31 March 2010

Obama OKs Off-Shore Drilling

I am really pressed for time this morning, so the only comment I have time for is...

Are you fucking kidding me!!??

The disappointment weighs heavy, Mr. President.

Mid-Week Brain Break

This one will make you grin from ear to ear and put a pep in your step...

30 March 2010

A Republican For Bikes & Against Cars

Who could have predicted that it would be one of President Obama's Republican cabinet members, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, that would become one its more progressive officers?
Two weeks ago, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed on a table and told a group of bike advocates that federal transportation planners were finished raising the almighty auto above cyclists and walkers.

"I’ve been all over America, and where I’ve been in America I’ve been very proud to talk about the fact that people do want alternatives," he said. "They want out of their cars, they want out of congestion, they want to live in livable neighborhoods and livable communities ... You've got a partner in Ray LaHood."

He followed up on his blog: "Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."
'atta boy!

29 March 2010

The President: Last Week vs This Week

What the President of the United States achieved last week:
- Signed health care legislation that covers 30 million more Americans;
- Put a solid student loans reform package in place, thus allowing millions of additional Americans to get a college education;
- Worked with Russia to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the world;
- Made some recess appointments to key government posts for positions that were being blocked by Republican senators for no other reason than to block them;
- Flew to Afghanistan to meet with U.S. troops and the Afghan president.
Yet, since last week the President's approval rating has dropped from 51% to 46%. While I believe a large majority of Americans will eventually appreciate and approve of the health care bill passed last week, they are wondering when congress and the White House will focus, at least publicly, on the unemployment crisis with the same full-on gusto.

As I said last week, the only way the President can use his new found momentum to his advantage would be to focus on jobs, jobs, and jobs. Climate change, education, and the other important issues of our day should be tackled behind the scenes by the appropriate cabinet officials. But if he is to spare his party a devestating mid-term election result this November, the President, in using his bully pulpit, needs focus solely on the jobs situation. He needs to showcase for the American voting public that his only focus right now is their lot in life.

Such focus could be a win-win for the Democrats: Americans would appreciate that the administration and congress are at least trying everything they can to rectify the stubbornly high unemployment rate; and voters would see Republicans for the obstructionists they are, as the fascists among the GOP ranks would more than likely block every jobs initiative the Democrats put forward.

Barring a miraculous economic turn around between now and November, the Democrats are still likely to lose seats in congress. That's just the nature of the beast (Republicans lost 25 House seats in Reagan's first mid-term election). But I sincerely believe if President Obama and the current congress put all of their efforts into job creation, even if only a few jobs are generated, it could mean the difference between a 40+ seat loss in the House (if they do nothing) and a 10 to 20 seat loss (if they spend every minute between now and November tackling unemployment).

So, again Mr. President, the only three words out of your mouth for the next several months should be "jobs," "jobs," and "jobs."

27 March 2010

Poseidon Has His Day

This week's playlist begins with a brand new track from the Bird and the Bee's latest CD, "Interpreting the Masters, Volume 1 (A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates)" - their take on "I Can't Go For That" is simply sublime. A 1979 single from the "masters" themselves follows. Also included this week: the Ramones, Wilco, the Runaways, Material Issue, Johnny Cash, Bob Mould, Luna, and the Indigo Girls.

Press PLAY and enjoy...

I Can't Go For That - The Bird and the Bee
Wait For Me - Daryl Hall & John Oates
Care of Cell 44 - The Zombies
You Never Know - Wilco
I Just Want to Have Something to Do - The Ramones
Cherry Bomb - The Runaways
Memphis Blues Again - Bob Dylan
Valerie Loves Me - Material Issue
Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen
Unjustified - Simon Webbe
California - Luna
The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash
Help! - The Beatles
Heels of the Wind - Elton John
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) - Florence + the Machine
Life and Times - Bob Mould
Fleet of Hope (Poseidon Has His Day) - Indigo Girls
Poseidon, God of the Sea - Klaus Badelt

26 March 2010

Honoring the Great Liberal Lion

As they prepared to pass the final fixes to last week's health reform bill, the United States Senate honored the late great liberal lion, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, for his tireless work on the issue with a moment of silence. This will put a lump in your throat; you could hear a pin drop in that chamber.

It starts at the 1:52 mark...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

25 March 2010

The Truth Comes Out

So, has this been the issue the entire time?

Slowly Making 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Obsolete

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will announce Thursday that the Defense Department will relax enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" rules that prevent gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military, a decision that officials described as a temporary measure until Congress can take permanent action.

The military will no longer investigate the sexual orientation of service members based on anonymous complaints, will restrict testimony from third parties and will require high-ranking officers to review all cases, sources familiar with the changes said.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder discusses the move here.

California's #1 Cash Crop

In November, California voters will decide whether to legalize recreational use of marijuana:
Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified that the petitions seeking to place the question on the ballot had more than...the minimum number needed to qualify.

If approved, the initiative would allow those 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, enough to roll several marijuana cigarettes. Residents also could cultivate the plant in limited quantities.
Marijuana is California's #1 cash crop, it's WAY safer than alcohol, yet it remains illegal.

I'll be very interested to see how this initiative polls. In the mean time, those advocating legalization can count on my YES vote!

Disgusting and Beyond Vile

From TPM:
The right-wing protest movement that amped up during the final debate over the health care reform bill in the House has stepped up another notch.

Rep. Bart Stupak (Democrat-MI) received a drawing of a noose faxed to his congressional office; and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (Democrat-SC) told CNN that his office had received a fax that depicted a noose.
Another Democratic member of congress had their office window smashed; yet another had the gas line at their home slashed.

This is beyond vile, and carries shades of the hate and threats spewed at McCain/Palin rallies during the 2008 presidential campaign.

If any Democratic member of congress is attacked and injured or killed, the Republican Party and their fascist tea-bagging base will be entirely to blame.

24 March 2010

What the President Needs to Do

Since taking office on January 20, 2009, President Obama has yet to address the nation from the Oval Office. By contrast, President Reagan spoke from there at least three or four times during his first 15 months as president, mainly in an effort to get Americans behind his economic program. Oh, Mr. Obama has addressed the nation by way of press conferences and weekly radio/internet speeches, but the majesty of the Oval Office carries a certain weight that the President would do well to flaunt right about now.

With the wind at his back following the passage of health insurance reform, Obama has regained enough political capital to make the case for two of the most important issues to Americans today: Banking reform and jobs.

Now that health care is a done deal (save the fixes that are making their way through the Senate), President Obama and both houses of congress should focus on those two issues every day, all day, seven days a week. Americans want to know that their government officials are doing everything they can to put our nation's job market back on steady footing, and that the banks that hold their money will never again be allowed to play the games they played from 1981 to 2008.

And the best way to put these issues front and center would be for the President of the United States to lay out his plans on those two issues in a speech from the Oval Office.

Now, if he does it he needs to go all in. On these issues half measures won't do. He needs to ignore the Republicans and offer up a rock solid jobs bill worth about $50 billion (if not more), as well as a major finanical bill that seriously regulates how the banks handle the hard-earned money we Americans keep there. He needs to explain, in basic terms, that while the Great Recession may be over officially, the jobs market seems to be stuck in a rut, and that a giant infusion of cash for highway and other infrastructure jobs could be the spark that gets things moving again. As for banking reform, I doubt most Americans would disagree that the banks need some serious slapping around.

So, Mr. President...I know there is still alot on your plate, and that education reform and climate change are issues very near and dear to your heart. But with mid-terms right around the corner and Americans keeping an eye on that unemployment rate, YOUR focus for the next several months needs to be on these two issues - at least publicly. Let the appropriate cabinet officers do the heavy lifting on the other domestic issues until after the elections.

For now, the first two words out of your mouth when you get up in the morning and the last two words out of your mouth when you go to bed at night should be "jobs" and "banking."

And you should say those words several times during a major prime time speech from the Oval Office.

23 March 2010

The Party of No Relevancy

In one of his more important commentaries, Keith Olbermann tries to pull the Republican Party back from their high speed drive toward the proverbial cliff...

I have said it previously: Despite all their denials, these Fascist-Republican tea-baggers are indeed racist, homophobic bigots, hateful of Americans - and of America. Their collective nervous breakdown has taken place not just because the President is a Democrat (although, that has a lot to do with it - they think their fellow Republicans should control the White House permanently); not because both houses of congress are in Democratic hands...no...they are apoplectic over the fact that the President of the United States is black.

Thankfully, these whack jobs are a dying breed. Despite all the media coverage they manage to steal, their numbers are relatively small, and within a decade their relevance will be nil.

But boy, would I love to see their reactions when, in about 2024 or so, Americans vote a half Mexican, half African-American, male-to-female transgender lesbian as president!

22 March 2010

Happy Birthday, Sista Girl!

The Morning After

In the end, this is a huge deal. Various American governments - from Teddy Roosevelt at the turn of the 20th century, to his distant cousin Franklin Roosevelt in the 30s and 40s, to Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and on to Bill Clinton - have all tried, and failed, to overhaul our health care industry. While this bill is imperfect in many ways, it is a major step in the right direction.

For my compatriots on the left who think this bill wasn't worth the blood, sweat and tears, I offer this argument...

Perhaps our sites were set too high. In a perfect world a single-payer program - or even a public option - were preferred, but they were never do-able politically. As votes in the Senate last year proved, conservative Democrats were willing to vote with the Republican minority to filibuster such language. We would need a super-duper majority of 65 or 70 Democrats that included at least 60 liberal-progressives to pass any sort of Canadian or British style health care plan. Unfortunately, electing such a politically liberal Senate, even in 2010, isn't in the cards.

As for the President, he did all he could to push things along. Yes, major compromises were made. Yes, the process took way too long. But the reality is the reality - Mr. Obama has bigger fish to fry: A financial sector in dire straits, a jobs market that is stubborn in its lack of job creation, two wars that need to be wrapped up. Thus, the President needed to retain at least a little bit of his political capital. To be sure, he spent a tremendous amount of it on this legislation. But there is still some left. And we need him to succeed in keeping the ship of state on a steady course.

More reactions on health care from around the "inter-web"...

Steve Clemons:
Anyone watching the health care debate unfold this past year couldn't help but note that it had the feel of a badly run, badly managed sports season in which the President's team nonetheless is going to end up holding the trophy cup.
Josh Marshall:
The US has had several runs with major pieces of social legislation. And the record is that they don't get repealed. They're expanded and become embedded in the national political economy.

Once Health Care [becomes law]; the middle class will like it. And there will be no repealing or doing away with it. And its success will create a new generation of Democrats.

Hard fought victories don't deplete political capital; they build it. And political wins themselves often have a catalyzing effect that shapes political opinion far more than we realize.

Make no mistake, it's a genuinely historic moment, a realization that only now seems to be dawning on people.
Andrew Sullivan:
Yes, in the end, he got all House votes he needed. Yes, he worked our last nerve to get there. But, yes, too, this is an important victory - the first true bloodied, grueling revelation that his persistence, another critical Obama quality, finally paid off in the presidency. He could have given up weeks ago, as the punditry advised (because they seem to have no grasp of substance and mere addiction to hour-to-hour political plays). But he refused. That took courage. And relentlessness.

The narrative will be about his persistence and his grit, rather than his near-divinity and his authority. And suddenly it will appear — lo! — as if this lone figure has not just rescued the US economy from the abyss, but also passed the biggest piece of social legislation in decades.

The public will merely notice that the guy can come back and fight. Even when they don’t always agree with such a figure on the issues, they can admire him.

Again, the real parallel is Ronald Reagan.

People forget how unpopular Reagan was at the same point in his presidency — and passing [Reagan's] big tax cut was legislatively a lot easier than reforming a health sector the size of the British economy. But like Obama he persisted and, with luck and learning, aimed very high.

Obama has bet that this is his destiny. He is extremely cautious from day to day, staggeringly flexible on tactics, but not at all modest when you look at the big picture.

He still wants to rebuild the American economy from the ground up, re-regulate Wall Street, withdraw from Iraq, win in Afghanistan, get universal health insurance and achieve a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine in his first term. That’s all. And although you can see many small failures on the way, and agonising slowness as well, you can also see he hasn’t dropped his determination to achieve it all.
Christina Bellantoni:
House Democrats celebrated a major victory late last night after they passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system while simultaneously approving a package of fixes to the measure. But it's not the law of the land, not yet. What happens next is both simple in that there's one major vote left. But it's a bit complicated, since President Obama actually will sign one bill and then wait for the Senate to pass the other.

The House approved the Senate bill last night, warts and all. Those warts - a tax on high-end insurance plans, several special deals made for members of the Senate on Medicaid and abortion language that pro-life Democrats in the House weren't comfortable with - are removed [in a second] measure...which also passed the House last night.
In order for these fixes to pass without threat of a filibuster in the Senate, the President has to sign the first bill into law. Then the Senate can begin debating on the changes the House passed in the second bill. Complicated? A little. But it's generally how government works, only this time it's getting a lot of media attention due to the enormity of the bill.

And finally, one more time, Andrew Sullivan:

Starring Road Runner as Barack Obama, and Wyle E. Coyote as the congressional Republicans...

It Is Done

The late, great liberal lion would be beaming...

21 March 2010


After 100 years, through nineteen presidents (including two Roosevelts and two Bushes), and countless attempts by over 50 congresses, the United States House of Representatives tonight passed Senate legislation that will overhaul the American health care system and lead to near-universal coverage. The vote was 219 to 212. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law by Tuesday.

More later, but this is indeed a stupendous moment in the history of our nation. The bill doesn't go as far as many would like - there's still a lot of ground to cover - but this is a tremendous first step.

A hearty shout out to my congresswoman, the Speaker of the House herself, Nancy Pelosi. It took a while, but well done.

Edge of the Universe

This week's playlist is all over the map. It includes new material from Gorillaz (featuring Snoop Dogg), Barrio Jazz Gang, and Erykah Badu; classics from Marvin Gaye and Talk Talk; as well as a rare classical piece from Elton John.

Press play and enjoy...

Gorillaz (featuring Snoop Dog & the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)

Marvin Gaye

1,000 MILES
Blake Lewis

Talk Talk

John Cougar

Antigone Rising

Azure Ray

Barrio Jazz Gang

Erykah Badu


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Bee Gees

The Bird and the Bee

Elton John

Thomas Newman

The House Votes on Health Care

The House of Representatives has been called into session and the vote should take place sometime this afternoon (PT). It looks like the Democrats have the votes to pass it, and word is President Obama will sign the bill at the White House this evening.

My hopes are high...very high...yet guarded at the same time.

While we wait for the outcome, a couple of essays for your Sunday:

Josh Marshall weighs the political landscape for the Democrats if health care legislation passes:
If the bill passes, and should the worse befall the Dems and they wake up on November 3rd having lost both houses of Congress, they can look back on all the work in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 cycles and say, it wasn't wasted and it wasn't for nothing. This bill will be by far the most significant piece of social legislation in almost 50 years and will achieve, albeit imperfectly, something progressives have been trying to achieve for going on a century. If the Dems lose their majorities in November, they'll be able to say: we worked this hard, we built these majorities, and this is what we did with it.

...But I suspect the effect for the Democrats of actual passing this legislation will be considerably more positive than people realize.
Ron Brownstein discusses the President's approach to this issue and how, despite the disappointment of progressives, passage of a bill will help chart a new course for the United States:
Win or lose, Obama has pursued health care reform as tenaciously as any president has pursued any domestic initiative in decades. Health care has now been his presidency's central domestic focus for a full year. That's about as long as it took to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, originally introduced by John F. Kennedy and driven home by Lyndon Johnson. Rarely since World War II has a president devoted so much time, at so much political cost, to shouldering a single priority through Congress. It's reasonable to debate whether Obama should have invested so heavily in health care. But it's difficult to quibble with Emanuel's assessment that once the president placed that bet, "He has shown fortitude, stamina, and strength."

The health care struggle suggests that Obama views changing that trajectory [of the nation] as the ultimate measure of a presidency's success. His aim is to establish a long-term political direction - one centered on a more activist government that shapes and polices the market to strengthen the foundation for sustainable, broadly shared growth. Everything else - the legislative tactics, even most individual policies - is negotiable. He wants to chart the course for the supertanker, not to steer it around each wave or decide which crates are loaded into its hull.

20 March 2010

Fascist Confederate Fuckwads

These tea-bagger fascists have really crossed the line, calling Rep. John Lewis (Democrat-GA) a "nigger" and Rep. Barney Frank (Democrat-MA) a "faggot" during health care protests on Capitol Hill yesterday.

Their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, must be rolling over in his grave.

19 March 2010

Why the Health Care Bill MUST Pass

Paul Krugman nails it:
As it happens, Reuters published an investigative report this week that powerfully illustrates the vileness of our current system. The report concerns the insurer Fortis, now part of Assurant Health, which turns out to have had a systematic policy of revoking its clients’ policies when they got sick. In particular, according to the Reuters report, it targeted every single policyholder who contracted H.I.V., looking for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, for cancellation. In the case that brought all this to light, Assurant Health used an obviously misdated handwritten note by a nurse, who wrote “2001” instead of “2002,” to claim that the infection was a pre-existing condition that the client had failed to declare, and revoked his policy.

Beyond that, this is a story that could happen only in America. In every other advanced nation, insurance coverage is available to everyone regardless of medical history. Our system is unique in its cruelty.

And one more thing: employment-based health insurance, which is already regulated in a way that mostly prevents this kind of abuse, is unraveling. Less than half of workers at small businesses were covered last year...

So what’s the answer? Americans overwhelmingly favor guaranteeing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions — but you can’t do that without pursuing broad-based reform. To make insurance affordable, you have to keep currently healthy people in the risk pool, which means requiring that everyone or almost everyone buy coverage. You can’t do that without financial aid to lower-income Americans so that they can pay the premiums. So you end up with a tripartite policy: elimination of medical discrimination, mandated coverage, and premium subsidies.

Or to put it another way, you end up with something like the health care plan Mitt Romney introduced in Massachusetts in 2006, and the very similar plan the House either will or won’t pass in the next few days. Comprehensive reform is the only way forward.

Can you imagine a better reform? Sure. If Harry Truman had managed to add health care to Social Security back in 1947, we’d have a better, cheaper system than the one whose fate now hangs in the balance. But an ideal plan isn’t on the table. And what is on the table, ready to go, is legislation that is fiscally responsible, takes major steps toward dealing with rising health care costs, and would make us a better, fairer, more decent nation.

All it will take to make this happen is for a handful of on-the-fence House members to do the right thing.
In a perfect world in which I ruled over the President and the congress, the insurance companies would be shut down and a universal health care system put in place. But the political realities of 2010 don't allow for such a proposal. However, the political realities of 2010, for the first time in our nation's history, could very well lead to a much-needed, flawed, but preferable health care overhaul.

I will repeat what I've been saying for months: If this bill goes down to defeat at the hands of a few House progressives, then health care reform is off the table for at least another generation; and any progressive Democrat who votes "no" under such a circumstance should lose their seat.

"Tid-bits and So Forth"

OK. Their little temper-tantrum was a wee bit entertaining, but it's time for these idiots to go the fuck away...

Santorum of the Day

Retired General John Sheehan...

It's been a while, so a primer on "Santorum of the Day" for those not in the know...
The definition of the word:
Pronunciation: san-TOR-um
Function: noun
1. The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex;
2. The former right-wing Republican United States Senator from Pennsylvania
With the fascist-wing of the modern conservative movement clearly on a bat-shit bender, a week doesn't go by where at least one or two of them make a really fascist remark. On occasion, I will highlight those remarks here as the "Santorum of the Day."
Update: A well-parsed piece from Rachel Maddow (one of the few intelligent voices out there in the "talk-o-sphere" these days)...

17 March 2010

Mid-Week Brain Break

Hummingbirds, in slow-mo...

Come On In, Dennis, the Water is Fine

Following a personal visit from President Obama, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Democrat-OH) is expected to announce today how he will vote on the current health care bill. Come on in, Dennis....the water is fine.

UPDATE: He's in.

Tea-Bagger Fascists

When it comes right down to it, the tea-bagger fascists of the Republican right are having this collective nervous breakdown because they just can't stand it when a Democrat is in the White House; and despite all of their statements to the contrary, the fact that the current Democratic president is black just pushes them right over the edge.

When you see videos like this, you know there is no hope for these people.

I mean...yelling and throwing things at a guy with Parkinson's disease? REALLY?!? I consider myself a compassionate person for the most part, but when I see that sort of shit I really do wish those fuckwads would get a really bad case of Parkinson's, then come back to us and tell us how they really feel about the health care insurance industry. Because it's the only way those fascist fucks learn.

15 March 2010

Theodore Olbermann, 1929 - 2010

The father of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann passed away yesterday following a long battle with post-operative complications. He was 80.

In memory of his father, Keith asks that you give anything you can ($5, $20, a buck, whatever you can spare) to the National Association of Free Clinics.

When Christianist Fascists Teach Our Children

From the Huffington Post:
In Texas, Thomas Jefferson is set to be removed from the textbook standards explaining how Enlightenment thinkers have influenced revolutions since 1750. Replacing him will be the French theologian John Calvin.
So, let me get this straight. The right wing fascists in Texas want to remove one of our country's founding fathers, and its third president, from history textbooks in favor of a French guy? My Gawd! What would the Republican-Fascists of 2003 say about such unpatriotic blasphemy?!

Update: As is typical with the fringe right, facts don't matter. The subject at hand is the influence of Enlightenment thinkers since 1750, however Calvin died in 1564.

Major Changes For Education

In an effort to overhaul the Bush administration's disastrous "No Child Left Behind" law, President Obama sends his education plan to congress today. While retaining the key math and reading goals of the Bush plan, the new proposal incorporates science, history, and the arts into the education goals, and will measure success not just on test scores, but on graduation rates, learning climate, and student attendance, as well.

Throw in some really tough standards to keep teachers on the jobs and weed out the bad ones, higher salaries for the teachers that prove their worth, a longer school day, a year-round school calendar, and college benefits for students who excel at math and science, and we might just save our future generations from the current spiral of dumbed-down incompetence.

The Urban Wild

Excellent interview from the Bay Area section of yesterday's NY Times (San Francisco edition):
Janet Kessler, a 60-year-old, self-taught naturalist, leaves her cozy cottage in the Noe Valley section of San Francisco before dawn several days a week and walks to parks and other open spaces in hope of spotting coyotes, owls and other wildlife. Since she began photographing coyotes in the city three years ago, she has taken pictures of 11 different coyotes in four city parks. She wrote a small book — “Myca of Twin Peaks” — about one of the coyotes. Her work is chronicled on her Web site, urbanwildness.com. On a recent hike, she shared her views on animals and humans. (Her words have been edited and condensed.)

By Susan Sward

Before the sun comes up, the darkness has a calm to it and a wildness, too. You feel this awakening. It’s at this time that many of the animals I watch are waking up, and some are going to sleep. It’s a changing of the guard.

Most people living here are unaware of this tremendous part of the city where animals go about living their own lives. Many don’t want to see coyotes — and all animals — as similar to us. But they have a family life as all-encompassing as ours.

We’ve been told that coyotes are here to stay in urban environments, and people need to realize that coyotes, though they generally are not aggressive, are wild animals. It is very important never to feed them because there seems to be a connection between feeding them and their eventual aggression toward humans.

A small percent of people don’t like coyotes and don’t think they should be in the city. But most of us love the juxtaposition of urban and wild. It’s that contradiction that is so compelling.

On my Web site I quote Thoreau’s observation “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” I agree with that. Keeping ourselves grounded in nature is what it’s all about, and the modern technological aspects of life distance us from the nature we are a part of.

13 March 2010

"Honey-Do" - Music From the Motion Picture That Is Your Life

This week's playlist provides the perfect soundtrack while you make your way down the weekend's "Honey Do" list. Set is heavy on the new stuff: Groove Armada (with Bryan Ferry on vocals), Rogue Wave, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Air, BreakBot, Florence & the Machine, Wild Beasts, and Broken Bells; and includes classic material from Emmylou Harris (from the Daniel Lanois-produced "Wrecking Ball" album), Bill Withers, the Police, and Cyndi Lauper.

Press play and enjoy:

Shameless - Groove Armada (feat. Bryan Ferry)
Jesus in a Camper Van - Robbie Williams
Chariot - Gavin DeGraw
Solitary Gun - Rogue Wave
Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
Where Will I Be - Emmylou Harris
Why Don't You Love Me - Hank Williams
I Learned the Hard Way - Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
Mary's Prayer - Danny Wilson
So Light Is Her Football (BreakBot Remix) - Air
Baby I'm Yours - BreakBot
We Have Love - Hot Chip
Driven to Tears - The Police
Howl - Florence + the Machine
The Fun Powder Plot - Wild Beasts
October - Broken Bells
Who Let in the Rain - Cyndi Lauper
The Ellie Badge - Michael Giacchino

12 March 2010

Remove Reid Now

Quote of the Day:
The House has some issues with this bill, namely that it doesn't include the infrastructure spending and aid to states and localities that were included in the $154 billion bill passed last December by the House, and that it relies heavily on tax cuts. Reid says he will bring up a jobs bill that includes those measures eventually...
-Joan McCarter, reporting for DailyKos on the recently passed unemployment extension.



With millions out of work and long term job prospects practically non-existent?!!?

Sen. Reid is such hapless fuck, it's pathetic. Why the Senate Democrats don't replace him as leader is beyond comprehension. The man has no spine and is about as incompetent as they come. Americans want to see action. They want to see a major jobs bill passed, and if the Republicans refuse to go along then they will suffer in November. But this timid shit that Reid pulls...well...it will be a bloodbath for the Democrats.

11 March 2010

The Perception Problem

Do yourself a favor and ready Bob Herbert's Monday NY Times column. The key points:
The Obama administration and Democrats in general are in trouble because they are not urgently and effectively addressing the issue that most Americans want them to: the frightening economic insecurity that has put a chokehold on millions of American families.

The economy shed 36,000 jobs last month, and that was trumpeted in the press as good news...ut once you realize that it will take 11 million or more new jobs to get us back to where we were when the recession began, you begin to understand that we’re not really making any headway at all.

Instead of focusing with unwavering intensity on this increasingly tragic situation, making it their top domestic priority, President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill have spent astonishing amounts of time and energy, and most of their political capital, on an obsessive quest to pass a health care bill.

Health care reform is important. But what the public has wanted and still badly needs above all else from Mr. Obama and the Democrats are bold efforts to put people back to work. A major employment rebound is the only real way to alleviate the deep economic anxiety that has gripped so many Americans. Unaddressed, that anxiety inevitably evolves into dread and then anger.

But while the nation is desperate for jobs, jobs, jobs, the Democrats have spent most of the Obama era chanting health care, health care, health care.

People know that the government that is supposed to be looking out for ordinary people — for working people and the poor — is not doing nearly enough about an employment crisis that is lowering standards of living and hollowing out the American dream.

The Republican Party has nothing in the way of solutions to Americans’ economic plight. It is committed only to the demented policy of trying to ensure that President Obama and the Democrats fail.

But the fact that the Republicans are pathetic and destructive is no reason for the Democrats to shirk their obligation to fight powerfully and relentlessly for the economic well-being of all Americans. There are now six people in the employment market for every available job. There is a staggering backlog of discouraged workers who would show up tomorrow if there were a job to be had.

The many millions of new jobs needed to make a real dent in the employment crisis are not going to materialize by themselves. Mr. Obama and the Democrats don’t seem to understand that.
Politcally, the administration really have no choice but to put health care up for a vote in congress. If they fail to do that, then they will be in more dire straits this November than they would be otherwise. That said, both branches of government have spent too much time on this issue.

With unemployment at its highest in twenty years, with the long term jobs outlook at its bleakest since the Great Depression, and with all forecasts pointing to a very long and extremely slow jobs recovery unless a massive intervention is made, President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid should have made jobs the number one focus of their major legislative battles this past year. From a public relations perspective, the perception that the government is trying anything and everything to put Americans back to work is a win-win. That the problem has taken a backseat to health care is exactly why the health care debate has been such a cluster-fuck, and reason #1 why Americans can't stand the current congress.

But, what's done is done. The Democrats in the House need to get their heads out of their asses and pass the Senate health care bill. Just get it done and out of the way. Once it has passed, both houses of congress and the President need to spend every moment for the rest of year pushing major jobs legislation. It has to be all jobs, all day, 24/7. Every single one of them should work day and night, and shorten up the summer recess. They have one last chance to show Americans that they know what the nation's #1 top priority is, bar none. (And any tinkering they do to fix the Senate health care bill needs to be done behind the scenes, out of view of the media and the American public.)

10 March 2010

Mid-Week Brain Break

One of my all time favorite rockers, from the movie "The Lost Boys" (starring the late Corey Haim), here is "Good Time" by INXS and Jimmy Barnes (#47, 1987)...

If the Left Defeat Health Care

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If my fellow compatriots on the left vote against the current Senate-approved health care bill because it isn't progressive enough and cause it to go down to defeat, then they will have only themselves to blame.

The fact of the matter is plain and simple, and it is this: If health care reform goes down to defeat, it will be another generation before we see congress visit the issue again. My fellow progressives may think it best to scrap the current bill and start over, but believe me when I say that no one in congress, Democrat or Republican, will want to touch the issue again for a long, long time. It will be too toxic. And America CANNOT afford to have this issue set aside for another 16 years.

Besides, most Americans want them to get this done, and move on to the more important issue of unemployment.

So to Kucinich and the rest of the left: Pass the fuckin' bill as it is, then go back and fix it. Just...for the love of Pete...GET THIS DONE.

An "Eisenhower Plan"

Ryan Avent:
[Small business] owners continued to report that their single-most important problem, by far, is low sales levels (rather than taxes, interest rates, or labour quality). That's worth keeping in mind as conservatives increase the volume at which they argue that high unemployment is due to extensions of government unemployment benefits. The problem is clearly not labour supply. Rather, the economy's principal job creators are seeing too little demand to justify increases in hiring.

...where in January slightly more owners expected conditions six months ahead to be better than they currently are, many more now say that conditions will be worse. Sales expectations, expansion plans, and perceptions of credit conditions also worsened.
It is obvious that the recently passed small business tax credits and the recently debated jobs bill will not be enough to dig us out of this downturn.

The President needs to push a second stimulus: An "Eisenhower Plan," allocating $50 billion for infrastructure (building and repairing highways, bridges, high-speed rail, etc.) that would create one million jobs within the year. Those jobs in turn would increase spending, which would help small business increase sales, which would lead to additional hires.

Of course, Republicans in the Senate will balk and try to filibuster; but I think the President could sway at least two of them, plus keep his own Democratic caucus in line, by proposing that small businesses with under 50 employees recieve a one year, 100% tax break that increases only marginally back to current tax rates over the next ten years.

Mr. President: You and your team have stopped the hemorrhaging, but we seem to be stuck at the moment. We are now at the point where we need to shake it up. Go all in, or these next three years will ruin your presidency. Mark my words.

Corey Haim, 1971 - 2010

The actor was pronounced dead of an apparent drug overdose at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA early this morning.

A Glorious Day in DC

Same-sex weddings commenced yesterday in our nation's capitol.

09 March 2010

The Obama Economic Team

I am not an expert on economic matters, but even I was overly concerned during the last decade at an economy dependent on the sale and purchase of bad debt and a housing market whose value was over-inflated. Before the election of 2004 I was warning that when those two bubbles burst, America would be in for a world of hurt. But the few of us who warned of such things back then weren't listened to, and, despite underlying warning signs, George W. Bush was elected (barely) to a second term.

That said, I sincerely believe that President Obama's economic team of Timothy Geithner, as Treasury Secretary, and Larry Summers, as Chairman of the National Economic Council, were the right guys to tackle the mess left behind following the Bush team's exit from the White House. The grown-ups were back at the table, and while they had a huge hand in creating the mess (the Clinton economic policy is just as much to blame as the Bush economic policy for the "Great Recession"), their inside knowledge of the wreck (the 2008 crash's "black box," if you will) would prove beneficial in navigating the way back to solvency.


...now that the patient is off life support and out of the intensive care unit, it's time to shake things up a bit. The patient is still in serious condition, and even the slightest wrong move could throw her back into recession, thus ending the presidency of Barack Obama after one term, all because the Reagan, Clinton and Bush teams pushed an irresponsible economic policy for the better part of three decades.

The President should thank Geithner and Summers for their service, and then respectfully ask them to leave their posts. Their counsel during the 2008 campaign, and during the first half of the first term, have been invaluable. But their economic philosophies proved to be unmitigated failures - beyond any reasonable doubt - with the economic collapse of September, 2008. It's time to promote Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman and current chairman of the Economic Advisory Board, to Treasury Secretary, and Christina Romer, Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers, to Summer's position. Mr. Obama should also find a key advisory post for Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman.

When the economy is in such dire straits, when unemployment is stubbornly stuck between 9.5% and 10%, when many economists predict a "lost decade" under the current economic team...well...it's time to rethink strategy and shake things up in a massive way. And for the sake of the American people, let alone his presidency, it is time President Obama took that initiative.

Who knows? Perhaps Mr. Obama is destined to be a one-term president. Perhaps it is his lot to make the tough choices everyone else is loathe to make, the tough choices that HAVE to be made in order to extract us from under the economic wreckage of the last four presidencies, and then let the 2012 election play itself out.

I hope not. When it comes right down to it, Americans admire presidents who make the tough choices, even if they don't agree with those choices at the outset. Moreover, the thought of handing the presidency back to the incompetents of the opposition party could be more than voters can bare; because in their heart of hearts they understand that returning the Republicans to the helm would only lead us down the road to absolute financial ruin.

I highly recommend John Cassidy's excellent essay in the current New Yorker. It is a rare look inside the mind of Tim Geithner, and his thinking behind his reign at the Treasury Department.

Color Me Shocked

Sean Hayes comes out.

Cue the crickets.

08 March 2010

Another Self-Hating Gay Republican

California State Senator Roy Ashburn (Republican of Kern and San Bernardino counties) has come out, stating he is gay, following a police incident he was involved in after leaving a Sacramento gay bar last week.

Ashburn's record in the state senate is very anti-gay, a stance he says he took because his district is very conservative.

Alas, term limits prevent him from seeking re-election this November. And, for the first time, I am actually grateful for term limits.

Sorry schmuck.

Oscar's Glass Ceiling


As predicted, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman in movie history to win the Academy Award for Best Director last night for her film "The Hurt Locker," besting her ex-husband, James Cameron, who was nominated for "Avatar," a film that has broke all records to become the highest grossing film of all time.

Bigelow's statuette was presented to her by Barbra Streisand, who has long desired the directing Oscar herself. "Well, the time has come," Streisand exclaimed before reading the name in the envelope.

The rest of the evening went pretty much as planned, with the only real upset coming in the Adapted Screenplay category, where Geoffrey Fletcher's "Precious" bested Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air," becoming the first African American to win in the screenwriting categories. My out-of-nowhere prediction that Carey Mulligan would upset in the Best Actress category was unfounded, as Sandra Bullock walked away with the prize.

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were hilarious as co-hosts of last night's ceremony, which clocked in as the shortest Oscar telecast in history. (I've always said the producers could shorten the show by getting rid of the lame musical numbers, and, save two brief numbers, they did just that last night.)

Major Oscar Fail: The "In Memoriam" segment, celebrating the lives of film industry insiders who passed away this past year, didn't include Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur. TV actresses, to be sure, but both worked in film as well, and the Academy should hang their heads in shame for leaving two highly celebrated actresses off the memorial.

05 March 2010

Academy Award Predictions

I've taken one last look at the nominees and thought it through. I went seven for seven last year. Let's see how well I do here...

Best Picture
James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers

“The Blind Side”
Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson, Producers

“District 9”
Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers

“An Education”
Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers

“The Hurt Locker”
Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro, Producers

“Inglourious Basterds”
Lawrence Bender, Producer

Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers

“A Serious Man”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers

Jonas Rivera, Producer

“Up in the Air”
Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers
This category is actually more unpredictable than people think. In addition to changing the number of nominees from five to ten, the Academy also asked voters to rank their choices from 1 to 10 instead of voting for just one film, as they do with the rest of the categories. This new weighted vote count has the potential for a huge upset in the making.

That said, the front runners for the last two months have been "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker." The current conventional wisdom says "The Hurt Locker's" momentum was at its peak as Academy members voted. However, it seems one of the movie's producers ran an ad campaign that violated Academy rules and he has been banned from attending the ceremony. Did that change enough voters minds? Hard to tell.

In fact the entire category is hard to predict. I'll play it safe. "The Hurt Locker" wins, with "Avatar" or "Inglorious Basterds" having an outside chance.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious”
Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”
Everyone and their mother (and father and grandmother and grandfather) are betting on a Sandra Bullock win here. Her comeback in 2009 is the sort of thing Hollywood loves. The thing is, Academy voters are going to give this year's "comeback" trophy in the Actor category (see below). I think that diminishes Bullock's chances.

Many movie pundits are saying Meryl Streep has a chance to win her "overdue" third Oscar, but I really don't think they would give it to her for "Julie and Julia." A fun movie, but a bit too light for an Oscar win.

No, almost every year the Academy like to throw us a curve ball, and if that happens this year it will be in this category. So, for the sake of shaking it up, I am going to buck the conventional wisdom and predict a win for Carey Mulligan.

Another likely upset could just as easily come from Gabourey Sidibe.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney in “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”
As much as I would love to see Colin Firth win here for his role as a gay professor in 1960s Los Angeles, his chances are pretty close to zero following Sean Penn's victory last year for his portrayal of Harvey Milk. Jeff Bridges pretty much has this sewn up. Jeremy Renner might upset, but I doubt it.

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique in “Precious”
This used to be the category where upsets took place on a regular basis (Marissa Tomei, Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Binoche), but lately the conventional wisdom seems to hold and this year will be no different. Mo'Nique wins.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon in “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
Oh, what a sweet night it would be if Stanley Tucci upset this category, if anything for his body of work to date. And based on that argument, don't count out Christopher Plummer.

But I'll stick with the experts: Christoph Waltz will win for "Inglorious Basterds."

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker"
James Cameron for "Avatar"
Lee Daniels for "Precious"
Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air"
Quentin Tarantino for "Inglorious Basterds"
The Academy loves drama, so the temptation to hand Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron's ex-wife, this Oscar as he watches from the front row will be too good to pass up. The fact that Cameron picked up three statuettes for "Titanic" (picture, director, editing) only increases Bigelow's chances here.

Best Animated Feature:
"Coraline," Henry Selick
"Fantastic Mr. Fox," Wes Anderson
"The Princess and the Frog," John Musker and Ron Clements
"The Secret of Kells,' Tomm Moore
"Up,' Pete Docter
"Up" wins. The other nominees are really just window dressing for this category.

There you go. I'll check back in Monday morning with a post-Oscar recap. Enjoy the ceremony on Sunday night.

04 March 2010

03 March 2010

Six Months and Counting

Kevin Drum analyzes the latest figures regarding the long-term unemployed. The number of Americans who have not been able to find work for 27 weeks or more is double what it was during the major recession of 1982-83.

Working against those unemployed Americans? There is one job opening for every 6.4 unemployed Americans. Yet the Fascist-Republicans are spouting that Americans who collect unemployment benefits are riding the gravy train. That flies in the face of reality. The truth is there just aren't enough jobs out there, and the Senate refuses to pass a major jobs bill of any substance (the one passed earlier this month will create a grand total of 400,000 jobs in an economy with 8 million out of work).

One billion dollars equals 30,000 jobs in infrastructure. Let's use the rest of the stimulus (about $40 to $50 billion) to build or upgrade roads, bridges and tunnels; let's invest in some major green technology. That sort of jobs bill would directly create well over a million jobs, and those jobs would create more jobs not directly related to the stimulus. No, such a program doesn't exactly "pay for itself" right away, but a) the stimulus money has already been released and b) it seems to me the tax revenue from the new jobs would help offset the costs, at least somewhat.

What the fuck is the Senate's problem!? Why don't they pass a substantial jobs bill? I'll tell you why. Because the Fascist-Republicans don't want to see this president succeed, and Harry Reid refuses to wield the power of his 59-seat majority.

That failure to put Americans back to work is about as unpatriotic as you can get.

The Hypocritical, Unprincipled GOP

Rachel Maddow's excellent discussion on the hypocritical, unprincipled Fascist-Republicans...

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02 March 2010

What Jim Bunning did...

...with a complete assist by Harry Reid:

Jerry Brown to Run for Governor

He'll make the announcement this morning.

There was never any doubt.

But, it's about fuckin' time!

Hey Harry: Grow a Pair!

My disgust with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-NV) grows ten-fold with each passing day. To say that Alben Barkley, Lyndon Johnson, and Mike Mansfield (superb Senate leaders from the last century) are rolling over in their graves is probably an understatement. Back in the days of Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan, a 41-member Senate minority would never get away with all the bullshit the current Republican minority pulls.

That Reid is letting Sen. Jim Bunning (Fascist-Republican, KY) get away with a"hold" on a bill extending unemployment benefits proves beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever that he is unfit to lead the chamber.

Back in the day, a true majority leader would have ruled that any member who wanted to filibuster such an important piece of legislation would have to stand on the floor and speak, non-stop, until 60 votes were achieved to shut him up or until he stopped speaking. The filibuster method in place today only requires a senator to file a filibuster (or a "hold") on a bill with no speaking and no debate. The fact that the GOP are doing this to every bill that hits the floor essentially requires every bill to pass by a super-majority. That is unconstitutional, in my view.

Bunning's filibuster against the unemployment benefits extension will result in over one million citizens being cut off from much needed funds. In this economy!? REALLY!!? What a complete and utter asshole.

But mark my words: While Bunning's move may highlight the extreme abuse of the filibuster process by the current Republican minority, it also puts the spotlight on the weak, incompetent leadership of Harry Reid. He is unworthy of his post, let alone his office.

Chris Matthews talks with Jay Newton-Small and David Corn about this asshole from Kentucky...

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The Reasonable, Sensible President

Quote of the Day:
Churchill once said: “Americans always do the right thing after they have exhausted every other alternative.” And that’s what the founders wanted. This isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.

After the appalling imperial presidency of Bush, Obama is trying to restore constitutional balance and order. While Dick Cheney, the former vice-president, had contempt for the rule of law, Obama is a stickler for it. His seeming passivity is actually what used to be called constitutionalism...

If he fails and the Republicans sweep in this November, he can pivot to long-term fiscal debt and ask the right to propose serious spending cuts. Or he can propose tax reform and watch them try to obstruct that...he can expose how easy it is merely to oppose in difficult times and wait for the public to see the deep divisions and utopian anti-government extremism on the current right. This is how FDR navigated the shoals of the constitution.

Obama, as I keep reminding people, sees the long term; he sees around future corners before most do; and America is a resilient place, even though its problems are rightly seen as especially grave right now. This is a time for neither despair nor glib optimism. It is a time to watch a politician manoeuvre, from day to day and month to month, which our instant media seem incapable of seeing or understanding.
-Andrew Sullivan, reminding us all that President Obama is still the only grown up in the room.

Most of my compatriots on the left complain about how Obama hasn't done this and Obama hasn't done that, as if he were a dictator who could make the progressive agenda law with the wave of some imperialistic wand. The thing is, we all had a fit when George W. Bush tried it. We had that fit because such imperialism is unconstitutional. Just as it was wrong then, it is wrong now.

Sullivan is right: Obama has restored the constitutional order of our government. If the left want to blame someone for the lack of progress on a progressive agenda then they should look to Harry Reid and the do-nothing Democrats in the Senate.

01 March 2010

The Homosexual Heathens

Liberal, homosexual, and atheist? Your IQ is, on average, up to 11 points higher than the average human being.

Say it with me: Well, duh!

Graham and the Greens

Quote of the Day:
We can’t be a nation that always tries and fails. We have to eventually get some hard problem right.
-Sen. Lindsay Graham (Republican-SC), bucking his party's ridiculous position on climate change in a conversation with NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

Graham can be an angry, partisan prick sometimes, but there are days when he lets his independence and intelligence shine through. It is during those flashes of epiphany, when he drops the tired Fascist-Republican talking points in favor of reality, that Graham proves his party needs more people like him while abandoning the dangerous, hyper-partisan Sarah Palins.

Because he is right: At some point America is going to have to face her hard problems head on. The longer we wait, the more painful it will be.