Friday, January 27, 2012

Last Call

I may have my problems with Alan Grayson's effectiveness as a member of Congress, but when his Republican opponent in Florida's newly hatched 27th district is using bizarre ads depicting President Obama as the captain of a slave ship, I hope the guy stomps his GOP opponent into the ground.

Featuring the "USS Obamaboat," the animated ad urges voters to “turn this ship around” and criticizes Obama's levels of government spending, including bank bailouts, healthcare and a loan to the failed solar company Solyndra.

Children rowing the USS Obamaboat are told to “Earn! Earn! Earn! Don’t you care about the banks? Don’t you care about the 99 percent?”

A woman in a bathtub on deck says, “This ship stimulated my husband’s solar company” and is then handed money by a man in an adjacent bathtub.

Screw this asshole.  Alan Grayson, you need to win.

Orange Julius Gives Away The Game

House Speaker John Boehner expects the GOP to not only maintain control of the House in 2012, but to keep a majority in that chamber for another decade.  How does he expect to do it?  The power of playing the incumbency game during redistricting.

“I think it will be nearly impossible” for Democrats to win back the House in November, Boehner said. “I think our freshman members are doing a good job preparing themselves for the upcoming election. I would also note that redistricting across the country has helped those freshman members and others in tough seats who will now have better seats. So I think we’re in pretty strong shape for the year ahead.”

He brings up a good point.  Redistricting is the key to controlling the House, and the GOP had an enormous advantage in controlling state redistricting processes in 2010.  But should he be bragging about it?  Steve Benen rightfully thinks Congress's single-digit approval rating is going to be far more indicative.

For the record, Boehner’s confidence may well be misplaced. If Democrats pick up 25 seats in November, Boehner will have to hand his Speaker’s gavel back to Nancy Pelosi. Given that Congress’ approval rating has reached depths unseen since the dawn of modern polling, it’s not unreasonable to think we’ll see some electoral volatility later this year.

For that matter, several recent polls show Democrats doing quite well on the congressional generic ballot, including a National Journal poll released yesterday that showed Dems with an 11-point lead on which party Americans want to see in control of the House.

And while we’re at it, both the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee believe a Dem majority is in reach this year.

I think it's more than just "in reach", especially if President Obama is able to inspire voters like he did in 2008.  His coattails were long then.  I think they'll be as long or better now.

Epic Fail: Taco, Anyone?

After a federal indictment regarding treatment of Latino abuse, the police chief has decided to make things even worse.  After having an opportunity to say anything, even the usual recycled crap (we are investigating, we take this very seriously, blah blah) he instead lets the people know how they really feel, and why the feds were most likely on the right track.

Chief Gallo was not charged, but was referred to in the indictment as “Co-Conspirator No. 1,” who, it said, tried to thwart investigations of his officers and tried to have a priest who protested their behavior removed from his parish.

But on Wednesday it was Mr. Maturo facing the most immediate criticism, as he quickly backpedaled from comments he made to a WPIX (Channel 11) reporter Tuesday.

Asked what he was doing for the Latino community in light of the indictments and accusation of harassment, illegal searches and seizures and assaults on Latinos, Mr. Maturo responded on camera: “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not sure yet.

Facing a blizzard of criticism — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called his comments “repugnant” and said they represented “either a horrible lack of judgment or worse” — Mr. Maturo apologized, at first grudgingly and then with a long statement offering his “sincerest apologies” for what he called an “insensitive and off-collar comment.”

His apology is lame, and too late.  He didn't accidentally say this, he flew off the handle and exposed the ugliness that lies beneath.  Since this story broke, several things have come forth.  As is the nature of breaking news, some are accurate and some are not.  However, among all the rumors some surely must be true, and others contain a kernel of truth.  That's enough for us to call for change.  Crime is crime, and police have a difficult job.  Skin color, material wealth and intelligence are not measures of criminal nature.  Our law enforcement must know this, acknowledge it and demonstrate it.  Epic fail on all counts.

Calling BS On Ourselves

The snippet below is quoting an awesome article that refers to an awesome quote.  It also echoes something I've really been thinking about lately, but they were far more eloquent and concise.  Still, I want to lay the groundwork for some themes and ideas that will reappear.  We cannot afford to bullshit ourselves, and yet we all do a terrific job of just that.

We are our own best friends.  When it comes down to it, nobody has our interests and benefits in mind quite like how we look out for ourselves.  Yet we do it so wrong.  We lie to ourselves, and like parents who raise spoiled children, we do ourselves a disservice.  We act in direct opposition to what we know is good for us, and justify it with a permissive mental wave of the hand.  Some folks are self-destructive, some truly sell themselves that what they want is the right answer no matter what, some don't think at all but follow some whispering instinct that somehow turns into a compulsion.  It's human to do so, but it's the human challenge to make the most of ourselves, so we can make the most of our lives.  So we are also our own worst enemies, not as a choice but as a byproduct of our actions.

This is something all people do, regardless of age, period in history, culture or religion.  It may be the one thing that truly ties all human beings together.  Nobody is perfect all the time, but we are challenged to fight to be our best, not be content to wallow in our weakness. How many thousands, or even millions of things could we prevent simply by being good friends to ourselves and refusing to allow those lies to root and take hold?

The article is more lighthearted, but the implications just continue to more serious levels.  I smiled, but then I realized that this root problem has major implications for the world, from simple friendships to wars and global relations.

Sometimes we shove problems aside because we don't have time to deal with them. We've all been there. Or we come up with a change—like buying bigger pants—that makes a problem like sneaky weight gain less uncomfortable, but as Mr. Money Mustache reminds us, this is really no cure.

A better solution, he suggests, is to actually stare your problems in the face and not mask them:

My solution is the opposite: put those damned tight pants on and keep wearing them. When they bite at you, it's a reminder to take the stairs instead of the elevator, eat a piece of grilled salmon instead of a chocolate bar and bologna sandwich, and to start walking and biking more. Those tight pants are your biggest ally in addressing the underlying problem – if you give them up, you'll be allowed to forget what the real problem is: your lifestyle has become unhealthy and you're doing everything with a dull saw!
From tight jeans to civil rights to wars, being truthful to ourselves and overcoming our obstacles is what makes us better people.  Whether we try to be better or let ourselves drift and go along is what defines us.

I'll Take A D, Pat

D stands for drunk.

It appears Pat Sajak and Vanna White were tipsy on more than one episode of Wheel of Fortune.  Everyone is pretending to be shocked and appalled, but I am taking the "meh, whatever" approach.  It's Wheel of Fortune, not brain surgery.  If we couldn't tell, and Vanna never flipped the wrong letter (I mean, they lit them up for her, for Pete's sake!) then who really cares? Except that they may need treatment for drinking problems, it's not our business.  And seriously, if you flipped the same letters for multiple decades, wouldn't you be tempted to have a liquid lunch as well?

Just my two cents.  I'm not shocked, but I do hope they are not suffering from anything worse than poor work ethic.

A Troubled Bridge Over Water, Part 3

Yet another bridge in Kentucky is damaged, this time by a transport ferry that hit the Eggner Ferry Bridge over Kentucky Lake on US 68 near the Tennessee border.

No one was injured after a supply vessel struck the Eggner Ferry Bridge in Western Kentucky Thursday night causing a central portion of the bridge to collapse, according to a Kentucky State Police dispatcher in Mayfield.

The incident happened about 9 p.m. and there were no cars near the collapsed portion of the bridge, Lt. Ron Easley, public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Ohio Valley Sector, said late Thursday night.

He said the the motor vessel Delta Marine, a 312-foot supply ship carrying empty rockets and space hardware, struck the main channel of the span. Easley was unsure if it was NASA equipment.

A cause is under investigation, Easley said, and the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit as well as Kentucky Fish & Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service and Marshall County emergency services were on the scene as of late Thursday night.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials were also en route to the scene late Thursday, the state police dispatcher said.

Easley said the Coast Guard has set up a “safety zone” on the Tennessee River between mile markers 41 and 43 to keep non-emergency boats away from the area.

It's another nasty wreck, with reports that heavy fog last night and the fact the bridge had no lights on it contributed.  A bit of prevention might have saved the bridge from millions in damage, but putting safety lights on the bridge would have of course cost money (unlike fixing the thing with a massive hole in it now.)

Meanwhile Republicans are too busy cutting programs and Democrats are too busy giving tax breaks to arks.  Gotta love this state.

The Big GOP Debate Thread: Flori-duh

Naturally, the big topic at the final Florida GOP debate before Tuesday's primary was immigration, and all four candidates traded shots on the subject.

Early in the evening, Romney drew frequent applause when he pushed back attacks by Gingrich over immigration.

Gingrich called Romney the most anti-immigrant candidate on the debate stage, repeating a charge in a campaign ad Gingrich eventually pulled after a complaint it was unfair by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Romney responded with outrage, accusing Gingrich of using "highly-charged epithets" irresponsibly and denying he wants to deport all of the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

However, Gingrich and Santorum also agreed with Romney that at least some illegal immigrants would be likely to "self-deport" if the government were to crack down on employers who hired illegal immigrants. All three men advocated a system of identification for immigrants that would help employers verify an employee's legal status.

Ron Paul chimed in with much the same, that if businesses made the economic climate uncomfortable for undocumented immigrants, they'd leave.  In a state where the Latino voting population could make or break a candidate, all four of these clowns agreed that the chief role of government as far as immigration was concerned was to make life as miserable as possible for Latinos, even Ron Paul.

Not a one of them noted that enforcement under President Obama increased deportations much higher than under previous Presidents either, they were all too busy attacking the President's "weak" immigration policy.

On the issue of health care, Gingrich didn't have too much ammunition.  Rick Santorum saw his chance and took it.

After Romney described his health reforms and noted his pledge to repeal Obamacare, Santorum shot back that Romney said “government-run top down medicine is working well in Massachusetts and he supports it.”

“That’s not what I said,” Romney replied. But Santorum kept rolling.

“Think about what that means going up against Barack Obama, who you are going to claim, ‘well, it doesn’t work and we should repeal,’” he said. “He’s going to say, ‘Wait a minute, governor. You said it works well in Massachusetts.’ Folks — we can’t give this issue away in this election. It is about fundamental freedom.”

Almost confirming Santorum’s point, Romney responded by defending the aspects of his own law that were most directly reproduced in the Affordable Care Act: a mandate to require people to have insurance and a subsidized exchange in which individuals can choose between private health care plans.

“Rick, I make enough mistakes in what I said not for you to add more mistakes to what I said,” he began. “I didn’t say I’m in favor of top down government-run health care…If you don’t want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill because under federal law if someone doesn’t have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. We said no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility.”

But given the fact that some 400,000 Floridians have already cast absentee ballots, the final debate may not have mattered much.  We'll see what happens on Tuesday.


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