Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1426

As they waited outside day after day, the bullies became intimately familiar with Bach's Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.
(Image originally uploaded by ollie munday; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Things You Can Do With Your Hands

Mark Fiore has a hilarious take on the TSA controversy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7031

"That's a fine motorbike."
(Image originally uploaded by MEvil; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton. One of the best songs ever written, IMHO.)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2215

"So what'd the guys do with the 50 pounds of candy hearts after the shoot?"

"Trust me, you don't wanna know."

(Image originally uploaded by rigelbot; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


"Cornpone Corleone"

That's digby, on Jim DeMint. I just realized that the phrase appears only in the URL, which is a shame, 'cause it's a good one.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6009

Hang on, I've got a few more:


(Image originally uploaded by East Beast; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Medean Way

Johann Hari, with your happy thought for the day (links added):

Karl Rove - who was George W. Bush's chief spin-doctor - boasted this year: "Climate is gone." He meant it is off the political agenda, but in time, this statement will be more true and more cursed than he realizes.

It's in this context that a new, deeply pessimistic framework for understanding the earth's ecology - and our place in it - has emerged. Many of us know, in outline, the warm, fuzzy Gaia hypothesis, first outlined by James Lovelock. It claims that the Planet Earth functions, in effect, as a single living organism called Gaia. It regulates its own temperature and chemistry to create a comfortable steady state that can sustain life. So coral reefs produced cloud-seeding chemicals which then protect them from ultraviolet radiation. Rainforests transpire water vapour so generate their own rainfall. This process expands outwards. Life protects life.

Now there is a radically different theory that is gaining adherents, ominously named the Medea hypothesis. The paleontologist Professor Peter Ward is an expert in the great extinctions that have happened in the earth's past, and he believes there is a common thread between them. With the exception of the meteor strike that happened 65 million years ago, every extinction was caused by living creatures becoming incredibly successful - and then destroying their own habitats. So, for example, 2.3 billion years ago, plant life spread incredibly rapidly, and as it went it inhaled huge amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This then caused a rapid plunge in temperature that froze the planet and triggered a mass extinction.

Ward believes nature isn't a nurturing mother like Gaia. No: it is Medea, the figure from Greek mythology who murdered her own children. In this theory, life doesn't preserve itself. It serially destroys itself. It is a looping doomsday machine. This theory adds a postscript to Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest. There is survival of the fittest, until the fittest trash their own habitat, and do not survive at all.

No, wait—here's the happy thought, such as it is:
But the plants 2.3 billion years ago weren't smart enough to figure out what they were doing. We are. We can see that if we release enough warming gases we will trigger an irreversible change in the climate and make our own survival much harder. Ward argues that it is not inevitable we will destroy ourselves - because human beings are the first and only species that can consciously develop a Gaian approach. Just as Richard Dawkins famously said we are the first species to be able to rebel against our selfish genes and choose to be kind, we are the first species that can rebel against the Medean rhythm of life. We can choose to preserve the habitat on which we depend. We can choose life.
Track record so far: not good.

I hope everyone is enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend. Ha.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7964

Visiting artists are often surprised when they realize how Club Ceiling Cat got its name.
(Image originally uploaded by astorytoldwell; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Media Heroes

I see that Greg Mitchell is asking readers to send suggestions for a list of 30 Biggest Media Heroes to complement Salon's list of the 30 Biggest Media Hacks (I haven't had the strength to peruse the whole thing yet); voting ends "late Friday," i.e. today, so get your suggestions in quickly. Here's thirty off the top of my head, in no particular order:

Send suggestions if you've got 'em to the comments section on GM's post, to epic1934@aol.com, or to @GregMitch on that Twitter thing. It's a little disturbing to look at that comments section and see so many TV people (Chris Matthews?!?!? media hero?), but oh well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4738

Aviation photography is good to get into if you're looking for a business with Zero overhead.
(Image originally uploaded by AlainG; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Touchy Junk

Glenn Greenwald is half right in his blistering attack on the Mark Ames/Yasha Levine Nation piece on the suspiciously sudden wave of anti-TSA outrage: the parts about John "Don't Touch My Junk" Tyner do reek with guilt-by-association sleazery. But Tyner is their subject really only for the first third of the article; the next third reviews some other TSA-related scandals involved self-professed "libertarians" that turned out to be set-ups or Drudgified misrepresentations—and wherein some of the involved parties had connections to Koch orgs and the like. And it ends with what is always good advice in Tea Party America:

So now let's take one more look at the TSA hysteria, and re-evaluate if we should continue to simply accept the surface narrative, or consider what we might learn by looking beneath the surface. Because everywhere you look, the alleged victims' stories often turn out to be false or highly suspicious, promoted by lobbyists posing as "ordinary guys," and everywhere the cast of characters is always the same: drawn from the cult-ish fringes of the libertarian movement, with trails leading straight to the billionaire Koch brothers' network of libertarian think-tanks and advocacy groups.

We could take it all at face value and just trust that they're all "ordinary guys." Or we could ask, "Who profits?

Emphasis mine. The last third of the Ames/Levine piece reviews some of the interests that might have a lot to gain from, say, the re-privatization of airport security—and who know a thing or two about astroturf campaigns. None of this changes the facts that (a) Ames and Levine did unfairly smear John Tyner, who, barring revelations of the kinds of connections that he has denied, may be exactly what he claims to be—a real libertarian actually concerned with human freedom rather than an oligarchitarian using love of FREEDOM!!@! as rhetorical cover for serving wealthy interests—and (b) there is much to hate about security theater quite independently of whether it's in government or private hands. But cui bono? is a perfectly sensible question to ask, and it would be a shame if, in the hubbub over John Tyner's junk, we forgot to ask it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1574

Visitors to Schnitzeldorf find the ancient Germanic customs charming and quaint until they get to the RITUAL DISMEMBERMENT.
(Image originally uploaded by pfundskerlefansdiemeldstadt; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Your Thanksgiving Present

Tom Delay found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

It's (time for The) Hammer (to do some) Time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0998

Righteous on the pipes, the Rising Sun Highlanders also made haggis smaller and more efficient.
(Image originally uploaded by daniel83fr; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, November 22, 2010

And Now, Paul Krugman with Our National Epitaph

"Elite opinion has been slow to recognize this reality."

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5593

The Canta company had one of its best sales days ever when Dick Cheney bought a dozen to use as Christmas tree ornaments.
(Image originally uploaded by Meneer De Braker (Akbar 2); Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


RIP Chalmers Johnson

I was sad to hear via this morning's Democracy Now! that Chalmers Johnson had died over the weekend. After being introduced to him thanks to TomDispatch, I read his Blowback Trilogy with great interest (having been born in the empire myself when my dad was still in the Air Force). Some interesting bio here (albeit in dire need of editing), and a treasure trove of stuff at the aforementioned TomDispatch.

Thank you, professor, for helping me to understand what a non-imperial America might look like—and why it might be vastly preferable to the sclerotic, unwieldy beast we've come to know and fear.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4555

"Why, then, are arithmetic and geometry a priori, independent of experience, yet also applicable to experience, as is obvious in engineering, surveying, accounting, and so on? Kant's supposition that space and time are a priori forms of intuition that the mind brings to experience provides an intriguing answer to this question. Arithmetic, Kant suggests, is grounded in the a priori intuition of time. Thus: moment moment moment moment = 4. Geometry, meanwhile, is grounded in the a priori intuition of space: whatever appears to us must appear in the three Euclidean dimensions because this a priori shaping is built in to how the mind perceives. This explains how arithmetical and geometrical truths can be certain a priori yet also apply to the world of experience."



*honk honk*

(Image originally uploaded by Loadhan; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6047

Today on What's More Amazing?: That somebody painted this? Or that somebody bid it up to $225? Next.
(Image originally uploaded by AngryWoebots-TimerOne; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, November 19, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7881

To tourists, it's the exotic Fork-Tailed Flycatcher. To locals, it's the annoying Fork-Tailed Windshield Befouler.
(Image originally uploaded by Flávio Cruvinel Brandão; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Sounds Like a Good Idea to Me

John Nichols notes that Dennis Kucinich is asking to be made the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—because he's got the fire in his belly to push back against the coming wave of politically motivated attacks on the Obama administration that incoming Republican chair Darrell Issa has pretty much promised to unleash. Kucinich has already hit back with a tart letter calling out Issa for "wild and unsubstantiated charges" about stimulus spending and pledging to cooperate with Issa "when, and only when, he proceeds in an even-handed manner which demonstrates basic fairness and respect for due process." Clearly, Kucinich learned a thing or two from the Clinton years.

Would that more of his party exhibited a similar educability.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8118

WARNING: Cyclocross Championship awards ceremony may induce seizures.
(Image originally uploaded by Velogrrl; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


An Image That Says It All

From the ProRev:

See Sam's American Indicators for more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4582

The others looked on, sensing a profound change as Midnight's mind began to race with the awesome entertainment possibilities of shoes.
(Image originally uploaded by fulviou; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Oh, He Blows All Right

Do not miss Pat Metheny's thoughts on Kenny G. A taste, re. KG's temerity in overdubbing Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" (I had no idea he'd done that, and indeed, the mere thought is painful to me):

But when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis's tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician. By disrespecting Louis, his legacy and by default, everyone who has ever tried to do something positive with improvised music and what it can be, Kenny G has created a new low point in modern culture - something that we all should be totally embarrassed about - and afraid of. We ignore this, "let it slide", at our own peril.
(h/t TBogg)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7138

Mortal Sin Maggie™ comes with everything you see here.

Father O'Reilly with Real Perdition Action™ sold separately.

(Image originally uploaded by di-chan123; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Gaslight Tantrums

Today's Howler does a magnificent job of pointing out how the punditocracy's usual suspects are falling predictably into line re. the Catfood Commission—and dismissing its various left-leaning critics, such as, oh, a Nobel-Prize-winning economist, with scoffery and condescension rather than, you know, addressing their arguments. (See also Dean Baker.)

Bob remembers Ingrid Bergman in Notorious, but I can't help but think instead of her in Gaslight. The pundit class seems chock-full of Charles Boyers, clean and telegenic on the outside, mean and avaricious on the inside, trying to browbeat the reality-based into doubting their own reason.

I know that Ingrid Bergman wins in both cases, but dammit, we don't have her cheekbones.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9776

Back in the 70s and 80s, the greeters at Sov-Mart would give you a comradely welcome and tell you more than you ever wanted to know about greasing the transmission on a T-34.
(Image originally uploaded by ref_jarololec; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


"a paradise for high-class thieves"

"If you want to understand why America" is the above, says Matt Taibbi, "just look at the way a manufactured movement like the Tea Party corrals and neutralizes public anger that otherwise should be sending pitchforks in the direction of downtown Manhattan":

There are two reasons why Tea Party voters will probably never get wise to the Ponzi-scheme reality of bubble economics. One has to do with the basic sales pitch of Tea Party rhetoric, which cleverly exploits Main Street frustrations over genuinely intrusive state and local governments that are constantly in the pockets of small businesses for fees and fines and permits.

The other reason is obvious: the bubble economy is hard as hell to understand. To even have a chance at grasping how it works, you need to commit large chunks of time to learning about things like securitization, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, etc., stuff that’s fiendishly complicated and that if ingested too quickly can feature a truly toxic boredom factor.

So long as this stuff is not widely understood by the public, the Grifter class is going to skate on almost anything it does -- because the tendency of most voters, in particular conservative voters, is to assume that Wall Street makes its money engaging in normal capitalist business and that any attempt to restrain that sector of the economy is thinly disguised socialism.

Spot. On. I do think that a lot of rightthink is governed by a kind of foolish synedoche wherein all forms of profit-generating activity—including unproductive frippery like day-trading and the kinds of hyperfinancialized abstractions that Taibbi notes above—are mindlessly lumped together under the general category of "business," restriction of which can only be motivated by something ghastly like COMMUNISM!!#! of course. And the vampire squid class exploits this synecdoche for all it's worth.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5917

In New York City, even the members of the fine arts community are not to be trifled with. "I am a 'harpist', dumbass. Call me a 'harpy' again and your proctologist will be pulling both octaves out of your rectum."
(Image originally uploaded by chashama, inc.; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

You're the Meat

Mark Morford has written a letter to the Tea Party.

Let's be perfectly clear: The modern Republican party has one masterful, godlike skill unmatched by any other org in this century: Its leaders are geniuses at deceit, at leading throngs of blind believers into rabbit holes of war and fear and factual inaccuracy, often using an aggressively dumbed-down form of Christianity as a trump card. Sexual dread, mistrust of youth, of women, of gays, foreigners, of the ever-changing cultural landscape? It's in the DNA. And the Tea Party chugged it like Coors-flavored heroin.

And the Dems? The Dems wish they could be that masterful. Progressives are just terribly weak in fearmongering. There is something about the liberal spirit that values independent thought and self-determination, that defies screaming eye-glazed megachurch groupthink dread. This makes it tough to hold power for very long. It's so much easier to rally around sameness, conformity, institution, fear of the Other. Right, Karl?

Proof? Look no further than the GOP's leaders and mouthpieces: Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, O'Reilly and Fox News and even newly minted Senate demigod Mitch McConnell, et al. There are almost no liberal equivalents to these professional liars, warmongers, kingmakers and overlords. In the category of media and message manipulation, the libs have proven disastrous.

I take it back. Not all red-leaning voters this election are hereby screwed. If you're tremendously wealthy and/or run a very large corporation, you're feeling damn good right about now. Wall Street is giddy like Charlie Sheen in a Bangkok brothel, eager for more deregulation, bigger bonuses, less oversight. The CEOs of every oil company in the world are positively orgasmic knowing that their GOP breathren will now asphyxiate all attempts at new environmental legislation and regulation. And so on.

But if you are a lower to middle-class Republican, Tea Partier or flip-flopping indie voter, you are now in the most delightfully ironic position of all -- you think you just voted yourself more voice, when in fact you voted for far less. You think yourself a lion; you're actually the meat. You actually just voted yourself an even lower position on the food chain. Congratulations.

Well, the realities of oligarchitarianism have gotta sink in one of these days.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4995

The genial, devoted Cubist Terrier or "Cubie" would have been registered long ago were it not for the American Kennel Club's longstanding bias in favor of...well, symmetry.
(Image originally uploaded by Pedro Pica Piedra; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, November 12, 2010

I'll Never Look at Either One the Same Way Again

Dennis G. at Balloon Juice makes a connection between unctuous pseudo-Christian con man Ralph Reed and the infamous Andres Serrano photograph Piss Christ that damn near made me spew some of my own fluids all over the keyboard (emphasis mine):

Sister Wendy hits on the connection of Piss Christ to Ralph Reed. Now some might remember that Reed and his Christian Coalition used the controversy as a way to fund-raise and promote their organizations. They continued to beat their drums about Serrano and Mapplethorpe for over a decade and if pressed today you can be sure that they would bring it up again if it might help a few more rubes to transfer money from their pockets to Ralph and his cavalcade of grifters. While their endless con in the pursuit of power and wealth is of interest—it is Ralph’s deep anti-Christianity that really ties the little prick to Piss Christ.

For Ralph’s entire career he has been pissing on Christ, the teachings of Jesus, the notion of Christianity and anything of value that people of faith might hold dear. I’ve come to think of Serrano’s Piss Christ not as an image Chirst [sic], but rather a portrait of Ralph Reed and his twisted soul. It is Reed’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” as it were.

Reed should be in prison for his many crimes, but unlike his old pal Jack Abramoff, Ralph got a sulfur infused ‘get out of jail free’ card. And so, this professional grifter continues to run his con, pissing on Christ every chance he gets. In the run-up to the Election he was teaming up with old grifter pals like Dick Armey and Grover Norquist and new ones like the Quitta from Wasilla to run the scams he has been running for decades—to line their pockets and protect the powerful. And, as always, he claims Jesus even as he endlessly pisses on him.

I disagree with exactly none of that.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4848

Let's just say that as dating videos go, it involved a number of...questionable choices.
(Image originally uploaded by hypersapiens; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


"He has the self-awareness of a bison"

Y'know, I keep wanting to re-read the scathing Matthew Norman review of the Dubya memoir (h/t Attaturk), but every time I try, the page loads, and then I get an error message saying

Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site

Operation aborted.

I wonder what's up with that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3211

The Cross-Pollinator Pride Parade was colorful but attracted much ire from the forces of allergic reaction.
(Image originally uploaded by andydr; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4136

Relaxed-Fit DeNiro
(Image originally uploaded by mudron; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Disempowerment Agenda

I almost missed Susie Madrak's post on Saturday about a Supreme Court case being argued this week that could have great ramifications for the future of class-action lawsuits. Here's the Center for Media and Democracy's primer:

The AT&T Mobility vs. Concepcion case arose from a class-action lawsuit against AT&T by consumers alleging unfair trade practices. Individuals in California signed a contract with AT&T for wireless service because they were promised free cell phones, but were later hit with hidden fees and charges. The wireless contract stated that disputes with AT&T must be resolved by an arbitrator, not through litigation; however, California law requires that so-called “arbitration clauses” do not prohibit individuals from joining with other similarly-affected persons and bringing a class-action claim. Specifically, AT&T is challenging the California law on grounds that the Federal Arbitration Act (passed in 1932 to allow an alternative forum to resolve disputes besides courts) prohibits states from mandating that class arbitration be available as a part of every arbitration agreement.

However, as stated by the Los Angeles Times’ David Lazarus, “The basic question before the court is whether companies can bar class actions in the fine print of their take-it-or-leave-it contracts with customers and employees.” If the court decides in favor of AT&T, corporations could effectively prevent consumers from bringing class action lawsuits by including arbitration clauses in all contracts, removing a legal tool that deters businesses from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or harmful practices. AT&T’s case is backed by other telecom companies as well, like the American Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As CMD notes, class actions typically provide citizens a better chance of getting justice than do arbitrations—so obviously corporate powers have an interest in cutting off this avenue of redress. And the nature of the Roberts court does not give us much grounds for optimism about this case being decided in a consumer-friendly direction.

Hmm. Think about the answers to this question: How can people keep from getting screwed by big business/corporate interests—or get justice if they do get screwed?

  1. government/public regulation and oversight (to deter screwings from happening in the first place—and punish the screwers when they do)
  2. personal legal action (to get redress for screwings after they happen—and hopefully to deter them as well)
  3. personal action of other sorts: writing angry letters, picketing, violent retribution, etc.
OK. The Right has been waging war against #1 for decades: get government off our backs, shrink it down and drown it in a bathtub, etc. It's clear that in their vision of an ideal society, the government/public sector will not serve as means of protection for ordinary citizens against big business/corporate powers.

As for #2, it's prohibitively expensive for most individuals already; huge corporate interests will always find it easier to afford armies of lawyers and decades of litigation than will the average wronged person. And if "tort reform," the curtailment of class-action suits, etc. make it even harder for individuals to get redress in the courts, then this means of protection will be cut off as well.

That leaves #3. But then writing angry letters, pacing with placards, and so on don't seem like much of a threat, and as for personal retribution, well, corporations will have little trouble outmuscling and outgunning the average person—and since the Right state serves property, they'll have State power on their side as well.

Remind me again: why do so many people think they're serving "liberty" by voting Right?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8452

"It just goes to show...life is short."

"Mmm-hmm." "Ahhhh." "Indeed."

And with that, the groundbreaking klezmetal band Schlömö was born.

(Image originally uploaded by lightthatbends; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, November 08, 2010

The Silence of the Shams

Media Matters points out that Fox bigwigs like Hannity and O'Reilly haven't said squat about the Olbermann suspension, something you'd think they'd be lining up to crow about—but then they're hip-deep in candidate contributions and endorsements themselves, and hey, maybe they do have some residual sense of shame after all.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7171

(Image originally uploaded by -Andrew-; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

A Serial Comma Might Not Save Your Life

But it can keep you from being swung at by Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, and/or Robert Duvall.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1297

Little-known fact: Bulgarian folk festivals are like Burning Man for Achilles Tendon fetishists.
(Image originally uploaded by radko; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Magic of Language

Thrill with Dean Baker as the Washington Post turns assertion into fact—and helps Eric Cantor reinforce a Republican talking point—through a simple choice of verb!

From now on, let it not be claimed that Kaplan Test Prep Daily sucks.

Let it be acknowledged.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7334

"YEEEAHHHH! Ugliest Shirts! Four years in a row! Suck on it, bay-bee. Uh huh. Uh huh."
(Image originally uploaded by zpao; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, November 05, 2010

Two Standards Are Better Than One

I don't have cable, thus don't have MSNBC, thus won't be missing Keith Olbermann anyway, but it does seem suspicious that he gets suspended for making political donations when other MSNBC bloviators do the same thing without censure—and when no one says boo about the massive political donations of MSNBC's parent corporation.

Perhaps this is that "morning in America" I've heard so much about.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3768

The Satan's Penis may never win selection as a state flower, but it will always be the office plant of choice at Fox News.
(Image originally uploaded by martius; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


The New Boss

I almost missed a great Carl Hiassen jeremiad on our governor-elect (h/t karoli):

Scott has spent long hours among attorneys because the healthcare firm that he headed, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., falsified patients’ bills and gave kick-backs to doctors, among other scams.

While the FBI was hauling away company records, Scott got the boot. Columbia/HCA later paid a $1.7 billion fine for perpetrating the largest Medicare fraud in the history of Medicare, no small feat.

Scott was never charged with a crime, which is currently the high point of his résumé. He left Colum-bia/HCA with a $300-million-plus severance package that is helping to bankroll his gubernatorial campaign.

The Republican leadership, which attacked Scott relentlessly before the primary, has now lined up behind him to throw mud at Democrat Alex Sink. It’s the only feasible strategy, when your own candidate has such a messy history.

Of his years as chief of Columbia/HCA, Scott says he takes responsibility for what occurred, but insists he didn’t know anything illegal was going on.


The fraud was so massive and institutionalized that his statement can’t be taken seriously. If he truly didn’t know what was happening all around him, he’s an incompetent fool.

And if he did know, he’s a lying crook.

Well, he doesn't seem like a fool to me, which is one of the kindest things I could say about him.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5877

"A fat cell! Run!"
(Image originally uploaded by Bubydub; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Give 'em Hell, Barry

John Nichols reviews how previous presidents, both successful and unsuccessful, have fared partywise in midterm elections and reminds us that all is not lost:

In fact, there is some evidence that losing big in the first midterm election might be better for a sitting president than losing small. Consider this: in 1978, first-term President Jimmy Carter's Democratic Party lost just three Senate seats and fifteen House seats—not so much a setback as a correction after the dramatic Democratic advances of the post-Watergate elections.

Two years later, Carter lost to Reagan and Democrats shed a dozen Senate seats (including those of Senate giants Frank Church, Gaylord Nelson and George McGovern) and 35 House seats.

It is the Carter comparison that Obama must hope to avoid.

But to do so, he is going to have to make a smart calculation. Obama is unlikely to have the robust economy that Clinton enjoyed, so triangulation and compromise are unlikely to do much more than reinforce Republican messaging. If he is smart, Obama will borrow the a page from Truman's playbook. Faced with a reactionary Republican Congress, Truman pulled out his veto pen, took to the bully pulpit and gave 'em hell.

Truman also counseled against compromise, explaining that: "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican all the time."

Of all the political lessons that Barack Obama will take from the 2010 midterm elections that, undoubtedly, is the most important one.

His track record is not promising in this regard, but hey, hope springs eternal. And nothing focuses the mind like having to say "Senator Rand Paul."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7775

(Image originally uploaded by michi und katja; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Microcosm: Election 2010

I thought that this exchange on the loss of Russ Feingold from this morning's Democracy Now! roundtable sums up the nightmare that was Election 2010 quite nicely:

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, John Nichols, about Russ Feingold.


AMY GOODMAN: The National Journal writes, "The scope of the Democratic devastation is perhaps most evident in Wisconsin. [...] Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold was ousted by Republican Ron Johnson. Democrats lost two seats in the House and control of both [...] chambers of the state legislature."

JOHN NICHOLS: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah, it was a devastating result. And, you know, look, we can sum it up a lot of ways. First off, we ought to explain that we’ve lost the one senator who voted against the PATRIOT Act, the one senator who voted against every free trade deal.

AMY GOODMAN: The Democratic senator.

JOHN NICHOLS: No, no Republican voted against the PATRIOT Act in the Senate. But the one who voted against every free trade deal, because it was bad for workers and farmers, the one who voted against going to war in Iraq and then was the first to ask for a time line to get out of Iraq, the first to ask for a time line to get out of Afghanistan, and the one who said that Bush should be censured for warrantless wiretapping.

LAURA FLANDERS: And the one who opposed the bank bailout and voted against—

JOHN NICHOLS: And voted against Geithner.

LAURA FLANDERS:—confirmation of Tim Geithner.

JOHN NICHOLS: And the only Democrat who voted against the bank reform bill, because he said it didn’t really do what needed to be done. So we have lost a pretty remarkable player.

And you ask yourself, how can that happen? Well, the fundamental reality is, in Wisconsin—I’m going to sum it up—in the night of the last US Senate debate, when Russ Feingold and his millionaire opponent were debating for an hour, the news story in Wisconsin was not the debate. It was that the last auto plant in Wisconsin closed that day, the Kenosha Chrysler engine plant. And so, they had this video of a factory closing. Now, it happened that Russ Feingold spent his entire career trying to keep that factory open, but that factory was closing on Barack Obama’s watch, on the Democrats’ watch. And frankly, I think that it’s not just Feingold. You go right over into Illinois, you see Phil Hare, a former union leader and absolute stalwart defender of working-class people, who voted against the President on a number of issues, went down, got beat, because I think that the national narrative was, Obama gets elected, he’s supposed to stand up for workers and farmers, and he didn’t, so we’re going to switch. And it did happen in a lot of states.

LAURA FLANDERS: But the question then becomes, you know, what happens next? I mean—


LAURA FLANDERS:—in many ways—and somebody used a great phrase describing Glenn Beck, one of the sort of media motivators for the tea party movements—he’s the false prophet of profit, you know. And that’s absolutely true, I think. There’s certainly racist, as I say, wing nuts, whack jobs and whitey-whiteness in this movement, but there are also people who have been vulnerable to the message: Obama’s not looking after the regular guy; we’ll look after the regular guy. Again, without a media that will say, "That’s no regular guy"—you know, Ron Johnson is not a regular guy.

JOHN NICHOLS: He’s a millionaire.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about who Ron Johnson is.

LAURA FLANDERS: A millionaire with $100,000 of BP stock.

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, this is the fascinating thing about Ron Johnson. Ron Johnson had never been involved in politics. He said that he got—he decided to run for the US Senate from watching Fox. And you actually had Dick Morris on saying, "Wow, Russ Feingold is vulnerable. Somebody ought to run against him." And Ron Johnson, watching the show, said, "Oh, I’ll do it." His entire economic training, as best we can tell, came from reading Ayn Rand. I’m not kidding. He says that in debates. He thinks sunspots cause global warming. I mean, this is a guy who’s way out there. And you say, "Well, why doesn’t the media stop this?"

AMY GOODMAN: And his wealth comes from?

JOHN NICHOLS: He married a wealthy woman.

RICHARD KIM: Spent $4 million just in the primary. And then the—

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, no, you’ve got to understand, he gave—somehow, out of this very small packaging company, he gave himself first one $5 million loan, then another $5 million loan. But really, this is the important thing, because it ties together all the stuff we’re talking about. He did put $10 million in upfront. But Karl Rove and a lot of these other people have wanted to get rid of Russ Feingold for a long time, because he’s the face of campaign finance reform. So that outside money came in in huge amounts.

And here’s the most fascinating—kind of the capper of the whole thing. On Tuesday, a day early, the Wall Street Journal wrote a dance-on-the-grave editorial with a drawing of Russ Feingold, saying, "Wow, we’re finally going to get rid of Russ Feingold!" The enthusiasm of that editorial—I encourage people to go back and read it—the enthusiasm of that editorial summed up really what was going on. Johnson spent a lot of his money, but literally millions, perhaps tens of millions, of dollars in corporate money came in to get rid of Russ Feingold.

LAURA FLANDERS: And it wasn’t just Feingold. The editorial talked about the death of campaign finance. The effort to restrict campaign contributions by corporations is dead, they said. This is the end of that liberal experiment.

Boy, did Florida get hosed. For another microcosm, see the election-night remarks of the Senate's shiniest new oligarchitarian, who declared that we dare not tax rich people because we all either work for them or sell stuff to them, except that, no, wait, there are no rich or poor or middle-class because "we are all interconnected," kinda like in Tom Joad's one big soul if The Grapes of Wrath had been written by Ayn Rand. Coopting interconnectedness to sell oligarchy—dang, this guy really brings it. I can't wait for the crashing and the burning. What form will the scandal take, do you think? Financial? Sexual? Racial?

Well, the next Congress should be entertaining for connoiseurs of dark comedy, anyway.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9653

From an alternate universe where Pat Robertson found something more constructive to do with his time.
(Image originally uploaded by GigantiopsBunny; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, November 01, 2010

40 Lies in 40 Days

My, that Glenn Beck is a veritable model of probity, ain't he?

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0843

"So none of the Weather Channel lovelies will answer my fan mail, will they?" Dr. Astoundo chuckled in his secret laboratory as he turned the knobs on his anachronistically retro-styled weather machine. "Well, let's just see how they cope with the world's first-ever Jittery Front. Mwahaha."
(Image originally uploaded by gizmobain; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thanks for the Bringdown,

Leslie Savan:

More a Wake for Sanity Than a Rally to Restore It

I guess we'll see tomorrow, huh?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?