Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Help! tomorrow. Will they love "Yesterday" or hate it? I identify with both feelings...we'll see. I always get a handful of great, surprising, insightful things they hear in the lyrics and in the music that I never heard before myself or thought of anyway. Really makes me look forward to these days. Wish we didn't have to go so fast through it.
My New Hero
Rep. Grayson from Florida, whose exploits today you should follow from here, to here, to here.
Damn You, Ken Burns
Sucked in to National Parks: America's Best Idea. Struck by the same old debate. Business says the establishment of national parks will be devastating, kill all the jobs, and destroy the economy. Funny, I don't remember the logging industry ceasing to exist once park lands were protected.

But they put up fight after fight, insisting that putting limits on their tree-cutting would be the end of economic development as we know it. Loggers ravaged 60 acres a day in the Smokey Mountains in a race against the people of Tennessee and Kentucky, who were tasked with raising $10 million to purchase the land, which they did, Burns insisted, dollar by dollar, in mostly small donations.
Early Entries
Candidates are lining up for Lunkhead of the Week honors, right behind the 13 Senators mentioned in the post below.
Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C.

A Congressman, a Crank, and a Corporation. Some contest.

Not that I'm running a democracy here, but feel free to vote your preference, or nominate others, in comments.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee had a perfectly good chance today to add a pretty modest public option to its health reform bill. Baucus (MT), Lincoln (NE), and Conrad (ND) though joined the 10 Republicans to kill the Schumer amendment. We knew Conrad was against because of his co-op preference. If there's good news, it's that we find out Bingaman (NM) and Carper (DE) and Nelson (FL) are ok, at least on this very scaled back public option.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Hopeful
Read this first, then watch the trailer:
Beatles for Sale the topic for tomorrow by the way, if u want to keep up. Favorite song there?
RIP Lucy (in the sky)
The death of Lucy Vodden at age 46 has been announced by St. Thomas' Hospital in London, where she was treated.

The hospital said Monday she died after battling the disease (Lupus) for years.

Vodden came to the attention of John Lennon when the Beatles' young son Julian came home from school one day with a drawing that he said was "Lucy in the sky with diamonds."
Instead of just asking "why" over and over again, soliciting the same non-responsive answer, how about trying a different approach. This is not the hardest question to ask, I don't think. Here's my stab at it:
Ms. Whitman, there are a few qualities that might lead a person to make the mistake of not voting, like apathy, forgetfulness, elitism and laziness. Which one of those would you say describes the reason why you didn't?
Then the followups kind of ask themselves.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lunkheads of the Week
Human beings. The United Nations Environment Program's latest report is not good news. (my emph. for those of you that like your bad news really bad.)
Robert Corell, who chairs the Climate Action Initiative and reviewed the UNEP report's scientific findings, said the significant global temperature rise is likely to occur even if industrialized and developed countries enact every climate policy they have proposed at this point. The increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can afford in order to avert catastrophic climate change.
The group took the upper-range targets of nearly 200 nations' climate policies -- including U.S. cuts that would reduce domestic emissions 73 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, along with the European Union's pledge to reduce its emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 --and found that even under that optimistic scenario, the average global temperature is likely to warm by 6.3 degrees.
Other findings include the fact that sea level might rise by as much as six feet by 2100 instead of 1.5 feet, as the IPCC had projected, and the Arctic may experience a sea-ice summer by 2030, rather than by the end of the century.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sorry, But
Why do census workers need to be warned to "be careful"?

Clarifying...why is the state of our country such that it's dangerous to be a census worker, of all things?

Even a pizza delivery guy presumably has cash and, I guess, pizza. Why would anyone want to kill a census worker?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Challenge
In his speech to the UN today, President Obama tackled, among many other things, the issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But all of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we only lend it lip-service. To break the old patterns - to break the cycle of insecurity and despair - all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks over a constructive willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy, and its right to exist in peace and security.

We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are God's children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. That is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land. And that is why - even though there will be setbacks, and false starts, and tough days - I will not waiver in my pursuit of peace.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh Noes!!
If porn turns you gay, I guess most of us all of us are destined for same-sex love!? How will the human race continue considering the Internets are teeming with porn?

Also, what if - er, hypothetically speaking - you've just been into, you know, soft core? Maybe you could still come out of it bi?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thanks Deb!
Lunkhead of the Week
Profiled at the other blog, in which I try my best to teach Scalia a thing or 2. In case you were wondering what's up over there.
Krugman Asks
How bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?
Just a thought: can we not put some pressure on Senator Snowe, instead of letting her, apparently, rule the world? How much good is she willing to vote against, just because her caucus (which already hates her and would kick her out if they could) doesn't like the public option? She's not getting her way on everything, so she is willing to abandon health reforms she believes in?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cross-dressing British comedian Eddie Izzard (very funny, saw him in concert a couple years ago) was not an athlete...until, that is, he completed 6 weeks of training and then ran a marathon.

43 times.

in 52 days.

That's 1,100 miles for charity. Truly insane.
Mental Health Break
A Red Sox winning streak has them pulling away from the Rangers for the wild card spot - nice pitching by Dice-K last night helped them to a 5 1/2 game lead. With a series in New York still to go, that's a nice cushion. Post-season, here we come.

Meanwhile, just in case, hockey season is on the way. The first pre-season game for the home team is tomorrow. Go Preds! (Get Phil Kessel!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Facebook Update
Sorry to hijack this blog (especially since I don't seem to bother updating my own much these days), but since we've talked about the plusses and minuses of Facebook here before, I just wanted to let everybody know that I've been de-friended by some right-wing person I apparently went to high school with but have no idea who he is. I don't really mind, since I'd already hidden his posts anyway.

See, Mark? Sometimes Facebook can lead to a happy ending.
Deep Thought Analogy of the Day
Joe Wilson:Obama :: Iraqi Shoe-Thrower:Bush :: Kanye West:Taylor Swift :: Serena Williams:Line Judge

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lunkhead of the Week
There's a clear choice this week, obviously, but I'm going to go elsewhere, because while Congressman Joe Wilson is nutty to the core, Minnesota Governor - and presidential aspirant - Tim Pawlenty knows better. He's just desperately appealing to The Crazy so they'll like him.
Out of Bounds
Many are comparing Joe Wilson's outburst with the typical harassment British Members of Parliament use all the time. Actually, not so much. Even there, calling someone a liar is unacceptable.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Most Important Thing...
...the President said last night was that he was so committed to making health reform deficit neutral that he wanted a provision mandating further budget cuts if the savings they expect don't materialize. Shouldn't that help reassure those budget hawks who believe the deficit-neutral promise can't possibly be kept?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I'm In For $25
Hopefully the candidate I just supported isn't some loon, or worse. But it feels good to take *some* action in defense of congressional manners. Seeing the numbers raised it looks like I'm not alone.
Sounds About Right
Barney Frank tonight on the current state of Republican opposition: "A blend of cynicism and stupidity."

I thought the speech was fabulous and moving, a moment sullied only by the jerk of a Republican congressman who heckled the President. It's too late now, but I started writing a post earlier today saying I half expected some townhall-style lunacy to enter the event, either from the gallery or from some idiot Representative (who, let's face it, had probably had a few drinks). But it seemed so unlikely, I ditched it. Never underestimate the GOP I guess.

What did you think?
Tonight - What Do You Want to Hear?
Honestly, I don't care much what Obama says about the public option. There are so many moving parts in the details, it's hard to keep track of all the consequences just from watching the news. Depending on how it's structured, a public plan may be great or may be so-so. I'm all for it, but don't anticipate him saying anything different from what he's been saying: he's for it, thinks it's the best way to control costs, but doesn't think it's the be-all of reform.

No, as much as the process needs the President to pass down details, that's not what I'm looking for in his speech. What I want him to do is light a fire under Congress to recognize that the current system has destroyed too many lives, threatens to devour our entire economy, and will only get worse on both counts unless and until they act.

If they can't handle the task of grappling with reform and coming together on the best bill they can pass, they are basically worthless as legislators and representatives. I want to hear him shame and berate them into action. Especially the Democrats. The bill will not be perfect. It may even cause as many problems as it solves initially. But maybe those won't take us 50 years to fix like the ones we have now.

They should already be ashamed that the President has to call a special joint session just to tell them to do their jobs. I know building consensus isn't easy, but we're close, we have majorities in both houses, and there's no reason why it can't be done now. If Republicans make us beat a filibuster, then figure out how to use reconciliation and browbeat them for the next 14 months for being such obstructionists. If we lose in 2010, we lose. Let's go down doing something, instead of going down doing nothing.

How about you? What are you looking for?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Liberals Debate Public Option
Robert Reich argues that a public plan is needed to give taxpayers a big enough pool of participants for leverage in negotiating rates with health providers. Ezra Klein makes the case that the public option isn't all that. For one thing, not as many people as you may think will even be eligible to buy in (an under-reported feature/bug of the legislation), so the pool won't be all that large. Krugman counters.

Monday, September 07, 2009

What's so bad about attaching a trigger to the "public option"? It sounds to me like a reasonable way around the vote logjam in the Senate, especially if it can overcome a filibuster and avoid the hassle of reconciliation. But a trigger also could actually be a good idea, leading to stronger reform than a public option might be without one. Read Nate.
Talkin' Baseball
I love the Red Sox and follow them pretty closely. And if I care about rooting for actual success every now and then, it's a good thing too. The 4 American League teams that will likely make the playoffs this season are, unsurprisingly, the top 4 payrolls in that league, with the #1 salaried Yankees nearly 70% higher than #2 Boston. (In the more even-handed NL, the #3,5,9 and 10 ranked salaries look to make the post-season this year). For fans, then, it's pick sides between the same few well-heeled teams that make it almost every year, or hope that you're cheering on an above-average-payroll team that can sneak in every once in a while. For those in the bottom third or so, barring something very strange (Tampa last year) you have little chance. So it is that my Pirates set the record this year for most consecutive losing seasons, with a payroll only 1/4 that of the Evil Empire Yankees.

Until there is a meaningful salary cap like they have in the NBA, NFL and NHL - where there are still inequities, only less so - teams like the Pirates will for all practical purpose have no chance whatsoever, unless purchased by a tycoon with millions to burn. What kind of a game is that?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Remember When...
...Dan Quayle visited the impressionable school children of America and spread his political ideology of poor spelling?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Lunkheads of the Week
Independents. They are now apparently leaving Obama and the Democrats in droves in latest polls. Somewhere in America are perhaps millions of screwed-up voters who once upon a time pulled the lever for Democrats in Congress but Republicans for President, then supported Bill Clinton in 92 cause George raised taxes, then got caught up in Newt Gingrich's Contract and voted in Republicans in 94, backed Perot in 96, but went for Dems in 98 because they were pissed about impeachment, then went for W in 2000 because Al Gore sighed and talked funny, then would have gone against W in 2004 but had to vote for him because Kerry betrayed his country in Vietnam, then voted Democrats in control in 2006 because of Iraq, and supported Obama in 2008 because they thought he would do something about health care and fix the Bush economy, and now are going to vote Republican in 2010 because Obama is trying to do something about health care and hasn't fixed the economy yet, after he's had 8 whole months to undo Bush's 8 years of damage.

These people truly confound me.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Late Night Health Care Deep Thought
If "being an asshole" could be categorized a pre-existing condition that jeopardizes one's health coverage, anti-reformers would change their minds quickly.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Most Important Video Game Ever?
Here's Seth Schiesel reviewing The Beatles: Rock Band in this weekend's New York Times:

The Beatles: Rock Band is nothing less than a cultural watershed, one that may prove only slightly less influential than the band’s famous appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. By reinterpreting an essential symbol of one generation in the medium and technology of another, The Beatles: Rock Band provides a transformative entertainment experience.

In that sense it may be the most important video game yet made.
With all due respect to Wii Sports, no video game has ever brought more parents together with their teenage and adult children than The Beatles: Rock Band likely will in the months and years to come.
Previous music games have been about collections of songs. The Beatles: Rock Band is about representing and reoffering an entire worldview encapsulated in music.

An entire worldview?

My Naivety on Display re Health Reform
There are only so many Democratic Senators and Representatives. Surely they talk. Doesn't somebody in the leadership already know where everyone's breaking points and bottom lines are? Contingency A if we have a replacement for Kennedy, and Contingency B if we don't. Other than that variable, shouldn't the endgame already be basically known? Are there 60 votes for a plan with a public option or aren't there? Are there 50 for the kind of public option required in a reconciliation package or not? If the answer to both questions is NO, then what is the next best plan that would get 60, or 50 in reconciliation? Don't we know the answers to these questions? Why all the suspense?