Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Okay, I ordinarily don't write about personal things on this blog, but this is just too cool.

Here's a bit from The Rachel Maddow Show about skunks invading New York City. Some of you may recognize the music in the background of the piece. I almost crapped my pants when I heard it.

After all these years, ASCAP may finally be sending me that first check. Glad it wasn't on Faux News or I never would have known about it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Meet the Press and Play It for a Sucker

If you have the stomach for it, watch this lengthy clip. It's hard to sit through just a few minutes of it, but I managed to hold my vomit in and make it to the end. It saddens me to report that I am not a better person for it.

But, if you want to know what the problem with "bipartisanship" is, this is a fine place to start. Representative (and House minority leader) John Boehner and senator Lindsay Graham are, how shall we say it, not exactly dealing in good faith here. And, as someone has pointed out previously, bipartisanship is a two-way street. And the traffic's only going one way right now.

These guys are regulars on shows like this. But if any of these shows had any journalistic standards at all, they'd be laughed off the sound stage on a regular basis. There's spin and there's complete bullshit and Mssrs. Boehner and Graham are way on the stinky side of that equation.

David Gregory occasionally interjects The Tough Question, as he always does to make himself look like a real journalist, but when one of his guests says something patently false, he just lets it go. This is why shitheads like this love these shows. It makes them look like they've run the gantlet, when they've done nothing of the sort. They control the message totally.

Here's the video. Have the Tylenol ready. And the Rolaids, for that matter. What the hell, get the whiskey too.

The transcript is here, if you can't handle looking at the crumbs. And believe me, it's tough.

Some choice moments, refuted (naturally) by Yours Truly.

BOEHNER: And if you look at what the president has been supporting, it’s this big government plan that has some 51 new agencies, boards, commissions, mandates that is going to get in the way of delivering quality care to the American people.

And your evidence for this is...what? How exactly is this going to "get in the way"? Are they going to be in the hospitals telling doctors not to treat patients? Like the insurance companies do now? We'll never know because Gregory doesn't ask.

GRAHAM: The president is selling something that people, quite frankly, are not buying. He’s been on everything but the food channel. Just a few weeks—you know, last week he was addressing the nation.

His problem is when he says the public auction—option won’t affect your healthcare choice, people don’t believe that. ... It’s about the president selling something that people inherently believe sounds too good and doesn’t add up.

People? What people? Here's what a Harris poll said last week.

Based on what you've read, seen or heard, how would you rate the health care plans proposed by each of the following?

President Obama: 53% good, 47% Bad
Democrats in Congress: 46 / 54
Republicans in Congress: 35 / 65

See, Lindsay, you would be one of those "Republicans in Congress" up there. You too, Boehner, FYI.

BOEHNER: Americans today are getting more news about what’s happening in their government than they have ever gotten before, and Americans are genuinely scared to death. Scared to death...

And if this is one of those "news" sources, I can see why. Imagine how scared they are if they watch Fox News, where you guys are the only ones whose "opinions" are considered worthwhile.

BOEHNER: There’s been no bipartisan conversation on Capitol Hill about health care. At some point when these big government plans fail—and they will, the Congress will not pass this—it’s really time for the president to hit the reset button, just stop all of this and let’s sit down and start over in a bipartisan way to build a plan that Americans will support.

You lie! There have been over 160 Republican amendments added to the current bill. Well beyond this, the "public option", which doesn't even seem to be on the table anymore, was a compromise to begin with. If the Democrats had any brains in their heads, they would have started with single-payer (which 60% of doctors support, by the way, those radicals) and the public option might have been a disappointing but fair compromise, not that they deserve one. This is a complete failure of politics.

And you know what, fuck you guys. You didn't give a shit about being "bipartisan" when you were in the majority. Public opinion is not on your side, and yet you speak as if it is not only on your side, but overwhelmingly so. Piss off.

This next one is my favorite.

GRAHAM: [Obama]’s changed his rhetoric because the speech was a disaster. What he’s trying to sell to the American people, they don’t buy. ... So the president’s saying things that people want to hear, but the details don’t add up.

Really? His approval rating went up after the speech and support for a public option, which was always at least in the 50% range before all of the bullshit started spewing, went up again too. To 76%. The speech was only a disaster if you wanted those numbers to go in the other direction. No honest person would ever call it a disaster. And no honest person would ever call Lindsay Graham an honest person. The American people, apparently, are buying it. But you'd never know it from watching "Meet the Press".

Friday, September 18, 2009

Democrat Is a Relative Term

I used to live in a place called Staten Island. It's a dreary place that I am glad to be rid of. There are many things to dislike about the rock. (To be fair, it has a few charms, but these are vastly outweighed by its uglies.) But among the worst is its politics. As a recent movee, I still get the campaign literature from the candidates there. This is what passes for a Democrat in Staten Island. It's a flyer from New York City Councilmember Ken Mitchell. (Yes, I voted for the guy. Oy.) Notice the complete absence of the words "Democrat" or "Democratic Party", although his website mentions an endorsement from the SI Democratic Party.

Can you read that? Here's what the bullets say:
  • Fighting to restore fiscally responsible local government.
  • Working to make state budgets spend only what the voters of Staten Island are willing to pay in taxes. [MAB: what, like nothing?]
  • Championing tax relief for our senior citizens.
  • Listening to the voices of local businesses and residents who want solutions that do not require increasing their tax burden nor expanding the scope of government.
  • Supports legislation that will require at least a two thirds vote of all council members for the passage of any law or resolution that raises taxes.
  • Securing property tax rebates for Staten Island homeowners.
  • Has fought to cut waste and unnecessary spending in the city budget to hold the line on taxes.

Wait a minute, I thought we were the party of tax-and-spend. So Kenny is totally against all of these horrible taxes? Okay, fine. So let's just not spend anything then. Every one for themself. But geez, Kenny. That two-thirds-to-raise-taxes thing hasn't worked out so well for California. The state is considered by many to be ungovernable.

Hey, what's this? Another flyer.

The bullets again:
  • Fighting to restore vital services to the seniors of Staten Island.
  • Keeping open senior centers which were threatened with closure.
  • Saving transportation programs which provide buses for our seniors to travel to medical appointments, shop for groceries, and visit family and friends.
  • And then a repeat of some of the same anti-tax bullets from the last flyer.

Do I need to ask the obvious question? Where is this money supposed to come from? The schools, maybe? How about the roads that everyone out there complains about? Or the already woefully inadequate public transportation? Yes, let's keep special programs to get old people to the grocery but forget all of those (black) people who have to take the bus to get to work (and the grocery). And, I don't know, help the economy.

The flip-side of the flyer says "Our seniors have worked hard, fought to keep our country free and the world safe, and taught and supported the next generation. In short, they've done everything right. WE HAVE TO DO RIGHT BY THEM!"

Talk about generalization. All of them did right? Everything right? All of them fought the commies? All of them taught and supported the youngsters? Not that old fucker who lived down the street and called the cops whenever we got near his yard. I'm not giving that bastard a ride anywhere. He can suck it.

We should have just let these knuckleheads secede and find out just how difficult government and budgeting really is. But we needed a place to dump our trash. Now that Fresh Kills is closed, the place has no purpose, other than as a shortcut to Philly. Good riddance, Stupid Island.

Today in Hypocrisy

You can't make this stuff up.

Apparently, the folks who went to Washington to complain about all of the government spending are upset that the government didn't spend enough to make it easier for them to complain about government spending.

You have to read this from the Wall Street Journal. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) has a bit of a beef with our nation's capital and its woeful lack of amenities for him and his crew of nutjobs and racists. There weren't enough trains! Oh no!

It gets better. The stimulus package had millions for improvements for the Metro. Guess who voted against it? Oh, here it is.

"We shouldn't be giving people free stuff! Hey, where's my stuff?"

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Well, this makes perfect sense. A giant Times Square-sized advertisement for an undoubtedly entertaining television program. Fire up the Tivo!

Here in New York City we enjoy seeing larger-than-life-size images of things on fire and people in states of panic (trauma, one might say), particularly on a lovely mid-September morning.
Thanks, NBC. Nice work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dumb Letters: Joe Wilson

We knew there would be dumb letters aplenty on this issue. Heck, there are two right on this page in the LA Times.

It's like shooting fish in a barrel at this point in American history. The stupid has become mainstream.

Here's what Stupid #1 had to say.

Although Wilson's comment to Obama was inappropriate, I am glad somebody had the nerve to speak up to Obama.

All those yes-men surround Obama, and the president thinks he's fooling everyone. Behind Obama's back is when the truth comes out. Finally, somebody said it to his face.

Thank you, Joe Wilson.

This would be great if somebody really did need to say it. But nobody did. Let me say this again: THE MAN WAS NOT LYING. He just plain wasn't.

I hate to keep coming back to comparing the right's stinkbombs to their attitudes towards their departed dear leader, but I can't help it. It was well-known and documented that The Idiot was surrounded by people who told him what he wanted to hear or manipulated him into thinking the way his handlers wanted him to think. Accusing Obama of existing in some kind of toady bubble is ludicrous and hypocritical, like almost everything else these nitwits say.

Here's Stupid #2:

Although I think Wilson was out of order and his conduct regrettable, he was also quite correct.

The House health reform legislation has loopholes, which I think Democrats are probably aware of.

Oy. No, it doesn't. What this chucklehead is talking about doesn't rise to the level of a loophole. A loophole is an oversight that allows someone to game the system. The bill explicitly states that illegals aren't covered. But, apparently, not specifically requiring proof of citizenship before the EMTs scrape you off of the sidewalk is considered a loophole to these people. Nice.

He wasn't quite correct. In fact (and I said "fact", not "opinion"), he was quite wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

Watch Keith explain it all for you. He even forgives him his rudeness. Just not his wrongness. Thank you, Keith.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Meet Joe Wilson, Professional Asshole

What is there to say about Representative Joe Wilson's jaw-dropping breach of decorum at President Obama's health care speech? It defies belief.

Even if he really thought that BO was lying (he wasn't, by the way; not even a little), this was not the place to say so. This wasn't a debate, it was a speech. The Dems sat and listened to The Idiot lie to them about much more important things for eight years and never once did they do what I was doing at home. Which was standing up and saying exactly what Joe Wilson did to Obama. But I can call my TV screen a liar in the privacy of my own home. And even in a sternly-worded letter to my local newspaper. If I were in that chamber, I'd have to sit on my hands. It's proper.

What's even more ridiculous than one idiot heckling the president is the (inevitable, I suppose) defenders of the outburst. We were lectured on "respect for the office" for eight years until, conveniently, we didn't need to respect the office anymore. Because now things are different. Now we have some kind of un-American radical in office. Who just happened to have been elected mere months ago by a clear majority of American voters. But truth must be told. And Joe Wilson is our hero.

Oh, and pre-2000 respect for the office wasn't such a big deal either. Remember that? But 9/11 changed everything. Until it changed black. I mean, back.

The Right has become unbelievably unhinged since their worldview has come crashing down. Thomas Frank has a great piece in the >shudder< Wall Street Journal today detailing the steps that we've skipped on the road to outrage. Good stuff.

Wilson's outburst was stupid on several levels. First off, it was just culturally stupid. Decorum. We've covered this.

Second, his charge was based on a perceived loophole in the bill, not any fundamental issue with the bill. (It's actually pretty hilarious. Because there is no specific requirement to prove citizenship at the time of treatment, it's feasible that someone could sneak in and get some. Which is tantamount to explicitly offering care to illegals, of course. Bring your passport at all times. You'll need it to get into that ambulance.) So, even if he believed in the loophole, it didn't reach the level of a lie. But hollering "That's not entirely true, sir, and I'll be glad to demonstrate the flaw in your plan if given the opportunity!" is a bit too, shall we say, nuanced, for the current Republican party. "You lie!" is closer to the sixth-grade level they've been floating on lately.

Third, and I'm surprised that no one has talked about this, this was a pretty minor point that he was objecting to. Health care for illegal immigrants? There are so many larger points to concern yourself with, even in this particular debate. And this is the one that he stood up for and blew whatever reputation he had? You know, if I were a member of congress and I had one shot at a big movie moment, I'd save it for something really earth-shattering like, say, "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction". As it is, Wilson just looks like a garden variety racist. Not to mention petty.

As Eugene Robinson notes, Wilson's was the worst, but hardly the only, breach of decorum. But here we are. Enjoy your devoted cult following, GOP. The rest of us think you're a bunch of petulant, childish assholes.

UPDATE: E.J. Dionne has now talked about the thing that I was surprised that no one was talking about. Read it here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dumb Letters: Problem? What Problem?

You know, I could pick a dumb letter out every day just on health care and what passes for debate in the this country.

Here's a nice one from the Chicago Tribune that's basically just the usual self-reliance thing. But there's a myopia to it that is alarmingly typical of those on the other side.

This is another one of those letters that has something to pick apart in every other line. Let's do that. If you want to read the whole thing first, I'll wait.

Done? Okay.

I find it rather disheartening to read many of the letters to the editor regarding the health-care debate. I wonder where people come up with some of the stuff they're griping about.

Uh oh. This spells trouble. We're going to see a lot of this in this letter. "I don't have any problems, so why would anybody else? Your HMO just denied your claim and your husband died? I'm fine, thank you. What's your problem?"

All of my experiences with the doctors and hospitals were very positive. I never once thought that I would want to go to another country for any of this work.

Great. Good for you. But that's not what the debate is about. It's about how it's managed and paid for. The doctors and hospitals aren't the problem. The insurance racket is.

And I never thought that it was someone else's responsibility to pay for it. Whatever happened to self-reliance?

Here we go. We're going to revisit this, because the letter writer later complains about "handouts". You knew it was coming.

The Democratic Party has done everything that it can to make as many people count on handouts as possible. We subsidize housing, heating, cooling, food, school lunches and breakfasts, day care; now we want to add health care to that list.

What, like this is some kind of plot? To what end? What do we gain by making people dependent on "handouts"? More votes? Wow. Great. Hey, it worked for the Republicans. They hand out so much to corporations that they all count on it now.

And I have two things to say about those awful hadnouts. First, all of the things that the letter writer mentions as subsidized are good things, essential things, things that a caring society would have no problem with.

Second, let's add a few things that Mr. Self-Reliance has undoubtedly taken advantage of himself. The police, the fire department, the highway department, the military and, not just the school lunches, but the whole damn school system. Want to be self-reliant? Put out your own fires. Take down that mugger by yourself. Teach your own kids (actually, don't; please don't). And invade that foreign nation on your own. Enjoy.

Nearly everyone I know has good things to say about their health care.

Yes, we know. But that isn't the problem. Don't you read my blog?

The main problem seems to be the cost of insurance.

Ah, good. Now we're getting to a point of agreement. Maybe this guy is okay after all.

It seems to me that the main reason for the high costs are that they are caused by government regulations. They force insurance companies to cover things that have nothing to do with a person's health, such as Viagra, fertility treatments, etc.

WHAT? You really think that this is the problem? A few boner pills? The cost of all of the Viagra in the world wouldn't cover one CEO's salary. If the government really wanted to force the insurance companies to do something, it would force them to cover everybody and not exclude based on pre-existing conditions. Or better yet, make all profits illegal. But they won't. They get too much money from them. Which is why things like Viagra are covered, by the way.

Let's have real competition in the market like we do with everything else. Health Savings Accounts work great. You have every incentive to go to the doctor only when you really need to, as you get to keep the money you don't spend.

Do I have to point out how stupid this is? Let's think about the "more competition" thing. How do insurance companies make money? Not by providing care but by denying it. More competition would mean companies working harder to drive down costs. There is one, and only one, way to do this: by denying more claims. Great idea, sport.

And Health Savings Accounts. They "work great" if you have money in them. If you don't, then what? My wallet works great when it's full of pictures of Andrew Jackson. When it doesn't, I can't get any of the stores to give me anything. I say I have a wallet and they just laugh at me. But don't worry. Competition will take care of everything.

And if it's in my account, then the benefit of not going to the doctor is really pointless. If I spend the money I saved by not going to the doctor (which would stimulate the economy, by the way), then it's not in my account in case I need it, which is the whole point of having the account. And if I do need it and use it all for health expenditures, well, now it's empty. What if something else happens? Do you understand this, dipshit?

I have incentive not to eat food too. The less I eat, the more money I keep. Think how much I could save by fasting for 365 days a year.

These accounts are in the Democrats' cross-hairs and will be gone if they get this health-care bill through. The only reason I can possibly think of why they want to get rid of them is that they work and people like them.

Okay, they don't formally exist. So they can't be in anyone's cross-hairs. Dude, if you want to keep an account for yourself strictly for health care, there is nothing to stop you from doing so. And hey, you know what else works and people like? Medicare. And all of those aforementioned "handouts". But this guy has a problem with that.

That is the problem. They want to control every aspect of as many people's lives as possible.

By giving them more choices. Yes, it all makes perfect sense. Knucklehead.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Froot Loops Are Health Food! I Know It's True Because the Food Industry Said So

You really do need to read every section of the newspaper. Or skim it, at least. This is from the Business section of today's New York Times. You simply must read this. If you have any illusions that any industry of any kind can regulate itself, then this should put the nail in the coffin of that particular notion.

Several giants of the food industry have come together to agree on a "Smart Choice" label to "help" consumers find "healthier" products to eat. Like fruits and vegetables and whole grains, right? No. More like Froot Loops and Hellmann's mayonnaise. Of course.

I had to stop reading this every paragraph or two in order to quote the stupidity to my family. It's literally jaw-dropping. (I'm one of those people whose jaw does indeed drop when he can't believe what he's seeing/hearing/smelling.)

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

“The checkmark means the food item is a ‘better for you’ product, as opposed to having an x on it saying ‘Don’t eat this,’ ” [Smart Choices board president] Dr. [Eileen T.] Kennedy said. “Consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn’t have the checkmark, by implication it’s not a ‘better for you’ product. They want to have a choice. They don’t want to be told ‘You must do this.’ ”

Okay, so if consumers are so smart, then why do you need to put a label on something that says "smart"? Pander much? I guess she figures if you put the words "smart" and "choice" in her quote, then the people who arent' so smart will buy it. Not buying it here. Insulted that she'd think I would. But I guess I'm not her target audience.

Froot Loops qualifies for the label because it meets standards set by the Smart Choices Program for fiber and Vitamins A and C, and because it does not exceed limits on fat, sodium and sugar. It contains the maximum amount of sugar allowed under the program for cereals, 12 grams per serving, which in the case of Froot Loops is 41 percent of the product, measured by weight. That is more sugar than in many popular brands of cookies.

“Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,” said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. “You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.”

Holy crap. Apparently, as long as you pump some laboratory nutrients into a pile of sugar then it qualifies as "smart". But I'm rushing to judgment. Sugar is just "one ingredient", after all. Froot Loops are the nutritional equivalent of a relationship where the guy is fantastic in bed but he beats you every night. "Don't judge him based on that!"

Here's my personal favorite.

[Dr. Kennedy] said Froot Loops was better than other things parents could choose for their children.

“You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

Holy crap. I'm rushing around. I'm a busy parent. I don't know what to do. And I'm really not all that smart, even though Dr. Kennedy told me I was. How could I be if I don't know if a doughnut is a good choice for breakfast? But wait! This check mark tells me that Froot Loops are better! Yes! Hey, are they putting a super-duper check mark on that banana? 'Cause that seems like an even better choice. No? No. My only choices are Froot Loops and doughnut. That's it. Want a choice. Rushing around.

I guess that is somewhat logical. I mean, it's all relative. Hey, would I be better off giving my kids a bowl of Froot Loops or a pile of arsenic-laden buffalo feces? Clearly, Froot Loops are the smart choice. Thank you, Dr. Kennedy!

I could keep going, but this piece is so rich in mind-boggling quotes that I could just copy the whole thing verbatim. I'll leave the rest to you. Go. Read. Unreal.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Really? THIS Is Something to Be Upset About?

It's hard to imagine people in this country getting any more petty and stupid. Congratulations, America. You've done it again.

The latest manufactured outrage? The President of the United States is going to make a speech to school children. Oh no! He's the first to ever do this! He's going to idoctrinate our children with all of his socialist propaganda!

Seriously, people. Do you have any idea how stupid this makes you look? He's talking to your children about staying in school and your response is to take them out of school. The gentleman (and I use that term quite loosely) who thinks that "values" should be taught by parents, and this is why he's keeping his kids home, may want to think about the fact that he sends his kids to school every other day to be taught by people who presumably are not him. Better start keeping them home every day, dad. They're getting indoctrinated.

So lots of kids will fall a day behind in their studies because their parents don't want them to hear ten minutes of boilerplate stay-in-school, which they won't listen to anyway, from a man with whom they disagree on a number of completely unrelated issues.

It doesn't matter what Obama talks about. Apparently, he'll be using his hypnotic powers to promote gay marriage and universal health care without our poor children even knowing about it. Obama will say "Stay in school, kids!" but they'll come home saying "The workers control the means of production!"

As much as I hate to fall back on this argument, I'm sure that the simple truth is that many parents don't want their children taking advice from a black man. We've come a short way, baby.