Monday, June 6, 2011

Last Call

With all the attention on Rick Santorum's announcement today that he's running for Guy Who Loses To Obama By 25 Points, Tim Murphy at Mother Jones reminds us that Michele Bachmann is expected to throw her hat into the ring later this month as well, and I don't see that hat flying very far with baggage like this attached to it.

Sometime this month, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is expected to travel to Waterloo, Iowa to officially announce her presidential candidacy. Her odds, while firmly in Hail Mary territory, are still better than you might think: With Republicans less than thrilled with the primary field, Bachmann stands at least a fighter's chance in socially conservative states like Iowa and South Carolina.

Now in just her third term in Congress, Bachmann, the leader of the House tea party caucus, has earned a reputation as one of the lower chamber's leading bomb-throwers, lobbing overheated rhetoric at Democrats and needling establishment Republicans. Her Minnesota colleague, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison once accused her of "psycho talk"; in an interview with Politico, a Pawlenty aide was just as blunt: "She's a real pain in the ass." Former state senator Dean Johnson, who was the Republican minority leader during Bachmann's stint in St. Paul, has said, "I don't think I ever served with anybody who I mistrusted more, from either side of the aisle."

Ouch. Bachmann also has a tendency to stretch the truth, or simply sidestep it altogether. Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact, recently told Minnesota Public Radio that he has never researched a Bachmann quote and found it to be true (the only major politician for which that's the case).

Murphy goes on to cite three pages of Bachmann's most Bachmanniac statements, all of them loads of horsecrap.  And keep in mind there are plenty of folks in the GOP who see Bachmann as the "serious" version of Sarah Palin, and that she has a real shot in 2012.

Time to get the news out there that Bachmann isn't exactly truthful.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 33

Now that major radiation spikes from the Fukushima Daiichi plant are being detected some nearly three months after the disaster, the jig is now officially up as Japan is now admitting that all three reactors involved in the nuclear crisis achieved complete meltdown.

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday.

The nuclear group's new evaluation, released Monday, goes further than previous statements in describing the extent of the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The announcement will not change plans for how to stabilize the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the agency said.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown, it said.

So why didn't they explode?  They nearly did.  As I said at the time on the very first of this series of posts, using seawater to flood the reactors was an untested, last ditch effort to stop a complete meltdown scenario.  Physicist and nuclear expert Michio Kaku admits that the evidence means that seawater flooding was the only thing that prevented three Chrenobyl style explosions.

As it is, the contamination is still at lethal levels, and only barely was prevented from literally covering northern Japan in a radioactive cloud that would have killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions.  The downside is that the radioactive mess at Fukushima Daiichi will remain lethal for a very, very long time.  Over the next several weeks and months, we'll find out just how bad the contamination in Japan is.  They'll be living with it for generations.

The Kroog Versus Vouchercare

Paul Krugman wades into the reeds on the GOP plan to kill Medicare and comes up with Vouchercare.

I’m seeing many attempts to shout down anyone making this obvious point, and not just from Republican politicians. For some reason, many commentators seem to believe that accurately describing what the G.O.P. is actually proposing amounts to demagoguery. But there’s nothing demagogic about telling the truth.

Start with the claim that the G.O.P. plan simply reforms Medicare rather than ending it. I’ll just quote the blogger Duncan Black, who summarizes this as saying that “when we replace the Marines with a pizza, we’ll call the pizza the Marines.” The point is that you can name the new program Medicare, but it’s an entirely different program — call it Vouchercare — that would offer nothing like the coverage that the elderly now receive. (Republicans get huffy when you call their plan a voucher scheme, but that’s exactly what it is.)

Medicare is a government-run insurance system that directly pays health-care providers. Vouchercare would cut checks to insurance companies instead. Specifically, the program would pay a fixed amount toward private health insurance — higher for the poor, lower for the rich, but not varying at all with the actual level of premiums. If you couldn’t afford a policy adequate for your needs, even with the voucher, that would be your problem.

And most seniors wouldn’t be able to afford adequate coverage. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that to get coverage equivalent to what they have now, older Americans would have to pay vastly more out of pocket under the Paul Ryan plan than they would if Medicare as we know it was preserved. Based on the budget office estimates, the typical senior would end up paying around $6,000 more out of pocket in the plan’s first year of operation. 

More of this, please.  Dems?  Let's hear about the GOP plan to replace Medicare with a voucher scheme that won't cover the cost and make seniors pay the thousands of dollars difference.  That's what the plan is, and it needs to be treated as such.

Fat pitch right across the plate, folks.  Swing for the fences.

A Weiner Is Not A. Weiner

Well, in the most bizarre press conference in recent memory, this afternoon Andrew Breitbart took over Rep. Anthony Weiner's press conference and vowed that he had even worse pictures of the Congressman, and that if he didn't come clean and stop going after him, he would release them.

Conservative media showman Andrew Brietbart took the microphone this afternoon at a press conference scheduled for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). TPM's Eric Lach is on scene for the presser and sent these dispatches:

"He was on the side when a few reporters noticed him. Then suddenly swarmed. So then he strolls up to the podium," Lach reports. "I don't know if he got permission or what. Now just ended after someone in back yells "thank you" and he says thank you and gets off stage. "

Breitbart told reporters he feels "vindicated" after the initial attacks on his reporting of the Weiner incident. He said the photos he published today are from a tip they got before the infamous Weiner tweet that eventually led to today's press conference. 

It became clear that Breitbart was doing pre-victory laps when a visibly shaken Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner took the podium 15 minutes later...

"Last Friday night i tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle," he said, fighting back tears. "Once I realized I had posted to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down and said I had been hacked. I then continued to stick to that story which was a hugely regrettable mistake."

He added: "To be clear, the picture was of me and I sent this. I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife Huma and our family and my constituents, friends, supporters and staff."

As for his own future, Weiner pledged to remain in Congress, saying he had not broken any law to his knowledge. "I am not resigning," Weiner said, telling reporters he would try to convince his constituents this was a "personal failing" and did not alter his record.

Weiner said that he traded inappropriate messages and emails with six women over the last three years, including some exchanges after his marriage last year to Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. Abedin was not present at the press conference. Weiner said he thought the women he exchanged messages with were all of legal age, but he conceded he had no way to know for sure.

"I don't know the exact ages of the women," he said. "And I don't know if you do, I'm going to respect their privacy. But they were all adults -- at least, to the best of my knowledge, they were all adults, and they were engaging in these conversations consensually."

Needless to say, this disaster of a presser only cements what I said earlier:  that whoever is advising Weiner on this issue needs to be fired and never work again.   The press pounced on Weiner and the Congressman came clean to the fact he lied to pretty much everyone involved.  Having said that, A) if lying is the new standard for resigning your seat in Congress, Capitol Hill is going to be a lonely place and B) Weiner actually apologized to Breitbart.  When's Breitbart going to do the same for his lies about ACORN and Shirley Sherrod?

Oh, and nothing has changed about why this attack on Weiner came in the first place.

[UPDATE] And now we know what happened over the weekend when Weiner was told by the Dem leadership to get his ass in order:  Nancy Pelosi is immediately calling for an ethics investigation into the Congressman's conduct this week.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

The Power Line guys are at it again, trying to rewrite recent history and failing badly.

The mainstream media are so desperate to portray economic trends in optimistic terms that a lot of our current malaise is left unexplored. To repeat myself, I think this is especially the case with respect to unemployment. The scope of the suffering created by large-scale long-term unemployment has somehow failed to register. The real unemployment will never get in the books, so to speak, at least so long as a Democrat is president and an election is looming.

Scott Johnson's ODS complaint is based on this chart here:


And the red line, our current recession, is fairly classified as horrific.  Johnson's theory is that since the zero point of the red line is December 2007, the job losses didn't get really bad until several months after that point.  Johnson's theory is that the only possible explanation as the event that led to the massive plunge in job losses must have been President Obama's election, because there's nothing else that could possibly explain the...

...what's that you say?  The collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 that triggered the financial crisis and subsequent meltdown of the economy in 2009 could have played a part too?  The key event that happened almost two months before President Obama was elected

The sad part is these Power Line guys are supposed to be smart.  We're really supposed to believe that Obama's election destroyed the economy before he could even take office, but Lehman's collapse and the Wall Street and housing market dominoes that fell as a result were all incidental at best to our job losses?

Please.  I'm not saying Obama's policies haven't ameliorated the millions of jobs we have lost since then.  But saying his mere election caused the problem is a bit like blaming lack of rain for a warehouse fire later ruled an arson.  It's Obama Derangement Syndrome, pure and simple.

Gaming Security: You're Doing It Right

Nintendo has become the latest company to suffer an online security breach due to an attack by hackers, Lulz Security.
The Japanese game company said that a server of one of its affiliates in the US was attacked by the group some weeks ago.
Lulz Security is the same group that attacked the websites of Sony over the past few weeks.
However, the maker of the Wii said that no consumer data or company information was lost.

Just nice to see the good side of that coin, that's all I'm saying.

New Twist On An Old Plot

Switched At Birth is the new drama on ABC Family about kids who were, you guessed it, switched at birth.  That old story goes back before Shakespeare, but this new vision has a character who is slightly out of the norm.  She's a deaf girl in public high school, and that is enough to set this retelling apart from many others.

The new ABC Family series (Monday, 9/8c) follows two girls who discover they accidentally ended up with the wrong family as newborns. Bay Kennish, played by Vanessa Marano, grew up in a wealthy family. Daphne Vasquez, played by Leclerc, lost her hearing at an early age and grew up in a working-class neighborhood with her single mother. After learning of the mistake, the two very different families must learn to live together for the sake of their girls.
Leclerclearned American Sign Language in high school — then was diagnosed at age 20 with Meniere's disease, an inner-ear disorder that can affect balance and hearing. Now 24, she calls those coincidences serendipitous and says she feels like she's been preparing for the role of Daphne for a long time. While the actress has full hearing, she says, "I've spent a long time being in the deaf world and the hearing world and I feel very comfortable in both." With an ASL instructor on the set at all times, Leclerc also worked closely with producers to ensure they'd be portraying the deaf accurately. "We figured out where Daphne's hearing loss would be and we mapped it out and figured what sounds she could say and what sounds she couldn't say."

A lot of thought went into this character, and for practical reasons it is very rare to have a main character have so much going on apart from the other characters.  It's great to see that someone cared about getting it right.   The deaf population is largely ignored in our society, and I can't imagine anything more frustrating than almost everyone you meet not knowing your language, while you struggle to accommodate them.  If done properly this can take a step towards bridging a mighty large gap.  I'm not fond of phrases like "raising awareness" and "new perspectives" but once in a while they are spot on.  I have no idea if this is a great show, but it seems like a heck of a good attempt.

Man On Dog Action

Rick "The Froth" Santorum is indeed running for the White House brass ring in the biggest example of utter futility since the Detroit Lions went 0-16.

Santorum, 53, known for staunchly conservative positions on welfare reform and homosexuality, has already been campaigning in early voting states, including New Hampshire and South Carolina, where he won two informal Republican straw polls.

But he is at the bottom of the Republican pack in the slow-moving national primary election race for the party's presidential nomination, garnering only 2 percent support in a Gallup poll of Republican voters last month.

Political insiders say his presidential prospects are weak, partly because he lost his Senate seat by a wide 59 to 41 percent margin in 2006, after sticking to his support for Social Security reforms that had soured on voters.

On Monday, he backed a Republican plan to transform the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly into a system that would help beneficiaries pay for private health insurance.

"Seniors can, in fact, do this. It does save money and it's going to be a good thing for them and it's going to be a great thing for our country," Santorum said.

Yes, the end of Medicare is going to be a "great thing" for America's seniors.  Santorum combines all of the worst positions of the GOP spectrum with a personal charisma that ranks somewhere between a used litterbox and a petri dish of syphilis,  and if the rest of the GOP super long shots like Herman Cain or Jon Huntsman needed somebody in the race to make them look like legitimate candidates, Santorum has answered the call wholeheartedly.

We'll have at least a few months of laughs before Frothy here folds up his tent when he fails to place anywhere near the top in the first few primaries, but those months are going to be lots of fun.

Mooseypedia Mayhem

When Sarah Palin flubs the facts, change the facts to fit her error.  Digby parses the latest moose droppings from Sunday:

She's clearly been reading her wingnut blogs which have been twisting themselves into pretzels trying to rationalize her nonsense. Their big claim is that the most important part of Revere's ride was that temporary detention by the British, which Professor Palin with her deep knowledge of American history was using as teachable moment for the liberal elite and the lamestream media to learn that our revolution was all about the right to bear arms. Not kidding.

They're trying to rewrite the Paul Revere Wikipedia page right now. And I'm quite sure that more than a few American children will now grow up being taught that Paul Revere rode to warn the British that they'd better not try to take America's guns away.

Yes folks, they're literally rewriting history so that Our Lady Of The Duh-rora Boring-alis can appear to be the Savior of Real America.  But in the Wingnut World where any reality they can't control literally has to be a liberal media trick perpetrated by those enslaved to Obama's fascist cult of personality (there's no other possible explanation, like "you're wrong and misspoke") it all makes sense.

And Palin could have laughed off the mistake like most people, and shown some good grace and humor in the process.  Instead she's confirmed that her ego is so swollen that she's incapable of admitting she is ever in error.  Her followers are even more determined to stop it because they have a personal stake in her seeming infallibility:  if she's ever wrong, then they are too.  We saw this during the Bush years, but it was never this bad.

Palin's narcissism knows no bounds, it seems.  Not even facts can constrain her.


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