Saturday, July 9, 2011

Do I Look Like A Terrorist?

Posted by Desert Crone

No, I don't look like a terrorist. I look like a 63-year-old woman--who has had a knee replacement, a heart attack, and kidney cancer. Yet, every time I board an airplane, my knee sets off the alarm, and I am frisked and "wanded." It doesn't matter that I have a very official looking card from my doctor attesting to the fact that I have a titanium knee. I offer that card to every TSA agent I can corner, but they aren't even interested in giving it a glance.

Before I walk through the thingy that dingies, I tell the agent that I will sound the alarm--that I have a knee replacement and a very official card. Still, I'm just ushered through with a loud announcement "WOMAN NEEDS TO BE SCREENED!" And then I am "wanded" and frisked. TSA says, "Now I am going to touch your breasts with the back of my hands." Oh yeah, well, you better frisk around my knees then because I AM SIXTY-THREE YEARS OLD!

I have been tolerant and even jocular about all this hoopla until June 10. I walked through the dingy thingy wearing my flip flops. The TSA agent scowls as he tells me to take off my flip flops as if I might be hiding a bomb in my Crocs. Then I walk through and set off the alarm again. I tell Mr. Cranky I have a metal knee, but he again glares at me and yells "WOMAN NEEDS TO BE PATTED DOWN!" He was clearly irritated with me.

As usual, I am ushered to the glass stall--screw privacy--and patted down. However, as I looked through the four other glass stalls, I see three more old ladies being patted down. One ol' gal has a neck brace on and another has to be helped out of wheelchair for the pat down.

By the way, TSAs are now being screened at least one time during each work day because some have been caught smuggling drugs on the planes. They are screaming in protest--which is a nice segue into my point.

I am ready to scream in protest, "I am mad as hell, and I'm not taking it anymore!"

Why are we wasting time and money on this false sense of security? Four old women wearing a neck brace, sitting in a wheelchair, and wobbling on one good knee didn't fly airplanes into the Twin Towers. I'm not advocating profiling, but I want my government to use some common sense. Alas, I've always been an idealist.

(I wrote this piece three years ago when I was 60. In light of the story of the elderly woman who had to have her Depends removed, I thought this was apropos. Now, when I fly, I have to go through the body scanner AND the pat down, which is more like “May I feel you up, old woman?” Hey, whatever turns you on.)

Must Reads

David Brooks: The Mother of All No-Brainers

Extreme Liberal: Mark Halperin’s History Of Misguided Rhetoric!

Matt Osborne: Bradley Manning is Still Not Special

Abe Sauer: How Republicans and Tea Partiers Alike Used the Heritage Foundation's #AskObama Script

Justin Rosario: David Duke And The Problem With White Pride

Ian Boudreau: An Alternative Hypothesis on Debt Ceiling Wrangling

Jared Bernstein: June Jobs Report -- Far Worse Than Expected

Deaniac83: MoveOn Joins Three-Ring Media and Professional Left Circus on Social Security

Dennis G., Balloon Juice: A Penny For Your Outrage

Susan Crabtree: Rep. Ryan Tastes The Grapes Of Wrath

The Rude Pundit: Chris Christie Is Your Fat Fucking Future (A Post With a Bunch of Fat Jokes Because He's So Fucking Fat)

Chipsticks: The Professional Left’s Heroine

Allan Brauer: Handcuffing Ourselves to the White House Email Server: A Guide to Online Petitions

President Obama's Weekly Address - July 9, 2011

Working Together to Meet our Fiscal Challenges

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Right Crowd


This economist shared his perspective on why Bristol Palin provides more social value, thus earns more income, than a pediatrician. And when you think about it, it's what lies at the root of why some people protect the incomes of the wealthy, as if the higher the value of one's paycheck, the more value they must obviously provide to society.

Some say that it's our world of tabloid, celebrity and "reality" television that has warped our sense of what value is. And to an extent, they are right. You could argue that some celebrities use that vast wealth to contribute far more to society than residents of a small town combined. But the celebrity still has a huge chunk of cash left over and the good they performed was about the heart and not a paycheck, though, right?

So there is that point, and it's valid. But what I think is the greater disservice, the thing that causes the warped vision of value to really harm America, is the way our elected leadership distorts the meaning of value in order to benefit the new definition of value. If we place a higher value on someone's status via a job, then they are worth more in the value of a dollar. If they are worth more in the value of a dollar, they are worth more to society. Ergo, if you don't make a lot of money, your value to society is less. Despite the work actually done by the person making $10,000 or the person making $10,000,000.

Public policy and politicians have used this as a wedge to create an ideal that every American can reach the big bucks if they just work hard enough. So, if someone is a community organizer, they aren't really contributing. We want CEOs as Presidents, not community organizers. That's not a reality show or summer blockbuster meme, that is a political manipulation of the American Dream in order to create a Haves and Have Nots mentality. But when the gap is growing so much that the wealthiest Americans are paying less in taxes than the middle class, then you have to stop and ask, "What is really happening?" America has distorted our values by saying that asking a millionaire to pay more in taxes is class warfare despite all the evidence that they have had more tax benefits than their kids' teachers.

And it hasn't been reality shows and tabloids going after teachers and public workers lately. It's been elected leaders.

Senator Orrin Hatch said that 51% of American families don't pay income taxes -- right after he said he thinks really poor people shouldn't have to. What people are missing when they discuss how many people don't pay income taxes is that it's because they are too poor to pay taxes. The people he's talking about aren't rich enough to get fancy tax accountants to get them to not pay anything. They're not tax evaders. They're people living on such low income that they don't owe income taxes. And what's wrong with that? What's wrong is that we have TOO MANY families making so little that they don't owe taxes! And yet, it's a pejorative to say they don't pay taxes. THEY DON'T MAKE MONEY. And see, they are the bad guy. Why? So that we won't pay attention to the people who get to deduct mortgages on their second and third homes and their yachts.

And right now, the left is divided among the "Yell at Obama" crowd and the "Fight the GOP" crowd. And the GOP is divided among the "Get Government Out" crowd and the "Block Obama" crowd.

Frankly, when I look at who is harming America the most, I can't fathom why more people aren't rushing to be part of a "Get Something Done" crowd. And when I think of it, Obama is right in the middle of that "Get Something Done" crowd. He has been leading that crowd and keeping it focused and effective. And although I stray over to the "Fight the GOP" crowd every so often, I am most certainly part of Obama's crowd. I want to get something done!

Not Even Hiding It Anymore

If there was any doubt that the Republican Party has no problem with sacrificing the American economy, the American people, the unemployed and underemployed in the country, and possibility of sending the world into a global recesssion, then look no further than at one of its shining stars. They're not even trying to hide the notion that they're selling America down the river solely for political gain.

“Does it strike you that as the unemployment rate goes up, your chances of winning office also go up?” host Carl Quintanilla asked. “Well, that could be. Again, I hope so,” Bachmann replied.

Why be part of the solution when rising unemployment numbers are helping your presidential run? Michele Bachmann has already said that she will not vote to raise the debt ceiling, despite the dire consequences that have been stated by the Speaker of the House, a member of her own party. That in itself is enough to disqualify her from consideration of the office that she seeks.

Horrible June Jobs Numbers

Unemployment ticked up another notch to 9.2% as the June jobs numbers came out today. Only a net of 18,000 jobs on the plus side after a private sector increase of 57,000 jobs. The numbers are being dragged down month after month with a hemorrhaging of public sector jobs. Federal, state and local jobs have decreased by 238,000 in the last eight months alone.

President Obama is making a statement in the Rose Garden today at about 10:35am.

I heard the breaking news on the jobs numbers on Morning Joe and believe it or not, a fascinating conversation took place immediately thereafter; a conversation that probably wouldn't have happened had Joe Scarborough actually been at the table. It took place mainly between Ezra Klein and CNBC's Simon Hobbs, who appeared visibly flustered and frustrated at the political gridlock in Congress. Hobbs was specifically asking, with an ideological opposition, "What can the President do?!"

Finally, someone was seeing the big picture and not just automatically blaming the Obama administration, as Mike Barnicle had initially done before backing off a bit when the adults in the room took over. Video to follow.

UPDATE: Of course, Morning Joe and MSNBC being what it is, have decided to leave the most substantive, straightforward, non-partisan discussion the Morning Joe pundits have ever had off their site. If anyone can find the video of the discussion between Ezra Klein and Simon Hobbs from the final hour of the July 8th broadcast, please leave a link in the comments section. Thanks.

Thursday, July 7, 2011



So the new rant is that Obama is going to cut Medicare and Social Security. That meme hit wicked fast and furious last night and spiraled into a frenzy of lefties being outraged with Obama based on anonymous sources saying something vague. (Too many links to choose from but if you don't know what I'm talking about by now, just check Twitter).

But what troubles me is that liberal, smart, strategic players are now picking up that meme and saying there's a line in the sand and we won't do this or that and "heck, this" and "hell, no that" and on and on.

So here's what I hate: that line in the sand, when it comes to Medicare and Social Security, SHOULD NOT be drawn. They SHOULD be on the table. We SHOULD INSIST that entitlements be cut. For some.

So I keep asking this question of all the line-in-the-sand-drawers:

A) What if the backs we make changes on are those of M(B)illionaires?

B) Are you open to means testing?

C) Are you open to removing contribution caps?

D) Why aren't those things part of the Dems talking points today?

The line in the sand language needs to be fleshed out because I am FOR cuts in Medicare and SS if that means Warren Buffet doesn't get the max (or any) SS or Medicare. Give him a health insurance voucher. Fine by me.

Let's not frame this as a fight within the Dems against some rumored report that Obama is going to do something bad and actually frame the debate that Dems will make sound changes to entitlements and stay true to keeping the entitlements for the people who need them and NOT for the people who don't.

Once we start with the line in the sand talk, we look like fools if we jump over that line and say, "Well except for..." And we only piss off the idiot Angry Left people who only read headlines and hear soundbites and then we have a messaging management problem for two fucking days and can't pay attention to anything REAL.

For crying out loud, why are smart Democrats over-simplifying this discussion?

At least Representative Clyburn gets it (Hardball clip to follow), except he did have to be pulled back from the stringent talking points to get to the common sense strategery.

UPDATE: Here's the Hardball segment with Rep. Clyburn.

Murdoch Shuts Down London Tabloid

Due to the recent findings in the investigations into The News of the World's phone hacking allegations, other misconduct has been found, including police bribery and interfering with a murder investigation, causing Murdoch to shut down the best-selling tabloid and quit while he's behind.

...The News of the World, a British tabloid owned by a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the newspaper will be closed down after publishing one final edition this Sunday.
James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch in his press release:
"The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behavior that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company.
The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.
In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose. Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.
As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter. We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences."
Pretty amazing reaction since the paper's been in print for 168 years.

A Ted Nugent Op-Ed?!

It is to laugh.

Ted Nugent, the rock 'n roll star from the 70's turned conservative activist and gun nut, has written an op-ed for the Washington Times called "Obama Punks America" in which he spreads the debunked claim that the stimulus cost $287,000 per job. Go on and read it if you like as it takes nothing less than a 5th grade reading level to get through it. But even a 5th grader will tell you that the amount of the stimulus divided by the number of jobs created does not equal the amount each job cost.

[AP, 11/2/09, via Nexis]:

The reality is more complex.
First, the naysayers' calculations ignore the value of the work produced.
Any cost-per-job figure pays not just for the worker, but for material, supplies and that worker's output -- a portion of a road paved, patients treated in a health clinic, goods shipped from a factory floor, railroad tracks laid.
Second, critics are counting the total cost of contracts that will fuel work for months or years and dividing that by the number of jobs produced only to date.
A construction project, for one, may only require a few engineers to get going, with the work force to swell as ground is broken and building accelerates.
Hundreds of such projects have been on the books, in which the full value of the contracts is already counted in the spending totals, but few or no jobs have been reported yet because the work is only getting started.
To flip the equation politically, it's as if the 10-year cost of George W. Bush's big tax cuts were compared with the benefits to the economy that only accrued during the first year.
Third, the package approved by Congress is aimed at more than direct job creation, although employment was certainly central to its promotion and purpose.
Its features include money for research, training, plant equipment, extended unemployment benefits, credit assistance for businesses and more -- spending meant to pay off over time but impossible to judge in a short-term job formula.
Nor do the estimates made Friday include indirect employment already created by the package -- difficult if not impossible to measure.
Nowhere in the editorial does Nugent include the fact that $282 billion in stimulus spending was in the form of tax cuts for the rubes who waste money on his concert tickets, something that would usually have the GOP's nipples get hard, and something they fought to get into the package, but since it was provided by a Democratic president (and a Kenyan at that!) they voted against en masse, but still like to take credit for it.

Interesting that a newspaper would give a guy, who threatened the current President of the United States while he was still a Senator, along with two other Senators in a concert setting while waving machine guns around, an op-ed column to reprise a 21-month old bogus claim. But I don't completely blame this bit of idiocy on Nugent alone. After all, he's citing the Weekly Standard's Jeffrey Anderson, who for some reason chooses to mislead on the numbers and the report he's basing it on. I wonder why?

So, is this the strategy? Are we going to rehash stimulus spending for the next 16 months until the election? Because if so, my guess is that the voters who benefitted from those jobs saved or created will be voting Democratic - all 2.4 to 3.6 million and counting.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Special Education


Remember when Sarah Palin ran for VP and said she would be an advocate for families of children with special needs? Anyone know what she's done about that? I don't. Seriously. I haven't heard or seen anything from her on this -- not in any big way. You'd think with that bus tour and all the media coverage, and each visit she makes to *trump* another Republican's special announcements and all that media coverage, she'd make a point of saying SOMETHING, right? Has she and we just haven't heard it? I think she talks about special needs when she does radio interviews, but not more so than fishing or the lamestream media or Obama. In fact, she probably talks more about people being mean to her kids than about what we can do to help kids with special needs.

I'd really like her to talk more, I think. I guess I don't know that I would. I have no idea what she'd say. Maybe I am glad she is quiet.

But here's the deal: a lot of cities and states are having serious budget problems and are cutting education and specifically special education. And yet, I don't think she's said anything about this. What's more interesting is that federal stimulus funds were sent to states to help keep programs and teachers on the job for kids with special needs. And that stimulus money was designed to run out. Yet, Republican Governors and legislators have welcomed the money (while bemoaning it) and haven't done anything to find ways to replace it. Some states (the above link to the Brownback article for example) are even willing to lose federal funding to schools and special education because of their so-called principles.

Then, in October of 2010, President Obama signed Rosa's Law, changing references in federal law from mental retardation to intellectual disability, and references to a mentally retarded individual to an individual with an intellectual disability, I don't know that Palin made any Facebook posts.

I can't find a Facebook post or Tweet of her congratulating Obama for signing a law that prevents the government from using a term she found a fire-able offense when used by one of his employees. She made a show of that. Yet, I can't find anything on Rosa's Law.

So where is Sarah Palin on this issue that is so important to her brand? I don't know what she's saying about special education funding. I just don't see anything.

Maybe I am not looking hard enough. But for someone who loves to take the microphone by the horns, she sure hasn't used HER bully pulpit to forward anything on special needs. Was she only going to be a fierce advocate if elected?

She has the stage. What's she waiting for?

Anyone On Fox News Channel Covering This?

This is disgusting:

The scandal over Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid has exploded across London, with Scotland Yard investigating the possibility that reporters and investigators for the paper hacked into the phones of victims of 7/7 -- the so-called London bus bombings of July 7, 2005, in which terrorists targeted the city's bus and subway systems and killed 52 people.
Outrage has spread since the original accusation that News of the World hacked the cell phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who disappeared in March 2002...
...It was suggested today that someone cleared out Dowling's voice mail, hoping family or friends would leave the girl messages the paper could then quote.
Murdoch called the hacking "deplorable and unacceptable" if it was actually proven, but currently stands by the paper's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks.

I don't watch Fox News Channel because I value my sanity, but please let me know if they've been following this story if you happen to watch.

Just An Observation

I don't have an opinion about the Casey Anthony case. I haven't followed it closely enough to form one, although judging by the reaction to the not guilty verdict, it seems similar to another OJ Simpson type of outcome. She was tried by a jury and was found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement, which means she could be freed having served three years during the trial.

I just find it ironic that a murder trial over a three year period ended just one day before the trial of Roger Clemens starts.

Clemens was indicted last August on charges of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements as a result of testimony he gave to Congress regarding use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH.
If found guilty, Clemens could actually serve more time than Casey Anthony did... for lying about taking steroids.

I do have an opinion about Clemens and the Congressional actions on Major League Baseball, but they're irrelevant for the purposes of this post. The whole thing is just kind of strange and a little sad, isn't it?

ADDING..."The Devil is dancing tonight"?! Nancy Grace needs to take a valium.

ALSO... Check out Bob Cesca's post: Thank You, Chris Hayes

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monkey Awesomeness

Daily Mail: ...Visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, award-winning photographer Mr [David] Slater left his camera unattended for a while.
It soon attracted the attention of an inquisitive female from a local group of crested black macaque monkeys, known for their intelligence and dexterity.
Fascinated by her reflection in the lens, she then somehow managed to start the camera. The upshot: A splendid self-portrait.

They Are All Around Us

The next time someone thinks armed people showing up at presidential rallies with sidearms is nothing more than expressing their 2nd Amendment rights and no big deal, you should remind them about this story:
To James Vernon McVay, who was arrested Saturday after a police chase on Interstate 90 near Madison, killing 75-year-old Maybelle Schein in South Dakota was the first step in a long-pondered plan to kill President Obama, according to South Dakota court records...
...McVay said he started "solidifying" his plan to kill Obama about two weeks ago, when he learned he was to be released on parole from the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
McVay said he needed to "get blood on (his) hands" and "get experience" killing people. He said he wanted to go to affluent areas of Sioux Falls to where the "high and mighty Christians" lived to prove to them that they were "not invincible."

Do Not Believe Jon Cornyn

Over the weekend, Texas Senator Jon Cornyn appeared on Fox News Sunday and said he was open to the idea of closing loopholes and cutting corporate subsidies as an overall part of tax reform. And this morning it seems like the media is jumping all over this as an example of how Republicans are willing to compromise.

“I think it’s clear that the Republicans are opposed to any tax hikes, particularly during a fragile economic recovery,” Mr. Cornyn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Now, do we believe tax reform is necessary? I would say absolutely.”
He also included that he thought there wouldn't be enough time for tax reform measures to be changed at such a late date, so let's do this thing now, give the Republicans what they want now, and then in August let's talk about tax reform.


Don't believe Jon Cornyn. Tax reform for whom? Shall we rehash the Ryan plan all over again and reform taxes that look like a 10% decrease in upper income earners and a tax increase for those than can least afford it? And what guarantee do Democrats have if they went along with Cornyn's idea of tax reform after August? Will he pull a Chris "rotten prick" Christie and stab them in the back? And one other thing the pundits didn't mention in their rush to tweak their nipples at Cornyn's willingness to "compromise":
[Cornyn] insisted that any changes in taxes be “revenue neutral,” meaning that the government would not take in any more money from individuals or businesses than it does now.
Well then what's the fucking point of tax reform if not to dig ourselves out of this shithole that's been created over the last 10 years and not just since January 20th, 2009 as these jackasses would have you believe?

Once again, there is absolutely no way to get out of this debt "crisis" we are in solely by cutting spending on the backs of the middle and lower class while the GOP insist that no revenue increases be applied on those who can most afford it, namely big oil corporations with record breaking profits who still receive government subsidies, hedge fund manager loopholes and lower and lower tax rates on millionaires and billionaires.

ADDING... John McCain mentioned something about tax revenue increases too, but does anyone really care what McCain has to say anymore?

Quote of the Day

If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.
And they will be right.
~David Brooks, July 4th, 2011 New York Times Op-Ed
When a dyed in the wool conservative like David Brooks can see the writing on the wall, you know that the GOP is in trouble.

Democrats can not cave to a debt ceiling deal with absolutely no revenue increases.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

As has become tradition on this blog, I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and safe July 4th holiday, and suggest you take a few minutes out of your day to read and reflect on the Declaration of Independence.

...At least you'll be ahead of the game against most self-avowed Tea Partiers.