Thursday, April 30, 2009

Douchebag of the Week

Sometimes "douchebag" isn't strong enough a word. This is one of those times.

I give you the douchebag stylings of a real shitheel: Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., who used the death of a child from swine flu as an opportunity to rail against illegal immigration.

Of course, it’s sad to see a 23-month-old child die from this disease. We don’t have any specifics. I tried to find out this morning specifics about this child that has died -- whether it was someone who is from Mexico, possibly an illegal alien who has been brought into this country.

One big problem we have in this country is an open border. The border is like a sieve, and so these illegal aliens are coming across, and I think a lot of the health care facilities throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California are going to be overwhelmed by cases coming out of Mexico -- Mexican citizens -- putting a further strain on those facilities. So, I don’t know if this child was a Mexican, or if it was an American child -- what the situation is -- but it was sad that this child died.
Go fuck yourself, congressman.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How underwhelming

You mean a lifelong politician is making a move to protect his own self-interest? Big deal.

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.
Do you think this had anything to do with his decision?

Specter as a Democrat would also fundamentally alter the 2010 calculus in Pennsylvania as he was expected to face a difficult primary challenge next year from former Rep. Pat Toomey. The only announced Democrat in the race is former National Constitution Center head Joe Torsella although several other candidates are looking at the race.
Arlen realizes that he can't beat Toomey in the GOP primary and that a Republican can't win the general election. So he did what he had to do to get re-elected, just like he's been doing for decades. Those of us who remember Specter's chameleon act in 2004 -- Specter went from running TV ads during the primary (when he barely beat Toomey) in which he bragged about his loyalty to George Bush (and was shown walking alongside Bush) to spotlighting the instances when he voted against Bush policies during the general election -- are not suprised by this move. Specter explains the switch by saying all the standard stuff about "political philosophy," but this is really about only one principle: that it's better to win re-election than to lose.

If Specter really feels that his "political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," as he says, then that should be reflected in the way he votes. Let's wait and see. Given that Specter has already said that he hasn't changed his "thinking" on the Employee Free Choice Act, I'm not optimistic that we're going to see much of a change in Specter. And if that turns out to be the case, his switching parties is nothing more than an opportunist seizing opportunity.

UPDATE: The change in Specter is pretty dramatic so far. I wonder how much longer Republicans will be able to feign anger over the "defection" without laughing.

UPDATE 2: Specter's first vote as a "Democrat." It's uncanny how much his "political philosophy" is "more in line with Democrats than Republicans."


Friday, April 24, 2009

Sports journalism

Sox owner John Henry to buy the Boston Globe?

Labels: ,

Bat man

The Sox will have a special, experienced pair of hands in the dugout Saturday during their game against the stinkins.

Babe Ruth greeted Arthur Giddon as he did most 13-year-olds, even those in uniform. Giddon chatted with the Babe for a moment but tore himself away because he had a job to do. It was 1922, and as a Boston Braves bat boy, Giddon had to break out the bats, polish some spikes and otherwise outfit his players for that afternoon’s game at Braves Field.

Eighty-seven years later, on Saturday, Giddon will reprise his role for his now-beloved Red Sox — as a special 100th birthday present, he will serve as the team’s honorary bat boy prior to the game against the rival Yankees. The same hands that delivered bats to Billy Southworth and softened Rube Marquard’s glove will do the same for Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester.

Now at bat boy for the Red Sox: No. 100, Big Pappy.
Congratulations, Mr. Giddon.

Labels: ,

Friday Afternoon Music Club

Keb' Mo', "Hand it Over."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 23, 2009


More important than you might think.

In the quest for better health, many people turn to doctors, self-help books or herbal supplements. But they overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends.

Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.

“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”

[...] While many friendship studies focus on the intense relationships of women, some research shows that men can benefit, too. In a six-year study of 736 middle-age Swedish men, attachment to a single person didn’t appear to affect the risk of heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did. Only smoking was as important a risk factor as lack of social support.

[...] “People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”
I guess it's true what the great, often quoted "they" says: You can never have enough friends.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Drill here, drill now

Like so many failed ideas championed by the Right, it's coming back. And it's probably not just because Republicans are really, really bad at coming up with new ideas and instead just continue to recycle (who says they aren't environmentalists?) ideas that have already either failed or been debunked or rejected.

An already debunked idea like this can gain popular traction only when gasoline prices are high. And if Republicans are planning on bringing back this tired meme this summer, guess what else is coming back just in time for summer driving season?

If you said “high gas prices,” give yourself a point.

Take a look at the following chart from the Energy Information Administration.

Compare the two big price dips on the chart – from August to November '06 and the one that began in October '08 (both right before national elections, by the way, which I'm sure is a coincidence). In the first case, the price continued to fall until February 2007, when it began to climb.

Sound like anything you've observed lately?

By May 2007, gas prices were higher than they were in August '06, the start of the drop.

In July 2008, gas cost $4.10 per gallon and began falling. By the time of the November election, the price had dropped 41 percent, to $2.40.

If history is any guide, we are looking at gas prices above $4.10 per gallon by Memorial Day weekend. And the fact that Republicans already are planning to revive “drill here, drill now” tells me that they know this is coming.

And if they know this is coming, that means the price of oil isn't subject only to magical market forces beyond anyone's control. It means that the price is being manipulated, and that Republicans are coordinating their actions with those doing the manipulating.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 13, 2009


Harry Kalas, Hall of Fame broadcaster and voice of the Phillies, 73.

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Douchebag of the Week

Texas Republican state Rep. Betty Brown, bless her heart.

A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”
Hey Betty, I think “Betty Brown” is a far too common name and therefore confusing. Plus, I'm not a big fan of the dessert brown betty. So do you think you could go through the bureaucratic aggravation and personal humiliation, and turn your back on your heritage and your forebearers, for my convenience and change your name to something that's easier for me to deal with? You know, something that would make me think of you immediately, like Ignorant Bigot Douchebag?

Labels: ,

Ringin’ in the new season

The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Labels: ,

Supporting the troops

PTSD is the new Gulf War syndrome, which was the new Agent Orange.

For more than a year he's been seeking treatment at Fort Carson for a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature injuries of the Iraq war. Sgt. X is also suffering through the Army's confusing disability payment system, handled by something called a medical evaluation board. The process of negotiating the system has been made harder by his war-damaged memory. Sgt. X's wife has to go with him to doctor's appointments so he'll remember what the doctor tells him.

But what Sgt. X wants to tell a reporter about is one doctor's appointment at Fort Carson that his wife did not witness. When she couldn't accompany him to an appointment with psychologist Douglas McNinch last June, Sgt. X tucked a recording device into his pocket and set it on voice-activation so it would capture what the doctor said. Sgt. X had no idea that the little machine in his pocket was about to capture recorded evidence of something wounded soldiers and their advocates have long suspected -- that the military does not want Iraq veterans to be diagnosed with PTSD, a condition that obligates the military to provide expensive, intensive long-term care, including the possibility of lifetime disability payments. And, as Salon will explore in a second article Thursday, after the Army became aware of the tape, the Senate Armed Services Committee declined to investigate its implications, despite prodding from a senator who is not on the committee. The Army then conducted its own internal investigation -- and cleared itself of any wrongdoing.
Listen to a segment of the recording here.

Contacted recently by Salon, McNinch seemed surprised that reporters had obtained the tape, but answered questions about the statements captured by the recording. McNinch told Salon that the pressure to misdiagnose came from the former head of Fort Carson's Department of Behavioral Health. That colonel, an Army psychiatrist, is now at Fort Lewis in Washington state. "This was pressure that the commander of my Department of Behavioral Health put on me at that time," he said. Since McNinch is a civilian employed by the Army, the colonel could not order him to give a specific, lesser diagnosis to soldiers. Instead, McNinch said, the colonel would "refuse to concur with me, or argue with me, or berate me" when McNinch diagnosed soldiers with PTSD. "It is just very difficult being a civilian in a military setting."

McNinch added that he also received pressure not to properly diagnose traumatic brain injury, Sgt. X's other medical problem. "When I got there I was told I was overdiagnosing brain injuries and now everybody is finding out that, yes, there are brain injuries," he recalled. McNinch said he argued, "'What are we going to do about treatment?' And they said, 'Oh, we are just counting people. We don't plan on treating them.'" McNinch replied, "'You are bringing a generation of brain-damaged individuals back here. You have got to get a game plan together for this public health crisis.'"

When McNinch learned he would be quoted in a Salon article, he cut off further questions. He also said he would deny the interview took place. Salon, however, had recorded the conversation.
Too bad Dr. Ifeelbadaboutthisbut and so many other doctors under similar pressure don't feel quite bad enough to speak out on purpose.

And it's too bad that all of our government's talk about supporting the troops only applies as long as that support doesn't become too expensive. “Sure, we will send you into harm's way in an environment too horrific for most of us to even imagine, and sure, we will purposely misdiagnose your resulting brain injuries and stress disorders to save money and even refuse to treat you at all, but when it comes to (what have now been shown to be completely empty gestures like) flag waving, lapel pins and standing ovations in the Capitol – you know, stuff that doesn't cost us any precious, precious money – we got your back.”

Shameful. The troops give us their all and deserve far better.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss.

The Obama administration is “invoking government secrecy in defending the Bush administration’s wiretapping program” against a lawsuit brought by AT&T customers who claim “federal agents illegally intercepted their phone calls and gained access to their records.” Justice Department lawyers yesterday demanded dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against Bush officials, arguing that the information constitutes privileged “state secrets.”
Any similarities between the disaster that was the Bush administration and the Obama administration are too many. But after BushCo expanded presidential power by reaching into areas of questionable legality, we didn't just expect the successor to just give up all that additional power, did we? That's something a statesman who cares about the American public and the Constitution would do. It's apparently a little much to expect from a mere politician.

Obama is big on hope, so here's hoping he respects the rule of law and shuts down a program that allows a government to spy on its own citizens.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Afternoon Music Club

A request from Mrs. S: Squeeze.

Labels: , ,

The party of 'No'

Both the House and Senate passed budgets yesterday, with not one Republican vote in either case. Zero Republican votes in the House, zero Republican votes in the Senate.

As for the GOP budget "plan" -- you know, the one without any substance or even many actual numbers (see for yourself), Deputy Director for Management and Budget Rob Nabors called it a "joke." And it appears that some Republicans may have agreed with him.

About twice as many Republicans (38 or 20 percent of their conference) voted against the GOP alternative budget -- than Democrats (20 or 8 percent) who nixed their party's spending plan.
To be fair, it's possible that those Republicans are so accustomed to obstructionism that they simply voted no out of habit.

So once again we see that it is possible to get legislation passed in both the House and the Senate with no Republican support whatsoever. And we have seen that Republicans are simple obstructionists with no ideas of their own who will vote no to Democratic proposals without offering any meaningful alternative.

So can congressional Democrats now stop trying to work with people who have no interest in working with them? And can the American people just stop voting for Republicans? Because, even in this hour of great national crisis, Republicans cannot be bothered to either support efforts to solve our country's problems or offer an alternative. Even in the face of the worst economic disaster of most of our lifetimes, Republicans would rather do nothing than support the efforts of Democrats.

Labels: ,