Thursday, April 30, 2009

Travesty! Mortgage Bankers Buy Senators - Foreclosure Amendment Dies

It was an amendment presented by Illinois Senator Dick Durban that would allow bankrupt homeowners to renegotiate their mortgage. The amendment would apply to homeowners who “are 60 days or more delinquent on payments for loans originated before January 1, 2009, and would set the maximum value of loans that qualify at $729,000.” Borrowers would also have to notify their lender 45 days before filing for bankruptcy and make an attempt to come to new terms before going to court.

In case you forgot, because I know we’re all more concerned with coughing into our elbows and washing our hands, there is still an economic crisis in this country. People are still losing jobs. As a consequence, folks can’t pay their bills, including their mortgage. This amendment would have helped people stay in their homes by making their terms and payments more manageable. The loan would still be in effect and the bank would get a monthly payment as opposed to expensive foreclosure costs and ultimate loss of income. The plan could have saved 1.69 million families and $300 billion in equity.

Sounds like a win for all, right? Well, the mortgage industry doesn’t see it that way because they bought enough Senators to kill the amendment 51-45. Per Ryan Grimm at the Huffington Post:

Earlier this week, Durbin concluded that banks that "frankly own the place."

How much did the Senate go for?

The banking and real estate industry has funneled roughly $2,000,000 into Landrieu's campaign coffers over her 12-year career, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. The financial sector is Nelson's biggest backer; he's taken $1.4 million from banks and real estate interests and another $1.2 million from insurance firms. Tester has fielded roughly half a million in his two years in office. Lincoln has taken $1.3 million from banking and real estate interests.

Carper has raked in more than $1.5 million. Baucus, chair of the finance committee, has been on the receiving end of $3.5 million over his career. Specter has hauled in more than $4.5 million and Johnson has gotten some $2.5 million.

As a public service, I offer the list of “No” votes. These folks care more about banks than they do about regular folks in a pinch:

Alexander (R-TN)

Barrasso (R-WY)

Baucus (D-MT)

Bennet (D-CO)

Bennett (R-UT)

Bond (R-MO)

Brownback (R-KS)

Bunning (R-KY)

Burr (R-NC)

Byrd (D-WV)

Carper (D-DE)

Chambliss (R-GA)

Coburn (R-OK)

Cochran (R-MS)

Collins (R-ME)

Corker (R-TN)

Cornyn (R-TX)

Crapo (R-ID)

DeMint (R-SC)

Dorgan (D-ND)

Ensign (R-NV)

Enzi (R-WY)

Graham (R-SC)

Grassley (R-IA)

Gregg (R-NH)

Hatch (R-UT)

Hutchison (R-TX)

Inhofe (R-OK)

Isakson (R-GA)

Johanns (R-NE)

Johnson (D-SD)

Kyl (R-AZ)

Landrieu (D-LA)

Lincoln (D-AR)

Lugar (R-IN)

Martinez (R-FL)

McCain (R-AZ)

McConnell (R-KY)

Murkowski (R-AK)

Nelson (D-NE)

Pryor (D-AR)

Risch (R-ID)

Roberts (R-KS)

Shelby (R-AL)

Snowe (R-ME)

Specter (D-PA)

Tester (D-MT)

Thune (R-SD)

Vitter (R-LA)

Voinovich (R-OH)

Wicker (R-MS)

If your Senator is on the list, please make note and fire their ass come next election.

Why? Because they voted in favor of these guys:

These guys care more about themselves than they do America. Their lack of vision and empathy is exactly why people are getting foreclosed on today. Until we are heard, they will continue to win in Congress.

Again, if your Senator is listed above, make note and remember when the next election rolls around. We hire them and we can fire them.

***UPDATE***

Scarecrow has a great analysis of this situation over at the Oxdown Gazette.

***UPDATE 2***

Bob Cesca offer’s this quality insight.

Thursday Bonus! Notorious B.I.G. in “Juicy”

Biggie Smalls’ “Ready to Die” is one album that I would want on a deserted island and this song is one of the reasons why.  Enjoy your Thursday Bonus!

Churchgoers Dig Torture the Most!

From the AC360 blog:

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

You know what else churchgoers dig the most?  Porn.

Read the actual poll here.  Thanks to the Joshua Blog for the tip.

Come, Witness the Awesome Bigotry and Hate of the Right

Eric Alterman and Danielle Ivory have an excellent piece found at the Center for American Progress.  They critique the right’s ridiculous assertion that swine flu is the result of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico:

First out of the box was known pandemic-ologist Michael Savage of Talk Radio’s The Savage Nation with this report:

“I'm going to talk about the horrible, horrible story of illegal aliens bringing a deadly new flu strain into the United States of America. Make no mistake about it: Illegal aliens are the carriers of the new strain of human-swine avian flu from Mexico….”

“Could our dear friends in the radical Islamic countries have concocted this virus and planted it in Mexico knowing that you, Janet Napolitano, would do nothing to stop the flow of human traffic from Mexico? And they are a perfect mule—perfect mules for bringing this virus into America.”

Wha?  Seriously?  Wait there’s more!

Savage wasn’t alone in fretting over the threat of illegal alien-transported killer germs. In a post entitled, “Hey, maybe we’ll finally get serious about borders now,” Michelle Malkin bragged, “I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration.” Neal Boortz was also on the case on his radio show: There’s the bioterrorism angle… [W]hat better way to sneak a virus into this country than give it to Mexicans?... You want to get that epidemic into this country, get it going real good and hot south of the border. And, you know, then just spread a rumor that there's construction jobs available somewhere, and here it comes.”

Those who were not themselves experts naturally turned to those who were. Chris Matthews, for instance, checked in with noted pandemic expert Pat Buchanan to ask whether Mexican immigrants were the new “Typhoid Marys.” (Guess what Buchanan thought?) Sean Hannity asked, “Is this [swine flu] the latest border crisis?” The National Review Online’s Mark Steyn suggested that we rename the swine flu the “undocumented flu.” Neal Boortz suggested the the even-less politically-correct and less-clever “fajita flu.” And of course, Glenn Beck came up with this zinger: “If you are a family and you're down in Mexico and you're dying and those in America are not, why wouldn't you flood this border?”

So much ignorance.  So much hate.  Keith Olbermann broke it down like this:

Hey, Right Wing!  It’s talk like this that is making rational thinking people head for the exits, effectively turning your tent into an umbrella!  Stop talking!  The breath you are wasting is making everybody sick! 

Now go wash your hands!

Forget Global Warming - Clean Air Means Clean Health

I have been arguing that you don’t have to believe in global warming to understand that we need fundamental changes made to our energy policy.  Folks can deny global warming all they want, but ultimately, a change will save money, not only in energy bills, but with the country’s health expenses.

Want proof?  Look no further than Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

Sheboygan County is one of 17 Wisconsin counties given a failing grade for ozone pollution in an American Lung Association report released Wednesday.

The grade means Sheboygan County averaged nine or more days with air quality classified between “unhealthy for sensitive groups” and “hazardous” each year from 2005 to 2007, according to the ALA Web site. Sheboygan County has now received an F each of the last six years.

Wow, six years in a row!  Why?

Past studies have rated Sheboygan as one of the most polluted counties in Wisconsin, and experts say that is due in part to pollution that drifts northward from industrial areas like Chicago. Sheboygan is especially affected by this air particle drift because it juts farther into Lake Michigan.

I understand this to mean that it’s not necessarily their fault.  Pollution has drifted north and they are negatively effected.  While this is a small, isolated example, There are a lot of industrial cities all over the country.  It’s everybody’s problem. 

So what kind of problems does this poor air quality cause?  “High ozone levels can lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain when inhaling deeply, coughing and increased asthma attacks.”

Shocker. 

I’m going to run something past you.  Feel free to check my logic.  We order up a new energy policy that forces polluters to clean up their emissions.  We also order up cleaner, more efficient cars.  Air quality improves and people have less respiratory ailments.  As a result, people are healthier, see the doctor less, and don’t need medication to control their problems.  Therefore, we don’t spend as much on health care and prescriptions, which ultimately keeps costs down and saves money!

Look, global warming shouldn’t even be the argument.  Yes, it is a big deal and by no means am I trying to diminish climate change.  However, those who argue that global warming doesn’t exist don’t see the bigger picture.  Every step we make to fix the problem has larger implications than just the overall temperature of the earth.  Every environmental improvement has one conclusion, it ultimately saves money.

Brilliant! Kenyan Women Withhold Sex to Stop Government Fighting

This just might work.  From CNN:

The fight for political reform in Kenya has moved into an unlikely venue -- the nation's bedrooms.

Activists in the East African nation are urging women to withhold sex for a week to protest the growing divide in Kenya's coalition government.

"We are asking even sex workers to join the cause, even if we have to pay them ourselves," said Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya.

The campaign was organized by G-10, an umbrella group for women's organizations. It called on the wives of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to join the cause.

Odinga's wife, Ida, told CNN on Thursday that she supports the campaign "100 percent."

"I will not get into what my husband thinks," she said, chuckling, "but I will say leaders need to focus on the things that affect our people, and I hope the publicity from this campaign will raise awareness on those issues. "

Could you imagine what we could accomplish if that happened here?  Not that I’m for it.  I’m just sayin’.  I mean, I like sex, you know?

Here, take this shovel before I dig any deeper.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

That Sure Was Quick - Miss California Signs on as Spokesperson for NAM

Last Friday, I told you about how Miss California was quickly becoming the right’s new favorite for telling Perez Hilton what time it was when it comes to same-sex marriage.  Today, Ben Smith reports she’s signed on to speak for the National Association for Marriage:

The president of the National Association for Marriage says she sees the emergence of Miss California Carrie Prejean as a leading spokeswoman for the fight against same-sex marriage as a chance to turn around daunting demographic tides in support of expanding marriage.

"Carrie represents the voice of a new generation of people, and shows that here really are young people out here who care about this marriage issue," she said, saying Prejean disproves "the idea that the next generation is hopeless and it’s all over."

Public polling suggests young voters have shifted toward favoring same-sex marriage, while older voters strongly oppose it.

I’m sure the kids are going to hurry right up and get over to that anti-gay marriage rally now that Miss California is going to be there!  Right.  The truth is, kids don’t care because they don’t see what the fuss is about.  See, kids are secure enough in their sexuality to know that if two men or two women love each other, it’s their business and it’s not going to have any affect on their own personal lives.  I suppose kids will be there, but they’ll be forced to go by their square, homosexual fearing parents.  Old folks will definitely be there, especially the cranky ones with nothing else to do.  You’re not trying to reach them, are you NAM? 

Well, good luck Miss California.  Enjoy your summer!

Clown Shoes Bachmann is Back and She’s Re-writing History!

The last swine flu scare was in 1976.  In 1976, Republican Gerald Ford was President.

Keep talking yourself right out of a job, idiot.  You’re an embarrassment to the good people of Minnesota 6.

My man known as “Inside Man” gets credit for the tip.  He included this quote which I think is spot on:

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber" –Plato

***UPDATE***

I just came across more Bachmann revisionist history from Talking Points Memo.  Lord, help us!

***UPDATE 2***

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a new website up called “Bachmann Watch – Michele Bachmann vs. The Truth.”  Good stuff.

Three Down - House Passes Budget! Up to Senate to Seal Deal

Per the Washington Post:

The House today passed a $3.5 trillion budget outline that lays the groundwork for President Obama's ambitious initiatives on health care and education.

The 233-193 vote was largely along party lines. The Senate is expected to pass the budget later today, allowing Obama to commemorate his 100th day as president with a major legislative victory.

"It is a very happy day for our country," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

The budget resolution extends tax cuts for families who make less than $250,000 each year, increases the size of Pell Grants and provides money for "clean energy" initiatives that Obama has proposed.

Of course, Republicans said something complaining about spending, deficits and…Zzzzzzzz.  Sorry, I dozed off. 

Now it’s up to the Senate to finalize this thing and get this country moving.

Getting My Head Around the Arlen Specter Move – Ultimately, It’s Not Up to Him, It’s Up to You

I’ve had 24 hours to think about this Arlen Specter thing.  I watched the pundits and did a lot of reading.  I have some thoughts.

First, just because he’s a Democrat, it does not mean he’s going to go along with everything the Democrats do.  Yes, there are now 59 Democratic votes in the Senate.  If Al Franken ever gets seated, it’ll be 60, the magic filibuster proof number.  However, just because you have 60 voters does not mean you have 60 votes.

Second, my optimistic nature hopes that this move helps pass the changes we voted for when we elected President Obama.  Bipartisanship now rests on the backs of the Republicans.  They can have bipartisanship if they want it.  Otherwise, get out of the way.  Let’s get health care for all and a new energy policy.  Let’s insist on aggressive, sweeping changes.  None of this watered down stuff that appeases big energy, big insurance, or Republicans.  Judging from Mr. Specter’s moderate conservative credentials, the jury is out on whether or not he can be completely relied upon to come through.

This brings me to my third and final point.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how Mr. Specter personally falls on an issue.  He, like all elected officials, works for his constituents.  If we make the calls, write the letters, and let our people in Washington know that we want these sweeping, aggressive changes, then we will get them.  Don’t assume that because the majority of people agree with change that the majority of people will say anything about it.  When people agree, they feel like there’s no need to say anything because everybody agrees.  What ends up happening is the people who disagree become louder and take over the conversation.  If you believe in these issues as I do, then you will do something about it when the time comes.

I appreciate Mr. Specter’s willingness to do the right thing, like voting in favor of the stimulus.  I hope he works with his new caucus to make this country more prosperous.  Therefore, I welcome Mr. Specter to the Democratic party.  I will be watching with great anticipation that he will do the right thing.

Obama’s First 100 Days, Seriously This Time

You’re going to read a lot about Obama’s first 100 days as today is, ta-da, day 100. It really isn’t a big deal as there’s so much more to be done. That said, people like to benchmark and analyze what has happened and I am no exception.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I am extremely happy with our President. I am pleased that he has aggressively attacked both our current economic problems with the stimulus and the future prosperity of this country with his budget. I am also pleased with the class he displayed overseas and think he has done much to repair the America’s image abroad.

It hasn’t been perfect, and nothing ever is. I am disturbed about the decision to continue and expand the domestic surveillance program. Unfortunately, once we went down that road, there was no going back. Hopefully, Congress will do something about it when the Patriot Act renewal comes up this fall. I am also disappointed on the White House position on prosecuting torture. I understand that the majority of the people want to let it go. My fear is that letting it go will send a message to future administrations, which is, nothing will happen if you decide to torture, so if said administration feels it’s necessary, then have at. Finally, I mention the bank mess, which seems to have been placed on the back burner for the last couple of weeks.

Overall, I give the White House an A. The foundation has been laid for a stronger country. I am optimistic and look forward to health care reform and a new energy policy to become reality. It’s been an exciting start to what should be a great Presidency.

Andrew T. Reviews the Last 100 Days

It’s a big day in America as 100 days have come and gone.  What has happened during that time and is it significant? 

Well, I say it’s been great and full of significance.  Our daughter is getting bigger and cuter by the day.  She was just 17 days old on January 20 and she really couldn’t do much but eat, sleep, cry, and poop.  Now she’s smiling, cooing, grabbing things, calling out in that special way that 16 week olds do, and giggling a little.  She’s started day care about a month ago and is adjusting well.  My wife has also gone back to work and hasn’t adjusted nearly as well, but that was to be expected.  As for me, work has been great and I love my family.  So, yes, the last 100 days has been a great success.

Was there something else that should have been noted today?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Hits My Town – Time to Laugh!

It’s official, the swine flu has reached my town.  In the interest of keeping it even, I give you this classic from The Kids in the Hall!

Wow Wow Wow – Specter Now a Democrat

Per NYT The Caucus:

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said on Tuesday he would switch to the Democratic party, presenting Democrats with a possible 60th vote and the power to break Senate filibusters as they try to advance the Obama administration’s new agenda.

In a statement issued about noon as the Capitol was digesting the stunning turn of events, Mr. Specter said he had concluded that his party had moved too far to the right, a fact demonstrated by the migration of 200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans to the Democratic Party.

“I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” Mr. Specter said, acknowledging that his decision was certain to disappoint colleagues and supporters.

Seat Al Franken and Dems have filibuster proof 60.  Huge news.  More to come.

Insecure Hunters Dine on Limbaugh

More cannibalism from the right.  Rush Limbaugh recently cut a couple of public service announcements for the Humane Society:

The public-service radio spots cut by Mr. Limbaugh began airing in mid-April. In one, the self-dubbed "Doctor of Democracy" expresses support for the HSUS effort to crack down on organized dogfighting and other animal-cruelty crimes.

In the second, "America's Truth Detector" talks about, as the Humane Society says, "our outreach to communities of faith, and the moral obligation that we have to be good stewards of God's creatures."

Both ads seem reasonable enough, no?  Gun owners disagree:

Twenty-eight groups representing millions of hunters and sportsmen are demanding that the conservative radio commentator end his collaboration with the HSUS and stop "helping them to mainstream their image in the minds of reasonable people."

"Despite a few programs designed to attract support from the general public, HSUS is in fact an organization that opposes hunting, fishing, and trapping," the groups, including Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, wrote in a letter last week to Mr. Limbaugh.

"Its leadership has a long and established history of promoting legislation, litigation, and referenda to restrict the rights of American sportsmen and women."

Time out!  I have never come to the aid of Rush Limbaugh, but exactly what does dogfighting have to do with hunting?  What does being “good stewards of God’s creatures” have to do with hunting?  I know, there are some of you vehemently opposed to hunting in all forms and would argue that hunting is not being a good steward to God’s creatures.  I’m not a hunter.  I do have family and friends who are hunters.  We’ve talked about it and I understand why they do it.  It’s their thing and their right.  If a democratically elected government decided that there should be no more hunting, then hunters will have to deal with it. 

The truth is, nobody is talking about taking away hunting and gun rights except for hunters and gun owners!  It appears that the gun owning population of this country is so insecure that they need to attack their own hero because he made an ad speaking out against dogfighting and being kind to God’s creatures. 

Unbelievable!  Relax people! 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu Yields a Couple of Political Surprises

swine flu image 1 I’m going to bet that if you’re breathing, you’ve heard about the swine flu.  I’m also willing to bet that you had never heard of it until today.  I heard about it for the first time over the weekend.  The Center for Disease Control says:

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Wha?  Huh?  Look, I don’t want to discount or make light of this as I’m sure it’s miserable.  That said, come on!  I’ve had the flu many times in my life and I’m sure I’ll have it many more.  Do these symptoms warrant surgical masks?  Do we need everybody on the news freaking out like the black plague has returned?  Am I to believe that the body cart will make a triumphant comeback along with the “bring out your dead” guys?  Remember the bird flu?  Remember how the media got freaked out and how it never came?  Listen, if I get swine flu, I’ll make sure to tell you how awful it is.  Again, I don’t want to make light of it, but is all the hysteria necessary?

There was some fun to come out of the swine flu news of the day.  First, Andrew T. favorite, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) preemptively asked for 37k+ doses of flu medicine from the CDC.  On the surface, I applaud the Governor thinking ahead, especially since they share a border with Mexico.  I just find it a bit ironic that he would go to a federal agency asking for aid after he spent the better part of the last week and a half talking about seceding from the Union.  Having said that, I’m not going to go after the guy today.  It’s good that he’s thinking about the people of his state, as opposed to recent, Jerk Store actions.

The second politician to get bitten by the swine flu is Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  During the stimulus vote, Sen. Collins was one of three moderate Republicans who voted for it.  She also managed to strip the stimulus of $870 million in pandemic preparedness because it wasn’t “simulative” and was happy to tell the world about it.  Again, to be fair, I understand this line of thinking.  You know, it’s not creating jobs and it’s a lot of money and we don’t have any pandemic on the horizon, so let’s cut it and save the money.  If it weren’t for swine flu, we wouldn’t be talking about this.  But there is swine flu and we are talking about this, so, oops. 

And that, my friends, is my point.  If it weren’t for the swine flu, Rick Perry would still be a jerk stain playing politics with unemployment funds and talking smack about secession.  Sen. Collins could still brag about how she saved almost a billion dollars by cutting pandemic preparations.  Instead, Rick Perry shows some humanity and Sen. Collins is trying to defend all the money she saved.  I’m not attacking these people.  I just want to share the irony.

Now, go wash your hands and get a mask.  I don’t want you getting sick!

Fox News Cherry Picks Quotes Out of Context Creating False Impression that President Wants European Health Care

It appears that Fox News is up to their twisted tricks again.  Per Media Matters:

During the April 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report, White House correspondent Wendell Goler cropped a comment by President Obama and took it out of context -- effectively reversing the statement's meaning -- to falsely suggest that Obama supports creating a health care system "like the European countries." Goler claimed that Obama "doesn't want to do it halfway" on health care, and then aired a clip from a March 26 online town hall event of Obama saying, "If you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?" Following the clip, Goler reported: "His critics worry universal health care would mean government-run health care." In fact, Obama actually said, "Now, the question is, if you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?" [emphasis added] In doing so, Obama was paraphrasing the town hall question he had been asked -- "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?" -- before explaining why he opposed such a system.

Daily Kos was kind enough to put this package together which shows the original intent of the President’s idea:

This is so scary and wrong.  Yes, we’re only talking about health care, but what if the story was about new, effective interrogation techniques or liberating a nation from an evil, oppressive regime.  What?  They already sold those ideas and got us into a war using false pretenses and started torturing people under the guise of national security?  Great.

Seriously, if you’ve been reading, I don’t think a European system of health care is such a bad thing.  But judging from the President’s response to the question, he’s not entirely sold on a European system.  He wants to work with what we have.  I don’t care how they do it, I just want it fixed. 

Back to the problem at hand.  I don’t think I need to tell you that Fox News is run by slippery rat finks that need to be watched very carefully.  I just worry about the people that don’t know any better.

Bill Maher’s Excellent Criticism of the Republican Party

I wasn’t able to read much this weekend, but I did read this criticism on the current state of the Republican party by comedian Bill Maher.   This section pretty much nails it:

The conservative base is absolutely apoplectic because, because ... well, nobody knows. They're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. Even though they're not quite sure what "it" is. But they know they're fed up with "it," and that "it" has got to stop.

Here are the big issues for normal people: the war, the economy, the environment, mending fences with our enemies and allies, and the rule of law.

And here's the list of Republican obsessions since President Obama took office: that his birth certificate is supposedly fake, he uses a teleprompter too much, he bowed to a Saudi guy, Europeans like him, he gives inappropriate gifts, his wife shamelessly flaunts her upper arms, and he shook hands with Hugo Chavez and slipped him the nuclear launch codes.

Do these sound like the concerns of a healthy, vibrant political party?

No, Mr. Maher, it doesn’t.  If you have a second, read the whole thing.  It’s quite good. 

Thanks to The Joshua Blog for the tip.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Night Special – Bob Marley & the Wailers in “Jamming”

Regardless of What Gingrich Says, Cap & Trade is Nothing to Fear

Here’s an exchange between Newt Gingrich and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).  Mr. Gingrich is citing evidence that has repeatedly been proven false.  Specifically, he’s pointing to a MIT report that Republicans use to make the claim that cap and trade will cost taxpayers $3,100 in new energy expenses.  Waxman proceeds to refute his claims.

Cap and trade is exactly what it sounds like.  A cap is placed on carbon emissions.  If a company A goes over this cap, they can trade, or buy, carbon credits from company B, who is under the cap and has credits to sell.  The purchased credits allow Company A to go over the cap. 

What I gather, Republicans believe that no polluter will be able to remain under the cap, which would force them to buy credits and pass the expense on to the consumer.  They also must believe that no polluter will be able to cover the expense of cleaning up their emissions.  Basically, more defeatist attitude from the Party of No. 

Why don’t they look at it this way?  Company B, who has taken the necessary steps to clean up their act and reduce carbon emissions, is making money by selling to Company A, who may quickly find that spending the money necessary to stay under the cap is advantageous to their long term bottom line.  What’s wrong with that? 

Americans have always gotten things done.  Upgrading our energy grid, regardless of climate change, is necessary and important to our future strength and prosperity.  It’s time to put aside false concerns, roll up our sleeves, and do this.

Saturday Morning Cartoons – Woody Woodpecker in “Gabby’s Diner”

For more fun, head over to my friend’s site, Frieda Babbley Eye on Life.  Sounds like she’s got a good weekend of clips lined up as well.  Regardless, she has more taste and class than yours truly, so head on over and elevate your day!

Andrew T.’s Late Late Late Show – Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Night! Outta Sight! Cheap Trick in “Surrender”

I’m busting this one out early because it’s hot outside, I want to rock, and I want to share that with you!  Check back throughout the weekend as I have a lot of non-political fun lined up.  See, unless something big happens, I try to keep the politics to a minimum.  All work and no play, you know?  Word!

Who’s the Most Exciting New Republican Role Model in America? Why, it’s Miss California, of Course!

Can we all agree that the Republican party is a little lost right now?  It’s safe to say that a good role model would really lift their spirits.  Somebody they could hold in high esteem and say, “that person embodies all that I believe.  I listen to them because I can’t express my beliefs half as good as they can.” 

Since the election, we’ve seen one conservative savior after another crash and burn.  Sarah Palin was first, and was number one with a bullet until she was exposed for being ethically challenged, among other things.  Then there was Joe the (fake) Plumber.  He really caught Obama off guard, didn’t he?  Actually, he didn’t, but people really ate up his Joe Sixpackiness!  To his credit, Joe really milked his 15 minutes for all he could, and he’s still showing up at events.  That said, he’d probably be doing better if he did his homework once in a while.  Hope is not lost as Bobby Jindal will come and deliver the Republican Response to the President’s Address to Congress and lay waste to the President’s speech!  Actually, hope is lost as he came off more like Mr. Rogers and America laughed.  At the rate they’re going, they’re going to have to wait for 14 year old Jonathan Krohn to grow up.  They loved him at CPAC!  Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up like that kid in “The Toy.”

carrie_prejean2 But wait!  What is this?  This vision of beauty!  An all-American Beauty who is against same-sex marriage!  Politico reports that Miss California, Carrie Prejean, is the new “Queen of the GOP.”  Miss California, not only are you super hot, way hotter than Gov. Palin, but you’re principled too!  How did you answer Perez Hilton’s question?  “We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.”  Hooray for opposite marriage!!! 

Conservatives reacted quickly and decisively:

An Alabama state legislator introduced a House resolution praising her for speaking out against gay marriage. In a press release, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins stated his “admiration and support” for her and lauded “her fortitude in the face of continued baseless personal attacks.”
“There’s a lot of people cheering you tonight that you stood on your principles, that you put the principles above winning,” Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity told Prejean when she appeared on his television program. “Not enough people do that. And I admire you a lot for it.”

Yes Mr. Hannity, I’m sure you do admire her for speaking her mind, as I’m sure you admire that amazing rack!  Come on man, I know you want to motor boat that chest!  Do it!

Whatever. 

Trot her out and have her give the beauty pageant speech of how she prefers opposites marrying and can’t live with the idea of sames getting married.  The mesh hat set will gape, adjust their, ahem, belt buckles while acting like they’re really listening.  The truth is, it’s another issue that is passing them by.  All the pouting and kicking isn’t going to change the fact that the country really doesn’t care if two people who love each other get married, regardless if they are same or opposite.

I’m sure conservatives will run this poor girl in the ground.  She’ll probably like the attention and go along with it.  Maybe she’ll be really good at memorizing her lines and she’ll run for Congress.  She can be the next Michele Bachmann.  Who knows?  It’s America, she’s hot, and anything is possible!

Hearing on Global Warming Sets My Hair on Fire

I was just watching CSPAN’s live coverage of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing on climate change.  Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA) was grilling former Vice President Al Gore.  Actually, the part that I caught, Radanovich wasn’t grilling as much as he was just spouting off about he wasn’t convinced that global warming exists and that any efforts to fix a non-existent problem would be catastrophic to the economy.

Do you smell that?  It smells like smoke in here.  Man.  My head is hot.  What is that?  Oh, I know, MY HEAD IS ON FREAKING FIRE!!! 

I absolutely hate this argument, and it’s not because he doesn’t believe in global warming.  It’s so shortsighted.  Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when they had to build brand new energy plants, lay brand new power lines, and tie everybody in America to the country’s energy grid.  In order to do this, we first needed to innovate.  Smart people needed to figure out how first make the energy then get it to the people.  Second, we needed to implement that plan.  That meant people needed to build the plants, run the plants, run the lines, plant power poles, and connect them to houses.  When everything was set up, we needed people to run the plants and maintain the network.  Nobody argued against doing all of this work, they just did it.  Plus, it created a ton of good paying jobs that helped the economy flourish. 

So now, we have an opportunity to create a cleaner, more efficient and ultimately more inexpensive power grid.  We also have an opportunity to create millions of new jobs and dolts like Rep. Radanovich are arguing that the economy can’t handle the switch.  I’m convinced that those that are making the same argument as Radanovich are in the energy lobby’s pocket because, to me, their argument just doesn’t make sense.

To add to the absurdity, Newt Gingrich is testifying right after Al Gore, so I’m sure we’ll hear more about how wind turbines and solar panels will decimate the economy.  Fools.

Would you do me a quick favor and turn that hose on and put out my head?  Thanks!

48% of Texas Republicans Would Choose Secession

Remember last week when Texas Governor Rick Perry got all hot and bothered at a tea bag fest and started talking about secession?  Forward to this week, Daily Kos/Research 2000 ran a poll in Texas and asked this question:

QUESTION: Do you think Texas would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America?

US

IND

NOT SURE

ALL

61

35

4

MEN

57

39

4

WOMEN

65

31

4

DEMOCRATS

82

15

3

REPUBLICANS

48

48

4

INDEPENDENTS

55

40

5

Two things jump out at me.  First, the “All” number of 61-35 is nearly identical to the Real Clear Politics average for “President’s Job Approval,” which as of today is, 61.8 approve, 32.3 disapprove.  Second, look at that Republican number.  It’s split right down the middle!  Are Texas Republicans so bent that almost half of them would rather be their own nation than part of the United States?  Texas before all else, is that it?  That’s not very patriotic, now is it?

But, hey, if that’s what y’all want, I guess we’ll just have to go on without you.  Below is what Rachel Maddow said about it last night:

Let’s Head Over to the Weather Center for the Friday Forecast

I don’t know what’s it’s going to be like where you are, but in Northern Indiana, it will be clear and sunny with a high of 81.

I don’t think I need to explain how supremely kick ass this is.  To put you in a summery mindset, please enjoy the convertible sounds of The Friends of Distinction in “Grazing in the Grass!”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yesterday Was a Great Media Day for Liberals!

If you are like me, then you know that 2001-2008 were extremely, and I’m putting this mildly, irritating years.  Specifically, when it came to message, Republicans had the floor.  There was rarely, if any, challenge on their assertions.  You know the list: tax cuts for the richest 1%, Iraq, torture, etc., etc.  If there had been any challenge, there wouldn’t be as big a mess to clean up.

As we approach the 100 day mark of the Obama administration, it is my belief that there has been a bit of a media hangover with regards to who they have been trotting out to discuss the issues of the day.  For example, Obama shakes Hugo Chavez’ hand, and Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney are brought in to discuss the significance of the meeting.  Of course, they feel it’s a bad idea and that it makes America look weak.  What about when Obama first introduced his budget and Mary Matalin appeared on the Today Show to tell everybody what a bad idea it was?  Needless to say, I was not surprised by her position.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not arguing for one side to control the message as that is truly dangerous.  However, in the examples above, the interviews were given one on one with no rebuttal.  I’m not saying put Dick Cheney on a panel.  He’s the former Vice President of the United Sates.  I get it, he’s above a panel.  I also don’t expect Fox News to have a follow up rebuttal.  Frankly, there has been plenty of rebuttal in the news since their interviews have taken place and I am fine with that.  My problem comes from the fact that if the only news you get in a day comes from that first half hour of the Today Show while you eat your breakfast, then it’s quite possible, depending on the opinion of the person who’s being interviewed, that the viewer’s opinion has been formed for them.

Forward to yesterday.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on Capital Hill testifying in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  First up, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) pressed her on Dick Cheney’s assertion that the White House was holding back information proving that the torture program worked.  She replied that Dick Cheney was not a “particularly reliable source” and that she wasn’t aware of “any facts that support what you’re describing.”  Second, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) stepped up and quizzed Sec. Clinton on the Gingrich/Cheney “ignore enemies” diplomatic policy.  Sec. Clinton proceeded to give a history lesson of past presidents who have met with other leaders who were more vocal about harming America than Hugo Chavez.  I have heard from many people who didn’t think these exchanges were much of anything.  I read it another way.  Here are two Representatives who are pushing the false ideas brought forth from the high visibility figures in their party only to end up looking silly.  I will concede that this is more true with Rep. Pence than it is with Rep. Rohrabacher.  I do agree with Rep. Rohrabacher that all the documents should be released.  All of them.

While this was going on, President Obama was in Iowa for Earth Day, touring a factory that makes wind turbines.  During his speech, he pushed back on the old tire gauge bit that his opponent used against him during the election:

"Some of you may remember during the campaign, when gas was really high, I suggested that one small step Americans could take would be to keep their tires inflated, remember that?" Obama told the crowd at Newton, Iowa, in a speech celebrating Earth Day. "And everybody teased me. 'Aw look, that's Obama energy policy.' And my opponents started passing out tire gauges. But I'll tell you what, turns out that saves you an awful lot of gas -- and money in your pocket. It also makes sense for our energy use as a whole. If everybody kept their tires inflated, it would have a big dent; it would produce as much oil savings as we might be pumping in some of these offshore sites by drilling."

Finally, and this is the absolute best of the day, Lawrence O’Donnell, who is quickly becoming a personal favorite, really lets GOP Strategist Phil Musser have it.  As Bob Cesca said, Mr. Musser “…has Super Duper Guilty Vision!”

Look, I understand people glean different things and these probably aren’t a big deal.  But, for me, yesterday was the day where liberal leaders and figures stood up for what they believe and pushed back on asinine arguments that would have been gospel just a few short years ago.  I’m all for it.

Whoa!  Wait!  I almost forgot!  This clip from Shepard Smith is incredible.  Amazingly enough, there is one person over at Fox News with a brain:

Yes, it was a great media day!

DNC Runs New Ad Charging Republicans with 100 Days of “Just Say No!”

The DNC is up with another ad slamming Republicans called “100 Days of No.”  It appears they were listening to Nancy Reagan in the 80’s.

Let’s Waterboard Hannity! He Said He’d Do It For Charity!

Per Jason Linkins, last night, during a conversation with actor Charles Grodin, Sean Hanity agreed to be waterboarded for charity:

GRODIN: You're for torture.

HANNITY: I am for enhanced interrogation.

GRODIN: You don't believe it's torture. Have you ever been waterboarded?

HANNITY: No, but Ollie North has.

GRODIN: Would you consent to be waterboarded? We can waterboard you?

HANNITY: Sure.

GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

HANNITY: I'll do it for charity. I'll let you do it. I'll do it for the troops' families.

Go to the Huffington Post now and watch the clip!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clinton 2 – Dickless Republicans 0

H.C. is on fire today!

Per Talking Points Memo, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) brought the party line and quizzed Secretary Hillary Clinton on the assertion that President Obama’s photo-op with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be used against this country and will somehow make America weak. Sec. Clinton responds with lesson of the the cold war and how past Presidents met with Communist dictators, who threatened our country for years, to negotiate. She also explains that Obama won the election and he gets to decide how America should behave with other countries.

Watch the clip. Pay particular attention to Rep. Pence’s face after she’s done and listen for the sound of Velcro tearing. It’s the sound of Rep. Pence getting neutered and Sec. Clinton pocketing his balls.

Now sit down, chump!

Sec. Clinton Diplomatically Tells Rep. Rohrabacher to Get Out of Her Face, Makes Him Look Stupid!

Hillary Clinton is back and tougher than ever!  Per Think Progress:

In testimony today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that she did not view former Vice President Cheney as a "particularly reliable source" on matters related to detainee torture and mistreatment.

He pressed her on Cheney’s request to release documents proving that the torture program worked, to which she responded “I don't know any facts that support what you're describing.”

Watch:

Be gone, silly little man!

New Ad From DNC - New GOP Same as Old GOP

Here’s the new ad from the DNC.  They’re jumping on the recent high visibility interviews of Newt Gingrich, Carl Rove, and Dick Cheney with the tag line “Meet the New GOP, Same as the Old GOP.”

You know I have to follow that up with this:

I think my brains are splattered on the wall behind me…

Economy May Be Leveling Off

Reuters reports that according to the International Monetary Fund, the “economy is starting to show signs of shrinking more slowly but positive growth is not expected until sometime next year.”

"There has been some improvement in business confidence, some signs of bottoming out in housing market, but these are early days and we should not expect a return to growth any time soon," Charles Collyns, IMF's deputy director of research, told a press conference.

"We don't expect a return to positive growth in the U.S. until some time next year," he said in response to a question.

As I have said many times before, and as this story indicates, we’re not out of the woods yet.   That said, these are good signs.

Alright Mr. Cheney, Go Ahead, Release All of It! I Double-Dog Dare You!

During his recent interview with Sean Hannity, former Vice President Dick Cheney said that he wanted the Obama administration to release the all torture memos, especially those that proved that their tactics were working.  Cheney said, "One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort."

Today, John Nichols of the Nation agrees with Cheney’s sentiment:

But he is right to call for further disclosure of documents regarding interrogation policy under the Bush administration.

Yes, yes, let's get it all out.

Let's release all the memorandums, all the electronic files, all the loose papers relating to the plotting and implementation of the wide-ranging torture regimen that Cheney and President Bush appear to have implemented.

Mr. Nichols continues:

And let's keep going.

Let's release all the materials that Cheney, as the primary proponent of secrecy during the Bush years, fought to withhold.

Where to begin? Why not at the beginning: with all the documents relating to the energy task force that Cheney headed at the start of the Bush-Cheney interregnum.

When Cheney fought to keep those materials secret, Paul Krugman wrote: "What Mr. Cheney is defending, in other words, is a doctrine that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship: a system in which the president, once in office, can do whatever he likes, and isn't obliged to consult or inform either Congress or the public."

Now that the former vice president is preaching the gospel of transparency, let's make the rhetoric real and get the full story of Cheney's imperial vice presidency -- and its lawless excesses -- out of the lockbox and into the sunshine where it can be examined by a free press, the American people and their Congress.

Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Vice President.  You just might get it.

Happy Earth Day!

Here’s a clip to remind you that we live in a most amazing, wonderful, beautiful world.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Please, for the Love of God, TURN DOWN THE COMMERCIALS!!!

In England, when you buy a new TV, you have to buy a television license.  For just over $200 per year, the English get the BBC commercial free.  The BBC is not PBS as they are the worlds largest broadcaster.  If you watch any British shows here in the states, chances are they’re from the BBC.  Monty Python was BBC.  The Office began on the BBC, long before it came to the states.  Britons get plenty of news, sports, and entertainment, all commercial free for just over $200 per year.  Yes, there are other channels in the United Kingdom, and many of them have commercials, but the English don’t seem to have a problem with the license.

I too like the idea of a television license and would happily pay $200 per year to put an end to commercials.  I’d get more program and less interruptions.  Brilliant!  Not only would I own the device that delivers content, I would own the content.  Smashing!  Best of all, I could stop reaching for the volume down button on my remote at every break!  Bloody good show!

Am I the only one who has noticed that the volume level of some of these commercials are insane and completely unnecessary?  I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a buddy who flies planes in China.  He was telling me that they get two American channels, Fox News and CNN.  Of all the channels he gets, these two are the only ones where the commercials are noticeably louder.  All the other channels keep it even. 

I found an article on MSNBC that explains the phenomenon.  Basically,

Most advertisers don’t want nuance. They want to grab your attention. To do that, the audio track is electronically processed to make every part of it as loud as possible within legal limits. “Nothing is allowed to be subtle,” says Brian Dooley, Editor-At-Large for CNET.com. “Everything is loud – the voices, the music and the sound effects.”

Spencer Critchley, writing in Digital Audio last month, explained it this way: “The peak levels of commercials are no higher than the peak levels of program content. But the average level is way, way higher, and that’s the level your ears care about. If someone sets off a camera flash every now and then it’s one thing; if they aim a steady spot light into your eyes it’s another, even if the peak brightness is no higher.”

Well then, it seems we need to do something about the legal limits, don’t we?  Either that, or kill commercials all together with a TV License.

I understand advertising, especially in our economy, which is based on spending.  However, when I’m enjoying a show and a commercial comes on that is so loud I flinch, I make sure I remember that product for life.  Yes, I know that’s the idea.  In this case, I remember it because I want to make sure I never spend one red cent on whatever it is they are selling!  Messing with their money is the only way I can think of that will get through to these corporations.  If they want to blow out my eardrums and aggravate what is generally a pleasant experience, then I’m going to redirect my money.  Unfortunately, I’ll probably end up redirecting towards a hearing aid.

Cheney Describes Obama’s Overseas Trips “Disturbing,” Argues Torture Worked

Via Huffington Post, Dick Cheney was on Sean Hannity’s show last night: 

Former Vice President Dick Cheney slammed President Obama again on Monday night during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity at Cheney's home in McLean, Virginia.

Cheney pointedly questioned the president's leadership, criticized Obama's overseas trips as "disturbing," said his handshake with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was "not helpful," and strongly disagreed with the release of the torture memos.

"I've been concerned at the way we've been presented overseas... What I find disturbing is the extent to which he's gone to Europe and seemed to apologize profusely, been to Mexico and seemed to apologize there," said Cheney. "The world out there, both our friends and foes, will be quick to take advantage of that... I don't think we have much to apologize for."

Finally, Cheney defended the use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques, saying, "It worked. It's been enormously valuable in terms of saving lives and preventing another mass casualty attack on the US."

Cheney formally asked that the Obama administration to release what he claimed are memos that demonstrated the success of those techniques.

"One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort," Cheney said.

Dick Cheney is a shit Midas, meaning everything he touches turns to shit.

Again, here’s another a scared little man who thinks that admitting mistakes admits weakness.  Being honest with oneself is honorable.  The problem with the entire Bush administration is the fact that they never once owned up to their mistakes.  They never took responsibility for their actions.  According to them, they were never wrong and what they did was good.  Never mind the mountain of evidence that proves otherwise.  They spent eight years fabricating lies and covering up the truth.  Judging from shit Midas here, they told so many lies, they believe them to be gospel.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Newt Gingrich – The Frightened Little Man

042009_chavez Newt Gingrich made the morning news circuit bashing Obama for shaking hands with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.  Chavez, who has a long history of anti-American rhetoric, is no saint.  Gingrich, along with others on the right, believe that this hand shake, along with other gestures, are signs of Obama’s weakness.  “Frankly, this does look a lot like Jimmy Carter,” said Gingrich on Fox & Friends.  “Carter tried weakness, and the world got tougher and tougher, because the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators – when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead.”

Pushing ahead on what exactly?  Obama has this to say in response:

Venezuela is a country whose defense budget is probably 1/600th of the United States’. They own Citgo. It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States. I don’t think anybody can find any evidence that that would do so. Even within this imaginative crowd, I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela.

In short, there’s no threat, so save it.

Mr. Gingrich should read a copy of Dale Carnegie's classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  Our President certainly has.

Win people to your way of thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

If Mr. Gingrich understood these principles, then maybe I’d respect him more.  He obviously doesn’t respect my intelligence or the intelligence of the American people.  Respect is earned when respect is given.  It is not weakness, it’s smart.  Nothing is ever accomplished when two disagreeing people stand in opposite corners with their chests puffed out.  Extending graciousness could lead to civil discussions where problems are resolved.  In the end, Gingrich seems like a scared little man.

John Marshall at Talking Points Memo puts it nicely:

In the course of our normal lives, few of us have much difficulty identifying habits of defensiveness or a penchant for histrionic or petulant interactions as signs of weakness, not strength. Really powerful people don't need stunts and usually signal their power by a certain graciousness and indifference in such interactions. They have nothing to prove. But American power, respect, command of public opinion -- however you want to define it -- must be in these people's minds an extremely brittle thing. They really do seem like extremely insecure people.

***UPDATE***

Firedoglake has a historic set of Republican presidents smiling with and shaking the hands of some of history’s greatest dictators.