Sunday, February 28, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
If El Presidente Bush were to run one of these -- and he never did in his eight years, not bipartisan, not on C-Span, not once -- he might not even be chairing it. Whereas what I expect will keep this from being kabuki is that President Obama has already shown himself to be a fair meeting leader. And he actually studies and considers conservative ideas. Not Movement ideas so much as small "c" old school, un-hysterical style.
The bigger kabuki play is in my home state of New York, where a possible influence scandal is breaking with Gov. David Paterson in the wrong. Not sure how this will turn out because my guess from the vantage point of the opposite coast is that Paterson is considered a very weak Governor in the state with terrible poll numbers to match, the Democratic Party is all but coalesced around current NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Paterson is digging in his heels and somebody had to hit him with a smear or a real impropriety in order to try and loosen him up.
The question then becomes whether Paterson -- who's father was a politician, who made it in the Harlem political world, who made it to Lieutenant Governor and by resignation then the Governorship -- can handle a political attack like this in his sleep. He's calling for an investigation, whatever that means, but it's a smart start.
May the best kabukatron win.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Think maybe that might be a comment on our times?
I just watched The Daily Show report on how banks are jacking up credit card fees right and left, in advance of new regulations going into effect. They can even charge you for underutilizing your credit card -- charging you for not buying things!
Good luck to Obama attempts to reform Wall Street, which is clearly rotten on psychotic profiteering and won't change their ways without a deathmatch loss.
And I just watched the moron who made a name for himself by moronic behavior, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) repeating over and over again that we have the best health care system in the world, when that is demonstrably false. (Credit to Dylan Rattigan for calling him out.) Meanwhile the GOP is playing pouty games over the possibility that we actually get comprehensive reform, saying instead there should be either no real reform or, worse, piecemeal reform -- the kind that doesn't work because it doesn't address all the interrelated elements of the existing system.
Hey, but the health insurance companies are currently -- I kid you not -- exempt from anti-trust laws! So we must have the best system!
Then we've got red states going nuts expanding gun rights for nuts, playing on the fear that Obama will someone take their guns away -- even though he doesn't talk about the issue and has neither proposed nor offered support for any new gun restricting legislation. This, as more guns go off in Littleton, CO schools.
And can you believe that the U.S. military is riddled with private mercenaries, i.e. armed contractors? Good luck to House Dems trying to phase them out -- when the Republicans in the Senate have bottled up 290, count 'em, 290 pieces of legislation passed by the House.
Per BAGnewsNotes, you just can't deal with these people. It's all about money, that and inability to synthesize new information and grow with it. It's a recipe for disaster for America's future, and that includes any Democratic enablers.
It'll leave us to continue rotting from the inside out.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The Afghan immigrant at the center of what the authorities described as one of the most serious threats to the United States since 9/11 pleaded guilty Monday to terrorism charges in what he said was a Qaeda plot to detonate a bomb in the New York subway.
Mr. Zazi, 25, pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Brooklyn to charges that included conspiracies to use weapons of mass destruction and to commit murder in a foreign country, and to provide material support for a terrorist organization. He faces a possible life term when he is sentenced on June 25.
...The 10-page plea agreement was sealed by Judge Raymond J. Dearie, but the arrangement suggested that prosecutors believe Mr. Zazi can be a valuable source of information.
Great -- getting a nice long sentence while providing additional intelligence. Would Dick and Liz consider it a shame and a failure that he wasn't waterboarded?
Oh, and the Dems passed a big jobs bill today, with the help of five Republicans including the newest Senator, Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Smart move, Scott.
And is Florida Governor Charlie Crist thinking of switching from Republican to Democrat, since he can't win the Senate nomination he's going in the GOP?
Funny what a little teabagging can do.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
In the California where Joe Stack started out as a fresh-from-college software engineer, fighting the tax man was, quite literally, a religion.More like glass and metal, I imagine, but same idea. Meanwhile, psycho college professor Amy Bishop, who seems to have gotten off murdering her younger brother in an argument and sending a colleague a faulty pipe bomb, take out her self-righteous anger over not earning tenure (ironic, as she padded her resume to get the gig in the first place) by shooting up the faculty meeting. For instance:
Back in the 1970s and '80s, California was not just the center of the "silicon revolution." The Golden State was also a teeming hive of anti-government activity, much of it aimed at the federal income tax code and the agency that enforced it — the Internal Revenue Service.
Tax protesters and self-styled patriots railed against exemptions granted to religious organizations, the Catholic Church in particular. They formed their own "churches" and invited others to join.
"It sounds like he went down that same path," said Dennis Riness, who did time in federal prison for running a church-styled tax shelter. "And ran into the same brick wall."
In 2002, she was charged with assault after punching a woman in the head at an International House of Pancakes in Peabody, Mass. The woman had taken the last booster seat, and, according to the police report, Dr. Bishop demanded it for one of her children, shouting, “I am Dr. Amy Bishop!”
She yelled at playing children, neighbors said, and rarely kept her opinions to herself. She rejected criticism and fudged her résumé. Her scientific work was not as impressive as she made it seem, according to independent neurobiologists, some of whom said she would have been unlikely to even get the opportunity to try for tenure at major universities.
She was known to have cyclical “flip-outs,” as one former student described them, that pushed one graduate student after another out of her laboratory. On the day she shot and killed her brother, she ran out into the street with the shotgun and demanded a car at a local dealership.
I just saw Shutter Island last night and I get why some folks might be disappointed, but I think it's right on. We're a nation out of our heads. It's not the first time in American history, and it won't be the last.
And I'm wondering what we can do to stop it.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Friday afternoon that he would work with other Democrats and the White House to pass a public option through reconciliation if that's the legislative path the party chooses...
...This represents a major breakthrough for those Senators and activists who are pushing to get a public option considered via an up or down vote.
I can't say I've terribly optimistic about its passage, although (a) the number of Senators supporting it has grown, including relatively conservative Dems like Feinstein and Spector, and (b) the California health insurance company Anthem Blue Cross (a subsidiary of Wellpoint, where retiring Sen. Evan Bayh's wife works) is paving the way by hiking premiums an alarming 30-40%, acting as bellweather for what Americans nationwide can expect from private insurance in the months and years to come.
The public option will take exceptional political courage to pass -- not because Americans don't want it, because they do, but because of the media led by Fox News elites posing as populists to help corporate interests by misleading their constituents.
Like I said, not terribly optimistic, but would love to be surprised.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
While I did not get a chance to talk with Mr. Eastwood -- there were both former and current studio chiefs surrounding him most of the time, I did get a sense that he was enjoying himself, that he has a certain modesty as well as the twinkle of the artist in his eye. Soft-spoken but charismatic, his height and shock of white hair made it easy to spot him even with the crowds swarming around him.
I did, however, get a chance to speak for a minute or two with Morgan Freeman, who narrates the documentary, and whom Schickel introduced as "The Voice of America." Well-said. I used my moment to mention that I had, twenty-four years ago, driven Mr. Freeman home from the set of the movie Street Smart, on which I was a Production Assistant. While he did not remember our time in the car, I mentioned that he had been telling me about a recent workshop experience he had enjoyed at the Sundance Institute and he said he remembered Sundance. He also remembered the movie, of course, since it was his breakout role, bringing him his first Oscar nomination, in the Supporting Actor category -- one he would win two decades later thanks to Clint's direction of Million Dollar Baby.
This was actually the third time I was in the same place at the same time as Mr. Freeman, the first being on my first job after college, working at a music-for-television company. I spent a few days on the set of our client show, Another World, for which the company was handling music supervision, and noticed Morgan Freeman in his scenes because I remembered him having replaced Bill Cosby (as the tall black guy?) on PBS' The Electric Company somewhere in the mid-1970's.
(Yes, I was a little old to be watching it at the time, but that show was so darned entertaining!)
In any case, what struck me was all these elderly men at the event, many of whom have had great careers, some who surely have had their regrets, almost all of them retired -- save for Eastwood, Freeman and Schickel. Of their generation, those attendees are still a community unto themselves, still practicing their craft(s) with vitality and relevance, at ages to which others have not even survived.
I imagine these guys trust each other more than they do the young whippersnappers of 50 and even 60, and that they know as well as us how lucky they are to still be around and doing what they are doing.
Director/actor John Huston made his last film, the aptly named The Dead, while in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank at age 80, dying at 81 just a few months before the movie's release. French director Eric Rohmer just passed away at age 89, having released his final film (unless there's another in the vault) in 2007. And Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira released a movie last year and is in pre-production on another -- at age 101.
Clint Eastwood turns 80 on May 31st. If he has another ten, even twenty years left in him...another twenty films?
The stimulus is already a success in keeping the U.S. from spiraling down like 1929, and it's positive effects are still growing, per Obama's discussion of the substance of the Recovery Act, how it targets energy efficiency technology designed to give America a competitive advantage:
I love that he calls out the Republicans from the get-go. Here's a list of some who would not support the stimulus but are crowing to their own electorate of what they brought home.
Meanwhile, the public option is getting some unexpected momentum in the Senate, and Obama is arresting another key Taliban leader.
And Q2 2010 is still over a month away.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) has never shown either the intellect or the courage of his father, Birch Bayh, who actually dragged Ted Kennedy to safety from a plane crash they were in together, who lost his own Senate seat to Dan (yep!) Quayle in the 1980 Republican sweep election that seemed to spook his son for life.
Enough of the media kissing Evan's ass for being s supposed "centrist." That means a Democrat who let the Bush Administration roll right over them, and who declares he's retiring from the Senate due to partisanship as if it's somehow balanced.
This when the Republicans appear they won't even vote for the Debt Commission they asked for -- not when President Obama actually puts it into action.
Per John Cole a year ago:
I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.
Don't be bamboozled.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mullah Baradar has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with American and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials.
It was unclear whether he was talking, but the officials said his capture had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the group’s spiritual leader.
Makes you wonder how quickly we'd have had Osama Bin Laden himself in custody had a Democrat -- say, Al Gore -- been in the White House at that time.
Then again, 9/11 might never have happened, assuming President Gore would not have ended the near-daily cabinet meetings that President Clinton instituted which thwarted earlier attacks, might have listened to top White House terrorism expert Richard Clarke, and might have paid attention to the memo revealed in a hearing by Condoleezza Rice, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S." that then-President Bush responded to by going off jogging on his ranch to celebrate his 55th birthday.
I look forward to hearing the outpouring of support for President Obama's terrorism-fighting approach from Fox News and their political arm, the Republican Party.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
All about the facts. Not about amateur psychology on motives. Best phrase regarding Cheney: "Either misinformed or misinforming."
Will out mainstream media continue to play stenographer to the ex-President -- I mean, of course, Ex-Vice President?
Friday, February 12, 2010
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Apparent Trap|
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Today, the United States Senate confirmed 27 of my high-level nominees, many of whom had been awaiting a vote for months.
At the beginning of the week, a staggering 63 nominees had been stalled in the Senate because one or more senators placed a hold on their nomination. In most cases, these holds have had nothing to do with the nominee's qualifications or even political views, and these nominees have already received broad, bipartisan support in the committee process.
Instead, many holds were motivated by a desire to leverage projects for a Senator's state or simply to frustrate progress. It is precisely these kinds of tactics that enrage the American people.
And so on Tuesday, I told Senator McConnell that if Republican senators did not release these holds, I would exercise my authority to fill critically-needed positions in the federal government temporarily through the use of recess appointments. This is a rare but not unprecedented step that many other presidents have taken. Since that meeting, I am gratified that Republican senators have responded by releasing many of these holds and allowing 29 nominees to receive a vote in the Senate.
While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.
Now that's the George Bushish stuff we don't mind having back. Y'see, it turns out the public is pissed off about the GOP abuse of the filibuster, to the point that a majority of Americans want the filibuster to go away. Per J.P. Green, G.O.P. stands for "Gridlock, Obstruction and Paralysis."
Now, I understand that the traditional role of Conservatism, per William Buckley, has been to "stand athwart history yelling, 'Stop!'" And while slowing down the political process may have its merits at times, certainly the failure of that movement in the face of Civil Rights, for example, is far from flattering to that philosophy.
History marches on whether or not the Right believes they can control it. What is the point of standing athwart Congress to stop health care reform when there's a locomotive running wild anyway -- the rising costs of health care, which the private sector is unable to stop. Just ask the individual subscribers to Anthem Blue Cross, as their premiums suddenly soar 39%.
Standing athwart or otherwise screwing up with a jobs bill under the guise of "bipartisanship" isn't going to stop history from evicting a family with unemployed parents out of a home. It won't stop history from starving them, either.
And standing athwart (who uses a word like that?) Congress to stop anti-climate change legislation isn't going to stop the Arctic Caps from melting.
Oh, and by the way, yes, you're winters may get more severe than ever before as well.
So here's to Obama acting the one role we expect every President to play if he wants to get re-elected and/or go down in history as a hero rather than a wimp. Party, leaning or ideology aside, we want someone who can not only give his word, but can enforce it.
C'mon, Barack. Let's make this 2010 a fun year.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
So Next goes on The Daily Show to promote his co-written novel about George Washington and they don't even talk about the book except in a glancing reference. Instead, he does what we've come to expect from The Party of No. He lies. Then, when confronted with his lie today, he lies again:
Newt Gingrich tried on Wednesday to brush off the glaring gaffe he made this week on "The Daily Show" when he insisted that the Bush administration was right to read shoe bomber Richard Reid his Miranda rights because he was an American citizen.
But in doing so, the former GOP House Speaker only dug his hole deeper.
In a post on his Twitter page, Gingrich explained that when he made the Reid comment to the "Daily Show"'s Jon Stewart his reference was actually to Jose Padilla. Reid, after all, is a British citizen -- Padilla is American.
But Gingrich wasn't done there. In a dig at the Obama White House, he added to the tail end of his tweet: "Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres."
That's a standard GOP talking point, and yet when President Bush moved the Padilla case from a military setting to the criminal system, it was Gingrich who came to his defense despite conservative howls of protest, a Democratic source points out.
I wish they'd just admit that they're not being patriotic with their war on the Obama Administration's war on terrorists. Why don't they just say, "we just need some way to wedge him out of there in 2012, and we'll say anything to do it!"
Or maybe they're just waiting for the Bernie Saunders treatment:
"I really don't like being lectured on deficits when you (Sen. Gregg) and many members of your party (Republicans) helped cause the situation we are in right now."
"Please, please, spare the lectures on deficit reduction."
Say it, Bernie:
Maybe there's truth coming from the teabagger movement. Oops, as a committed conservative who went to their party last weekend writes, their relationship with reality is even worse:
Steve Malloy, author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life, kicked off the first full day of conference proceedings by warning that Obama and his minions are conspiring to control every aspect of Americans' lives—the colors of their cars, the kind of toilet paper they use, how much time they spend in the shower, the temperature of their homes—all under the guise of U.N. greenhouse-gas-reduction schemes. "Obama isn't a U.S. socialist," Malloy thundered. "He's an international socialist. He envisions a one-world government."
I consider myself a conservative and arrived at this conference as a paid-up, rank-and-file attendee, not one of the bemused New York Times types with a media pass. But I also happen to be writing a book for HarperCollins that focuses on 9/11 conspiracy theories, so I have a pretty good idea where the various screws and nuts can be found in the great toolbox of American political life.
Within a few hours in Nashville, I could tell that what I was hearing wasn't just random rhetorical mortar fire being launched at Obama and his political allies: the salvos followed the established script of New World Order conspiracy theories, which have suffused the dubious right-wing fringes of American politics since the days of the John Birch Society.
And their truthless queen, we all know...well, she's had enough publicity so I won't add another link to her train.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Monday, February 08, 2010
Sunday, February 07, 2010
The posted covers change daily. Here's one from today:
Is it okay now to look at these old illustrations with joy? After all this time, are they art? Found objects? Or just crossed over into kitsch?
Here's the archive of pulp magazine covers. Comics here.
Worth checking daily!
Friday, February 05, 2010
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.
According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama's nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. The two programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:
- A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From CongressDaily: "Northrop/EADS team would build the planes in Mobile, Ala., but has threatened to pull out of the competition unless the Air Force makes changes to a draft request for proposals." Federal Times offers more details on the tanker deal, and also confirms its connection to the hold.
- An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. From CongressDaily: "[Shelby] is frustrated that the Obama administration won't build" the center, which Shelby earmarked $45 million for in 2008. The center is due to be based "at the Army's Redstone Arsenal."
I'm assuming this is partially the problem of being in the minority party, perhaps partly just pork. I accept that this is the way the sausages in Congress get made. But isn't there something criminal about slowing down the government like this?
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to confirm Martha N. Johnson as head of the General Services Administration, nearly 10 months after she was first nominated to head the federal agency.
Upon assuming office, Johnson "will become the first permanent Administrator of the General Services Administration in nearly two years."
Earlier in 2009, Johnson was unanimously approved by members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. But a single senator, Republican Kit Bond from Missouri, has used his symbolic 'privilege' to hold up consideration of Johnson's nomination since last summer. The delay was meant to pressure GSA administrators to approve a $175 million federal building project in Kansas City.
Hey, voters. When you're all pissed off about gridlock in Congress as you cast your vote this November, how about not blaming the Dems for everything?
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.
For me, personally, it comes down to integrity--theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.
I also believe that the great young men and women of our military can and would accommodate such a change. I never underestimate their ability to adapt.
Credit where credit is due: Sen Orrin Hatch (R-UT) not entirely against Mullen's idea of DADT repeal.
Mullen's predecessor a few chairmen back, Gen. Colin Powell, agrees:
“In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” General Powell said in a statement issued by his office. He added: “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”
Will Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) now change his mind -- as he said he would should Gen. Powell?
Any other Republicans?