Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 11:18 pm

Why James wears panties

I know that in many ways, large and small, it’s still a man’s world.

So does James:

I was still having a hard time landing jobs. I was being turned down for gigs I should’ve gotten, for reasons I couldn’t put a finger on.

My pay rate had hit a plateau, too. I knew I should be earning more. Others were, and I soaked up everything they could teach me, but still, there was something strange about it . . .

It wasn’t my skills, it wasn’t my work. So what were those others doing that I wasn’t?

One day, I tossed out a pen name, because I didn’t want to be associated with my current business, the one that was still struggling to grow. I picked a name that sounded to me like it might convey a good business image. Like it might command respect.

My life changed that day

Instantly, jobs became easier to get.

There was no haggling. There were compliments, there was respect. Clients hired me quickly, and when they received their work, they liked it just as quickly. There were fewer requests for revisions — often none at all.

Customer satisfaction shot through the roof. So did my pay rate.

And I was thankful. I finally stopped worrying about how I would feed my girls. We were warm. Well-fed. Safe. No one at school would ever tease my kids about being poor.

* * *

Understand, I hadn’t advertised more effectively or used social media — I hadn’t figured that part out yet. I was applying in the same places. I was using the same methods. Even the work was the same.

In fact, everything was the same.

Except for the name.

The answer was plain. Without really thinking much about it, I tried an experiment when I chose my new pseudonym:

I became a man (in name only)

Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Maybe I’m overly cynical, but the first thing that came to my mind when I read this was, “Surely you had telephone conversations with clients. Did they not pick up on the fact that you were, like, female?”

But whether this particular story really happened is immaterial, because I saw this happen to some pretty talented women in my years in the newspaper bidness. I’m sure a lot more of it went on that I simply wasn’t perceptive enough to notice, particularly at first.

I saw enough that when I got in a position to do something about it, I did: I pushed the women who worked for me just as hard as I pushed the men who worked for me. And when I say “push,” I mean two things: “motivate/train/hold high expectations for” and “promote” (in the sense of talking them and their work up to my fellow editors when their work merited it).

I’m under no illusions that I did this as well and thoroughly as I should have. But at least I knew going into management that this was a significant blind spot in management, even at a company that worked as hard as ours did at “embracing diversity.”

I didn’t do this because I’m a saint, or even because I’m a particularly nice guy. I did it because my mother, my wife, my sister, my sisters-in-law, my daughter and my nieces are all bright, talented women who deserve to reap whatever benefits their skills, energy and persistence would otherwise entitle them to, without the market distortion of an estrogen discount.

Go read the whole thing.

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Odds and ends for 12/15

A way to balance the budget?: For the second straight month, the U.S. Treasury auctioned 1-month T-bills at 0.0% interest. The national budget gets significantly smaller if you whack out interest on the national debt, y’know.

All I want for Christmas is a repeal of Gramm-Leach-Bliley.

BOHICA: As part of “paying off” its multi-billion-dollar loan from the taxpayers, technically insolvent bank holding company Citigroup gets to keep $38 billion in tax credits that regulations normally would require it to give up. That figure will easily overshadow any profit the taxpayers may get from selling Citigroup shares. Merry. Freaking. Christmas.

But maybe Christmas is coming early; or, Who are you and what have you done with Sen. Jim Bunning?: Remember those 15 questions that the Cunning Realist suggested should be asked of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during his reconfirmation hearings? Unbelievably, a senator asked them. Even more unbelievably, the senator in question was Jim Bunning, heretofore a leading candidate for the title of Biggest Waste of Carbon in the U.S. Capitol.

You may now kiss the D.C. City Council: The District of Columbia has legalized gay marriage. Congress, per the Constitution, gets 30 legislative days to review the law once D.C.’s mayor has signed it, but the Democratic leadership will keep that puppy bottled up until the deadline has safely passed.

No room to talk: Panthers defensive backs Chris Harris and Chris Gamble need to STFU about Patriots WR Randy Moss. While they are having good years, and they did shut Moss down on Sunday, they apparently chose to ignore Wes Welker’s presence on the field. And what really matters is that yet again, the Panthers have failed to achieve consecutive winning seasons, while the Pats almost certainly are going to the playoffs.

Wardrobe police: Is Roy Williams gonna have me thrown out of North Carolina for wearing a Panthers jersey in Chapel Hill?

Shorter Janet Tavakoli: Except for Paul Volcker, the bankers don’t get it.

Brother can you spare your Visa card?: The Miami Herald, which recently laid off 199 people, is now attaching to each article a link through which people can contribute money online … to the paper, not the laid-off employees. The last time I can remember anything like this happening was when I was a kid and Ted Turner went on the air in Charlotte to ask people to send him money to keep Channel 36 on the air. (Yes, that’s Turner Broadcasting’s Ted Turner, and, yes, he repaid it.)

CBS Sports: “If any of our announcers talk about Tiger Woods, we’ll shoot this dog fire them.”

Best banking idea I’ve heard in a while: If Barney Frank has his way, only retail banks will be able to borrow from the discount window. At worst, this gets some banksters off the federal teat. It may even significantly ease the current credit crunch.

Quote of the day: “You’re either part of the solution or you’re a tool of ACORN.” — Conservative Brown, Boy Detective, by Tom Tomorrow.

Smarter Washington Post, please: The Post publishes a bunch of contextually challenged nonsense regarding the national debt. Economist Dean Baker rips them a new one. Yes, the national debt is too high and rising, but the bigger and more urgent problem is joblessness. The Post wants to scrap Social Security and Medicare but just doesn’t have the stones to say so.

Smarter Washington Post, please, cont.: Charles Lane criticizes colleague Ezra Klein’s criticism of Joe Lieberman … while also conceding that Klein’s factual claim is correct. Idiot. All you need to know about Lane is that he was Stephen Glass‘s editor. All you need to know about Klein is that Joe Lieberman finds him bothersome. (But here’s useful background on the contretemps.) Also, I posted the one-word comment “FAIL” on Lane’s blog post earlier; as of 10:30 p.m., it had been deleted, which fact I shortly thereafter commented upon. We’ll see if the 2nd comment stays up.

Smarter judges, please: U.S. District Judge William Duffey tells two Muslim defendants at a sentencing, “I’ll say this, our Gods are very different.” Uh, no, infidel; Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

If you like what Joe Lieberman is doing to health-care reform, wait’ll you see what he has planned for Social Security and Medicare.

Terminated; or, Cue the Limbaugh smears in 3 … 2… 1 …: Arnold Schwarzenegger throws Sarah Palin under the (hybrid?) bus.

Jerome “Swiftboat” Corsi asks,”Could it be that President Obama intends to bankrupt the USA in order to destroy free-enterprise capitalism itself?” Sounds like fun! Let’s play! Could it be that Jerome Corsi is a paranoid psychotic? Could it be that Jerome Corsi wouldn’t recognize the destruction of free-enterprise capitalism THAT’S NOW GOING ON, LED BY INVESTMENT BANKS, if it bit him in the ass? Could it be that Jerome Corsi has a financial motivation to misrepresent what the president is trying to do? Hey, this is fun! I could do this all day!

Paying for your wars: The Greatest Generation, so revered by conservatives, had no problem with this concept; indeed, they inculcated it in their children. So why do today’s Congressional leaders have such a problem?

Why is private health insurance such a bad idea? Let me the Main Street Alliance draw you a picture:

Back from the dead and ready to incriminate?: Some 22 million White House e-mails from the first Bush 43 administration have been “found,” four years and change after they “went missing.” In a perfect world, Karl Rove will be going to prison as a result for having 1) outed undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame and 2) obstructed a criminal investigation into the outing thereof. In the world we live in, we’ll probably find out that the missing $12 trillion in U.S. wealth, much of it sucked out of the home values and retirement savings of the middle class, is now in some Nigerian barrister’s bank account.

Math: About fifteen times as many people die in the U.S. every year as a result of lack of health insurance as died in the 9/11 terror attacks.

No methaqualone for you, says the Methaqualone Nazi!: The new Republican Party-sponsored Web-link shortener, GOP.am, includes this in its terms of use: “If you use it for spamming, illegal purposes or to promote lude content, your GOP.AM URL will be disabled.” Earlier, bloggers and commenters for Balloon Juice were using the site to provide links to bondage sites. Hee.

Monday, December 14, 2009 10:27 pm

It was 30 years ago today

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:27 pm
Tags: , ,

Quite possibly, and quite simply, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll album ever recorded:

Odds and ends for 12/14

Kabuki: President Obama talked tough to the bankers today, but don’t be misled: If he 1) knew what he was doing and 2) were serious about it, a lot of the executives he’s talking to would have been jobless by now and the U.S. taxpayer would be substantially better off.

Heck of a job, Bushie: The Bush administration’s birth-control policies helped fuel a population boom in Africa, which also means a poverty boom. Nice.

Tony Blair: We were gonna remove Saddam, and if he didn’t have WMDs, then we’d come up with some other reason. No, that’s actually pretty much what he said. If we don’t put these people in prison, our grandchildren are going to be calling us “good Germans.”

Rumsfeld, 10 military officials skate on torture liability: The Supreme Court declined today to hear an appeal of an appeals-court ruling that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and 10 military officials are immune from civil claims of torture filed by four now-released Guantanamo prisoners from Britain. Even the normally reliable SCOTUSBlog hasn’t elaborated on this ruling, so I’m not sure what it means, but any time the word “immunity” appears close to Rumsfeld’s name, my gorge rises. (So, yeah, in case you’re wondering, I’ve spent the last five years throwing up in my mouth a little bit.)

“The bill is a hodgepodge. And it should be.”: Physician/journalist Atul Gawande, author of this groundbreaking article on why medical costs are rising so fast, says there’s actually a century-old historical precedent for measures in the health-care reform bill to improve efficiency, and a successful precedent at that: agriculture. It’s an unexpectedly optimistic piece. Check it out.

Burn in hell, Joe Lieberman: Ezra Klein says it best: “At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.”

“You have toyed with me for the last time!”: Fully a third of Democratic voters say they’ll be less likely to turn out in 2010 if Congress doesn’t pass a public option. Also, 81% say Joe Lieberman should be punished if he filibusters health-care reform. I think Lieberman should be punished in any event, just for being an ass.

Not so fast with that cover-up, there, mate: Also related to the Iraq invasion, six top physicians in Britain have launched legal action to have the purported suicide of government bioweapons expert Dr. David Kelly re-investigated. Kelly died in 2003, supposedly a suicide, just days after he was exposed as the source of a news report that a dossier of evidence regarding Iraq’s WMD program had been “sexed up” to justify invading Iraq. The physicians credibly claim that the investigation was, in technical terms, screwed six ways to Sunday.

Not so fast, the sequel: The Russian Supreme Court has overturned the acquittals of four suspects in the 2006 slaying of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. All four were accused of being accomplices. The actual triggerman, who evidence in the trial said was paid $2 million, is believed to be still at large. (Earlier.)

What’s going on in southern Russia? In August, 20 people died in a suicide bombing, described in Russian news reports as the latest in a series of attacks in the republic of Ingushetia. Then early today in that same area, a large bomb on an above-ground natural-gas pipeline was defused. Insights, anyone?

Ho-ho-home: Authors Stephen and Tabitha King are paying $12,999* so that 150 members of the Maine National Guard, currently in training in Indiana before shipping out to Afghanistan in January, can come home for the holidays. Glad they’re getting to go home. Wish they didn’t have to go overseas.

*Because he thought $13,000 was an unlucky number. One of King’s personal assistants kicked in the remaining buck.

Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:34 pm

Gingrich, Democrats and health-care reform

Maybe I’m reading too much into Newt Gingrich’s approach to health care, but you take a look first and then tell me what you think:

Yesterday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stumped for Ethan Hastert, the son of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and candidate for Illinois’ 14th congressional district. Gingrich, of course, was the architect of the Republicans’ “Contract with America” in 1994 that helped the GOP regain the majority. Now, Gingrich is apparently rallying Republicans behind a new “contract” with Americans — a pledge to take away their health care. [Note that the framing here is the American Prospect’s, not mine — Lex]

Gingrich reiterated his call for all Republicans to commit to repealing any form of a health care bill that Democrats might pass before the 2010 elections:

GINGRICH: If the left manages to drive through a bill which is opposed by 65 percent of the country on health care, our commitment should be simple — when we get a majority, we’re repealing the whole thing. (applause)

And I want every Democrat who is about to sacrifice their seat for socialized medicine to understand: after you lose your seat, you’re going to lose the socialized medicine too. [Emphasis in original — Lex]

Watch it:

My big takeaway is this: Despite the fact that Obama won by roughly 9.5 million popular votes, despite the fact that Obama more than doubled McCain’s electoral-vote total, despite the fact that the Democrats took back control of Congress for the first time since 1994, and despite the fact that Obama and many Democratic congressional candidates campaigned in significant part on doing exactly what Congress is trying to do now, Gingrich appears to believe that their governance is illegitimate.

As I say, maybe I’m reading more into this than is actually there. But Republicans displayed pretty much the exact same attitude when Clinton was president, even conjuring up a BS impeachment, and at least in Clinton’s case they could argue that (because of Ross Perot’s ’92 candidacy) Clinton didn’t represent a majority of Americans. Critics of Obama and Democratic health-care reform have no such grounds for this kind of attitude. Makes me wonder: If they think Obama is illegitimate, what would a Democratic candidate have to do for them to consider him legitimate?

Two other thoughts …

First, the tone of that last graf of Gingrich’s is, well, creepy. It reminds me of what Princess Isabelle told the dying Edward Longshanks in “Braveheart”: “You see? Death comes to us all. But before it comes to you, know this: your blood dies with you. A child who is not of your line grows in my belly. Your son will not sit long on the throne. I swear it.”

Second, just as a gratuitous aside, one of the reasons Dennis Hastert is no longer in Congress is because he arranged for a new highway to come close to land he owned, thus greatly increasing the value of said land. In an older and sterner age, he’d have gone to prison for that. And I’m supposed to believe Dennis’s son Ethan is any great improvement, ethics-wise? It’s possible, I guess, but I’m sure as hell not betting any part of what remains of my assets on it.

Odds and ends for 12/13

Same as it ever was: The Obama Administration is held in contempt for obstructing justice in the same way the Bushbots used to do. The courts, once again, slap a wrist but take no real action to make it stop. Maybe I’m just grumpy, but if a government prosecutor had disobeyed so clear and direct an order in MY court, his butt would’ve been in jail before lunch.

These are not grown-ups: Ben Nelson is now trashing the same Medicare-expansion proposal he, as part of the 10-senator negotiating group, helped create. He does not belong within a mile of any public office, ever.

Quote of the day, from House Appropriations Chairman David Obey: “I am damn tired of a situation in which only military families are asked to pay any price whatsoever for this war.” Yeah, I grasp the potential ramifications of that statement. Let’s HAVE that discussion.

Co-quote of the day, from Jason Linkins, on this week’s killing of al-Qaeda’s No. 3 guy, which is about the fourth time since 2001 we’ve killed al-Qaeda’s No. 3 guy: “It’s like we’ve gotten very good at killing Spinal Tap’s drummer.”

Exploding Texan heads

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 8:25 am
Tags:

Houston has elected its first openly gay mayor, Annise Parker.

I have no idea what kind of mayor she’ll be. But this event underlines the fact that history is on the side of the gay rights movement, in the sense that those who oppose gay rights are disproportionately older and dying off at a faster rate than those who support them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 9:13 pm

Odds and ends for 12/12

It ain’t just me: The AARP also apparently has sussed out that this proposed bipartisan deficit-reduction committee is just a stalking horse for gutting Social Security and Medicare without Congress standing in the way.

Jackasses du jour: Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and Summit (Colo.) Daily News Publisher Jim Morgan, Katz for defrauding his customers and Morgan for firing one of his journalists for writing about it (i.e., doing his job). May you both rot in bankruptcy early in the New Year and learn the joys of seeking a job in the Bush-league Depression.

It ain’t the climate they’re worried about: In a vacuum, an Ipsos/McClatchy poll finds, a bare majority (52%) of Americans supports cap-and-trade. But 60% support it, even if it would raise electric bills an average of $25 a month, if it also creates “green” jobs. My takeaway? Jobs are Job 1.

Quote of the day, from commenter “liam” at PlumLine: “If we go to clean renewable energy, and it turns out that the global warming claims were wrong, we still end up with cleaner air and are not dependant on foreign oil. … If we heed the skeptics, and do nothing, and they turn out to be wrong, then our planet will have become a complete disaster, and it would be too late to reverse the damage.”

Quote of the day runner-up, from David Dayen: “This is the worst possible time to put on plastic armor and go into your backyard and yell “Wolverine!” in arguing for cutting the deficit. It’s not a matter of being resolute, it’s a matter of being foolhardy.”

Friday, December 11, 2009 10:35 pm

You can tell they’re whores by the whorin’ they do

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 10:35 pm
Tags: ,

So HR 4173, which is supposed to reform finance, passed by a wide margin today. But the devil is in the details, particularly this one: certain industries that are supposedly not a threat to the larger system if they fail are exempt from regulation. Among them: hedge funds.

No. Really. Hedge funds. Like, oh, say, for example, Long Term Capital Management.

Yeah. Ain’t that cute? The same line of work that blew up the economy and created a big chunk of the current mess we’re in, and just one of which came close to doing the same damn thing a decade ago, is exempt from regulation.

It’s the banks’ world. We just live in it.

You want a war on Christmas? You can’t HANDLE a war on Christmas!

Filed under: I want my religion back. — Lex @ 9:40 pm
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If you’re serious about having good cops, then you’ll be serious about punishing the bad ones

Filed under: Hold! Them! Accountable! — Lex @ 9:39 pm
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I have no idea whether sci-fi writer Peter Watts’ account of what happened to him at the U.S.-Canadian border is true.

But if it is, the Homeland Security officers involved need to do a minimum of five years. No “reprimand,” no “administrative duty,” no “suspension.” Instead, a felony record and a big chunk of their life confined to a place where anything resembling a cop is very much disliked.

If there’s any merit to the notion that the threat of imprisonment will serve as a deterrent to unlawful behavior by police, there must first be imprisonment for unlawful behavior by police.

Who will watch the watchers? In this country, it’s all of us, whether we like it or not.

Odds and ends for 12/11

Memo to BoingBoing.net: Rick Warren has not “done the right thing.” Rick Warren has merely done the only thing that might stave off a PR disaster for himself and what he laughably passes off as a “ministry.” There’s a difference. “Doing the right thing” would have required Ranger Rick to immediately, loudly and repeatedly denounce state-sanctioned murder of gays (and imprisonment of their families/friends for not reporting them). Now study up; this will be on the final.

Why don’t we have a health-care bill yet? Here’s one reason.

Success! Because why in the world would we want to regulate the financial instrument that almost destroyed the global economy?

Aetna’s solution to Robert Steinback’s health-insurance needs: “Die, Mr. Steinback.” As the brother of two guys with Type 1 diabetes, I feel his pain, and I’m still waiting for someone to explain credibly to me why we don’t need at the least a national, robust public option, if not single-payer.

Not exactly giving us what we like: The Senate health-care proposal is less popular than the public option. How much less popular? Seventeen percentage points. That’s huge.

You want death panels? You can’t handle death panels!

And speaking of panels: Digby has a name for the panel Pete Peterson is proposing to figure out a way to balance the budget: the Bipartisan Committee To Destroy Social Security and Medicare So Wealthy People Don’t Ever Have To Pay Higher Taxes. Prolix but accurate.

Facts matter. So take that, Glenn Beck supporters.

The party of responsibility and accountability, which controls the S.C. legislature, has declined to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford.

Another way to get by without health insurance: Yitzhak Ganon just didn’t go see the doctor. For sixty-five years.

We’ve killed al-Qaeda’s No. 3 guy. Again.

The grownups of fact-checking take on “Climategate.” Their findings will surprise no one and enrage denialists.

Shorter Sarah Palin: “Correcting my (many) factual mistakes = making the issue something it’s not.”

Does Fox News want to make us laugh, or is it simply trying to bankrupt Rupert Murdoch?: Even by the rug-burn standards of online polling, this question is so loaded it is leaving big cracks in the digital asphalt.

Green? Shoot!: The number of people shifting to emergency unemployment insurance because their regular coverage had run out topped 379,000 last week, bringing the overall total to a record 4.2 million. At the current rate of increase, the number of people getting emergency payments will top the people getting regular payments (5.5 million) within a month.

Green? Shoot!, the sequel: Independent financial analyst David Rosenberg (via ZeroHedge) says that 1) because of contracting credit and asset deflation, we’re not in a recession, we’re in a depression; 2) the 20% deflation of household assets in the past 18 months — a loss of $12 trillion in value — is “a degree of trauma we have never seen before”, 3) … aw, hell, just go read the whole thing. It’s orders of magnitude more depressing than anything on CNBC, but also appears orders of magnitude more fact-based, unfortunately.

Green? Shoot! Reloaded: Paul Krugman offers some objective criteria by which we might determine exactly what constitutes “good news on the job front.”  Just remember, we’ve got to make up lost ground. A lot of lost ground.

Public pants-wetting: Why do Reps. Trent Franks, Steve King and Sue Myrick hate America?

In news that will surprise exactly zero parents, scientists now say 98% of children under the age of 10 are sociopaths.

And, finally, some good news (h/t: Fred), or, When the Germans say “Prost!”, they mean it: Beer could fight prostate cancer.

This one deserves its own post

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:20 pm
Tags: , ,

Matt Taibbi looks back at the 11-month mark in Obama’s presidency and finds that what we were promised ain’t what we got.

A lot of progressives are miffed that a lot of other progressives are unhappy with Obama. Uh, guys, we’ve already tried unwaving support of the president by the party that controlled Congress. That’s exactly what got us into the mess we’re in today.

My take is that any interest group that sees its ostensible champion wavering has not just a right but a duty to scream, early and often. I say that not just because that’s what I did, but because that’s what interest groups are supposed to do. Why? Because slippery slope isn’t always a fallacy and turning up the heat on the frog in the pot of water on the stove top is sometimes more than just a metaphor.

Taibbi’s piece is particularly timely now. Consider what Obama said just a few months ago:

Insurance companies will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or lifetime, and we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses – because no one in America should go broke just because they get sick.

Now consider this:

A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer, prompting a rebuke from patient advocates.

The legislation that originally passed the Senate health committee last summer would have banned such limits, but a tweak to that provision weakened it in the bill now moving toward a Senate vote.

As currently written, the Senate Democratic health care bill would permit insurance companies to place annual limits on the dollar value of medical care, as long as those limits are not “unreasonable.” The bill does not define what level of limits would be allowable, delegating that task to administration officials.

Adding to the puzzle, the new language was quietly tucked away in a clause in the bill still captioned “No lifetime or annual limits.”

Question: During the debate on health-care reform, why is it that only the progressives have to make any concessions?

Answer: Because Obama and the party he leads believe, despite a couple of decades of experience to the contrary, that they’ll do better politically by hacking off progressives than by hacking off moderates.

Perhaps they’re right. But if they keep it up, what I think they’re going to learn is that 2010 isn’t 1992.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 9:16 pm

Odds and ends for 12/10

Unintentional political zinger of the year: Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., asked whether he would filibuster the health-care bill because of the failure of his anti-abortion amendment, answered, “I have no Plan B.”

Do scientists get tattoos? Why, yes. Yes, they do.

Obama goes all in on torture: He’s asking that a lawsuit against Bush lawyer John Yoo be dismissed. Whom Would Obama Waterboard? Guess we’ll see soon enough.

He wins the Internet: A friend’s Facebook status today: “was just accosted by an angry elf. So I cut the brake line on his sleigh.”

Sometimes even checking their homework doesn’t help

Filed under: Fun,Hooper — Lex @ 8:38 pm
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During a recent phone conversation with Hooper’s teacher on an unrelated subject, she told me about overhearing him tell a classmate all about the two other children Ann and I had taken in, kids who had been orphaned by 9/11. My closest actual connection to 9/11 is that my former boss in New York lost a relative. Hooper has, in fact, met my former boss — when she came down for his baptism when he was still an infant. So I have no idea where this story came from.

A day without orange juice …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:01 pm
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009 11:33 pm

Odds and ends for 12/9

The seat’s hot and he ain’t even in it yet: Bank of America’s chief risk officer, Greg Curl, considered a leading candidate to succeed Ken Lewis as CEO, is under investigation by the New York attorney general for his role in what BofA shareholders were and weren’t told about the bank’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

Your incompetence. Let me show you it: Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker calls for the return of Glass-Steagall and tells the Wall Street Journal’s Future of Finance Initiative, a group of financiers and policy makers, “Your response [to the economic crisis], I can only say, is inadequate. You have not come anywhere close.”

Quote of the day, also from Volcker at this session: “I wish somebody would give me some shred of evidence linking financial innovation with a benefit to the economy.” For good measure, he said the best financial innovation of the past 25 years was the ATM. (Which actually was introduced earlier … but, hey, forget it, he’s rolling.)

Bonus quote of the day, from Gavin M. at Sadly, No!, characterizing hinky academic Stanley Fish: ” …oleoresinous of eye, exuding cheap 1970s tenure …”

Congressman Alan Grayson to Fed Chair Ben Bernanke: Dude, you’re screwing the taxpayers directly AND committing tax fraud!

Oh, snap!: Dick Cheney (laughably) claims trying terrorism suspects in New York will generate more terrorism and calls it treason, so Alan Grayson tells him to “STFU.” This will give Official Washington another case of the vapors, but when Cheney himself once told a senator on the Senate floor to “go [have sex with] yourself,” he really has no room to whine and neither does anyone else.

Crying poor: AIG’s general counsel is leaving because she can’t make it on $500,000 a year. Given her track record of driving companies into ditches, I’m sure she’ll be snapped up in no time. And, yes, I’m being snarky — twelve digits’ worth of my tax money going into AIG in one year entitles me — but, no, I’m not being snarky about her getting snapped up in no time.

“Extreme victimisation,” but not in the way he thinks: Britain slaps a 50% tax on bankers’ bonuses. Will the U.S. follow suit?

Memo to Howard Kurtz: There’s a reason we call you Howie the Putz. And you’re soaking in it.

Well, yeah, if, by “socialism,” he means “a scary word that conservative wankers scream to try to scare people”: Charles Krauthammer calls environmentalism “the new socialism.”

Well, the federal government can just rock *me* to sleep tonight: The TSA posts some of its most sensitive security information on the Internet. But let’s talk about White House party crashers. Or Tiger Woods.

Sauce for the goose other gander: Paul Wolfowitz lost his job for trying to line up a job for his girlfriend. Will Max Baucus?

Zero tolerance for zero tolerance: Confronted with indisputable evidence of an on-screen error, Fox News decides to abandon its zero-tolerance policy for on-screen errors.

Sarah Palin, Woman of the Year?: Pollak says it could happen.

Bad. Real bad.

Filed under: We're so screwed — Lex @ 8:02 pm
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The unemployment rate is considered a lagging economic indicator, meaning things will get better for a while before unemployment starts to fall significantly.

A not-so-lagging indicator is the rolling 12-month average of tax withholdings (net of refunds) from individuals and corporations. If people were really getting jobs (or if people whose hours had been cut were returning to normal schedules), and corporations were really making profits, those figures would be headed upward. But those indicators are fast headed in the wrong direction, the corporate figure precipitously so:

We are not out of the woods. We are not even close.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 9:20 pm

Have some candy!

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 9:20 pm
Tags: , ,

Hooper and Pack 104 in the Greensboro Jaycees Holiday Parade, Saturday, 12/5/09

Odds and ends for 12/8

No place like home: The military had hoped to increase “dwell time” — time service members spend stateside between overseas deployments — from the current one year for every year overseas to two years. But with the surge in Afghanistan, that probably ain’t gonna happen, and the media, with the exception of the noted military-hater Rachel Maddow, hasn’t said much about it.

Waste of electrons: There’s a thread over at EW.com about whether the relationship in the “Twilight” series between Edward and Bella is abusive. It has stretched to something like 900 comments. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t the whole notion of “abusive relationships” in the context of fictional vampires a joke? In fact, doesn’t it trivialize a decidedly nontrivial subject? Oh, hell, is there any chance I’ll get those brain cells back?

Throwing tomatoes at Sarah Palin is wrong. One should throw substantive questions at her instead. They’d hurt more.

At least they hired an expert: Jonah Goldberg has gotten a million-dollar advance to write a book, The Tyranny of Cliches.

“I had … an unequaled tolerance for squalor”: A first-person account of living in a van while a grad student at Duke, to avoid student-loan debt.

Excellent idea, way overdue: N.C. Medical Board posts expanded information on 35,000 physicians and PAs, including disciplinary actions and other embarrassing info the public needs.

This isn’t an Internet meme, but it should be: “My God, what a stupid premise.”

But climate science is a fraud!: Andrew Malcolm compares polls that actually ask two different questions.

But they’re “community organizers,” so let’s take their money away: An investigator finds that “in fact, there is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers” and that videotapes of ACORN employees “appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding.” Color me shocked.

The real ACORN takeaway: In light of Jon Stewart’s earlier takedown of ACORN, commenter Waynski at Balloon Juice observes: “It’s a sad comment on the state of our media that we’re now looking for journalistic standards in the fake news guy, because he’s the only one who comes close to having any in the first place.”

Meet the new boss: The flawed, conflict-riddled system of rating securities, which contributed so much to our current economic unpleasantness, isn’t going to be changed much. Goody. I’m gonna invest in a mattress in which to put what little remains of my retirement savings.

Monday, December 7, 2009 9:57 pm

Odds and ends for 12/7

It’s not a game, but somebody forgot to tell the Labor Department:

The real Climategate. ‘Nuff said.

Remembering Mark Pittman: This guy was the real deal.

And if we follow this line of logic to its painfully obvious conclusion, we learn …: Warren Buffett thinks federally subsidizing a competitor of his Business Wire would be bad. How long before he concludes the same thing about subsidizing another of his key investments, Goldman Sachs?

Fire ’em. And lock ’em up: Someone at the FDIC is passing inside information. Mary Schapiro needs to be fired, beaten and driven across the landscape like a mangy bison.

Clarity: This is bizarre, in a good way — Zero Hedge and Google have formed a partnership to, among other things, translate government financial info into plain English.

Your flawed premise. Let me show you it: Two (out of the more than 6,000) members of the Academy of Motion Picture Whozawhatsis call for Al Gore’s Oscar to be rescinded in light of the hacked e-mails about global warming. Which would be fine except that Al Gore never got an Oscar. The Oscar went to the director of “An Inconvenient Truth.” Who was not Al Gore.

Opaque is the new transparent: A government meeting on open records and transparency is closed to the media and public. Write your own punchline.

Bummer: Obama rules out drugs, hookers as economic stimuli. Dang.

Someone remind me again who the terrorists are?: AIG execs threaten to walk out en masse if they don’t get their bonuses. Door. Ass. Quoth Digby: “This could be Obama’s equivalent of Reagan and the air traffic controllers if he wants it to be.” Precisely.

Well, yeah, if, by “narrow, ideological interest group” you mean “three-fourths of voters”: Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., says only a few politically motivated people want a public option for health insurance.

How did I miss this?: Slate had a “Write Like Sarah Palin” contest. On the down side, to be competitive I’d’ve had to drink at least a case in one sitting.

Silenced: Former Guantanamo prosecutor Morris Davis, who once resigned rather than run what he thought was a rigged system of justice at Guantanamo, has been fired from the Library of Congress for continuing to criticize the military-commission system publicly and calling former AG Mike Mukasey out for the pants-wetting anti-American baby he is. The ACLU has taken Davis’s case. Good.

Blessings: Former Fox “News” host Eric Burns counts his: “I have several. Among them is that I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

Quote of the day: From Balloon Juice’s John Cole, on “bipartisan” health-care reform: “You know, as much as our national political chattering classes are enamored with the baby Jesus, I find it amazing that none of them ever managed to hear the story of King Solomon. … every Senator apparently [is] eager to rush home to show off their half of the bloody baby.”

Quote of the day runner-up: From Doc at First Draft, on the Dallas Morning News’ plan to have its news editors reporting to advertising execs: “You can say that there’s a line that’s drawn and that we don’t cross it. That’s all fine and good, but when you keep moving the line the way the DMN has now, you are never sure if you’ll cross the line or the line will cross you.”

Uh, dude?: Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. attorney. That’s not good, but as Marcy points out, Baucus is responsible for an even bigger screwing than that.

So, Bowl Championship Series, how’s that Jenna Jameson-led abstinence campaign going?: Former Bush White House spokesliar Ari Fleischer compares the current college-football bowl system, now despised by a miniscule 85% of Americans, to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as an irreplaceable tradition.

Inevitable headline: Doh!: Cartoon character C. Montgomery Burns outpolls Rudy Giuliani in NYC mayoral race.

Friday, December 4, 2009 9:51 pm

But the Internet is killing journalism!

Just ask The Washington Post:

Taxes are killing us.: The US at 26.1% pays less tax than any other industrialized country except Japan at 25.8%. Sweden is at 50.2%, the UK at 35.8%, and Spain at 35.5%, for example. BTW each of these three countries had higher growth (average per capita growth 1995 – 2005) than we did. 2.5%, 2.4% and 3.1% resp. compared to our 2.1%. Also Japan’s was 1% growth.

Frank Ahrens: But did you know our corporate tax rate is among the highest in the world? That makes a real difference if you’re a business and you’re thinking about locating in the U.S. or, say, India.

[snip]

But did you know our corporate tax rate is among the highest in the world?: Dead wrong. Our nominal tax rate of 35% is among the highest, but because of loopholes our real tax rate of 18% is among the lowest real corporate tax rates.

Frank Ahrens: Back atcha.

He’s not only incompetent, he’s also a jackass. But because he’s being snarky in defense of big business rather than in defense of DFHs, no punishment shall befall him.

Odds and ends for 12/4

Hmm, roasted or fried? Um, I mean, we come in peace: Kara Swisher renders Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s Wall Street Journal op-ed into plain English.

Is your boss stealing from you? Could well be.

Good news/very bad news: In the week ending Nov. 28, first-time unemployment claims fell from 462,000 the previous week to 457,000. The very bad news: Emergency claims by people whose unemployment benefits have run out rose by 265,000. In one week. The total was more than 3.8 million, compared with 777,000 a year ago.

Will wonders never cease?: Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., does one worthwhile thing in his miserable, misanthropic life and carves Ben Bernanke a new orifice. Fellow tool Jim DeMint, R-S.C., actually asks helpful questions.

Yes, apparently wonders will cease: Sarah Palin, birther.

And then wonders that already have happened will un-happen: Sarah Palin Goes Rogue Fail.

Shorter Mitt Romney economic plan: “More money for me and my friends!”

You’re worried about health care and the deficit? Fine: Let’s talk about that: Republicans and some “centrist” Democrats say they worry about what health-care reform will do to the deficit. They need to worry more about what will happen to the deficit if health-care reform doesn’t pass. (But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Bush 43’s head of Medicare.)

Pwn3d!: Sens. Tom “Sanctimonious” Coburn and David “Diapers” Vitter introduce what they intend to be a poison-pill amendment to health-care reform that would require members of Congress to enroll in the public option … only to be swarmed by Democrats who think that’s a great idea and sign on as co-sponsors. Hee.

Quote of the day, from commenter “paradoctor” at Hullabaloo, on the douchiness of Senate Republicans: “To them, corporations are people and women are an abstraction.”

Nature strikes back: Asian carp are invading fresh waters of the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes. Bye-bye, trout. And apparently you shouldn’t use a motorboat to go fishing for them because the sound of the motor just pisses them off. (h/t: Nance)

New Internet meme: “There’s far too much detail here for this to be a fabrication.”

And he’d have lived forever if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids and their dog: Aaron Schroeder, composer of hundreds of pop hits ranging from “It’s Now or Never” and “Good Luck Charm” to the theme from the TV cartoon “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?,” is dead at 83.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 9:15 pm

Odds and ends for 12/3

With friends like these: Iraqi lawyer helps U.S., gets tortured by Iraqis for his trouble and now is suing U.S. for $200MM for trying to murder him.

With friends like these, cont.: Someone else unhappy with U.S. conduct in Iraq — the head of Blackwater (now Xe), Erik Prince.

Women’s rights: I wouldn’t say I expect to enjoy reading this book, but I’m looking forward to it. Nick Kristoff can be an insufferable ass sometimes, but on this issue he is doing God’s work and has been for a long time. (h/t: Janice)

Reality check: Who are we, Zbigniew Brzezinski asks, to criticize Afghanistan about government corruption? “Americans, of course, hate hypocrisy,” the LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm observes, “by everyone else.”

Elizabeth Warren for president: “America today has plenty of rich and super-rich. But it has far more families who did all the right things, but who still have no real security.”

The Republicans have a plan for health-care reform: Prevent it by any means necessary.

They also have a plan for fixing the deficit: killing Social Security and Medicare. Actually, that’s backward. It’s not that they want to kill SocSec/Medicare to fix the deficit. It’s that they’re making a big deal about fixing the deficit (now; not so much when it was Bush’s deficit) because that’s a plausible excuse for what they really want to do, which is pulling the New Deal and Great Society up out of our culture by the roots. Unfortunately, they lack the intellectual integrity to say so forthrightly. When they did say so forthrightly, about Social Security, in 2005, they got their heads handed to them.

Call this bluff: The banksters at Royal Bank of Scotland, which got the world’s largest bailout, say they’ll quit if they don’t get their bonuses. Don’t let the door hit you in the bum as you leave, tools.

Dylan Ratigan FTW: Reject Bernanke. He started the damn fire.

Shorter Jonathan Weil: FDIC, man up. Banks, pay up. Amen.

Jason Linkins points out a bit of a discrepancy in criticism of the Afghanistan withdrawal date: Critics suggest that setting a start date for withdrawals will just embolden terrorists to wait until we leave. This ignores the fact that even while we’ve been threatening “to go hard, forever,” the average yearly number of global jihadi terror attacks  has increased 607% since we invaded Iraq. Oops.

Relatedly: George Will takes a couple of cheap shots at Obama, and embraces the flawed slippery-slope argument in the item above, and mistakenly believes that Afghanistan is winnable anymore, but he also believes the right thing for most of the right reasons: This will not end well.

To all the first-time voters who supported Obama because you thought he’d get us out of George Bush’s ill-conceived wars: Here’s to the loss of your political virginity.

Lou Dobbs’ presidential aspirations = FAIL: Anti-immigrant group pulls support. Bwa!

Best. Movie reviews. Ever.

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:14 pm
Tags: , , ,

Twilight.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

(h/t: Liz)

In which Senate Republicans get schooled

Having been criticized for being douches, the 30 Senate Republicans who voted against Al Franken’s let’s-not-screw-rape-victims-any-more-than-they’ve-already-been-screwed amendment now are claiming, somewhat less than convincingly, that Franken’s the one who’s a douche:

The Republicans are steamed at Franken because partisans on the left are using a measure he sponsored to paint them as rapist sympathizers — and because Franken isn’t doing much to stop them.

“Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape — and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.

“I think it’s going to make a lot of senators leery and start looking at things he’s doing earlier on, because I don’t think it got appropriate attention ahead of time.”

In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken’s handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle. Soon after Tennessee GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander co-wrote an op-ed in a local newspaper defending their votes against the Franken measure, the Minnesota Democrat confronted each senator separately to dispute their column — and grew particularly angry in a tense exchange with Corker.

People familiar with the Corker exchange say it was heated and ended abruptly — a sharp departure from the norm on the usually clubby Senate floor.

Goodness. So much pearl-clutching. Where to start?

Memo to Politico: It ain’t just “partisans on the left.” It’s everyone who gives a damn about rape victims.

Question for John Cornyn: What did Franken misrepresent? Did he say you voted against the amendment when you actually voted for it? No? Then he didn’t misrepresent a thing. And if it embarrasses you, well, dude, if you don’t want douchey publicity, then stop being a douche.

Another question for John Cornyn: What possible basis is there for believing that you might have been willing to work with Franken on any measure of public benefit, ever, even before this episode happened?

Question for Senate Republicans: What does it say about you that Franken might have foreseen that this measure would have the outcome that it did?

Another question for Senate Republicans: After Dick Cheney told somebody on the floor of the Senate to commit an anatomically improbable act upon himself, why should I care what Republicans think about Senate decorum?

Question for senators in general: Why is “relationship-building” seen as anywhere near as important as not being a douche?

Bonus fun: These douches fell into a trap set by the guy they all thought would be an absolutely inept senator.

Bonus comment from commenter The Grand Panjandrum at Balloon Juice: “Life’s a bitch, and then you become one. How does it feel to be Al Franken’s bitch, Johnny?”

Question for Politico editors: How do you let this piece go online without at least making the reporter try to get some of the Republican senators on the record as to why they opposed the measure? And why did you not link to the op-ed you mention (it’s right here)?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 10:21 pm

These are not serious people

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 10:21 pm
Tags: , ,

A special prosecutor for torture, warrantless domestic wiretapping and/or illegal military invasions, no. A special prosecutor for ACORN, yes. And these are the people who want us to give them the keys back in 2010.

Bonus fun: For Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, 2:30 p.m. is “early in the day.” Man, and I thought I was once a wild child.

Answer the questions, Mr. President

Filed under: We're so screwed — Lex @ 9:38 pm
Tags: ,

He didn’t, and I’ve got a dollar that says he never intended to.

It was an awful speech, and commenter “stevelaudig” at Hullabaloo correctly assesses why: “The more complicated the explanation, the more likely it is to be a deception.”

This is not new.

Why the media should stop giving two hoots in hell what Karl Rove thinks

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns!,Journalism — Lex @ 9:27 pm
Tags: ,

From Think Progress:

Yesterday morning, former Bush adviser Karl Rove went on NBC’s Today Show and said that if President Obama decides to send 30,000-35,000 troops to Afghanistan, he would be “among the first to stand up and applaud.” … Immediately after President Obama’s prime-time address last night — in which he announced that he would be deploying 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan — Rove went on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor and responded. However, he definitely didn’t “stand up and applaud.” Instead, he and O’Reilly bashed the President for underperforming (although he acknowledged that the “core” of Obama’s message was acceptable).

The mainstream media fall all over themselves to give Dick Cheney and Karl Rove airtime like they think people give a damn what they think.  <CLUESTICK> We don't. </CLUESTICK>

Why I love winter

Filed under: Fun,Hooper,Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 9:14 pm
Tags:

Because if it gets cold enough, even Hooper decides to wear socks.

Hooper hates socks. He’s not fond of shoes, for that matter, but he hates socks. The problem is, if he wears shoes without socks for a day, then comes home and kicks off his shoes, Nature herself howls with indignation at the desecration. The very air we breathe takes on a greenish-brown tinge and becomes suffused with the odor of fresh canine feces at a range of roughly three microns. Windowpanes crack. The studs in the walls scream in protest. Lucky, The World’s Dumbest Puggle, who doesn’t exactly smell like a rose himself, drops with a 32-pound thud onto the kitchen floor, senseless, while my eyes stream tears of blood.

He’s wearing socks tomorrow if I have to staple them on.

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