Sunday, March 29, 2009

Douchebag of the Week

Rep. Darrell Issa, a two-time "winner" of douchebag honors.

House Republicans are pressing for a change in federal law that could force Michelle Obama and future first ladies to do more of their policy work in public. But Democrats warn President Obama may take the attempt personally “as an attack on his wife.”

The GOP effort is being led by the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose initial salvo was rebuffed recently at a contentious committee markup session. Under Issa’s amendment, any government policy group that Mrs. Obama or another first spouse regularly participates in would be subject to a law requiring meetings to be announced in advance and, in most instances, public.

[...] “We are trying actually to protect the historic role of the first lady,” Issa insisted, repeatedly invoking the “transparency” mantra of the Obama administration. “I believe this is open government at its finest.”
While the economy circles the drain and the nation collapses toward another depression, this is what Republicans are doing -- working on legislation to control the activities of the first lady.

See? They're not just the party of "no." They're also the party of "know your role."

As if we needed more evidence that all their talk about being the party of small government is bullshit.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Afternoon Music Club

Chili Peppers, "My Friends."

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Conspiracy Theory Rock

I posted a link to this a long time ago, but a conversation with a friend reminded me of it, so I thought I'd post an embedded version.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Afternoon Music Club

Jimi Hendrix.

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Carcinogens in ...

Drumroll please ... baby toiletries!

More than half the baby shampoo, lotion and other infant care products analyzed by a health advocacy group were found to contain trace amounts of two chemicals that are believed to cause cancer, the organization said yesterday.

Some of the biggest names on the market, including Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo and Baby Magic lotion, tested positive for 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde, or both, the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported.

The chemicals, which the Environmental Protection Agency has characterized as probable carcinogens, are not intentionally added to the products and are not listed among ingredients on labels. Instead, they appear to be byproducts of the manufacturing process. Formaldehyde is created when other chemicals in the product break down over time, while 1,4-dioxane is formed when foaming agents are combined with ethylene oxide or similar petrochemicals.

The organization tested 48 baby bath products such as bubble bath and shampoo. Of those, 32 contained trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane and 23 contained small amounts of formaldehyde. Seventeen tested positive for both chemicals.
I am so fucking weary of this all-to-frequent song and dance. An advocacy group -- not a government regulatory agency, mind you. They are too busy staying out big business' way -- discovers harmful chemicals in (insert product here) that have been shown to cause (fill in serious fucking disease here). A mouthpiece for the company or industry, depending on how widespread the contamination is, points out that the amounts of the offending chemicals are "trace," "pose no threat to public health" and are "well within the FDA's accepted limits."

Eventually, if people can avoid being distracted by the Jen-Angelina fued or the current equivalent of must-see Thursday long enough, or -- more importantly -- if sales numbers start to fall, the companies in question will announce that they are removing these chemicals from their products because of their "concern for the health and welfare of each and every one of our valued customers" (no word, of course, on where that concern had been for all these years). This will be followed by some new commercials that point out that the product is now (fill in chemical here)-free.

If only we had a regulatory agency with some fucking teeth, we wouldn't have to go through this shit every couple of months. If only the Bush administration (and the GOP. Make no mistake, George Bush was NOT the abberation Republicans would like you to believe he was. He was a garden-variety conservative, typical of the breed.) hadn't pulled the FDA's teeth in the name of increasing the profits of already rich and powerful corporations, we wouldn't be needlessly exposed to dangerous chemicals in everyday products, or ignorant of those to which we were being exposed.

H/T to Mrs. S.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

MRSA and pork

Could it be that antibiotics in feed are leading to the development of antibiotic-resistant infections? Go read.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sometimes you wanna go

where everybody files for unemployment.

Eddie Doyle was the guy who really did know everybody’s name, at least when he started working at the tavern that inspired the television show "Cheers."

To the tens of thousands of tourists that later passed through, Doyle remained behind the bar to offer a smile, a beer and tips about where to find the Boston that wasn’t shown on TV.

Now Doyle is out of a job, laid off from "Cheers" after 35 years.

The bar’s owner has said a tough economy and sagging business forced the move, which was one of several layoffs.
You don't suppose the fact that Doyle is "around 66" years old had anything to do with his layoff, do you?

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Guess who

is objecting to a tax increase on the rich to pay for healthcare reform?

What the Democratic barons of Congress liked best about President Obama’s audacious budget was his invitation to fill in the details. They have started by erasing some of his.

The apparent first casualty is a big one: a proposal to limit tax deductions for the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers. Mr. Obama says the plan would produce $318 billion over the next decade as a down payment for overhauling health care.

But the chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees, Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, have objected to the proposal, citing a potential drop in tax-deductible gifts to charities.

Billions in savings from cutting government subsidies to big farmers and agribusinesses? No dice, said Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.
It's getting hard to tell the players -- and the teams -- apart without a program.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

The future of newspapers

is almost here, and it doesn't involve paper.

Staffers chosen to participate in an online-only version of the Seattle P-I were notified of their selection Wednesday and Thursday. The selections indicate The Hearst Corp.'s plan for such a Web site is advancing. Two reporters said they received "provisional offers" from P-I New Media head Michelle Nicolosi or Hearst executive Ken Riddick. They said they were told they will be given formal offers if the Web site gets the go-ahead from Hearst's senior management.

The reporters wouldn't give details, saying they had been asked during their interviews not to comment. Nicolosi also declined to comment. Riddick, who has been at the P-I over the past two days, didn't return a call seeking comment.

One metro reporter, Hector Castro, said Riddick didn't ask him not to speak. The general assignment reporter, at the P-I for nine years, said he turned down Riddick's offer. He said the offer increased his health insurance cost, cut his salary by an unspecified amount, offered to match his 401(k) contributions, required him to forgo his P-I severance pay, reduced his vacation accrual to zero and required him to give up overtime.

According to Castro, Riddick said Hearst plans to start the site the day after the paper quits publishing, which Hearst has said will occur on a date not yet specified if no buyer has emerged by March 10.
I guess the savings from cutting jobs and losing the print product weren't enough, so management is using this opportunity to squeeze a little more money out of the staff. Hard to say whether that's based on necessity because the paper is in such bad financial shape, or if it's just garden-variety corporate greed.

Either way, the print product is probably finished, and other papers are likely to follow suit. So I guess Art Sulzberger wasn't kidding in 2007 when he said, "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years," regardless of what he subsequently said in that speech to NYT employees.

I wonder if this will affect students' decisions to go into what soon may no longer be called print journalism. The thrill that we all used to get from seeing our bylines is likely to be diminished in a Web-only environment, being that anyone can publish online.

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Liquid cigarettes

Soft drinks. They can contain benzene, mercury, BPA and reactive carbonyls, which have been linked to diabetes. And a stimulating, possibly addictive, drug is thrown in for good measure.

I once had a job in which we were given a 15-minute break at around 10:15 a.m. I usually drank a can of Mountain Dew during this break, and I soon found that I began feeling anxious at around 10 a.m., as though I had forgotten to do something important. I would feel nervous, with that sinking of the stomach that one experiences just before remembering that super important but forgotten thing. Being at work, I worried that there was some job-related task that I had overlooked, and thought backwards in search of something I might have forgotten to do. That never turned up anything, so I started scanning my personal file to see if I had dropped a ball there. Nothing.

I finally connected the anxious feeling to the caffeine jolt my body was anticipating. I stopped drinking that yellow, syrupy piss and the feeling went away.

Do yourself a favor and drink apple juice. Or any fruit juice not contaminated with high fructose corn syrup. Read the labels and know what you're putting into your body.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Stewart to Stanford: 'F you'

Starts at 7:05, after Stewart gets done ripping Rick Santelli and CNBC new ones.

UPDATE: Santelli claims in a blog post that his moronic rant was spontaneous, but he declined to be interviewed by the New York Times and CNBC canceled his appearance on The Daily Show.

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Friday Afternoon Music Club

"My Sweet Lord." George Harrison.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

The enemies within

As it appears that it's becoming more acceptable for conservatives to say that they hope President Obama and his efforts to repair our damaged nation fail (perhaps being surrounded by other morons at CPAC emboldened them to let their moron flag fly, who knows?), I thought it would be useful to point out that anyone who hopes Obama and/or his policies fail is an enemy of the United States of America.

If Obama fails, the country won't veer from the ruinous path on which it was set by George Bush and conservatism. If Obama fails, the destroyed economy won't be repaired, and families will suffer as a result. If Obama fails, we will continue running in place in Iraq, killing and dying for no apparent reason. If Obama fails, the environment will continue deteriorate. If Obama fails, the United States will not regain its former standing as a beacon of hope and justice in the world. If Obama fails, there will be no reform to a health care system that just. doesn't. work.

Many conservatives are hoping for these conditions and are stupid enough to say so out loud. And they are hoping for this because it's only under these conditions that they can hope for an American population that has rejected the GOP and conservatism in large numbers to vote for them once again. These people are hoping that the country deteriorates to the point that they can once again seize the reins of power. They are putting their personal interests, and the interests of their political party, ahead of the interests of the country.

The Bush administration made a lot of enemies during its eight failed years, myself included. But I didn't root against Bush, and I didn't hope that his policies failed. If Bush had managed to improve the state of the Union, I would have been thrilled. But the fact is that he did not. That failure was the basis of my opposition to him. I wasn't opposed to Bush because he was a Republican, I was opposed to Bush because he was a terrible president. I took no pleasure in his myriad failures because they damaged my country.

Thomas Paine famously said, "It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government." There's a difference between opposing a government and opposing the country. But to root against a president is to root against the country. To hope a president fails is to hope the country fails. And to do so for naked, obvious personal and partisan gain is unconscionable and indefensible.