if it were this day last year, today would be 10-11-12.

Surprisingly, this is from 1965 – after The Beatles arrived. Still, even while I was loving folk and early rock, this stuff got through – it continues to evoke that sentimental nostalgia thingee.

Give it to Malala

http://msnbctv.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/179409189.jpgThe Nobel Committee awards the Peace Prize tomorrow. A worthy recipient awaits.

Give it to Malala.

UPDATE: They passed her over again. From Foreign Policy (link all wobbly):

Top News: The Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its work that has “defined the use of chemical weapons as taboo under international law,” according to the committee’s statement.

The OPCW, a U.N.-backed organization, has risen to new prominence for its role in disarming Syria’s chemical weapons. “People are still getting their heads around being in the global limelight,” said a spokesman for the OPCW, comparing it to “building an airplane and flying it at the same time.” Though events in Syria figured in the decision, the Nobel Committee stressed that the prize was awarded for the OPCW’s work since its founding in 1997 to assure adherence to the U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention. The OPCW is currently assessing chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria and determining the best method to dispose of them — a plan that might include sending them to Norway — coincidentally the home of the Nobel Prize — for disposal.

The decision comes after weeks of speculation: Other individuals believed to have been in contention for the prize included Malala Yousafzai, the young women’s education advocate from Pakistan targeted by the Taliban, and Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who has set up hospitals for victims of rape.

A Canadian friend says . . .

Just had an email from Brian, Canadian citizen – he admires the US in many ways, but has always been puzzled by our odd attitudes on medical care. Now he is also worried:

we’ll be in FL by Nov. 17th. for another VT season…people in this country and our contacts in the UK are flabbergasted by the way your govt. is doing such damage to itself and its economy…big investors here such as our multi-billion dollar pension plans are starting to shy away from the US markets due to the volatility screwing up all their actuarial tables…how can such a small group of racist tea partiers take over so dramatically?

And so it goes . . .

Let’s round up some random stupid. Today: Rep. Joe Barton

220px-Joe_Barton_OfficialRep. Joe Barton (R-TX-Tea Party caucus), in Congress since 1985, is Chair Emeritus on the Energy and Commerce Committee. This is from a 2010 hearing on wind turbines:

“Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.”

Maybe he only plays the fool. Quotes like that take up all the oxygen while:

The organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) put Congressman Barton on its CREW’s Most Corrupt Report 2011.[45][46] The article states that on Barton’s 2008 financial disclosure statement, he inaccurately reported on the source of a natural gas interest that he bought into. The share was purchased through a longtime donor and supporter who later died. This was discovered by the Dallas Morning News in 2010.[47] According to the Dallas Morning News article, Barton made over $100,000 on the investment. The article and CREW Report both point out how Barton buying this undervalued asset from an “advisor” on energy issues could be a conflict of interest to the Congressman’s position as the Chair of the House’s Energy Subcommittee.

The Congressman’s ethics have been noticed at home, so he’s had a few challengers lately. Nevertheless, he’s never been re-elected with less than 60% of the vote.

Because we all want smart capable people representing us in Congress, don’t we.

Image

Lazy blogger copies/pastes from facebook. Chapter elevenhundred.

Laraine posted this one . . .

Oh Michele we will miss you . . .

Before she leaves us for good, Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Outerspace) is doing her best for late night comics everywhere. Here’s she’s commenting on recent US foreign policy in the Middle East. Or something. And it means that End Times are near.

SPOILER ALERT! Best line ever ever ever:  “Yes it gives us fear in some respects because we want the retirement that our parents enjoyed.”

“This happened and as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists, now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end times history,” Bachmann told Jan Markell, radio host of “Understanding the Times,” on Saturday.

“Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand,” Bachmann added later. “And so when we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this; that these days would be as the days of Noah. We are seeing that in our time. Yes it gives us fear in some respects because we want the retirement that our parents enjoyed. Well they will, if they know Jesus Christ.”

As long as they keep it off the front page, this should be fine, yes?

. . . the exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress have remained open throughout the shutdown. . . the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs.  . . . cleaning and maintenance has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. . . . the decision to keep the gym open came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed. It also appears that the members gym in the Senate remains open on similar terms.

Notice that the staff gym is closed. Charming.

(If you need a giggle, google ‘Congressional gyms” as I just did and check out whose image dominates. If you guessed Paul Ryan, you would be wrong. It’s all selfies of tht body-proud camera hog and failed politician, Anthony Weiner. I guess he’ll live in image infamy, mostly without clothes.)

The President being presidential

I’m listening to an Obama press conference. It’s been going on for a while and he’s answering a lot of questions.

He sounds like the man who ran for office in ’08. Clear, detailed answers. Solid explanations of how the economy works – at home and around the world. Utterly different from the usual sputtering defensive stance.

If the American people heard more like this, we’d be in a whole different place.

UPDATE: Just checking out Balloon Juice and they seemed to like it too. Plus they have links to vid and transcript.

ETA: Presser concluded. From this day forward, October 8th shall be known as National Pony Day in honor of President Obama’s stellar performance. Well, I’ll observe NPD, anyway. It was a tonic for any liberal who longed to see the Tea Party loons get kicked in the junk repeatedly. I’ll post a video and transcript when I can find one.

ETA: Transcript and video via WaPo here. Watch it and rejoice!

The very first rule of reporting: tell the reader ‘who, what, when, where, why’. So where’s the ‘why’?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/James_Abram_Garfield,_photo_portrait_seated.jpg

Okay, it’s true. I did it..

Here’s a bit of  incomplete reporting on a recent “outrage-of-the-day” claimed to  result from that damn Obama government shutdown – this is from National Review; for hyperbolic end-of-the-Republic rhetoric, visit less reliable outlets elsewhere where the sputtering abounds:

“With the government shutdown, many GS [government services] and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer,” Schlageter wrote. “During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”

Why would that be? Surely there’s a reason but perhaps National Review simply ran out of space.

Let us board the way-back-machine and visit, for example, the Gingrich shutdown of 1995. Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees were furloughed. Many of them tried to get around the rules and work anyway; turns out they found themselves in a spot of trouble. Why was that?

It was pretty much for the same reason they would be in trouble now – subject to disciplinary action, criminal charges even, if they violate the rules*.

Allow me to quote an email from a family friend in DC who is a long-time Federal employee; he’s been locked out of his office since Tuesday:

 . . . the General Counsel listed what would happen to us if we did any work during the shutdown, including up to two years of prison. . . I cannot find out what is happening with the grass roots grantees I work with in Latin America – much less process their next disbursement.  I can’t even volunteer my time.

Ah, just like those Catholic priests! And here’s why – our friend goes on:

This is thanks to the Anti-Deficiency Act* which prohibits the government to spend money which hasn’t been appropriated and puts the fear of God into government supervisors.

The Anti-Deficiency Act was initially enacted – wait for it – in 1884. James Garfield was President. Major amendments occurred in 1950 and 1982. Any employee or supervisor who “knowingly and willfully” violates any of the law’s provisions can face punishments of up to $5,000 in fines and two years in prison, according to the GAO.

I don’t see any mention of the Anti-Deficiency Act in The National Review story but I’m confident it’ll be included in all those FOX News stories to follow.

Want more Mark Twain?

(You’ll find dozens more here. The man did talk a lot.)

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class…save Congress.                 

Reader, suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself.

I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be–a Christian.

I don’t like to commit myself regarding heaven and hell. You see, I have friends in both places.

We have the best government that money can buy.

Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.

And let’s give Aesop some credit for inspiration:

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.           

 

Groucho, now a member of the Tea Party Caucus

Thanks to blogfriend Frank of A Frank Angle who just dropped this bit of deliciousness into a comment thread:

Adding a new quote . . .

https://i2.wp.com/steamboattimes.com/images/mark_twain_writing/mark_twain_desk565x390.jpgMark Twain (bless his Connecticut Yankee heart) offered some very fine advice that took me a lifetime to hear.

Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Sometimes the answer is so easy . . .

(UPDATED BELOW) Cousin Den made me laugh . . . again.

UPDATE: . . . and again . . . (from Eugene Robinson):

“Republicans in Congress are like a dog that chases cars and finally catches one. There is a fleeting sense of accomplishment, followed by sheer panic.”

Oldie! Oldie! It’s Friday

Later versions by others picked it up a bit but this was our slow dance version. Nat Cole did it shortly after The Lettermen and in the hands of a real artist, it’s haunting and tender in a way the group doesn’t manage. So here are both.

They didn’t hire themselves you know

Dear Stuart Varney: You are an idiot and that’s probably why you’re a star at the Fox Business channel (the one no one watches). Asked if Federal workers are deserving of back pay when this is over, Varney said:

That is a loaded question isn’t it? You want my opinion? . . .  No, I don’t think they should get their back pay, frankly, I really don’t. I’m sick and tired of a massive, bloated federal bureaucracy living on our backs, and taking money out of us, a lot more money than most of us earn in the private sector, then getting a furlough, and then getting their money back at the end of it. Sorry, I’m not for that. I want to punish these people. Sorry to say that, but that’s what I want to do.

(Why is he sorry to say that?) Stuart, the people you want to punish aren’t the ones who created the agencies, funded them, or made the rules. They are people, plain people who work in payroll or data processing. Maybe they’re engineers or safety inspectors or mathematicians or nurses. Perhaps they clean the offices. How about the folks who answer phones at IRS, CDC, Defense . . . they don’t carry weapons so they’re probably non-essential. I’m guessing that most departments have IT people – let’s hope nobody needs critical help on their computers or – Elvis forbid – servers.

As for those who are essential … they’re required to stay on the job (see Washington DC, Thursday, Capitol Police) but won’t see paychecks for the duration. And today is Friday – for most people, that’s payday.

And you want to punish them. Delightful.

 

Repeating myself, but . . .

Interesting that President Barry made this exact point yesterday. I guess he’s reading my Facebook feed cuz I said this on Monday in a comment thread – and in a post here. And I wish he’d said it sooner.

Obamacare is the law, as passed by the Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the US Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people when they re-elected that President. That’s the way the US gov’t is designed to work. Half of those who tell pollsters they disapprove do so because it doesn’t go far enough – they wanted a single payer plan. The demand to defund or delay Obamacare comes from a single branch (and only a small minority of that branch) trying to undo – by holding hostage – a law created in the way designed by the Constitution.

 

The more things change . . . from about ten years ago

From niece Kate who finds good things:

 

Fascinating interview: WaPo and National Review

Ezra Klein today in his Wonkblog:

Robert Costa is the National Review’s Washington editor and one of the best-sourced reporters among House Republicans. Like many others, I’ve relied on his reporting in recent days about how House Republicans are strategizing around the government shutdown. But it left me with some questions, particularly around Speaker John Boehner’s strategy. We spoke by phone this afternoon, and a lightly edited transcript follows.

I found the interview informative. Here’s a small outtake:

EK: But why isn’t it [a clean resolution or a “CR”] an option? A few dozen unhappy members is an annoyance, but how is it a threat? Wouldn’t Boehner be better off just facing them down and then moving on with his speakership?

RC: So there are 30 to 40 true hardliners. But there’s another group of maybe 50 to 60 members who are very much pressured by the hardliners. So he may have the votes on paper. But he’d create chaos. It’d be like fiscal cliff level chaos. You could make the argument that if he brought a clean CR to the floor he might have 100-plus with him on the idea. But could they stand firm when pressured by the 30 or 40 hardliners and the outside groups?

So much for polls

Offered without comment: